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Roll reversal… woman proposes!

two_little_birds

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
1,267
Long story short, I was the one that proposed to my husband (yes I wear the pants in the family). We just celebrated our 14th anniversary which is wonderful but I can’t help but feel I missed out on something really special. I never had him surprise me, never had him propose on hand and knee or for that matter had him do anything over-the-top romantic.

I would love to have him re-propose to me, perhaps renew our vows or even get an upgraded diamond. A girl can dream right? I just don’t think it’s in him though. So do I continue to feel this way, or should I just let my hidden desires of this ever happening just fade away and be thankful I have a great husband?
 

HighRoad

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Messages
10
two_little_birds|1317928907|3034765 said:
Long story short, I was the one that proposed to my husband (yes I wear the pants in the family). We just celebrated our 14th anniversary which is wonderful but I can’t help but feel I missed out on something really special. I never had him surprise me, never had him propose on hand and knee or for that matter had him do anything over-the-top romantic.

I would love to have him re-propose to me, perhaps renew our vows or even get an upgraded diamond. A girl can dream right? I just don’t think it’s in him though. So do I continue to feel this way, or should I just let my hidden desires of this ever happening just fade away and be thankful I have a great husband?
Hi two_little_birds :wavey:

First, it's sooo understandable that you would want this. It's the Cinderella story we all dream of, to one extent or another, I suspect. I'm STILL waiting for that kind of romantic surprise proposal myself, so sister, I feel ya. ;)) The only reason I have not proposed to my "domestic partner" (a step up from "boyfriend" at least - I LOVE living with him!) is that I've felt him out on the subject and I know HE wants to be the one to pop the question. As such, I want that FOR him, and for me as well because I'm a little old-fashioned that way. :love:

As I read your message, a few questions come to mind.

When you say you wear the pants in the family -- tell me more -- what does that look like in your marriage?

Have you communicated with your husband about the yearning you feel to have him surprise you? If so, how has he responded? And if not, what is holding you back?

And when you say you don't think it's in him, what gives you to believe that?

How did you two end up celebrating your 14th anniversary?

The way I see it, these things are not mutually exclusive -- you should be able to have that romantic proposal AND be just that much MORE thankful than you already were that you have a great husband. But something is missing from the equation and the key is to figure out whether it's something that you and he can shift together or something that's rooted in place.

Listening to what you're saying with my heart as well as my head, it sounds to me like you want a ~somewhat~ different dynamic in general ... not necessarily a radical change, but just... a different kind of energy ... with your husband and in your marriage in general, and the proposal/upgrade ring are symbols of what that dynamic would look and feel like -- but you're just not sure how to get there from here.

Is that right? :)

In the meantime, hang in there -- it sounds like you and your husband have a great marriage and a LOT of good stuff to work with!
 

two_little_birds

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
1,267
HighRoad I think you hit the nail on the head with your response!

Indeed I would like a different energy. I guess in some ways I'm tired of being the one always in control, making decisions, planning things, making sure things get done, etc. I'm partially to blame for this as I'm more assertive and take charge, so after 14 years of marriage we've become accustomed to our "roles".

As for some of your earlier questions:

When you say you wear the pants in the family -- tell me more -- what does that look like in your marriage? I guess this means I control most things, from finances to decision making to planning vacations, etc. Really I kind of run ship and DH "sometimes" gives his input. I do wish he would take control, or be more assertive... but perhaps he doesn't feel the need since I do this?

Have you communicated with your husband about the yearning you feel to have him surprise you? If so, how has he responded? And if not, what is holding you back? Oh yes, and have done so recently. I'm very open with my husband. Sometimes too open and I'm assuming my comments can come across as hurtful at times. I shoot from the hip and I'm very straight-forward.

And when you say you don't think it's in him, what gives you to believe that? I honestly can't remember one thing in the last 14 years that he's done for me that's romantic or surprising. Plus he knows me well enough that I'm a planner and perfectionist, so perhaps he's afraid he won't meet my expectations?

How did you two end up celebrating your 14th anniversary? Sadly we didn't. He works in retail and worked the entire weekend and day of our anniversary. I was disappointed he didn't plan for it and ask for at least one night off, or arrange for a babysitter. I've been asking him to plan for a "date night" for months and again nothing has been arranged. He did get me flowers, but then again I had to hint at that - he probably would have done it anyways himself but oddly enough they arrived after I hinted.

So perhaps me being wishful is asking for too much, I just don't know. :|
 

HighRoad

Rough_Rock
Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Messages
10
two_little_birds|1318862954|3041978 said:
HighRoad I think you hit the nail on the head with your response!
Hey 2LB :))

I'm glad! Recognizing and naming the challenges you have before you is the first step toward tackling them.

You wrote:
Indeed I would like a different energy. I guess in some ways I'm tired of being the one always in control, making decisions, planning things, making sure things get done, etc. I'm partially to blame for this as I'm more assertive and take charge, so after 14 years of marriage we've become accustomed to our "roles".
It does get exhausting, doesn't it? And maybe a little boring, always being the one at the wheel?

