- The title of this article is not “How women intentionally set themselves up for marriage failure.” I don’t think anyone serious about having a successful marriage intentionally sets themselves up for failure but, many times, we are a product of our environment and our learning. This is perhaps an opportunity to learn and unlearn.
- This isn’t a short read. This isn’t the article you glance over for cute bullet points…it’s the one where you meditate on and begin prayerfully checking yourself.
- Not all points will apply to all women. This article is not talking about ALL women.
- If you read this with an open mind, I guarantee it will positively affect your marriage now or in the future.
- I would much rather tell you IN LOVE what you need to hear even if it makes you slightly uncomfortable but will make your marriage and relationship better….than say nothing at all.
This article series is very different for me. That’s because I meet so many wonderful, beautiful women of God who have a desire to have and build a great home, but who bring ideas learnt by years of cultural, environmental and social conditioning which oppose successful marriage. Ideas that make them work against themselves…ideas that cause them to have expectations that lead to frustration.
This breaks my heart. That is why I am writing this.
God had something unique in mind when he created marriage and one thing that I am learning in marriage is that marriage has its own rules. It has its own culture. It has its own Modus Operandi and when we apply survival strategies from the world in building a marriage, we fail because while it may make sense on the surface, under the hood, we oppose ourselves.
We shoot ourselves in the foot when we bring SELF-PRESERVATION strategies from society, into a marriage environment that requires the DEATH OF SELF to thrive.
So…here we go:
Here are 7 ways that women (even good Christian ones) are set up for marriage failure:
1. The notion that the CHASE implies there is no need to CHANGE:
Read this closely because it takes place so subtly….in fact…it is mostly unconscious.
Think of the dating dance with me for a moment:
-Man sees Woman and based on what he can see and perceive about her, he pursues her
-Man pursues Woman before SHE even knows WHY she is being pursued
-Woman likes intensity of pursuit and Man’s obvious conviction as a gauge of how “right this is” and comes to the “assumption-based conclusion” that “if he took this much time and intensity to pursue me, it’s because he liked what he saw and was convinced that I met all his requirements…and so he shouldn’t be expecting me to change once we start a relationship or marriage.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
-Woman says YES to proposal
-They get married and wedding is ALL about the bride and her desires
-Two months after they marry, she can’t understand why he is asking her to stop doing something or start doing something different from what she is used to. She thinks “he is trying to control or change her” or that “He is changing already.”
Women, men aren’t deliberately trying to deceive you. They are just more emotional risk takers. They are more willing to begin a relationship without all their needs accounted for, hoping that you will learn to meet them during the relationship.
So many women assume “if he is chasing me this hard, I must be all he wants.” “If he is this convinced he wants to be with me, then the CURRENT version of who I am is permanently good” and boom…right there…she is set up for failure and frustration.
So, a lot of good, well-intentioned women go into relationships or marriages not really knowing what it is like to have to give up part of themselves for the sake of the relationship, or knowing what it is like to be required to fundamentally change in order to have a relationship or a successful marriage. Many women eventually do, but it can be a struggle at first.
2. The notion that women have higher moral standards.
This is deeply ingrained in us all. Both men and women. The idea that a woman is kinder, more trustworthy, more spiritual, less likely to cheat, less likely to lie, and so on.
This is obviously not true. But, where did we get this from?
Perhaps, because we teach women to “behave” classier than men? Or perhaps because much of the visible crime is committed by men? More men are in prison, more women are in church? Dads are almost always regarded as the deadbeats even if the woman was at the core of that, or because the number of known infidelity cases are by men? How did we come to this conclusion?
I don’t know. Even Adam got this wrong. “Eve? Talk to the serpent? Bring me a fruit that God himself said not to eat? Naaaahhhh.” We know how far that got Adam.
What I do know is that we ALL have sinned and come short of God’s glory and standards. Women are not morally superior to men.
Women cheat (the numbers will dislocate your jaw), women lie, there are terrible women out there, there are deadbeat women and, if there were no men to offer to take responsibility for many women, they too would end up in jail or worse.
I love the way that “@ThePeacefulwife” on Twitter puts it in a piece she wrote about this:
“Arguing about whether men or women are spiritually/morally superior to each other – is kind of like arguing about which corpse in the funeral home “looks more alive.” They are all dead.”
God never elevates one gender over the over about anything, much less about moral superiority. In fact, throughout the Bible, we hear over and over again about how we all have a sin nature and have come short. The Bible drums this into our heads over and over again:
“There is no one righteous, not even one. - Rom 3:10
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” - Isaiah 64:6
When that notion (of being morally superior) goes unchecked in the heart of a woman in marriage, two toxic things are instantly introduced into that marriage or relationship.
a) She is unable to trust her man fully and becomes very aware of HIS capacity for error while at the same time becomes less aware of HER own capacity for error and;
b) She is unable to take full responsibility for the failures of the marriage.
