Episode 23: Marriage: Then & Now

by | Last updated: Aug 28, 2023 | Podcast

Are today’s women satisfied with cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids in exchange for protection and provision? The answer is no. It is clear that in today’s times, women can take care of themselves, and simply being the provider of the family is not enough to sustain a good marriage as a man.

In this episode, we will explore the question: what do women really want in a relationship? Now, ⅔ of divorces are initiated by the woman. They want a partner, not a provider. But the issue remains – men and women are different. How do we cultivate strong marriages? The answer is simple: learn to understand one another better!

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • How marriage roles used to be
  • How marriage expectations have changed
  • Where we learn relationship roles from
  • What women want now
  • How we can fulfill marriage expectations

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Welcome to The Loving Truth podcast, where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now your host, relationship expert and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope.

Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope, and this is The Loving Truth. We are gonna get into some things today, my friends, so I might go off on a wee little rant. We'll see. But let's get started.

So back in February, there was a podcaster named Matt Walsh, and apparently, he just wanted to ruffle some feathers. So he tweeted something that got millions of views and responses. Here's what the tweet said: “All a man wants is to come home from a long day at work to a grateful wife and children who are glad to see him and dinner cooking on the stove. This is literally all it takes to make a man happy. We are simple. Give us this and you will have given us nearly everything we need.”

Oh, Lord. You know, people had something to say about that - namely, this is not 1960 anymore, and it's time to get your head out of your arse. So, so there's that, but that's not where I'm gonna go necessarily. I wanna go to a place of really understanding how society and culture and, frankly, women are changing the dynamic of relationships and the way that relationships have changed just between where we are today and one generation ago.

So for instance, let's take my mother, right? So I was born in ‘71 - I'm 51 years old. My mother got married and had two kids, my older brother and myself. Let's say she wanted to get divorced. Now, my parents are still married today. I think it's 55-ish years, 55-plus years, something like that. But let's assume that at some point she wanted to get divorced. She actually couldn't. I mean, in the seventies is when in the US, California was the first state to pass a law that said that you don't need a reason to divorce. It was called no-fault divorce.

So even though technically she could have gotten divorced, it would've been really, really hard for her to do so. So think about it - for a long, long, long, long time, women needed men for providing and for protection, right? And so providing, that's pretty self-explanatory. We had very clearly defined roles, and they were the ones that were out working, and they made the money, and that was their contribution to the family. And the woman took care of the home and the children and the family unit essentially. And that was her role.

So women had very clearly defined roles. We just didn't have any freedom. So we needed men for providing. My dad was the primary person making the most money in the relationship for the first part of the relationship. The second half of the relationship, that was not the case. My mom, by the time I was in high school, she was more of the provider. So the times were changing even by the late eighties.

Okay? So, but think - so she needed him to provide, they needed the two incomes, but she also needed that protection. And where protection came from was more when we were hunting for our own food. And we were generally in danger.

We're not in danger today, day in and day out. I mean, in many ways we are, but that's not the kind of protection that we're talking about. What we're talking about from a female perspective in the, call it late sixties, early seventies, was about social status. Because a woman, if she wasn't married with kids by the time she was 30, it was sort of universally understood that there was something wrong with her. And there weren't a lot of people that were divorced. There weren't a lot of women that were divorced. So who is she gonna hang out with, right? So it would be really hard.

My mother also came from a very large Catholic family. I have Catholics on both sides of my family, and no one on her side of the family had ever been divorced, and still to this day outside of me has ever been divorced. So it would've been a very difficult thing. And then, by the way, how would she take care of my brother and me? Literally, if she was going to go to work in order to provide for us, well, who was going to stay home with us? Who was going to make sure that we didn't kill each other because we were kind of bad kids, and then who was going to make sure that we had dinner and our homework got done and we got to school on time, and all of those kinds of things? How was she going to manage all of that?

