Get Out of the Way and Let Her Do it on Her Own!
First of all, I want to recognize all of you chivalrous men out there who have taken it upon yourselves to help, guide and assist the lady in your life. Perhaps your efforts are not always well received or appreciated and that’s a shame. So, on behalf of my sisters, thank you for stepping up and being what you think a man should be and do. Now stop.
Ok, so I’m only partially serious here. I want to help you understand why your wife may be rejecting your earnest attempts to be the traditional provider in your partnership. I want you to understand that it has less to do with you and more to do with her need to feel self-sufficient and capable. I want you to learn how to support this need for her and still uphold your role as well.
My own young marriage and divorce taught me a great deal about myself and relationships. Though I was educated and well versed in many ways in the world, I was a helper and a healer, not a financier by trade. I was a struggling graduate student with a desire to change the world and hadn’t yet come to my senses that money would facilitate this. Therefore, I was very comfortable with my ex-husband managing our finances and guiding our major financial decisions. He had the degree, the background and the savvy to do this well. It wasn’t until our divorce that I realized my deficit in this area and I had to school myself quickly about money management if I was to sustain my livelihood.
In hindsight, I have a great deal of gratitude for this situation, as it helped prepare me to take an active role in all facets of my life. I vowed to myself to become knowledgeable about all areas of my life and not to leave this solely up to anyone (husband, financial planner, doctor, etc) to take care of. After all, it’s my health, my money, my business and no one knows it better than me. This isn’t to say that it isn’t wise to seek the guidance of those who specialize in these areas, however, to leave those major decisions in the hands of others left me vulnerable and scared.
Now, I’m in a place where I can do most things fairly well and other things damn well….I have mad home improvement skills! It is important to me that though I now have a relationship where things are balanced, that my man knows that at any time, I can manage my life independently. The purpose of this is not to make him seem disposable or unneeded. Instead, it’s for my own sense of confidence and security that I know how to fend for myself in this competitive world.
So, when your wife pushes you away from your attempts to take care of things for her, please don’t take it as a slight on you. Understand that she needs to demonstrate to herself that she’s able to do these things on her own. This kind of confidence will also help her relax and not be so needy and dependent upon you when you are away with your buddies or business. She’ll be able to hold down the fort (both physically and emotionally) and allow you the space you need to breathe and take care of yourself. You would be best served by asking her whether she would like your assistance. This way, you are not assuming that she wants your help and you are also being attentive and offering to tend to her needs. Chances are, after she’s established that she can do it, she will gladly ask you to assist with some of the things that you’d like to offer the relationship.
Contrary to some of the relationship gurus out there who will claim that men only feel good when they are needed by women, I’d like to suggest that hanging your identity upon this will cause you a great deal of hardship and unnecessary pain. You have worth regardless of whether your woman needs something from you. By and large, neediness and desperation come from deficiencies and emotional damage in our own lives. Most people enter relationships hoping that the other will fill the holes in their hearts and heal their wounds. Though relationships can facilitate these things, our partners are not responsible for this. There is no substitute for seeing yourself as whole and complete, before any woman enters the picture.
Women today are informed, capable and multi-faceted. Ever-changing gender roles in our society mean that there are fewer “traditional” tasks and positions. I’d like to think that each person is capable of meeting their own needs (or can learn how if they have blind spots) and to look to anyone or anything else to do it on a permanent basis is to set yourself up for disappointment. This doesn’t mean that our partners cannot teach us things that we have little experience in. However, continuously outsourcing your need to feel good about yourself means that you go without when and if she ever takes her marbles and leaves.
Fostering neediness from your wife may bolster your need to be needed and feel good in the moment, but it doesn’t serve the overall good of your marriage. Any time one person is in the “one down” position, they are apt to feel insecure and helpless…not so sexy. This can manifest as a lack of trust, anxiety and co-dependence…all things that can undermine a relationship. So another thing you can do is offer to teach her the things you know and allow her to do the same. This way, you’re sharing your skills and expertise and empowering one another to grow and evolve.