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I feel more like a mother than a wife

Dear Dr Nekia,

I am having a real issue with my husband. Honestly, I feel more like his mother than his wife. We both work and I still do the majority of the household chores and look after the children.

He complains about being tired and doesn't take the initiative to do anything. I mean, he doesn't even bother to think for himself half the time, and when problems arise I am the one to find the solutions. Our children cannot even depend on him. If they need help with anything, he sends them to me. I'm just tired of being everything to everybody. I thought marriage is supposed to be a partnership.

Sincerely, I'm Not Superwoman

Dear I'm Not Superwoman,

You must look at your relationship with your husband from its beginning up until now. When did his withdrawn behaviour begin? Next you must take a look at yourself. Did you always accommodate him? These questions are important to ask because fixing the problem will require knowing the issue. Many times, we women are very accommodating towards men as if we must prove ourselves worthy so that they will choose us above others. Even though this is very unhealthy behaviour, it is not entirely our fault.

We do this because we live in a patriarchal society that sets the tone for the woman to desire to be acquired by the man. It could very well be that you have unknowingly and unintentionally taught your husband to be lazy with the household and family responsibilities. To understand how this could happen, you must realise what we respond to, what we ignore, and what we allow all give instructions to people about how to treat us. If we do not allow certain behaviours, or if we respond negatively, a person has no choice but to either change the way that they treat us, or choose to not be a part of our lives.

It's possible that your husband was taught irresponsibility before he met you, but then he would not have chosen you had you also not been accommodating to him.

However, if you have noticed a gradual change, you may need to consider a decline in his mental or emotional wellbeing. He may very well be struggling with issues of stress, depression, dependency, etc, and you will have to remember your husband as he was before he became unwilling to take initiative in the marriage. What is it that made him happy? What gave him energy? Let him know you admired his abilities, and let him know that you miss that about him.

You will get a lot further this way than complaining and tearing him down. I understand that this may be difficult, since you are frustrated and may feel it not your responsibility to persuade him to change, but when dealing with someone who does not take initiative, you will have to jump-start things to shift in your favour.

If he has always been unresponsive to his responsibilities, then you have a daunting task on your hands to get him to change. In fact, you may very well have to accept the fact of this being who he is, and who he is is who you chose to marry. This does not mean that he is hopeless to change, but rather that your perception will have to change to one where you must also accept responsibility for you choice in a husband.

One thing is for certain, however, no matter if he has always been or has gradually become lazy about his responsibilities, it is understandable that you feel more like his mother than his wife.

Of course, this is never a good thing in a marriage and you will have to regain a sense of respect for him as a man if you have hopes of getting things on track.

Respect has to be earned, but you will want to make sure that you are open to it and are ready to let go of any resentment that you are harbouring.

At each step of the way, remain open to acknowledging, receiving and encouraging the positive steps that your husband makes to change. If he is having difficulty accepting that the marriage needs him to be a more active participant in order for it to survive, he may need professional help and direction.

Dear Dr Nekia,

I am a married man. A happily married man, but I overheard my wife tell her friends some things that I am not happy with. My wife usually has what she calls girls' night at least once a month, where she and her friends meet up at someone's house for wine, gossip, and all that good stuff that women like to do. I have no issue with this, but this month it was her turn to play hostess. Now the rules state that all men and husbands are to either be out of the house or locked away in their room watching sports of something.

So basically, we are fed, washed, dressed and shipped out, or are placed on lockdown with our bellies full. Again, I have no problem with that. But I got thirsty and decided to sneak to the kitchen for a drink. Here I was minding my own business trying to get some juice when I overhear my wife bragging to her friends about how she is an independent woman. Huh?! Maybe I should not have listened further but I did.

She actually went on and on about how she makes her own money, does not need me, and if I mess up she could easily say deuces and goodbye.

I have always been supportive of my wife and proud of her career, but I had no idea that I was so disposable to her. It's not like she even pays all the bills or even makes more money than me. I feel so used.

Since then, I have been distant and have not even wanted to have sex with her, and she is noticing the difference. I know that I should probably just tell her why I am upset, but I feel like what's the point. I shouldn't have to tell my own wife to not make her husband look like a worthless fool in front of her friends. Maybe if she feels this way, she needs to just be single.

Sincerely, About To Make My Wife Single

Dear About To Make My Wife Single,

Wow, I understand your feelings of rejection. It must not have been very nice to hear your wife speak this way, but let's see if we can put some perspective on the situation that has occurred. It has been a growing trend among women, particularly women from the low- to middle-income, non-white demographic. This is not to say that white women or rich women are not independent or do not value their independence, but that usually women from such demographics still tend to place high value on men being the provider. As well, men in such households still tend to carry out traditional male roles of leadership and responsibility for the wellbeing of the family. So even though their women and spouses may be very capable of providing for themselves, they also understand the value in conceding to allow the man to take charge in such areas.

There are many reasons why different demographics of women respond differently to the idea of being an independent woman, but without getting into all of those reasons, just know that your wife seems to be a woman who takes great pride in being labelled, or thought of, as being independent. You could say that her mental perception and her physical reality are not aligning, but I am sure that she is intelligent enough to realise that the truth is that she is not independent at all.

We women really need to learn that different between being able to take care of ourselves should we have to, and being dependent upon one another in our relationships.

We treat dependency like it is a plague, but dependency is a healthy step in the bonding process and the road to becoming one. Being able to take care of ourselves should in no way cause us to devalue our men, yet it often times does cause us to adopt an I-don't-need-you attitude. Worse, is that men are beginning to seek out women with an overly independent mentality in order to deflect the responsibility of providing and oftentimes do not realise the cost. The allure is a woman who is not needy, but they overlook the fact that need, whether emotional, physical, or financial, often times goes hand-in-hand with value and respect. If she was a single woman who was strong in her career and supporting herself prior to marriage, she may have a hard time letting go of the single woman in her.

This is not to say that women should give up their personal identity once married, but in order for a woman to truly value a man and his contributions to her life, she has to let go of the I-can-do-it-all-by-myself mentality.

Marriage is not about whether or not you can do it by yourself, but is rather about how well you can do it together. She may not even realise that she is devaluing and talking you down to her friends because really, she is trying to build up herself. Unfortunately, yes, it is at your expense.

You should bring it to her attention. You will both want to address the fact that she said these things to her friends, as well as why she said them because she must have felt, or at least thought, such things before saying them.

What is her need for having her friends see her as a woman who can easily up and leave her husband without batting an eye? If it is that she truly feels that way, I am afraid that you have a much bigger problem to deal with.

Want relationship advice? E-mail nakedtruth@royalgazette.com

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Published June 06, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 06, 2016 at 8:16 am)

I feel more like a mother than a wife

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