Why Admitting I Need My Husband Was So Hard for Me

BY: - 29 Nov '13 | Best of BMWK

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by Faye McCray

One afternoon, early in my career, one of my co-workers, “Susan,” came into work visibly upset.  Her business suit was wrinkled, her skin was colorless and she was wearing flip-flops instead of her usual work pumps.  After she stayed in her office for what seemed like the entire morning, I went to check on her.  Susan sorrowfully divulged that she had just found out her husband of fifteen years had been having an affair.  She confronted him about it and rather than showing remorse, he turned around and walked out, leaving her alone with three beautiful daughters, all under the age ten.  Susan was broken.  She came from a conservative, religious family, her parents were still married, and she had been with her husband since she was in college.  She had never even anticipated the possibility of her marriage dissolving. I sat with Susan until her tears subsided and assured her,

“You can do it.  You don’t need him or anyone else.”

As a product of a single parent household, there was no question to me that she could do it.  After seventeen years of marriage to my father, my mother not only raised my brothers and me alone, she went back to school and attained undergraduate and graduate degrees.  While having a husband around on warm nights was nice, women did not need men.  Wives did not need their husbands.

Eight years of marriage and two children later, I realize how damaging that reasoning was to my marriage.  For years, I behaved as though I was a single mother dwelling within a marriage.  I did it all: full-time attorney, freelance writer, cook, housekeeper, homework reviewer, finance manager… all while ignoring my husband’s futile attempts to help.  Meanwhile, I’d collapse on my bed each night as if the day had been one long trauma, my body actually aching from all the different directions in which I’d been pulled.

Truth is, I believed needing a man made you weak.  Men are unpredictable.  Relationships are fleeting.  Despite being married, I built my life as though I were a single mom because deep down, I believed I inevitably would be.  I feared becoming too comfortable in my reliance on my husband because I didn’t want to become weak.  However, I am learning that admitting that I need my husband takes strength.  It takes strength to admit I need his love.  It takes strength to admit his presence is just as needed as mine is in the development of our children.  It takes strength to ask for help.  Sure, it would be easy for Susan to say she did not need her husband.  He not only betrayed her, he abandoned her.  However, faulting her for needing her husband places the shame on her.  In reality, the only shame rests with him for not living up to his obligation as a husband.

The idea of needing a man still conjures up images of Shug from The Color Purple chanting, “I’s married now” as if marriage somehow affirms one’s womanhood.  This weekend, when I saw The Best Man Holiday, I still had to stifle that voice inside me that agreed with Nia Long’s character when she told her boyfriend she didn’t need him. As an independent, educated woman, being okay with needing my husband means distinguishing need from dependency.  When I say I need my husband, I do not mean he is essential to my survival or I would somehow cease to exist without him.

Needing him, for me, means recognizing his value to our marriage.  It means recognizing he is essential to our mission as parents.  It means recognizing he is a necessary part of our future.  Needing him means being vulnerable enough to let him know how much he matters and not treat him as though he were an expendable luxury, as if I keep him around for when I need something heavy lifted or someone to keep an eye on our children.

It was an important step in my marriage and crucial to the development of our sons.  As future men, I never want them to question the importance of their role in their family unit.

While being raised by a single parent has given me immeasurable power as a woman, it is an uphill battle to teach myself to relinquish the control of my self-made matriarchy.  My vulnerability has a profound impact on both my husband’s view of his role in our family and my ability to enjoy the benefits of the marriage partnership.  We need him.  I need him.  And that’s okay.

BMWK – what are your thoughts on the idea of “needing a man?”  

Faye McCray is an attorney and author living with her husband and two children in Maryland.  She has an undergraduate degree in English from Binghamton University and law degree from Howard University School of Law.  Connect with Faye on her blog, www.fayemccray.com and follow her on twitter @fayewrites.

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BMWK Staff wrote 1255 articles on this blog.

