Former Shrew Finds Surrender is Sweet
By Laura Doyle
Some people are horrified when I tell them I wrote a book called ďThe Surrendered Wife: A Womanís Spiritual Guide to True Intimacy with a ManĒ. I suspect that some of these people donít even hear the whole title. I think they get stuck on the dreaded word ďsurrenderedĒ in combination with ďwifeĒ and picture a book on how to become a doormat!
So by the time I say that surrendering means relinquishing, and that my book is about relinquishing inappropriate control of my husband, Iím pretty sure some people arenít listening anymore. They miss the part where I tell them that I was once a shrew and that Iíve learned if I ever want to be intimate with my man, I have to give up trying to control him. Thatís what itís about. Really.
Relinquishing inappropriate control means that I donít comment on his driving, even if heís crawling along in the stupid lane. It means I refrain from criticizing him if he loads the dishwasher wrong. Choosing intimacy instead of control has even meant that I donít sneer or complain when he wears his Jerry Springer t-shirt in public.
Of course, I wasnít always this way. Seven years ago, I had great difficulty going with my husband on what we called the ďno-control dateĒ. My therapist encouraged me to experiment with the idea of trusting my husband by agreeing to go out with him on a date where he made all the decisions. On this particular date, he was to tell me how to dress, what time to be ready, drive, pick a restaurant, order for me,pick up the check and plan any other activities for the evening.
I did so poorly with this experiment that by the time we were on the road, I had already figured out where he was taking me and I was giving him instructions on where to turn. At the restaurant, I told him where to park and squirmed anxiously in my chair as he ordered the dinner I had strategically mentioned appealed to me.
At no point during the evening was I in any danger of being hurt, embarrassed, bored, deprived or even having to eat something I didnít like. But to see how I acted, you might have thought I was going before a firing squad. Thatís how big my fear was.
In reality, I was with a man who knows me well and wants me to be happy. My terror had nothing to do with him. In fact, I was terrified of being out of control long before I met him. I was so accustomed to control that I often did it without even realizing I was doing it. Finally, I learned to dig a little deeper when my urge to control came up, and to simply say that I was afraid. Unfortunately, this was only a little better for healing my relationship and restoring intimacy. What I really needed to do was find the courage to trust my man.
I must say that although my husband is trustworthy, not every husband is. Any man who has an active addiction, such as alcoholism, drug addiction or compulsive gambling cannot be trusted. Men who are chronically unfaithful are also not trustworthy, nor is a man who is physically abusive to his wife or children. I can offer little hope of intimacy in these situations, and recommend that you leave this relationship if you find yourself identifying with one of them.
If your husband doesnít fall into one of the categories above, however, then you are married to one of the good guys. Not a perfect husband, but one who is capable of loving you and cherishing you. Really.
I say this because Iíve seen relationships transform over and over again. Once I learned to surrender my inappropriate control (imperfectly, I might add), some of my friends decided to follow suit. As they tried the same techniques that had helped me transform my relationship into the union I had always dreamed was possible, the same thing happened for them.
A few of us started a support group in my living room, and the group grew as word spread. I used to tease one of my friends that she would win a toaster oven if she kept bringing people to our ďSurrendered CircleĒ. First there were five of us, then a dozen, then a waiting list and finally workshops and my book, and now women in other states hold their own Surrendered Circles. Clearly, I had hit on something that resonated with a lot of women. Women who were tired of being superwomen, and feeling like the only adult in the family, were anxious to hear how they could do things differently.
Surrendering to your husband is not about returning to the fifties or rebelling against feminism. This isnít about women dumbing down or being rigid. Itís about being intimate with your husband in a way thatís both gratifying and terrifying. Itís about having a relationship that brings out the best in both of you and growing together as spiritual beings. Itís a proven, workable principle that brings peace, joy and prosperity for women who employ it.
Ironically, since I started respecting my husband, he seems so much more worthy of my respect. While I donít do this surrendering thing perfectly, I now enjoy being married to my wonderful, handsome, capable husband. Today, I have the intimate marriage I always dreamed was possible. If you surrender to your husband, you will too.
Laura Doyle, a feminist and former shrew, is the author of ďThe Surrendered Wife: A Womanís Spiritual Guide to True Intimacy with a ManĒ. A distinguished lecturer, workshop leader and relationship coach, she lives in Costa Mesa with her husband who has been dressing himself since before she was born. You can contact her at (714) 979-2152 or visit her website at www.surrenderedwife.com
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