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Just One a Day is All You Get! aka Bossy Wives

I held up 5 slices of rustic sourdough bread in a Ziploc bag before my husband Henry’s eyes, “Just one a day is all you get,” I told him.

He instantly took a defensive position, explaining he didn’t even want one because his carb addiction was in remission and his “widow-maker belly fat” (my terminology) had subsided considerably since the New Year.

As I plopped the bread in the freezer I sort of stepped out of my body and looked down at my smug, bossy self and thought, “Who the fuck do you think you are? Cherokee Chief Ioma Mankiller?”

I tell my husband what to do a lot. And he, being a man, will often tell me why he doesn’t need to do the thing I think he needs to do.

I’m not just talking about the help I want around the house. I’m talking about trying to alter his personality more to my liking through steady consistent pressure over time.

(Which is how the Grand Canyon was formed. Yes, I am the water and the wind, he the immutable rock.)

In some of these endeavors I have succeeded, perhaps almost too well. For instance, Henry was incredibly private when we first married.

Example: when we returned from our honeymoon and hosted a dinner at our house, I emerged from our bedroom, mid-party, wearing the frilly pink underwear I’d worn on our honeymoon on top of my head. (Because that’s not obnoxious, it’s charming).

Henry was mortified. His sense of discretion was affronted and he later chastised me for being too bawdy and indiscreet.

Cut to: Eight years later, I arranged for us to meet at the Avalon Hotel on a blind date with each other, the twist that we’d pretend we didn’t know each other and see where it led.

Happily it led to a tryst in the back of our mini-van. As we lay together, my head on his chest, Henry stroking my hair, he asked, “Are you going to blog about this?”

I replied instantly that I absolutely was NOT going to blog about it, that I’d come up with this sexy date for us, not an audience.

After a few moments of silence he said, “Well you’ve GOT to blog about this!”

He’d gone to the dark side. And it was all my fault.

While I’m glad Henry has loosened up (and has been incredibly generous in allowing me to write about our married sex for my relationship sensei purposes), I also don’t want to turn him into someone he’s not.

I still want him to be a man, not a minion.

So here’s the question I’m pondering.

Is it an intrinsically FEMALE TRAIT to try to change our boyfriends and husbands? And if we’re successful, do we ultimately end up regretting it?

In senior editor Grant Langston’s article for eHarmony, “Men’s Ten Biggest Complaints About Women” #5 is:

You want us to change, and then lose respect for us when we do.

Langston writes:

“It’s an interesting phenomenon. When a man and a woman get together it is likely that he will have some hobbies, tendencies, or habits that she doesn’t like.
For instance, I have a friend that met and married a woman who wasn’t thrilled that he played in a band. She was a bit threatened by the attention he received and his time spent pursuing this. She told him, ‘I really wish you didn’t play in this band,’ and because he loved her, he quit.
Within a few months this woman was confiding to her friends, ‘I’m a little less attracted to him because he quit the band, and just did what I asked. Now, he just hangs out at home.’
It’s a specific example, but a common problem. Clearly, the man should do what he feels he has to do, but we try to be accommodating, and to have that count against us is infuriating.”

I absolutely recognize myself in this. And I’m not alone. I have one acquaintance who left her husband because he did everything she asked and she didn’t respect him anymore. But now she’s doing it again with her current beau.

bossy wives

And here’s what Samantha Daniel, professional matchmaker, has to say to all the Single Ladies in her Huffington Post article, “10 Types of Women That Men do Not Want to Marry.”

She writes:

Miss “Bossy Pants”: This woman usually can’t help herself; she has bossy in her DNA. When a man first meets her, he might think this character trait is cute, for awhile. However, once he starts to feel like he is in grammar school being told what to do by his second grade teacher, he will give this woman her walking papers.
Miss “I Want To Change You”: This woman is lurking everywhere. She is the type of woman many men are the most leery of. (Of course, there are some men who love this woman because of their own insecurities.) She claims that she loves her guy just the way he is, but little by little, she chips away at just about everything about him. First, it’s his wardrobe, then it’s his taste in music. However, when she gets to his friends and his hobbies, she is usually kicked to the curb.