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40 WordPress comments on “Why Admitting I Need My Husband Was So Hard for Me

  1. Loraine Randles

    This was right on time for me. I wasn’t raise in a single parent home but I was a single Mom. It has been hard for me to adjust and allow my husband to help me. Thank you for this! It has allowed me to see that it is ok to need my husband. Great article.

  2. Renee

    Really AWESOME article! It portrays the reality of so many of us! Our interactions with our mate really impact our daughters and sons. Thank you for shedding light on this issue!

  3. Elliot

    The theme song from ‘Cheers’ comes to mind. ‘…You wanna go where everybody knows your name’. In the same light, I think men wanna know that they are needed and generally gravitate to situations and people that ‘need’ them. This can lead to trouble in relationships because of that void within and ‘fulfilment’ elsewhere. If women believe and act like they can do it on their own, why get married? Women AND men need to take heed. Good article.

    1. Rona

      Great points. I was raised by two parents, my mother making it plain that she desperately needed my father’s assistance in our household. As a parent myself, I don’t hide the fact that not only do I desperately want my husband, but need him just as desperately. We have been married 25 years. Truth be told, he will readily admit that he needs me just as desperately for the things I bring to the table as mother and wife.

  4. patrick

    I really enjoyed this article. As a single man, I often hear women say I don’t need you. However, after reading this article, I am willing to be more understanding to this ideology. I am willing to work with a woman who is strong enough to say I need and want you in my life. You bring strength and stability to me. I am looking for a woman who is willing to let me be a man and assume my position.

  5. Jennifer

    Wow this article hit home with me on so many levels. To need someone is to be vulnerable to them and I think as women who come from single parent homes where the father is not involved it is a constant battle to be fully vulnerable to our mate because we think we must be strong at all times. I think I will share this article with my husband as a way to start talking about the things we both struggle with. I also think marriage is hard when you don’t have an idea of what it should be. My parents were never married and therefore I have never really seen a successful marriage and I am constantly in fear of failure. I want to show my kids what a loving marriage looks like.

    1. Anonymous

      Wow Jennifer. You have said it! I struggle with this each and every day. I do not “know” what it means to be married. . I feel insecure-like I’m not a “good wife”. But I don’t know. Never experienced this. My mother was single and raised 5 kids. . Did a damn good job. My biggest concern is my children. . How do I teach them or even be an example to them, when I don’t even know myself?

  6. Merle

    This hit home in every possible facet!!!! Thanks for this! I actually had a conversation with a friend, just yesterday, about my husband mentioning how I “don’t need him” and me all but confirming that I don’t. I, however, confessed to my friend that I really do, but that I’d never admit that to him because admitting it would make me seem weak, dependent and vulnerable. I was a single mother for 14 years, raised my (oldest) daughter alone and though I am now married with a 6 year old (and a stepson), my logic is (was) ‘don’t get too comfortable because you may have to do this again, alone’…not that my husband has ever given me any indication that I will ever have to. Not only is he an amazing provider, friend and father, but he supports me in my every endeavor…he encourages me and he pushes me to chase my dreams …be it continuing my education, securing that next promotion at work or getting in the gym (to lose weight that he’s totally against)…he wants what I want.

    I appreciate this perspective and the common sense behind it and will stop living for the “what if?” and live for the “right now” and will let my husband know that I do appreciate and need him and so do our children; our relationship and how we interact with each other is the foundation that they’ll all need to build and recognize healthy relationships as well.

    1. Yolanda

      OMG…. I fessed up and told my husband how I felt last night after reading this article and you wrote my exact words… “fear of being weak and vulnerable.” He chuckled at me and said he KNEW that was my reservation. He said he knows I need him although I might be afraid to say it, he says I show it daily! Thank God for actions speaking louder than words!!! #thatsmyman 🙂

  7. Logan

    It’s good to hear a woman express this. I always took the whole not needing a man position by women as the ultimate in disrespect. It was an automatic understanding to me that any woman who has the position that she doesnt need her man, is gonna treat that man in an expendable manner. It’s a very audacious position to take, and any real man should know that a woman who has that position doesn’t deserve him! I was single for many yrs because I absolutely refused to spend more than a second of my time with any woman who showed that she had a grain of that position to me. Im a very loyal type of person and refused to be treated like an option. Im married now to a woman who was an honored Georgetown Univerity graduate, makes good money and still treats me like a necessity. Thus I treat her the same way. That last part is what really brings it all home.

