So lately I've been binging on Marriage aid books. Mostly Christian ones: Created to Be His Help Meet; The Surrendered Wife; His Needs, Her Needs; and Fascinating Womanhood. There are no LDS Marriage books at the Goodwill here (if you have any, and don't read them, send them my way!), so I work with what I have.
The question that's probably in your mind is "Well, how bad is her marriage that she's reading these books?" The answer is complicated. My marriage isn't bad, and my husband is pretty amazing. But I feel like a failure. I interrupt him, I over power him -I have a very strong personality, I criticize, nag and harp. I feel like a selfish shrew, a lot of the time. I thought reading a few books would get me in shape, figuratively speaking. As with most things, I plunged in with both feet.
These books all have a lot in common. Basically, men's needs are different than women's (duh). According to these books, collectively, what my man really wants is a wife who:
-Never demeans him
-Looks attractive (makeup, hair, and clothes to his preference)
-Never criticizes or disagrees
-Lets him make EVERY decision
-Is totally submissive
-Never, ever, EVER, says no to sex
-Gives lots of sex
-Has dinner cooked by the time he's home, and readily wait on him hand and foot
-Is vulnerable, sweet, and feminine
-Never says what she wants, but "makes appeals" in a way that doesn't upset or emasculate him
I could go on for quite awhile here. The general themes are the same in every book. The man is the head of the house- let him make decisions and take care of you, silly womanz. And I'm scared that Mormon books would say the same thing. It kind of sounds like Young Women's lessons I used to hear.
This has me in a tizzy. If you know nothing about me, suffice it to say I am not submissive, I am not meek, and I tend to wear the pants. All these books are telling me that this is WRONG WRONG WRONG and that I am making my husband's life a living hell. I emasculate him, treat him like a child, and embarrass him by my refusal to be docile.
You would not believe the headgames this plays with me. Constantly running through my mind this past week: Is my husband unhappy? Am I really making his life miserable? Is submissiveness really what God wants for me? What if (as the books say) I am unhappy in my egalitarian marriage, but don't know it?
I even tried "surrendering" on a trial basis, just to see if it helps. It was horrible! I lasted all of 4 hours. He kept asking things, and as the "surrendered" wife, my reply was to be "Whatever you think best." This freaks him out, because his mum is very passive-aggressive, and he I was playing the same game. So he was getting angry, and I was hurting because I was pushing my needs and wants down to be submissive. After a few hours of this, I broke down in tears; wailing that I was such a horrible wife, I couldn't even be surrendered for a full day.
Of course, the poor guy was really confused. He had no idea where all this was coming from. I admitted that I am insecure in my wifely abilities, and I'm afraid I'm not what he wants, and he just settled and now he's stuck. He looked at me like I was crazy, and told me that he knew my personality when we were married, and that's what he fell in love with. He told me he doesn't want a doormat, and he doesn't want me to never have opinions. Basically, he told me he loves me the way I am, crazy bipolar and all.
And I have to wonder if God feels that way. Like He and Heavenly Mother are sitting up there thinking "Why in tarnation is she doing that to herself, silly girl? Doesn't she know she's loved and precious?"
The answer is, no. But maybe someday, I will. But why is it that women never feel like they are good enough? Never smart enough, never pure enough, never capable enough, never giving enough? Where did we learn this? Why do we put ourselves through this day after day after day? Who first decided that guilt and doubt are the hallmarks of womanhood? It's disgusting and annoying and terrible to live with. I wish I had an answer. Does anyone?