Last weekend my husband and I watched Breakdown with Kurt Russell as our Friday night home movie night movie. I love Kurt Russell and I hadn’t seen it yet so we figured it would be a good pick. It wasn’t 15 minutes in to the movie when I said, “See? That’s going to be the problem right there. There’s no way in hell you would have ever let me do that!”
That’s when I stopped.
Did I really just say that my husband wouldn’t let me do something?
Yes, yes indeed I did.
In the movie the moment came after their SUV broke down and she accepted a ride from a truck driver. He was going to take her to a local cafe to use the phone (old movie, no iPhones) and wait for her husband. I laughed. My husband would have refused and we would have waited for the tow truck together. I can’t imagine a world in which my husband would be ok with me accepting a ride from a complete stranger while he waited for a tow truck alone. I can’t imagine a world in which I willfully argued with my husband and put myself in danger like that.
It was then no surprise to me when the wife found herself kidnapped and held for ransom. It ended fine. He got her back. They beat the bad guys. Happy ending. Hooray.
But still…I was kind of fixated on my immediate reaction to that scene. My very first thought was, “No way! Brandon would never let me do that!” I mean, he once was upset at the thought of me taking an Uber by myself because so much had been in the news about Uber drivers shooting people or raping women passengers.
There’s a line, a very fine line, that separates spousal control from spousal permission. There is also a very fine line that separates personal independence from disconnected spouse.
I don’t always ask my husband’s permission and I don’t always seek his approval but I do consult with him regarding anything that involves personal safety or decisions that affect the both of us.
I do not request my husband’s permission for…
- The clothes I wear
- The food I eat
- The books I read
- The movies I watch
- The friends I keep
- The makeup I wear
- How I style my hair
- How I spend any money made from my blog
I do request my husband’s permission for…
- Major purchases (the dollar amount that designates something as “major” depends upon your joint finances and decisions)
- Time spent alone with a non-related person of the opposite sex (uber rides, lunches, etc)
- Inviting guests to spend a night / weekend / week / holiday with us at our place
- Inviting company over for an evening get-together or party
- Committing our time to an event, party, charity event, etc.
- Adopting another pet
- Trashing anything of his (even that jersey that’s 15 years old, stained, ripped, and never worn)
It basically all boils down to this – if it affects the both of us then I seek his permission and respect his decision. Now, before you get all upset over wifely submission and male dominance recognize that he does the same with me. He never spends time alone with another woman (see what that can lead to), invite people over, or spends a large sum of money without checking with me first.
It’s called spousal respect. It’s also called being partners which it seems like a lot of marriages lack these days.
When should you seek your husband’s permission?
I always ask myself three questions and if the answer to any of the three questions is “yes” then I ask him if he’s ok with it.
Will it affect us financially?
As I mentioned previously, this depends on the dollar amount the two of you agree upon first. For some, it may be about asking first if you’re going to spend more than $50. For others, it’s $200. For still others, it’s $500. It all depends on you and your finances so, you know, talk about it.
Could there be a perception of infidelity?
It doesn’t always matter if you’re doing anything wrong or not, sometimes it truly is all about perception. If I go to lunch one-on-one with a male co-worker and a friend or neighbor sees us…could it give off a perception of something inappropriate? Is seeing a movie alone with another man an image I want to present publicly? Would I feel comfortable if these private messages were public? If the perception could be bad then I fill my husband in and make sure he’s comfortable with what’s taking place.
Would I want to be consulted if the roles were reversed?
I know I’ve said, “No, I don’t mind necessarily but I would have liked to have known first, that’s all” at least a couple of times throughout our marriage. It’s not really that he did anything wrong, or that I’m angry, or that any harm was done but it’s just that I felt out of the loop and would have liked to have been informed. For example, one time a former female co-worker of his came in to town and wanted to meet up for lunch to catch up before she left to go home. He text me and said, “Hey! _______ is in town and wants to grab lunch before she heads home. You mind?” No harm. No foul. I’m in the loop.
It’s all about recognizing that when you said, “I do” you went from “I” to “We”. It’s not about just you anymore. Suddenly, everything you do, every decision you make, affects the both of you. It’s your life together and you’ll have a happier and healthier marriage once you start to treat it as such.
But remember, it’s not about control! No one should ever have to ask permission about what to eat, what to drink, how to wear their hair, what clothes to wear, what movies/television to watch, what music to listen to, etc. If you have to seek permission from your spouse before making minor decisions you may be an abusive relationship. If that is the case I recommend consulting The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Where do you stand on spousal permission in a marriage? Do you ever consult with your husband or wife about decisions or request permission?