When you make a decision, know your responsibilities

I think one of the interesting scenarios that may come up fairly often in marriage is one of the situations that I recently experienced. Not the first time I experienced it, but it is particularly common especially when a husband and wife want to do things differently.

Here’s the scenario, to which you can also think of many different types of scenarios like this.

  • There’s something to carry somewhere. The car is parked in the parking lot.
  • I want to pull the car around to get it. The wife wants to carry it to the car.
  • I start walking without carrying anything saying I’ll pull the car around. The wife in a huff picks up the thing to carry to the car.
  • On the way to the car and/or in the car, the wife gets mad because the husband generally is supposed to carry the heavy objects.

This is where you have to understand making a decision and standing on it. I made the decision to bring the car around. If the wife doesn’t want to abide by it, she can, of course, carry said objects herself. However, her complaining about it doesn’t make it right. Her hassling me about carrying it does not force me to carry it either. She is the one who voluntarily wanted to go against my decision; therefore, she bears the consequences of said decision.

A husband should not offer to help his wife in that circumstance where she is not abiding by his decision.

The story ends with me telling my wife that I made the decision to pull the car around. If she wanted to carry it instead of wait for the car, that’s her responsibility and not mine because I already made the decision. I’m not going to go back on what I said and cave to carry it to the car because she didn’t want to abide by my decision.

Fortunately, my wife is less on the crazy side 2-3/10 and was able to see the logical merits of my decision. And yes, she reads this blog and we’ve talked about where she is on the crazy scale before. This among other things was why I made the decision to marry her.

For the husbands that haven’t been firm on this type of decision making from the start, it is a much, much harder to make a decision like that and stand on it without a wife going crazy about it. However, you have to start somewhere. This is where I diverge from a lot of the so-called secular manosphere thinking that women are like children.

If you don’t treat your wife like an adult who bears responsibility for her decisions, she’s going to keep acting like a child.

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19 Responses to When you make a decision, know your responsibilities

  1. theasdgamer says:

    Good point, but I don’t like the title of your post. Women should be treated more like beloved children than like adults. In the example you gave, the husband should have gently chided the wife for being disobedient and told her she needs to go to time out. lol

  2. Lost Patrol says:

    And so it begins. DS is better informed than most men confronting this sort of thing for the first few times. It is vital to remain iron fist in velvet glove during this jockeying for control, especially early on. Otherwise the war can drag on for literally decades, exhausting both country’s treasuries and manpower base; and leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by outside actors.

  3. Ame says:

    the thing is, though, that’s exactly how i would treat a child. my girls know there are two ways to do things in our home – the easy way (Mom’s way) … or the hard way (against Mom’s way). they’ll both tell you they’d much rather do things the *easy* way 🙂

  4. donalgraeme says:

    As LP points out, you need to get ahead of the game here. If you can nip this in the bud, you can prevent it from getting truly out of hand.

    And before I forget, congratulations! [If you announced it earlier I somehow missed it]

  5. Novaseeker says:

    Well that’s not a bad start. It’s important to get the tone and frame right from the beginning and be consistent.

  6. @ LP, Donal, Nova

    I don’t think it’s as much jockeying for control. The vast majority of the time she is submissive, and if we were talking to family, friends, or random strangers who ask who’s in charge we would both immediately say me (and I am).

    Overall, I think it’s more of a situation arising on the fly which helps increase an emotional response which needs to be defused and brought back into line.

    There’s definitely varying grades of what we would call “jockeying for control” and I think this is the lowest degree of all of them. Obviously, if the roles were not so “set” or maybe not even talked about before marriage there would be more confusion and ease to fall into dysfunctional patterns. However, I am glad that I’ve already set the standard and continue to do so (and she is grateful for it).

    The hard part is for marriages where the opposite dyfunctional pattern (e.g. wife fighting for control or wife in control) is ingrained from the start and continued for years or even decades. That’s where you have wives and husbands almost “locked in” to dysfunctional patterns with a very, very difficult road ahead of them.

  7. amblingsaint says:

    If you could have got her to say to you that she thought YOU should carry it to the car, during the initial discussion, you would have been able to resolve it in speech alone. Why didn’t she say that upfront to you, so you could have had the matter resolved before you acted? How could you encourage her to own her own opinions and speak them out without defiance, but reasonably?

  8. @ amblingsaint

    I think it depends on the situation.

