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If my husband is a considerate and generous man, not a typical male chauvinist, then does that mean that either I am a dominating wife or he is a passive husband?
I do everything to the best of my abilities for both my husband and my marriage. And, he does the same.
Both of us contribute something meaningful to our relationship and respect each other’s contributions. It’s true that life doesn’t always provide us with the ideal circumstances of contributing equally and perfectly but still, we try to keep our partnership and contribution equal through effective communication and planning.
Balanced and healthy relationships will always have this much-needed sense of reciprocity embedded in them. In marriage, I think It should always be that you both look out for each other and never bean-count when you help the other out.
My husband and I often come across different sort of views regarding the practice of this ‘equal partnership’ concept in our marriage. For example, many of my female friends feel, “This is so unique, how your husband listens to you and takes care of your every wish. You must be having good control over your husband.” Many times my husband has told me that his friends stated, “Oh! You don’t exercise control over your wife, she must be very dominating.”
Why it is so difficult to understand that there exists the concept of equal partnership in a marriage?
Here’s the problem: Do you ask two people in a friendship that who dominates whom? No, right! Then, why even in this 21st century, we any marriage from the perspective of ‘who dominates whom’?
Dominance is a common issue that affects marriages and children in a negative manner. I strongly believe it is not something to laugh about, to joke about or to be taken that lightly. It should be stopped at the get-go by nipping things in the bud when you see any signs of control issues.
I am not an expert, neither have conducted I any study on relationships. Whatever I have learnt about the gender roles in marriage is through my own relationship and the family I was raised in. For example, my father still prepares morning tea for my mother. He never hesitates to go shopping with her. Whenever our maid would be absent, my brother and I, both would help our mother to clean and cook. There were no such defined gender roles.
Similarly, in my marriage, my husband and I, both chose not to follow traditional gender roles, but rather, work as a team.
In our home, he helps me with household chores and I help him with the budget and financial planning. I never felt that I am second to him. Being the man of the house he doesn’t expect any godly treatment, neither he wants me to treat his family like they are descended from the gods. We both respect each other’s family as our own. We both fight, we both are culprits like any other couple but neither of us is dominating. Yes, we help each other to become a better version of ourselves but surely not with manipulation and nagging.
My husband, at the beginning of our relationship, assured me that, “Just because you are married to me that doesn’t mean that now you have to do things according to my perspective. You need not sacrifice your individuality to be my ‘better half’. There will be a difference of opinion many times but I would still appreciate your involvement and advice. I will always respect your opinion on all the matters, concerning our relationship and our lives together.”
I believe there should be no Alpha Male-Beta Female or Alpha Female-Beta Male mentality in a marriage.
In a group, the Alpha is the one who exerts power and influence through his/her ability to take charge of the conversation, while the Beta will tend to listen and support. In their extremes, an Alpha may be too confrontational; a Beta may be too passive. But we both believe that partners should be flexible in their approach and should modify some of their behaviours for a better balance.
If you ask what an alpha male really is, you will get an ambiguous description of macho behaviour which I am sure, is quite unacceptable in any polite company. And similarly, a Beta female is vaguely defined as a submissive female with less interest in leadership.
Alpha and Beta aren’t people, they are sets of behaviours. Not all men and women fit within an “Alpha-Beta” spectrum.
We’re all just people, playing within our strengths and weakness. I strongly believe that most of us do not fit neatly into such pre-conceived gender roles.
You should not give in to male chauvinism in order to have a happy married life.
To maintain peace and happiness in the family, girls have to sacrifice a lot after marriage: unfortunately, this is what our society believes.
Men are supposed to have the upper hand in all the affairs and females have this one duty to abide by what the males decide. They have been trained and expected to be aggressive, competitive, and hierarchical. But times are changing now. We’re living in this transitional moment where so many cultural changes in the gender dynamics are occurring, affecting both women and men. These are definitely some confusing times but are bringing in bigger changes. For say, women today don’t need to be with a man who dominates them and calls the shots. And also, men today want a partner who can be a team not just his dependent.