A truly deadly combination!
It is mostly an unconscious process by which a good woman sees herself as morally superior to men…it just seeps into her consciousness and, therefore, it must then become a conscious decision to search herself and remove it, if it be found.
3. The notion that men are less emotional or have fewer emotional needs:
The women who have been married for a little while are reading this and nodding their heads in agreement while simultaneously shaking their heads at the same time. The nodding is because they agree and the shaking is because they regret not knowing just how true the statement was before they got married. This will really get a woman into a lot of confusion and frustration.
Men are not less emotional than women. Not at all.
Here are some of the facts:
-It’s not that men don’t have the capacity for emotions; they just have LESS permission to show emotions.
-It is SIGNIFICANTLY costlier for men to show emotions…especially negative ones.
When a woman enters a committed relationship or marriage with this notion hanging in her unconscious closet, she creates the perfect storm where:
i) She sucks up all the emotional air in the relationship.
ii) She pushes his emotional buttons, he bottles up for a while and then has outbursts of emotions.
iii) She causes him to lead with his heavy foot in the relationship (on the surface, it always looks like he is being insensitive but underneath, he is just trying to say “I matter, too”)
iv) A woman who thinks that men have less emotions than women can never pray for him right…because she can never truly lift the burdens of his heart before God.
4. We don’t deeply teach women about men’s needs:
Think about it for a moment.
It’s like we have this assumption…the ingrained assumption that somehow, men know nothing about how to treat a woman and need to be educated, but somehow, women know how to treat a man and don’t need an education.
Stay with me…
The fact that we don’t educate women about men, is why we seem to always need to educate men about women…because women are trying to get out of men what they have not put in.
Read that again.
4a. EVEN when we teach women about men, the narrative is incomplete.
-We teach women how to get a man, we teach women how men behave as it pertains to her, how to guard against certain types of men, how sex is important to him, and EVEN when we teach about men and sex, we teach women that it is something they must do or else their men will run off and stick it inside a garbage can, and of course, we expect them to get married and enjoy their husband’s sexuality, and understand his other needs.
We don’t teach women how to communicate with a man, how a man solves problems, how a man handles hurt/pain, how a man sees respect, what love means to a man (other than sex) and so on and we, most certainly, don’t teach women about the healthy side of male sexuality.
Find me a woman who really understands her man and embraces his needs as she wants him to embrace hers, and I will show you a man who doesn’t need to attend a relationship seminar to learn how to love her.
4b. EVEN when we teach women about men, we over-simplify his needs: Feed him. Sleep with him.
That seems to be the general consensus. Now, I have to admit, many times, I admit it is just that simple. But many times, it is not; and it takes wisdom for a woman to know when it is and when it is not. Men’s needs are not simple. In fact, they are very complicated.
When a woman enters marriage with that notion, she is not ready for the work that relationships (not men…NO…RELATIONSHIPS) take. The relationship WILL be frustrating for them both and she will be overwhelmed by what it takes to meet someone else’s emotional needs.
What’s the takeaway here? Men need to be continually educated about women…no doubt…but we set women up for frustration when we assume that they somehow have this relationship thing down.
5. The notion that her happiness in the marriage is more important than his:
Most women you talk to will tell you that this is not intentional or that they are not like this. That’s because most of the points in this article are not intentional yet…they find a way to seep into our subconscious.
You know EXACTLY what I’m talking about…you’ve even heard the cute sayings around it “Happy wife, Happy home” or “Happy wife, Happy Life.” This is a true statement. But it is half of the truth. A home with a happy wife but sad husband bottling things up is not going to be happy for long. A home built on the fact that one person’s happiness is more important than the other is like a two-engine plane flying on a single engine.
The way men pursue…the getting on one knee…SHE getting an expensive ring…the wedding planning and making all HER dreams come true, having a house that matches HER vision of a home…you see what I am saying? Now, none of these are bad things BUT….
It, in fact, takes a big girl to know that baked into this scenario of him putting her on a pedestal is met with her putting him on a pedestal, then back and forth like that.
When a woman goes into marriage with the subconscious notion that her happiness is the priority, she will truly give only when she truly gets, her happiness will be the barometer by which she measures the marriage, and when conflict arises, it is a resolution in her favor that she will seek. In fact, she will offend her husband, and she will still squeeze an apology out of him. It will be very hard for her to say “I’m sorry” and express genuine remorse about it. The priority of her happiness will lead the marriage to unhappiness.
