Sunday, August 25, 2013

The secret our society could afford to learn

I'm going to tell you a story. It's my story, and it is a perfect demonstration of why the feminist agenda with its bumper-sticker philosophies boils my blood. My opinion is not popular opinion, so you may not agree with me.

I think that we, as a culture, need to stop idolizing women and demonizing men. I think that we need to bring back the culture from the 40s and 50s, where men were allowed to be the heads of their homes, where women actually respected the men in their lives and the rewards for that respect were security, love, and

I love my life. Today I'm a happy housewife and carpool-companion. My husband is a great man, who works hard through the good times and even harder in the bad ones. He's built a company literally out of nothing - when we started our computer company he didn't even own a screwdriver! Just a year and a half after that we're more profitable than we imagined we would be and we know that blessing is going to increase. My husband is also helping me to build a second company, through our Amway business, into an asset that will take care of us and our family through retirement. He's a strong man, a wise man who has been my counselor and my strength many times. He's a man who never gives up, never even thinks about it.

I respect my husband immensely, and my respect for him is a big part of the reason that we are where we are today.

Now, that may sound prideful, but I'm not boasting. I know for a fact that if I didn't respect him, he wouldn't be able to be so amazing. We wouldn't have a successful and profitable company, we wouldn't be building an asset that will take care of us in the future, and life would not be as happy as it is today. I know this because there was a time when I didn't respect him.

You see, I was raised in The United States of America, land of the free, home of the brave, and the country where girls are taught from a very young age that men are worthless.

Don't believe me? Take a look at your 5 year old's television shows. In vast majority, the male characters are fools. If they do manage to accomplish anything it's by accident or with the help of a stronger, smarter female character. Take a look at facebook, where there are floods of bumper-sticker philosophies about how amazing and wonderful women are and how lucky men are to have us around, but there is a striking absence of these same posts about how incredible the men in our lives truly are.

I grew up thinking that men, by and large, were stupid. They were brutes with physical strength amd steel stomachs, good enough to accomplish the things that I as a girl did not want to do, but that was their only redeeming trait. Otherwise, they might as well be cavemen or primordial ooze. They caused trouble, interfered with the goals that I as a strong and independent woman should have, and were mostly just in the way.

Then I became a teenager. I started reading romance novels and murder mystery novels and there was a theme. Women were the heroes. They were smart, sexy, cunning, and irresistible. They could get anyone to do anything they wanted. But because they were such conquerors, their lives were boring. Enter the "hero" of the story: A dashing, muscular brute who drags trouble into our heroine's life that she then has to use her own balls of steel to overcome - in the end, rescuing him but falling madly in love with him anyway.

Despite being raised this way (by no real fault of my mother, who tried to teach me that everyone is equal to everyone else), the feminist agenda didn't sit well with me. What if I wanted to stay at home and bake cookies for the rest of my life instead of being the Head B In Charge at some corporate office? What if I wanted to be loved and protected, instead of just feared and respected? I was confused because something in my natural wiring didn't agree with the messages I was being fed. I was taught that women were better than men, but men had been keeping us down for centuries and it was time to prove that we were smarter, faster, stronger, and more capable in general. But in my heart, I wanted a Prince Charming to vanquish the dragons while I stayed a safe distance away shouting "good job, honey!"

This confusion led me into a very bad relationship. In my search for a man who was the opposite of what I'd been taught men were, I found one of the brutes we are so often warned against. He talked of taking care of me the way I'd always craved. The only trade off was that I would be absolutely subject to him. Naive, confused, and searching for something other than the only thing I was ever taught I could have, I agreed. I spent the next year in a very abusive relationship, as a domestic slave to a man who took great pleasure from beating me until I passed out, in the name of an off-beat set of sexual desires. The year-long relationship did more damage to me mentally and emotionally than all of the trials, hardships, and even traumas of the other 21 years of my life combined. Four years later, memories of that relationship still bring me nightmares, tears, and waves of deep depression that take all of my strength to push through.

At some other point, I will tell this part of my story, and why it breaks my heart that so many reach out to Bulgaria, Romania, and other countries to stop human trafficking there, but never think about offering to help the teenager in the apartment next door. We as a country are so consumed with sending our good deeds overseas that we completely forget to look to our own shores where there are frightened and broken people being subject to the exact same levels of mistreatment.
After this relationship, I saw myself as having one option. I had to grow into the balls of steel woman I had been taught to emulate - the one I didn't want to be. I prayed that day, for the first time in three years. I prayed desperately and told God that if he had any heart at all, he would find some sort of brutal, painful death for me. I figured the pain would make up for the mistakes I'd made in the past year, and I desperately wanted to die. I didn't want to live in a world where I would never be truly loved and protected, and I would have to spend the rest of my life as the hardened corporate woman. And I saw my experiences with that man as proof that there were no good men in the world. They were all either weak or abusive.

When I started dating my husband, I found myself with a man who wasn't abusive. In my mind that meant he was weak. I had no respect for him. I was constantly belittling him, second guessing him, and counter-acting him. I would roll my eyes at his jokes and his silly antics, snap at him for trying to help me with anything, and I expected him to be at my beck and call. He lived in a very small cage, which I had constructed around him with my criticisms. His self image, already low from a decade and a half of working in a job where he received the same treatment, spiraled downward. He began to have terrible health problems, and I started to resent him for them because he was being a burden on me. We were fighting all the time. Not little fights either. No, these were screaming matches, in each other's faces, screaming our voices raw. They always ended with him leaving the house just to escape me, and me so frustrated and angry that I was pounding my fists into the floor until my hands were so bruised I could barely move them. There was so much anger, resentment, and frustration on both sides.

