1788. Sex Difference Redux— Part 42: Dignity Wins III

As we approach the middle of this series, I caution you. I’m trying to think like a woman from a man-think perspective. So, don’t take everything literally. Morph the concepts and principles to woman-think and use them to generate and sustain as much dignity as possible. More dignity strengthens your strong-mindedness, uplifts your soft-heartedness, and otherwise makes you feel better about yourself as your iron-willed resolve brightens your future. Remember too, the things that won your husband in the first place should still be attractive to him after he cheats. So, a more dignified manner of restoring feminine mystery, female modesty, monogamous values, and highly attractive daily appearance should work well for you. Imagine this: You appeal so differently to husband that whatever about you enchanted him before marriage returns to enchant him now. That’s the victory to restore his dedication to your marriage, and dignity paves the path best.

I continue with the story of my playing the wife with three kids who has been insulted by an unfaithful husband. I’m not a child psychologist. I’m just a man thinking how I would handle it with my kids, if I were a cheated-on wife and mother distraught over the family’s future prospects. It’s not advice but more of WhatWomenNeverHear.

Even before I get control of my emotions, I may have to deal with my children. I need to prepare, nurture, guide, and coach them with all my motherly dignity in order to alleviate their anxieties. Primarily I aim to teach them that husband-wife problems are not the concern of children. They help mom the most when they don’t judge either parent as other than their love objects.

Insofar as possible, the children must NOT know of husband’s cheating or my being victimized. Until divorce is actually contemplated, it doesn’t concern them. Except when forced by other pressures, I divulge
nothing to my children about husband-wife issues.

  • Mom and dad have interpersonal problems, and children can’t help except by not interfering. It’s marital business to resolve husband and wife issues. If necessary for older children, I may describe the family rank structure that separates the role of husband from father and wife from mother. I cite principles but not our domestic issue.
  • Kids have enough opportunities to sour on life, why give evidence to make it worse? Why teach them to lose respect for one parent for cheating or the other for one-sided complaining, blaming, or victimization? It’ll happen if divorce comes, but why do it prematurely?
  • Kids take sides and their partial view and short-sightedness cause them to kill the messenger. Disparaging one’s spouse inevitably comes back to bite. Taking sides disturbs family solidarity and future harmony regardless of how the family continues in the future.
  • If husband discloses his cheating to kids, then he effectively says it’s okay. Just a minor mistake and his confession or begging their forgiveness supposedly clears the air. It’s garbage, however. His daughters learn to be suspicious, and his sons learn that cheating is manly and how to recover if caught cheating later in life.
  • Kids learn right things about character, when they see adults pass through extremely tough times and keep their emotions to themselves.
  • I keep my guilt to myself. Expressing it solicits sympathy and keeps me from thinking that I could be responsible for husband’s behavior. It makes me feel better but weakens my resolve to view my marriage objectively.

If the children find out anyway, I take a different path. As I mentioned before, the optimum relationship comes when they cooperatively avoid interest in my affairs. Of course that may be too much to expect, but it’s worth trying.

  • I minimize discussion and offer no excuses. It’s none of their concern, because they neither caused it nor can they fix it. It’s between wife and husband and not mother and father. Toughest case will probably arise if daughter sees me crying. I need to find some ‘magic words’ before it happens.
  • If old enough to grasp the principles involved, I explain a family’s rank structure, i.e., husband, wife, mother, father, and children.
  • If kids take it up with their father, I do the best I can to minimize the effect on my game plan without demeaning him or them.
  • It’s an intimate matter, but I can handle it. I resent interference by anyone in my intimate personal life. Further, I have no idea how the future will play out. We all must be patient, and allow the best course of events to develop behind closed doors.
  • I ask that children keep it to themselves. Don’t let it leak to brothers, sisters, cousins, or others outside the home. Their support on this issue demonstrates their maturity and personal growth toward adulthood.
  • Our adult problems have no bearing on our love for them. Nor did they have anything to do with causing it. Considerable patience, explaining, and perseverance are required to get kids to put their curiosity on hold. For mom who appeals for their help, however, they likely can.
  • Moreover, as an adult issue, it has nothing to do with them. If they think it interferes with my performance as mother, then tell me. I’ll apologize if I’m in the wrong. I ask for their forbearance, and I promise to do better and protect their interests.
  • This isn’t the time or the way to dial children’s interest into the adult world. They should learn to compartmentalize and handle the tougher sides of life by seeing me do exactly that.
  • Teenagers will be especially tough to handle, but the principles remain the same. Except do more coaching than trying to nurture them through tough times.

Of course, it all sounds solemn and tough. But it far and away beats dealing kids into my recovery game. I need maturity, freedom to think for myself, and separation from emotional wannabe helpers.

