My first post was about how I began my journey to independence by declaring that I Won’t Be Silent. That doesn’t mean that I intend to gain independence by shouting at my family or angrily accusing my spouse of being a bully. Instead, I realized that I could gain all that I need for my peace of mind and my happiness by being kind. It wouldn’t work this way for everyone but it’s worth a try. By just disengaging, empowering my family, and letting go of my control I have been able to shift some of the patterns of our household from a male authoritarian model to one of independent thinkers coming together to form a family. We did this through statements that were kind but constructive. After my husband figured out that I was putting a portion of my check into another account he did the same. There was nothing wrong with that independence. We still both deposit plenty into the main account for household costs. When it came time for me to buy a new cell phone I carefully stated that I wanted to pick my own phone. In the past he just chose one and handed it to me, after which I just said thank you. His response to my statement was that he had planned on me buying my own phone. Choose away. It was a step that I was happy to take. It told me silently that even though we haven’t discussed me breaking away from the traditional expectations of a marriage, he understands my need to make decisions for myself. There will still be decisions that we will have to make together that are bigger but that will be together not by him.
When I formed my new self in my mind I knew that provoking a big discussion, blaming him for taking on a traditional role, or making him feel that he had done something wrong was not the way to successfully go about making changes. I was as much to blame for assuming those traditional roles along with a career. Now it was my job to professionally and kindly change my role in this relationship and this household. The best way to do it was to let go of some things and yet make sure to contribute to the family. It wouldn’t work to let go of grocery shopping and cooking just to sit on the couch all of the time. I made the choice to choose what I will contribute in responsibility and to plan to contribute half of expenses in the household. This is what will seal the deal to make us equals.
Although I do independent things like watch my own programs on my tablet or laptop or spend time alone when I want to, I also try to balance that and still make a point to spend time with my family. To my dismay that still means that there are many nights after dinner sitting in silence reading and my husband calling it family time. There are little things that I do compromise on and recognize that it’s not all about what I want. I’m still in a relationship and we still have a teen at home. They both care about spending time with me and being heard. Balancing my lifestyle is still so important and each woman has to determine what that looks like. No one can give a blueprint of that.
If we as women can break away from the traditional authoritarian model marriage by making small steps in a kind but matter-of-fact way we can change the world. It sounds corny. It just might work.