I am going to share a few personal details of my life and past in this post. Normally I keep my personal life more private but sometimes I write about my life in the hopes that it can be a help to others and to the cause of bringing back traditional gender roles.
When both parties are independent, it’s easier to walk away. It’s easier to start a new life somewhere else. I’ve never been independent in my marriage and really not even before then. I know that it has made a huge impact not only on my marriage but also on the quality of it. My husband hasn’t always been the ideal husband. In fact, he has even technically been abusive before. We were very young when we first married and things were certainly not ideal at first. We had a lot of problems. A few months later I began to suffer from hormonal and emotional problems from just having had a baby and because I tried hormonal birth control which really messed me up worse (I will never take birth control like that again as I know it is harmful and I can’t conceive anymore anyways. Actually, I don’t even remember having any problems until I started taking the birth control). It didn’t help matters any that my husband wouldn’t protect me. Not only would he hurt me but he would let others hurt me as well. In a few instances he even allowed others to come into our home and hurt me and he wasn’t man enough to stop it. I didn’t know what else to do so I went to visit my mother for a while. I was only there three days when I asked my husband to come for me. However, he wouldn’t. Instead he abandoned me. Since he wouldn’t come for me and bring me home I waited until my mother could get me home as my husband had given me no money to make it back. I think it was about a week and a half before I could get home. I came back to our home because I had nowhere else to go. I really loved my husband despite whatever he had done to me and, besides, I had nowhere else to go. I had no money and no way to make it on my own. Getting into another relationship with another man was also out of the question. Being out of the workforce there was certainly not ample opportunity to go around flirting with other men or run around without my husband knowing it (not that I would anyways).
Well, my husband did come back to me a couple of days later (much to the chagrin of some of his relatives). I had no options but to stay and I’m sure that somewhere in his mind he knew that. I’m also sure my need for him kept him from really ever leaving and staying gone. I was willing to do what he said in regards to our child (I did as he told me and left her at the house with him while I went to my mother’s) but I knew as well as he did that he did not want to take care of a young child full-time. Our house was a wreck, of course, and he left our child with his relatives to care for while I was away.
I think maybe if I would have had a paying job or career that things might have turned out different for us. There is every probability that we wouldn’t be together today if I was independent from my husband. If I had had paid employment I could have just gone and stayed somewhere else. I could have just said “fine you can talk to my lawyer you jack***.” If I didn’t believe in the husband being in charge then I probably would have fought him until it destroyed both of us and our family. We probably would have been divorced today and it’s possible we might be on marriage number two or three each by now and our child torn between two warring families and having several different “mommies” and “daddies.”
I know there have been times I have been so angry and upset that I have wanted to leave, but where would I go? How could I go? Even going on a weekend vacation is out of the question for me. As well, my husband has matured over the years. Although I did obey what he told me in most areas, I absolutely refused to go get a job even though in the first few months of marriage he did pressure me to. I told him no. I told him I would not carry his responsibilities and that we had a young child and that he needed to support us. He wanted to insist that it took two incomes and it was “so hard” for him to support the family alone but still I refused. We are still here years later. We’ve never lived under a bridge and two incomes have never been necessary.
I think it weighs on a man’s conscience more if he knows his wife is completely dependent on him. For the dependent wife leaving an unhappy marriage is harder because she literally doesn’t have that option, unless she wishes to enter the workforce and make her own way. If she has been dependent upon her husband for years her options for money-making will be limited and the very prospect of going out and working is undoubtedly a scary thing. I know for me it is. I think a husband feels a greater weight of responsibility (that also makes him grow up and mature) when he knows his wife is depending on him and needs him. I think that makes leaving harder for him as well.
I think it’s no coincidence that divorce rates went up at about the same rate as married women working did and divorce rates have gone down slightly since women have been leaving the workforce. Some couples will make it a lifetime having egalitarian marriages, but for the culture overall it just isn’t working that way. I think a wife depending on her husband can breed love even where before there wasn’t much love at all, or the love was dying.
I’m not a complete saint and my husband can be cruel to me sometimes. I know I provoke him to anger sometimes and I am guilty for that. But, overall, the marriage still “works” because it has to. There is no other option. Even if I am unhappy at times and really just hate him I can’t leave. I need him even if I am unhappy or angry so I still stay close by and do what he tells me to do. Besides, he’s not the way he was years ago. I made him accept responsibility as a man and he grew into that role. If I ever tried to leave today I have no doubts that he would come after me, or, more precisely, wouldn’t let me go to begin with. Me being dependent upon him also changes the way he views me. I know he sees me as being his responsibility so he won’t let anyone hurt me or confront me about anything. Not only does he not pressure me to ever go to work, he won’t allow me to. There has never been any more trouble with others coming into our home attempting to interfere because my husband has long made it clear that nobody is going to intrude into his household and if somebody has a problem they can take it up with him, not me.
I think female economic independence gives both men and women an easy way out of marriage and out of their duties within the family. If both spouses are “equal” to each other then both can go their own way at any time and aren’t as concerned about each other. The man doesn’t assume control of the family nor responsibility so whatever his wife does is her own business and he feels no shame or guilt for leaving her on her own because she never depended on him in the first place. If she is his “equal” then he sees nothing wrong in treating her just like he would another man and he doesn’t see any need to treat her with more consideration or treat her more gently or lay down his own life for hers or be concerned with her support or protection. It gives men a free pass out of responsibility and allows women to run wild and marriages to fall apart (or never form in the first place).
Also, when the husband is not the head of the family it allows other relatives and outsiders to interfere and help break apart the family. If a woman is not submitting to her husband then she might believe her friends or relatives and listen to what they say instead of submitting to her husband and trusting him. If he is responsible for her, she can trust him because he’s already proven that he’s looking out for her best interests by providing for her and protecting her so whatever anyone else has to say about the marriage, her husband or what she *should* do will not be taken seriously in most cases. I can testify to this personally. Although I love my relatives and care for them I won’t go against what my husband says even if it means never talking to them. The tradition of our culture is for the bride to be “given away” by her father (or sometimes another man close to her will give her away) and given to her husband. In today’s world this means very little. It’s just one of those traditions we still cling to in ceremonies but it has no real meaning to our culture or our personal lives anymore because females have overall become independent of men both socially and economically. However, the giving away of the bride has a real symbolic meaning. Where once it was the obligation of her father or other male relatives to support her and protect her, at marriage she is now given to her husband and he is to assume responsibility for her. The man is not given away because men are supposed to protect and support themselves. There is a difference in hierarchy with the husband expected to “be a man” and assume a greater level of responsibility. I saw someone decrying the giving away of a bride at marriage as a “sexist” tradition a couple of weeks ago. Indeed, it is. But that is the intended purpose and the way marriage and society functions best.