I can remember early in our marriage we would do everything together. We would do the grocery shopping together. We would go clothes shopping, for me, together. He would suggest what I should try on, and me, wanting him to like the way I looked, I would try on and often buy the clothes he suggested. (When we shopped for him, he rarely liked my choices; he got what he picked out.) At that point it wasn’t that I was losing myself and my personality in his decisions, it was rather that I did not have confidence in myself and so I was following his confidence, his perception of me. Besides, I wanted to look good for him. It wasn’t that he was controlling me, I was enabling his recommendations. Now that I think of his forceful personality, it’s not necessarily that I did not have confidence (wow, what a concept), it was that he had an inordinate amount of confidence. So, pitted against his utter confidence, my standard waverings stood out and became something for him to direct and ultimately control.
Why didn’t I have self-confidence, or rather why didn’t I have enough self-confidence to stand up to him. Was I following what I thought was the role a wife should take upon herself? Was I following the way my mother had acted with my father? She let him make all the decisions, or so it seemed. She waited for him and was guided by him. It seemed to work for them, why did it become oppressive for me? Was I, the independent daughter who went off to Israel alone at 20, in reality not independent, was I looking for guidance? And did this man simply take advantage of that? Or, was there no other way to be with him, except with his usurping all power and control. Did I ruin the picture by eventually seeking to reassert my independence and sense of self?