Tuesday, January 25, 2005

‘Good wife’ isn’t happy within

‘Good wife’ isn’t happy within

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Monday, January 24, 2005 11:50 PM

Part 2 of 4 parts

The sixth good-wife fantasy is the one that says that the wife should be her husband’s emotional support. She is responsible for taking care of his emotional needs. She has to make sure that his ego does not get wounded and his self-image stays in good shape. She must, in short, dedicate herself to his emotional well-being regardless of the costs to her.

I have seen over the years women try to live these fantasies and have watched as misery ensued. I do not for one minute intend to suggest that the wife should not be dedicated to her husband and support him and her family in every way. Nor do I suggest that she should turn upside down all these wonderful values that we see in the Filipino family.

What I am saying is that there has been, for too long, a lopsidedness in marriage in this country that is to the great disadvantage of the woman.

The double standard is one, for starters. Men who even openly womanize expect the wife to take it, even if she doesn’t like it. The wife is expected to grin and bear infidelity “for the sake of the family.” If, however, she gets involved in an affair, there is no way that the husband is expected to stand idly by. We half expect him to beat her up, leave her or perhaps even kill her.

The husband who controls the wife and insists that she remains at home is looked up to, even if he does so because he is jealous and fears that, should she be allowed chances to become successful, she would most surely surpass him.

Even if women have their ways of fighting back within the marriage, the truth is that often the cards are stacked against them. It is quite rare to find a man who is willing to live by the same rules he imposes on his wife. Most insist on privileges and advantages that they are not willing to give to the wife.

No small wonder that so many women eventually become disillusioned with their marriage and a sense of dread comes over them as they feel trapped in a relationship that is becoming increasingly unhappy. No wonder that the level of love that was gained during courtship falls steadily.

Resentment, confusion and depression are not uncommon followed by feelings of guilt and discomfort. The more she feels trapped in her unbalanced relationship, the more she senses the need to fight back. So the sniping begins followed by increasing levels of conflict and decreasing levels of respect for her husband.

She may remain in her marriage till the day she dies. Long before her death, however, she has died a thousand emotional deaths. Instead of growing as a person, she feels cheated and sees herself as a lot less than she could be if only she had not married. Though she cherishes her children, she has strong feelings of disappointment when it concerns her husband.

The fantasies have died. Reality has set in.

Next: Good husband fantasies


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