I have a very long life story. I am a convert who came into the Church kicking and screaming. I thought that I knew everything and everything that I knew was right. It was very humbling and hard for me to realize that maybe I had everything all messed up.
The list of things that I had to face is very long, but the one thing that I think so many women struggle with today is being a wife and mother who sees her vocation as a blessing and not as an oppressive contract. For me, this was probably one of the hardest things to come to terms with, and I would say that I am still working on it.
When my husband and I started marriage prep classes we were in shock that our priest didn’t marry us right away and that he had the nerve to ask us to be chaste. That is a story on its own that I may tell one day, but really the thing that made me think that maybe this Catholic thing was not for me, was the husband being the head of the household deal. First, let me explain a little about my husband. He is not confrontational. He is not aggressive. He has no desire to boss anyone around and he hates making decisions. I am the complete opposite of these things. In order for us to be is an ordered marriage the both of us had to switch roles. Along with learn how to be chaste and how to be Catholics. It was not easy.
The hard part for me was that I have been told most of my life that I am independent. That probably comes from being raised by a single mother who ran a tight ship. I came to think that it was my job to tell everyone in my house what to do and how to do it. I don’t really know when I became a nag, but I did. My husband’s face when I admitted that was pretty eye opening. In this world women are told that we are to be our own person, that we need “me time”, that men should bend over backwards to treat us like princesses and we should expect to be treated that way all while walking over them. That is what I did to my husband. It was/is a hard habit to break.
It’s the flip side of men objectifying women sexually. Women use men to get what they want by emasculating them, the newer trend. When I was in the club scene and I was drinking and sleeping with anyone who smiled my way, it was common to do that to men. It gave me a sense of power. It made me feel like whatever was happening to me, was on my terms not theirs. That carried on into my relationship with my husband before we were married and it almost destroyed our relationship.
After we got married I realized that I behaved that way because I was scared. I was so scared that he would leave me, that he would use me, and that he would hurt me. The only way I could control that was to be a witch to him, to push him away so that he would prove how much he loved me by staying. That is not love. That is craziness.
I had to have a heart to heart with Jesus about it because I wanted to be a Catholic wife. After all that is why I got married in the Church. It was not for the wedding or because it was what you did, it was because I wanted a Sacramental Marriage. What I got from this heart to heart was Jesus asking me if I loved Him. “Yes Lord, you know I love you,\” was my response. “Then trust Me, Stacey will probably fail sometimes. He will let you down, but I’ll be here. Always.” That is when it hit me. My love for my husband was rooted in my love of Christ. My love of power in the relationship was rooted in fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. God is the center of our marriage and He steps in when we need His help. I don’t have to fear being oppressed because our love is rooted in the love of God, not in the love of power — which is different than what the world says marriage is, a power struggle.
Watch any TV sitcom and you can see the power struggle in marriages. One person wants to dominate the other, and it’s become the celebrated norm that the woman dominates the man. My husband does not dominate me. He serves me and I serve him. We\’re a team, a relationship, and a love story. Just like my relationship with Jesus. There are ups, downs and the Grace of a mighty God, but there is no power struggle.
I think it shocks people when they hear me say that my husband is the head of my household. They automatically assume that I’m living the life of an oppressed housewife. Ha! If they only knew that this is freedom. I was oppressed when I was lying to myself about how in control I was by using men. Now, I’m free, I’m loved and I’m happy.
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