Based on Daniel’s article it’s a miracle I’m married.

I suppose Henry has changed me too. I’ve become more thoughtful with friends and family because he is one of the most giving, loving, thoughtful people (women included) that I’ve ever met. But he leads by example, rather than dictate.

I’ve learned to think before speaking in work or social conflicts because he’s taught me that sometimes staying quiet is in my own self-interest.

He’s helped me to become an adult (or at least, more of an adult), again by example and gentle guidance.

So, for today, I’m going to walk away from the Bossy Wives posse. Just take a respite and try to catch myself when I’m treating my Grown Ass man like a seven-year old. (Even seven-year olds don’t want to be treated like seven-year olds).

I’ll look the other way should my man eat more than one slice of sourdough bread a day and watch my own Sugar Addiction instead.

Because God forbid Henry tell me I can quaff only one glass of red wine a day and skip chocolate altogether. He would certainly rue the day.

Ladies, are you guilty of bossing your man around and constantly trying to improve him as you see fit?

If so, leave your admissions below and I’ll designate how many Hail Marys are necessary for you to repent. xo S

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  1. Angie
    Angie 27 August, 2015, 11:26

    Guilty. Just last night. Your timing is impeccable. The worst part is I know better. I know he won’t change, and I certainly don’t want him trying to change me. But he has the patience level of a flea and has a tendency to be extremely critical of both me and his 14 yr old son. So for some ridiculous reason I keep thinking that if I point out these flaws to him often enough he will realize that instead of encouraging us to do better like he intends, he’s actually driving us to do the opposite of what he wants. It’s a no win situation for us all. I need to take a page from Henry’s book, shut my mouth and lead by example.
    Oh and by the way, I think the panties on the head thing is classic!

    Reply this comment
    • Shannon
      Shannon Author 27 August, 2015, 13:09

      Hi Angie — This living with other people is quite difficult and tricky. I had a pretty critical family member whose voice I still hear in my head. You can’t change the critic. But you can change how you respond to their criticism. Recently this particular family member called me a “Dimwit.” Growing up I was told “You’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached to your body,” you’re a “Nerd” “You have no common sense.” As a child I absorbed this information and thought that’s who I was. After quite a bit of therapy I was startled at my response the other day. When this person called me a “Dimwit” instead of going into all the reasons I’m not a dimwit and why I think that person is cruel to call me and other people names. I just said calmly “That’s not true and I don’t respond well to name calling. Let’s talk later.” And I left. I was shocked later when I received an apology. Although I may not have gotten an apology, what was important is that I put that shit back in the critic’s lap. It’s tough stuff. But there are some great books out there for how to deal with critical people. One is “How to Deal with Difficult People” by Gill Hasson and “Coping with Difficult People” by Robert Bramson. xoxo

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      • Angie
        Angie 27 August, 2015, 18:30

        Hey Shannon. What a perfect response. Amazing what happens when the heat and energy can get removed from that kind of exchange. It’s like air out of a balloon. Thankfully my husband is not a name caller, but he gets exasperated easily and quickly when the rest of the world doesn’t do things the right (note: his) way. And really all I’m doing is trying to help him navigate his life with less stress and frustration right?? Ha!! No, I need to remember that I love the whole, flawed human being he is, because no one else makes me laugh llike he does.
        And thanks for the book recommendatioons, I’m always looking for a little advice and/or direction. 🙂

        Why on earth would anyone call you a dimwit………..??

        Reply this comment
        • Shannon
          Shannon Author 27 August, 2015, 22:57

          Hi Angie — My hope is that someday somewhere all husbands will recognize that we’re just trying to help them be their best selves, because who knows better than us?? xoxo S

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