Post # 1
I’m just curious how everyone else feels on this topic. I got into a discussion this past weekend with one of my closest male friends. He’s no-nonsense and to the point, and said one of the reasons he’s skeptical of marriage is because a lot of his married friends’ wives are mean, manipulative, and lack gratefulness. I had to step back and think about this for a moment, because a lot of SO’s friends’ wives are exactly that… and it concerns me how it will effect our own engagement and his ideas about me.
I got to thinking about pop culture and what is considered socially acceptable nowadays (I am a psych nerd). It’s become socially acceptable to treat men less than men, and for women to try to rank with men. I understand everyone will certainly have their opinion on this, but I know personally I’ll never be a man nor do I want to. I love being emotional, spiritual, and domestic. I’ve embraced it more and more as I grew older.
I always give SO space and let him live his own life, which in turn had the opposite effect; he wanted me MORE in his life. I’ve had LTRs in the past which I had been, quite frankly, a bitch. This was what I grew up around. No wonder they didn’t last and weren’t fulfilling for either of us.
Does anyone else think about this, and if so, what is your opinion? Do you create harmony in the home with a more traditional role or do you find equality works?
Post # 3
Oooh, Psychology Major here! I love this stuff! Haha…as much as I believe that women should stick up for themselves, think independently, and all that, for me it just seems right to fall into the domestic/traditional/emotional role a bit. I just like to cook a lot…and he has the better paying job, so generally his career gets put before mine, and I’m okay with that.
BUT…I definitely don’t think I’m mean/manipulative/ungrateful…SO and I both like to be right and in charge all the time, so I think if I ever was manipulative about anything he was just be manipulative right back. We balance each other out. 🙂 I think with anyone else we might be “controlling,” but with each other it just wouldn’t work!
I also think we’re pretty good at giving each other space and independence (although, that might be due to all the time we spent doing the LDR thing). We both think its important to have aspects of our lives that don’t revolve around each other, and we support each other in that.
So I guess for us the traditional thing works, but I do believe that it doesn’t work for everyone, and that each couple should figure out the best role division for them.
Post # 4
- Wedding: September 2009 - City Hall
Mr. Mary Jane and I talk about this kind of thing all the time… how so many couples we know exist on the basis that the husband is scared of the wife… she manipulates him and yells at him all the time, forces him to do things, and he spends all his free time complaining about her at the bar with his friends… but then giving to her every demand because he is afraid of her/she controls him… know what I mean? So SAD.
We try to base our relationship on mutual respect, communication and trust. We try to allow each other to take a step back and express how we feel (like if the other person makes us feel bad). I do tend to gravitate toward traditional roles (cooking, taking care of Mr. Mary Jane whenever I can), but I also am an independent woman with a career and hobbies and interest. He’s the same (but, not a woman, hahah.) He doesn’t expect me do to all of those traditional things, but he’s always appreciative and willing to help/pick up those roles if I ask.
Post # 5
I love this topic! We were created with different roles… in the bible when God created Eve as a helper for Adam – the hebrew word used as helper is Ezer..<span style=”font-family: Trebuchet MS; font-size: x-small;”><span style=”font-family: Trebuchet MS; font-size: x-small;”>
Usage of the Hebrew term does not suggest a subordinate role, a connotation which English “helper” can have. In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper,” the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.” The woman would supply what the man was lacking in the design of creation and logically it would follow that the man would supply what she was lacking, although that is not stated here. See further M. L. Rosenzweig, “A Helper Equal to Him,” Jud 139 (1986): 277-80.
I love this… it shows how different we are… not lesser but different.. a counter part for eachother. I do think that it is important for the man to be the leading role in the relationship.. not “over us” but with us. I hope this is making sense. Books I suggest are “For women only” or “for men only” and Captivating
Post # 6
Of course, as with anything, it depends on the couple. Yes, there are women out there who mean and controlling, just as there are men that are too. For example, we know a married couple (the man is one of my FI’s best friends from HS) anyways his wife is mean, controlling, and vindictive, NO JOKE she says it outloud! At first we felt sorry for him because of the things she would do to him, but we realized that in his own way he is controlling too, so they kind of fit together in that aspect. FI says that his friend is a “shell of man” because she controls his life, BUT he lets her & choose to marry her, so I guess he feels he can put up with it.
