You should really hold the baby like this, talk to him like that, play with him this way, feed him that way . . .”

The list of rules I had for my husband’s relationship with our son was a mile long and twice as deep. Not that I knew it at the time. I was just excited to share everything I’d learned from reading all the right books, consulting all the right experts, and taking all the right classes. Not only had I prepared myself to be a top-notch mother, I had also prepared myself to teach my husband to become a top-notch father.

Having grown up in a chaotic and unpredictable home, I vowed my adult life would have order and direction. Unfortunately, instead of creating a home where my husband and I could enjoy calm and serenity, I had become a dictatorial taskmaster. Everything was neat, orderly, well-maintained—and miserable.

The Root of My Fear

I wish I could tell you this behavior was short lived and isolated, but I would be lying. My need for control, which reared its ugly head while my husband and I were dating, grew into a fully formed monster once we were married. How did I let this happen? I went from a social butterfly to the “fun police,” making snarky remarks before my husband went out for an evening with friends and turning a cold shoulder when he returned. Once regarded as the “personal cheerleader” for my group of friends, I was now the professional eye roller, dismissing every success my husband had at work as trivial or lucky.

Gone was the go-with-the-flow girl, replaced by the taskmaster, assigning projects according to my schedule and huffing with disappointment when my hazy requests didn’t produce perfect results. I thought I was just being helpful. I thought ...

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