Power and Control Wheel: Male Privilege

Treating her like a servant: making
all the big decisions, acting like the
“master of the castle,” being the
one to define men’s and women’s

Treating her like a servant:  The house and everything in it was my responsibility.  I had sole charge of the children, cooking, cleaning, everything.  He had one chore – to take out the garbage.  He would see the garbage can getting full and would just go to work in the morning.  When he got home it was either over flowing or I’d taken the full bag out and put it beside the garbage can and put a new bag in the can.  He would get so angry that I didn’t just take the garbage out myself but it was his one flipping job in the house!  There was no way I was going to do his one job on top of my 50 jobs.  

Bubba would always complain about the house – it was never clean enough for him.  I always thought he was perfectly capable of picking up toys or pushing a broom around but he would rather have just yelled at me about how bad of a job I was doing.  

making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,”  The biggest decisions we had was about where we lived.  We ended up following his career around the country.  Whether it was because he just got the urge to find a new job and always found them far away from where we lived or because the company moved him, it was always up to him.  I never had a say in where we moved or even whether or not we moved.  There was never a conversation about what was best for us as a family, it was always about his career or what he wanted.  I wasn’t even allowed to be unhappy about the move or to even ask questions about it.  Somehow he viewed me asking questions as me not wanting to go.  No, I just had children that I had to think about.  Where would we live, what were the schools like, how far of a commute would he have?  I had a need to gather information before moving so that I knew what to expect.  I had no say in where we moved and I wasn’t even allowed to ask questions about it.  

being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.  As the man, he worked and when he was home, he could sit and watch t.v. or sleep the day away while I was expected to continue to care for the children, keep the house clean, and cook.  I never got days off.  He would complain that on his days off, he wanted to do what he wanted to do.  The thing he never took into consideration was that I never got a day off.  I was lucky to get an hour off here and there.  There were days that I was lucky enough to use the bathroom alone.  It never entered his reality that I was on call 24/7.  I was actively parenting from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep, then I was available to the children when they woke up at night.  

We never had a marriage.  We had a master/servant relationship.



  1. Cantata

    I really don’t understand how they are all so similar. I literally could have written this post, right down to the trash. If the trash overflowed, it was my fault for filling it, not his for forgetting to take it out.

    The moving stuff was never an issue thankfully, but if it ever had been, it would have gone exactly how yours did.

    I never got a day off, and called him on it. Frequently. He would shrug, and say his job was harder, or give some arbitrary date that he would watch our child so I could get out. That day came, and something always happened to prevent it. If nothing happened yo prevent it, I was to thank him profusely, and basically grovel at the amazing thing he did. Parenting for 2 hours.

    He seemed to get sick every time we had somewhere to be, too. Is that a typical abuser tactic?

    • Yes, that is one of their tactics. If you had to go somewhere and put your attention on someone else, that was not acceptable. Becoming “sick” ensured that your attention was still focused solely on him.

      And I understand about groveling in profuse thanksgiving for “babysitting” his own children for an hour. What he failed to understand was that it was called “parenting” and not “babysitting.”

      • LR

        In other words, he nags you for your attention and when you don’t give it to him, he goes crazy. Sometimes this happens even when they didn’t get attention from their own mothers in childhood and adolescence. And women who neglect their husbands and families face abuse too.

      • With Bubba, it wasn’t like that. It was just supposed to be understood by me that ALL of my attention HAD to be focused on him. It was required and expected. When I forgot this rule, all hell broke loose.

  2. I chose life

    I did not have children with my xh, but the house and cooking fell on me. That would have been fine with me if I did not work a full time job outside of the house as well. And yes, I remember how nothing I cooked was as good as his sainted grandmother or his mother. And we will not talk about the house. We just won’t. I can also remember how he suddenly got sick or found some reason for me to not leave. I sincerely hope he has not replaced me. If he has, I feel really sorry for her.

    • Yes, when we first had Serenity, I was working full-time yet everything at home was my responsibility. He used the excuse that I got home earlier than he did so I should be doing all the cooking, cleaning, and parenting.

      And I love cooking and baking for my friends. They really enjoy it and never tell me the tons of ways I could improve the dish.

