My testing is of myself not his control of me

A testing wife is not always testing the husband's charge level or capabilities. I know my husband can handle me. It's my identity I'm testing, not his, my womanhood, not his masculinity. Yes, women have their own gifts and are not inferior to men in the big picture, but being taken in hand by look or word or deed helps me to face that I am a woman. My husband informs me somehow: you are a woman, so you had better like it.

Womanhood is not as clearly defined or as welcome as people say. In a lot of ways, manhood looks more enjoyable, and I do get envious. I think of being that strong, fast, and invulnerable—my spirit but a man and best friends with my husband. I don't mean I want to be a muscular woman and get a short hair cut. I'm not even a tomboy.

But inside there's a part of me that wants to stay a girl or even become a man, a part of me that thinks my becoming a woman is unfair. My husband can quiet this part. He lets me know he's glad I'm that malleable and little and fluttering, and I understand. I feel blessed, fortunate to be a woman loved by him.

My husband warns me sometimes in this way: “We have a minute for you to think about what you want.” Usually, that's enough. But what I want can rocket to impossibilities unless he shows me earth.


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It is always interesting to see a different view of things. I have never felt that way myself, nothing about being a man appeals to me at all. They don't seem to me to be invulnerable, quite the opposite in fact. I've never thought there was anything unfair about being a woman, I just am one. fairness doesn't really come into it for me, you are what you are.


Stepping outside your comfort zones

Hi Um,

Stepping outside your "comfort zone" is a good thing to do every once in a while, it's a good way to discover what your capable of, especially in a culture where we're taught to recognise and accept our limits from a young age. Testing yourself allows you to become a whole person whether your a man, a woman or just plain HUMAN.

I became comfortable with testing myself in my 20s and the result, so far, is that I am still quite comfortable with stepping outside my comfort zone to see what's there.

Of course, I get a charge out of testing my man from time to time, too ; )

And of course, if your man is anything like all the other men on this site (from what I've read so far), he'll appreciate a whole woman.

Life's a journey, half the fun is getting there!


In case

Thank you, Louise. I feel it's an achievement to come up with news to you.

And thank you, Mariela. I'm all for leaping from one's comfort zone when not sleepy.

In case I made my husband sound sexist, I wanted to clarify that he's not. He's very ambitious for me and encourages me in my artwork. He doesn't think in terms of "woman's work." He cooks since I dislike it. I clean the house and do some of the yard work, but I only go to school and don't work. If the house gets messy, he doesn't get mad about it.


Equal Division of Labor

We call this an "equal division of labor". I'm a sleepy artist, too—I was diagnosed with narcolepsy 11 years ago. DH, among other things, has a multitude of high-level certifications in IT and Project Management. He is simply more marketable than I am. He goes off to work and I stay home and work, cleaning, cooking, DIY, dog training and yard work.

Our well-meaning friends and family usually take two sides with this arrangement: They tell us that one of us is taking on too much and that the other should help, i.e. it's not fair that I have to do all the DIY, yard work, etc., OR it's not fair to him that I don't contribute financially. I don't know why they feel the need to make it their business in the first place, as a matter of fact, they seem to find us and our marriage endlessly fascinating—always offering us tips on how to "make each other happy, what you should be buying for each other for Valentine's Day, and by the way, what is UP with you letting him make all the decisions??" Either way, one of us is being sexist.

Gag me with a spoon.



I thought of the possibility, Mariela, that maybe your friends are curious, but figure they can get more information out of you if they criticize you instead of simply asking questions. They might see sparks and feel uncomfortable but also wonder. But it's hard to know how open to be with friends.

My friends are unmarried and don't offer advice, but they ask questions, and since they're not judgmental, I get tempted to answer them and show off a bit. When they're around, I talk back to my husband more than usual, I think, because this makes them laugh and wonder more. They say he's possessive but giggle like it's only a little dirty. They're good friends. I have to remember nobody likes a braggart, and even though I'm proud to have married a man while they go out with boys, they're enjoying themselves too.

Surprisingly, my sisters don't advise us either, but they don't seek such forcefulness from their husbands or boyfriends as far as I can tell. My grandmother is always telling us to "listen to your husband," but this gets lost in advice to put on shoes before going outside and other nonsense.

