I would say that I got onto my own path of empowerment in my early 20’s. I was a single mom with my daughter for 8 years, went to college while taking care of her, dove into personal growth and development, and learned a lot about my worth and value. I’ve been dedicated to practicing how to use boundaries and how to speak my voice, even when it’s scary. I’ve been doing the work that comes with becoming an empowered woman for quite some time.
It’s funny how I got temporarily derailed and how that shifted as soon as I got married. When I entered the marriage to my husband I instantly put myself into the “perfect wife role”. It was so important to me to play the part well. I pushed myself back YEARS and took up what I thought my husband and society expected of me as an ideal wife and mother. Take a moment to reflect back to a time in your mind when men worked, women stayed home and raised children, and that was that.
The roles society had created for men and women were clearly defined and you were a problem starter if you dared to ask questions or buck the system.
You may not have lived it for yourself, but you’ve seen the movies. We know how it goes. Dad comes home from a day at work to a perfectly clean home with dinner on the table. Mom serves him up his favorite dish with a smile. She’s beautifully dressed and her hair is immaculate. He sits down on his lounge chair to watch TV for the remainder of the evening, and she goes on to clean the kitchen, do the laundry, and tend to ALL the needs of the children. On her own.
Times are Changing
By now you may be thinking… Not too much has changed as far as the expectation for the role of women. What has significantly changed is that a large percentage of women now work out of the home. Or, have a side hustle business that they run from home WHILE caring for the children.
Another significant change? Women are saying NO MORE. Why? Because we are exhausted and tired of having to be everything to everyone all the time.
We want our rights to be taken seriously. We want to be seen as equal to men. Not the SAME as men, but of equal rights and value. We want our no’s to mean no and we want our boundaries to be respected rather than being made to feel that we are bitches for having them. We want to walk in true relationship with our men. To get help with the laundry and the day to day tasks that weigh us down. We want to be seen, heard, and appreciated.
The reality of the scenario that I painted for you earlier is that we are coming from a time where husbands were generally disengaged. They go to work, provide a paycheck, and that’s it. Maybe do some yard work on the weekend and be loyal. But that was that.
The way of the past is having husbands that aren’t vulnerable, that don’t talk about their feelings, and don’t engage in the day to day life of the family.
The view of a cold and distant provider that doesn’t know how, or doesn’t believe he should (according to man code) emotionally engage with his wife.
This is no longer acceptable to most women. They are requiring MORE in their relationships and are not willing to settle for anything less than a true partner.
This is shaking things up a bit.
A Women Empowerment Shift
Here is the glorious truth… WOMEN ARE RISING!
They are waking up and stepping fourth into a new level of leadership, independence, communication, and standard of growth. And men don’t know what to do with it. The old ways of being don’t work for a lot of woman anymore.
Women are tired. They are calling bull shit on the traditional rules and requirements of what they are “supposed” to be and do.
We are now living in a time when things are significantly shifting. Women are creating new roles and expectations for themselves. They are refusing to be told what they can and cannot do. Women are becoming more and more empowered.
As a woman, I see this as a beautiful and positive thing. And, I can also see the conflict that it is creating with our men. Unfortunately, a trend I’m seeing is that rather than encouraging our men to rise too, they are being disempowered in many ways.
I don’t want that for my husband or my son. I don’t want them to be made to feel they are less than because they are a man. It’s time to find the balance. Empowered women should not equal disempowered men.
An Era of Conflict
The beautiful thing about conflict is that it means there is change occurring. When we can do conflict in a constructive and respectful way that is. The problem is, it’s not always being done in this way. It’s being done in a way that’s damaging and that screams, “I’m right and you’re wrong”.
Women are shouting CHANGE and trying to take their power back. Men are screaming CALM DOWN, lashing back, or scrambling to try and conform to what she is asking, ultimately feeling discouraged, broken down, and very confused about this new role they are being asked to fill.
I see this it in my counseling practice working with my clients. I have seen it in my own marriage. And in the lives and marriages of the women I coach. There is a miss that is occurring and it’s time we payed attention to it.
Here are the most common complaints I hear from women about their husband in couples therapy:
- I’m growing and he’s not
- He doesn’t understand me
- I don’t think he listens to me
- He doesn’t appreciate all the things I do
- I don’t feel emotionally connected to him
- How can he expect me to have sex with him when he doesn’t care how I feel?
- He’s not engaged in the family
- He doesn’t take initiative to help me
- Our communication is terrible
- He doesn’t understand how completely exhausted I am
Do any of these sound familiar? Whether you’re a man or a woman reading this, you’re probably very used to these areas of complaints. Let’s talk about how to start learning to work together as a true team and actually solve them.
Asking Our Men to Step it Up
I heard a man walk into one of my events and say “oh no, a room full of empowered women”. It’s intimidating I get it. Especially when we are asking our men to step it up. But one thing that needs to be understood is that women empowerment can be beneficial for both men and women. Just stick with me and hear me out.
