My problem is that I can’t bring the subject up without my husband getting mad at me and asking, “Why do you want to look good and want other guys to look at you???” The day is then ruined and it is my fault. I literally hate wearing skirts – especially going to work or out with our friends (even when he’s there) and all the girls around us are wearing pants so I’m the only one in a skirt.
Then there’s the problem where I’ve always wanted to have a YouTube channel where I advise girls on how to style curly hair because I have super curly hair. I brought it up to him last night, and he said, “Why? Then guys can watch the videos … “ and he was kinda upset with me for bringing that up. He doesn’t like me posting selfies of just myself on my social media because he doesn’t want other guys to “like” it because then that means they’re saying I look good or whatever and he wants me all to himself. When my best friend asked me to be in her wedding this June and I told my husband, he was happy for me and so I told her yes. And then he got upset with me because he hates the idea of my walking down the aisle holding some other guy’s arm and taking pictures next to another guy that’s not him. IT’S A NORMAL THING TO DO THAT IN WEDDINGS. It’s not like I’m hooking up with the guy!!
I love him so much and want to please him, but sometimes I just feel so trapped and suffocated. I do not want to leave him; I just want to know if there’s a way I can tone down his controlling aspect and if there’s a way to convince him that certain things are fine for me to do. What are some good things for me to say to him that will make him feel better about my wearing jeans and posting stuff about ME and being in my friend’s wedding?? I’ve tried, “You have nothing to worry about, I’m yours” but it doesn’t always help. By the way, I’ve never done anything to break his trust in our relationship. I think his previous girlfriend may have, but I’m not sure.
I just want to have a normal and peaceful marriage. — Skirting the Issue
I think you need to shift your focus from how to tone down your husband’s controlling nature to managing your own behavior and reactions. After all, you don’t really have control over how he responds to you any more than he has control over what you wear and whether or not you’ll be in a friend’s wedding and pose next to anther man in photographs. (He cannot control these things; you’re not a child and he isn’t your father.) You both are operating under an assumption that you can control the reactions of the other. He thinks that by being firm and asserting control, you won’t exercise your right to wear jeans or post selfies on social media. You think that if you could find the right words to say, you could make him not be such a misogynist. But you’re both wrong.
Here’s how it works: You do the reasonable and normal and healthy things you want to do such as wearing jeans and attending a friend’s wedding as a member of her party, and you accept that your husband will react to these things in ways that may be uncomfortable to you. If you’re unprepared to deal with your own feelings around doing things that you may have spent your whole life avoiding or being told are immodest and wrong, that’s understandable and I would recommend finding a good therapist – maybe even one who specializes in people who were raised in fundamental religious households. Additionally, if you’re unprepared to deal with your husband’s feelings around doing things that *he* has been told are immodest for women to do, therapy can help you there too. It would also help your husband, and you can certainly suggest this to him, but you can’t force him to get therapy any more than he can force you to keep wearing skirts.
You don’t mention how your husband was raised, but it’s clear he shares a similar perspective to the one your father holds of women and their roles in the family and in society. It’s interesting that even as you couldn’t wait to move out of your father’s home so you could start wearing pants, you then … didn’t start wearing pants and you married a man who doesn’t want you wearing pants. Even in discussing the issue with your husband prior to getting married, you didn’t test the idea of his being ok with it. Even though you say wearing pants was something you desperately wanted. Even though you can’t stand wearing skirts. You discussed ONE TIME with your husband the idea of your wearing pants and then never brought it up again until after you were married. It’s like you were afraid of what might happen if you did ditch the skirts, like you suspected your husband wouldn’t be happy about it after all, and maybe even that you’d have mixed feelings you were unprepared to deal with. Maybe that’s still true. Maybe what you feel so suffocated and trapped by isn’t solely your husband’s controlling nature, but also the shadow under which you were raised and still — at least to some extent — remain living under.
A good therapist can guide you out of that shadow, can help you with the feelings that will arise, and can help you across the marital hurdles created by being married to someone who embraces the same misogyny that you were raised under. You might find that out of the shadow, in a different light, you don’t see your marriage or your husband the same way you did before. You may find that as your comfort level changes and expands, so does that which feels uncomfortable, and that may change the nature of your marriage if your husband’s comfort levels are not also changing and expanding to include women in pants. A good therapist can guide you through this as well. Not for nothing, but you might even discover that when you no longer wear skirts and dresses out of obligation to a patriarchal system, even they can be comfortable because you have agency to choose them for yourself.