Today my sister and I had a great conversation about feeling empowered. She has a huge project in her yard that she asked her husband to do. He refused. She was upset. Then she said that she remembered when my husband was in medical school and I laid sod in our backyard all by myself. She said that she remembers how I just did things, as if my husband wasn't ever around. She decided that she will just do the project herself.
I think feeling powerless is very unhealthy. Many times, being married to a medical student, intern, resident, etc., it is easy to experience a lot of waiting and wishing, and sometimes the worst: helplessness.
Every once in a while, during my husband's years in medical school, I wondered whether it was "safe" that I had become so independent. I think a husband and wife in a healthy relationship should "need" each other, rely on each other, and depend on each other. (Otherwise, why would they be married?) I didn't like to have such low expectations of my husband sometimes. I remember spending an entire day once pulling HUGE roots from the ground, remnants of a pine tree that had been removed, so that I could lay sod over the once bumpy grass. I'm sure my husband could have done the same work in a small fraction of the time. But, he didn't have time. And I wanted it done. By recognizing that I could do anything, (even if it took me a month), and developing a habit of not waiting and wishing, I avoided inviting frustration and resentment into my life. This, I'm sure, made me so much happier.
And I'm sure this made my husband much happier also. Our relationship changed during these years. I depended on him for more emotional support, rather than physical - like, he never quite figured out, even after four years, where things belonged in our tiny kitchen!
Feeling powerful and capable is strengthening, and much healthier. As we realize how much greater our potential is than we think, we feel empowered and wonderful.
(Oh yes, and I'm sure my sister's husband is a lot happier too.)