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How Saying Yes Saved Me, and My Marriage

“I can’t believe he wants to get a two-seater convertible.” I was at lunch with a colleague, explaining how with two young kids it just made no sense that my husband Ben wanted to buy a Mazda Miata. At the time, we had separate places to drive our kids, we both worked, and it was just not practical. I was frustrated and dumbfounded that once again I had to point out the obvious.

Perhaps some backstory is helpful. First of all, I admit that I may have created the problem. Years ago I bought Ben a Nascar driving experience as a birthday present. He was already into cars and I suspected this would be right up his alley. He loved it. Thus began his new hobby of amateur race car driving. Somehow, as it happens when partnered, it also affected my life.

The first car was a Mini Cooper, which we had to wait for as they were just entering the US. This meant, for our life at the time, that I had to ride my bike to and from work while Ben took our available car to his job 30 minutes away. For some reason, we decided to get a puppy around the same time, which meant I had to do this bike ride twice a day to go home and take care of the puppy. Twice. A. Day.

Then we had our first baby. She must have been six months old when he decided he had to have a BMW 2002. It came complete with 5-point seat belts (very kid-friendly, ha). I almost lost my mind. I mean I was already losing it because of being a new mom, completely feeling like my independence was lost, and then there was my husband prioritizing a racing car as our second vehicle.

And it went on. After the BMW came Mini number two, then a BRIGHT yellow Subaru WRX. Do you recognize a pattern? About every three years a new car was getting rotated into the mix, each one “better for racing,” so said Ben.

It’s not that we weren’t having discussions around each of these purchases. In fact, over the years, marriage counselors were engaged; individual therapists - for me - were fully utilized. This is where we get back to my story. (By the way, we were past the yellow car and had now moved on to a Mazda RX-8.)

Now, back to that lunch with my colleague at the beginning of this story, I was lamenting with her how tired I was of arguing with him when, with a huge smile on her face, she said, “Just say yes Casey.”

Let me tell you, at the time, I was pissed. I thought to myself, “Whatever! She has no clue what my life would be like if I just said yes to him all the time.” Seriously, things like dyeing our dog purple and starting a fire-themed restaurant could have occurred.

I left that work event and drove home in terrible traffic. I was in the Mazda because Ben needed the family-friendly car to take care of the kids and the dog while I was gone for most of the day. And while I was driving it dawned on me.

I should just say yes. No, I will just say YES.

The very next time the conversation about a new car came up, I did it. I just said yes. And let me tell you, the tension around the issue was just gone. All of a sudden, I wasn’t the one needing to think through the practicality of the situation. The metaphorical weight lifted off me, and though it didn’t necessarily go to him (because he isn’t always that practical), it sat there on the ground, obvious and a trip hazard, because I wasn’t taking it on

That is where the ambulance entered our life. Yes, an ambulance. Because Ben needed it for the cycle cart he was building (it is like a fancy go-kart) and he said, “We’ll use it for camping.” (He knows I love camping, so he used this as a negotiation technique.) It didn’t matter though, I had said yes. I didn’t need to be convinced, it wasn’t my decision. See!? I was lighter already.

However, the surprising lesson about saying yes was that it also made me feel free to say yes to things I wanted in my life. All of a sudden the snow shoes I wanted, the standup paddleboards, the kayak, and Yoga teacher training - I got them and I did it. Remember when I mentioned my therapy? Well, one of the issues that I needed to work on was expressing my wants and needs. So that little word yes, meant for my husband, was actually me saying yes to myself.

This last month Ben finally got that Mazda Miata convertible. He split it with my mother-in-law who also wanted one. And me, well, I have a puppy who will be joining our house in just a couple of weeks because that is what I wanted, and, once again I said yes - to myself.

And, after reading this you may think my husband is awesome, or you may think I deserve a best wife award. I agree with both.


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