Several weeks ago, an associate and I were online discussing plans for after the pandemic. We threw around ideas of restaurant dinners and spa days. We discussed weekend trips and business seminars. All of the ideas and plans sounded amazing and I was very excited about them, BUT I said to her (as I say to anyone) “Let me ask my husband about it and get back to you”. There was a pause, complete with the three dots running across the screen before she replied, “I forgot. You do that submission, head-of-household thing”. Insert side eye here.
I asked what she meant and she inserted the “LOL” before explaining that she found it funny that I needed to ask permission to do something for myself. (Incidentally, putting LOL before or after a sly comment doesn’t negate the rudeness of the conversation.) I politely informed her that my asking my husband was not a matter of permission, but a matter of respect. There was a couple of back and forth responses before I decided it was time to end the conversation. But it got me thinking of the number of times I’ve had to have this conversation, and the number of times my married girlfriends and I have had to correct the assumption that checking with our spouses means we are kept women with no brains on our own.
“I forgot. You do that submission, head-of-household thing”
So, just what DOES checking with my spouse mean? Let’s examine the truths.
Checking with your spouse does not mean you’re “asking permission”. Sorry to disappoint, but discussing things with your spouse doesn’t mean you are asking permission. The conversations my husband and I have aren’t “Baby, can I please go out?” Not at all. Nor do I believe marriages and relationships of mutual respect act in such a way. Our conversations are “Babe, do you have any plans for Tuesday night? XYZ is happening. Do you mind if I go?” We’re confirming that we aren’t taking advantage of the other’s time and that we care about the thoughts of each other. God forbid we didn’t and both just decided to do our own thing. Something tells me our 14 yo would not appreciate being unplanned sitter.
Checking with your spouse doesn’t mean he or she just wants to control you. My husband certainly doesn’t want to control me for making sure we don’t need to arrange a sitter in case we’re both going to be unavailable. That’s ridiculous. What he does want is the same thing I want–mutual respect and consideration. There have been times pre-pandemic that I would encourage my husband to enjoy a happy hour or guys evening out. Just like I need me time or to indulge in those activities I loved pre-marriage, so too does he.
Checking with your spouse does not mean you don’t have a voice. It’s actually quite the contrary. I’m letting him know that I have a need and desire for some me time and am verifying that I am not leaving him in the lurch when he has important meetings and schedules of his own.
Marriage is a partnership. It’s not all one person or all the other. It is also, contrary to popular belief, not 50/50. Sometimes, my husband gives 80% while I’m giving 20%. Sometimes, I’m giving 90% and he is giving 10%. We support each other by being what the other needs. I prop him up, he props me up. We stand side by side. Sometimes, I’m behind him being his support. Sometimes he is behind me doing the same. But at all times, we respect each other. That is our marriage and the confirmation of schedules and consideration is not a bad thing. Remember, checking in is not subservience or gender bashing, it’s simple respect–both ways.
*Please know that I am well aware of abusive relationships where spouses are belittled and broken–mentally, emotionally, and physically. If this is your situation, please seek help from someone or somewhere. A helpful resource is here.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you and your spouse “check in” when making plans without the other?