When my wife and I moved to the Midwest after dating for eight years and getting married last April, I think a small part of me was hoping the marriage stereotypes of our American rural South upbringing would just go away. Based on the people we’ve met, while the cultural standards are certainly less prevalent, I still see these five things ingrained in the worldview of husbands.
Myth #1: You have to be a fixer.
I admit I may be fighting a stereotype with a stereotype, but it sure seems like guys have a tendency to try to fix things. When it comes to cars, computers, or leaky pipes, this is fine, but it’s important to resist the temptation to be a fixer when it comes to emotions.
Doing so could potentially be more damaging than anything, especially with mental illness being so pervasive in society. Instead, it’s a better strategy to be a good listener. Chances are, your wife has already thought of the same practical solutions as you, but that doesn’t make the struggle any less real. True healing comes with time, and while there may be strategies to expedite progress, there’s no such thing as a quick fix.
Myth #2: You must be the head of the household.
I hate to admit it, but this one’s going to be the hardest habit for men to break moving deeper into the 21st century. Not too long ago, it would be madness for a man to disavow himself from his “rightful status as head-of-household.” However, with the benefit of being one of the first generations that can, I will say my wife is every bit my equal.
This is freeing, and honestly far more of a source of pride for me than being able to claim that I lead my house. The fact that she’s currently getting her master’s degree is at least as valid as the fact that I’m a graphic designer. She’s working towards something, and so am I, and together we’re able to be far more effective as a couple.
Myth #3: It’s not okay to cry.
It’s a hard sell to say that crying is masculine, and honestly this one’s the hardest personally for me to swallow. But the fact remains that life is full of pain as well as joy. Intense sadness, grief, and maybe even depression will grip you. To not express those emotions, especially with your wife, will do nothing but tear you apart on the inside.
Instead, it’s probably more important to focus on finding the right times to cry. This will be the subject of a future post, but finding effective ways and opportunities to channel your sorrow is very important. This is especially true if you are in a leadership position or if your spouse struggles with certain forms of mental illness.
Myth #4: Husbands are always jerks.
From one guy to another, I’m so sorry that society has created this stereotype. It’s something that gets into your head, and you begin to believe it. You start to think that you’re aggressive, perverted, controlling, and incapable of loving properly. Don’t believe it. Please don’t buy into it.
You are you, the manifestation of your beliefs and convictions and experiences. You can be jealous without being controlling, loving without being smothering, and frustrated without being toxic. Aggression is the result of pain without a stable method of letting it out.
Myth #5: You can’t be a feminist.
Feminism is when men and women are treated equally, and if there’s a better definition of a great marriage relationship than that, I have yet to find it. Two people are able to take on the world with togetherness, rather than a male and female divide defaulted into the marriage. Both of you are responsible for the work in marriage – housework, cooking, jobs, education, family, money, it doesn’t matter. You’re in this together.
The blue heart emoji represents a trusting, stable relationship, which is why I used it for this post. I’m convinced that, by understanding and defying these stereotypes, you can go a long way towards having that kind of marriage relationship for yourself.
What kind of marriage stereotypes did you grow up with? Did you have similar experiences to me, or was your family different? Don’t be shy, let’s talk about it in the comments! See you on Monday.
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