6. The fact that for some reason, everyone (INCLUDING WOMEN) seems to be terrified of telling women the truth about taking responsibility for the relationship and its failures:
How many relationship seminars do you attend that have a VERY well balanced narrative and equal education of BOTH gender’s needs? Yeah, you get your dose of subtle male-bashing in and spend 70 percent of the time talking about what men need to do and how they are failing…ERRRMMMMM and we wonder why we can’t get the guys to come to relationship events.
We openly and seriously teach men about the needs of a woman but we rarely teach women openly about the needs of a man.
We tell men to love the women like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…but we do not follow that up with how the woman should honor the man like the church should honor Christ.
We tell men to fight for their homes and spiritually defend their homes in prayer…but we don’t openly teach women to lift up their husbands in prayer.
7. The VERY SUBTLE BUT TOXIC notion that it is not cool, rather it is belittling, for a woman to celebrate her man and any gender roles:
Again, ladies may not admit to it but they know exactly what I am talking about. When was the last time you were sitting at your desk at 4:59 pm and heard your fellow female colleague say, “Ohhhhhh, I can’t wait to get out of here and go home to surprise my man with his favorite meal for no reason.”
When was the last time you were in a conversation with other women and had a healthy encouraging conversation about esteeming your men?
Let me put it this way: When was the last time you were in a conversation with other women and anyone was talking about actually enjoying meeting a man’s needs…like “he enjoys hot coffee when he gets home and I just love making him his hot cocoa?”
When was the last time you and all your married girlfriends got together and talked about how exciting it is to be a wife and meet a man’s physical, emotional, spiritual and soul needs? Newly married women may talk more about it but if you think about it, they are more likely to talk about how exciting it is to be “married” not how exciting it is to be a “wife” and there is a HUGE difference.
You’ve spent all day suppressing the need to celebrate your man and you think it will be easy to code-switch when you get home?
Am I saying that it is easy? Of course not and that’s not what I am talking about here. What I am talking about is how even women in good marriages, married to good men, are ashamed to talk about themselves in any kind of submissive light because WOMEN SHAME WOMEN FOR THAT. Even in church!
HINT HINT! Surround yourself with women who support and encourage you to be respected at home but also encourage you to build your home in the way that YOUR home needs to be built and not hold back. If the majority of the women in your life are already like that, keep them!
One last thought on that. You might not realize this, but men (who are thought to be more prideful and have a bigger ego) are actually more receptive and accepting of each other’s marital roles. Men may tease each other about being married, but rarely shame each other about.
So, let’s compare the dialogues of men and women at the watercooler at work:
Guys at Watercooler
–Harry (Married):: I’m Going home early to help Stacy set up the Christmas tree, going to pick up her sowing machine at the repair shop…then have to pick up her dry cleaning…in addition to waking up early to mow the lawn before her girlfriends’ book club arrives at the house.
–Tom (Single): Daammnn, broooo…you’re married for real, yo!”
–Harry: “You haven’t even heard the half of it!” (Everyone laughs)
–Mike (Married): Tom, wait till you get married…you’ll get it. Harry, get out of here, man. See you tomorrow. (Harry fist bumps and hurries home)
Ladies at Watercooler
–Stacy (Married): I have to leave early to make Harry his favorite meal and stop by the dry cleaners to pick up his tuxedo for tomorrow, then wake up early to make some snacks for his boys’ game day hangout tomorrow.
(Her girlfriends are wide eyed and almost upset at Stacy for “allowing herself to be treated this way.”_
–Carol texts Stacy after they all leave: “If he is beating you, or controlling you, don’t be afraid to say something.”
Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get my drift.
When a man celebrates his wife, and goes out of his way to serve her, her girlfriends clutch their hearts and say, “Awwww, he is such a great man …you are so lucky.”
But when women hear how she is going out of her way to serve him, her girlfriends throw shade and look down on her.
So, there you have it. Like I said, most women don’t do these things intentionally and most women don’t even know that they have been conditioned this way UNTIL they get married and the frustration begins.
So, do some searching.
If you realize that none of these apply to you, great! Just be careful…they don’t all come with forehead markers to let you know, they just show up in your expectations and your frustrations.
If any one of these applies to you, prayerfully work on it. Being aware is already half the battle.
Tobi Atte is a certified Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, motivational speaker and the writer behind IJustMetMe, a lifestyle website for young adults who need a good dose of daily inspiration to tackle tough life issues. Tobi is also the author of the new book How to Make Sure Your Values are Aligned: A Guide to Avoiding Relationship Frustration. For more on relationships, motivation, fresh perspectives on faith, personal improvement and more, read/learn more at www.ijustmetme.com, watch him on YouTube HERE and download his free e-book HERE.