That’s enough about children. The ‘battle’ is for adults. Tomorrow’s article pits me against him.


Filed under sex differences

11 responses to “1788. Sex Difference Redux— Part 42: Dignity Wins III

  1. Anne

    What would you say if children see *husband’s* anger?

    Your Highness Anne,

    It’s worse than bad. Get him out of their sight ASAP. Do whatever it takes to take all husband-wife and mother-father disputes out of sight and earshot of kids. By their nature they duplicate parents. Act immature, as adolescents, or as argumentative spouses battling in front of your kids and you will be able to observe them acting later as adults with immature and mental adolescent mindset.

    Moreover, it breaks down the authority that parents need as leaders, which reduces them to having to explain their leadership with “Because I said so, that’s why.” Both parental anger and spousal disputes in front of the kids breeds dramatically and drastically contagious behavior.

    However, Anne, you need to find a less offensive and obtrusive method of conveying those thoughts into your household.


    • Anne

      This is a bit of a tangent from the topic at hand, but there are many people who suggest children *need* to see spouses “handling their emotions” (which presupposes displaying them) – ie, if children don’t SEE their parents argue and then make up, they won’t know how to handle their emotions (negative or otherwise) when they have marriages of their own. The same is said of displaying sadness (including tears) around children, exuberant happiness, etc. The idea is that all this helps them to see the parent display / process / resolve their feelings.

      Now, thanks to WWNH (and in part to my temperament & his), I don’t argue with my husband EVER – in front of the kids or not. I have so much better luck with indirectness and (when time presses) gentle-toned serious conversation. But I have often wondered if my kids need to see other emotional displays? Do you have some of what women never hear on this topic?? :)

      Your Highness Anne,
      I regret it but I’m having health problems that prevent responding now. Also, you invite a rather large comment, I expect to disagree with the people you listen to, and it won’t come easy or in one day. So, standby for a few days.

      • soloduckgrowingup

        In relation to the comment above, I don’t think that handling one’s emotions necessarily presupposes displaying them (and\or displaying them in front of others). To my mind, someone is handling their eomtions when they are aware of them but are able to own them and thus retain self respect and respect of others. Most *arguements* are a resultof the opposite ocurring.

      • Anne

        I look forward to it! Please get well in the meantime! :)

      • A.GuyMaligned

        Your Highness Anne,
        I too have heard many arguments about not sheltering children from displays of parents’ emotions, such as temper outbursts. People defending such claims always make it sound good and, therefore, plausible and desirable. But is it? I find it to be more self-serving than beneficial to children. I like to measure with results rather than intentions and promises, and so I disagree. I draw different conclusions by looking at the trends—aka results—in both society and our culture.
        You ask, “I have often wondered if my kids need to see other emotional displays?” I offer these points as relevant:
        • Whatever you display, say, or intend means it automatically programs them as okay to duplicate at least in adulthood and it may be okay for childhood. It’s a long-lasting lesson they learn without parents even trying. The greater and more repetitious the parents’ emotional involvement of an act or event—whether outburst or silent grief—the more indelible it registers in a child’s mind.
        • Children duplicate parents. The less in quantity and quality are parental displays of emotion, the more eagerly children teach themselves to develop and rely on their thinking skills; thus, more effective parental teaching takes place. It happens quite naturally and is very difficult to reverse.
        • The more and better that parents exemplify the use of reason and logic, the better that children will pick up and practice those skills in their formative years and use them as adults.
        As to results in society, I’ve watched trends in the following factors move inexorably from good to poor to bad to unwanted over the past sixty years of my awareness and study. The ever-increasing predominance of emotional decision-making in families has led us to problems that we abhor in society, such as violence, immorality, corruption, theft, indebtedness, child abandonment, sanctity of human life, anti-religious politics, dissipation in college life, ethical standards, unmarried sex, tyranny by the majority, loss of individualism, rule of man replaces rule of law, constitutional rights taken away, rejecting civic duty by not voting, men avoiding husbandly responsibility, wives weakening motherly responsibility, unwarranted escalation of school grades, disrespect of others, and on and on.
        Humans are emotional creatures. By not continually growing by putting restraints on their emotions to make room for more reason and logic, adults program themselves to remain emotionally motivated. By failing to suppress and hide emotions, parents indirectly program kids to follow their example into adulthood. As each generation faces adulthood pressure for more reason and logic, children soon learn they lack mental skills, habits, and motivation to avoid emotional decision-making. They don’t recognize it consciously, and so they fall victim to their own shortcomings caused by duplicating the emotional conduct and decisions of their parents.

