Friday, February 10, 2017

She's not helping

Like Darth Vader, a woman discovers that the more she attempts to control her husband, the more his behavior diverges from that which she desires:
I’d been on my husband for years about his eating habits and considered it my job to educate him about how to be healthy, just as I do with our kids. When I first met my husband, he was going to the gym every morning at 5:30am. He was also 40 pounds lighter. But after years of harping on him with no results, I couldn’t shake the feeling it was my fault my husband wasn’t taking care of himself.

Naturally, I didn’t see it this way at first. Why is it my fault if my husband makes bad choices? He’s lucky to have me guiding him! I’m just being helpful! But what controlling wives call helpful, husbands call something else. A man’s reaction to being told what to do by his wife is to do the exact opposite.

Indeed, it wasn’t until I stopped getting on my husband’s case that he began to take care of himself. Huh -- go figure.

My light bulb moment didn’t end there. Once I saw the connection between the two -- my dictating and my husband’s lack of motivation -- I started thinking about other ways I was behaving that would cause him to react negatively. Like the times I’d tell him how to drive, or I’d correct his language, or I’d complain about whatever he wasn’t doing well and tell him how he could improve.

Then one night I saw myself in Ken Burns’ documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. The narrator said this about Franklin in reference to his wife Eleanor:

He wanted someone who had all the devotion to him that his mother had had but not the admonitory part -- that part that told him what to do and what not to do. And sadly, Eleanor couldn’t be worshipful and had to be admonitory.

Eureka. My mother was an Eleanor Roosevelt. So was I.
Most women discover, too late, that they prefer the man they married to the one they remade according to their imagination. Leave him alone to be who he has always been. You'll like him better.

25 comments:

Cataline Sergius said...

Henpecking is the married version of shit-testing, treat it as such and she'll thank you for it.

IrishFarmer said...

Advice for guys, instead of just doing the opposite of what she demands, get stern with her like you would with a dude to put him in his place. Just a bit, because a little goes a long way. Done right, saves a lot of trouble cause people think twice about criticizing if they know its gonna cause them some heartache. Casually without emotion is best imo.

Happy Housewife said...

I remember a web comic from way back. Girl meets guy. Girl falls in love with guy. Tries to fix everything she thinks is wrong with guy. Guy changes what she wants changed, from clothing and hair style to music preferences. Girl breaks up with guy.

Cites "you're just not the man I fell in love with anymore".

Audacity17 said...

My dad once told me that a man goes into a marriage thinking the woman will never change, and the woman thinks she'll change everything.

Dexter said...

"My mother was an Eleanor Roosevelt. So was I."

You're both hideous communist lesbians married to a cripple?

Dexter said...

"There are so many reasons why women insist on taking control in their relationships."

There is only one: she thinks he is weak, and he proves it by giving in to her.

GracieLou said...

A man who does that is called an emotional abuser. "For years my husband said I was fat! He wouldn't let me eat. He was controlling! He called me stupid and said I couldn't do anything right--I couldn't drive right, I couldn't talk right!" Somehow when a woman does it, it's just a fun little bit of control-freakery. Not soul-crushing or unjust to the dignity of the man as a human being.

Also, I notice a women who spends all day, every day combing through man's possessions and correspondences is somehow not a stalker.

Aziz P. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ceerilan said...

@GracieLou

I noticed the same thing. Harping over the small shit grates on your nerves. The only way to repair such a relationship is steadfastly refuse to listen. Poor man the article describes had to choose between his wife's love and his health...choosing the first one. No good woman would EVER make her man choose.

papabear said...

Any advice for dealing with a mother who does this?

Timmy3 said...

Move out of the basement.

ace said...

@papabear

With my own domineering mother I've found it useful to use disproportionate negative reactions. The sort in which you are the bad guy and will be the bad guy if she chooses to tell anyone else about it. Get angry before she does. Yell before she does. Threaten before she does. These are most of the tricks in the woman bag, and if you deploy them first she will simply have to take a step back.

Once I consciously used these methods on my dominant mother, she stopped instantly and started treating me with doting respect. I have an inlking from this that mothers aren't looking to shit test you to death like a hot woman, but just want some evidence of a spine. If they have that in hand at once, they'll be happy for a good long while, because they aren't directly responsible for your offspring. The degree of commitment is less.

The problem with men is that they don't want to be unreasonable in a fight with a woman. But women, including your own mother, want you to be unreasonable. When a man argues with you he is testing your confidence in your beliefs, but when a woman does she is testing your confidence in yourself.

ace said...

@Timmy3 You should have a good relationship with your family at any age, especially if you live in the same community.

Nate73 said...

Being told what to do and not to do while driving is one of the worst experiences I've ever had, to you gentle reader I highly recommend shutting that shit down right away by whatever means necessary.

papabear said...

Thanks ace.

My mom seems to believe that she is genuinely "being a good mom" in giving unwanted advice or direction. She is also blind to the fact that she acts like a b*tch when she runs her mouth off with critical remarks.

I don't think my mom is testing my confidence (even at a subconscious level; just a woman who was never taught how not to be a bitch and rationalizes her bad behavior in the name of being a mother, when she's just following her feelings.

papabear said...

However, during the latest incident I did blow up at her so let's see what she does, if anything, to try to reconcile. As far as I'm concerned, my reaction is a natural one, and people need that sort of natural response as a signal that maybe they're doing something inappropriate or wrong.

liberranter said...

Guys, we're being trolled here.

1. "She" admits that her husband's behavioral changes are her fault. Admission of culpability/holding oneself accountable.

2. "She" concludes with an epiphany that her naggy henpecking needs to be stopped in order to restore her husband to being the man she married and loves. Demonstrating awareness of cause and effect.

C'mon now, guys. Knowing what we all know about women, we know for certain that no woman could have possibly written this.

SirHamster said...

"I don't think my mom is testing my confidence (even at a subconscious level; just a woman who was never taught how not to be a bitch and rationalizes her bad behavior in the name of being a mother, when she's just following her feelings."

Your mom's intent has little to do with the result of her feelings-based smothering.

Choose not to let her run your life and have the spine to cut ties if need be - either she gives you the space you want, or you make the space you want.

Whichever outcome, you will have demonstrated your confidence to run your own life outside of her responsibility. That is an objectively good thing, regardless of how many tears she sheds over it - so aim for it.

Jew613 said...

@papabear, many mothers are absolute poison to their sons. If she doesn't cut the nonsense, cut her off. It won't be easy and the old woman will enlist friends and family to harass you back into her clutches. But not having to deal with her will make your life so much better.

My Dead Gramps said...

Took my Mum 25 years and 4 partners after leaving dad to figure this one out. Better late than never, I suppose.

SQT said...

I'm the only one in my family who can handle my mom because I'm the only other woman. When she pulls her passive aggressive bs my brothers scramble to try to make her happy while I basically tell her to go f*** herself. Guess who she's nicer to? I absolutely don't nag my husband because I grew up with a nagging mom and it's awful.

Erynne said...

The funny thing is, the husband probably stopped going to the gym so he could spend time with his wife, and then she harps on him for not going, but you better believe it she was nag just as much if he was "spending so much time at the gym instead of with his wife."

Rex Little said...

My dad once told me that a man goes into a marriage thinking the woman will never change, and the woman thinks she'll change everything.

Your dad was quoting Albert Einstein; not word for word, but pretty close. The quote ends "So each is inevitably disappointed."

papabear said...

Thanks SirHamster and Jew613.

Dexter said...

many mothers are absolute poison to their sons.

Can confirm.

Worst mother of all: the alpha widow who spends her life enraged at her former alpha husband, and vents this on the son.

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