  8. April

    I believe being raised in a single parent household contributed to it being hard for me to admit I needed my husband. While I loved and wanted him, I didn’t believe I needed him. However, the pressures of life showed me just how much I needed him. He has helped and supported me through ever obstacle I have experienced, since meeting him. He has made reaching my goals so much easier. He has done for me what no other man could do. When I think back I am ashamed of how nieve and unchristian like it was to have such a thought process. I know if I thought this way that my actions reflected the same. Therefore, I am so grateful to God for such a patient Christian man and for showing me before it was too late just how much I need the Mr. I can only say this, “to think that you don’t need your Christian husband is truly a characteristic of weakness”.

  9. Faye McCray

    Just want to express how much I appreciate all the thoughtful comments on this post. It’s scary to be vulnerable. I appreciate all of you taking the ride with me and expressing your own fears of being vulnerable with your spouse and/or significant other. I’m reading every comment, here, on twitter, and on Facebook, ya’ll! XOXO, Faye

  10. Didi

    I very much enjoyed the article and have comments for both sides yes we as wives don’t need our husbands to get an education you should do that for yourself we do t need our husbands to work a career like nobody can we don’t need our husbands to pay our bills run our lives use us as doormats and we can do bad all by ourselves BUT on the flip side we do néed our husbands to show us respect as we do the same for them we do need our husbands to show us affection like a husband should and not just when they want sex we do need our husbands to be examples to our children of what a man does by providing for his family loving his wife and only HIS wife we do need a husband to share his thoughts and feelings with his wife and not shut her out we do need our husbands to take this journey called marriage with us as partners not bosses or lord over us with stern hands we were made from the rib of man to be by his side not under his foot or behind him . I have been married thirty years and of course there have been ups and downs but we made the commitment early on that divorce was not an option.so yes ladies we soo do need our husbands and its ok to let Them know how you need them by explaining what YOU need and what HE needs because The marriage journey has so many obstacles at least the two of you should be on the same page and not against each other

  11. anonymous

    Wonderful article. I have noticed this trend for women to be independent, especially with feminist movements, yet independent does not have to mean your on your own. As a husband and a father I have admire my wife’s dreams and her drive to accomplish her goals, but sometimes I would get puffed up when I was left out of major decisions. I later learned that this was her way of saying “I’m still my own woman, and I am capable of making my own decisions”.
    When I made this conclusion I figured I should reflect on what I could do to give her that feeling of independence, yet have the unity of marriage. This is a difficult task for me as I take pride in providing for the family and in making important decisions, especially financial.
    I figured that the topic of how men can make their women feel independent would be a great follow-up article. I would benefit from such an article, but for now I could settle with a few suggestions.

  12. Anonymous

    I was raised with married parents in the home; however, both taught us, in thought and deed, to be independent. I don’t think they realized at that time that it is definitely a 2-edged sword. In my diligence to heed their well-intended advice, it’s full speed ahead for me–get on it. Sooo…I guess I tend to manifest first and foremost my fierce independence. Although I call it quiet capable confidence, it’s perceived differently, and sometimes the result isn’t very positive. In my mind, drive and ambition are traits of good character, and although I’m definitely more aware now that it can rub some the wrong way, it’s no easy feat to allow others to see/feel your need, or even “feel” it for yourself, or others. You just kind of learn to excel on your own, and learning (albeit very slowly sometimes) to accept help when it’s offered only after you’ve tried everything else, but almost never to go soliciting assistance unless you’re desparate. Being vulnerable and showing the tenderness necessary for sustainable relationships is learned behavior best instilled by positive reinforcement.
    My advice to others is to realize that we all need each other; no one can thrive completely alone forever. Advice for men, TAKE TIME to find out how you’re needed by your lady and do your best to commit to be what she needs, from you, at that time. Ask her, and wait for an answer!! Most of the time, it’s the intangibles, or things that money can’t buy, she needs you for: setting a high standard–shared and individual, goals, sustainable and dependable support to actually strive together to reach them, a listening ear, companionship, and comedy. The likely result from her– PASSION. But also, know that it will change, so be flexible and willing to change with it.