  3. Ingrid T

    The main tactic is to keep you isolated. We moved every time I started to make friends. I recall one time when I went from Christmas day when my parents left for home, till my mid-February birthday without being outside our apartment. I was stuck with 2 under 2 and only one car. He told me he had to have the car for work and I couldn’t deal with the 2 and drive in “hectic city traffic”!! Well, the single gal across the street saw my lights on on my birthday and she came over to see if I’d been sick or something. As luck would have it her 15 year old daughter was home with ‘cramps’ and was tickled to come across the street to be with my children while her Mom took me out to lunch!! I was in heaven!! Didn’t have 2 nickles to rub together (another tactic, keep her without money!) but this wonderful woman took me out to lunch, an hour of window shopping and time away from my precious children! 2 months later we moved as he needed to change jobs again! Keep her without money, without friends and without transportation!!!

    • I hate that you had to go through this. I’m so thankful for your wonderful neighbor. It is a bright ray of sunshine when someone does something so simple for us that shows us that we are special and precious and we deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

      It is those seeds that are planted by people like that that eventually can lead to us escaping.

  4. Yep.
    He worked a standard 40hour week, but over four days, so had three days off. But still expected those three days to be “his break”, only helping when he felt up to it, and then expecting a grand parade of thanks for it.
    Decisions were weird. If I didn’t initiate it, it wouldn’t happen. I would look in to things, make suggestions and try and involve him. He just would say, “whatever you want.” then when he got angry, he would say I forced him into x, y, z, he never wanted it, I was a controlling, cold hearted bitch. It made me crazy.

    • He had the best of both worlds. He absolved himself of responsibility in decision making but then turned it on its head when he didn’t like the outcome. And you were damned you did and damned if you didn’t. If your decision was good, he wouldn’t like it because you were responsible for it working out well. If it didn’t work out, you were responsible and he needed to put you in your place. You couldn’t possibly win this.

      And I hear you about the grand parade of thanks for whatever he’d done in the house. It was ridiculous!

  5. Thank you. You are so right. It was a no-win situation for me.

  6. Amanda

    Mine was the opposite. He kept the house a certain way and ordered the kids around in a military like fashion to clean it and maintain it (he was a Marine for 8 of the 10 years I was with him). My mom while visiting early on in our marriage pointed out that this was not how children should be raised but I thought it was teaching them discipline and structure. How wrong I was. If anything was left out or not put away he would have an angry outburst. He was such a perfectionist. I should have known before I married him since when I first met him he proceeded to clean my house and said to me “It will never look like this again understand?” Oh the warning signs that blare in my face now that I choose to ignore then. I share my sons with him, they are 10 and 12 now and when they are here I just let them relax, no yelling, no forcing them to clean, I have a few expectations, but I just want them to feel safe here.

    • Yes, we bring safety to our kids. That is so important. There are so many things that I never would’ve allowed before that I allow now because the children need to feel safe here. I allow them to speak openly about whatever they want to talk about and I maintain my composure no matter what the topic. We’ve had some really interesting conversations!

      That was a huge red flag. Right now I’m working with Serenity to help her understand red flags and to listen to her gut. I’m trying to help her understand that if she is feeling “off” about someone, she doesn’t owe herself or anyone else a reason, she just needs to listen to her gut. I think we are taught that we need to have a concrete reason to break off relationship with someone when we often don’t have one. We just have our gut screaming out warnings to us yet we squash that because we can’t put our finger on what is wrong. We have instincts for a reason. I’m learning myself and teaching my children that we don’t use logic against those instincts. We simply listen and do what our gut is telling us to do.

  7. LR

    Male privilege means asking for dates too. But anyway, it’s awful that some Christians endorse strict gender roles in courtship and marriage and take away the compassion, real love, and joy from these things like our happily-married grandparents had till they went at a very old age.

    • Abuse spans generations. I know that my grandfather was abusive to my grandmother and my mom and her sisters. But yes, some Christians have taken away so much from people by assigning strict gender roles. The Bible says that at the foot of the cross there is no male or female. We are equal in Christ’s eyes. And one of these days, I may yet get up the nerve to ask a man on a date. 😉

      • LR

        Well, it’s best to ask what he would like to do on a date instead. So that way he doesn’t think you’re a maneater, female player, or any bad woman. Sometimes men, especially some Christians, mistake women who ask for dates as bad women who are looking for sex.

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