Marriage: The Need to Be Partners

[A series of posts based on a letter to SJ from 18 months ago]

I am a wordy person… whether it’s in writing or speaking.  I struggle with an economy of words.

SJ is a man of fewer words.  He likes things short and to the point.  Quick and easy.  This is true of many men.

I think this is a male-female thing.

Since SJ and I have had many “conversations” where he develops a raging case of MEGO (my eyes glaze over), and I develop RAGE over not being heard, I’ve often put things in writing.

Eighteen months ago, well into our marriage recovery journey, I was struggling to get Related imageclarity our direction forward.  We stood on the cusp of a new chapter of life. We  had already committed to a renewed marriage of respect, love, honor, and trust.  My goal was to actively practice submission to his leadership in not only bedroom fun, but in day-to-day life.  I loved when he showed leadership and dominance, but it also required my cooperation!  Things were so much better for us.  We were loving each other and enjoying each other.  There was peace and contentment. I was doubting him less, and accepting his decisions for us/our family.  There wasn’t a question in my head that he was a true servant-leader, wanting the best for me and our family.  Still, our “arrangement” hadn’t precluded the concept of discussion and partnership in most decisions affecting our family.

Marriages require maintenance, communication, and partnership.  Tweaking and resets.

My nearly 3-pages of musing at that time are presented in the next several posts here.

Dear SJ-

I am sorry I use so many words sometimes, and that it overwhelms you.  I will try to keep this brief, but there’s just so much in my head now.  It feels to me like you are overwhelmed, saturated, and retreating.   We can split this up and discuss in parts over the next week or so. But here’s what’s on my mind, and I’m praying we can talk successfully about this:

I love you, and I want to make things great for us going forward, I want us to be happy and working together.  It isn’t always easy, but I want to put the work and the prayers into this.

If we are really going to be a legitimate, enduring married couple, we need to be partners, in everything.  I’m praying for this every day.  I want to pray together on this. 

I want to learn to better accept your leadership and your guidance in this marriage, and I have lots to work on there.  But I also want to feel that I have a voice, and that you will hear me, respect me, in all matters: financial, parenting, planning, our time.  I know you’ve said you married be because I’m smart.  I can’t believe for a moment that you discount my views or input to a situation. 

Yes, there will be times we may not agree, or have differing points of view.  And there are times were I feel you do marginalize me.  Your motivations may be to make things easier, more peaceful, or more streamlined.  Perhaps it’s to reserve your right to act as you feel in a moment.  But when I’m pushed aside, I feel you don’t trust me.  I’m praying for a way to help me see when you are leading and when I need to quietly follow, but I need some input from you, not exclusion.

I think that when I feel pushed to the side, not included, not heard, not trusted, or marginalized, my survival “instinct” kicks in and I just want to think about how I could survive if you completely shut me out or left me. I feel doors closing and I imagine them all closing.  I have no rational reasons to think these things, but nevertheless, I go into survival mode whenever we’re not working in partnership. And sometimes I feel a strong urge to exercise my survival mode just in case it was ever needed. And I can see how that feels I’m pushing you away.  I could use a thousand words here to try to explain why I might be this way, but you can fill in the blanks for the whys.  Surrendering isn’t a natural state for me.  I have to work on this, and I need your help.  And prayers.Image result for husband leader

What did I need from him?  There were lots of specifics to follow my opening statement,
but in essence I just needed reassurances from him that I mattered.  The courtesy of keeping me in the loop on decisions. For him to articulate his own thinking to me on a matter, perhaps hear my opinion, nod his head, and then tell me about the decision he felt was best.  I truly don’t think it had to be “my ideas,” or “my way,” but rather a sense it was “ours.” I think it is much easier when he explains his thought processes, hears mine, and then says, “I appreciate your input, and I have decided this is the best way to proceed.”

That’s the time for me to let go and trust.  Trust him, trust God.

Image result for godly leadership quotesClearly there are things we both agree to delegate in our marriage.  He’s awesome on financial planning, saving, and investing.  I don’t care to be in the nitty gritty of that, I fully trust him; I still love that he keeps me informed (I have an MBA, after all). Home making skills are something I excel at– cooking, decorating, entertaining, disinfecting (although keeping clutter at bay isn’t my strength).  He delegates these things to me and does not need to be in every decision; I will ask his opinion or preferences though.

