Disclaimer: Even though I focused this post on married heterosexual men, it doesn’t mean that other genders don’t use their partners as an excuse


This behaviour transcends gender, culture, relationship status, sexual preference etc. However, in my personal experience, I’ve heard men default to this excuse more often than women.

The old “ball and chain” excuse
“I can’t hang out on Fridays, after 9 pm or anytime during the weekends. My wife won’t let me.”“I can’t order the burger, fries and shake. My wife would kill me.”“I can’t buy that sports car. My wife wants me to get a practical car with enough space for the kids car seats.”“I can’t join your fantasy football league. My wife thinks it’s lame.”“I can’t split a box of Pokemon cards with you. My wife doesn’t it like it when I spend money on things she thinks are a waste of time.”“I can’t have another beer. My wife hates it when I drink too much.”
Boys will be boys. When a man gets married, his life is over because he needs to bow down and behave like a proper gentleman.

No more partying. No more looking at other women. No more mischief. The wife will not allow any sort of shenanigans as she is his keeper, holding him on a tight leash and he’s committed to the old “ball and chain”.

Okay…enough already. I’ve been rolling my eyes while typing those sentences so forgive me if there are spelling errors and typos. Whatever gender you are, I hope reading that made you cringe just like listening to the lyrics of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.

Unlike that song which was written in 1944, it’s the year 2020. Saying “My wife won’t let me” perpetuates gender stereotypes that men are inherently immature and that marriage is a prison sentence that forces them to be responsible against their will. It’s boring, bland and uneventful.

Parents have done their job already

Here’s a shocking revelation: Adults who are treated like children act like them. Adults who are treated like adults act like adults.

Shocking eh?

When my one-year-old son crawls towards me while I’m cooking, I pick him up and put him in his high chair. He complains, whines, and tries to wriggle his way out.

A few minutes of struggle later, he’s accepted that his efforts are futile and he settles with a pout and quiet whimper. I look at him and tell him,

“It’s dangerous here. You can come out when I’m done cooking.”

And I keep my promise.

The next day, it happens all over again. And I continue to enforce the rules, protecting him from getting burned by a few dribbles of steam from a hot pot or a splatter of oil from a wok.

My son doesn’t quite understand why I do this yet but he knows he shouldn’t crawl to the kitchen when I’m cooking.

However, many years from now, the goal is for him to become a responsible adult who understands consequences, reasons to not do certain things, that rules exist for his safety and well-being.

He can’t touch the stove without burning his finger. He can’t eat ice cream for dinner every night without getting an upset stomach. He can’t spend all his money on toys without going broke. He can’t leave a mess in the kitchen without attracting pests and mould. He can’t stay up all night playing video games without feeling like crap the next day.

As a mother, I want him to become a man who knows his limits, confident in his decisions and stands by them without his mother waving her nagging finger,

“No, no, no!”

And when/if he decides to meet someone and get married, he’s going to continue owning his choices, jumping when he says he’s going to jump and as high as he says he’s going to. He won’t put the onus on someone else to hold him accountable. He’s accountable to himself.

Fears and insecurities

When you strip away someone’s excuses, fears and insecurities are what lay underneath. For example, for someone who wants to lose weight, some of the excuses they may give themselves are:

I don’t have time to work out.
Healthy food is expensive.
Fast food is more convenient.
It takes too long to plan meals.
I don’t have money to get a gym membership.

There is an inner reason. It’s counterintuitive but if you ask them,

What are you scared will happen if you achieved the goal?

Their response may be:

If I lost weight, I’ll lose my identity as the fat, happy, jolly, person.
If I lost weight, I’ll no longer have a reason to be unhappy.
If I lost weight, my friends aren’t going to hang out with me because I can’t eat the same foods that they eat”.
If I lost weight, I can’t go to the local pub and drink my usual amount. I’ll lose my sense of belonging, routine and community.

What is the most common insecurity?

Other people’s perception is one of the most common insecurities.

If I don’t do what others are doing, I’ll stick out like a sore thumb and I’ll feel like an outcast.
If I don’t succumb to social peer pressure, I will lose face; everyone will think I’m a wimp.
I have an ego I need to fiercely protect; it’s my image, my identity.

Growth requires overcoming fears and insecurities

It’s easiest to use something that is out of our control (like another person) as an excuse to mask our insecurities.

If I tell them my wife won’t let me, then I’m off the hook. I won’t look like a wuss. They won’t think I’m a loser.
They’ll blame her, not me.
They’ll still think I can eat and drink like I’m in my 20’s.
They’ll still think I can be financially irresponsible, that I want to spend stupid amounts of money on something I don’t even enjoy.
They’ll still think I have the stamina to stay out late and party like a rockstar.

It gives a person permission to shake off their responsibilities instead of owning their choices.

It’s only when someone deals with their deepest insecurities head-on that they can overcome their fears, grow as an individual and become a more confident and equal partner in their relationship. And it starts with the words we say to ourselves and others.

So what can be said instead of “My wife won’t let me.”?

It’s simple.

“I can’t do this because I won’t let me.”

So Readers, have you ever used your partner as a reason not to do something?

This post was previously published on Hello, Love.


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The post Why Saying ‘My Wife Won’t Let Me’ Stunts Your Growth appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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