I was working with a client recently who told me how much she would like to go away for the weekend to visit friends. That seemed like a joyful event.
She quickly told me why she needed relationship help before joy would be part of the experience. She said, that she wasn't sure it was worth it. Naturally, my question was:
Her answer: "My husband doesn't like me to go away and I pay for it in many subtle and not so subtle ways if I do."
Does this sound familiar at all? I hope not, but, if it does, you need to keep reading.
"If I remember correctly your husband has been on several extended vacations without you. One week, three weeks, one month, right?"
"Equality is non-negotiable!"
Women, what's up with the willingness to accept inequality in relationships? No, this is not a rant on feminism. It is a hopefully clear insight on acceptable guidelines for a healthy marriage, legal or otherwise. If her husband/partner can leave to visit his family, friends or favorite team when it suits him, why would it not be equally available for her to do the same?
Give your head a shake, girl!
But, many women are raised to be peacekeepers at all costs. This comes from the same Book of Crooked Thinking as the idea that people should become doormats! Along with that, there are other nifty numbers like:
- Children should be seen and not heard.
- Women should know their place.
- Give until it hurts.
Those things folks repeat without thinking of the nonsense they put forth. Finding acceptable ways to be limited by another person's whims, insecurities or need for control is similar. Examine it.
Yes, we want to collaborate with those we love and care about. We listen to one another's needs, wants and preferences, and their reasons--or excuses--for them. We ask questions and share information. We discuss things. That kind of reasonable communication is the stuff healthy relationships grow on. But, "I can do it but you cannot" is not reasonable communication. And, "You can do it but you'll pay!" is even more insidious. That kind of punishment, the kind that lingers and infiltrates other areas of the relationship for months to come (sometimes, years) is unacceptable. At least, I certainly hope it is unacceptable.
Love doesn't look like that. Love is not neediness, control, insecurity, or demand. As John O'Donohue wrties in Anam Cara:
"You are now able to come close to the other, not out of need or with the wearying apparatus of projection, but out of genuine intimacy, affinity, and belonging. It is a freedom. Love should make you free. You become free of the hungry, blistering need with which you continually reach out to scrape affirmation, respect, and significance for yourself from things and people outside yourself. "
Equality and equity are non-negotiable. At least, they are in healthy, interdependent relationships based on love, honest and respect.
Need relationship help? Dr. Rhoberta Shaler works with individuals and couples worldwide to lead them to engage lovingly or disengage peacefully.