I want to share a personal story with you, about my marriage. My husband Marco and I are a naturally strong couple. Our marriage of 22 years has been filled with happiness. We communicate well, and agree on the most important things in life. We like each other a lot, even after 2 decades. Because of this closeness, when rifts happen, and they do, they feel like chasms.
Like most marriages, we have had our rough patches.
How I Gave Away My Power
When I was in my late 20’s, in Ecuador, I had a group of very close female friends. We saw each other often, and talked on the phone every day. Because of this closeness, I was used to always getting feedback about any of my decisions: a new dress, a new pair of pants, a change in hair color or hair style. We were very frank, but loving, with each other.
At 28, I moved to the USA to live with my husband. In the Gulf Coast city were we lived, he was the only person I knew. I made friends, of course, and I had co-workers, but no one close enough to discuss clothes, hair or makeup.
What I did, was turn to my husband, and start asking for his opinion:
- Did he think these pants were too tight?
- Did he think I should add highlights to my hair?
- Which pair of shoes should I wear with this outfit?
There are 2 instances in life when you may get to see the worst in another person:
- When they are getting separated or divorced.
- During the first year of marriage.
I didn’t realize, during that first year of marriage, that I was giving my husband ammunition to use against me whenever his own insecurities and doubts kicked in. Coming from divorced parents, he never trusted marriage much. During that first year of marriage his doubts came up a lot. He also had his own issues to contend with.
By asking for this constant feedback from my husband, I was revealing to him where I was weak and insecure myself.
Marriage is Not Friendship
Many people confuse marriage with friendship. I see it all the time on social media, when people celebrate anniversaries. They say, “The love of my life and my best friend.”
Feng Shui teaches that friendship belongs in one life area, and marriage in another. These two life areas are at odds with each other. Other than abuse and deceit, nothing weakens a marriage more than expecting your love partner to act like a friend.
At the beginning, marriage is a relationship of opposition, not agreement. It is more like a tug of war than a team sport. This is so until boundaries between the two people are established. Sometimes those boundaries are healthy, and sometimes unhealthy.
The unhealthy aspects of a person, especially the most hidden unhealthy aspects, come to the surface during that first year of marriage. They (the unhealthy aspects) try to establish unhealthy boundaries, where one partner becomes dominant and expects the other one to adapt to him or her.
In our first year of marriage, my husband, whom I had married because he was the kindest, most positive guy, started disparaging my looks, and exploiting my vulnerabilities and fears.
The only reason he was able to do this, however, is that I allowed him to do it, by providing him with the material he could use.
During our second year of marriage, right after we had bought a house together, things came to crisis.
I’m Not a Maid
He told me one day that he was done with me because I had let myself go, and now I was nothing but a maid to him — and not a very good one at that.
I guess I didn’t look my best in the mornings when I got up early to make him breakfast and make sure he took a good meal to work. I probably didn’t look my best either, at night, when I got out of bed to serve him dinner when he came home late. I probably didn’t look so hot either on weekends, when I did the 5 loads of laundry he alone produced, between work, school, and workout clothes.
The next day I told him: “I understand that you want a divorce, only now we have to sell this house first. This process will take several months. During that time, and until we separate, we need to co-exist. We will sleep in separate bedrooms, of course. You will need to make your own breakfast in the morning, because I am not your maid. You will also have to do your own laundry, and take on some chores around the house. Since I will be preparing lunch and dinner for myself, I don’t have a problem with cooking an extra portion for you, since it is no additional work. However, if you come home after I have had dinner, you need to heat up your own food, and eat alone.”
A day later he was wanting to get back together, wanting everything to go back to “the way it was.” It never would, though, because I had learned an important lesson: I should never give away to my husband, power over my looks, and my worth. I would never do that again.
We made up, but in the future:
- Instead of asking him if I looked good, I told him how good I looked. Eventually, he agreed.
- Instead of trying to get his opinion on a new dress, I told him how much I loved the dress and how good it looked on me.
- Instead of asking for his help choosing outfits, I told him what I was going to wear, in case he wanted to chose something that matched for himself.
“I Am Not That Kind of Wife”
From that time on I stopped depending on him for feedback on my looks or my worth. I also stopped putting myself always second, when it came to his need and desires. I started saying “no” when I wanted to say “no,” instead of acquiescing to his needs or desires, for the sake of love. Sometimes I backtracked (I still occasionally do) but always regretted it, and got my grip back.
To this day, whenever he asks me to do something I do not feel like doing, I tell him, “I am not that kind of wife,” and go on with my business. 😊
I am not saying, not at all, that every woman should stop doing things for her husband, or that you should never ask for your spouse’s opinion about your looks.
I am using these examples of my personal story to illustrate about an unequal distribution of work at home and an unequal distribution of personal power in a relationship.
Equality is not Always Glamorous
What is equal or unequal varies depending on the couple.
I know women who just love house work and have a great talent for it, married to men who work very long hours. In their case, the woman’s decision to take care of all the house work makes sense.
I also know women in the same situation, who do not like house work at all, who choose to pay outside help for house cleaning. In order to do this, they give up other things that they could do with that money.
I know other couples where the wife is the main wage earner, and the chores traditionally considered “female,” such as taking are of the kids, cooking and cleaning, are taken on by the husband. Every couple needs to look at their own situation, and see what is fair to both partners.
Other couples, like my husband and I, share financial, child raising, and home responsibilities, according to each partner’s inclination, abilities, and availability.
These mundane concerns: who does the cooking, who gets the trash out, who pays what bills, form a big part of what makes a marriage. I have met too many women, and helped many clients who believed that these necessities of life, when they popped up, meant that it was not a good marriage. They said things like, “If we cannot agree on these insignificant issues, maybe we are not meant to be together.”
Issues many consider insignificant or lowly, not glamorous at all, form a large part of any person’s life, and when that person gets married, they become a large part of the couple’s life. For example, the choice of food, how it is prepared, and how and when it is consumed — these things are all essential for physical and emotional health. Without emotional health, let me tell you, it is very hard to have a happy love life. By the way, if you are interested in learning how to better chose and prepare healthy and delicious foods, check out this project our boys have started. Click here.
Equality of Importance is the Key
Feng Shui recognizes men and women are not equal, but they are equally important. This equality of importance needs to be expressed in the home, in the time each partner devotes to each other, and in the distribution of house chores.
Symbolic equality is mainly in the master bedroom, but also in other key spots in the home. There are also certain features in homes that increase arguments, because they increase irritability. Handling these kinds of issues, usually results in improved communication.
Feng Shui can help you create an environment where it becomes easier to find and live love. By expressing in your home your healthy desires and needs regarding love, you send a message to Universe and the human collective matrix. This makes it more likely for you to find true love, with a future partner, or with the partner you are with now.