    There are some things you want to head off before it gets started. On the other hand, some things are best learned through experience. For example,

    “Next time if you’re angry or disappointed or concerned you need to tell me before it becomes a big deal.”

    Many times both husbands and wives and men and women need to be reminded that the other person is not a mind reader.

    Underscoring this is that the real lesson is that as a man you can’t be afraid of conflict. If you’re not afraid of conflict, you don’t mind resolving it beforehand or afterward. There’s no problem that can’t be handled. That’s the attitude/mindset that you need.

  9. Novaseeker says:

    The hard part is for marriages where the opposite dyfunctional pattern (e.g. wife fighting for control or wife in control) is ingrained from the start and continued for years or even decades. That’s where you have wives and husbands almost “locked in” to dysfunctional patterns with a very, very difficult road ahead of them.

    That’s very true. In most cases like that I think it’s almost impossible to overcome — in effect, what it means is that the relationship needs to be reset and restarted, and very few people are both willing and capable of that many years down the line.

    Underscoring this is that the real lesson is that as a man you can’t be afraid of conflict. If you’re not afraid of conflict, you don’t mind resolving it beforehand or afterward. There’s no problem that can’t be handled. That’s the attitude/mindset that you need.

    Yes. That’s the critical thing. Many men are conflict avoidant when it comes to women, and when they do this in marriage it leads to the wife being in control of the marriage by default, because he isn’t interested in taking on the conflict that would lead to a different outcome. Of course, this is easier to do with low conflict wives than with high conflict wives. A wife who thrives on conflict will, in this era, almost always dominate the marriage unless she is with a profoundly strong man who is very comfortable with constant conflict with his wife, and thereby wears her down eventually — that is not a common man in our culture. Of course, the way to avoid being in a situation like that if you are not that guy is by avoiding marrying a woman like that to begin with, but it seems lots of guys err there too.

  10. Wizard Prang says:

    Good article. Regarding the title, I would say “Treat her according to how she behaves” is perhaps better. If she behaves like a grown-up, she is deserving of respect. If she behaves like a child, she gets treated like one. And I expect her to treat me in a similar manner.

    As far as I am concerned, this is not really a problem: in that situation I would just say “Wait here and I’ll bring the car round”, and away we go. If she chooses to disregard, let her do it her way. If she chooses to be disobedient, call her out on it.

    My motto is: “If it is important to you but not to me, it’s your job”. Making sure that the car has oil and the tires are inflated properly is important to me, which makes it my job. Ensuring that I am well-fed and well-dressed is important to her, hence it is her job.

    What we have here is her wanting to take control of the *execution* of a job, while having *you* do it. And that is disrespectful of your time and energy. My wife would never pull a stunt like that – God bless her! – which may be one of the reasons why our marriage is now in its fourth decade and stronger than ever.

    They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

  11. anonymous_ng says:

    As Donal said, congratulations as I seem to have missed the blessed occasion.

    Also, well done.

  12. Ame says:

    “Yes. That’s the critical thing. Many men are conflict avoidant when it comes to women, and when they do this in marriage it leads to the wife being in control of the marriage by default,”

    from personal experience, as the wife, i HATED this. my first husband did this all.the.time. he would go silent, become extremely passive-aggressive, and mean, and he refused to articulate what i did that made him so angry. so i was blind. i can look back now and see things that did and other things that probably did and other things that i think did make him angry, but when he wouldn’t tell me, even when asked, i was left to try to figure it out myself. he had two standard answers: (1) “It’s not you, it’s me.”(i think this related to his addictions – that he was angry with himself for continuing to lie to me?), and (2) “It doesn’t matter what I say, you’ll do what you want anyway.” i think this was because i ask a lot of questions – not to ‘question’ someone as much as to understand things. i think it drove him nuts b/c his IQ was higher than mine, and he naturally understood a lot of things quicker than i did. also, i think he might have felt like i was questioning him rather than trying to understand, but when he refused to let me know these things, i was left with nothing and not knowing what to do or think. he was also one to change on me – for example, one day he would get angry with me for telling him something … so the next time i would tell him, and he’d get angry with me for telling him. i was often confused as to what he wanted from me. by not telling me what he expected and wanted and being clear – not changing from one day to the next – he left me to ‘default’. it was extremely frustrating because i really wanted to please him.

  13. @ asd, Wizard

    I changed it to “When you make a decision, know your responsibilities” which is more accurate to the man/husband’s actions in question.