    1. FL_Lady

      I can definitely relate to what you’re saying. And, society in general was sending a message to us ladies of the 80’s (telling my age) that “sistas are doing it for themselves (Aretha Franklin jam), and that this was our way of obtaining “freedom”. Black women hadn’t really co-signed the women’s lib thing, as we had LONG been “liberated” (going to work as maids/housekeepers/nannies for white families), so we were always placed on “par” with our man, even when we had no desire to be.

  13. Anonymous

    Guys I’m stuggling with this one… I work hard n I have my own business and it growing fast! I need my man and I let him know ..he works and plans to have his own company one Day too.. I feel he is always trying to compete with me and I don’t like it- he sees me as competition…

    I’m not trying to push hin away but he looks at his success and mine and he always seems jealous. Its hurts

    1. Rona

      Hopefully he is handy around the house. My husband built our kids a play set, which I’m just finding out( 25 years later) they idolized him for. I don’t even pretend to rival his skills in our home. He doesn’t delude himself into believing he could master the running of our household the way I ( and many women ) do. It really takes both a masculine and feminine perspective in order to be effective and not completely drain either husband or wife.

    2. Rona

      There HAS to be something that he is better at. You seem very confident, and perhaps he really isn’t. Focusing on building him up verbally takes nothing from you or the success of your company. Sounds like he needs the kudos more than you do. You didn’t refer to him as your husband, but if he is, that’s what I would try.

      If he is your boyfriend, the two of you might sit down with a counselor to decide if this is a partnership you want to invest in.

  14. FL_Lady

    Let me say “ouch”!!! Truth HURTS, but I am GLAD you shared this. Exposed some things in my life that were hidden. My ex recently revealed it to me in conversation about what went wrong in our situation (we were engaged), and this article supports his every claim. Made me sit back and think on some things, as opposed to “defending my position” (I used to think I was explaining myself!) For me this was like very coarse sand paper, designed to “rub away” and “smooth” those places in my life where I thought I had it so together. I lost him due to my lack of self-awareness. I was raised by my single dad in a house full of brothers. Independence was the order of the day. Saying I “need” anything, in that environment, was a sure sign of weakness in my eyes (that probably was not really the case, just my perception).
    Thank you for your insight on vulnerability vs. dependency

  15. Anonymous

    I like the article and agree that it is important for men to feel needed, but honestly I am still unsure as to what that looks like. I have been married for a good handful of years (love my husband) but in what ways are we saying we NEED our men? I am not trying to or wanting to say I don’t, there are probably ways I don’t even realize that I do really need him, but in a practical sense I still feel like with the amount of the household responsibilities (financial and child-rearing) that I have to handle (not by choice but because he likes it that way or is no in a position to do them)I honestly wish I felt like I needed him more. I love him very much and would never wan him to feel unneeded, but he reality is that most of my day-to-day life is managed without him. Even if he is out of town or something like that my daily life really doesn’t change at all. Because of our jobs our schedules don’t even overlap that much. I just feel like there are definitely things affecion-wise that I would miss if I didn’t have my husband, and I definitely feel like my kids need him, but how do I make my husband feel more like I need him, and make myself feel more like I need him, when as a practical matter it (very unfortunately) sometimes feels like I don’t? I hate feeling this way but I do. I love my husband’s contributions to my life, my kids’ life, and my household, but apart from my kids needing their father which I 100% agree with, most of the contributions won’t float or sink the ship. ***Luckily as I am writing this I am remembering more and more of the contributions my husband makes to our household and their importance, but for the most part the comment still stands.***

