Dear Counsellor, I am currently engaged with the hopes of getting married soon. My boyfriend and I are both Christians, but the issue is I have been an independent woman all my life and have been career-driven too. My fiancé is the same in terms of chasing his career, but he also holds fast to the beliefs of the traditional home with the man as breadwinner and woman as nurturer. While I do not object to having children, my real issue is being subjected to my man and allowing him to lead and be the head of the household. As someone who is driven and used to calling the shots in almost all aspects of my life, how do I then acknowledge him as my husband and not undermine him?
I sincerely hope that you and your partner are involved in premarital counselling sessions as it is through these frank discussions that topics like role expectations, finances, children, etc, will be brought to the fore.
It is obvious that as a single woman you have been steadily pursuing your ambitions and being accountable to only yourself. You may have been raised in a female-dominated household where your mother assumed the leadership role and so it was natural for you to continue in that tradition.
Now that you are transitioning from singleness to married life there are some adjustments that need to be made by both of you to promote growth and stability in the marital relationship.
On the matter of role expectations, you shared that your partner holds the traditional view of the husband being the main source of income and the woman the family caregiver. His stance, like yours, may have derived from his family of origin where his dad was the one who was large and in charge.
In the 21st century the paradigm has changed, and couples are now assuming co-partnership roles where they both share responsibilities depending on their personal strengths. So if the wife is a better money manager then it would be mutually agreed that she assumes the portfolio of minister of finance of the household, and if the husband is more adept with culinary skills it should not matter if he does most of the cooking.
It is imperative, therefore, that the role expectation dialogue begins even before engagement so that by the time the couple is married, they are clear as to the modus operandi. Less time would be expended on power play and more time on building a solid marital relationship.
The suggestion is that if you give your husband the respect he deserves, then undermining him will not play out as you would be willing to give him a place of prominence in your life and the household. It is incumbent on him, however, to behave in a manner befitting that of an honourable man and husband. He, too, should respect and highly regard you as his wife and co-partner in the household. So try to be supportive of your partner and conduct yourself in a respectful way that is worthy of the prestigious status of wife.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.