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?