I read a great article recently by Ashley Willis about why she asks her husband’s permission before doing certain things. I related to Ashley’s article because I remembered the days when I, too, had those questioning looks from girl friends and condemning comments about how “controlling” my husband must be if I have to ask his permission. My response is always, “I don’t have to ask him, but I choose to ask him.”
Basically, the article mentioned a “girls night out” and how Ashley would not accept that invitation until she had discussed it with her husband. I was nodding my head as I read that because of course you’d discuss this with your spouse, right? I guess this isn’t the case with many marriages based on the 92 comments underneath. I cringed at some who almost seemed like it was an affront to a spouse if they had to ask permission to go do something. It was almost as if some of those commenting were offended that they had to consider another person, their very own spouse, in their decision-making. Really? Ok, let’s unpack this a little . . .
I did not read Ashley’s article to state that she asked permission to do every little thing in her life. Her example was a “girls night out,” which means that this event would (a) cost money, (b) probably involve drinking and bars, and (c) take her out of the house for the evening, probably pretty late. All three of these things involve her husband because (a) the money in their household belongs to both of them, (b) all kinds of things can occur with drinking and her girlfriends (or even her personally) may not be the best to be with in that environment, and (c) especially if they have kids, both spouses need to consider the other when choosing when to be gone and when to be home. So, yea, the spouse needs to be involved in conversations prior to going “out” in many instances.
Maybe it was the use of the word “permission” that got so many hackles up. I’m not sure “permission” is the right word when I discuss plans with my husband, but I am seeking his comfort and approval of it nonetheless. Our phrase is typically, “Hey do we have anything going on Saturday?” That is usually a cue that one of us is thinking of doing something sans the other and we are making sure what we’d like to do isn’t impeding on the family’s schedule or would be upsetting at all to the other. Beyond that question comes good conversation and, most of the time, a reasonable and acceptable outcome that makes us both happy.
Steve and I were not always at this point in our relationship. I can remember many tears shed on my part when he would just decide to have drinks with co-workers after hours as I ate dinner alone with the kids. We had to get to this point together and realize that it’s not about permission – it’s about respect. I respect Steve and he respects me. This respect works both ways – (1) We respect each other enough to include them in the discussion before doing something without them and (2) We respect each other enough to back away from something that makes the other uncomfortable or upset.
So, now that this is unpacked a little, I hope it’s clear that a marriage is a partnership where there is mutual respect. This means that decisions are made together, even about things we want to do without our spouse. It’s not permission, it’s respect.