Have you ever caught a daytime television talk show and the topic of the day happened to be something like “We’re Married Now So Do As I Say” or “I Put A Ring On It So Now You Serve Me”? Have you ever sat through one of those programs and really looked at each of the spouses? One is usually downtrodden, more meek and full of fear while the other is generally ranting and raving all over the stage saying something like “they’ll speak to you when I say so” or threatening to pull some sort of support the other person is counting on to get them to do what they want. How do you feel when you see it? Me? It angers me. It makes me wonder how did they get into that predicament in the first place. Like why didn’t they leave when they first encountered such behavior? If they left, why did they go back? It’s a good question until it starts to hit closer to home.
Just a little tidbit about girl’s nights: some of this stuff is what we discuss over wine when we’re together and our husbands aren’t around. So if you’re a husband, pay attention! Sorry ladies! This is how we’re going to get some of our issues solved. We may talk about it but they’ve still got to do their part. I know this is not going to go over well but the truth is, if we have shows out here that are perpetuating such behavior, it needs to at least be shown how it can happen to any couple at any time.
As much as we all like to say this behavior doesn’t go on in our homes, it can very well creep into it if we don’t pay attention. Therefore, I’m going to start with the beginning: definitions. Often times a spouse – since I’m a woman, I will be talking from the female perspective here – have different roles depending on the need of the home. There is a need for a breadwinner/financier, a caretaker of the home, and a caretaker of the children (this does include pets for those whose pets are considered family). One of the most harmful things a person can do is uphold one of these roles over the other when it comes to importance and use their upheld role to control the actions of another. Truth is, each of them are important and the definitions will show us how.
Definition of Spouse:
Definition of Partner:
Definition of Servant:
According to the definitions above, the spouse is the role used when involved in an intimate, conjugal relationship. A partner is someone who is brought together with another for an activity or a common interest. A servant is retained, through employment, to render services in a house or as a personal attendant to their employer. Understanding the differences in these roles will help us to keep them where they are and to respect them in that area. It’s usually the esteeming of the more favorable positions and the lack of respect for the other that causes the issues that arise.
Often times, the issue can start off as a lack of intimacy. Then it’s revealed that they’ve been withholding due to the overwhelming self-interest of one spouse. The one spouse can become so wrapped up in themselves and their issues that they begin to do whatever pleases and delights them, without regards to their spouse. So if they trash the floor with things that interests them and leave it there, that’s what they do. If they refuse to help out around the house because they don’t feel like they should make time for it, that’s what they’ll do. If they do the very minimum while expecting the loudest praise, yet say nothing when it’s done on the regular without their assistance, that’s what they’ll do. Basically put, they do things without concern or consideration of how it affects the other person in their life. When confronted about it, they become defensive by stating ways they do help. On the shows, they often say statements like “I go to work so you can have…” or “I pay *insert paid for item or service here* bill. You don’t do that.” They truly believe that by working they have self-sacrificed enough which justifies their lack of action in the domestic space. In truth, what they’ve done is place their ability to make money over the other person and it’s that belief that makes them view that other person as both less than and as a servant. This is an action that can lead to more controlling behavior.
Servant. That’s a not a favorable title to have when it comes to the general consensus of coolest jobs or most lucrative job, but it is still an occupation. Those in royalty have them. Those who are in the upper echelon of our society choose to use them as well. It is basically someone rendering domestic services for pay on an ongoing basis. In marriage, there are services rendered to one another. However, those services must be mutually agreed upon. They cannot be expected of or thrust upon the other person without their knowledge or consent. Spouse comes home and announces the boss and the VP are coming over for dinner? A servant receives pay in exchange for the planning, construction and the execution of an excellent dinner. A spouse, however, requires help, time and planning. This means the spouses must work together to achieve the success the one spouse seeks.
What does this mean? This means for that time being, they switch from being the caring, nurturing lovers, to partners. Much is achieved when they make the switch to being partners. They are able to produce two times the effort one would have made alone. They are not alienating the other or setting one spouse over the other. They are not being condescending to the other or discouraging. They are being supportive, constructive and a team. This is what having a spouse is all about. When the going gets tough, partnering with your spouse to make that rough situation bearable; not saddling them with the burden of caring for everything else while you check out and tend to your sulking self. It encourages them to go on because they know you’re right by their side supporting them all the way.
So keep all of this in mind, especially if your spouse is a stay-at-home mom. We (I’m a stay-at-home mom) have a lot to deal with just in our daily lives without the pettiness of others. If you happen to be the breadwinner, please know that it doesn’t excuse you from contributing to the domestic duties of your home. As a matter of fact, it makes you more responsible because you’re the one people will come to with regards to the state of your purchase. If you want to be self-centered, make sure you clean after yourself, cook for yourself, take care of yourself and the things that make you run by yourself. Don’t leave it to the other person to do just because you think they may have less than you for which to care. That’s making the other person your servant and if it’s a stay-at-home spouse, according to this link, you may never be able to truly afford their services.
Until next time, evaluate your relationship. Are you treating your spouse like a spouse, a partner or a servant. Whatever you do, make sure they are feeling like spouse or a partner unless it’s a consensual understanding between you two for one of you to be more of a servant. They’ll thank you and they will appreciate the value you have given to them and to your relationship. Who knows, by the end of the night, you can be very intimate spouses again.