It’s frequently said that men are just big boys, and the only difference is the price of their toys. And quite frankly, that is disrespectful on so many levels. And way too many wives get away with giving voice to this stereotype. I once was one of them.
After being married for a few years, I would frequently get the question about when I was going to have a child. My oh so snappy answer was often, “You mean another one?” The implication being that I already had one in my husband. The truth? My husband has always been an adult and an equal partner in our marriage. He has loved me, supported me and our children in every way possible, and made my life better than I ever dreamed it would be.
We’ve had challenges at times, as all couples do, but he’s never given me any reason to question his capabilities or maturity. He’s never acted like a child and I’ve never treated him like one. I also stopped “teasing” about him being my first child. It wasn’t funny. It was insulting.
I recently called a wife out in a Facebook group for claiming her husband (and all men) were childish. Let me tell you, it didn’t go over well. How dare I question this lumping of all men into this, in my opinion, demeaning category? How dare I break the Wife Code?
I do dare. But I don’t let men off the hook either. You see this parent/child, overfunctioner/underfunctioner dynamic is a common pattern in marriages. And it can’t exist without both partners participating.
Let me say that again. Both partners participate in this pattern. Which means that either one can change it.
So, if your wife thinks that you are a child and treats you like one, you’re going along with it in some way. And you need to stop it because it’s unhealthy. And besides, no one wants to have sex with their child.
Please don’t misunderstand. I do not believe you are a child. But I’m not the one whose opinion counts. If your wife does, you and your marriage are in trouble.
Remember those pairings? Well, the hardest partner to change is the one in the parent/overfunctioner role. Your wife has adopted this role for some reason. Maybe it’s because she thinks her way is best. Maybe she tried to please you early on and took on things you didn’t notice her doing. Maybe she never even gives you the chance to handle something. The reason doesn’t really matter. How you deal with your side of it does.
So, if things are going to come into better balance and you are to be acknowledged as the capable man that you are, it’s up to you to step up and claim it. Not in anger or rebellion, but with calm resolve and unshakable commitment.
Think of it like you’re trying to get a promotion at work. You would study the person whose job you would like to have. What are their responsibilities? How do they allocate their time? What do they do to support and inspire the people around them? Then you would find a way to be part of it.
The same is true at home. Don’t ask what you can do to “help”. Don’t look for acknowledgment of your efforts. At least not at first. You don’t have to do things her way but become more aware of the routines and take ownership of parts of it. Just as you would at work.
You might not agree with her complaints, but you know what they are. Let go of defending yourself. Instead, find a productive way to address them in a manner that fits for you. It doesn’t mean she’s right, but it will take away her ammunition and level the field.
Your refusing to play your part in the pattern means the pattern will change. The more consistent you are, the faster it will happen. Because you’re not a child and it’s past time for her to stop believing you are.
What’s your biggest challenge with your wife’s beliefs about you? Click here and we’ll talk about it.
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