Late last week, I was talking to a friend about my marathon training. I was telling her about carb-loading and my latest injuries. I talked of my difficulty fitting in my late night runs because I have so much going on. Making time for a 20-miler can be tough when you have a job, a child, a husband, and full-time obligations, but as a parent she already got that.
“Girl,” she said, “I don’t know how you do it.”
But then she paused. “I’m just surprised your husband lets you. I mean, I’m surprised he lets you run alone.”
Make no mistake, I get it. The world is a big, creepy place. But lets me? Did she really just say “lets me?”
Oh my god, I thought. She did. She totally did.
Of course, she isn’t the first person to say it. In fact, it is a phrase I hear every few weeks:
I can’t believe your husband let you do [insert activity here]. He must be so great and so, so trusting.
And you’re right, he is. But my husband isn’t great because he “lets me” go out with the girls, or with the guys. He isn’t great because he watches my daughter while I work, run, or go on retreats. He isn’t great because he “allows” me to have a life outside of him and our little family.
Of course, I do talk to my husband before I make plans. But I don’t do so because I want — or need — his permission. I do so to be considerate, thoughtful, and respectful. And I do so to ensure my schedule does not overlap his and that someone’s got our baby covered.
There’s a huge difference between respectful dialogue and permissive control because the former is a means of a communication. But the latter? Well, that implies there is disparity in the relationship. It suggests inequality — that one person needs to be monitored, managed, or cannot make a decision on their own.
And that’s a subservience play, saying one person in the relationship is in power and the other is not. As though they are no more capable than a child. Yes, a child.
Why? Well, because children ask for permission. Of course, they have to ask for permission because they are children. They are impetuous, impulsive, and short-sighted. But to ask your spouse for permission? No, I cannot get on board with that. My husband is my partner, not my parent; and I refuse to ever be put in a position that I feel minimizes or dismisses me.
So no, I will never, ever ask another adult for permission to do, be, or live my life — and I won’t apologize for it, either.