So, /u/PhantomDream09 prompted me to write this based on my experiences, my struggles with being an RPW, and how, finally, my husband and I are closer to the ideal.
So, a little bit about me and my background:
Growing up, I was that girl. Intelligent, geeky, and what would nowadays be termed SJW. I was going to be a scientist when I grew up, answer the big questions, be lauded for my intelligence and generally Have A Career. You know the type.
I went to A Good School, got my bachelors, my masters, went to Another Good School and got my Ph.D. Completely 100% focused on My Career. I dated. Not much, but had a couple of long term relationships through college. Both with men who didn't really want to lead, but that was OK, because I was In Control And In Charge.
Post-Ph.D I left a long term relationship because he didn't want me to move to the USA, but didn't want to give me long-term commitment. I spent my first 3 years in the USA without a relationship, being Strong Independent Career Woman.
When I met my husband, D, I was a year post-breakup with a man who couldn't separate work and home, and I'd pretty much resigned myself to not ever getting married. D is very RP, and even though he didn't use that terminology with me, I realize now that that is what he is.
We fell in love just as I lost my job, and he asked me to marry him. As he put it
I love you, and I can see a future that is the two of us together. Marry me and together, we'll build a future so bright, we'd never have imagined it possible on our own.
I said yes, but "informed" him that I intended to keep my maiden name. He was upset, but I was adamant, pointing out that "I'd worked hard under this name". This was our first RP battle. His response?
We are going to be married. A couple, a family unit. Where we both work together for the betterment of our family. For the betterment of us. I promise you that any decision I make about us will always be with our best interests at heart. I love you, I want the world to know that I love you and that we are in this life for the long term together. What better way than to present a united front with our names?
I acquiesced, and D told me that this made him so happy, he literally had a tear in his eye. That the woman he loved was willing to put aside ego and work for the betterment of us. I was blind, and saw it as "his" victory.
Wedding planning was insane. I was the one who wanted a courthouse ceremony and no fuss. D wanted the whole nine yards. We got the whole nine yards. D gave me a vision of what he wanted, and told me that as I had time on my hands, I would implement it, making sure that the small stuff was taken care of, and the big things he wanted input on were presented to him in a manner that he got to make the decision, fully informed.
I resented the crap out of this. I wanted to do things my way. D told me that the first hint of Bridezilla behavior, and he'd put me over his knee and spank me, and not in any sort of happy fun way, either. That this was our wedding, and he would, if I trusted him, make sure we had a wedding to remember.
I have to admit, I cried like a little girl through some of this. Including temper tantrums when he didn't like something I'd worked on, or if I disagreed with him. D, somehow (yes, that man has the patience of a saint or something!) didn't break off our engagement or even engage my tantrums. He met my tantrums with frame. Refusing to discuss things till I was calm and rational, and not giving in to what I now realize was emotional manipulation.
And what he told me, shook me.
Do you trust me? If you trust me, why are you arguing with me? Do you not think that I will do what is right by us? We are about to be married. Trust me.
I cried myself to sleep in his arms that night. The realization that here I was, I had a good man, one who loves me, who tolerated my bs, who simply wanted the best for us. And what was I doing? I was being childish and selfish. Putting my needs and wants above his; needs and wants he had told me that he would only ever desire for the best of us. I knew I had to change.
Its been a challenge, this past year. I read the RPW stuff religiously, tried to implement it. Ran around like a headless chicken sorting out the wedding, getting stuff done, and best of all, trusting the man who was about to become my husband. I smiled through it, even though I was tired, and grumpy on the inside. But trusted my husband that we'd get through it.
Post wedding, things got tough. One of our major consulting clients went through a rough patch and didn't pay us on time. Took us far too long to get green card paperwork in due to a lack of money, so I couldn't work. When the possibility of a DreamJob came up, it was in a city D refused to countenance to even live in. We argued. Someone here told me to listen to what my husband was saying, and why he was saying it. I did, but wasn't 100% convinced he was right.
But, I decided, I married him. I have to trust him. So, I trusted him to captain our ship to better waters, and withdrew from that job.
Once the green card arrived, and I started job hunting feverently, I found that it was taking longer than we thought it would. I was, I thought, being a good wife in the meantime: job hunting, taking care of the house, making sure dinner was ready when D came home from a job he hated that he had to do to keep a roof over our heads. And it came to a head, again. He lashed out at me, and we were heading to a big argument. About a week ago in fact. Just when i thought I was being a good RPW and doing everything "right".
This time though, I had RPW and my best friend, K, at my back. RPW told me that he had a point, that things were tough for him, that he hated his job, and yes, I didn't have one, so couldn't contribute to the household, and I should, somehow fix that.
K, though, was like a goddess, sent from above. She patiently, through my tears, told me that yes, he's angry and upset and frustrated, and he has every right to be, because things are crappy right now. But the worst thing I could do would be to escalate. Let him take out his frustration, and then pick through the rants, figure out the problem, and the two of us, as a team, find a creative solution to it.
I spoke to him that night. Told him that it was killing me to see him so frustrated and angry, but given it would be a couple more months before the DreamJob happened, I asked how could I make it better immediately. He told me the financial pressure was unbearable, particularly as he hated the job, and they kept cutting hours.
I cried and vowed to fix it.
I'm getting the bus to a temp job starting Tuesday. I've made sure the house is clean, so that once I go to work, I don't put the pressure of my chores on him instead of the financial pressures, as he still has to work the job he hates till my DreamJob happens. Once we have more money coming in, I'll be cooking freezer or crockpot meals so he has dinner ready when he gets home and leftovers for work. I vowed that he would be the husband of my days, my love and the center of my world. Its time I put it in action.
My husband looks at me again the way he did on our wedding day, he's relaxed, and happy. He holds me in his arms and refuses to let me get out of bed. He play fights with me again, tickling me till I'm in tears and can't breathe from laughter. I have my husband back.
This is where a year of struggling, married to an RP man has brought me. I have struggled with my ego. I learned to place my ego in check. To put my husband's feelings before my own (not out of martyrdom, but because his happiness matters to me. I can't be happy if he's not), to listen to what he's telling me, and hold my frame, just as he holds his. I realized, we're not competitors, we're a team. And any team needs a leader, to do well. He is my leader, and that leads me to the most important thing of all: Trust. Trust that what my husband is asking of me is for the best for our future. Not just saying that I trust my husband, but showing him that I do.
I still have a career (or am hoping to, anyway!), but at the same time, at home, within our relationship, it doesn't matter. The money all goes into the same bank account anyway, so what does it matter how it got there? He is my love, my captain, and I trust him now to make decisions that are right for us. He asked me to get a temp job to help out in the meantime, I have. He wants me to work a decent job, putting the education to use, so that he has time to start a homestead and grow our own food, etc? I will.
This is no longer about me vs him. Its about Us vs the world.