Your friend just hasn’t met the right person who balances him out, IMO I think people are better fitted dating/marrying a person that is like them, vs. opposite them, but again its MHO. Therefore if a gal is a controlling person she should date someone else who is controlling, the belong together. I actually have a friend that is like yours, he has been single for 5 years mainly because his girlfirend that he was with for 6 years was so mean and never let him really think for him self, so he has this whole “girls are crazy” thing. But I really think it boils down to compatability, if she wanted him to live his life in a way that he didn’t feel like himself, then they weren’t compatable. It’s important for men and women to understand that not all people are the same. And sometimes I do think some women’s behavior gives us women a bad wrap, but then hey that is the same for guys too.
Post # 7
Thanks for all of the comments, I’m glad to hear everyone’s opinions on this. I have made it very clear to SO that my number one job is wife and mother, and I firmly believe this. I would not be emotionally or spiritually fulfilled to throw myself into my career – no matter the field. It is something I came to understand about myself only in the last year.
Post # 8
I’m not sure what you mean by “It’s become socially acceptable to treat men less than men…” I don’t think it’s socially acceptable at all to treat men badly. I’m thinking of an obvious example from pop culture, Jon and Kate Gosselin, where Kate received a lot of blame from the media and fans for the way she treated her husband. It seemed before the divorce was announced that Kate’s name only came up in a negative way (e.g. she was a bad wife and mother, she didn’t pay enough attention to the children, she treated Jon like a child, etc…).
I also think that pop culture is starting to showcase more equality in relationships. My two favorite shows, How I Met Your Mother and The Office, both show relationships based on equality and mutual love/respect between partners (Marshall and Lily & Jim and Pam). Also, I would say there are more couples like the Obamas (or the Clintons) in the spotlight, couples where partners both have strong careers and manage a family life together in a way that works for both of them (not necessarily the stereotypical way).
I feel like marriage is about finding your match in qualities and talents. Sometimes that fits stereotypical roles and sometimes it doesn’t, but as long as the partners are both happy together and have mutual love/respect, I think that’s equality. There’s no one “right” way to form a partnership; I’m sure other people don’t have the same relationship roles my husband and I have, but I don’t think their ways are wrong or lead to unhappy marriages. From my experience, when marriages get to the point that you’re describing (where one partner is “mean, manipulative, and [ungrateful]” to the other partner) it’s because the couple has lost mutual love and respect for one another. At that point, it doesn’t matter which partner is acting cruelly; the partnership can’t succeed.
Post # 9
Ditto Mrs Spring – that’s how I feel, and that’s a great point about Marshall/Lily and Jim/Pam. I wouldn’t say my FI and I fall into traditional relationship roles at all. We both cook, we both take care of each other, we clean together, all chores are split, etc. When we have kids, whoever makes the least $ has to stay home. It’s a partnership that works well for us, because quite frankly, I am not at all interested in living my life in a mostly domestic way. My FI doesn’t want that in a wife either – we each wanted an equal partner to split our lives with and to go on adventures with.
We don’t really know anybody who falls into this traditional marriag ekind of gender relationship. My mom builds houses and runs a company right alongside my dad! If you love someone, you always want to serve them and help them, no matter what sex you are, imho.
Post # 10
Mostly equality, but we do take on some traditional gender roles, just naturally. I like to cook and clean and “take care of him” but he likes to take me out and treat me like a lady.
Not to say he is the “man of the household” and his ruling is final. That’s where we are equal.
He actually encouraged me to pursue my education (which, in my company, requires i work 24 months following receipt of my degree full time or have to pay it all back!) and he is more than happy to pick up some “mommy duties” so I can do this. We’ll have a little bit of reverse role action going on, but nothing we aren’t ready for. I’m not exactly a mushy cuddly person whose life would be content to just take care of my baby all day. It’s just not me, and he knows that and doesn’t expect me to quit my job to take care of our kids. We got that out of the way extra early =]
As long as you are both on the same page, all is good. I think your friend hasn’t met his perfect match yet, that’s all.
Post # 11
Some people just don’t get it! I see married couples all the time who treat each other miserably, whether because of power struggles or miscommunications or what have you, and it motivates me to always treat my man as a person and not a posession, and I expect him to treat me the same way. What’s male and what’s female doesn’t matter nearly as much as love, respect, and communication. When you get to the point that you think the other person is mean/b*tchy/weak/whatever and you are willing to admit it publically, much less admit it about yoursef…sorry, game over.
