Professor's House

An Equal Voice – Marriage is Supposed to be Equal

From inside her belly some where, she knew she was screaming. Crying, pleading desperate to hear the shrill sound of her own voice as she finally and all at once was heard. But no sound came out! Instead, a simple smile, an eye that rolled and a turned back was all she gave, what was taken was far greater!

There are millions of women in this world, strong women, who have somehow through the perils of marriage and children lost their equal voice. It begins almost accidentally, as it is easier to just do things your self, not argue, and move on than it is to dig in your heels. With so much to be done in a day’s time who has the time stand around and argue over whose turn it is to take out the trash or put the baby to sleep. Then, time zooms on and you like thousands of other women find that your voice is buried beneath your to-do list and desire to make the world a happy place for everyone but yourself. You don’t want the kids to hear you argue, you don’t want your husband to be in a horrid mood and you don’t want to jeopardize your family so snugly tucked into the life that you, and you alone, have made for them.

Then there is him. Your husband. Or your wife for that matter. Through a twisted sort of fate this person has got off easy. They are able to live a life uninterrupted by the ragged gasps of a spouse spouting orders or speaking their discontent. Sure, they know it is there but they also know that she (or he) won’t sacrifice their set of familial values to stand their ground. Their voice is equal only when it is agreeable and for much of the other times, it is as silent as three o’clock in the morning. At 3 am in households across the world, the only sound is that of teardrops hitting a pillow as someone just like you feels forever stuck, silent and double-crossed by marriage. Wouldn’t it just be easier to speak up and say what’s on your mind?

Every relationship is coveted by a silent set of rules. One person is the aggressor and the other passive. Every good story has to have three things in order to be relevant. A villain, a problem and a message from the savior. Good and bad face off and most of the time, at least in fiction, good succeeds. But in a marriage where one person feels they cant speak their mind there are only losers. It doesn’t matter how the voice became silent, only that it has. The problem is the dynamic of marriage has turned from friendship and respect to competition and rather than equals, two people become pitted against what they feel and what they want. While it can be worked out, it won’t happen over night and most of the time the person who lost their equal voice is too far gone to want to save the marriage by the time the other notices.

Often, this is the scenario between a stay at home parent and one who works. Working outside of the home or making the most money brings with it a silent ode to superiority. Staying home and tending to children, home and other needful things is not work and at any given moment, the brutality of this truth can be thwarted into the face of the silent who dares to speak. So they say nothing. And each time nothing is said in an attempt to avoid the tsunami like waves of emotion certain to result, the tremors underneath the surface become deeper. This person takes on more, does more until they are barely treading water and the superior one gloats. After all, he or she who is allowed or privileged or given the chance to stay home all day should be happy with their life and feel sorry or dutiful to the person out slaving away. This same person who can go to lunch with colleagues, who isn’t expected to cook or clean for anyone, who can call in sick when they want to and who adds to their 401K as steadily as time permits. Too many shows like Married with Children or Leave it to Beaver have mystified the housewife and made the whole thing look as though it is the most joyful thing on Earth. Yet ask her, and she will tell you a different story. Staying home, losing your equal voice and tending to the needs, wants, desires and whims of others can be degrading, especially when this person is not allowed to speak or is fearful to do so. You never saw June talking back to Ward and still today in 2010, there are many preconceived gender roles that naturally associate between man and wife.

Marriage is supposed to be equal’

Both partners are supposed to have a voice! For reasons much more complicated than possible for one article, unions across the world are failing because one partner does not feel they deserve or are entitled to their equal voice. The longer the voice is silenced, the longer it goes without a reckoning the more difficult it is to regain and the battle becomes an inward one that can threaten the health and wellbeing of the person who doesn’t speak. The sad part is that the responsibility is also dual and the failing of the marriage or of the partnership cannot be blamed on one person. While becoming the nagging stereotyped wife is not pleasant it is she who decides the fight for her dignity is not worth it. And while the other person may benefit from the silence, they are slowly but surely losing someone they love with no real warning or control. There is always something about them that likes things quiet.

Whether you find yourself to be the villain or the hero in your fictional life story doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you have enough respect for your self and for others to allow honesty, compassion and equality to exist to begin with. What matters is that when someone turns their back or roles an eye because their voice is buried, you invite it out rather than walk away feeling like a winner. What matters is that rather than hiding in complacency or the perceived notion of peace, you speak when you have something to say and remain true to your self at all times. If the marriage fails then at least it fails in truth rather than in silence.

There is an old saying that the things not being said are the things that need to be heard the most. When it comes to life, partnerships and relationships this couldn’t be truer. Whether it is fear, emotions, pride, anger, resentment, love or the sheer lack of energy to speak that keeps one silent doesn’t matter, only that the silence exists like a blanket that can and will smother the fire more quickly than any other thing. When you speak you should be heard. When you need to say something you should be able to say it. When you are married, the playing field IS level unless one person chooses to alter it. If it is altered, it can be fixed as long as both sides fight and play fair. Remaining silent is as unfair as throwing up muddy statements like ‘I am the only one who works around here!’ Choosing to ignore it, forge ahead, pray it will change or engage in any other insignificant module to making change is catastrophic to all the reasons the silence prevails. Just like with a tsunami, just because it isn’t seen, isn’t heard for a while doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. In fact, it is perhaps the most dangerous thing known to man.

‘But something this time felt different. So instead of holding onto the pain, the ideas the words held under her breath she gathered up her pride, her children and her life and decided at once to take it elsewhere. Somewhere it would be respected, trusted, appreciated and loved. Somewhere she could find her equal voice and be free for the first time in what felt like forever!’

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