By Joyce Oglesby
Q: “My husband grew up in a male-dominant home. His mother never was allowed an opinion. Whenever she spoke, she was belittled. We discussed this issue before I agreed to marry my husband. He said he realized how this attitude complicated his parents’ marriage and promised he would never make me feel devalued. While we dated, there were no indications he would be domineering. However, once we married, his actions changed immediately.
We are now eight months into our marriage, and I am miserable. He wants to control everything I do, say, and even wear. My opinions never matter. This is not the man I agreed to spend the rest of my life with, but I’m desperately in love with him, and I know he loves me. Now what?”
Joyce: Deceit is never any prettier once it is revealed.
You were wise to talk out the issues you perceived as problems before marriage. Unfortunately, your husband-to-be was either deceiving you or deceiving himself. Even more unfortunate is the fact that you are on the receiving end, and it has only just begun.
Whether he deceived you or himself, your marriage is going to continue to be challenged at multiple levels. Regardless of his intention, the question becomes: What is yours? How will you handle the situation from here?
I was reared in a male-dominant home. It is a miserable existence for any woman. I survived, but I watched my mother be subjected to a life of misery for more than 32 years of marriage with six children before she sought to right the wrongs that continued to mount against her. Ours was an extremely abusive home life. If yours should hint of this severity, seek help immediately and get to a safe place.
If you are not in a life-threatening situation, allow me to offer a few suggestions for moving forward to a successful lifetime commitment.
- Address the lie. You’ve probably brought it to his attention that he deceived you prior to marriage. If not, what are you waiting for? One promise has already been broken. It might be debated whether or not the broken promise constitutes a lie, but I don’t believe anyone could refute the blatant breach of trust. Every relationship is based on an element of trust. He has compromised your confidence in him. It’s going to be difficult for you to have faith in his leadership in the home, and every good home needs a leader of strong integrity.
- Let him know you are deeply in love with him, but you are not desperate. You need to establish the foundation of love, but you must explain to him that love comes with responsibilities. He is accountable for your protection, but you did not bargain for a home dictatorship. You cannot allow your “desperation love” to find you in a desperate state of immobility. This can cloud your sharper senses, unravel you emotionally, and fuel his desire to control your life.
- Offer terms for how the two of you can move forward. I’m not suggesting that you divorce. I’m a big advocate of strong, healthy marriages. I am, however, encouraging you to give him an ultimatum. It might sound something like this: there will be marital counseling to sort through the breach of trust, or you will separate from him until he can decide how the two of you should proceed in your future.
- Stand up and stand strong. Submission to a husband who loves and respects you is enjoyable. Subjection to one who is demanding is miserable. You are early into your marriage. Don’t wait until you’re in it eight years instead of eight months to begin standing up and being the woman God created you to be. Your husband fell in love with your independent nature. He needs to celebrate that positive quality. Find your backbone and stand strong against a gnawing issue in your marriage that is, obviously, an attempt to redefine who you are.
There is time to resolve this concern. But you cannot afford to wait until he decides to make good on his word as the tension continues to mount. The “now what” should not be to end this marriage. Instead, it should lead to a resolve and reversal of the status quo.
Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro and find a solution for life. Listen to The Just Ask Joyce Show M-F from 3-5pm on WFIA 94.7fm/900am. It’s where real life and family values connect!
Do you have any advice for this woman? Also, read Bob Mueller’s six steps to getting a backbone.