    1. Faye

      Hi Anon, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. It sounds so familiar! One thing I learned from the ten years I have been with my husband is that men (especially those raised by single mamas) have to be taught to be needed almost as much as we have to be taught to need them! It’s also a two-way street – my husband needs me, too, he’ll be the first to tell you. If I were you, I would ask myself how many things you take the lead on because you “have” to or how many things you take the lead on because you are more comfortable being in the driver seat. It may just be that your husband is more comfortable being a passenger. If it works, it works. For me, I used to do it all because I was a control freak and felt like no one could do it better than me lol. I had to learn it was okay to let him mop (even if he gets the floor entirely too wet). It was okay to let him pick out the kids clothes (even if they don’t match). It was okay to let him manage some of the bills. It was also okay to tell him how much I loved, needed and appreciated him – in every single way. I am fortunate because I have a spouse who is ready, willing and able to share the burden. It made my marriage more of a partnership – rather than a matriarchy with an expendable member :-).

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  18. PS Wife

    Wow! This really hit home. Being raised by a single mom, who endured 2 failed marriages due 2 infidelity & men who sexually molestsed her daughters caused me 2 be untrusting. I am on my 2nd marriage & I admit it’s hard 2 trust, open up & be myself. I love my husband but admitting that I need his presence, his love is a bit hard. After reading this I wrote him a letter admitting that I do need him & it’s not 4 expandable luxury.
    Thanks so much 4 opening my eyes.
    PS Wife

  19. Rona

    I was raised in a 2-parent household by a mother who made it obvious that she desperately needed my father, and a father who made it obvious that he desperately needed her as well.

    I’ve been married for 25 years to a man I desperately need, and desperately want as well. I think he would unabashedly say that he desperately needs me, for the feminine traits and skills that I bring to table, as mother and wife. He makes a choice every day to remain a devoted husband, and I make a choice daily to remain his devoted wife. Make no mistake though, if things go South, I am an educated, strong woman who would do just fine with my “half”!

    My friends would consider me to be a feminist, however I cook, crochet, am handy with a sewing machine, and was President of my children’s PTA while they were growing up, in addition to my professional career. My family always came first, at a time when that wasn’t popular.

    I guess I would advise younger women to make sure you do not abandon your stilettos, and make sure he knows his life would be pretty empty without you! Make sure you are covered legally( if you live with him unmarried your rights are very limited), and go for it! Flash that mega-watt smile, Pray alot, love deeply and trust God.

  20. Veneshia

    I am also a product of a single mother and was taught to only depend in myself. I took this into my dating life and used it as a shield. It wasn’t until I met my current boyfriend that I became aware of how damaging this was and still is to my mate and my relationship. I prided myself in being able to do it all on my own and was praised for being a “strong black woman”, not unserstanding that what appeared to be strength to others was actually a weakness.

    I believe that in order to prevent our next generation of young women from the trials that come with this distorted thinking, we need more articles like this one, from actual strong black women, saying YES, I need my man. This may be the bridge to keep our black families together.

  21. Courtney

    I am actually going through a divorce and have been spending time trying to reflect on me and my responsibility for the demise of my marriage. I know that there are many things that I could have done or said better, but I guess I am confused about what all a man needs to hear or see to understand or believe that a strong woman needs him. I made more money than my soon to be ex, and I started out taking care of everything because I knew he could not. I expressed to him many times that I would do what had to be done until he got on his feet, but that never happened after 7 & 1/2 yrs. I have spoken, hand written, typed, and texted my need for my husband to communicate with me, help me plan for our family and provide a cushion for our family finacially to no avail. It came to a head when I basically told him to either help me or leave. He decided to leave! I am left questioning if I just married the wrong man and really trying to figure out a good balance of my issues with control/strenght and submission.

