A few years ago, Joe would worry about our daughter riding her bike around the block. I would be excited for her but Joe worried about her safety. Then what seems to be a few days later and that same girl is driving the highways on her own, which statistically is the most dangerous place a teenager can be! Trying to figure out those things as parents has been a challenge, especially since like many couples we see things differently!
Joe is all about safety and there is no better safety freak than him. He can spot danger a mile away and he can come up with a plan to avoid it in a moment’s notice. Then Mr. Safety Freak marries me, Ms. Happy-Go-Lucky: It’s all going to be okay! I’m glad you want us to be safe. Me too! But really, you think that is dangerous? It sounds fun!
So when I tell Joe I’m doing XYZ, I can see him scramble and his sensors are going off as he thinks, danger! I try to explain why it’s safe, here’s the precautions I’m taking. But I can tell he’s still panicking inside. He’s seeing every worst case scenario play out in his head. I try to reassure him and say, honey I’ll be fiiiiine! And I can see on his face he thinks, but you might not be. Bad things do happen, you know!
How do we work through that?
Joe has always known danger is out there. He spent his childhood in extremely unsafe circumstances where the people who were supposed to protect him hurt him. He knows you always need to be on guard.
Then I grew up in opposite circumstances, in a home with parents chose to protect me. (Well, the best they knew how, as parents of the ’70s and ’80s!) Sure I saw my share of hurts and scary things but I didn’t face the kind of neglect or evil that Joe faced. I knew that people were trustworthy and the world was a happy place. Bad things happened to other people.
Instead of labeling each other and saying oh, he’s such a Overreacting Safety Freak, I can choose to understand where he’s coming from. I realized he doesn’t like that feeling of being unsafe. He’s not trying to make my life miserable. Sometimes he’s trying to soothe his own anxieties. But more often than not, he’s simply being the voice of common sense for me 🙂
Joe often tells me he is jealous of my ability to be so carefree. He’s learned that I’m not trying to make his life stressful either with my perhaps less-than-prefectly-safe crazy ideas and plans. If there’s something that causing him unnecessary worry, I tell him I understand how he’s feeling rather that just tell him that his feelings are wrong.
I had to learn to not just empathize with how he feels, but to respect his opinion. Validate his feelings about the situation even when I feel differently.
Over the years I can see how much Joe’s diligence in this area has truly saved us so much hassle and disaster. Having a good eye for things that could bring ruin to our home or family is a good thing! Instead of choosing to complain about the annoying parts of living with a safety freak, I thank God for a husband who truly cares for me. And I can choose to listen to his concerns rather than immediately dismiss them.
Our differences are a gift and in the end we do balance each other out. Joe’s safety tendencies have rubbed off on me- (Is the stove off? Did you double check the back door?)- and Joe says I’ve stretched his safety comfort zone more than he ever could have imagined (3 boys, teenagers, enough said). By learning to listen and respect each other’s perspectives, we’ve become a stronger team.
Our family’s safety is one of those areas we have to commit to prayer again and again. If there’s something that we disagree on, we both agree to pray. Pray for the Lord’s guidance and to be on the same page. And if we head into a situation where Joe is worried about our safety, we pray more. We know in the end, we can only really rely on God and not any precautions we make.
There is no guarantee that danger won’t find us, but it doesn’t negate God’s great love and care for us. Joe likes to have back up plans for his back up plans – but he also has recognized that those unsafe feelings may always be with him regardless. Ultimately we need to trust God and his provision in all areas of our lives!
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. Ps. 121:7-8