But it didn't stop there. I didn't think I should have to respect him, because the only examples I had in my life of men who were "respected" were men like my abusive ex. In my mind, respect was a filthy word, used to guilt women into being doormats. It meant that I was expected to sit down, shut up, take whatever abuse was dealt me and make do with whatever lack came from that abuse.

Our relationship got worse and worse, and our living situation spiraled with it. The health problems progressed, turning into a year of him being on narcotics that completely took his mind away - which I also resented him for. Our financial situation decreased, ending in us losing our home to foreclosure and being sued by hospitals and a credit card company. Eventually, the company he was working for was sold and he was not strong enough to make a case for himself to be hired at the new company without a significant pay cut, so he lost his job.

Are all of these things entirely my fault? No. But they could have been made so much better if I knew what respect was, and if I had respected my husband.

A year and a half ago, I found myself faced with a very difficult choice. Desperate for something to change in the insane cycle of fighting, I had spent the year before that devouring marriage and relationship books and begging my new mentors for every and any insight they had. It all came down to one word: Respect.

Men inherently need respect. Just like women are wired for love and security, men need respect and trust. I had learned that respect didn't mean what I thought it meant. It wasn't giving someone else permission to treat you like nothing. Instead, it was acknowledging the other person's strength and - in the case of my husband and myself - allowing him to take the lead. It was trusting that he was capable, believing he was strong enough and smart enough, and keeping myself from criticising when I thought he wasn't doing something right, or rubbing his nose in whatever failures he might have.

A year and a half ago, I came home from a women's bible study, and the air was tense. My husband looked at me and told me that he was going to push for a higher salary with the new company, and that might mean he would lose his job. We were already struggling financially. We had lost our home, been forced to give away our dog, and were living on a credit card and the grace of what few friends we had. Just that morning I had made a commitment to God that I was going to start trusting my husband, since trust is the gateway to respect. So when he told me this, I went into the bathroom and had a serious conversation with God.

I had a choice. I could go back on my promise and start second guessing my husband. It would be easy enough. We were barely making it with what money we had and if he lost his job we would likely join the ranks of those who draw on welfare just to survive. I could go back into the living room, tell him how I thought this was a bad decision and I wasn't going to support him in it. I could spend the next few days belittling his ability and convincing him that he didn't deserve a raise.

Or, I could trust him. Something in my spirit knew that trusting him, in that moment, was the only way that anything was ever going to change. And so I trusted him, and he lost his job, and we started a company. We spent the first six months so broke that we occasionally had to show up at customers' offices and ask them to pay us earlier than they had planned to, just so we could buy groceries or put gas in the car. I spent that next year really struggling with having respect toward my husband. Each time I would fall back on my old habits, profitability would be lost. We would go backwards financially, business would come to a screeching halt, and I would have an argument with God.

Today, I've learned to trust my husband wholeheartedly. I know that, whatever comes our way, he's smart enough and strong enough to get us through it. He trusts and follows God, and God has blessed him with an amazing intuition. It's my respect for him, my awe of his abilities and appreciation for his work ethic, that allows me to keep smiling and stay at peace when he makes a risky decision. I know that he's probably being guided by that intuition of his. And on the rare occasion that he's wrong, he's pretty awesome at fixing it.

I'm immeasurably blessed in my life, because of the respect I have for my husband. He's stronger because that core need of his is being met, and that leads him to work harder and stretch farther and sometimes take bigger risks. All of this turns around to bless me even more, with a happy husband who showers me with attention, with the funds to relax and have fun, with two businesses that are thriving and keeping me busy and entertained. All because I made the decision to have respect for my husband and stop treating him like he was less than me.

There's a principle of the universe that John Maxwell teaches about. As he says it, "When you're winning, nothing hurts." He points out that in sports, a team that's winning will frequently end the game and then discover that some of their players were playing with bones that had been broken during the game. They kept playing, hadn't even really felt the pain, because they were winning. And the fact that they kept at it just as hard is why they ended the game having won.

In life, it's the same way. When you're winning, a setback doesn't hurt as much. What we as women need to realize is that we can give our husbands that sense of winning. If we respect them, and treat them with the honor and trust they as men need, they'll always feel like they're winning. Then, they'll go out into the world and win even more - and we will reap the benefits of those victories!

In fact, many of the common problems in marriages can be alleviated almost entirely by a wife's respect. Men who are respected at home work harder, take bigger risks that pay off better, and take the incentive more frequently. Studies have also shown that one of the biggest reasons men have for cheating is that they don't feel respected at home, and the woman they cheated with gave them that feeling they were craving. That sense of being a champion is so very important to our men. With that, they can do anything. Without it they are unlikely to do anything good.

If we, as a society, can change our view just a little bit, a lot of our problems would go away. If we would stop treating men like they're worthless just because they're male and women like they're goddesses just because they're female, our world would be a whole lot better. Sure, there'd still be the guys who are just bums, or the guys who just can't keep their hands to themselves. But the other guys, the guys who are honestly good men, would be more likely to stay faithful to their relationships, and to do the things that would bring them lasting success in whatever venue they're in. So let's put down our one-liners like "real men don't cheat" or "If you can't treat me like a princess you're not worth my time." Let's realize that we're all human here, and we all have needs that will drive us to strange and desperate things if they're not met.

And ladies, let's start doing our part. We are amazing, and powerful. We are the secret to whether our husbands fail or succeed because we are the ones they care about the most. We are the most capable of crippling them, or of making them feel like Superman. And let me tell you from personal experience: Life is a lot better when your husband feels like Superman!

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