Reassurance

My son’s girlfriend stayed with us for a couple of days during the holidays and while she was here I kept noticing how much she was laughing when they were together.   How much she obviously enjoyed his company and sense of humor, and how genuinely interested she was in him. And mostly how much she seemed to value his advice and counsel on things.

And I made me think of how things change with marriage.

All couples start out this way.  The gal believing her man is funny, smart, charming, and so very capable of anything that even he begins to believe it.

So it’s a wiffle bat to the guy’s head when things change.  Gradually perhaps, or maybe just overnight, but at some point the guy realizes that he is suddenly the exact opposite of what he assumed was attractive to her in the first place.

Now he is not funny, but childish.  Not smart, but slightly dim.  Not Prince Charming but Lord Farquaad.  And far less capable of doing anything correctly or offering any advice more worthy than some homeless guy pushing a grocery cart down the sidewalk.

lord-farquad

Now before any of you gals says I must be talking about one unfortunate guy, don’t.  I have talked with enough of my brethren – yeah we talk too – to learn that most of your husbands feel the same way.  It’s pretty much the only negative thing I have ever heard a husband utter about his wife. You gals think we are obsessed with your figures and sex (or lack thereof) and that we complain about that all the time.  Or we don’t like how you deal with the kids or keep the house.  Or how you can’t do all that plus bring in some cash as well.  But the truth is we rarely discuss those things with other guys,  much less complain about them.

The only thing guys complain about – I mean seriously complain about – is that their wives all seem to think they are bumbling, incompetents.  Yeah, they aren’t funny any longer either, and forget all about charming, but mostly they are fools not to be trusted with anything past changing a light bulb. They all said that whenever their wives asked a question or needed some task performed, they would offer their opinion or plan to deal with the issue and be promptly rebuked.  Told that “Linda’s husband said you should do it this way” or  “I read in Cosmo that you should only use a pipe wrench to do that.”  Their counsel ignored for another woman’s husband and a glossy magazine.  Their only solace the knowledge that in Linda’s eyes her husband is an idiot too and at least Cosmo has pictures of half-naked chicks.

And because of this they sometimes wonder why their wives ever married them in the first place.

And in case you don’t know it ladies this takes a toll.

It’s called emasculation.

Men, yeah, we rattle on about bodacious babes out there. Amongst ourselves anyway. I obviously do here. But I certainly would never tell loving wife that Sally the Stripper not only has better boobs, but that she also bakes a mean pumpkin pie and that she should email her for the recipe.

I do want to live a while longer after all.

But mostly past the whole “staying alive” thing I know it would diminish her in a way. Make her feel less valued. Whether that value has to do with her cooking talent or her looks or her ability to fly a rocket to the moon. (Which we should be doing instead of driving that moronic space taxi.  Man, I hate NASA for destroying our once majestic space program.)

And if a man does do that then at best he is just piggish and at worse abusive.  No argument from me on that point.

But women get away with it.

I mostly blame modern television. There have been no shortage of sitcoms placing the man in the incompetent, but lovable role – a doofus to both his wife and kids – while the woman is smart, sassy, intelligent and pretty much perfect. Her perfection only enhanced by her saint-like tolerance of her obviously inadequate husband.  All innocent and funny of course, but still after a while people pick up on it and life begins to imitate art.  Pretty soon you are treating your husband like that guy on The King of Queens or All About Jim.

Still, it’s not a new thing.  Old films often had the husband as the bumbling boob barely getting through a day without the love, patience and guidance (and humorous derision) of his wife.

But back then there seemed to be just as many films that played the husband as the smart, capable anchor of the family.  Supported by his wife, and respected by her and the children for his abilities.

Not so much now.  Husbands are usually either fools or demons.

I could keep going. This line of thought takes me down the long road of how we are short-changing our young boys by making all  male role models out to be Homer Simpson (those that hang around at all).  But honestly I don’t have the time or expertise to comment on all that and besides there are many more qualified people doing it already.

What I wanted to do was point out is that while women occasionally need reassurance, they should understand that their men also need it if only in a different way.

We may not ask you if our butt looks fat in these jeans (or we may as fat as my butt as gotten these days), but we sure would appreciate you believing us when when we say we can install a new faucet.

At least until the water starts spewing all over the kitchen floor.

UPDATE:

None of the above should be interpreted as anything past a general observation about marriage.  Loving wife is nothing like the rest of you women because I am perfect and therefore she never has reason to belittle me.  That said, June’s protestations in the comments only prove my point.   If we start seeing our wives as “nagging,” “bossy,” and “demanding” perhaps there is a reason past our just being in a bad mood.

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11 Comments

  1. My husband is extremely competent in everything he does and I’ve always told him so. However, when we were first married, I went on the pill and didn’t know that it could affect your sex drive. My twenties was spent pushing him away because I didn’t feel like sex. The thirties were filled with 3 babies and I was “too tired”. The forties weren’t much better. In my mid fifties, I tried taking testerone for libido. It worked and I began to realize how my husband felt all those years. I was truly appalled at how I had treated his desire.

    One day I decided to read a romance novel. Then I decided that I would treat him like he was the sexiest thing alive whether I felt it or not. It’s kind of like smiling when you’re not happy. If you act a certain way you get a different reaction and it feeds on itself.

    He was pretty surprised by my behavior but it worked. I kept reading the novels for ideas and before long we had the sex life we should have had before. We’ve never been happier but I still truly regret all those wasted years. I tell all the women I come in contact with, especially the young marrieds, that they should never turn down their husband. They should just say that they want to cuddle and massage either other for comfort – and most of the time if they leave themselves open to it, the desire will come and if it doesn’t, at least their husband will feel wanted. I also went to the book store and being too embarrassed to buy the books, I would just sit in a chair and read about sexual techniques and ways to teach my husband how to please me. That worked wonders too.

    My divorced friends tell me that if they had done that, they would still be married. The grass WASN”T greener on the other side.

    So take care of yourselves, the 60’s can be very good if you do. And ladies you better hope you are lucky enough to marry someone as patient as my husband was with me.

  2. Hmmm, yeah, I’m not buying it.

    The same can be said for a wife. After marriage she becomes a b**ch… what he used to think was cute is now nagging, what he thought was a fun little spit fire, now just makes her a bossy know-it-all now. He used to joke about how he loved that she was a “handful” to handle and now he complains about how demanding she is.

    But honestly, that is just movie stuff…

    Do you really think your wife thinks of you as incapable of forming a sentence? No. Just as men see the woman that they married in front of them, so do women. It is the sad cases that get caught up in what the world sees that do not make it.

    Can my husband fix the sink? Probably… it may take him a few tries and numerous trips to Home Depot, but he will fix it and in the end he is the hero.

    The husband is always the hero. Don’t let any silly woman tell you different.

    Now if he could just get rid of the hair that somehow started sprouting from his ears, then he’ll be in business. (condescending kidding… *wink*)

  3. Funny you talk about this today. I was just talking to someone how it bugs me that all the sitcoms make the man an idiot, and the wife a bossy bitch. My husband can’t even stand to watch “Everybody loves Raymond” for just this reason. I do hate that the shows always make it out that the woman has all the say and all the control. Although…

    My husbands a surgeon, and a damn good one ( not just my opinion). But, if you knew half the stuff he’s messed up around this house in the last few years, you’d almost think WE were in the sitcom.
    I don’t nag (honestly), and I don’t TELL him he should do it this way or that way, but I do make a suggestion if I think he’s not fixing/making something the right way. He very rarely takes my suggestion, only to mess up said project later. It is then LATER that he says, “Oh, maybe you were right”. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard those words.

    I think he’s starting to learn that although he can take a dog apart and put it back together, doesn’t mean he can also do the same with a sink or a fence. SLOWLY, hopeflully he’s learning he’s can’t do EVERYTHING.

  4. I think your post is sadly right on. If I had understood my first husband’s needs as well as I understand my present husband’s needs, *maybe* we wouldn’t have divorced; maybe we would have, given all the garbage each of us carried into our marriage, but we might have had a better chance to get it right.

    I disagree with June Cleaver (obviously, since I agree with your post). Women’s Lib’ has spent the past almost 40 years socializing girls, young women and old, to see men as everything from the oppressive ogres to incompetent and, finally, unnecessary–especially, it seems, for raising children. When I was going through my teached ed’ courses, I had one instructor who was so obviously anti-male that she frequently put down one of the most intelligent and competent men in the class. I came home complaining about it, more than once. If she had talked the same way to a minority, a gay or lesbian, she’d have been fired in a heartbeat. One of my last undergrad’ classes was a “gender-ed” class; I came out feeling as if I’d spent a semester being brainwashed, except that the professor was not very successful: She had stated as one of her goals, at the beginning of the semester, that she hoped all of us would consider ourselves “feminists” by the end of the semester. I think the same few who already considered themselves feminists still did, but she didn’t capture any of the rest of us.

    And finally…my husband is easy to love, respect, admire and support, but I almost ruined our marriage 18 months into it, acting the same way I had in my first marriage. We’ll celebrate our 20th anniversary on Wednesday by renewing our vows. Piece o’ cake!

  5. I made it my resolution this year to try not to nag. It’s hard, but I’m doing pretty well. My husband is not handy – at all. Not even a little. Not even an interest. Something breaks, I fix it. Which is why he had a baby on his hip this weekend while I was at the hardware store buying nuts and bolts to reassemble the bike rack that he put together with duct tape. Yes, nevermind the nuts and bolts that the thing came with, he thought it would be easier and to put together with duct tape. If he doesn’t want me to nag and think he’s a nincompoop, then why does he do that crap?
    This man isn’t stupid. He leads hundreds of men into combat with very complex strategies, yet he puts a bike rack together with tape. Is it a priority thing? Is this really where I (read: our family and home) rank on his list of importances?

