SISTERS! Stop the martyrish madness!

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Today is International Woman's Day! So this one's for the ladieesss...

Yesterday I attended a church conference. After, there were chairs to be stacked and put away. It briefly occurred to me to assist with that effort, I certainly have before, and will again, should the need arise. But because there were dozens of able bodied young men around with nothing better to do, I decided that the energies of my husband and I would be better channeled toward gathering up our four squirrelly children and getting them out of the building.

We are engaged thusly, while greeting some friends and having a brief chat here and there, when a morose looking woman shuffles by looking very, very beleaguered. She is pushing a huge stack of chairs in front of her and she appears to have some sort of limp or stiffness or something going on. Her husband pushing his own stack of chairs says very pointedly "just please don't hurt yourself, okay?". She nods grimly and continues to push her stack looking at all of us in her path with disdain. A happy child (who has been sitting in relative silence for TWO HOURS) scurries across her path. She shoots this child a death glare, rolls her eyes.

Ok. So there is no doubt in my mind, that this woman felt some sense of virtue in the fact that she was doing the job that all of us had apparently overlooked. She was every ounce the martyr. You could practically see the thought bubble floating over her head, "I guess I have to do everything myself!"

It really was a pathetic display. It was not as if there weren't dozens of young, energetic, uninjured men and youth who were actively stacking the chairs and putting them away, it wasn't as if there was a big time crunch, it wasn't as if the job was not being done in an efficient and timely manner without her contribution. The fact was that there were plenty of us just standing around, and this obviously got her martyr on in a big way.

I don't have a problem with her helping if that's what she wants to do. Here's my problem. Her contribution was clearly being offered in very bad grace. I'm willing to bet she was feeling no love in her heart for her fellow man at that moment. What was the point?

I want to say I felt sorry for her, being trapped by this attitude, but I must be honest and say I felt frustrated. She represented so many women who seem to think that there is virtue in martyrdom. They think that sullenly going about doing things which they don't want to do, which could( and should ), easily be done by someone else is the burden (and virtue) of being a woman. This, my dear sweet loves is total crap.

If you have teenagers or kids or a husband lying on the couch while you wash the dishes after preparing a meal and you are ticked off about it-blame yourself. It's your fault man. You helped to create that situation. You have three alternate choices:

1.) Do the dishes and do them gladly. You like doing dishes, or maybe you want to do the dishes because you don't like the way others do them and it is a sacrifice you are willing (and choosing) to make or maybe you don't like doing them or think you do them better, but it makes you happy to think that your family is getting time to relax. Fine, excellent. Scrub away.

2.) Have the kids/husband/etc do the dishes. Or at least ask. You have no right to be a martyr if you have not even politely requested or politely instructed others to do a task you feel they should be doing. If you don't ask, and instead choose to pout and stomp around thinking that if they loved you they would jump and offer to help you, are being a martyr. You are also being passive aggressive. And it's not pretty.

3.) Don't do the dishes at all.

The key word here is CHOICES. You are in charge of your life. Doing the dishes (or not doing them) is your choice.

The fact remains, a lot of times people are clueless, a lot of the time people are lazy. People are apt to take the path of least resistance and if they have never had to do anything because you always jumped in and did it first, they are probably going to keep on that path. It's natural. If you want them to do differently, you need to do differently. You need to open your mouth.

Granted, you may have a fight on your hands to get your kids/husband etc to do stuff, I don't question that. I'm not living in an alternate universe where kids love doing chores.

I recognize that we all have to do things on a daily basis that we may not feel like doing, they are our responsibility and our duty, I am by no means advocating shirking these things. But we don't have to do it all. God didn't intend it that way. The great King Benjamin himself said in his sermon about the virtues of service, " “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a (wo)man should run faster than( s)he has strength.”

What I take great exception to is women who don't even ask for help and then get all pouty and miserable about how overworked and under-appreciated they are. They may feel miserably smug about what good wives and selfless moms they are being by slaving away, working their fingers to the bone in stoic silence, but unless this is truly what they want to do and they are doing it cheerfully, they are not being good wives or good mothers at all. Their passive-aggressive misery and irritation can be sensed by their families, even if their families can't quite put their finger on it. When mama 'aint happy, 'aint nobody happy, is one of lifes greatest truisms. (Not to mention that martyr mothers are probably enabling their children to be less capable then they should be, thus doing them a grave disservice.)

