Married women have just as much right to choice as single women do. Yes, we are committed to the union! Does that mean we now give up all semblance of happiness at the altar of marriage? No, temporary peace comes at a high cost. Do you realize what an uneven level of sacrifice does to your marriage? It fosters resentment. The resentment will come from you, and apathy is likely what you’ll receive from your partner, because he doesn’t know your experience if you never tell him.
Challenge him, challenge his thinking. I know some women who behave as if the marriage is so fragile that it’s going to fall apart at any minute if they stand up and say something “wrong”. They’re afraid to tell him that something is wrong. If you treat the marriage like it’s THAT fragile, it will be.
Some issues are too insignificant to worry about, and others are not easily solved. But letting everything get swept under the rug in the name of “keeping the marriage together” is making for an incredibly unbalanced, unhealthy relationship. I don’t just mean equality for women as a principle, I mean for each of you to develop a general attitude and behavior of caring about what each other is experiencing. Not to prove you’re a good wife, but because you actually care about what each other is experiencing.
Give him a chance. Give him a chance to be the good guy; a chance to know what you are really thinking and feeling. Don’t wait for the frustration to build to a boiling point, or you may make an enemy rather than make a point.
What about him? What if his ego is fragile? Well, let’s hope he’s not completely egotistical, but if he is, it’s better to know it, rather than tiptoe and pretend it’s not true.
I’m not talking about asserting your opinion or authority above another person. That’s just the same problem in reverse. I am saying to be assertive enough to let him know what you’re thinking and how you are feeling. Communicate it in a way that shows you believe he cares about what you’re thinking and how you are feeling.
If he is going to act against your better judgment, he should at least know what that judgment is. Then at least you can truly know whether or not he is deserving of the resentment you’ll inevitably feel toward him if he steamrolls you.
Women have traditionally been taught to be passive. We’re taught to keep the peace. It’s even hard for me, when I find myself needing to say something that contradicts what my husband has just said. It’s hard because I feel like I’m rocking the boat. It feels as if having an opinion makes us automatically responsible for the other person’s reaction to my opinion (am I right?) We are not responsible for their reaction, but we are responsible for our delivery.
But what if he never hears your opinion? Then how can he act on it? Women are traditionally told to never complain, but remember that a suggestion is not a complaint. A new perspective should be welcome in a stable marriage relationship. You are doing both of you a disservice if you always keep quiet.
Something women do automatically is ask each other a lot of questions, and invite a lot of feedback. Men do not automatically do this. Therefore, women tend to automatically feel that someone who communicates in a more masculine way has laid down the law and is very, very firm in their decision, when really it’s just a difference in communication style. If you feel timid in bringing up a point you fear he’s not ready to hear, consider just asking it as a question.
“May I make a suggestion?”
If he says no, then that means he had to hear himself telling you that you are not allowed to make a suggestion. It helps him reveal his true character.
What is the consequence of him not knowing your true feelings on things? What if you go along very easily with everything, in an attempt to never contradict or complain. Then you rob not only yourself, but you also rob him of two things. You rob him of the chance to get to know his real wife, and you rob him of the opportunity to grow by taking another person’s perspective into consideration.
What do people become if they only see success and never meet with any resistance? They become spoiled. Entitled. They do not know what a good thing they have.
So, speak up! Disagree agreeably. Not with fear, but with courage. With the confidence of knowing this is a good man, and you are a good woman, and you are a partnership. Do not spoil him with your silence. Help him rise to the occasion and become who he is destined to become.
Another reason it’s easy to be passive is because before we were women, we were children. If we were parented traditionally, then we were encouraged to keep our opinions to ourselves, because the grown-ups don’t often want to hear the opinions of children.
Men who call women nags are the same men who are not interested in hearing from them in the first place. There is not necessarily anything wrong with that woman. However, she may be speaking in a way that is passive aggressive, because she was never invited to be assertive. If you’re waiting to be invited; don’t wait anymore. Men don’t invite each other to be assertive; they just are. If you are assertive, too, then a good man will respect you for it. It will STRENGTHEN the marriage, not weaken it. If the relationship is weakened when you are being strong, then what does that say about the relationship?
Babies who are ignored tend to cry. Women who are ignored tend to complain. It is every bit as much his responsibility to take care of this marriage as it is yours. Elevate him to the status of one who is an equal partner with his wife.
Do not abdicate the responsibility of all decision-making to him. That’s cheap. That way you get the right to be unhappy about all of his decisions, since you took no part in them. You get to maintain a victimhood status. Taking an active role in the decisions means you don’t get to sit back and blame someone else for the decisions. But it does mean you are empowered far beyond what you would be if you only had the power to blame someone else.
Married men are much healthier than single men of the same age. We do a good job taking care of our men, by and large. But we do them a disservice if we do not help him to grow his character. If we are disgruntled pushovers, obligated to uphold his every word in every situation. Don’t treat him like he’s a monarchical dictator (you certainly don’t want him to become one).
I cannot overstate the importance of believing this is your right and your duty. Otherwise you will speak like a petulant child; a teen who is complaining that their parents never listen to them. This is not a good place for him to be acting well from. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he actually cares for you. Give him the chance to be a good man.
Too many men are living beneath their potential because of women who will not speak up in good faith. That means they only speak up out of exasperation, and how does that sound from the other end? It sounds like you’re complaining about your boss. It sounds like you’re making him out to be the bad guy. But you didn’t marry a bad guy, you married a good man.
Believe he is that man. Have faith that he is a good man. Believe he can rise to the challenge of meeting the requests of his wife by sharing those requests with confidence and love. Most men are pleased to bend over backwards to make their wives happy. Just be sure to say it as a request between equals.