Couple clashes over roles played by men and women

DEAR ABBY: I'm a fiercely independent and headstrong woman. I have recently begun dating my childhood sweetheart, "Jess," again after 20 years. Full Story
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bab5nutz

Christchurch, New Zealand

#1 Feb 8, 2009
LW1: Run! Run like hell. Believe me, this is only going to get worse, and day you might find yourself alone, a battered woman, with no-one to help. No one is worth giving up your freedom and independence for.
Daria

Wixom, MI

#2 Feb 8, 2009
I don't think all "traditional" relationships require women to "surrender" their independence. Jess, on the other hand, does require it. I would label that less "traditional" and more "control freak".

Are you willing to transform yourself into another person's ideal? If not, use your headstrong tendencies and head OUT the door.
Stephanie in Budapest

Székesfehérvár, Hungary

#3 Feb 8, 2009
LW1: Just how badly does the LW need a boyfriend? This one sounds awful!

And on an unrelated note: why wear a tuxedo to the friends' wedding? That would make her look like she's trying to be a guy. Why not just be a woman and wear a black formal?

LW2: The DIL is telling the LW to back off. She should listen.

LW3: Ignorant or evil? What exactly does the LW want Abby to do? Choose one? What would that accomplish? Okay, they're evil - then what? What if they are both ignorant AND evil? Stupid letter.

“<insert witty comment here>”

Since: Jul 07

Arlington Heights, IL

#4 Feb 8, 2009
LW1 - Look up "mismatch" in the dictionary and there's a picture of this couple. When will people learn that you cannot change another person? She's made it very clear that she is not interested in the traditional role of wife and mother and does not want to be tied down to a commitment, so drop it.

This is also another example of "childhood sweethearts" getting back together years later and finding out that the person they've become is not the one you remember. My sister's second husband (she's just divorced #4 now, but that's another story) was a guy she had a crush on in school, the typical bad boy. But by then he had found religion, and I mean REALLY found religion. Demanded that she go to church with him three days a week, said she was not allowed to teach Santa or the Tooth Fairy to the children, total nutcase. Not exactly the bad boy she remembered.

This is the same thing. I'll bet that being June Cleaver never came up in conversation when they were kids.

“An Apple a day”

Since: Jun 08

nil carborundum illegitemi

#5 Feb 8, 2009
LW1. Huh? It sounds like a fake letter.
too old

New Haven, IN

#6 Feb 8, 2009
I guess it all depends on what a traditional woman's role, and traditional man's role, mean to this couple. I think there is some value to tradition... as in, men working and providing as their primary contribution to a couple, and women raising and nurturing children as their primary role. If she chooses to also work, and it doesn't compromise the children, then more power to her.

I know that's old-fashioned, and I'm not as old as my username suggests... I'm in this traditional set-up and it works fine.

If she's more modernly-minded, then she needs to re-think this relationship. She's the only one who can control her fate.

LW2- Some baby clothes are hideous! Maybe LW picks out those obnoxious, rainbow-colored clothes that no self-respecting baby should wear. Also, many parents photograph their kids in black or white clothes, so the focus in the picture is more on the baby's beauty than the outfit. LW should either buy Mom a gift card, or stop buying clothes. It's the parent's choice what the baby wears, and Grandma needs to accept it and see beauty where it is... in the child.

LW3 is surrounded by a bunch of idiotic, insensitive fools. Only a morally bankrupt person could support such a situation.

“Merry Holidays!”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#7 Feb 8, 2009
LW1: I don't think this letter is about traditional roles -- I too find this is about control. For someone who says she is independent and headstrong, I'm amazed she couldn't figure out to invite both men to dinner -- but that's another story. I hope she ends this relationship -- they don't sound suitied to each other.

LW2: Her kids, she gets to dress them. Grandma should either give her a gift card to a kids clothing store or buy black dresses if she wants to be the one to buy those special dresses.