I simply do not get women who don't remind their husbands or children about their upcoming birthdays or anniversaries simply because they want to "test" to see if they will remember on their own. And when their loved ones space the date, these women then take (in my opinion) morose pleasure in having proven to themselves at how unloved they are. Oh for pete's sake. People have lives. And the brutal truth is that their lives probably do not revolve around your birthday or your anniversary. If you want them to remember, remind them. If you want to celebrate in a certain way, speak up. They will be grateful that you did and you will all have a much happier day (and life).

I think this is what bothers me the most about the martyr routine. It interferes with healthy communication, which is the food of relationships.

Martyrs starve their relationships.

I watched the movie Motherhood on DVD this weekend. Perfect example. The mom therein was super wrapped up in feeling sorry for herself , writing whiny blog posts about how she'd "lost herself" in the day to day minutia of motherhood (which is another pet peeve of mine to be ranted about on another day-in fact I may have already ranted about that here), but it was only toward the very end of the movie that she had a mini break-down and unloaded on her husband (which is perhaps not the best method of communication, granted, but sometimes it is what it is).

It was only then that she discovered that he too, was feeling overwhelmed, that he too, was making sacrifices. Had she continued in her silent martyrish ways, they would not have had this conversation and she may have never seen how truly noble and hard working the husband who she perceived as an idealistic slacker was.

If that lady yesterday had come to me with a nice smile on her face and said, "hi, would you mind helping with a few chairs?" I'd probably have pitched in. But I like to fantasize that I would have put my arm around her shoulder and said, "no I wouldn't mind, but it's not necessary for me to do so today, and it's not necessary for you to do it either. See? They have it under control. So let's chat instead. Do you have any chocolate? "

But because of the martyr thing, she probably saw me as lazily oblivious to her and her plight, and I got irritated with her, and now we will never have that chat. It's a pity. Particularly if she did have chocolate.

Sister friends, life is just too short to be a miserable martyr. Stop that, stop that right now. Use your words. We are so blessed to live in a society where we are free to use them. Use them nicely realizing that you aren't the only one in any equation with feelings and expectations and burdens, but do use them. You will be so happy that you did.

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Christy said...

You make my day sunny so I gave you an award! Its here:

--now that I told you that, I'll go back and read this post, lol!

Amber W. said...

Amen, sista! Thank you for this post. I probably needed it more than most of your other readers. It's definitely the kick-in-the-butt I need right now. :-)

Rachel Cotterill said...

And THIS is why I love you!! I couldn't agree more. I hope even one person reads this post and recognises themselves.... (I'm guilty about once a month, but I *try* to overrule my hormones, even then!)

PS We're taking option 4 - get a dishwasher ;)

Eos Mom said...

Wise words!

Redbonegirl97 said...

Yeah when I don't do the dishes, no one does them. It gets to the point that I think someone will wash them but they will eat and drink out of their hand to avoid doing them.


Krystal said...

Could you hear me cheering just now? Because that is what I was doing all the way through your post. Thanks for putting in to words something that I've often thought. :)

Anjana said...

So true, Kirsty, but you said it better than I could ever have. Where were you when I really really needed to hear this, but wouldn't have agreed?

Bethany said...

This is Kirsty! Every woman needs to read this. Thanks!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Amen, what a great post.

Kim said...

This is so true! Many are afraid to say this but we do need to stop with all the martyrish stuff. If we don't want to do something don't do it. If we do it, then do so out of love. But whatever stop complaining about it.

2busy said...

This is wonderful and a great lesson to everyone. I do get martyrish from time to time, but I have to stop and remind myself to delegate. That's my key word...

The McBs said...

That scripture in Mosiah often comes to mind for me when I'm feeling overwhelmed and there are a million things to do. Thank you for throwing this topic out there!

Kallie said...

i realize i'm way too late to leave an original comment -- but i still wanted to acknowledge. brilliance! (i watched that movie over the weekend, too.)

Pippi Longstocking said...

Thank you for the wake up call.

I tend to be passive-aggressive and feel like a martyr myself. Thanks for reminding me that I choose to feel this way. I needed that today. :) said...

Amen. That's all.

Oh, and also, I really love you. More than you love chocolate.