The car was closing in around me. My daughter’s screams from the backseat were ringing in my ears like a boiling tea kettle. I sat in the passenger’s seat helpless, wringing my hands, starring out the window, watching the mile markers endlessly tick by.
My husband and I had ventured out of the house with our one-month-old daughter. We set forth with all the naivete and confidence of new parents, ready to take on the world. I was going stir crazy, but I thought we should stay in. My husband, ever fearless, assured me it would be okay.
Once we got on the interstate the torrent of blood curdling screams began emitting from the backseat. We were stressed, tested and at our wits end. The much-needed journey turned out to be a car ride that felt like an eternity. I sat there holding my head and feeling the words form on my lips “I TOLD YOU SO!”. I let the words fester, eat me up, linger. I let them sink into my soul and make me feel victimized. The suddenly too-small car felt like a cage. I only knew one thing: it wasn’t my fault.
Then I looked over at my husband. He was holding the steering wheel with white knuckles. I watched as his chest rose and fell sporadically as if he was forgetting to breathe. In that moment, I knew it didn’t matter who was right. It didn’t matter who made the decision. I put my hand on his leg and said “I love you” and his grip on the wheel softened. Suddenly the air around us didn’t feel so dense, the cries didn’t seem to be inches from my ears.
Here’s the thing, once a decision is made in a marriage it doesn’t matter who made it. You’re in this together. My husband and I have to make decisions all the time. We weigh the pros and the cons, we talk about what’s best, we offer our thoughts and feelings. In the end, we can only choose one course of action. We go with whatever feels best, whether it’s his idea, my idea or some combination of the two. But when things don’t go according to plan, it can be hard to stay calm.
It’s so easy to say those four words, “I TOLD YOU SO!”. They are simple words that speak volumes. They say I don’t trust your decisions, I’m not on your team, we aren’t in this together. They steal away your spouses confidence in their decisions and make them a passive player in an active marriage. Those words can make your spouse feel alone and unsure. That’s why my husband and I decided not to say it to each other.
Keeping those words from escaping your mouth isn’t always easy. When you’re in the heat of a difficult moment, when nothing seems to be going right, when the car feels too small, it can be easy to say things you don’t mean. When I remember not to say “I TOLD YOU SO!” I remember that my husband is my biggest supporter, my best friend and my team mate. I let the little things go more easily and I empower myself and my husband to make decisions without fear.
We are stronger as a couple and as individuals because we respect each other, our marriage and ourselves. We let mistakes happen. We encourage ourselves to be bold and courageous, even if it means we fail. We help each other through the hard parts of life, being strong when the other can’t. We see our lives as an adventure where we both take responsibility for the outcomes of our decisions, whether they are good or bad. Together, we’re making memories of mishaps.