        • anonymous

          For anyone contemplating if it would be beneficial to fight in front of their children here’s a little anecdotal example for Guy’s explanation: my friend and I are just entering adulthood (both in college). We have very similar backgrounds. We both come from the typical white American middle-class family (actually if anything she might even be upper-class as her parents are both doctors). The one big difference I can pinpoint is how our parents behave in front of us. I’ve never seen or heard my parents fight or have emotional outbursts. Not once. She grew up with her parents fighting and uncontrollably expressing their emotions in front of her, and they still do. My poor friend is only 21 years old and already takes medication for depression and has to go to therapy on a weekly basis. A couple months ago she was so depressed she didn’t even leave her house for months. She told me she believes this is just the way it’s going to be and there’s nothing she can do about it. The smallest most trivial things upset her and she can’t get over it. Me on the other hand, If I’m upset about something I either fix it or tell myself to get over it if it’s unfixable because there are always worse things in life. People tell me I am one of the most even-tempered people they know. I just got back from accompanying my friend to get Plan B because she drunkenly had unprotected sex with a random person this weekend. I consciously and logically chose a boyfriend who is not the most physically attractive but has more character than any other guy I know. We’ve been dating for 2.5 years and he treats me more like queen every day. My friend has slept with 5 different random people in the last 2 years. My thoughts control my emotions and actions. Her emotions control her thoughts and actions…..Which do you want for your children?

        • Anne

          The argument (from society) seems to be that, if you haphazardly display your feelings/emotions your child will grow up knowing that its okay to acknowledge how they feel & therefore they’ll be better- equipped to handle their own emotions as adults. After reading your response, I was put in mind of the self-esteem fad of my childhood: tell your child they’re fabulous just because they exist (and completely disconnected from any decent behavior) and they will grow up feeling good about themselves and being a responsible adult. Not so, as we have all seen! This bred laziness and lack of responsibility! Your words show me that yet another fad breeds undesired negative outcomes!! I appreciate your words and sound logic. I appreciate your decades-long perspective, too!

          Reflecting on your response, I was put in mind of other qualities (which seem to sort-of be emotions, but sort-of not) that it seems it WOULD be good to display regularly to children: compassion toward the needy, joy in the presence of both young and old, delight in the things of God, sadness when witnessing sin…

          Closing with my favorite line from your reply: “Whatever you display, say, or intend means it automatically programs them as okay to duplicate at least in adulthood and it may be okay for childhood.” What a great lodestone for decision-making about all manner of experiences a parent might consider sharing with a child!

          Your Highness Anne,
          You’re uncommonly wise to recognize the harm done by the self-esteem fad. You’re right on also in what you say in the second paragraph.

          • Anne

            Thank you. I have been intrigued by so-called “self-esteem building” and other ways parents are told to help their children understand that they are good/loved (“attachment parenting” is a newer fad I have some doubts about, too, although elements of it are catchy).

            It is a sad thing when a child grows up in a loving family and concludes no one cared for them – I saw this in my brother. But, as a parent, I am becoming more and more inclined to think we can’t just *tell* our children all the good stuff we want them to know-in-their-bones, such as the fact that we love them. They have to draw their own conclusions based on their own experiences. And, sadly, they don’t have and can’t process “all the information” since they are children, so they will misunderstand, misrepresent, and misremember so many things. For this reason, I have become a huge believer in photo albums with pictures of hugs, snuggles, and fun events. Just in case anyone ever wonders – in a dark moment later in life – if they ever had them! :)

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  3. Cocoa

    Dear sir Guy,

    I wish I read this back in 2009. Anyhow, I am over it now. My aim was to protect the future of my children and it worked. It drained me emotionally but I recovered.

    Two questions:

    1. If kids were exposed to some of what happened (I couldn’t hide it all) do you think boys, teenagers, take it differently than girls?

    2. As mention in the previous article. He was not welcomed in my bed for a very long time, and since then it has been very occasional, as I have been advised that i should welcome him once in a while, so the agony is not
    repeated! What’s your views on this? I dont feel like having him back in my bed AT ALL.

    Thanks in advance.

    Your Highness Cocoa,

    1. Yes, boys take it more in stride as less meaningful for their lives. Girls, OTH, view it from the slant of their greatest fear, abandonment. Both from their dad now and by forming higher expectations of it happening to their marriage.

    2. My view on having him in your bed is this: He won’t change in your favor—if ever— unless and until he respects you for standing up more distinctly and respectably for yourself. Keeping him out of your bed says it more dramatically than anything else you can do. I strongly endorse your feelings about “AT ALL.”


    • Cocoa

      Thanks Sir Guy, I feel much better now. No one around me appreciated my position, even my own mother! I have spoken very little though but stood strong. Boys are doing more than fine a deliberately keeping their selves distant. I am amazed at the wisdom at such young age.

      As I mentioned before, I don’t expect to get everything in life.

      Thanks again :)

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