Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Respect is a Two Way Street

As a recently married gal who has been in the same relationship for nearly ten years, I have been more aware of blog posts and articles about the subject of marriage. They fascinate me mostly because I just simply can't relate to them. Many bloggers confess to marriage being the hardest thing they have ever endured, that marriage takes hard work, and that they are so thankful to have made it as far as they have. I have been inundated with posts like these as of late, but they leave me wondering what I'm missing. I'm just not quite getting what makes marriage so difficult.

Maybe Andrew and I have it good. Maybe we're just that compatible, or we just have a knack to working well together, or respecting others, or communicating, or what have you, without even thinking about it. I not sure really what it is, but I guess I just don't see it as hard work. If you love and respect someone and that is a mutual thing, then I think it just comes easily. That is not to say that we've never had arguments about anything, but I just can't ever remember a time when I felt at my wits end over our relationship as so many others have confessed.


This weekend, after already reading a plethora of these articles on how to keep a marriage together, I happened upon another article dealing with marriage that I simply couldn't leave on the back burner. This time, my cousin had fueled the fire with a post on facebook sharing this article about 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband. As a married male, he was posting the article in a WTF?! kind of way and even stated something to the effect of "respect is a two way street."

I was curious, so I began reading the article. As I began reading, I realized that it was a list of ways in which the woman must act only for the husband in a relationship-- to me, this was not a list of ways to maintain a healthy relationship. I got as far as number 11, "Eyes Only For Him," before I felt like I was going to lose my lunch and had to stop reading. Was this truly a woman writing this article?! And how could she possibly feel that thinking only of meeting her husbands needs and catering to his beck and call is a healthy relationship?! What about her needs? About what makes her happy? Is there no mutual respect?

While I suppose there is some small amount of merit to a few of these points if taken on a mutual level, I just couldn't get past how archaic a large majority of her points were. I was angered that she suggested that women must reciprocate whenever their husband is in the mood for sex. Outraged at the fact she believed women should dress only to please their husbands. Horrified by the many points she makes in which the wife should not speak her mind, make decisions, or question decisions made by the husband. Disgusted by her insinuation that women should be the only one responsible for a clean house and food on the table.

This is submission. 

Submission and choosing to accept that men are more powerful and mean more than the woman in a relationship. That women are less than. That women should not be honored and respected in the same way. It is antiquated thinking that I just can't wrap my head around or deem as acceptable in our modern society. Women have worked far too hard to make it to the point at which we are in the world today, and this article felt like a slap in the face, a step backward from the freedoms and equalities that have been accomplished thus far.

Power is a frightening thing. When one has a sense of power, they will most likely do things that they may otherwise not have thought to do. And when there is no longer a balance of power in a relationship and we give power to only one side, it is no longer healthy. Both sides of a relationship should be equal, and to disrupt that equality to create a system of subservience versus power, changes the way people view each other and respect each other. While, the author of the article may find that a woman should do these things to show respect, what she hasn't considered is the way in which she is disrespecting herself in return. And above all, if we don't respect ourselves, living a fulfilling life is much harder to do.

After mentioning the article to Andrew, I finally mustered the courage to finish reading it in its full length. I read the article aloud to Andrew as we drove home from our weekend grocery trip. "What is this?! What kind of man treats his wife like that or expects those things from her?!" he exclaimed. And then it hit me. Maybe that is why marriage is so easy-- because we take our relationship as a two way street. We respect each other equally, allow the other person to be who they are, and hold no impossible expectations over the other's head. And to me, that mutual respect is truly what love and relationships are all about.




12 comments:

  1. Great topic for a blog post. Articles like that drive me up the wall. They give married people a bad reputation. I am also in constant wonder at the number of people who drone endlessly about the hardships of married life. My husband and I certainly don't have a perfect relationship, but it has never been a huge stress in my life. It's been quite the opposite actually. I think that a lot of people get married for the wrong reasons (i.e. purely attraction), and it causes all sorts of problems that they never anticipated down the road.

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  2. It's really hard to imagine someone behaving this way in a relationship but from my own experiences of watching my elders in their relationships I can see how some women might view marriage this way. If you are taught by your mothers and your grandmothers that this is the way to have a marriage then of course you are going to think this is normal.

    There have been times that my mother has made dumbass suggestions about how I talk to a man and how to respect him that I just look at her and say..umm no...I'm gonna do what I want and if he doesn't like it then he can kiss my ass. Enough said.

    That being said I still use respect and I demand respect in return. Relationships are 50/50 and if you are putting more in than your are getting then there is a problem. Marriages/Relationships shouldn't be work and the minute you are getting tired in your marriage/relationship then you need to find someone else. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with someone like it's a shitty job.

    I don't believe relationships are always sunshine and rainbows and no matter how happy you are with someone you are going to fight about the mundane things like 'who is going to throw the garbage out.' but to avoid any resentment regarding silly situations like that you must have mutual respect for each other and you must be on the same power level otherwise.. you might wake up stabbed in the neck from a bitter spouse..

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  3. I don't think being married is hard, either! I'm so baffled by people who say that being married takes a lot of work... and that makes me think they're with the wrong partner. That's not to say that we never argue, of course we do, but we get over it quickly and move on with our day because it's almost never a big deal to begin with. Respect is a two-way street over here, too, and I really think that's what makes it so easy. Nobody is resentful of the other person for being "the boss."

    I was HORRIFIED at some of her suggestions. Dress to please your man? I don't think so. I wear whatever I like and if he's into it, too, then it's a bonus. Give in every time he wants sex? Well, that's obviously how this woman ended up with 12 kids! Keep the house tidy? Half of it is his mess, so he can do that part.

