“Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him.”
The author of this quote, David O. McKay, wrote numerous books and teachings including ― Pathways to Happiness. Interesting point of fact, McKay was the ninth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), serving from 1951 until his death in 1970.
Anyway . . . I’m sure you’ve seen this quote passed around on Facebook and it all sounds great. Love her, honor her, and protect her don’t be a bully or a jerk. Makes sense, right? But let’s a look a little closer. It’s never quite as easy as those tidy FB quotes like to make it. The line that stuck out to me yesterday was . . .
“NOR FROM HIS FEET TO BE TRAMPLED BY HIM”
This is where 1000’s of years of men went wrong. Instead of honoring their woman as a partner, she became a tool/ a step stool / a scapegoat for the man. Though America has come a long way from the Middle Ages, even today, women are often trampled by the men in their life in the emotional sense. I would equate the word ‘trampled’ in this quote with the term Emotional Abuse.
What is Emotional Abuse?
Experts opinions vary, but according to the University of Illinois counseling center, ″Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature.” (Such a vague definition, I know!) Bottom line, emotional abuse diminishes the other person either in emotional well-being or self-worth. Emotional Abuse is used to control another, often to the point were the abused can no longer recognize how to feel towards anything for themselves. They are reliant on the abuser for their cues to be happy, sad, satisfied, guilty, etc . . . There is obvious a wide range of this type of abuse. In extreme cases, exhaustive questioning of “where have you been” and “who have you been with” is a form of emotional abuse. What I would like to focus on is the often hidden, milder forms of trampling a woman experiences in a relationship.
We women are experts at reading our partners’ emotions. We read the facial and physical cues of an upcoming explosion. We see the frustrations building. We anticipate conflict and we seek to defuse the situation before it implodes / explodes. A good woman does not inciting her husband to anger, but that also does not mean a good woman has to accept everything our husband’s says in moment of anger as fact. We women tend take what our men have to say to heart whether they speak from love or anger.
I know that I am not perfect and there are times I am called to listen to the (hopefully) loving criticism of my spouse. In a good marriage, your spouse will fill the role of a spirit mirror. These spirit mirrors of ours (our partners) see deep and often reflect the worst in us. The saying ‘opposite attract’ is accurate. We are often most attract to (and then marry) someone who is so stinkin’ great at what we struggle with. And then we spend the rest of our life together learning to appreciate our partners’ strengths and trying not to get down when starts picking at us. I know I have learned a lot from my husband even when the criticisms weren’t coming from a loving place. I still took the time to listen to what he had to say and listen for the truth. In the moment, we can get very worked up and not hear it, but there is a usually a thread of truth in these criticisms. That’s what makes them so sharp and damaging, like an arrow aimed at our heart. It’s easy for our partner to point out what we’re NOT good at, what we struggle with because it’s what they excel at it and enjoy doing. An immature person cannot conceive of why something that is SO easy for them is a struggle for their partner. ‘Can’t everyone/ you just . . .?’ You fill in the blank. Deflection is a standard technique in conflict. By pointing out our mistakes or flaws, they deflect the attention away from themselves and what THEY need to be working on.
Because it’s easy. It is easy to judge and point out the flaws in others. It’s not easy to be judged. It’s not easy to accept criticism and know you have failed at <blank>. It’s not easy to examine your soul and come up lacking. It’s not easy to admit you’re not perfect and you’ve done everything you can think of to fix yourself. It’s not easy to humble yourself and admit you need help.
This is being trampled on. This is being walked on by your spouse. When I have to question everything I am and he gets to continue with business as usual because it wasn’t his fault. He’s not wrong. This is emotional abuse. It is emotional abuse when your partner consistently causes you to question your self-worth. Build up don’t tear down. The log in your own eye, remember? Don’t be pointing out the speck in my eye (because, yes there is one) and forget about the log you’ve got going on over there.
Women are not whipping boys for the frustrations of life. We are not scapegoats when things go wrong. We are not the problem (usually). What I have to remember when he strikes out at me with a harsh word or ten, the anger I feel from him is rarely really just about me and what I’m doing (or not doing). I am merely the closest, most forgiving, and easiest target for my husband’s frustrations.
Think of a fire. What I do or say may ignite the fire, but I’m not the wood, the kindling, the paper or the fireplace. Even in the most extreme case, do you blame the matches for the fire? No, you blame the one who strikes the match and lights that fire. That would be YOU not me. You are most of the problem. I am only one small part that gets the blame for the rest of life’s frustrations (i.e. the forest fire out of control).
Stop trampling on us!