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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

On taste, preference, and submission in marriage

Can’t say as I have any great wisdom on this topic, but my girlfriends have said things that have given me pause. Ever have someone tell you something about their life that makes you think, “whoa, am I living in the wrong reality?”

I’ll attempt to illustrate:

1) If a woman has below-shoulder-length hair that she doesn’t like and would rather cut but her husband prefers it long and “won’t let her” cut it, what should she do? Is it right for the husband to have such control over the length of his wife’s hair? Of course he’s entitled to his preference, but how much weight should that preference carry?

2) I watched a friend’s kids once so she could go shopping. She came back excited about her purchases, including a new dress. The dress looked very nice to me but she didn’t think her husband would like it. When I saw her a few days later at the function she’d bought the dress for, she wasn’t wearing it. Upon inquiry she told me she’d returned it because, sure enough, her husband didn’t like it.

Again, my questions are similar to those in example 1).

3) Does a husband have the right to deny his wife painted toenails? OK, so painted toenails are ridiculously insignificant...or are they? If a guy doesn’t like seeing his wife with them but she likes them, what should she do? How should he present his dislike to his wife?

What I’m asking is, how much control should a spouse have over their spouse’s self-expression? How much should a spouse want their spouse to “be like they want them to be?” Shouldn’t a spouse be allowed to “be themselves” and maybe asked why they like to do what they like to do, to better understand and know them?

Conversely, how much should a spouse curtail superficial self-expression for the preference of their spouse? Is it really so important that they paint their toenails after all if their spouse doesn’t like it?

And what of expectations? Shouldn’t a spouse express what they like about their spouse, or what they like them to do, but then let the spouse decide when and how they will do those things? Isn’t anything else manipulation, control, or requirement of subservience? If a spouse sees their spouse capitulating to their wishes, do they think, “Wow, he/she must really love me because he/she’s not doing such-and-such,” or do they think, “Yes, I like him/her that way, that satisfies me,” or do they think, “Gosh, it’s silly of me to not let him/her do such-and-such, why shouldn’t I let him/her do it?”

All this has a connection, I think, with pornography. What, you say in horror, has that got to do with it? Well, there’s selfishness going on when “pleasing” has certain requirements, when a set of hoops must be jumped through in order to float someone’s boat. It’s selfish to require a spouse to do something or be a certain way on a superficial level before they can be approved or accepted. Not that tastes shouldn’t be taken into account, of course, but must they be served?

Anyway, I’m just thankful that my husband lets me do what I want with my hair (which is basically nothing), has never disliked my clothing, and appreciates my painted toenails :-)


  • I think what your post is really getting at is communication. Spouses who cannot communicate their feelings, desires, and expectations clearly (and politely) to each other cannot even begin to form compromises (even on the little things such as toenails)! Just my opinion. :)

    By Blogger JAne Doe, at 10:10 PM  

  • Good point, Laura.

    What happens, though, if there is communication, but compromise can't be reached? KWIM? I'm also wondering just how picky is picky. :-)

    Thanks for your comment.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 8:54 PM  

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