Is Your Marriage a Help or a Hindrance?

I’ve been reading and listening a bunch of things, and question is forming in my mind: Am I using my marriage to make me more of who I am, or as an excuse to be less of who I want to be?

A Hindrance

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you.  For the first *long time* of my marriage, I was using it as a reason to keep myself small.  I didn’t want to rock the boat.  I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.  But underneath all of that, I was afraid. So I’d say things to myself like, “well, my husband probably wouldn’t like it if…” or “if I did that, I’d probably neglect my family, so…”

I was using my marriage as a way to say no to myself.  Because saying no felt safer than saying yes, and my marriage/family was often the excuse for not going for it. Sound familiar?

A Help

Slowly, over time, my marriage and family started becoming the reason I chose to say YES to living bigger.  

When I’m fulfilled, I’m a better wife. When I feel like I’m able to make contributions to the world outside of my own four walls (side note: don’t ever discount the contribution you are also making WITHIN those walls), I feel more balanced and patient with my children.

Because of this shift, I am now choosing to say yes to things that help me grow, develop, and expand.  Because that’s a benefit to my family.

An Example

Several years ago,  a friend asked me to teach her son to play the piano.  I was tempted to tell her no, but thankfully, I decided to say yes.

Was I a little unsure about knowing what to do?  Totally. (She was aware that her son would be my first student.) 

Did I worry at first that I would neglect my family? Yeah, a little.  But I decided to be brave and try it out.  Even though I didn’t think I knew what I was doing, and even though it meant taking a little time away from my family.

I eventually took on a few more students, and added harp lessons to my offerings.  

This has been a benefit to me–I’m fulfilled, learning, growing.  And I LOVE teaching.

It benefits my students. They get the experience of learning to play the piano/harp, with everything that comes along with it.

It benefits my kids.  They are learning about loving boundaries, respecting other people, and I have a little extra spending money (that I usually spend on things for them).  

And without starting there–arguably a fairly small thing to say yes to–I probably would have never had the courage to take the steps to get where I am today–writing this email to you, and helping others in the way I do now–arguably a much bigger undertaking.  With much bigger results too;  I am far more patient with them, far more true to myself.  My life is so much better in every way. 

All because I had the courage to say yes to what, deep down, I knew I wanted. 

The Moral of the Story

The next time you get a ‘soul nudge’ to do something bigger, instead of using your marriage or family as a reason not to, I am asking you to check in with yourself.  Really ask, is this an excuse because I’m afraid?  Why do I want to do it?  How will this benefit the people I love?

Sometimes, it will feel right to say no to the nudge.  Sometimes you’ll decide “not yet.”  

There’s a time and place for saying yes to our soul desires, and sometimes the timing won’t be right. Yet.  Checking in with yourself helps you get clear on what you really want.

Either way, your family can be a huge help and support for you.  Don’t let yourself use them as an excuse to stay small.  Because when you do, you just might be keeping their lives smaller, too.