Hidden agendas, flawed expectations can ruin a marriage, so be realistic

WORKING WOMAN

March 21, 1993|By Niki Scott

He said he wanted a wife who was emotionally and financially self-sufficient. She said she wanted a husband who was sensitive and caring.

He said he wanted a wife who was different in every way from his first wife -- one with a life of her own, interests of her own, friends of her own, a career of her own, and a bank account -- of her own.

She said she wanted a husband different in every way from her first husband -- a family man, one with hobbies and interests outside work, one who could cry and talk about his feelings.

But six months after their wedding, their old fantasies and expectations about what husbands "should" do and what wives "should" be like have begun to get in the way.

"He said he liked me just the way I was when we were dating -- independent, career-oriented, not at all domestic. But as soon as we got married, he expected me to be a W-I-F-E --just like his mother and his first wife.

"He doesn't want me to give up my career; he likes my income too much for that. Instead, he wants me to work as hard as I've always worked, then race home and clean the house, do the laundry, have his dinner on the table when he wants it.

"My [real estate] business is successful because I've worked and slaved to make it so -- something he used to applaud before we got married. Now? He makes cracks about my being married to my job and sulks if I have to show a house at night or weekends -- or use Saturday to catch up in the office."

But Dave (not his name) isn't the only one who's being influenced by old expectations and definitions. She's changed the rules since they married, too.

"I'll admit it -- I've changed, too," she said. "I used to like the fact that Dave wasn't particularly ambitious because my first husband was such a cold, calculating, workaholic type.

"But now Dave's lackadaisical attitude toward work of any kind is beginning to get on my nerves. It doesn't matter a bit to him that I make twice as much as he does -- which isn't surprising since he hasn't kept any job longer than eight months in the past five years.

"Frankly, I think he'd love it if he could quit his job and stay home and let me support him -- something I'm not about to do!

"You're right," she added hastily. "I knew he was an aging flower child the whole time I dated him. But he wasn't my husband then, and I didn't have to support him financially and put up with his clinging and neediness."

She cocked her head, listening to her own words, then smiled and shook her head. "Oh, no," she said, "I'm guilty of clinging to all the old expectations of what a spouse is supposed to do, too!

"Now that we're married, I want him to be all the things he was before and take care of me in material ways -- just like my father did, and my first husband did."

The moral to this story is: If you're male and in love with an in dependent, ambitious and not-at-all-domestic woman, it's a good idea to remember that after the wedding, she's not likely to let her career slide while she bakes pies, cleans house and serves your supper at 6:30 p.m. on the dot.

And if you're female and in love with a man who cares about family life more than work life, cries over sunsets and new babies, and expresses little or no interest in clawing his way up the corporate ladder, it's a good idea to remember he's not likely to change just because there's a wedding ring on his finger.

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