Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who wears the pants?

I was noticing the back and forth between the men and women in the comment section of my post on black women trying to take a breath. Some men and women wanted men to step up, others thought women could now take the lead. Understanding that everyone would wish for a balanced, fair and equal relationship (am I overassuming?)… we all know it rarely plays out that way. So it leads me to wonder, who wears the pants and why in a relationship? Or as Chris Rock would say… who gets the big piece of chicken? Who ultimately has the power and control?

Let's break this down into a few categories:

  • Bible-based: The Bible really doesn't waver on this one. The man is in charge unless he proves himself completely unworthy and even then, you gotta cut him slack and try to get that man worthy. Some verses:
    • Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22
    • Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. Genesis 3:16
    • Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7
    • But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3

    I could go on but you get my point. Every Christian scholar I have ever heard preaches the belief that it was God's intent for man to have final authority over his home. They will also say that if he is driving off path, you help him steer before he drives you off a cliff. Moving on…

Supposing your belief system does not extend towards organized religion and the inherent ideologies? Or even if it does, suppose you want to take a look at this from another angle. Here it is and in preface let me say Don't Taze me, bro – I'm just spitting out theories:

  • Finance: Do you think (I know I have seen) the balance of power sits with whoever has the bigger… wallet? As a really bad professor once quipped, "The one with the check can give you heck but she who asks must come in last." Yeah, doesn't rhyme and is completely sexist but you take the meaning. The problem with money-earning ruling the roost is that these days that can change on a dime (no pun intended). Over the past eighteen months, men have been laid off at a rate 37% higher than females. Ironically, this is because a lot of men were earning over 12% more than females in the workplace. When it came time to cut back, it was more cost-effective to cut the higher-earners (i.e. men). So in many cases, people that have been together for years with the husband as primary wage-earner found the script completely flipped. I don't know if you all have watched some of these stories but some of the fellas are NOT feeling the Mr. Mom role. Then again, some of them like it a little too well. But I digress. Basing the big piece of chicken on the money is problematic at best unless that was the agreement from the beginning (Cougar with BoyToy or Old-Ass guy with Anna Nicole-type chick).

  • Emotional/Mental: Maybe it's just a case of the smarter, stronger person taking the lead. Leadership is not everybody's forte. As I've said before, if one person is Batman, someone's gotta be Robin. Sometimes one person just imposes their will on the household (not necessarily in a tyrannical way) and that's the way it works. Only two drawbacks, what if the woman is Batman and her man is Robin? Can men take the back seat (and not take sh*t about it?) How many derogatory comments have you heard about mama's boys or fellas who need their wives permission to buy a shirt. Isn't this where the phrase MAN UP comes from? I'm just thinking out loud here. The other drawback, what if something happens to Batman? Can Robin step in and keep the Bat Cave running? Is there ultimately a Batman living inside every Robin? These are things that make me go hmmm.


  • Sexual: Okay TMI but come on, the phrase whipped is out there for a reason. Isn't this the entire reason most folks thought Whitney married Bobby (and stayed for way too long)? Is the person who breaks it down like WHOA! in the bedroom the ruler of every other room as well? Can a person so deeply impose their sexual will on another as to control their lives? (Think Svengali or 9 ½ Weeks)

  • Combination: The theory is that in order for a relationship to work, there has to be give and take across the board. Maybe the woman earns more, but the man is smarter with finance. Maybe they are both capable of freaking each other to forest-fire heat but she wins the arguments because she talks more. Maybe he picks out all the clothes and she picks out all the food. What if they play to each other's strengths? At the end of the day, if there is a decision to be made and it has been debated with no agreement, whose word is law?

When it's all said and done, I'm a traditionalist at heart and a Christian by faith. I believe the man is supposed to be the head of the household. Lord knows my father was, this did not mean that BougieMom did not make sure her feelings and thoughts weren't heard and acted on. This did not mean that in my last long-term relationship there were not that I didn't grit my teeth when things didn't go "my way". As BougieMom says, "Baby, you pick your battles." My Aunt Violet used to say, "You don't tell a man to drink tea, you lead him to believe tea is the thing he wants to drink." I can already hear my menfolk out there sucking their teeth and hollering out, "Manipulation!" Calm down and take deep breaths, you won't feel a thing. J

You out in BougieLand of the successfully sustained relationships will have to answer the questions: Who wears the pants? How do you decide? And when do you know it's time to switch it up?

14 comments:

True2me said...

hey..good post

I personally like to have a leader as a man..someone who will make the final decision.

What I dont want is a controlling man..a man who wants me to sit at home waiting on him while he does what he wants whatever that may be while I sit at home and just well..wait.

I think each person should play their role, and that doesn't necessarily mean the traditional xtian roles most of us were brough up on.