The women empowerment movement is asking men to be open to seeing things in a way that challenges their tough exterior. To grow, and to connect with us on a deeper level. That’s scary for anyone. As women who are awakening and growing, our voices can sometimes become loud and harsh. We need to acknowledge that this is a huge shift and should extend the same love, empathy, and support towards our partner that we extend to everyone else.
Taking Responsibility for Our Part
About two years into my marriage I had an epic melt down. I was so tired of carrying all the weight of the expectations I put on myself by playing the part of the perfect wife. I made a huge shift, and I put a lot of the weight back on my husband. Was it his fault I was carrying it? No. I chose to carry it. Did he allow me to? Yes.
In his defense I probably yelled at him or got upset if he suggested otherwise, and he got used to me putting it all on myself. I wanted it perfect. It needed to be exactly right. So… I had to do it myself. And he allowed it. When I said “no more” and gave it back, it was a difficult shift for both of us.
We are now into almost 10 years of marriage and we have had a series of significant shifts along the way. Periods where I have refused to carry the weight that is not mine to carry. Battles to get him more engaged and doing his own growth work. Has he stepped up? Yes! In a huge way! Now he’s on his own growth path and we are communicating and connecting better than ever.
Here this thing. This is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. All of our growth is process, especially when we are learning to play by a completely new set of rules. Or, ditching the “shoulds” and the rules all together.
Gender Roll Restoration
I like to think of the evolution of the exceptions of traditional gender roles in a marriage as gender role restoration. We are restoring the old, worn out ways that are no longer working into a way that is new, functional, and beautiful for everyone involved. Nothing fits inside the box anymore.
As empowered women, we need to learn how to start also empowering our men. Being an empowered woman does not mean leaving our femininity behind and becoming women who function from a primarily masculine place.
While we all need a balance of feminine and masculine energy, we have to remember as women that being feminine is how we truly connect on a deeper level. We seem to be going from one extreme to another and need to be focusing on finding the happy in between place.
I believe in equal rights. I work hard to empower women. Yet I hate to see women denying their femininity in order to feel empowered. I understand it because it happens to me too. I can so easily get sucked into the place of the guarded, strong, independent masculine. But I don’t want to live there. It’s not who I am.
Let’s be clear that just because you are empowered doesn’t mean you have to always lead with your masculine energy.
We Need to Find a Balance of Energies
This new shift is also asking men to find a balance of energies as well. To learn how to incorporate more tender and feminine energy in their relationships with their partner. Because our society has been so rewarding of toxic masculinity for so long, this is a very scary thing to do. But SO necessary for the health and well being of men.
Men have been served an enormous amount of pressure by asking them to be masculine 100% of the time. They have feelings, they need to cry, they need to express their fears and concerns. They need to connect on deep levels and feel known and accepted just as much as women do.
According to an article in Psychology Today, men have lots of feelings but often don’t feel they should show them. They only feel safe to express them as anger due to the social conditioning they receive during childhood. It’s taking a toll on their mental an physical health.
Men are humans too. Not just get through the day robots responsible for work and safety. While these are noble roles, there is more to men than just this. I would even go out on a limb to say that men can’t be all that happy living this way either. I hear it from my clients all the time. Men also desire deep connection, they just don’t always know how to get it. This requires the allowance of some doses of feminine relational energy, which men have been taught to have an adverse reaction to.
Switching From Need to Want
One of my dear friends said to me recently “women don’t NEED men anymore”. We don’t need them to have babies, to provide, to fix things, we can pretty much cover it all on our own if we really wanted to. The reality is, we don’t want to. And that’s not a bad thing.
In any relationship when we are able to shift from needing someone to wanting them, the relationship become healthier. When we NEED someone, it’s a whole lot of pressure for that one we need, and as humans we learn to manipulate to get our needs met. It’s a lose lose situation for both people.
Empowered woman who want their partner rather than need them, should be creating a ripple of what healthy empowerment looks like. This means closer relationships. More fulfillment. Better communication. And yes, this even means better sex.
A New Kind of Partnership
Some people think that by asking men to embrace and join forces with the empowered woman, we asking them to demasculinize themselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Vulnerability is strength. Being seen is brave. Allowing yourself to truly connect takes massive courage. It’s time to enter into a new way of being in our intimate relationship.
I often tell my clients that marriage is a unique and beautiful relationship what requires a different kind of intimacy than you will experience in any other relationship in you life.
Empowered women are asking men to be willing to get to a deeper level of themselves. To stop living in a way where they must hide who they are and how they feel to save face around their buddies. Engage in life. Share the responsibilities of child rearing and house work. Function in a true team dynamic. And trash the early expectation of their job being their only purpose.
We want partners. We want someone who is going to grow with us.
The future is not only female. The future is empowered women and men working together, on the same team, to make this world a safer place to show up and be a vulnerable human.