And I agree... it does sound like you and your DH have gotten into a bit of a rut. :sick:

That said, congratulations on 14 years of marriage! :appl: If you've been together that long, chances are you've got some things that DO work and that you ARE both happy with to build on. :)

I had asked earlier:
When you say you wear the pants in the family -- tell me more -- what does that look like in your marriage?

And you said:
I guess this means I control most things, from finances to decision making to planning vacations, etc. Really I kind of run ship and DH "sometimes" gives his input. I do wish he would take control, or be more assertive... but perhaps he doesn't feel the need since I do this?

Bingo! Now I think it's you that's hit the nail on the head.

Might it be the case that the current dynamic is comfortable for him (note that I said "comfortable," not necessarily "ideal") because it is a familiar one?

It just occurs to me that, if he was raised with a very dominant mother or older sister AND/OR his father was very passive, this dynamic feels easy and natural to him even if it's not the highest and best he might want for himself or for his marriage to you.

If you were also raised in a family with a dominant mother/passive father, or got the message early on that "If I don't take charge no one else will, and things will just fall apart," then it may be that part of your initial attraction to one another was based on that feeling of familiarity, even if neither of you consciously wanted to re-enact those roles in your marriage... sometimes even if you really disliked being in those roles! It happens to a LOT of couples -- you're not alone, trust me.

It is human nature to gravitate toward the familiar, even when the familiar is unhealthy or undesirable in some way. The key is to develop a heightened level of self-awareness around the ways in which you might be drawn to familiar patterns in your own marriage and then work to consciously recognize and choose the familiar things that are positive and healthy or at least neutral (such as "I'm drawn to men with beards because my dad always had a beard" or "I am attracted to men who are intelligent and who value my intelligence as well because my parents were both professors who always had interesting things to discuss at dinner"), and weed out the things we cling to that are familiar but negative or unhealthy (e.g. "I yell at and belittle my husband because that's how my mom responded to my dad whenever he screwed up" or "I'm attracted to men who drink and smoke a lot because my dad drank and smoked.")

I asked earlier:
Have you communicated with your husband about the yearning you feel to have him surprise you? If so, how has he responded? And if not, what is holding you back?

And you said:
Oh yes, and have done so recently. I'm very open with my husband. Sometimes too open and I'm assuming my comments can come across as hurtful at times. I shoot from the hip and I'm very straight-forward.

Re: shooting from the hip and being straight-forward... In the famous words of Dr. Phil, "How's that workin' for ya?" :???:

I tease, but the question is a sincere one.

If one of the things you want most to see change in your dynamic with your husband is his level of assertiveness and willingness to actively participate in decision-making, etc., it has to feel safe for him to express himself to you. :|

When a person (male or female) does not feel safe expressing themselves, the tendency is to clam up and shut down, and that's probably not going to get either of you what you want. :(sad

One of the ways in which modern Western feminist culture has done a disservice to both men and women, IMO, is that it has sent us the message that we, as women, can only become empowered at the expense of our men... at the expense of male empowerment.

IME, that's actually very seldom the case. No doubt, in the corporate world, there's still an "old boys' club" that tends to exclude women and minimize or marginalize the gifts we bring to the business dynamic and that needs to change and IS changing. But on the home front, when we take control with too heavy a hand, or too often, or both...men experience this as a sort of emasculation, and assuming they don't leave the dynamic entirely, or respond passive-aggressively with an affair, they often just...play dead and/or withdraw. They take their balls and go home... so to speak. :wink2:

The man who sends flowers, who plans a wonderful and romantic getaway, who tells you you're beautiful, who initiates passionate lovemaking -- that is a man who feels like a king because his woman *is treating him* like a king -- praising his successes ("Honey, I'm so proud of you for getting that promotion -- you earned it."); actively looking for, noticing, and appreciating the good things he says and does ("Were you a plumber in another life? I can't believe how easy it was for you to fix that leaky faucet!"); complimenting his looks ("Hey hot stuff -- have you been working out? I couldn't help but notice the way your biceps bulged when you were taking out the trash...RAWR...") -- all with an emphasis on the best and most admirable aspects of masculine power.

Making a man feel like a king without giving up our own power is an art -- and it is something every woman is capable of doing, but it's like any muscle...for many of us it is weak and needs exercising before we can feel competent and agile in using it, and use it regularly, and doing so ultimately gets us what WE want to have from and with our men -- to feel protected (even when we can protect ourselves), to feel cherished and appreciated for our feminine qualities (even when we are fairly self-confident), and most importantly...to feel desired. :naughty:

Another important way to make your man feel like a king is to be his "damsel in distress" in some small way every day, e.g. "Sweetheart, you're so much better at accounting than I am -- I just can't seem to balance the checkbook and it exhausts me to try. Would you mind taking over that job?" (and then PRAISE him every time he does it -- even if it's not "perfect" -- remember that your goal here is a re-empowered man, not a perfectly balanced checkbook!) Or "Honeylove, I'm just not tall enough to reach that vase on the top shelf -- would you be my hero and get it down for me?"