My boyfriend and I aren’t living together or anything like that, but I’m already getting a sense of how we would divide big and little responsibilities, based on what we enjoy doing, and what we’re willing to do for each other. It has nothing to do with assumed roles and everything to do with what’s right for us.
@Annie: I agree with you about the opposites thing. A lot of people say they’re opposite when they probably just mean different, with complimentary traits. That’s natural. But there are plenty of people who really are so different that they shouldn’t be married. In the wise words of my man: “Opposites attract? Yeah, opposites divorce!”
Post # 12
I feel like there are several questions wrapped up in your post. Is it okay to treat men badly? No… it isn’t okay to treat anyone badly. Especially someone you love and respect.
Are traditional gender roles the “best” way? I’d say no. They’re one way. They work for a lot of couples, and for a lot of couples they don’t. I happen to like to cook and sew and I guess in a lot of ways I’m “domestic.” But I don’t feel that my uterus ties me to the stove… I just don’t like eating burned eggs 🙂 For the record.. I take some of the more masculine roles too. I am the one who owns a circular saw. I’m the one that knows how build a bookcase. My grandparents were a seamstress and a carpenter, and I learned from both of them. Meanwhile my guy takes other roles. He does a lot of the “guy” things like taking out the trash, killing spiders, etc. But he also doesn’t mind cleaning as much as I do so he does more of that. It works for us.
I also would never say that my “#1 job is wife and mother” as you said. Not that your feeling that way is wrong, if it makes you happy. I think my #1 job is to be happy. I do put my guy above my job, and I’m sure I would put my children above too if I had any. But I hope I never identify myself as X’s wife and Y’s mother and Z’s daughter… first and foremost I’m just me. I hate to get preachy about it but I’ve watched my mother– who only ever wanted to be a wife and mother– watch her kids leave the house and now she’s lost. She says she was always only someone’s someone and she never focused on just being herself. She has had a really really hard time since we left the house because her “identity” is gone.
Post # 13
You can have equality without being mean and manipulative. Currently my husband is the “breadwinner” since I’m still in school, but once I’m out I will most likely be making more money than him and we’re both ok with that. He doesn’t have all of the power now and I won’t have all of the power when I’m earning more. It’s just about respect and treating each other equally. (equally well!) I don’t have any desire to stay at home and raise kids and fill that more traditional role. We cook and do chores together and we will both be working. It’s what works for us.
You can still play those traditional roles and have equality at the same time. For a lot of women staying home, raising kids, and taking care of the house is their job. If they both are happy with that arrangement and have respect for one another then that is equality. For me, it’s when one person makes all of the decisions, regardless of the other’s input, or holds more power through any means and uses it against the other that you have inequality.
I know where your friend is coming from. I think we’ve all seen couples like that where you wonder why one person has stuck around for so long because they get treated so poorly. And yes, I’ve seen it where it’s been the woman who has been controlling, but men do the same things sometimes. Honestly, I think it’s rare for the woman to be so nice before and then turn into this horrible person after they get married. Even if she wasn’t as controlling before I’m sure the signs were there and the man either ignored them or actually likes playing these games. As long as your friend dates a woman for long enough to really get to know her and doesn’t put up with that type of behavior I don’t think he has much to worry about.
Post # 14
Fiance always says he wouldn’t be marrying me if I was “one of those girls.” He has some friends attached to very difficult women, and he loves me because I give him space and respect. It’s become acceptable to demean men on a regular basis, I think…like they’re ignorant buffoons or something.
Post # 15
@redeemed, i like that interpretation! makes it a lot more palatable.
the boy and i are pretty equal but we do lapse into those traditional roles, something i’m not entirely comfortable with just yet as i’ve always been so independent. it’s been a bit of a sticking point for us since he feels i’m taking away from him while i’m trying to have my independence awknowledged. it’s a tussle and a juggling act we’re both working on.
Post # 16
I think equality in a partnership is better, personally. I’m not saying that both people need to work the same hours, earn the same money, and then come home and split the chores equally. Equality is about having the freedom to find the role that works best for YOU in your relationship.
I was raised in Christianity (which I have since rejected) and I always hated the idea that the woman was expected to fill more traditional roles.
Everyone, no matter their gender, should be able to be happy with the role they have in their relationship, no one should feel obligated to act a certain way simply because that’s what’s expected of them as a man or a woman. That’s not a healthy relationship.