Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The strength in being looked upon as weak.

I walk to the door, step to the side, and wait. My husband comes, opens the door, and I walk through. We walk together, until the next door where this same scenario plays out.   Someone hearing this or seeing this outside of knowing us and how our marriage works would see me as a mean, spoiled brat. In fact, I've had several on lookers say to me, "how dare you expect a man to open your door, you're capable!" Yes, I'm perfectly capable of many things that I don't do for the sake of my husband. Now, maybe you don't know me well and are thinking; "Wow, what a spoiled brat, how full of herself." Just hold your horses, and I'll explain.

I have briefly mentioned before that I was born and raised a feminist, and am now in recovery. I used to be the type of woman that didn't want a man to do anything for her, I was perfectly capable, in fact, my grandma made sure I was perfectly capable. Contrary to popular belief I am quite capable and could be very self sufficient if need be. Not even kidding, I CAN change a tire, CAN check the oil, CAN take out the garbage, CAN change a fuse, CAN use a saw, drill, hammer, and screwdriver, and yes, I CAN even open a door, that doesn't mean I do, or should have to. Even in the beginning of our relationship I was still very "I can do it!" and didn't like for him to do things for me, he, being the gentleman that he is, allowed me to open doors, and be as independent as I thought I needed to be, but he didn't like it. He did it anyway, because at that point in our relationship that's what I needed. That's a big part in making any relationship work, adjusting, and sacrificing to meet the other person's needs.

Over time, as I've grown more comfortable and stronger in my femininity, as I've developed a deeper understanding of myself, my husband, and my marriage I've been able to let go and allow myself to be taken care of. I realize that in our society allowing a man to care for you in any way is seen as a great weakness, but in reality it is anything but. Allowing someone to care for you takes great strength in our society. I am often ridiculed for what is seen as "laziness" and being "spoiled" I have a society full of women telling me I am weak, and a family telling me I was "raised better than that." Truly I have to go against the grain, one has to be strong to resist the pressures to fit into society. I used to see women in marriages where Biblical submission is ((properly)) practiced and pity them, but now I see them and think; "What strength!" It's not that we're being oppressed or abused, which is a common misconception. It's that we're putting aside our selfish ways, our ingrained feminist ideals that tell us we have to do things on our own, and we don't need anyone to do anything for us. It takes extra time and consideration to wait for the door to be opened, the garbage to be taken out, the sink to be fixed, or the cabinet hinge tightened. I'm home, I could easily do it myself, but the light in my husband's eyes when he sees that I need him, and I depend on him, the joy that he has in being able to provide for and take care of his family is so wonderful, I can't take that away from him, it would be selfish to.

What you might not realize is that many women that have these types of marriages are actually very strong willed, independent, and capable. It is no small feat for them to allow themselves to be taken care of in anyway, it takes great discipline on their part, and is a sacrifice for the sake of their marriage. For me, it started out slowly, while we were dating, allowing him to buy dinner, open the door, and buy me things. I realized that even though I didn't NEED him to do those things, they helped him to feel wanted and needed, they made him feel important. So, over time as our relationship developed I allowed him to do more things for me, I swallowed my pride and stopped opening doors, stopped trying to pay, stopped trying to refuse gifts. I didn't become spoiled, dependent and expectant. I made a conscious effort to do those things for him, I saw the joy it brought him to do those simple little things for me. Now it brings me great joy to know that I am making him happy in simply allowing him to do these little things for me. It's not demeaning, and weak. It's sacrificial, and it's love. Simple as that, when you love someone you want them to be happy. Beyond that, as I've grown and started embracing my femininity more I have realized how great it feels to be protected and taken care of. I love knowing that he desires to care for me, and loves me, it makes me feel important and loved, and safe.

How beautiful that he loves me, and that he desires to care for me. It's so symbolic of God's love for us, His caring, sacrificial love for us, and how we must allow Him to care for us, as well. The Bible commands men to love their wives as Christ loves the church, and I think this type of love demonstrates that. God wants to be able to love you and help you, and care for you, but sometimes in our stubborn self sufficiency we think we can do it without His help, and try to refuse Him. He loves us so and wants to help us, and care for us. Our husbands love us and protect us, and care for us in a similar manner.

I make sure to never stop being grateful for his loving care of me. Even though he's opened probably hundreds of doors for me, changed countless light bulbs, taken the trash out every Monday morning, killed many spiders, paid for many dinners, purchased many gifts, and kept the house and cars from falling apart I always make great efforts to show him my appreciation, and to never grow complacent. I make sure to say thank you, and to show him I am thankful, as he does for me. Just as I rarely touch a door handle, fix a leaky sink, kill a spider, take out the trash, change a light bulb, or mow the lawn, he rarely does the laundry, washes dishes, mops the floors, dusts, sweeps, or scrubs the toilet. We have both fallen into our roles as what feels good and comfortable for us, what we're each good at, ways we can each care for the other. What your marriage looks like may be different, but this is the shape ours has taken, and it works for us. In my marriage, Tom loves to cook, so we split that about 50/50, I know in many marriages the woman does all of the cooking, but in my marriage that would be depriving my husband of something he enjoys to do. So, he cooks some nights, some nights we cook together, and some nights I cook. I am better with numbers so I keep track of all the bills and spending. I know in some marriages that's the responsibility of the husband, but I am better at it, so I take on that responsibility. I am blessed with a wonderful  husband that is more than willing to help me in anyway I need, so if I am running short on time, or getting a little overwhelmed he doesn't hesitate to pick up a broom or a dish towel. Likewise, I have been seen on the side of the road in a skirt helping to change a tire.

Marriage takes a lot of give and take, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of growth, a lot of determination, a lot of love, a lot of faith, and a lot of strength. Marriage takes a lot. But, it's worth it. Just, never be ashamed to allow yourself to be taken care of. I know at some points I have felt ashamed to admit that I depend so much on my husband, but I then realized, he depends on me as well, it's much more equal than it appears from the outside. Don't judge harshly those women that wait for their husbands to open the door, or wait for him to come to the rescue when she has a flat tire. You don't know how much strength it is taking her to allow herself to be cared for. You don't know how loved she feels when he cares for her. Marriages like ours tend to be judged harshly, I am often seen as weak, and submissive, codependent,and incapable. If you know me, you know the opposite is true.

So, the next time you see me wait on my husband to open a door, don't give me a dirty look. Realize that it's just one of the many ways I say,  "I love you" and his way of saying, "I love you too" without saying a word.

Linking up with: Matrimonial Mondays

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