  22. OneOfTheGoodOnes

    Great article and it makes a lot of sense. I hate to say though that I wish I could say I see more women coming to this realization. It may be just what ‘I’ see out there, but many more women out there not only have the position of ‘not needing the man’ but they take pride in that so-called independence and would rather have that pride than the man himself.

    I realize there are a lot of men out there that deserve the ‘cold shoulder’ because sadly many of ‘us’ don’t hold up our part of things as a man should…but there are quite a few of us that do what a good man should, and then some.

    Nevertheless, the ‘movements’ that support the “strong and empowered” woman communicate the message that if he is insufficient, you don’t need him and many women look for a flaw that they’re uncomfortable with and make that good man now appear insufficient. As one of those “good men”..and yes, I’ve been told it …even by my own wife… I’ve still been made out (even by my own wife) to be one that is not needed…just like this article says…because my wife is somehow diminished in her mind if she expresses ANY kind of need for me.

    In my OPINION it’s great and beautiful and awesome that women can be independent and can do it on their own and I fully support the woman that can be self sufficient… But women, the worst thing you can do to a man…especially a truly GOOD man is to shove your independence in his face. I’m not the kind of husband that wants my wife destitute if I’m not there. In fact, I don’t WANT her to need me like that. But if she does, then I’m fine with it as her husband…I want to make sure she has the environment to success however she seeks it…with or without me…although preferably WITH me…and I work EVERY DAY to give her that however I can…whether it’s resources, space to move on her own or just my moral support. To basically remind me constantly that she doesn’t NEED me and will essentially drop me like a bad habit makes me wonder sometimes why I even try to be a good man… that’s the backfire that is created when women ‘assert’ to a man that they don’t “need” him.

    Good article…

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  26. Judith

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  27. Browneyesblack

    I knew I needed him but I also knew that it would not last long, I saw the signs but rejected the truth. I did what I thought I could do. Giving in and never giving up. I knew it was coming-the end, but walked as if there may be a chance. 15years, 8months,21 days–that is 5,743 days of life… A chance for what?? I knew that my marriage was out of order! children were not getting what they needed from him especially our son. My daughters in harm’s way too for what they see, they may repeat. Being wife #4 and a 6th mother of his children, how gullible i was. But for the life of me I didn’t know it would come to the end as it did. Left us for one of his mistresses, moved in, started a new life. She with 2 children around the same age as our current. This when I had no job and no money because i trusted that there was a chance, a chance for change. I trusted and believed–stupidity and ignorance on the same accord–me. But the kicker came after he attempted to talk, seemingly trying to reconcile but not. After praying so long for peace in my marriage, I got it. But the madness of this peace, it takes seeking spiritual man-made counsel and for God’s direction. Yet, He finally revealed the truth about it all. I was not listening, my focus all wrong. I was married to an abusive drunkard lying adulterer molesting pedophile-and one of his victims; one of our own daughters. Now as I dispute with the lawyer I hired to help me and my children, My strength i require for my children and myself was in developing months of being alone while married and living with this vile person. Oh how i need thee. I still believe in marriage and want and need it again. it is fact that my children petition me to go out and find a man-literally asking me to date for a REAL Father/Dad and nothing like what was wandering in this home before. So much craziness in the world, Black people seeming to be completely out of our minds. I don’t want to go through letting go again. The longevity of hurt, brandished in our minds. I am too old, mid*age and made “un-beautiful”. The LORD’S will be done and being a friend before a lover and being sure we are on the same accord, is what I’ve learned. but also expecting that men can be fickle so while my life goes on prepare thy place to be in order. I will trust in God’s direction this time. Marriage is good, i see it every day. Marriage is good, or God wouldn’t have created it! And still Marriage is good!

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