I can't claim an equal share of the labor. I had to look up DIY because I had no idea what you meant. But I waited tables my freshman and sophomore years and had no trouble following my husband's suggestion I quit my job last summer weeks before we married.


I would say, Yes, they are

I would say, Yes, they are definitely curious about how I can let myself be controlled by a man. I am a very smart, capable woman who was very athletic before I got too tired. My mother and stepfather who bred and trained horses for national and international horse shows taught me how to train as a little girl, in what is now known as the "Natural Horsemanship" method and I still train horses this way today. I also obedience train my own dogs, and my friends' dogs, if they need help or want instruction. And before I got too tired, I used to work for a wildlife conservation foundation doing, among other things, raptor rehabilitation and training and earning an apprenticeship with a Master Falconer in order to one day open my own rehabilitation center.

So people often have a hard time understanding. I do explain when people ask me, but to them, it's odd.


Idealising the man's role

I hear you doing something I used to do, which is to idealise the man's apparent role in society, which is to be strong and invulnerable. Nowadays, I know that that projection of my inner strength is just that—a projection, and it isn't true. Men aren't invulnerable, no matter what fantasy beliefs they (or society) promulgate.

However, men's ways of coping with their vulnerability is very different than women are taught. Women are taught to show more vulnerability than men are allowed to, and this is why women think that men are to be emulated and looked up to as god-like in their ability to withstand pain and trauma. What I would like to see happen instead, though, is not for men to become more open to showing their vulnerability, nor for women to become more like men. Nor do I think they should envy us, nor we them.

What I'd like to see is acceptance that we are socialised with different expectations, and that neither set of expectations are better or worse (until they become so exaggerated as to be toxic or pathological, as in the man who is so incapable of admitting to any vulnerability that he sets himself up for depression and suicide, which I have seen happen just recently to a close friend of mine).

I think we get too caught up in the roles we assign each other, rather than pay closer attention to who we are on the inside, what we believe, and how what we believe affects our outer behavior. To be a woman, to be feminine, etc., is not to be automatically weak or less than a man. I wish so much that we could banish that way of thinking from women's psyches. Our attitudes toward our type of strength should be our focus, rather than comparing ourselves and sighing over what we are not. Personally, I do not want to be compared to a man, either positively or negatively. I just want to be me, and I want to feel proud of what I am.

I believe women's strength is just as worthy and just as valuable as men's. Not more or less. In this way, those striving to find equality and egalitarianism in the relationship between men and women ought to be satisfied. That they are not is a sad statement, but it is one we can change if we accept that being a woman is very, very important in the grand scheme of things. Being a woman is not, you understand, not being a man. In other words, being a woman is not a negative.

It is a positive, and something we should be proud of.

I was raised with feminist sensibilities, but after many years, the only positive message I could come away with from the feminist movement was a rather subtle one that seems to have gotten lost in the years of sturm und drang: the message that women—on their own, not in comparison with men, but just existing as women—have value, importance, and meaning.

I never want to be compared to a man, not because I am afraid of coming up wanting, or because I am envious, but because I am not a man, and that's fine, because I know very clearly what I am, and that's not less than. It is equal to, and just as important as, in my own ways.


Thank you, Pericles, for your thoughtful response. I want to say I know all that, but I guess I must not in some ways. My husband teases me often about my idealization of him. When I complain about his occasional impatience with me, he says in a ghostly voice, "I am not your Daddy." This sounds mean, but it's actually very funny because it's a mixed message, and I can't remember my father anyway. My brothers-in-law tease me and him about my idealization of "the prince."

I do realize that men aren't invulnerable. I've hurt my husband's feelings, so I know very well he has them. And I've seen him anxious about work. When he's vulnerable, my love for him becomes very intense in a different way partly because I feel vulnerable but also protective and wanting very much to comfort him. So, I'm not entirely silly.

And of course you didn't call me silly or even immature. I am learning from how you and the other women on this site are so kind and understanding. The way women encourage other women on this site has made me realize how I often don't give women enough credit for helpfulness. I am very quick to assume that men have good intentions but that women (not girls) dislike me, but that's not fair to women including myself.