LW3: I don't undertand why the LW wrote in. The guy is a jerk -- does the LW need to check with the whole world on that?

“Merry Holidays!”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#8 Feb 8, 2009
Stephanie in Budapest wrote:
LW1: Just how badly does the LW need a boyfriend? This one sounds awful!
And on an unrelated note: why wear a tuxedo to the friends' wedding? That would make her look like she's trying to be a guy. Why not just be a woman and wear a black formal?
LW2: The DIL is telling the LW to back off. She should listen.
LW3: Ignorant or evil? What exactly does the LW want Abby to do? Choose one? What would that accomplish? Okay, they're evil - then what? What if they are both ignorant AND evil? Stupid letter.
Hey, Stephanie, as to the tuxedo, while I agree with you on principle, it might be just a look they're going for in the wedding, much like how the bridesmaids are dressed in all one color or style.

“Merry Holidays!”

Since: Mar 08

Location hidden

#9 Feb 8, 2009
nova0311 wrote:
LW1 -...She's made it very clear that she is not interested in the traditional role of wife and mother and does not want to be tied down to a commitment, so drop it...
Nova, I don't see where you got that she doesn't want commitment. I just saw she doesn't want to be June Cleaver.

As for your sister -- she sounds like she's had a rough road and missed something in her life that she was seeking. I hope she has found it and some happiness. Rarely do people stay people as when they were 16 or 17. Usually that's a good thing -- but sometimes it can turn out not so good.
California Granny

United States

#10 Feb 8, 2009
LW1 - Run as fast as you can for the nearest exit!!! Is Jess' real name Jesus? He sounds like someone my ex would really agree with. The man is a control freak, and even if he never physically abuses you, he will emotionally devastate you until you believe you are worthless. Get out of this relationship NOW.
Wyndie

Meadville, PA

#11 Feb 8, 2009
LW2: Decades ago, I was in a beginning ballet class. This was before the age of leotards and tights. Mothers were instructed to get a pattern and sew a little tunic outfit with matching panties for their daughters.

My mother, a ballet fan from way back, made mine from black material rather than one of the suggested pastels. Everybody looked at me strangely, but now black leotards are seen in ballet classes at all levels.

“<insert witty comment here>”

Since: Jul 07

Arlington Heights, IL

#12 Feb 8, 2009
Terri at home wrote:
<quoted text>
Nova, I don't see where you got that she doesn't want commitment. I just saw she doesn't want to be June Cleaver.
Terri, I was reading between the lines based on my own experiences:
I'm a fiercely independent and headstrong woman.
Jess is traditional and would prefer I surrender my independence...
I translate that as, "I enjoy living alone and making all my own rules. I don't want to be tied down to a husband and family." Nothing wrong with that. If she wants to concentrate on her career/education/interests/fri ends and not "surrender her independence" then that's the decision she's made. He's an imbecile if he thinks he can change her mind, so why try?
Mia

Elmwood Park, IL

#13 Feb 8, 2009
LW1 - You want to marry someone who demands that you become what you are not, but you are "head strong" so you have no intention of changing. You signal that you have no ntention of changing and he becomes angry.

I am sorry for the horrible accident that left you brain damaged.

LW2 - Your BIL behaved the way he did for a reason. That reason is now clear. He comes from a family and an upbringing in which his behavior is not condemned. Where's the mystery?
Mia

Elmwood Park, IL

#14 Feb 8, 2009
too old wrote:
LW2- Some baby clothes are hideous! Maybe LW picks out those obnoxious, rainbow-colored clothes that no self-respecting baby should wear. Also, many parents photograph their kids in black or white clothes, so the focus in the picture is more on the baby's beauty than the outfit. LW should either buy Mom a gift card, or stop buying clothes. It's the parent's choice what the baby wears, and Grandma needs to accept it and see beauty where it is... in the child.
I know a guy who decided that given his baby's skin tone and hair color, she should only wear beige. He told people that and they nonetheless bought colorful cothes for the child. I guess that's good because I would think the father gave those clothes to some child who really needed them.

