Attention man bashers: You won’t like this post. I’m not going to say the things you want to hear about being a woman. I’m going to challenge your ideas and encourage women to ignore you, so this post isn’t for you. Or is it?
I never bought into women’s lib. The philosophy that a woman is always equal to a man and that women don’t need men has always irritated me. Yet, with my mind set against it, somehow my brain passively absorbed some of the toxic attitudes of feminism and I didn’t even recognize it until well into my years of fulfilling my dreams.
As long as I can remember, what I wanted was to be a wife and mother. When I got to junior high school and had ideas for a while about becoming a lawyer, it only lasted until I did the math: 8 years of university – during which getting married and having children while studying didn’t sound practical – put me at twenty six years old. With a degree and the expenses that go along with getting one, I would obviously have had to work right away for a while to pay it all off. Eventually it became clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to be the wife and mom I wanted to be until I was nearly middle aged (for a fourteen year old, middle age is anywhere from thirty-five on!). So I weighed things out and there was no contest. I didn’t care about the title or the money. I just wanted my own family and to live in a happy marriage to someone I could grow old with, and I found a special man who wanted the same.
However, over the years I became a bossy wife who wanted things done my way and thought I had all the answers when it came to raising children and running a home. My husband was a quiet and easy going man, always ready to do whatever made me happy (God love him) and put up little resistance. Eventually I came to see how my attitude not only affected my husband and children but myself as well, and I didn’t like it. I definitely wasn’t a mainstream feminist, but I was disheartened to notice the influences I had unintentionally succumbed to. So I changed it, and I’m glad I did. Treating him with more respect and showing regular appreciation were much more fruitful and mutually beneficial than acting like a selfish witch when I wanted my own way. He loved me either way, and has always been quick to forgive, although I don’t know how he put up with me before I “grew up”.
This isn’t about whether women should work, that’s your own business. It isn’t marriage advice either, just a perspective, and much of what I learned, put into practice and found life-changing came from Dr. Laura, who I happen to agree with nine times out of ten. She has a great book called “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” which caused a lot of controversy for today’s “women” and I highly recommend it.
I learned over the years that my husband had simple needs. The smallest gestures and signs of affection had a big impact. Thanking him for driving in crappy weather without complaint to work hard for our family made him feel appreciated. Taking time away from whatever I was doing each day to kiss him good bye when he left the house, wave at the window as he drove away, and greet him when he came home made him feel special and me connected. And I never once had to ask him to take out the garbage or clean up after himself. Even after working all day while I was at home, he offered to help me do what needed doing. He thanked me often too. He never wanted to spend money on himself because he preferred to buy things for the kids and me. He supported everything I ever tried to do and encouraged me even when I didn’t have confidence in myself.
I learned that my husband was a problem solver and that I wasn’t tapping into this wonderful gift! He could only listen to my venting so long without offering help and if a solution wasn’t what I was expecting from him, I knew when to be quiet about it. He wanted me to be happy and when I wasn’t, he wanted to fix it. By venting to him and then getting upset when he didn’t just “listen” without solving, I took away from him something valuable he had to offer and he didn’t know what I expected. Usually, when I was open to them, his solutions proved to be sensible and effective. Even now in his condition, with little understanding of his severe disabilities, he wants to be able to help me. It is part of his nature as a man.
I learned that when I lost the attitude, his strengths came forward more easily and I was able to experience joy and peace knowing that he was always going to have my back. I learned that no place was as safe and comfortable for me as my husband’s arms, and that a simple thing like reaching my foot across the bed to touch his in the middle of the night gave me security and comfort. Did I need him? Absolutely.
We were not “equal” in anything other than dignity and it would be ridiculous to assume that we were. We each had strengths and weaknesses that the other balanced off in other ways and together we were strong, we were one. That doesn’t mean I was diminished as a woman and couldn’t survive without a man. It means I was better as part of our team, happier, more at peace, and more fulfilled in my own life.
I’m not one for quoting the Bible, but it often seems that people react to only the first part of the whole teaching on wives being submissive to their husbands and forget to read the part about husbands loving their wives. It really does work whether you believe in the Bible or not.
I just don’t happen to think that a strong feminist attitude makes anyone happy, women included. Over the years I’ve heard women openly bash and complain about their men in social situations and it just makes me wonder how respectful or appreciative they are at home if they are that disrespectful in public, and if maybe it’s that attitude that is getting them more of what they are complaining about. No matter what our differences, I would never disrespect my husband by disclosing his faults to other women over coffee. Nor would he have done that to me. If I discussed him at all, I wanted others to know the good things about him.
Maybe some women don’t think they need a man to be happy, maybe some just haven’t found one yet, and maybe some have been treated poorly through no fault of their own and have good reason to want to stay alone. Maybe feminism initiated necessary changes in practical things where women were treated poorly. But like everything, the pendulum swings too far.
My perspective worked for me and I found happiness and love and a marriage strong enough to withstand a life-changing tragedy that actually showed me how much love there is. I thought I knew before, but now I really know.
While shopping in a store that takes some of my handcrafted items on consignment, I overheard a couple of women reading out loud the words on a sign I made: “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” When I found that quote, it touched me deeply, because it expresses the care and attention I’ve experienced in marriage and seems a simple piece of advice for those seeking mutual happiness. But their response (of course not knowing me or that I had made it) was “Wow, that’s a co-dependent relationship” and they walked away chuckling to look at something else. I wasn’t offended. I was saddened that they had missed the important point. Clearly their ideas of husband and wife were different than mine.
So if any hard core feminists actually read this all the way to the end and now want to scream at me, I’m OK with that. If you’re wanting to ask: “What about how the men should treat the women?” you’ve missed the point as you often do. The only time I ever feel diminished as a woman is when feminists act and speak in ways that make us all look bad. Working to be a loving wife and making my husband happy has never taken away my womanhood.