Do You Need to Explain Yourself?

Release What?

I’d been working all morning on the schedule for my One Word of the year practices. With RELEASE as my word, I’m breaking down each month into a separate thing I can release. It will be a spiritual discipline for me.

For January, I want to release the need to explain myself, the need to justify my decisions.

I finish my schedule, close my laptop, and walk into the kitchen.

My husband Jeff is unloading the dishwasher. I’d noticed in the past that he often puts the measuring cups back in the drawer in a way that seems too willy-nilly for me. He is doing it again now.

Since he will be retiring soon, and likely unloading the dishwasher more often, shouldn’t I kindly suggest the better way (i.e., my way) to stack the measuring cups?

I launch into my perfectly logical explanation.

I tell him I stack them this way because I’ll know where the 1 cup is at a glance versus the 1/2 cup, and because . . . on and on and on.

My explanation is annoying, even to myself.

When Jeff gently pushes back about it—”Why does this even matter?”—I remind him that for every one thing I suggest, there are 100 more things I haven’t mentioned yet.

This does not go over well.

My First Release

Jeff asks, “Do you even want me to retire?”

“Of course I do,” I reply.

It’s just that I’m used to doing things my own way for years and years. It will be a big change to have him in the house every day. I’m trying to prepare him, trying to prepare me because . . . on and on and on.

And then I remember my word: Release.

Is my first act of release this year going to be a simple yellow measuring cup?

No Need to Explain

Releasing my need to explain isn’t just to spare me some extra words.

  • It’s to uncover why I want to justify my thinking about everything in the first place.
  • It’s to question my attempt to use words to convince other people to do things my way.
  • It’s to let go of controlling what happens if it really doesn’t even matter.

I hate to be misunderstood. Wanting others to understand me is a strong desire.

But sometimes I don’t get that opportunity. I have to let it go. Even when I get the opportunity to explain, there’s still no guarantee I’ll be understood. I’ve proven that again and again.

And it’s okay to not be fully understood. I know. God knows.

While that may not always feel like enough, when I want all my people to also understand, sometimes God and I are all I will get. (Actually, only God understands; I don’t even fully understand myself.)

I want to better accept that, even though it’s hard.

I can feel what I feel without having to rationalize it. I can think my own thoughts AND keep those thoughts to myself. I am loved as I am. Even when I’m not understood.

Silence can be a practice in humility.

And there is freedom in not having to be fully known. 

Letting It Go

I finally stop my measuring cups explanation to Jeff. It’s not worth it.

Granted, some things in the future will be worth explaining. And I will rightly need to explain those things. Maybe with a lot of words. Maybe even more than once.

But stacking the measuring cups isn’t one of those things.

I’ll probably not mention the measuring cups again.

Even if they are stacked differently.

Do you feel the need to explain yourself too much, too? Share in the comments.

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26 thoughts on “Do You Need to Explain Yourself?

  1. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    Lisa, your measuring cup story would be hilarious if it didn’t hit so close to home! Sounds like you and I (and Jeff and my Renaissance Man) have something in common. When my husband started working from home in 2015, it was hard for me; some days it still is. But when I slow down and remind myself that I’m so very blessed to have him as my partner—and I don’t take myself so seriously when I “give in” to his influence—I know I’m becoming a better version of myself every time I release another ingrained, unhealthy way. And I’m a good influence on him, too. 😉

    Hang in there, my friend. A long year of introspection and spiritual growth lies ahead—and it will be worth it!

  2. Lisa Blair

    Being misunderstood is something some personalities deal with more than others. “Even when I get the opportunity to explain, there’s still no guarantee I’ll be understood. I’ve proven that again and again. And it’s okay to not be fully understood. I know. God knows.”

    Being a “mom of many” led me to give up some of my preferences in the kitchen. I learned to “guide” in a certain organized direction, but I had to “let go” of everything being like I would arrange it – there were just too many people with too many opinions.

    So instead of perfectly stacked measuring spoons in my drawer, I have a plastic organizer where they are all in there. So organized, but not pretty or perfect, but it’s a compromise between the two approaches to the world. May you and your husband find a place of harmony as you adjust to him being home more.

  3. Jodee

    Good message! My husband retired last month and it is an adjustment. I’ll be keeping this in mind. I usually don’t explain myself, just expect others to understand the right way(mine) things should be done. My release is letting go of that and explaining. As extraordinary as my husband is, he is not a mind reader.

  4. Heather Edwards

    Well, I can tell you this..your post hit me square in the chest! My husband complains about my need to explain myself, he calls them my “disclaimers”. It bothers me about my need for everyone to understand me. LOL So my word of the year is Betterment, so I can use my word to get better about needing to explain everything. Thanks so much for the snap shot of your example. I will do much praying on this.

  5. Nancy Ruegg

    Years ago I learned one of the issues that plagues most marriages is the “tremendous trifles.” My husband and I have certainly found that true in our relationship! But it’s in the rock tumbler of relationship we become polished gems who reflect more and more the radiance of Jesus. We’ve been married 51 years–God is still polishing, but a number of rough edges have been burnished! (I think retirement sped up the process!)

  6. Pam Richardson

    This sounds just like me. My husband just retired the end of December. I have always done things a certain way, he does them differently. I have to let go of the small stuff. Thank you for this post!

  7. Anita Ojeda

    I’m…YES! I, too can overwhelm other (and even myself) with words. With my words. I learned long ago to explain how I did a task once—and then let it go. It doesn’t matter if Pedro doesn’t fold laundry the way I do. At least I don’t have to do it (and 33 years later he finally commented on how nicely unfold shirts and when he folds them, they never look the same 😂😆).

  8. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    Your story made me chuckle a bit—especially your “for everything I do mention there are 100 other things I don’t” comment. haha I can imagine myself saying that and instantly realizing my mistake. Probably every married couple on this planet would relate. What a great reminder, though, to release what doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

  9. Suzette Katopodes

    Wow! That is some deep thinkin’ and hard work. Ya done good, too! Seriously, since retiring (2020) I’ve had to learn to let some things go, and after four months, it’s finally starting to get more comfortable, even freeing sometimes. I just tell myself that “it” isn’t something I have to worry about anymore. And, thanks to you, I might have to add letting go of explaining myself so often to my list of things to let go.

  10. Calvonia

    I began working from home during the pandemic. I am the one who entered his territory, changing things. Trying to explain why my way was the right way. Something I hate him to do became my practice. I too had to learn “It’s to let go of controlling what happens if it really doesn’t even matter.”. In the grand scheme of things not much really matters. I’ve learned the love demonstrated in my silence. Even when I rearrange the drawer later.

  11. Joanne

    I can totally relate! With 4 other people taking turns to do chores in the house like putting away the dishes I used to try and explain why I wanted things done my way too but over time realized that I’d rather they just get done. I certainly didn’t want to nag my family to the point they stopped helping!

  12. JeanWise

    Love how you are allowing your word to dig deep roots into your soul. and love the practice of a monthly application . Will have to think about that with the word all. Easier with a verb than with a part of speech that can be a noun an adjective and even a pronoun. MMMM maybe that observation should be my next blog post!!

  13. PaulaShort

    Lisa, I over-explain too. I do what a past therapist of mine called Tangential speech. Basically, it’s kind of like talking in a circle. Whereas I could just make my point or explanation in the first place, I talk in a circle of everything leading up to make my point and make it at the end of the cycle instead of at the beginning. Thank you for this great post. Blessings.

  14. Barb Hegreberg

    Oh Lisa, I see myself in your story. How often do I try in vain to convince people that my way is better without even listening to their opinion. Ugh! I definitely need to RELEASE my need to be right. It is far more important to be kind and loving than it is to be right. Thanks for the lesson.

  15. Debbie Wilson

    Lisa, I can so relate. Those little things can get under my skin too. I love to open a drawer and have order. Be able to see what’s there. Over Christmas I reorganized our laundry/pantry room. But no one else cares about keeping my system of order! Release is a good word. My word is contentment. When I release I experience contentment.

  16. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    I can so relate to this! I also hate to be misunderstood. I also over-justify and over-explain myself. And it also gets me into trouble with my dear husband. I have gotten better over the years at stopping such unprofitable explanations, but often I’m left with simmering discomfort. I also need to work on releasing that anxiety that is left when I don’t feel understood. It does help to remember that God understands what even I do not fully understand.

  17. Karen Friday

    Lisa, we are kindred spirits for certain! lol. I smiled through the introduction because this is something I would take ownership of…stacking mearsuring cups just makes sense and takes up a lot less room in kitchen drawers and cabinets needed for storage. It is hard for me to let go of these things and always has been. Still, I know none of it matters in light of eternity. And like you, I hate to be misunderstood, especially when assumptions are made that are not true. Stacking measuring cups doesn’t transform into, “I don’t want you to retire.” But that is something my husband would come up with too. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder.

  18. ~ linda

    Oh, this is so appropriate for ‘release’ and in January yet!! Ouch! Now that I live alone, those things are not as obvious to me. Yet, Kenneth was even more particular than I am. I was the one who retired from a job away from home. He was the one who needed to adjust to me being home and I am also OCD! So we learned to dance and it was all good. I so miss him now. May we learn to allow measuring cups to be our only issue!!

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