Random Snippets from the Scenes of My Life: Henpecked and Proud?

Published November 28, 2012 by Elspeth

Yesterday after a family trip to the park, we all (all 7 of us) stopped by the grocery store. We rarely go shopping as a gang anymore but almost every time that we do my husband hears little unfunny jokes about being under siege by all of these women, drowning in estrogen etc. Every husband we know who has lots of daughters is familiar with the spiel.

Anyway, as this guy struck up a conversation with my husband, he went on about how he has just 3 daughters and that he learned early that the key to survival is “Yes Dear”. He went on for a few minutes. Finally he said something to the effect of, “I’m sure you figured out a long time ago that she’s the boss.” My eyes got wide and I waited. My husband smiled and said, “I don’t think so. We both know who wears the pants in my house, and as you see, she’s in a skirt.”

This man, clearly shocked looked at me, waiting for some sign of disapproval and I just smiled and said, “It was nice talking to you” and walked on to the produce aisle. Normally my husband would just smile politely at those kind of comments but this guy was over the top.

Is this what it has come to? Do most men really subscribe to the ‘she’s the boss’ mentality to the point that they’re not even embarrassed to admit that they’re henpecked?

Good grief.

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18 comments on “Random Snippets from the Scenes of My Life: Henpecked and Proud?

  • Do most men really subscribe to the ‘she’s the boss’ mentality to the point that they’re not even embarrassed to admit that they’re henpecked?

    This often seems to be the case. At least with more passive men who don’t like confrontation.

    The more assertive ones who think they cannot win against the trend seem to be more openly hostile and angry toward women as they feel their “territory” being infringed upon.

  • I know that what you say is true Heather, but whenever I think of this I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ thoughts as revealed in Mere Christianity:

    Something else, even more unpopular, remains to be dealt with. Christian wives promise to obey their husbands. In Christian marriage the man is said to be the ‘head’. Two questions obviously arise here. (1) Why should there be a head at all — why not equality? (2) Why should it be the man?

    (1) The need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent. Of course, as long as the husband and wife are agreed, no question of a head need arise; and we may hope that this will be the normal state of affairs in a Christian marriage. But when there is a real disagreement, what is to happen? Talk it over, of course; but I am assuming they have done that and still failed to reach agreement. What do they do next? They cannot decide by a majority vote, for in a council of two there can be no majority. Surely, only one or other of two things can happen: either they must separate and go their own ways or else one or other of them must have a casting vote. If marriage is permanent, one or other party must, in the last resort, have the power of deciding the family policy. You cannot have a permanent association without a constitution.

    (2) If there must be a head, why the man? Well, firstly, is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? As I have said, I am not married myself [Lewis later married], but as far as I can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say ‘Poor Mr X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.’ I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own ‘headship’. There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule.”

    I think he is right. When I was a child, I don’t think you could find a man willing to brag about the fact that his wife bosses him about, even if that were true.

    My husband is not the passive sort, but I have come to believe that even the passive man can exude a quiet strength and subtle air of leadership. It matters not if the outside world sees him as the man of his house, so long as his wife does.

    But when men accept and laud their roles as subjugates in their own homes, I find it highly problematic.

  • Biblically, the man is the head. It’s not an imperative, but indicative. It’s a fact, not a command. He might just be a lousy one…but ultimately he will have to answer and he remains responsible for what he stands by and let his wife do. Of course, we are also responsible for the attempts to usurp and take over.

  • Biblically, the man is the head. It’s not an imperative, but indicative. It’s a fact, not a command.

    I really liked that, byrd5. Thanks for putting it on record. I hope my comments didn’t imply that I think otherwise. Rather, that there are men who have internalized a way of being married which indicates that their wives are the head. They don’t see the reality that you pointed out: That they are lousy leaders and their women are mutinous wives illegally steering the ship.

  • Well, Lewis posed a worthy question. The summary of the answers are a little disappointing, as simply noting that something is “unnatural” does not really satisfy the postmodern-ly infected attitude that there really is no way to define right and wrong. As Christians, we have Scripture which adequately answers both queries. ;)

    My husband is not the passive sort, but I have come to believe that even the passive man can exude a quiet strength and subtle air of leadership. It matters not if the outside world sees him as the man of his house, so long as his wife does.

    There is truth here. There’s never been a question as to who is the head in our marriage, although I’d say my husband is more on the passive side–and I tend to be pushy and aggressive when I think “my” way is the better one. Over the years, I’ve had to learn to back off, visibly show respect, and trust that the Lord can lead my husband far better than I could–and he has had to learn to step out more into his leadership role. He’s a good leader, too, when I give him the room to do what he believes is right. Got a good, recent, story to illustrate, but it’s too long to post here.

    But when men accept and laud their roles as subjugates in their own homes, I find it highly problematic.

    Agreed. But,due to the pervasive message that “men are inferior”, I cannot help but wonder whether many supposedly “henpecked and proud” husbands are simply unaware of the nature of the problem. They aren’t happy with their position,but don’t see how to remedy it so joke about it as a way to cope. Or, perhaps they are not in such a situation, yet make certain assumptions about others such as your husband (and mine, actually) because even married women in our society are so strongly encouraged to be independent.

  • Elspeth, I never thought you were suggesting otherwise. It just seemed pertinent.

    My husband is definitely the dominant one. I am passive by nature – I tend to sit on the sidelines and observe. I have to watch my passive aggressive tendencies. I came from a home where my father let my mom have her way and it’s created a lot of stress for them. I knew I needed a strong, paternal man. He is “bossy”, but it’s what I need. I grew up w/o a lot of structure and, while at times our opposite characteristics drive me crazy, I am thankful for how his structure and firm hand have helped me mature.