I know a couple where the man took the womans last name and stays home while she works..it worked for them..

each relationship is unique..and they should be treated as such

JaymeC said...

Agreeing with True - depends on the relationship but ultimately, I like a man to lead.

RiPPa said...

My wife is the spiritual/biblical one in our relationship and I'm not. That said, as much as she loves the lord, she doesn't subscribe to that theory -- not in practice anyway.

I must ad that I am Mr. Moom having been a victim of corporate downsizing which was akin to urban renewal (LOL). Even with this, given the fact that currently she makes more than I do with my work from home job and start-up online business. We still remain along a path with a shared responsibility.

I do not wear the pants and neither does she in this family. In truth, we're two butt-nekkid individuals struggling to keep the kids clothed who as we see it, have no time for trivial matters.

We're both partners in RiPPa Inc. and it is our duty to both work together to keep the business of our family alive be it financially or otherwise. Without compromise we cannot stay alive.

Jerry Here said...

Sitting in premarital counseling when the pastor asks us this exact question. Joking I say the man wears the pants and the woman gets to iron 'em. Wifey not happy and still brings that up. We try and discuss things but when it comes to final decision time, it's me.

Lion said...

great blog!! depending on the situation, we share the pants

Stevie NoWonder said...

Cosigning with Lion. We swap the pants. (She can keep her skirt). Love the blog

Tiffany Nicole said...

Yeah...this one can be a bit complicated. I gotta say I'mma combination. I know there are things that I am better and tend to take the led in my current relationship. And my bf and I have had this conversation. He has the finance game on lock! We are learnign to give and take and I have learned to close my mouth. Ultimately I allow him to make a lot of "our" decisions and I support the choice he makes.

Now sometimes it's not the best choice, but we lived through it and we learn from it. More like a three-legged race---could be a bit unstable at first but then it we find each other's and walk it out!

MidwestDominicana said...

I like to think that my husband and I have a good balance at home. He defers to me on things that he isn't sure about and vice versa. Ultimately, I LOVE for him to take charge and set the standards. If it doesn't work, he respects my role enough to work on a compromise.

I could write an entire page about exhaling and relationships, etc. We all have our own experiences. But my point is that I was fortunate enough to meet, fall in love with and marry the man of my dreams. It's been four years of matrimony (after 8 years of dating) and two beautiful babies (3 & 1) and we still like each other!

I agree with some of the other submitters...shared duties and decision making is key. But again, I love it when my man takes charge!

natural nubian said...

ultimately i willingly acknoledge my man as the leader in our relationship. it's my role to support and be his helper (Gen 2:18). i have no problem allowing him to fulfill the role of man and i play my role as woman. we both work at and commit to the relationship, but when he takes on the responsibility of decision-making i respect that.

Jane Knows Jane said...

I let my husband think he's running things and he lets me think the same thing. Works for us.

uglyblackjohn said...

IMO - The woman is ALWAYS right (Until I say that she isn't).

In other words; she can get her way with everything until I (or we) determine that NOT having her way is in our best interest.
Usually the women respect my view enough to know that there is a time to just sit back and shut up.

OneChele said...

Thanks everyone for the great responses. @UBJ, I love your responses. You always start great and then say one extra thing... "sit back and shut up?" Le Sigh...

Lady4Christ said...

Well if we put two and two together we see that I would concur with the Bible that the husband is the head of the wife. I believe that if your husband is loving you 'right' (like Christ loves the church) then him being the head of the family is not a problem, because he will honor you, respect you, protect and provide for you.

In my marriage my husbands philosphy is to do whatever makes me happy (lol).Which of course works for me. I am the more mature and independent of the two of us so I had most of the things at home but I do check with him and we tend to work together. He tends to agree with the way I chose to do things. I think at the end of the day all would agree that a relationship is a partnership where both work together and sometimes one yields to the other's choice, to keep peace and to build confidence.

nubianqueenbeez said...

sorry for the late post. I have been looking at past discussions and I can't let this one go...

I feel the biblical concept of submission has many times been taken WAY out of context. To me it seems like the average pastor or deacon has no problem standing in the pulpit talking about wives submitting themselves to their husbands. Why is it that they never continue down to that next verse that refers to the husband submitting himself to Christ? The word 'submission' is so frequently abused and used to make some women second class citizens in their home and in the church. God made woman to be the 'help meet' for man. That means our specialty is helping you, not being your doormat. Husbands are human and they have their faults. They are not going to be the best at everything. Marriage should be a give and take, a husband and wife should complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. For every man that wants to be the 'head of the household', and rule everything, please remember that means it's your responsibility when things are good AND when things are bad. Don't throw the situation back to your wife when you don't feel like handling it.

Ok, I'm done. As a former minister's wife I just have some problems with that word...

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