Of course, like all children everywhere, when the child gets a voice, her first sentence will be: I want that Veggie Tales T-shirt!
Mia

Elmwood Park, IL

#15 Feb 8, 2009
Terri at home wrote:
LW1: I don't think this letter is about traditional roles -- I too find this is about control. For someone who says she is independent and headstrong, I'm amazed she couldn't figure out to invite both men to dinner -- but that's another story. I hope she ends this relationship -- they don't sound suitied to each other.
I think it's about control too; I'm just not sure which of the two is trying to be more controlling?

“http://tinyurl.c om/dgnlyl”

Since: May 08

Buffalo Grove, IL - HR-676!!!

#16 Feb 8, 2009
LW1: RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!

Leave Jess to snag some other woman who would prefer to be dominated and subjugated. It's obviously not you, gal!

(PS: Only "loser" men want to keep women oppressed and humiliated.)
KIZ

Chicago, IL

#17 Feb 8, 2009
Re LW1: Without the LW giving any real examples of how Jess is expecting her to "surrender [her] independence," I'm a bit reluctant to label Jess as the evil person some are making him out to be. I guess what struck me about this letter is how the LW describes herself - "fiercely independent and headstrong." Not just independent, but FIERCELY independent. And, as Stephanie in Budapest pointed out, it seems that by wearing a tux, the LW is trying hard to show how non-traditional she is. True, it may just be a decision based on how others at the wedding will be dressed, but to me, the LW comes across as one of those people who has to make a political statement at every turn. Personally, I don't think couples should HAVE to adhere to the traditional roles (I have a sister who is the breadwinner while her husband is a stay-at-home dad - it works great for them), but she seems a little too adamant about making her point. People like that get on my nerves.

At any rate, I agree that they are simply mismatched and should probably find other mates.

“No. 1 Stunna”

Since: Aug 08

Location hidden

#18 Feb 8, 2009
LW1: Rather than antagonizing the guy, she should find someone that would be happy with a fiercely independent and headstrong woman. I do wonder how she would feel if he agreed to be the maid of honor for one of his female friends and agreed to wear a dress?

LW2: Find a hobby.

LW3: Just because his family has not disowned him does not mean they agree with him or dislike her. Maybe they have decided not to get involved or take sides. Really, their marriage and its failure is no ones business except theirs.
nyc flightie

Chicago, IL

#19 Feb 8, 2009
lw1 needs to DTMFA. he's a controlling jerk.

lw2 needs to MHOB. lots of people -- non-Goths, included -- dress their babies in black for photos. who cares?
Mia

Elmwood Park, IL

#20 Feb 8, 2009
KIZ wrote:
Re LW1: Without the LW giving any real examples of how Jess is expecting her to "surrender [her] independence," I'm a bit reluctant to label Jess as the evil person some are making him out to be. I guess what struck me about this letter is how the LW describes herself - "fiercely independent and headstrong." Not just independent, but FIERCELY independent. And, as Stephanie in Budapest pointed out, it seems that by wearing a tux, the LW is trying hard to show how non-traditional she is. True, it may just be a decision based on how others at the wedding will be dressed, but to me, the LW comes across as one of those people who has to make a political statement at every turn. Personally, I don't think couples should HAVE to adhere to the traditional roles (I have a sister who is the breadwinner while her husband is a stay-at-home dad - it works great for them), but she seems a little too adamant about making her point. People like that get on my nerves.
At any rate, I agree that they are simply mismatched and should probably find other mates.
I agree with your take on the LW but I would go a step futher: By selecting a man who will oppose her decisions, she is creating her optimal situation - one where she is perpetually getting up on her soapbox and making statements. Not to over-analyze, but if that's what she wants, she would be the kind of person who gets off on always exerting her will, and who gets off on doing it to the discomfort of another.

I feel a bit worse for Jess than for her.

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