  • I knew I needed a strong, paternal man. He is “bossy”, but it’s what I need. I grew up w/o a lot of structure and, while at times our opposite characteristics drive me crazy, I am thankful for how his structure and firm hand have helped me mature

    Wow, Byrd. I could’ve written that snippet there, verbatim. It’s funny because while many of my friends and female relatives fail to *get* it, I really am drawn to my husband’s authoritative nature. I love it about him, and even though our opposite characteristics sometimes drive me crazy, I don’t think I could have been happy with any other kind of man. Especially since I am not particularly passive, LOL.

  • One of my childhood friends fits that description to some extent. His mom, apparently in reaction to her own mother, is something of a misandrist and while he’s a visible, extroverted kind of guy, he’s generally more inclined to sidestep conflict than to stare it down. If I remember his explanation correctly, he preemptively assumes a henpecked stance as a sly means of denying women the guilt cudgel. I can understand how he might think of it that way, but I think it potentially unwise to assume that your “opponent”‘s conscience is healthy enough to prevent them from freely indulging in wanton cruelty. Consequently, I tend to counter his “Yes Dear” jokes, particularly in mixed company. In one such instance, interestingly enough, the woman who was then his girlfriend seemed to take my side in the exchange.

    On the subject of “passive” men and leadership, I tend to agree with you. I may not be married, but I am quiet and I suspect I’d be a very “permissive” husband. Even so, I have my limits as to what I’ll allow. Distant or unusual though they may be, there are lines which I will not allow a wife to cross. For example, I will never let her use me as a scapegoat. Slander will not be tolerated and neither will guilt manipulation. I’ve put up with more than enough of those for one lifetime already, so I’m not accepting any more. If she cleans the house before I do, it will be because she chose to, not because I waited her out. When I give permission to “slack off”, I mean it and I will not permit her to insinuate that I don’t.

  • Franz,

    My husband is fairly “permissive” in his way in that he doesn’t treat me like a child. Well, usually, LOL. He has standards in certain areas and he expects those standards to be met. When I am dropping the ball on a particular thing, he refuses to remain silent because he knows me. The situation will snowball and get progressively worse. He is very clear about standards for the house, homeschooling, what he likes to see me wear, or knowing when to shut up. I need to get the okay before accepting invitations, etc.

    That said, there have been times when, particularly after my initial encounter with the uber-submissive wife blogs, when his relative security with himself and our relationship caused me to revisit the issue. There were things these women said were necessary that he finds ridiculous. For example, he only clicks onto my blog once every few weeks rather than constantly monitor or approve every post. He recently read a few posts which pleased me greatly. Although he has access to my email passwords, he doesn’t ever monitor it. When I get emails from male readers and invite him to read he says, “Give me the cliff notes version. I don’t need to read it.”

    He is a more aggressive than passive man, but he is also very secure in himself and in our marriage. It’s a nice balance.

  • Love your husband’s response! My husband recently shocked the ladies at his place of work by telling them he would not allow me to go out to a club. Apparently some of those ladies, though married, still frequent dance clubs and could care less about what their husbands think about it.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  • I have a dear girlfriend who was an only child. She is dominant by nature and purposefully picked a “passive” man whom could lead her. He husband was the baby of the family – a very godly man and exceptional husband. He is happy to let her handle the little things, but she respects him utterly in the big things and respects his wishes when he intervenes in the little matters. There is a synergy and he allows her that control, though there is no doubt who is really in charge.

    My husband is, as I mentioned, controlling by nature and I hate having to be in charge. I’m happy to have a head b/c responsibility makes me a little nervous (yes, I see the problems with that). That said, I’m independent by nature, which also suits my husband as he has a demanding job. He has very specific demands (in our house these take the form of long lists), but he doesn’t want to be bothered with the details about most things either.

    I guess I’m saying all this to say that it’s not sin for a personality to be more subtle in their leadership. My husband happens to be a bull and that’s what I need. But that type of leadership certainly wouldn’t suit all unions.

  • Agree with everything you said there, Byrd. I do believe, as Heather and I discussed above, that a more “passive” man can lead his wife effectively.

  • As a man I may I say how much it means to me to see you ladies living your lives, managing your homes, and building the relationship with your husbands in this way. I long for my unmarried sons–every young single man I know–to find someone like one of you. I long for my daughters to imitate your spiritual discernment.The toxic effects of feminism can be very subtle, especially in the church…but they are deadly none the less. I am so thankful for my godly wife and her desire to build our home and marriage on His principles. May I walk worthy of her confidence and always in the way of our Lord. God bless you all.

  • OK I feel kind of shallow now. All these deep and long comments! I was just going to say, “haha! What a great day to be wearing a skirt!” I think you guys reacted great.

  • Brenda! It’s good to hear from you old friend.

    Y’all, I think Brenda was the very first person to ever comment on my blog back when I started on blogger 6 years ago. I’m glad she left another one before I close up shop in a couple of weeks.

    You made me smile this morning, Brenda.

  • Brenda hits on something really good; I’m going to tell Bike Bubba he needs to post on humorous ways of dealing with objections to patriarchy! Or else!

    Actually, just Bike Bubba using his wife’s account due to being too lazy to get his own WordPress. Seriously, I have to wonder if the most manly, patriarchal thing to do when confronted on male leadership (or hey, the # of kids) is humor.

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