Understanding a strong-willed wife

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One of the best things our 25-year-old democracy woke us up to as a country is the principle that men and women are naturally equal.

And that everyone is endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In a country that has women as the face of poverty, domestic abuse, rape and femicide, appreciating the equality of men and women as a matter of fundamental principle is paramount.

That the principle transcends social and marital status is even more important because women are more likely to lose themselves in marriage than men are.

After all, she takes his surname; her marital role is often dominated by domestic chores and child-rearing; and for the most part, she’s the one expected to play a supportive role to his career.

All of this typically happens in the name of love and commitment.

More often than not, this also happens at the expense of her own dreams.

Many women shrink their personalities to allow their husbands to become the dominant voice, but thank God for progress in this regard.

The 21st century wife, especially the late baby boomers, generation x and certainly the millennial wife, is generally self-assured and isn’t afraid to express her full personality in marriage.

Often, she is affirmative and assertive.

Women are more clear about what type of marriage they want and don’t shy away from demanding better treatment from their husbands.

However, many women struggle to appropriate their strong-willed characters in their marriages.

Most strong-willed women tend to handle marriage the way they do almost everything else, they have the capacity to bring out both great passion and great friction.

They’re rarely indifferent, and they don’t usually suffer silently.

There are exceptions, but in general their husbands receive clear opinions and reactions from them most of the time, whether the husbands like it or not.

In the New York Times Bestseller, The Surrendered Wife, the strong-willed Laura Doyle wanted her marriage to be better.

But when she passionately tried to get her husband to be more romantic, helpful, and ambitious, he withdrew, and consequently she was lonely and exhausted from seeking to control everything.

Desperate to rekindle their love,  she decided to relinquish her desire for control, without losing herself.

And when she surrendered control, the union and intimacy she had always craved was revitalised afresh over time.

A strong-willed wife can be seen as stubborn, dominant, aggressive, unreasonable or headstrong.

Trying to conform the behaviour of your strong-willed spouse can easily lead to power struggles, conflict, criticism, hurt and misunderstanding of character.

A strong-willed wife is a person of integrity, and isn’t easily swayed from her own viewpoints. She is spirited and courageous.

She wants to learn things for herself rather than accepting what others say, so she tests the limits over and over.

She desperately wants to be in charge, and will sometimes put her desire to be right above everything else.

When her heart is set on something, her brain seems to have a hard time switching gears.

She has big, passionate feelings and lives optimally. Sounds familiar?

So how to live with a strong-willed wife?

Avoid power struggles by using routines and rules.

You don’t have to prove you’re right and can sidestep power struggles and avoid creating a “may the best man win” environment by agreeing on a set of household rules and learning how to compromise.

Developing family rituals and unwritten rules provides a unified standard for everyone to adhere to.

And if a rule is violated, you can point your finger to something other than your spouse.

Don’t push her into opposing you as force always creates “pushback” with humans of all ages.

If you take a hard and fast position, you can easily push your spouse into defying you, just to prove a point.

Just stop, take a breath, and remind yourself that winning a battle with her always sets you up to lose what’s most important: the relationship.

Pick your battles wisely. Not everything needs to be a throw down match.

Nor does every disagreement need to be won.

Timing is everything — approaching a strong-willed spouse in a gentle, non-threatening way will yield more successful results than with an accusatory or combative tone.

See it from their point of view: Most strong-willed spouses are fighting for respect.

She has a viewpoint that is making her hold fast to her position, and she is trying to protect something that seems important to her.

Only by listening calmly to her and reflecting her words will you come to understand what’s making her oppose you.

And, like the rest of us, it helps a lot if she feels understood.

Keep your sense of humour: One of the best ways to manage a strong-willed personality is to remember that she isn’t doing anything to annoy you on purpose.

It might seem like that sometimes, but the two of you see the world from very different perspectives, and you’re typically doing things the way that makes sense to you.

We can’t always remember this in the heat of the moment, but with practice, we can reduce the number of times we jump straight into an argument before we stop to consider that she may just be doing what comes naturally.

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