It wasn’t until after my midlife divorce, and I was completely out of that relationship did I see how unequal our marriage was. And that was partly my fault. I tried to be the supportive wife. I tried to honor him by supporting his career goals and his desires. I took care of the physical part of tending the family so he could concentrate on his aspirations. That’s good … up to a point. But after a while, if I disagreed with anything he wanted, I was ‘selfish and self-centered.’ If I wanted to rein in our spending I was a ‘stick-in-the-mud’ who never wanted to have any fun. If I mentioned his drinking, I was being ‘self-righteous.’ When I continued to be angry about his continuing affair, I was ‘not being Christian and forgiving enough.’
I think women who are trying to be spiritual partners have more trouble with the domination issue than women who have no background in that concept. I know I was trying to be a helper to my wasband. I was trying to support and bless him. However, as I look back, it was one-sided. The relationship became not a relationship of two equals, but a relationship where my honest needs, wants and wishes were always subjugated to his.
After my divorce I found an intriguing little book on my Dad’s bookshelf entitled Secret Mental Powers by Frank Rudolph Young. One statement in that book especially got my attention.
“When you are under the domination of others, you degenerate into something less than a complete person.” As I read further, I discovered a chapter entitled “The Secret Mental Power to Protect Yourself from Domination by Others.”
Frank is right on with some of his observations. Listen to this and see if you can’t relate to how your wasband treated (and may still be treating) you:
“When you are dominated by someone, your best thinking and behavior are submerged and allowed to rise back only to the level to which your dominator will permit. Your whole make-up is enslaved to his whims and fancies and is subservient to his moods. Since he will consider you only as a good-natured robot with half the intelligence he has, he treats you like one and converts you into such a creature because your physiological language attunes itself to that state.”
Start noticing the ways that in which your wasband is still trying to dominate you. Stay firmly on the high road yourself. Sometimes that means standing up for yourself and refusing to let anyone run over you. We can choose to honor the wishes of someone else. But we can also refuse to let anyone use us for their own desires especially when those desires demean us and make us less than we were created to be.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” I Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)