Why are there such few examples of an emotionally balanced and mature man?
Tell me, won’t you really appreciate a man to be a human being who can be himself confidently and contribute his absolute best? This is totally an age of ‘toxic masculinity’ and we don’t realise how much we perpetuate this superficial ‘bossy machismo’ in the men.
It’s sad that we analyse a man’s strength by this stupid concept of how ‘manly’ he is and force him to act strong all the time. If he is sensitive and caring, then he is labelled as ‘not man enough’, if he cries he is ‘girly’, if he is not loud he lacks strength. If he doesn’t control his wife he is ‘passive’, he isn’t allowed to be polite because he is expected to be rough and tough. Seriously? Don’t you think this pressure that is being put on men is so disgusting and hypocritical? That’s how we discourage the natural emotional balance in men. That’s how we make a good man look weak, whereas he is the one with the balance of strength and sense.
Let’s give men a break and let them be human.
An emotionally balanced and mature man will always seek equal, balanced relationships. He will always be available when the woman is at her worst or lowest, for he himself has seen how vulnerability feels. He will be free of the “I know-it-all” syndrome, and will always appreciate the intelligence of his life partner. Whatever he expects in a relationship he will be willing to provide the same. He knows that he is not perfect and will surely help you through your bad decisions rather than blaming you and self-praising himself. They surely have a high sense of self-worth, but they make sure that they treat you as worthy.
Let’s look at what a millennial woman wants and what a patriarchal society doesn’t understand.
No, we definitely don’t want it our way all the time. We absolutely believe considering options with our partner, and working on strength and weaknesses as a team to create individualized solutions that suit our marriage and home. We don’t want to boss around, but yes we expect to be considered and appreciated as an equal when it comes to responsibility as well as power.
Yes, we do appreciate the security, safety, warmth and love brought by a man in our life but nothing is acceptable at the cost of crippling our identities. We just don’t want a bread-winner, as we ourselves are capable of doing so; rather we want a partner whom we can share our life with. With all those ass-grabbers, macho posturers and muscle-bound take offence-ers out there, we would prefer to cherish a man who could willingly listen, appreciate and encourage.
Women today, know their worth. They know they have a life waiting for them outside their relationships. They no longer need titles of ‘good wife’, ‘ideal mother’ or a ‘perfect daughter-in-law’ to prove their worth. Gone are the days of defined gender roles, they don’t go by the tag of woman’s duties and the man’s duties; now the mantra is ‘sharing is caring’ according to which both the partners are equally engaged and give their best in the relationship.
So, if there is a man who encourages you to be strong, who appreciates your advice, who respects your individuality, who doesn’t expect you to just ‘obey-his-command, he is the one who deserves you. Remember, a man who is secure and strong in himself will always appreciate the strength of the lady rather than knocking her down with the label of ‘a dominating-woman’.
Every happy couple has a secret formula that makes their relationship work.
Relationship dynamics are much more vital than these traditional pre-defined norms. As I said every couple knows their expectations, strengths and weaknesses, and accordingly they find out what works best for them. I think, for couples today, the key is establishing an equal partnership which includes everything being shared, be it chores, emotional support or finances. An equal partnership nurtures and benefits both the partners individually as well as the marriage as a whole. When both the partners can be totally themselves and can share their thoughts with greater openness, then you can surely establish a healthy emotional connect which further results in better emotional and physical intimacy.
Marriage is surely a task, surely a lot of work, hence it is really required that both the partners should contribute, so that they can happily grow together and not apart. Though things are easier to be said than done, it’s not easy to live up to the mark of an equal partnership, but I believe we all can put some more effort to work towards creating an equal partnership:
Just keep in mind, as long as you guys are in love and you both truly and genuinely believe in maintaining the happiness and integrity of your bond, it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong all the time. No one is always going to be right, and no one is ever going to be perfect. Important is to value your partner’s feelings, thoughts, and opinions and not to manipulate by guilt-tripping, intimidating or cold-shouldering the other.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: a still from the movie Tumhari Sulu
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