Generations of women have taken on masculine energy in order to meet the criteria of a glorified modern-day woman. Not buying what they’re selling, one day I found myself asking just exactly what it meant to be feminine, to be a woman. Here are 10 tips I found in my quest to understand true femininity and to help my marriage get back on the right track.
DISCLAIMER: These tips are not for women in abusive relationships, relationships with addicts, or serially unfaithful husbands. Seek help immediately at thehotline.org.
You know you don't believe the 50/50, shared responsibility lie that’s mainstream these days. Traditional roles sound good in theory, but you have no idea what’s going wrong with your approach. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found yourself in that confusing rut. Maybe it happened right after the marriage certificate was signed, or maybe it was a slow decline into a cold war. Either way, your marital bliss is nowhere in sight and you wonder what happened to the sweet guy you committed your life to.
It’s a common complaint among women. Most of us are well aware that money and kids can easily break a marriage. But we aren’t aware of the dangers of the masculine energy we’ve taken on and how it’s affecting our relationships. This isn’t a call to revert back to the 1950s housewife or other fantasies of historical lives women lived. Women needed the vote. What’s more, women rightly fought against the problem many faced in the mid-century: we are so much more than house ornaments and are called to a life with more purpose than being sentenced to the vacuum.
As Rebekah Merkle in Eve in Exile explains, the ‘50s woman was required “to stay home and keep her hair nice and play bridge and put the TV dinner in the oven at the right time and remember to be charming.” Many women still speak highly of that decade and truly enjoyed staying home and playing the role of the quintessential housewife. However, the women who were stuck in abusive marriages or had husbands who frequently cheated on them with no way to survive without a man needed liberation, though the chosen solution is up for question.
A purpose-filled life for a woman will be all about embracing her femininity. Sure, that hustle you’ve got in you is no mistake; women are hard workers and are incredibly capable to excel in just about everything. That energy will serve you well in many areas, except for marriage. As I realized how my masculine energy was affecting my own marriage, I set out on a quest to find out exactly what it means to be feminine, and I compiled some excellent tips for you.
1. Don’t Lose Touch with the Bride
In the courting phase of a relationship, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of healthy masculinity and femininity. Once you join forces under the same roof and officially begin your life together, the glow of the wedding can quickly fade when negotiating chores and grocery bills. Not to mention when kids enter the picture, all of that romance you beautifully curated for your wedding day can seem like a waste, but it’s not! I urge you, don’t forget the bride. She can be a quick reset to get in touch with your femininity.
To channel the bride is to present yourself as if you’re still trying to get the ring by carrying yourself with pride. Get ready for the day. Keep an air of mystery about you; he doesn’t need to hear every single one of your ugly cry sessions, and it’s probably best to shut the door to the bathroom. Occasionally spice things up with a lingerie surprise. Don’t forget what it was like to be courted. Allow that natural leadership to flourish in your man.
2. Take Care of Yourself First
It’s easy to come up with excuses to avoid engaging in caring for yourself. It certainly has become a bit of a joke, with all of the bathtubs and face masks blanketing Instagram feeds. Self-care is important, though, and even more so after you have kids. Practicing these tips requires your cup to be full first.
They say that fixing your marriage begins with you. That phrase is very true. You can’t force anyone to do anything, including your husband, so prioritize you. Make changes in your life, and chances are you’ll see changes in your marriage. Take care of you and you’ll become magnetic, a true cornerstone of femininity.
3. Give Your Man Space To Step Up
Perfectionists, I’m speaking for us. This tip is about our need for control. In my own marriage, I thought I could do everything better than he could. And so I did. I simply said “I’ll do it,” over and over until there was no room left for him in the house but to hide, retreat. And retreat they will or fight till the bitter end. When he did try to help out, I quickly undid his work in order to “teach” him how to do it better. What an expert I was!
It’s built into men to be the hero, to go to battle in order to give his woman everything she wants.
I didn’t leave him any space to step into a masculine role, and quickly I became the (scary) man and the (unpleasant) woman in our marriage, exhausted and frustrated. Where was he to fit in? Femininity is about needing your man, being vulnerable with him, so allow him the space to help you. It’s built into men to be the hero, to go to battle in order to give his woman everything she wants. Allow him to be that for you by backing off.
4. Learn the Art of Graceful Reception
In a similar vein, once your husband does offer help, or a gift, or the idea of where to eat out for dinner tonight, practice saying “Yes, thank you!” Laura Doyle in The Surrendered Wife says to “recognize that receiving graciously is the ultimate act of giving up control.” It’s true, it’s very controlling to reject this help, these gifts he offers you. Worse yet, it’s a quick path to losing any help at all. After all, who wants to live with a brick wall? Femininity is about being gracious, warm, and kind. Receiving his gifts, including his bids for sex, will make for a happier man and a happier you.
Graciousness is also about realizing all of the things he is doing for you. A good practice is to write a gratitude list every day. Chances are you’ve been missing many of the things he does do for you. There may be a sense of entitlement or taking his help for granted. Noticing and intentionally taking in his help will also make you a happier bride.
5. Stay Friends and Leave Him Be
Before I got married, I talked to anyone I knew who walked the walk in order to get a solid understanding of the secrets to a successful marriage. Some of my favorite conversations were with my grandma and another older woman, both with marriages over 60 years long under their belts. To my surprise, both women mentioned a similar tip, which was to stay friends and leave your man alone.