Matters pertaining to: our children; our future planning and retirement; family matters and how these affect our finances and budget.  These are things in which I want us to be partners.

Praying about our marriage was, and still remains, an areas I’d love to see us do more.  SJ is so good to be thankful for all we have in this world–including our physical pleasure and expressions of love. There is still a deeper need within me to hear my husband ask for Related imageGod’s guidance and wisdom for us both. To know unequivocally that he is striving towards the biblical mandates of believing husbands.

I think the key thing if I want to submit to the authority of a husband-leader, is to not “nickel and dime” him on every decision.  To trust and accept when he makes decisions for the good of our family.  Not always easy for a strong-willed woman!

We’ve not completely resolved this, but we are both trying harder, and have improved quite a bit. Communication is the key.  Discussion helps.

How do you want to partner better with your spouse?  How can wives respect and trust their husband’s authority, and still bring to bear their wisdom and talents, to be a help meet and partner?

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5 Responses to Marriage: The Need to Be Partners

  1. C for now says:

    Simply do as asked.

    So simple and yet the point of origin for so much strife.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know you often are pressed for time, and thus the succinct response; however “simply do as asked” is an infuriating response, except if you’re in a manager-employee situation. I agree not everything needs a major discussion, but there are times dialogue is helpful or necessary. Respecting and honoring another’s opinion or input. Even for children (and especially for wives) , the “do as asked” or “do as you’re told and don’t question what I say” mentality reduces the relationship to something akin to despotic. It was a mode used on me (and his wife, my mom) by a father I struggle to respect and love, who never seemed to care what I (his spouse, or most people) thought. Cooperation may not always be the easiest or most straightforward approach, but it usually results in positive outcomes. Just my opinion!

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      • C for now says:

        You are correct in pointing out that. You are also correct in that the truncated nature of my reply might have been confusing. It was a response to your ending and addressed a difference between men and women that is applicable to many situations. I’ll use a generic example from the past in hopes it helps clarify the intent of what I was going for.

        Women like the details. Be it in marriage or workplace, they will ask why. Guys typically aren’t this way. Take times that I’ve been doing a job such as one I did last Monday. A friend’s (lady) water tank went bad. It was the typical rush to fix. Another friend (gentleman) came over to help me. We were scrambling to get it done. She (rightly, partially as property owner and partially as a curious & intelligent person) asked a lot of good questions. If I asked that a faucet be turned on, she asked why and he reached over and opened a faucet. If he didn’t know why he asked after opening the faucet. He showed a submissive nature, complying and then questioning at the right time. Why? Because I was doing the task and if it went wrong it’s on me. Were I helping him, I would behave similarly. This compliance is typical amongst guys and the stop and question amongst ladies. Neither is wholly right or wrong. But, barring a foreseeable problem, follow the leader keeps society going.

        My point is simple. Do as asked. This is obviously a generalization. If a person is questioned, challenged or quizzed at every step then they feel as though their leadership is in question and their decisions not respected. A great way to respect and raise a leader is to do as asked if it is safe and appropriate to do so. Hold the question until after complying.

        Worth noting that I don’t frequently hear men say negative things of ladies but about half of what I do hear stems from exactly this and the commentary mirrors my experience to date.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Circumstances drive responses. In your anecdote, as the expert rendering the service, I too would have been annoyed by many questions about my expertise. There are certainly times, in the moment, where you trust and just obey, follow, “do as asked.” I personally HATE women who publicly undermine or put down their husbands (and vice versa). That is not the time to question or argue, it’s rude and demeaning. That’s what I mean that we both establish areas of expertise, and trust each other’s decisions in those areas; however for that to work, we are constantly communicating and understanding what our goals are, welcoming each other’s input. That’s when this marriage thing seems to work best.

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      • C for now says:

        Here’s an embarrassing bit of irony, I’m certainly not an expert at plumbing yet she never questioned that. (Bit of humor there. She is a very nice lady and I was glad to assist.)

        Like

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