So it wasn't practical, even though legally she could have left had she ever wanted to. It's not practical that she could have done that. Now, the other thing that happened around that time was that the government passed a law in the states that said, women, you can have your own checking account. Congratulations. And you can get a credit card or a loan in your name.

Now, just because the government said that, and they passed that law, didn't mean banks wanted to do it. Now, why didn't they want to loan money to women? Because we weren't a good credit risk. We didn't have any history of credit, we didn't have any payment history, we didn't have a job outside of the home. And if we did, if we got pregnant, that job was now in jeopardy. Or if we did, we weren't going to be paid as much as a man would be. So we weren't exactly a great credit risk. So even though technically we could have gotten a loan for a home or a car, the likelihood that a bank would've approved it back then is very, very slim.

Most of the time. I have friends who have told me this, most of the time you still needed a man as a co-signer. Now that man could be your father, but there needed to be someone else cosigning on that account. So that was one generation ago; that is my mom's generation. So now if you look at the relationships and the way that we are today, we don't have any role clarity. There's no one way for women to be in a marriage, but we have a lot of freedom, right? So that plays a huge role in what's happening.

So let's talk about this. So first of all, historically women needed men for providing and protecting. We've talked about that. That ship has sailed though, gentlemen and ladies. I mean, there are certainly times when a couple has made an arrangement. They've made a decision where one person's going to stay home with the kids and another person, their contribution is gonna be to go out and work. There is still a lot of that today, but we are realizing that when you choose to stay home with the kids, you do put yourself at some financial risk.

Should this relationship ever deteriorate to the point where divorce is a possibility, because going back out into the workforce after being out of it for 10 or 20 years, that can be difficult, right? So that whole ship of we-need-men-for-providing-and-protecting isn't really there anymore, which means men don't hold the cards in the relationship the way that they did one generation ago, right? And that's kind of what he's describing in that tweet.

Now, the other thing that I wanna bring to light is who taught men what it looks like to be a man, to be a husband, to be a father? Who taught them? Their fathers or the primary male role model in their lives growing up. They learned what it looks like to be a husband and a man and a father by watching the primary male role model in their life. But what was required of men one generation ago is very, very different than what is required of men today.

I'll give you a funny example. So when I was born, my dad was across the street getting a sandwich, okay? He was not in the delivery room. He never changed a diaper. He did not change any of my diapers, not once. And now when I look at, for instance, my niece's marriage, she said to me one time - you know, sometimes people look at men, for instance, her husband was reading a book to their daughter. And I was like, “Oh, how nice. Look at them reading.”

And she kind of gave me this look- like, Sharon. And I'm like, “What? What? It's sweet.” And she goes, “Look, people look at men being a father doing fatherly things, and they think it's so cute, it's so lovely, it's so wonderful. Now they're just taking care of the responsibilities that they brought into this world, right?” So the expectations for husbands and fathers today are night and day different than what was expected of my father, right? But who taught my brother how to be a man, but my father?

So it's a generational thing that we are now; those changes that are transpiring between the generations are so dramatic, and sometimes we're not keeping up with them. So what is required today really doesn't look much like what it looked like for our fathers. The other thing I will tell you is that women want more in a marriage. So where men used to hold all the cards in the relationship, that is not the case anymore. Two-thirds of divorces are being initiated by women today.

One generation ago, if there was divorce, it was almost a hundred percent initiated by the man. Today, less than 30, or around 30%, a third of the time in heterosexual divorces, are being initiated by men. Two-thirds of the time, it's being initiated by women. And there's tons of research that shows that women not being in a relationship fare better than men who are not in a relationship from a health perspective, from a happiness perspective, and from a fulfillment or contentment perspective.

Now, the thing I want to bring up, women - what we want, and I can't speak for all women, but in general, since I speak to thousands of them - what we want in our most intimate relationship is connection, is love, of course, but also desire and passion. We want excitement. We want something that makes us feel both at home and alive, right? And so we want connection, we want communication. We want openness and honesty and vulnerability. And when we don't get that, oftentimes we start second-guessing the relationship.

