Married to the Empire

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The art of saying no

It's a standing joke that Ruf is the nice one in our marriage, and I'm the meanie. Ruf hates conflict, and he's a people pleaser. I don't shy away too much from saying what needs to be said, which includes the word no.

Ruf loves to help people. Mostly, it's a charming trait that makes me sigh with adoration when I see him jumping up to do what needs to be done. But other times, it makes me crazy because he'll sometimes sacrifice his own needs because he doesn't like to say no.

This is where the old adage that opposites attract really comes into play. Because I'm not afraid to say no to people, I'm the one who has to convince him to do it, or do it for him when necessary. Take tonight, example. We have to have everything out of our portable youth building at church by October 14. The youth minister informed us yesterday that the youth team would need to go in there tonight to sort through some stuff. I told him I couldn't because I had my monthly supper club tonight. Ruf didn't technically have any other plans, however.

While ordinarily Ruf would jump up to go help, he really didn't want to tonight. He had a horrible weekend with removing half a tree from our yard, and he has had very little time to himself lately. And tonight would be one of the rare occasions that he would have the house all to himself. But he didn't want to say no.

I reminded him of his difficult weekend, having the house to himself, all his projects he's been wanting to work on (he has a new stormtrooper helmet that he's dying to put together), and the fact that he was only given one day's notice. I told him it's okay to say no once in a while. I was able to talk him into it. (Sometimes, I think he just needs reassurance that the world won't fall apart just because he wasn't there to help one time.)

My supper club finished up early tonight, but instead of going home, I opted to spend a couple of hours at the bookstore, just to give Ruf a little extra time to himself. I came home to find a happy, relaxed husband who was working on a stormtrooper project that needed to be done. He really needed that time.

Sometimes, it's a very good thing to say no.


Cathy VanPatten said...

Believe it or not, it's really hard for me to say no as well. I worry that people will think I'm selfish or mean or uncaring. Or, in the case of work, uncooperative or "not a team player." This mindset nearly drove me to emotional collapse a few years ago when I was promoted and assigned to manage a nightmare project with unrealistic (but firm) schedules.

I ended up having to find a counselor through the Employee Assistance Program my company makes available to employees and their families, and the counselor helped me see how my inability to say no in a reasoned and confident manner was an absolutely necessary managment strategy.

It's still hard for me to say no... but not impossible.

Thanks for a good post and a reminder!

AnneK said...

Yes, very good thing indeed!

I need to do it more :)

As an aside, I will send you the email today.

Ann said...

It is hard to say no, especially when it's a church-related function.

Would Ruf be up to posting pictures of that helmet?

Have a fabulous weekend :)

Ewokgirl said...

CK, maybe you just need a mean spouse like me! Half the time, I'm the one who says no for him. (Of course, I don't interfere at work, which is a whole different game and wouldn't have helped you in your previous situation.)

Ann, I may post some pictures as he works on it, but I believe he's documenting it himself. I found pictures of various stages on the camera, which means he'll put them up on his website at some point. If you're interested, you can see his various Star Wars projects at his site: It's mostly a how-to website for Star Wars stuff.

Anna S said...

I'm a people-pleaser as well, and saying no is something I had to learn to the sake of my peace of mind and emotional health. I learned that if I always say 'yes', I end up too tired, frustrated and overwhelmed to do anyone any good.

carrie said...

Sigh. Yes, saying no, can be an "art." It's a lesson I'm continually learning!

Ann said...

Neat! Thanks for the link. I forwarded it on to my husband :)