Mid 2009, I put up a couple of posts about what I termed ‘marital bliss’. These were issues which confronted me as I got ready for marriage. Now that I have been married some months, I went back to the posts to read some of them and discovered that they are still very relevant, not least because of the comments which accompanied the posts. Therefore I am going to re-post them here with the comments. I think I’ll post them monthly and when I exhaust the already published posts, I’ll ask new questions. Feel free to leave your thoughts below.
How far backwards do I have to bend over to make my relationship work?
I’m asking this question because I am beginning to see that my views on marriage are very different from those of the people around me. I still do not think that there is anything wrong with the way I see a marriage (as a partnership), but then, as I am getting so close to that state myself, I have decided to open my mind and learn.
I had a run-in with my dad a few days ago. See, I love to look nice. I love make up and french manicures. Sure they are expensive but I really do not see anything wrong with them. My dad however, comes from the old school of Christianity; the puritans in fact. No, he is not a puritan but his views might as well be. He does not believe in make up, manicures (french or otherwise), fashion or anything that calls attention to a person. All well and good for him, I have no problem with that and even respect him for that. But hey, I’m almost 30 years old and I cannot continue to tailor my likes, dislikes, beliefs etc by my father’s preferences. Or so I thought.
He noticed I had a french manicure on and was really distressed. While he did not claim it was sin, he felt that a true Christian was modest in all things and should be as au neturel as possible. While I feel that he only has that view because the early missionaries to Nigeria were mostly puritan and imported AND imposed their views on their converts. If the missionaries had been Jews, would we not all be dressed in the way the early Jews did?
Anyway, I discovered from that conversation that when he met my mum, she used makeup and manicured her nails. She dropped all that for love of him. According to him, she knew what he did not like and did not do it. That got me thinking.
I’ve had confrontations with my fiance over this. I could not understand why he wanted me to tailor my lifestyle to his likes and dislikes;
I didn’t ask him to change anything about him. If he truly loved me, would he not accept me the way I was and maybe, even love me for me? Should the change he was seeking be demanded or should it be something that flowed naturally out of love?
I really am confused. I don’t think I have to change for any man. Yes, if I love him I most likely would change to please him. But true love should not ask that of the loved one. Yet when I try to share this view, most people look at me like I’m crazy – men and women alike. I was still confident in my belief until I had that conversation with my dad.
What worries me is that if I keep changing to please a man (especially one whose tastes and expectations will change because he is human), will I not lose myself? What happens to the essential me? When do I put a stop to this? Do I take a stand and risk strife or do I keep changing until I change out of all recognition?
That was why I asked:
How far backwards do I have to bend over to make my relationship work?
I’ll post just one comment. If you want to read more, check here.
Ok. So I really want to comment on this for you. I think the answer is that you DO honor what your man prefers. But I dont think u do it because he requires it. I think it becomes a natural desire you have to dress (or not dress) in ways that he doesn’t find becoming.
Follow me for a minute and I’ll see if I can clarify a little bit. I live where it is hot. Almost always. And so. I do not like a lot of clothing, nor a lot of make-up. I’m pretty modest by most standards, but i’m also pretty low-key. Make-up is very occasional for me, but my nails? They are always done. Feet too. And hair. Clothes, I dress in jeans, t-shirts, tanks, the occassional skirt or dress and flip-flops. Well. As me and H are getting closer to marriage, I’m finding that my style is changing. My idea of modesty is evolving. And I find also that the things I didn’t desire to do before, regarding being a bit more pulled together, I want to do more now. Not because he wants it, per se, but just because I like how it feels to know he looks at me and sees what he finds appealing in his woman. For me that has meant a couple of things: I don’t wear tank tops often anymore, unless I know I’ll be with him – because he likes them, but wants them for himself. Nothing he’s said, just something I’ve come to realize. Nor do I wear a lot of make-up or large pieces of jewelry – because for him it’s all makeup and he doesn’t like the idea of me wearing it if he’s not with me. Sounds silly, but he’s said it. And I took it to heart. Because it isn’t about losing myself; it really is about his desire that I treat my beauty as a special gift FOR HIM. I DO wear clothes that are more fitted these days, so that I am more feminine in my appearance, which in general is pleasing to H.
Specifically to hair and nails, he expects hands and feet to be be done. He doesn’t complain if they don’t look unkept, but he likes them manicured at least. My hair: it’s natural. He doesn’t like it. He also doesn’t force his desire. The compromise is that I OFFER to wear it the way he likes to see it. And that means pressing. And because I give that much consideration, when I ask if he minds braids, usually he says ‘that’s cool’ and it works for us both. He likes the different look and I like not having to be bothered w/high maintenance styling, etc.
Mind you, he hasn’t really ASKED for any of this. I’ve done it out of the desire God has given me to be pleasing to H.
Which leads to my next thought. All of htis can very easily be see as losing yourself or being controlled or any number of other negative things… BUT it isn’t, and doesn’t even have to feel that way. You aren’t losing yourself, as much as you are discovering another facet of yourself that was hidden until the right time…
There is real truth in that what is modest for a single woman is not modest for a married (or almost married) woman. The standard shifts a bit because your position changes. Letting go of some of the freedoms of singleness opens the door to enjoy the richness of a oneness in marriage.
Slowly but surely, and little by little, you and your husband will find that balance that works for you both. Don’t be afraid of it.Be willin to embrace it. I was where you are now, and I felt the same way at first, but as I have gotten past my fear and allowed myself to embrace the beginnings of a new role, I’m finding that we are richer for it. He’s evolving too. And it’s a good thing that’s happening between us.
As to the Daddy thing: one of the hardest things in the world for a father is to let go of his daughter and to recognize that she is giving another man first place. The idea that his likes & dislikes take a backseat to her man’s is a hard pill to swallow. My dad has had a hard time w/that. It’s ok. Because it’s love. And fathers love fiercly. Give him some grace. Just let him make it, and know that you are honoring him by learning how to honor the man God has called to be your husband.
One other thought: the nature of your relationship should be a catalyst for you both to grow and become better – because you want to give your best to eachother – whatever that better may look like.
Relationships should not be an ‘if you do this, then I will accept you’ sort of thing. They mirror God’s heart for us. He doesn’t force. He loves. The change comes from His loving pursuit of us, not from Him INSISTING on something different. The more we grow in love, the more we DESIRE to please Him. Marriage should have that same sort of ebb & flow…
~ Posted by Rosheeda