So where maybe one generation ago, men did hold all the cards, I can argue that today women certainly hold way more cards than they did. And in many ways, they hold more cards than men do in heterosexual relationships. Now, this is something to bring to mind, and this is in the words of Allison Armstrong. Ladies, men are not our hairy girlfriends, right? So oftentimes, because of the way we see and experience the world, we think our men should see and experience the world in the same way.

And that's just not the case. Men see and understand and interpret the world very, very differently than women do. So even though we want more in a relationship, I don't know how we can say we want them to be like us because they're never gonna be like us. They're not our hairy girlfriends. Sometimes I think this might be why it might be easier for women to be in relationship with other women because we do understand one another better, whereas we don't fully understand the opposite sex. And so that leads to, well, how can we, knowing all these changes that are taking place, how can we be in relationship with one another in a healthy, productive way?

So one is we need to understand one another better. We need to stop assuming that women should think like men and that men should think like women and respond and react like women. We need to better understand the differences between us, and we need to grow beyond what we saw and experienced growing up. Because while some of that might be relevant to us, most of it is not relevant to today's relationships, today's marriages, and frankly, today's expectations inside of relationships.

Now, as it relates to that tweet - it only says this is what's going to make a man happy. Which I don't actually believe, because I think that is a person's perspective. And certainly, there is a segment of the population where that might be true. But I do think that men are growing and that they also want more in a relationship than just a woman who's going to take care of the kids, curtsy, and be grateful for him and have something on the stove when he comes home. I bet there's a lot of men who want more than just what was expressed there.

But the reality is, that's not what women want. And most women don't, right? To just be the grateful wife and make sure she has dinner on the table when he comes home from work. If that's not what women want, and you're saying that's what men do want, then this doesn't work. It just doesn't work. It falls apart right there, because what women want - it now matters, whereas maybe a generation, and certainly two generations ago, it didn't matter that much. There weren't a lot of people making sure that women were happy in their marriages. But today that is not the case, right? What women want really matters.

And the other thing that I will say is that tweet came from a place of assumption that women are still out here trying to figure out how to get and keep a man. And that's not the case either. Of course women want men in their lives, particularly if we're heterosexual; we want men in our lives, but we want them for very different reasons. It's not to get from them anymore. It's not for providing and for protecting. We're not in danger. And for the most part, we can provide for ourselves.

Can we provide better, two incomes under one roof? Of course, that just makes logical math sense, but do we need men to provide for us because we can't support ourselves? No, that's not the case. And so that argument breaks down really quickly. And so I think for many women, we want men in our lives, but we don't need men in our lives; it's really a matter of, if you're going to be in my life, are you adding to it? Are you adding to the experience? Are you enriching the experience? And so, as much as you know that tweet came from a place of assuming that women are trying to figure out what it takes to keep a man happy, I don't know. There's a really big part of me that is like, you know, maybe it's time for men to really figure out, “How do I attract the kind of relationship that I want with a woman, and how do I sustain that over the course of decades?”

Until men start asking that question, we're still gonna have some of this butting of heads of where the dynamics between us don't quite work. Because the old mentality, if we still try to play that out in today's world, it's just not going to work very well, right? So we've both have to come up to speed in a very different way. We've got to get educated, we've got to get equipped, and we've got to grow beyond what we saw and learned at home.

All right? I hope that gave you something to think about, something to chew on, and I hope it was helpful. I'll see you next week. Until then, take really good care.

If you're listening to this podcast because you're struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you're serious about finding that answer, it's time to book a Truth and Clarity session with a member of my team. On the call, we'll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there's a fit for you and me to work together so you can make and execute the right decision for you and your marriage.

Go to clarityformymarriage.com to fill out an application now. That's clarityformymarriage.com.


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