Today I’m going to share my heart about something that I’ve been struggling to write for a week now. It’s probably not going to be popular, but I felt like I needed to create a little balance in the internet world by bringing up something that is pretty counter culture.
Last week I read a lot of Facebook posts, Tweets and blogs talking about this book by one of the Real Housewives - Melissa Gorga. I don’t know who this woman is, but if you haven’t heard about it, basically the gist is that the author and her husband spend the majority of the book talking about their very traditional gender roles in their marriage and it definitely made many people bristle, because from the sounds of the excerpts that were shared it doesn’t sound like the relationship is one that is based on a ton of mutual respect. The husband seems a bit chauvinistic and the author kind of just seems to be OK with it. He admits to never changing diapers or cooking and cleaning, because he’s busy with manly things and she talks about basically doing whatever he wants her to do. This isn’t what a marriage based on mutual love and respect looks like in my opinion, but that said, there were actually some things that I agreed with from the article.
Here are some of her thoughts on sex in a marriage from her book:
“Happy guys let more go. Issues get brushed off. Quickies count. Say what you want, but it’s the truth.
[A] woman needs to keep herself in shape. She has to be seductive. She must be willing to try new things for her husband’s pleasure and her own. And, most important, she has to be available for sex.
There’s real passionate sex and maintenance sex. You need them both for a healthy marriage. Maintenance sex keeps the wheels greased, the lines of communication open, and the fights to a minimum.
Even when I’m exhausted and not really in the mood, if it means a lot to Joe that we connect physically, I’ll say, “I’m not so into it tonight, but let’s go.”
If it’s a hard “no,” I try to be nice about it. Don’t swat him away, or say with a tone, “Leave me alone!” Eventually he will leave you alone at more than you wish he would.”
The author of the Jezebel article I read used these quotes from the book to prove her point that Melissa is basically a sex slave to her husband, but honestly when I read that I actually agreed with what she said.
Sex is important. Sorry, but it just is. Sex helps keep a marriage humming along and in order to make it good it is important to put in the work. Sometimes you do it even when you don’t really feel like it, because it’s good for your marriage, but it goes both ways and it shouldn’t always just be a wife giving in to her husband’s sexual requests. Husband’s need to reciprocate and “just do it” too on those nights when maybe they might rather zonk out early. I really do think it’s important for both partners in a marriage to be available for sex, because it is an incredibly vulnerable act. If I were always the one putting myself out there asking for sex and the answer was always no, I would feel totally discouraged and rejected. It’s only natural.
Also…the part where Melissa talks about keeping yourself in shape and being seductive…that may not be a popular sentiment, but it’s totally important… for both husband’s and wives. It can be easy to let yourself go once you’re married and comfortable and to basically stop trying…it happens…and while I’m sure your spouse will love you nonetheless, that doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to be as excited and sexually attracted to you. I really believe that this is important for both men and women to work on.
I work out and take care of my body as an act of love for my husband and he does the same for me. Would be prefer to watch TV and eat pie all the time instead of working out? Ummm….yeah. But we put in the effort because it is important for our marriage. And the thing is…it’s not about a number on the scale. Craig and I talked about this once, because I was feeling like he had this college image in his head of me and I was feeling pressured to fit into that mold again, but it just wasn’t realistic anymore. Once we talked about it, he told me, “It doesn’t matter what you weigh – it’s the effort that is sexy. When you go to the gym and cook healthy meals or take the time to do your hair or makeup…that’s sexy because you’re trying and it makes me feel loved.” I totally feel the same – when Craig gets a little extra fancy for a date night – it makes me feel loved, because I know that he would rather be wearing a t-shirt. It’s the effort that really matters.
In the article Melissa also talks a lot about their extreme gender roles and I read quite a few Facebook posts from women bristling at the idea of a woman being subservient her husband and her family. I totally get that…the relationship between this Real Housewife and her husband seems very lopsided not particularly respectful. But I have to disagree on the idea that serving one’s husband and family is a negative idea.
I think part of the problem is the word itself. The word “serving” just seems…well, wrong. It makes it sound like you are getting walked all over. But I love serving Craig and it is something that I choose to do – not something that he demands from me. I serve Craig by doing a million little things for him throughout the day – making dinner, keeping the house tidy, taking care of our daughter, putting effort into my appearance… But you know what? While I am busy serving him, he is doing the same. When I don’t feel like cooking? He cooks. When my car breaks down? He fixes it. When he’s gained a few pounds – he heads out for a run. Serving really is just the idea of putting another person’s needs before your own and it is a two-way street. When we are both putting the other’s needs before our own we are so much happier. We both feel loved and our needs are met.
There is so much joy that can be found in serving one another – even though it’s totally counter to what we hear all the time. Serving one another doesn’t have to be a negative thing and it doesn’t have to mean that you always do what the other person would prefer either. It’s just being conscious and considerate of the other person. And sometimes we’re going to order takeout while sitting in a messy house and wearing comfy clothes and that’s OK too. It’s a balance.
So there you have it…my two cents…popular or not, I needed to share, because I had been feeling bad about my role in my marriage, because of all the negativity around things like this on the internet, so I wondered if maybe others had felt that same. It felt like I was less or a woman or something… But I realized that I don’t need to feel bad about the fact that I love my husband and the fact that I am committed to making our marriage the best that it can be. I can still be a strong woman and a supportive and loving wife. No shame in that.