Don’t Turn Her Into The Invisible Woman
Sex, Love and Relationships with Anna-Megan Raley
Friday, 7:45 p.m. – She wipes away a small fleck of mascara from underneath her eye. Then presses her hands firmly down the front of her dress to straighten out any crinkles in the fabric. Next, she debates over earrings. The feminine dangles or the sassy, sparkly hoops? She does a 180 in front of the mirror to ensure the back of her dress drapes perfectly around her curvy frame. She spins around to capture the image in the mirror of how perfect she looks and feels for their night’s plans.
After adding a final layer of lip gloss and one last blast of hairspray, she’s beaming and tiptoes downstairs so her husband has no notice of her grand entrance before they head to dinner with friends.
“Hey, babe, do these shoes go okay with this?” she asks while radiating through the living room, knowing already how great she looks.
He doesn’t look.
“Honey, let’s go already,” he says, ignoring her.
Boom. She was Cinderella a moment ago, but now she’s just become invisible. Again.
She stressed over every little detail for that one moment, for that one look from her husband, for that one comment of approval. She doesn’t get any of those. It’s as if all those little details that composed that image in the mirror have vanished.
All she wanted was a “wow, honey, you look beautiful” or a silent look that screams, “I’m so lucky to have her.” Something. Her expectations aren’t unreasonable. She just wants to make him proud and be noticed by the man who has vowed to love her forever.
She doesn’t say anything.
Sunday, 4 p.m. – They’re driving to meet some work associates at a casual event. They’re excited to have a few hours together before the work-week begins, but her head is pounding from a hectic weekend. She forces a smile.
He keeps the radio at a high volume as he drives. She reaches over to adjust the volume slightly. He’s angered.
“What are you doing!” he screams as if she’s a child. “You just want to control everything!”
Immediately regretting that she upset her husband before their night even began, she reminds her stubborn man about the headache that’s haunting her. He doesn’t care.
“I’m not talking to you the rest of the way,” he tells her. “You just act like everything I do is wrong.”
She’s stunned and doesn’t ignore the problem.
“Why are you acting this way?” she asks. “Why don’t you care that the loud radio is making my head hurt?”
Silence. He doesn’t need to answer her – she’s invisible.
Tuesday, 6 p.m. – She pulls herself out of her car after a long couple of days at work. Always carrying her purse, computer bag and work bag on one shoulder so she could handle her keys with the other arm has made her back become a source of daily discomfort.
“You’re home earlier tonight,” he says as he helps her carry her things upstairs.
She’s warmed by his embrace.
“What do you want to do for dinner?” her husband asks.
While getting out of her uncomfortable work clothes, she kicks off her heels and suggests a take-out place. He agrees.
“Hey, babe, do you think you could rub my back right here before we pick up the food?” she asks while stretching out the area of her back that’s killing her.
He pays no attention to how awkward she looks trying to get her back muscles to cooperate with her.
“You didn’t even notice my haircut,” he replies.
She actually feels guilty for not noticing that half an inch of hair is missing from his head. At the same time, she feels invisible.
Thursday, noon – She receives a phone call at her job. It’s her darling husband.
“Do you want to meet for lunch in 30 minutes?” he asks. “I want to spend some time with you.”
He’s so sweet.
She has the salad, but he picks on her for eating too much bread. She ignores him and talks about her big project at work. He asks follow-up questions and talks about events from his day as well.
They make plans to do chores that night and to work in the yard that weekend. He kisses her in the parking lot before they part.
She’s happy, and lunch was delicious. She’s smiling as she returns to the office. Her husband just makes her feel so special.
Thursday has been a great day in her world. She’s not feeling invisible at all.
But Friday is sneaky close, and there’s no way to know the next day that she’ll be important again. It could be tomorrow or the next day or the day after that.
Regardless of their days together, Thursday is going in the books as a good day. As she rushes home from work to see him, she’s wishing everyday was like Thursday.
The little things he did and said Thursday briefly erase the feelings of inferiority and emptiness, and she’s flooded with those adoring and adored feelings again.
Maybe these interractions sound real. Maybe they’re similar to moments you’ve had with your partner. Unfortunately, they’re real for a lot of people.
Dr. Kathleen F. Bernhard, the author of The Invisible Woman, addresses situations like the ones this woman in the story above faces.
Her book is described as being “for the millions of people who have given parts of themselves away to others and found they have lost their voice, their core.”
The words have inspired me to write this story, but, more importantly, I’ve realized I’m guilty of saying things that might have made the women in my life feel invisible. Sorry, mom. Sorry, sis.
Don’t turn her into the invisible woman. Women are meant to yap, so don’t take their voices away.