It’s a story as old as time. Wives, girlfriends, madams: when living with them, we fellas gotta let our girls think they’re in charge to keep things in order. But we’re the men of the house, and that means we really run the show. Actually, my girlfriend prefers we call our house, “家 (ie),” the Japanese word for home. So in my situation, I’m the man of the 家 (ie).
I’m all about giving my girlfriend an illusion of control, when really, I’m the one wearing the pants. Take dinner, for example. I let my girlfriend pick out what she wants us to eat, and all I have to do is shop, prepare, cook, and clean it up. It’s so easy to let her think she’s in charge when she makes all the decisions for both of us.
See, my girlfriend and I have this understanding, right? I tell her exactly where I am at all times, and she gives me permission to be there in advance. I set my own schedule that she pre-approves. It is just too easy.
Like, this one time, we were snuggling up watching her favorite rom-com. Dudes, that’s what you gotta do to give her the veil of control. Let her “choose” “the movie.” Little did she know that when she went to the bathroom, I looked at clips of the Knicks game on my phone.
My girlfriend can be so picky sometimes, but she doesn’t know how much control I have over my strictly personal decisions. She may think she can tell me how much wine to drink when we go out to dinner, but I get to pick which side of the water glass I place my wine. She may think she can tell me to make our bed every morning, but I get to decide whether to do it frantically before work or hurriedly after work. She may think she can unilaterally decide who I can be friends with, but yea, I’m still Facebook friends with my guys who didn’t make the list.
Also, sometimes, I just straight up boss her around. Like, this one time, I was like, “Babe, could you pass the asparagus?” And she was like, “Of course. But they’re actually right next to you. I can’t even reach them.” Fellas, we’ve all been there before, when somebody can’t reach something at a dinner table. We’ve all been there before. Fellas.
And then she said, “I feel like you resent me for something. Is there something you want to talk about?” And fellas, let me tell you, she thought she was facilitating an open dialogue, but I was the one suppressing my feelings. That’s called bro-control; Dr. Feinbaum calls it “displacement,” but I call it bro-control.
One time in couple’s therapy, when I said that my inability to assert myself relates back to the cocoon created from childhood social isolation, I was totally bro-controlling my imposter syndrome stemming from my girlfriend being the first person to say she loves me. Like, am I right boys? Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.
Sorry, gotta run. My therapist wants me to identify five triggers before our next session. He calls it “homework,” which is absurd because I love doing it. But, as a patient, we fellas just gotta let them think it’s homework. Real patients know homework actually means healing.