Culture, money and bar stools collide is this laughable attempt at becoming a "Surrendered Wife"
Many years ago, in 2001 to be exact, and certainly way before the trendy masculine vs. feminine energy debate had been aroused, Laura Doyle, author of, “The Surrendered Wife,” inspired by Dr John Gray’s Martian and Venusians cultural differences, had a few things to say about the topic. Hearing all about the book on French talk radio, about how women should leave their briefcase at the door, learn to say, “I can’t” and “whatever you think” as well as putting a lid on any of our own unsolicited opinions, my French husband thought this would be a tasty tid-bit of a read for me. So he ordered the book for me, or maybe for us. Although the title “Femmes Soumises, ou Comment Garder Son Mari en Lui Disant Toujours Oui” or How To Keep Your Husband By Always Saying Yes To Him, provoked a reaction somewhere between uncontrollable laughter and amazement that he would get this book, I decided I’d say yes and take a look. And gave him extra points and admiration for his interest in improving our couple which was hardly batting its wings at the time, or so I thought.
Nevertheless, the conversation went more like this: “Are you joking? Really? You think I’m going to say yes to your every whim? I’m pretty easy going and already say yes to a lot of things, especially in the bedroom, remember?”
Reading the book, cover to cover, highlighter in hand, searching for all the ideas that I would judge as certifiably crazy and as a blatant attempt to throw feminism out the window, I remained suitably skeptical. Then, I got to the part about saying "I can't" and I thought of a better idea. What if I try out what she’s saying and see what happens?
Managing our finances had become a struggle for me since he was self-employed and cash-flow seemed to be a problem that wasn't going away soon. Taking her suggestions to heart, wanting to please my husband and hoping he’d step up in a bigger way to the financial plate, I said to him with the proper combination of sincerity and empowered intention, “Cheri, I really can’t take care of the household finances any more for the next several months. Psychologically it’s just causing me too much stress. You know your business finances better than I do. Would you be able to take over now?”
He could hardly say no since he had purchased the book, although he probably never expected that he might have to participate more when I “surrendered.” And so for the next month or so I let go of looking at the accounts and continued to spend for the household as usual. Then one day, curiosity got the best of me, and I took a peek online.
To my surprise and anger I saw four bounced checks on the business account and my American financial emotions took over in a fit of Oscar award winning performance rage. Please note here, that I have never been an enraged-out-of-control-raging-female….except for this instance.
"How could you be so irresponsible? How could you be so inconsiderate? I’ve never had a bounced check in my life! What about my credit score? Where are the letters from the bank telling us we had returned checks?”
The letters had arrived and were unopened, which threw me into a deeper rage. Addressed to his company account I didn't pay any attention to them when collecting the mail. I uncontrollably continued my tirade by picking up an old Ikea bar stool which I proceeded to smash to smithereens against one of the poplar trees in the yard while my husband watched in controlled arm-crossed chilly silence as I made an utter fool of myself. If you’re wondering how good it felt, I must admit that it did feel really good to take it all out on the bar stool! Yet, I wasn't too proud of myself once I cooled down.
But here’s the deal. It really wasn’t at all about the money issues and bounced checks which were covered by overdraft protection. Nor was it about the cultural differences around different banking systems. And no one even knows about credit scores in France! The banks were happy to have us paying them interest every month.
It was deeper than that. The cultural differences are undeniably impactful and they just served as excuses for covering up what was going on beneath them. It was about our inability to communicate and understand the impact of our cultural backgrounds regarding our values, couple finances and our individual relationships to money. It was about me feeling insecure, my fear of potential mounting debt and the fact that he seemed to disregard my values regarding that. It’s always about the lack of communication around something deeper that we don't easily see. In this case it was about us being unable to se and acknowledge the cultural differences and discuss how to negotiate them. And in order to do that, we first needed to know where our blocks and beliefs were regarding money and being able to talk about it.
At the time, had we had access to my Compatibility Index, an innovative assessment tool that pinpoints where the obstacles are to compatibility, we would have known where our energy blocks were. We could have shone a big bright light on those culprits and flushed them out into the open, improving communication in ways the self-help books can't. And instead of getting angry, we could have perhaps even laughed about it, as we ended up doing afterwards, every time we looked at the other surviving bar stool.
Cultural differences aren't only between countries, but are present in all of our relationships to one degree or another. They stem from traditions, beliefs and values passed down from generations and can be as geographically close as being from Northern or Southern California! And they can impact all our relationships until we figure out what is going on beneath them and how to effectively communicate about them with poise and understanding.
How is culture impacting your relationships? If you want to "Crack the Cultural Differences Code" and are ready to start creating the ultimate ecstatic relationships in all areas of you life, then give me a call. I'd love to help you!
Vive la différence!