There is an article circling ’round the Interwebs, especially amongst the Latter-Day Saint circles on Facebook, that is simply infuriating. This article has the appearance of having been written in the 1950’s pre-second wave feminism, but in fact was written in 2014.
The article is entitled, “5 ways you are unknowingly destroying your husband and killing your marriage.” Dramatic, right? I think it’s time to break down why this article is not only glaringly wrong, but absolutely harmful to women and by extension marriage in general.
1. Living Outside What You Can Afford
The author of this article quotes someone in her church congregation saying, “The best thing you can do as a wife is to live within your husband’s means.” I know there are families that have chosen to be a single-income household. And that’s great! Choices are wonderful and choosing what works best for you and your family’s unique circumstance is fantastic! But this quote assumes no women have an income of their own, but instead rely on a man to survive. This is 2014. Women have incomes. Let’s not pretend women are unable or unwilling to work for their own incomes.
And also, “The best thing you can do as a wife is to live within your husband’s means?” Really? It isn’t to be a loving partner? It isn’t to grow and develop wonderful and beautiful roots together? It isn’t to share a life together? Gee, reducing a wife down to her spending habits just sounds swell!
The author says, “Constantly complaining about not having enough to fulfill your lavish desires or racking up astronomical amounts of debt on your credit card is a poor way of saying ‘thank you’ to a faithful spouse who works hard every day to provide for the family.” I am impatiently awaiting the day to arrive when the stereotype that women are greedy consumerists dies.
Living within a budget is obviously wise. But instead of detailing how a couple can and should make a budget together, the author talks about wives’ obsessions with Kate Spade. Sure, some women love Kate Spade enough that they will go into ridiculous amounts of debt to buy a Kate Spade product. But to imply that all women and all wives don’t care about hard-earned money and flippantly spend thousands of dollars on doodads, is insulting and inaccurate. Not to mention that kind of commentary is completely unhelpful in helping couples figure out how to live within their means.
2. Constant Negativity
No one likes a Negative Nellie. However, this section of the article basically reads like this:
And that’s just not okay. If a wife is having a hard time with something, she should discuss it with her husband. That’s marriage, folks! It isn’t only about him and his hard day at work. It is also about her and her hard day at work, whether that is work away from the home or as a stay at home mother. Marriage discusses the highs and lows. If your spouse’s troubles are too frustrating for you to hear, why did you get married in the first place?
3. Putting Everything Else First
Honestly, when two people in a relationship prioritize each other that is a good thing. No arguments there.
However, I think it is vital for both partners to realize that if a wife has a career or a passion she focuses on a good amount of the time, that is not necessarily neglecting said husband. If a husband starts to complain every time a wife goes to an art class or has a work meeting during dinner, the question becomes less about what she is prioritizing, and more about why he won’t support her goals and aspirations. Balance is a necessity.
4. Witholding Physical Affection
Let me just copy and paste this entire section:
“Men crave and need physical affection with their wives. When you constantly decline intimacy, it wears on them.
Sex should not be used as a tool to control your spouse; it should be viewed as a sacred tool to draw you closer to one another and to God.
It is a great blessing to be wanted and needed by a loving, romantic husband who wants to share something so beautiful and important with you — and you only. Even though you might not always be in the mood, it’s worth it to give in (when you can) and spend that time bonding.” (Emphasis added.)
So… have you ever heard of rape? How about marital rape? Rape doesn’t stope being rape just because you are married. Sex without consent is rape. “Giving in” is not consent. Thus, “giving in” is a form of rape. This entire section is evil and wrong. If a husband truly cares about his partner, he’s not going to be down with getting down if there is not true and enthusiastic consent.
And let’s not forget that this section implies all men are hound dogs who have the higher sex drive in the relationship. For many couples, the husband does have the higher sex drive. But not in all couples. It also implies that the behavior of men and women is set in stone, that there is minimal to no variation in how two or more men might behave. All men are different, all women are different. Let’s not put each other into boxes, shall we?
5. Not Speaking His Language
Good communication in a relationship or marriage is imperative. But I resent the idea that if there are communication problems it’s because the wife is benignly dropping hints or bottling things up and the husband is too much a dunce to understand anything. This happens, sure. But as much as our culture likes to teach us men are blind idiots who don’t know what’s what, I think by and large men are much brighter than that. And, sure, there have been generations of enculturation saying women can’t be blunt or open, but if you think wives are running around hiding while dropping hints and never speaking their minds and never being honest with their husbands, I’m afraid you might be trapped in 1897 and need to hitch a ride on the next time machine back home.
The messages in this article hurt men and women. By and large the message is: Men Come First! Get With the Program or Get Out!!!!
Relationships aren’t about who’s “destroying” one partner and who’s “killing” the marriage. From what I have observed, most of the time a divorce occurs it is because of both partners. It isn’t the wife “neglecting her wifely duty.” It isn’t a woman detailing her troubles to her husband. It isn’t a woman accepting she is a full-fledged human being. The sooner we can leave behind the idea that a marriage’s success is contingent on the wife, the sooner we can have more long-lasting and fulfilling marriages.