Could you get a step-ladder or chair and get it yourself? Of course you could. But that's beside the point. :tongue:

When you call to your husband sweetly, and use a term of endearment, and ask for his help and imply that his helping you would be "heroic," his heart will swell with pride...and consequently with increased desire for you.

He may look at you funny when you do this at first and ask if you're feeling okay because it will be a noticeable change. Just play dumb and sweet and say, "Oh now, I don't know what you're talking about -- now ~please~ be a dear and help me get the vase?" (with some batting of eyelashes)

I asked earlier:
And when you say you don't think it's in him, what gives you to believe that?

And you replied:
I honestly can't remember one thing in the last 14 years that he's done for me that's romantic or surprising. Plus he knows me well enough that I'm a planner and perfectionist, so perhaps he's afraid he won't meet my expectations?

:wink2: Hmmm... Okay. Now we get down to brass tacks. As you probably know, at the end of the day, the only person anyone can change is themselves. That said, sometimes changing ourselves and the energy we bring to our dynamic with someone else can produce surprising and delightful changes in the way they respond to us... Make those changes permanent and, over time, the entire relationship can change for the better, simply because the ways in which we have adjusted our own words, actions, and attitudes have opened up new possibilities for them as well as for us.

The essential question is this:
How willing are you to step out of your own comfort zone -- your need to plan things and to have things "perfect" (i.e. done the way you prefer) in order to empower him and create space for him to step into his own masculinity in your dynamic?

See... The one thing most women don't seem to understand about men -- I forget it myself at times, to my own detriment -- is that the *ONE THING* they want to avoid MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE in a relationship with a woman is disappointing her. And what they want to accomplish most? To win her approval and appreciation and even admiration.

A man who hears mostly (or only) what he did wrong, or how he's failed, and who rarely (or never hears) what he's good at or how he's magnificent is a man who just... gives up. Not because he doesn't love you or doesn't feel invested in the marriage, but because he doesn't trust that the flowers he'd bring would be the "right" flowers, or that the vacation he'd plan would be "good enough" to suit you, or that he's even capable of romancing you in a way that would make you swoon. :blackeye:

I asked earlier:
How did you two end up celebrating your 14th anniversary?

Sadly we didn't. He works in retail and worked the entire weekend and day of our anniversary. I was disappointed he didn't plan for it and ask for at least one night off, or arrange for a babysitter. I've been asking him to plan for a "date night" for months and again nothing has been arranged. He did get me flowers, but then again I had to hint at that - he probably would have done it anyways himself but oddly enough they arrived after I hinted.

Another hmmm... How did you respond to this disappointment? Was there a confrontation of any kind? Or did you just sadly and quietly shrug it off?

There are a few things that occur to me but I don't really have enough information about you or your husband or your marriage to know if I might be missing the mark, so... a few more questions:

1) How good is he, generally, about remembering and celebrating special occasions (his own, yours, or those of your children)?

2) What is your overall dynamic around holidays and celebrations? How much does he initiate and participate vs. you orchestrating things with him responding to (or withdrawing from) what you've got planned?

3) Have you two been to a marriage counselor in the past to discuss this or any other issues in your relationship? And if so, what was your experience of that, and of him in that context?

4) How content would you say you each are with the "intimate" aspect of your marriage?

The working all weekend and not planning for a sitter and not making dinner arrangements, etc. could be symptomatic of a man who fears that nothing he'd plan would be up to snuff so there's no point in trying, but it could also be symptomatic of a man who is frustrated and responding maybe a little passive-aggressively as a form of protest. If it's the latter you'd want to find out more about where that's coming from sooner rather than later as that level of resentment can really be destructive to trust and joy in a marriage.

2LB, I really sense, though, that you and your DH do have a lot to work with and a lot worth holding on to. :razz:

I strongly encourage you to ask around among trusted friends or family members for a referral to a counselor who specializes in marriage and family therapy.

Let your husband know that you are aware of this imbalanced dynamic in your marriage, that you're aware of your own contribution to creating that dynamic,that you want it to change, and that you're asking for his support, help, and encouragement with making that change.

If he's reluctant to go with you, that's fine. Go by yourself. He may come eventually or may be willing to go to separate sessions at first because that feels safer for him. Be supportive of that however it plays out -- what matters most is that you are both working toward improving the dynamic in your marriage! :)

Let me know if you have further questions or thoughts.

All the best to you and your DH!
 

two_little_birds

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Oct 6, 2011
Messages
1,267
HighRoad, you must be a therapist of some kind, or at least you studied it… if not you missed your calling! ;))

In the long run, we do have a good marriage and lots to build on. I agree we may be stuck in a rut right now, but what marriage doesn't go through that? Plus with two young children, we're exhausted on any given day. I think we just need to dedicate more time to each other, go on date nights and reintroduce a little more romance.

I look forward to the years ahead, and maybe (just maybe) if I *hint* enough DH will repropose on his own terms.
 
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