Why Do Goodwilled Husbands Feel Frustrated? Part 2
In part 1, I shared a letter I received from a husband who found himself disrespected when he held a different opinion than his wife about whether or not their son was ready to begin driving. Here in part 2 we will discuss in detail the inconsistencies in mom’s insistence in her husband acquiescing to her strong feelings in the matter.
Does the irony of the conflict escape her notice? Does it escape yours?
Inconsistency #1: In her opinion, her husband cannot justify making the decision as the father, whereas she can justify making the decision as the mother. Maternalism has the rights and authority; paternalism does not have the rights or authority. In fact, on issues of safety toward the kids, she has the final authority about who has the final authority. Were he to make this claim, she’d find him patriarchal and thereby abusive. Many women can win the argument every time on this front. Bottom line, he should only exercise authority when she agrees; otherwise he is patriarchal.
Inconsistency #2: In her opinion, she is caringly trying to control the situation whereas he is uncaringly trying to control her. She claims that she leads from love toward her son whereas he loves to lord over her. If he claims that he is caringly trying to control the situation for the sake of the son, he is not being honest since she doesn’t feel comforted or convinced by his position. Since her fears remain, he doesn’t care about her and therefore is lording over her.
Inconsistency #3: From her perspective, if her husband were right, she’d feel differently; whereas her husband must not say, “Well, if you were right, I’d feel differently.” The fact that she still has these fears after hearing her husband’s position proves his position about letting their son drive the car is imprudent and possibly dangerous. The fact that her husband feels dismissed and disrespected after hearing his wife’s position is irrelevant. In fact, that she still feels fear after hearing her husband’s opinion proves his opinion is invalid, whereas that he feels invalidated by her rejection is not germane to the situation. He needs to grow up.
That his reaction makes her feel as though her feelings do not matter, really matters. That her reaction makes him feel as though his feelings do not matter really doesn’t matter. Not if a choice must be made between feelings.
Inconsistency #4: In her view, because as a man he tries to lead contrary to her feelings, he is a bad leader, whereas when she seeks to lead contrary to his feelings, he needs to change his position and appreciate her leadership. A woman’s attempts at leading are rooted in love and wisdom, whereas a man’s attempts at leading end up lording over the wife unless he uses that leadership to achieve her goals.
Inconsistency #5: From her vantage point, a decision must be made based on her feelings, not her husband’s feelings. Her feelings count; his feelings do not. In the instance of the letter, her fear toward their son’s poor driving skills must govern the decision. The decision must not be made on dad’s faith toward their son’s good driving skills. Mom’s feelings of fears trump dad’s feelings of faith.
Inconsistency #6: In her mind, she feels comfortable in dismissing the feelings of her son and husband as out of place, whereas she feels offended when they dismiss her feelings as out of place.
Inconsistency #7: She can claim that her husband is not safe or smart, and uses poor judgment in making decisions, whereas he cannot claim that she is not trusting or astute, and uses poor judgment in making decisions. She can tell her husband that he is wrong, whereas he cannot tell her that she is wrong.
Inconsistency #8: He cannot justify his lack of love toward her sentiments, but she can justify her lack of respect toward his sentiments. In her opinion, her husband is to apply Ephesians 5:33, where a husband is commanded to love his wife, which to her means to go along with her requests. Whereas she can ignore the other command in 5:33 to put on respect for her husband and respond to his request. The latter is antiquated submission and offends women.
He is prolonging the problem that could be solved immediately by lovingly responding to her expectation. She is not prolonging the problem that could be solved immediately by respectfully responding to his expectation.
Of course, she does not see herself as disrespectful toward her husband, because she is doing the most loving thing toward their son. Truth be told, she sees her husband as wrong for feeling disrespected. If he didn’t feel disrespected, it is unlikely this would be a problem between them. He is the one creating the problem by interpreting her decision as an affront to him. He is wrong for feeling this way and forcing his decision on her.
Actually, when it comes to this topic of respect, she would see her need to be treated more respectfully as necessary and noble but see his request to be treated respectfully as self-serving and demeaning to her.
In the third and final part to this discussion, we will get into what both mom and dad are truly feeling in this moment and how they can better work through situations like these.
Questions to Consider
- Why is it generally accepted in many families that when it comes to the children, mom has final say and authority? Is the double standard not recognized, or is it simply ignored?
- How should a wife respond to her husband, if after hearing his alternative view to something like a child driving himself to school, she does not feel any differently?
- Why, according to the mom in our example, should her feelings of fear trump the dad’s feelings of faith? How can the dad respond in a way that doesn’t dismiss her fears but encourages her to increase her faith?
- Emerson wrote, “When it comes to this topic of respect, she would see her need to be treated more respectfully as necessary and noble but see his request to be treated respectfully as self-serving and demeaning to her.” What is the fault in her argument?