If you’re a woman who was brought up in a matriarchal household, i.e single mother, no father figure, then this question has probably crossed your mind at some point. Does being raised by a single mother impact on how you relate to men in relationships? Pardon the archaic phrase, but do you struggle with ‘who wears the trousers’?
If your experience is all about seeing the strength of your mum as she has single-handedly raised you, juxtaposed by the absence of a father figure, and perhaps feelings of abandonment, it stands to reason that you may struggle when it comes to the give and take and compromise, which is part and parcel of a loving relationship.
We spoke to four women who were brought up by their single mothers, to see how this experience affects their views on relationships.
There is no doubt in my mind that being raised by a single mother affects how I am in relationships. Before I got married, in my early 30s, I had a very low tolerance for what I perceived to be ‘time wasters’ i.e men who were not ambitious and didn’t want to make something of themselves. You didn’t have to be ‘made’, you just had to be actively working hard toward your plan. My mum is extremely hard-working and made sure her children didn’t want for anything. I inherited this work ethic and was only attracted to men who were the same.
Being independent does occasionally pose problems in my relationship as I will go ahead with an action if it makes sense to me, often forgetting, or ignoring the fact that hubby may have an opinion on it. I am not, and never pretended to be the docile, meek stereotype of a woman. I don’t really like the phrase ‘who wears the trousers’, but of course I love and respect my husband, just as much as he does me.
It always makes you feel like you can do everything on your own. For me, it’s not about anybody wearing the trousers. We do everything together. My husband would not take a decision without checking with me. You know, if it was any other way I think we’d have serious issues because I was raised by a woman who made me believe that I can do anything that I wanted to do. So, it makes it easier that I am with the kind of person that I’m with.
I wouldn’t step on his toes. It’s taken a long time, we’ve been married for what, 17 years, it’s taken a long time to get to the stage where I would not just do things. We speak to each other now but the impulsive me just goes ahead and does things because I’ve always felt like, yes, I can. But obviously now because we’ve known each for so long, I often take a step back and think: ‘Okay, would I be stepping on anybody’s toes?’. It doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do, the only thing is, I’ll put his feelings into consideration.
Being raised by a single mother gave me a strong sense of what it means to be both independent and driven as an individual. This might put some men off because it may seem a bit intimidating at first but I do think that it is important. It has allowed me to put myself first and not settle, but instead expect someone who also echoes the same morals and values as me.
In terms of who wears the trousers in a relationship, I think many at a young age, are taught to be submissive when it comes to relationships. However, being presented with a role model such as a single mother, who is strong and doesn’t take rubbish from anyone, helps show you that you too should be strong. I just feel like in whatever relationship you are in, there should be an equal balance between you and your partner, a strong one.
I grew up in a single parent home by accident, my father passed away when I was eight and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. Watching my mother – who was already a parent to four – step up and take on the role of father, was inspiring. Seeing her continue to be strong and play both roles, made me think that’s what women should be. They should be masculine and feminine, submissive and dominant. While I commended her strength, I also was aware of the strain it put on her having to be both.
Needless to say, I’m single and learning which role fits best, while still hoping, like my mother, I don’t have to subscribe to neither. My hope is, I learn to embrace both roles and allow my future partner to do the same.
Do you have a view on this issue? Let us know in the comments below…