Reflections on what went wrong

Reflections on what went wrong October 7, 2010

by Jo @ Woman Reclaimed

We’re rapidly approaching the anniversary of when I lost my life as I knew it. I’m finally to a point where I feel strong enough to boldly face where we went, what went wrong and what we messed up so very badly. We fell down the rabbit hole of Patriarchal matrimony. We didn’t necessarily mean to do so. Certainly, we never thought we were down so far as we truly were. We thought we didn’t fully believe in wife-only submission. We thought we never believed that the wife’s salvation is based upon the Husband’s favor. In more ways than I ever understood until the journey of this last year, we did fall into the trap.

Just in case anyone is wondering what my opinion on Patriarchal marriage is now, let me make it VERY clear what my opinion is and why.

Patriarchal marriage is dangerous. First, there is NO accountability to the husband. If the husband is ungodly or inappropriate, then you are to wait for God to deal with him. So basically, a husband can tell his wife to do ANYTHING he wants. The potential to abuse this authority with NO consequences is massive and scary. Only a very few men would not become abusive in some manner or another. There is no safety for a wife if her husband becomes abusive. There is no real accountability for men.

Patriarchal leaders are very open that a wife should never, ever concern herself with what accountability or oversight might exist for a husband, because that would be dishonoring his godhead in her life to do so.

Now, that was not the aspect we accepted. Even at our most consistent with Patriarchy, we were a poor example because we rejected that my salvation came through my husband. It was easy for me to see the fallacy and danger in this concept from the start. However, we did believe it was the husband’s job to provide for his family at all costs, and the wife’s job to maintain the home and support the husband at all costs. In embracing this, we not only lost accountability for both of us, but we diverged and lived parallel lives rather than being truly joined as one.

I carried the full burden of the household. I maintained all of the schooling, all of the care for the medical needs, all of the behavioral issues, all of the feeding and cleaning, and maintenance of a large, special needs family. It was a lonely and stressful world. And, the babies kept coming, knocking my ability to manage everything off at the feet yet again. But, the final blow was the Autistic, Bipolar, VIOLENT Cystic Fibrosis child who nearly KILLED me in the last pregnancy.

For his part, my husband was expected to shoulder the full financial burden of this ever-growing, special needs family. When he had jobs that were unhealthy environments, he was not free to leave them. When finances were struggling, he was responsible for it. He had no one to help with this burden, no one to talk to, and no one who began to understand. Isolated and feeling like he could fail his family at any moment, his burdens combined with his mental health issues and his childhood abuse led him down a path where he medicated his stress and fears with an addiction. That addiction nearly destroyed our family and our marriage.

There never should have been a “his” versus “hers” in the marriage. His happiness should not have been my burden. The selfishness and isolation of Patriarchy should have never existed for him. However, he also should have been able to carry worth in the family beyond his paycheck. He was a lonely and forgotten monarch. I was a beaten down and exhausted serf. Ultimately, because Patriarchy told me to put a smile on it, and never burden him with MY failings, there was no checks and balances for either of us to truly love the other unconditionally and freely. There was no opportunity for either of us to truly support and love the other as we should have been able to do.

I was the PERFECT wife. I put his needs before mine always. I hide the challenges and struggles of actually providing for the emotional needs of this family far away from him. I structured the family around his career. I sacrificed myself in every way I was told to do so. I was the picture perfect wife. And, the world called me blessed.

If my husband had gone the normal route, he would have been abusive, or simply dismissive, an almost guarantee with this marriage outlook. He was fundamentally a decent man and went down the road of self-destruction and addiction in his own efforts to control what this dynamic brought to him.

Neither of us was more valuable than the other. Neither of us should have sacrificed permanently, nor carried an expectation that we could do whatever we wanted. We should have been fully partnered, fully accountable and fully joined with each other in all things. We should have both put each other as the priority of our lives and honored and respected the other while also holding onto our own person hood as just as valuable.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below. 🙂

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  • Celestine

    This is a fantastic article. Thanks so much for sharing it. It is so important for us to remember that patriarchy is harmful to everyone involved.

  • Sandy

    So true, and I am sorry to see so many people hurt by it. Have you begun to heal together, or have you had to part company to be able to get over it?

  • yoyo

    Whenever, governments give out awards for bravery or service to the community I cannot but help bemoan that the women who raise children with disabilities, (NEVER with enough support) are never included on the list. The bravery it must have taken just to rise each morning and do it all again is beyond contemplation. Whatever has happened in your life you are 10 times stronger than the majority. I salute you!

  • This is perhaps one of the best personal story articles that helps to describe the dynamics of the patriarchy lifestyle that I’ve seen here yet at NLQ. Thanks for writing it. I think very succinctly summarizes a huge chunk of the fundamental problems faced by both husbands and wives in the paradigm in a very human way. The gender hierarchy stuff does tear away the union of one one flesh dramatically, rather than supporting and fostering the dynamic dance of two equals walking together. Life is difficult enough without all of the extra baggage of the “roles” expectations. Special needs of any kind are burden enough. Thank you for writing.