  14. Broderick says:

    Good post DS. You say that husbands and wives need to be reminded that neither is a mind reader. This is true, and I’d like to expand a bit on the issue of communication in your example of carrying things to the car.

    Precise questions, requests, and communication can avoid many pointless arguments. Women tend to communicate indirectly, leaving requests implied. Requests are often embedded within complaints, which is by far the worst method for effective communication – I’d rather not hear those complaints anyway, so deriving a course of action from one is not going to happen. If she wishes to make a request, she is to state it directly:
    “Would you ?”
    The use of “would” is critical, as it is a direct question about what I will or wish to do. Questions beginning with “could” are indirect and subtly emasculating (of course I can do it, but will I do it?), and “should” is for stating suggestions or opinions, not requests. She is not to use commands (You shall do this). She also must be precise about pronouns. I’m not talking SJW gender nonsense, but rather the proper use of I, you, and we.

    It’s not demeaning to give or be given a request, and it is fact necessary to have this effective communication between husband and wife. I am free to say No, and my answer reflects my will instead of my ability or my opinion. Compare the following.

    Q: Would you carry these things to the car?
    A: No. (It is not my will to do so)
    …or A: Yes. (I will do so)

    Q: Could you carry these things to the car?
    A: No. (I can’t do so)
    …or A: Yes. (I can do so, but that doesn’t mean I will)

    Q: Should we carry these things to the car?
    A: No. (I don’t think that is a good idea, and who is “we” anyway?)
    …or A: Yes. (I think that a good idea, but I still may not do so, because “we” implies you are doing this too.)

    This might seem pedantic, but it does work. If nothing else, she will consider more carefully her choice of words.

  15. Thanks Broderick,
    That’s actually really helpful! Sometimes I struggle with how to make requests respectfully to my husband, so I will try the “would you”.

  16. Broderick says:

    @ seriouslyserving
    You are welcome. Your husband may be caught off guard at first, depending on past communication habits, because “would you” questions may be unexpectedly direct. Direct requests may be misconstrued as aggression or domination. The key is still doing so respectfully, and with a heart knowing a request may be justly denied. Furthermore, you may want to give a forewarning to your husband that you are working on your communication, and that this is not a challenge to him, but rather a way to build understanding:

    Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

  17. Yes, your right about approaching it with a heart of respect!
    It’s funny, because I have done the “could you” in the past, and sometimes my husband would say that it made him feel cornered. Which I didn’t understand, because in my mind it was just a “take it or leave it” request. But to him, it was actually questioning his capability.

  18. theasdgamer says:

    Here’s how I handle a negative emotional response…I had a similar situation today…an ad came on the radio about Viagra…I made a joke about a woman who was complaining that sex took too long and wanted a pill to shorten it…Mrs. Gamer, having ignored the ad and not understanding the context, said, “Why do you always think about sex?” in a snarky tone. I replied, “Lady Madonna, when are you going to the nunnery?” Mrs. Gamer said, “You are trying to shame me, but I’m not ashamed.” I left the room and ignored Mrs. Gamer for several hours. Later I said, “I’m thinking about sex.” Mrs. Gamer asked excitedly, “Really?” I replied, “Not with you.” Mrs. Gamer asked, “With whom?” A few minutes later I got in Mrs. Gamer’s grill and said something about sex maybe with another girl. Mrs. Gamer asked, “With your girlfriend?” I said, “What, you think I only have one?” Mrs. Gamer was grinning ear to ear and totally focused on me.
    Dog training…misbehavior brings a lack of attention, tho not anger or a lack of affection.

  19. Lost Patrol says:

    There’s definitely varying grades of what we would call “jockeying for control” and I think this is the lowest degree of all of them.

    It’s like time and water. What large stalagmites have been formed by the steady drip of one little drop. I feel confident from your written works that you know what you’re doing and have your personal situation under control. You well know the woman in question and I don’t at all.

    From the outside looking in, purely personal opinion based on all that I have read, seen, heard, and lived; this –

    I start walking without carrying anything saying I’ll pull the car around. The wife in a huff picks up the thing to carry to the car.

    is an unmitigated, straight up power play for control. Not mean spirited, and virtually an unconscious act. The classic test of your mettle that goes by several names. You are of course well positioned to deal with these things and keep an even keel, but that is a control move.

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