You know a great way to simplify your life? Quit hovering.

My husband and I were in Pictured Rocks in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on a boat. It was a little chilly, but beautiful scenery. We were enjoying the quiet and the nature.

Until behind me a high, nasally voice asked her husband, “Are you cold?” He said, “No.” She continued to ask, “Are you sure?” Over and over.

She fiddled with whether they should change places numerous times and if he was using the right lens to take the pictures. She asked him if he was cold, hungry, comfortable, if he wanted to go downstairs or if he needed anything. Every time he said no, she asked, “Are you sure?” Multiple times.

This was an adult man in his 50’s, not a 5-year old.

I was exhausted just listening to it all. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have my spouse constantly checking in with me and then not believing me. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be constantly in someone else’s space and head to make sure they are o.k.

Sometimes in the name of love, we over-step. We hover. We helicopter. Not only can it be annoying, but we are taking some of their power away. An adult male can fix a peanut butter and jelly while you are out of town without you filling the fridge. A teenager can turn in their homework or face the consequences. However, they won’t grow in responsibility if you call the teachers and make excuses or spend all evening nagging.

The hovering tends to be about us. We have to make sure everything is good or we think we are a bad spouse, parent or host. Or worry other people will think that. Other people are other people. You are your own person. You can only control yourself. If you are trying to control other people’s experiences and emotions – that is called manipulation.

Go ahead and ask once, if you think someone is uncomfortable. But, don’t ask again and again.

Where have you been hovering? Where have you been trying to control other’s experiences and emotions? Where do you need to let someone regain their own power?



  • Gabrielle says:

    Probably SHE was cold and hungry and wanted to go downstairs, and for what ever reasons was not able to say that.

    But I totally get the point of the column, I do/did this sometimes with my 20 year old, and it is so hard to stop “use the other pan, not that knife, here do it this way” only later do I hear myself. I have really been working on stopping it. Sometimes just saying “looks good” and walking out of the room is all it takes.

    Beth, I have been meaning to write and thank you for the bit of calm and peace that pops into my email box every week in the form of your newsletter. Thanks so much for that, it really is great. The simplicity tips are so specific, that makes them more helpful.

    Do you post the tips on the website or blog? As I have been cleaning out a ton of old email I am seeing I have kept some of the newsletters. Could I go and browse the tips some where on line? And delete the emails after I have read them over?

    Thanks again.

  • Beth Dargis says:

    Hi Gabrielle, Oh yes maybe she was cold and maybe that’s the other side of the coin. Letting the spouse/teenager/co-worker be in charge of their life and then you make sure you are doing what you can to take care of your needs or ask directly for support. (Yes, I know. Easier said then done. This is another area where you need to practice and practice.)

    So glad that you are enjoying the tips. I used to post to the blog so you can search Weekly Simplicity Tips in the search box. Or you can go to the archives (It’s kind of ugly but it does the job) http://archive.aweber.com/simplicitytips

  • Robyn Hubbard says:

    This post really resonated with me. My husband is mentally ill and even though I am constantly conscious of my words and actions to make sure he is o.k. but still in charge of himself, it is a struggle. I always ask my friends and family to tell me if/when they see me over stepping. It is so important to allow others to be responsible for their actions. I try not to forget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *