As shared in one of our articles in our Mars v. Venus series, showing your man appreciation and showing your woman respect is one way of addressing the different needs of two genders according to John Gray’s popular book on relationship, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.
In Asian context, it would seem that being respected, is also a psychological necessity to manhood. As reflected in Crazy Rich Asians, “giving face” to the man of the house is an acute, painful topic that makes us reflect on the norms in a relationship and how external opinions and cultures could so easily kill the love within.
“Giving Face” – Astrid v. Michael
It was a tragedy that the beautiful couple ended in separate ways, yet it was a relief, especially in the final separation scene when Astrid no longer had to hide the royal heirloom earrings she recently purchased and instead put them on openly before walking out on Michael. It was a scene of empowerment, or taking her power back.
Astrid was the princess who surrendered her own power to her husband, so that he would not feel ashamed or humiliated by his wife’s social status and wealth. Yet despite her deliberate attempts at hiding her wealth and toning down her extravagant her lifestyle, Michael was still offended regardless. His inner insecurity and inadequacy, triggered by external opinions and comments by others, got better hold of him. The fairytale love story, when once upon a time love conquered all, became a tragic irony in the end.
Perhaps this is not just Asian, but it does seem that Asian men are judged more harshly on their wealth or income-earning capacity relative to their spouse. “郎才女貌” (literally meaning talented man and beautiful woman), which since time ancient has been used as the compatibility standard, says that it is compatible when a man is smart (and therefore translating to higher income-earning capacity) and woman is good-looking. Perhaps this standard is still sticky in the modern world, despite increasing female empowerment and financial independence.
So be it. While accepting the social and cultural norm as is, we are given a chance to reflect on this concept of wife giving or saving respect for the husband through the story of Astrid and Michael. Astrid did not humiliate Michael, in fact, she had done what she could to protect his sensitivity. Yet it was a mistake, as she realized in the end. It was not her duty to nurse him and protect him. At the same time, it was his choice to indulge in his endless self-pity and lack of confidence, and using it as an excuse for every mistake he makes.
A note to women who had sacrificed much of their own pride and power to give face to their men – respect are not to be given freely, but earned.
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Coming up next in this series of articles:
About Mother-Daughter In-Law Relationship – Rachel v. Eleanor
About Adult Children Staying with Parents – Nicholas, Peik Lin, etc.
About Love Is Duty – Rachel v. Eleanor