When your marriage is in trouble, your friends and family will pass around words of wisdom: Be more flexible! Be accommodating! Work harder to see your wife’s point of view! Few people warn about being a doormat. Flexibility and being nice are essential to a happy marriage, but be aware of the signs that you may be going too far.
Don’t be a jerk, but settling for passive is just as sure to end in disaster. Here’s how to save your marriage without being a doormat:
You Can Still Be Flexible
Being flexible is great advice, especially if you have kids. We all learned the hard way, kids don’t stick to your plans for them. As children grow and change, they develop their own personalities and react differently to your parenting style.
Accept that you and your wife are products of your environment. If your wife was raised in a strict family and you were raised in a more relaxed home, there will be tension as you try to combine your parenting styles. Don’t get caught up in the “my way or the highway” mentality. Instead, carve out time to hash out house rules and parenting styles with your partner.
If you don’t have children, flexibility and compromise still apply to your marriage. We are often reminded that marriage is about give and take. If your wife had a long day and wants to share a romantic meal with you, give up watching the big game with the guys and take her out for a nice dinner.
Whether you’re trying to be more flexible as a parent or as a husband, make sure you’re not the only one making the sacrifices.
Can You Recognize Early Signs of Being a Doormat?
Nobody sees it coming. Becoming a doormat can sneak up on a guy. You might have started being a doormat as a child. If you’re still married, you can love your wife but that doesn’t mean that you should give up everything for her.
Signs that you might be the family doormat include: Do you always do the chores that everybody hates, like cleaning the bathroom? When you go out to eat, is it always to your wife’s choice of restaurant? Do you give up seeing your friends to suit your wife’s weekend plans? Are you always the one who gets up early to get the kids to soccer or stays out late to pick them up?
There is nothing wrong with letting your wife choose the restaurant if you’re celebrating her success, but does she ever agree to your selection?
Sharing chores is a great way to keep a clean, comfortable house but do you always have to do that job that nobody likes?
Living with somebody is hard. Raising children with them is even harder. It can be easy to just agree to avoid an argument. If you find yourself giving in to avoid the hassle, knock it off! That’s the clearest sign that you are on the slippery slope to being a doormat.
How can you man up and regain control of your life?
Speak Your Piece
Some people have absolutely no trouble saying what they want and expect. Guys who don’t want to deal with confrontation, who give in to the temptation to agree to everything in order to avoid a fight, could use some more assertiveness.
Being assertive takes some effort on your part. The first step is to get comfortable with confrontation. Remember that your wife married you for a reason – she likes you! You’re not going to turn her off forever by starting a conversation about how tired you are of being a doormat.
Get comfortable saying no. This one can be tough. You will be changing the status quo. So what? Do it. If you really can’t stand to get Chinese takeout again, say no. If you want a relaxing weekend at home, tell your family that you’re not playing Mr. Chauffer this weekend.
Finally, it’s okay if you feel guilty. When you’re in a doormat rut, bending over backwards to make everybody else happy it can feel terrible to stand up for yourself. You will feel guilty for depriving your wife of her Chinese food or for keeping your children from their weekly trip to the mall, but you’ll get over it. You deserve time to yourself so make sure you stand up for it.
Don’t Turn Into A Jerk
A word of caution now that you are a recovering doormat. Being assertive is great, and will save your marriage but tipping over into arrogance and stubbornness will destroy any progress you have made.
The trick to a healthy relationship is to master the give-and-take element. As a doormat you were too committed to the “Give” side of the equation. Make sure when you become more assertive and start standing up for yourself, you don’t swing too far toward the “Take” side .
If you become a grade A jerk, you will effectively turn your partner into a doormat and your marriage will be right back to the miserable state it was in before you started to speak up.
Life After Being a Doormat
As any recovering doormat will tell you, life after standing up for yourself is great! When you begin to voice your opinions, and advocate for what you want, you will be happier. Standing up for yourself means you are acknowledging and validating your hobbies, friends and life choices.
Being more assertive will help the romantic side of your marriage. Life can be easier with a partner who goes along with everything you suggest, but it’s not healthy or satisfying. From time to time, each of us needs to be reminded that the world does not revolve around us. A marriage is a partnership. If you can stand up to your wife, man up and make yourself seen and heard, she will respect you for it.
Take a stand and stop being a doormat today.
Are you always the one giving? Ready to stop acting like a doormat? Tell us how you get what you want in the comments below.
Dealing with the other extreme? Hurry and read 7 Reasons To Keep Your Mouth Shut When You Are Angry! Need help negotiating a no-doormat marriage? A. Baker explains how Counseling Can Save Your Marriage.
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