    Is she really so brainwashed that she just doesn't care if she has an opinion, or gets her own needs met? Life isn't all about pleasing your man.

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  4. Amen! Being married has hard moments. So does being a human in general. If your marriage in general is hard, maybe it's time to reevaluate.

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  5. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who doesn't think marriage is hard. Maybe the addition of kids changes that? I like to think D and I just mesh well together. While we're not perfect, especially in the "deep conversations," aspect, we make it work. This article is sickening. These are the values and bullshit that are continuing to be taught to women. I appreciate your honest opinion and hope that more women can evolve from these archaic views. Yikes.

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  6. Agreed! Being married is a choice every day. Never perfect, not always amazing but as long as you're choosing to stand by each other's side and work every day. It's so worth it. :)

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  7. I understand your confusion when people comment on marriage being hard. Even after 3 years we aren't quite sure why people say that. Bills can be/are hard - marriage isn't. Not yet anyways. *Knock on wood*

    As someone who has grown up in church and continues to place great value on my Christian faith I have been blasted with lists like this for as long as I can remember - and for as long as I can remember I had resented them.
    BUT as I read the 25 list I'd have to say that I do- or try to do - most of those things naturally, out of love for my husband, not as a check list. It seems absurd and so rigid when put in list form but I LIKE dressing in ways he finds attractive - even if it is for the selfish reason that I enjoy it when he tells me I look hot and chases me around. Do I always look cute "for him"? No, definitely not, but I do think about it. Also, I try so, so hard to do a better job of tidying the house (I'm a giant clutter-bug) because clutter makes him feels stressed and I hate to see him feel like that. I try to note the little things I love about him as they happen because seeing him light up makes me happy - not to mention that he will normally reciprocate and tell me something which, of course, I enjoy.

    I could go on but that is not really the point. I guess what I'm saying is that a few years ago I would have thought that list was stupid and have been angry about it. Now I feel kinda dumb for hating advice like this. I can see that I am doing many of these things - in my own way. It might be a list about "communicating respect to my husband" but to me it is a good reminder as to how I should treat my best friend.

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    1. I understand the points you are trying to make, and do agree with some of what you say. For me, some of these things don't come naturally because I feel that they aren't something that falls into the "mutual respect" category. Having been in a relationship with my husband for nearly ten years, seven of those years in which we have lived together as pretty much married but just not on paper, getting married was more of a formality than anything else at that point. Our relationship has never been hard and part of that I believe is because he has respected me and not held me to one sided expectations. We do things for each other, not because that is what we're "supposed to do," but rather because its our way of caring about each other. Do I feel I need to dress for him? No. Do I like to dress in a way that makes me feel good about myself? Yes. And if I feel good about myself and respect myself then I know that he will respect me in return. To me, being married, or in a committed relationship like we have been for years, is about not only respecting your partner, but respecting yourself. If you can't respect yourself, then how can anyone else respect you? As I had mentioned in my post, not all of these items on the list are bad-- especially if they are considered in a MUTUAL way. However, the items that relay the idea of women being subservient to men, is to me, horrifying, and is a way for women to lose their self-respect. Women are not less then men, nor should they ever be. We are all people and we ALL deserve the same respect-- to me that would be more in line with the Christian faith than anything else.

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    2. I definitely agree that respect should be mutual and am sooo thankful that, like you, I am married to a man that feels that way! Did you see the link way down at the bottom to the response list her husband wrote. I thought it was an interesting read and tells a great deal about their relationship.
      http://alltruthisgodstruth.com/2012/08/14/25-ways-to-show-your-wife-you-love-her/

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    3. I did read that, but that doesn't make me any less disgusted by the suggestions of the woman to be so subservient. I felt the articles were very different in their own rights and it was clear, that in general, the relationship and the belief system that runs in this family, is that women should serve their husbands as a way of serving God and that despite the male perspective, the woman still seemed to be very disrespected. That just doesn't mesh with my belief system, so unfortunately, I'm going to have to agree to disagree with you on this. :)

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  8. I'm not going to read that article because I don't think I can handle it right now, but I totally agree with you: submission is NOT respect. sure, sometimes one person gets his or her way and sometimes you compromise and neither 100% gets his/her way, but it's a balance and, even when you're doing something that your partner wants to do that you don't really want to do, if you're respecting each other then neither is being submissive.

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  9. I didn't read the article, but I was immediately floored by the word "submissive." It's a dangerous word, and definitely a loaded one in today's society. Currently, I am in a serious relationship (we've been dating several months), but--before this one--I was engaged. He and I were together for four years, and lived together for about half that time. My ex-fiance and I did have a hard relationship--I was familiar with all of those "lists" you allude to and found myself agreeing with them. However, I eventually realized that my fiance and I did not make a good couple. We were excellent friends, but bad companions, if that makes sense. That said, we did try at our relationship--and even though we eventually went our separate ways, I can tell you, honestly, that we MUTUALLY tried to make things better. Sometimes, I know, he felt like he was being submissive. And sometimes I felt like I was being submissive. In retrospect, I think it was because we were too stubborn to change things about ourselves. We were doing things because we thought we were "supposed to," rather than because we wanted to better ourselves (and, in turn, better the relationship). As you said above, you have to respect yourself in order to have a solid relationship. We weren't really there yet. All that said, thank you so much for writing this post. It was very interesting, and I was curious to read others' responses. Mutual respect is so much more of a welcoming idea--if you do things out of love for the other person, rather than out of duty, you end up becoming a better person, too. (Does that make sense?) Thank you again for sharing.

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