August 08, 2014

Husband & Wife vs. Man & Wife

I really love being married.  I enjoy calling this man "my husband".  I love every aspect of our life.

Those are not phrases I would have uttered years ago.  As a matter of fact I didn't just not utter them, I went out of my way to express the opposite.  Not a great way to spend a decade with another person.  Many times I was asked why I got married, some people even assumed I was pregnant pre-wedding.  (for the record I was not, that happened a year in)  I did what I believed was best at the time, there was love there, my mother pushed, he asked, we talked...poof!  Teeny wedding in the park.  I can't remember, but I'm fairly sure the justice of the peace pronounced us "man and wife".  The idea began stirring in my little brain pan last night...what's the difference between "man and wife" and "husband and wife".  I get the notion that "man and wife" is a not-so-archaic way of saying "Ugg find wife!, Ugg bring her back to cave".  I started rolling around the dynamics of various relationships around me and the differences in my own.

We could entertain the notion that "man and wife" refers to a relationship where the male/husband/father figure is believed to be more than his wife.  In the case of my parents, my father had a tendency to lord over my mother.  Now, he was born in the early 30's, she in the late 40's so he maintained an air of male authority due to his age and station in life by the time he met her.  In his era men were strong entities who went to work and came home to dinner on the table.  Women were little more than prized possessions meant to be won and kept.  This was the norm.  I see that pattern even in my own generation.  Not as overt in some cases, but there are still men out there who believe she is a prize and must be kept close and treated less than equal.  It can be little things, like...telling her she doesn't need more education, she's talented just as she is.  Or dictating the type of job he does or doesn't want her to have.  There are ways to express "I am the man of the house" that are very subtle and demeaning.

Now what about "husband and wife".  Is the marriage an equally shared experience?  Perhaps so, or maybe it's just that the respect factor is much much higher.  The wife is seen as a gift, not a possession, and she feels the same about her husband.  I've seen with my sisters marriage, and my best friend, that even though the gender roles may be in place-it doesn't have to be a 50's style dictatorship.  Those are the relationships I have always admired and wanted for myself.  The ones where both parties take their roles and don't lord one over the other.  One is not more or less than the other, they simply exist in tandem.  I dreamt about that, prayed for it, begged for it for years...then one day I got it.  The struggle he and I have is not with one another, it's to shake the deeply rooted vices and ideas left behind by our ex's.  I am still reeling from the fact the he "allowed" me to reenter college.  I know in the back of my mind there was no permission necessary, but old habits and thought processes die hard.

I look back at my parents relationship, and I see all the aspects I never wanted to encounter.  I see all the ones I ran to with my first marriage.  I married a man very similar to my father.  Temperament was different, but the attitude was the same.  I discovered I can't blame gender roles for the superiority complexes some men carry.  In my previous home we worked about the same, in some cases, I worked more.  We shared household duties, took care of the girl.  Come tax season however, he always claimed head of household...regardless of who had the income that year.  I guess that title meant something to him.

So what's the difference between a man and a husband?  Well lets see.
A man never lets go of his own program, his own happiness is always his priority.  She must allow it and also make it hers.  A husband makes his family, however large or small, his priority.  He doesn't have to brag or say it out loud:  "I let her drive the newer vehicle"'s an understood.  One of those- if you have to broadcast it you must not be doing it quite right- situations.
A man views and displays his wife as a prize.  Yes, he wants her dressed up to go out, but gets upset when her attention is diverted away from him.  A husband loves to see her work a room and knows exactly where she will be when it's time to leave.  He gives her space and revels in her light, knowing she will always come back to him.
A man wants a clean house, dinner cooked, children tended, all domestic things done.  A husband knows she gets exhausted too.  He knows that she tries her best and and encourages her instead of tearing her down.
A man lives in fear of losing her and is afraid of letting her out of his sight.  He goes everywhere with her and tells her it's for the good of their relationship-they must share everything.  A husband knows that they both need space, friends, and independent time.  He knows that a little breathing room is necessary, he doesn't get hung up on fear.  He knows where she lays her head every night and tells her so.
A man never truly grows up.  His world remains the same for decades without faltering.  A husband's world grows smaller with passing years, it shrinks to his family and ultimately settles on his wife..the woman he chose to live out his years with.
A man is selfish in intimacy, all attention is his own, hers is irrelevant-or her own problem.  A husband shares himself and goes out of his way to make her feel like the most beautiful and desired person there is.  It's a simple fact, if you give your spouse no reason to ever look outside your bond...they never will.

I was reminded recently that even though this is each our second marriage, it is the first time we are married to each other.  Little things like that are what I strive to remember, this is a whole new experience and I want to make it the best one it can be.

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