31 Mar 2020

How to avoid going from a Maiden to a Maid (or having been made.)

This applies to men as well as women, at home and at work. I started thinking about being a maiden in the context of the term “maiden name” (Surprisingly, I hadn’t thought much about where that term came from.) But after watching a Jimmy Fallon segment where he and his wife discuss her use of her maiden name – I gave it some thought. This had been a weighty topic when I got engaged. The first words from my soon to be father-in-law were, “So, will you be taking the Gilbreath name? (I did, and now I don’t.)  The day after I saw the segment, after doing the dishes for what felt like the tenth time in a day, (during quarantine) I thought about the transition of going from Maiden to Maid. Going form independence to doing other people’s dirty work and cleaning up their messes. And then I thought about how to prevent it and what to do if you have already succumbed.  A man may not have exchanged his name, but he too may have become a maid, or have been made in a relationship or at work, just as easily and just as constricted as a woman.

Tuns out, maiden has a lot of meanings: unmarried, a former Scottish beheading device resembling the guillotine, and a racehorse that has yet to win a race. For me, the term signifies innocence, independence, beauty, strength, opportunity, and an open future filled with unbounded potential and freedom for self-definition.

So, to maintain a Maiden Mindset:

Set and honor boundaries, so as not to lose yourself.

Honor what’s true for you. Be authentic, fully yourself, don’t accommodate or conform to fit other people’s expectations, needs and desires.

Speak up for what you want and when something isn’t working for you. Negotiate for what you want. Find solutions that satisfy everyone’s interests, including yours.

Make explicit agreements.

Don’t put off your happiness or fulfillment until later for the sake of others or unwieldy circumstances.  Watch out for, “Oh, I’ll just…”

Want the best for yourself and be willing to have it. Make peace with your own energy. Don’t defend, feel guilty or make excuses. Independent doesn’t mean alone. You can individuate and still be loved.

Relinquish control and share the load, including the invisible load.

Determine that you and what you want matter. Assess your values and desires.  Put your interests first. (Not to the exclusion of others but as your top priority.) Don’t sacrifice what you want for others. Being selfless benefits no one in the long run.

Practice honest reflection and honor what you want and how you feel in the moment. When something is not for you anymore, you get to say so and you do.

Get comfortable with and allow dissonance. Let others own their feelings.

Dismantle false beliefs.

Action item: Put your crown back on and decide what you want for lunch, then go and get it.



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