    I really work hard around this house. I manage all of the finances, I take care of the vehicles, I make sure the paperwork is done and up to date on everything we own, our insurance policies are the best we should have, I do all of the handywork, I do the all of the wiring for the tvs and computers, I hang the drapes, I install the speakers in the cars, I’m even the family photographer!, I make sure the kids teeth are clean, I tuck them in every night, dinner? laundry? that’s me, too, and I make sure everyone (even his family) receives a birthday card on their birthday. Why is it ok for him to half-ass it and then expect me to act like he’s some Prince Charming?

    I really do love this man. He is funny and he is charming and I love the way he challenges me, but that doesn’t take away the fact that sometimes he is a complete goof who disregards my efforts and half-asses his way around here. So if he can behave like that, you can bet I’m going to call him on it.

  6. Killjoy,

    Leave the lazy bum and marry me!!!!

    Seriously, I have to ask you though. Did the bike rack work with the duct tape? Because, while I certainly wouldn’t have chosen that route, if it worked what does it matter how it was put together?

    See here is my point. Your hubby did something that needed doing but not the way you wanted it done so he got criticized for it. Men get that all the time. And after a while we just give up. What is the point of even trying to help if everything we do is not good enough? Nagging a lazy husband to do something is far different from telling him he did a crappy job of it when he does try.

    That said, I know how hard you work. And I am sure your husband knows, too. Loving wife, a former military wife herself, is the hardest working woman I have ever met. She can do anything and do it well. Maybe that’s part of the problem though. We can never be as good as you are. LOL

  7. You’re absolutely right. He does things and because he doesn’t do it the way I would have, I give him grief about it. But I really am trying to work on that. Really. Did the bike rack work with the duct tape? Well, kinda. It held the top bike up, but the other bike was just sitting on the floor. And the legs were on wrong, so it was leaning. And I honestly don’t believe it would have withstood a move. So then I will say that the bike rack wasn’t going to work with the tape for long. But I’ve moved on.

    Today I’m mad at him for saying “I’ll be home late”, which means 10 or 11 at night. Fine, I’ll go to bed without him. That’s not anything new. But when I wake at midnight and again at 2 and he’s not home, I’m going to be pissed because he didn’t even call. And when I can’t go back to sleep after 2 and I feel like I’m sitting around waiting for the Marines to knock on the door to tell me he died in a fiery crash on The 5 only to hear him stroll in at 4 and fall asleep on the couch without even coming upstairs to tell me he’s alright, I’m gonna be pissed. And I am. I’m mad because he didn’t call to tell me he’s gonna be later than he thought he would. He argues that “It was midnight! I didn’t want to wake you.” Does he think I’m just soundly sleeping peacefully not even wondering where the eff he is?! Anyway, this all boils down to this: He is extremely busy with work, he’s turning over command on Friday, he’s writing 8 op-orders, and he’s just been informed he’s deploying for a year and because of this, I’m not allowed to be mad or say anything. B.S. I say he needs to find the balance between keeping his wife semi-happy and getting his work done. That’s his job as a husband and Marine. Right? But if it matters, I do feel a little horrible now that I yelled at him. He seriously worked until 4 AM, slept two hours, got up at 6 and is already gone and back at work at 7:30. And in the two hours he got to sleep and shower, he had to deal with a pissy redhead.
    Alright, I’m really just venting. Thanks for listening.

  8. How about I do this and agree that he should have called you and let you know he was going to be late? Cause I think he should have. Being the only perfect husband on the face of the Earth that is what I would have done. But for lesser husbands like yours I guess you have to give him some extra instruction.

    I’m sorry the duct tape didn’t work . . . I thought it was kinda a silly idea, but hey, Marines have taken beaches with less so who was I to judge?

    And don’t worry about venting. It’s what I am here for. That and posting pictures of babes.

  9. Wow – lots of detailed comments here! I learned very early (about 14 or so) watching my brother’s wife put him down for all the stuff he didn’t know about remodeling a bathroom, how in her family even the girls knew how to tile and whatever the hell else. It was horrible to watch. I think at that point I made a mental note to always treat a man with respect and to understand that words can hurt more than just about anything, and that hurt can last longer than anything too.
    I am always amazed in everyday life when I see or hear a woman put her husband down in any way – especially in front of other people.
    It does work both ways though. How does the loving wife feel about all the boobs and brunettes you post here?
    Just sayin’.

  10. “It does work both ways though. How does the loving wife feel about all the boobs and brunettes you post here?
    Just sayin’.”

    She assures me she does not care, because she has both fantastic boobs and brunette hair.

  11. BetteJo, I’ll bet your husband would swim through shark-infested waters in a thunderstorm to bring you a lemonade! I know mine would do that for me, because I tell him frequently that he’s my hero. And I mean it.


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