Do you treat your man as you treat a friend? Or have you found a new category in which to put your husband that allows endless berating, nagging, criticism, and bossing? Sure, a marriage is a particular relationship. However, don’t forget that, above all, healthy masculinity demands respect. It’s the number one thing our men need. I didn’t realize just how disrespectful I’d become in my marriage. I thought doing all the chores till my hands bled would be understood to be respect. Here’s a secret: It’s not respectful to control and boss him around, nor is respect found amid resentment. Being friends means to listen, offer help, be kind, cheer him on, and celebrate his successes.
Leaving him alone means to stop trying to change who he is, including how he dresses, how he speaks, how he interacts with coworkers, who he makes friends with, and so on. Don’t control him. Don’t suffocate him. Just let him breathe. Give him space to be, and if he is a healthy man, chances are he’s one of the good ones, and he will notice the space and make changes on his own.
6. Take off the Pants and Make Him Number One
It’s within reason to wonder if all of the success you found in the office would be found in the home with the same principles applied. It’s not the case. Take off the pants. Let your man be masculine, while you put on your feminine wife hat.
That can look like taking some time to change roles when you get home from work, or if you’re staying home with little kids, shifting your bossy mom energy to receive your husband peacefully when he returns home. Make it a ritual by freshening up in the mirror, quickly tidying messes, and doing something for yourself before you greet him. Don’t let the hello and goodbye kisses drop off the priority list. That simple act will keep him feeling loved and noticed.
A happy and healthy marriage is the number one thing you can give to your kids.
One of the most quintessential things I’ve learned as a wife is to keep the priority order of husband first, kids second. A happy and healthy marriage is the number one thing you can give to your kids. There is plenty of research that supports the fact that nuclear families make stable adults. Taking care of your needs, then your husband’s needs before the kids will bring a balance to your home not found when they become the only priority.
7. Become the Peacebringer
The home is to be a refuge from the stresses of the world. It’s the feminine energy that has this built in. Femininity seeks to beautify, tidy, and flourish. We can fight against that fact all we want, but men just don’t have the same brains as us. Mess may not register the same to them, but they do appreciate a peaceful home when they have it. In the home, femininity brings beauty, peace, and calm as much as possible.
Think about it this way: what would you do if you returned home after a long day to be met by another boss, your husband? You step through the door and immediately he begins a tirade telling you to clean this or that, how to do it, when to do it, while the kids are screaming and mess is everywhere. You might want to back out the door.
Living with a tyrant is not fun. Coming together to solve problems in your home is the sweet spot. And once you back off the gas pedal, give him space to do some things, practice gratitude and bring the peace, you’ll get the help you need. As the saying goes, “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.”
8. Really Listen
It’s an easy habit to fall into: we listen to respond. Not just with our husbands, but in many of our other relationships. Work hard to lose that tendency to half-listen to your spouse, and some magical things will happen. You may find that he tells you how much he loves you quite often. And once you begin to really listen to him, pausing after he finishes to make sure you’ve given him a chance to finish, he may begin opening up to you again, sharing his heart and struggles with you.
Femininity is about listening. It’s about being a safe space to be trusted. In Knowing Woman by Irene Claremont de Castillejo, she beautifully positions that women are “to be a mediator to man…a channel whereby the riches of the unconscious can flow to him more easily than if she were not there.” So listen intently to what he is working on, his brilliant ideas, and help bring those pearls to the surface.
Notice his strengths and highlight them at exactly the right time. This is not to say your own success and endeavors are less important, it’s simply to say that femininity is about helping men to fine-tune theirs. It’s also not about controlling him or manipulating him, telling him exactly what to say to his boss, when. It’s about the soft listening and noticing those pearls he already has out there and just needs help sorting. It still needs to be his idea, not yours.
9. Know Your Body
It can seem a little woo-woo, but true femininity is about playfulness and it’s about being in tune with nature. Little girls love to pick flowers and lay in the grass and twirl and imagine a home in the forest. Finding a way to get in tune with your body and move it will inspire a sense of playful feminine energy that's irresistible to a man.
Getting in tune with your body will inspire a sense of playful feminine energy that's irresistible to a man.
Make life fun and not heavy. Move your body every day. Know what your body craves and how it likes to be pleasured. This femininity is magnetic and is what beauty is all about, that cultivated confidence that comes from within. Not makeup, not pearls, not fluff. Know yourself and the body in which you reside and confidence will follow.
10. Build Community and Give
Women are social creatures. Femininity has been about community since the dawn of time. We love to talk, know what’s going on with our people, and we know the emotional world. Men don’t need this resource as much as we do. A sad side effect of the modern world is the loss of “The Village.” So many women on all sides of the political spectrum lament this fact. It’s because we deeply need it. This is the deep purpose of femininity that desperately needs revival. Community is how femininity affects culture and restores balance in society once again.
Find a way to build your own village so that you have a safe space to be feminine once again. This will require your time and energy. It requires being vulnerable and making something beautiful. It requires nurturing and listening. These are all the pieces of femininity in practice that will help you succeed in your efforts. With all other tips in place, this is the final place to land. Build your village and be assured that your femininity is on its way to full repair.
Closing Thoughts: It’s a Simple Equation
It’s a dangerous lie society has sold to women, that striving and crushing goals and being everything to everyone will bring us happiness. Busy, striving energy doesn’t belong under your roof or in your marriage. Get in touch with your femininity, and you will find peace restored.
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