My husband is a gem, a jewel!

I don’t write much about my husband because he’s a private fella; now and again I’ll relate a period of puzzlement he may express regarding our children or the books that disturb his sleep, or some recipe-gone-wrong. I think once I referred to him as a “swell egg.”

But after reading Rachel Lucas and Dr. Helen on this miserable toothache of a woman who recommends treating a husband like a child in order to achieve “parity” in marriage (dear Lord in heaven – who has been promoting this myth that life can be both “forced fair” and still natural, happy, spontaneous and surprising? Make them stop it!)

The toothache woman, who fancies herself a wellspring of womanly wisdom spews forth her advice, thusly:

…[her guests] sigh with relief. “Oh, you’re so lucky!” they murmur. “Jeremy is soooo wonderful!”

Excuse me? Here’s a news flash for you: Jeremy is not soooo wonderful. I, actually, am the one who is soooo wonderful.

And yet everyone acts as if Jeremy deserves some kind of medal just for making a run to the supermarket. No one has ever suggested that I’m a heroine for doing the things every mother is expected to do. I admit that my husband helps out more than many men, but here’s another news flash: It isn’t because he’s such a fabulously enlightened being. Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work. The reason Jeremy “helps” as much as he does (an offensive terminology that itself suggests who’s really being held responsible) is simple: He doesn’t have a choice.

Excuse me…I still haven’t stopped shuddering.
I suspect that when The Vagina Monologues comes to town this deeply victimized woman clamors to audition as the Special Guest Vagina: the one made of steel wool that shreds the penis and then toot-toots like a claxon horn in Rome.

She goes on and on like this. Men suck, only the women are carrying the full burden of life:

“Where are the other fathers? In their offices, no doubt. Before you start protesting that this is exactly where those big strong male breadwinners belong, let me make one thing crystal clear: In many of the families I’m talking about, the wife is actually the major breadwinner.”

Well, maybe they’re at the office because it’s friendlier there
. All they have to do there is answer to a dozen bosses, try not to trip over anyones gender/race/sexuality issues, answer every phone call, every email, every IM, every beeper, every buzz and deliver today’s work last week, all while looking over their shoulders wondering if their job will be outsourced, or if they will (like a neighbor of mine) be told they’ll be working six hours away if they plan to keep working for the company, and they’re getting mighty old to consider another job. But at least they don’t have to come home – to someone who works at home – and listen to “why do I have to start supper? Why do I have to deal with the children? HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL DO FOR ME TODAY…”

Holy crap! Maureen Dowd is a veritable pussycat compared to this scold, who seems to take both pride and pleasure in her public diminishment of her husband.

I bet she only purchases products that Madison Avenue pitches with dumbfatlazy stupid husbands/fathers and remarkably thinbeautifulcheerful brilliant wives. Gotta support the narrative, after all.

Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. Maybe she was just having a bad day when she wrote it. But honestly, if the purpose of her piece was to make the reader think well of her and badly of her husband, she has failed spectacularly.

Says Dr. Helen:

That this chauvinistic writer is angry that her husband will not scrub the toilet bowl at her command, yet she thinks of herself as oppressed is laughable

Rachel writes:

And here I was blundering through life with the idiotic idea that you shouldn’t marry a man who’s not already a fully functioning, self-sufficient adult human being. Wrong! Marry any guy you like (even if he is clearly nowhere near your personal standards), make babies with him, and then treat him like a child for the rest of your life because that makes you feel powerful. That means you are not taking any SHIT from any lazy worthless no-good MAN.

The men in my life are the best men I know
. Even with the mad patriarch to contend with, I have known mostly really good men with whom I am grateful to share a life.

My husband works like a dog for us;
he does it because he has a great deal of discipline and self-pride and he wants to both do superior work and be successful. When the kids were little and we decided jointly that my staying home to raise them was worth the pennypinching and coin-rolling it would entail, he worked two jobs.

Yes, I mowed the lawn, yes, I put together the family dinners, and remembered all the birthdays and did most of the Christmas shopping and ran little entrepreneurial businesses – all unsuccessful – and met with the teachers and went to the soccer and football practices. It was my privilege, and if he could have joined me he would have in a heartbeat. But he couldn’t.

Life is difficult. You work hard. Buck it up.

Most nights he would get home in time to bathe the eldest
and tickle the tummy of the youngest, and when he had to miss that for work, it grieved him. Eventually he stopped the second job, went to school on weekends, studied late into the night and got an MBA and then – because the kids were old enough – he took on the added responsibility of becoming a scout master, so he could share all of those camping and travel and leadership experiences with them, and he still worked slave-hours.

If I needed a break – a retreat, a night out – anything I wanted, he was fast to say, “go do that; I can take care over here.” I might come home from retreat to find the den repainted as a surprise. When S – his little brother – was dying, we added a few hours of travel, every other night, to the regime, to spend as much time as we could with S, and this man never used the additional stress as an excuse to carp, freak out, scold or diminish anyone else around him.

Anything I have ever wanted to try, and scheme, any venture – he’s encouraged it. He cannot do enough for me. He cannot do enough for you.

With with my arthritis continually encroaching
, he just takes on whatever becomes difficult for me, because he assumes that I would do the same for him.

And I think…probably, I would. Of course I would. But I likely wouldn’t do the extra chores as well – or as cheerfully – as he manages.

He saved my life. That is not fanciful – it is fact. He grew me up, forced me – simply by virtue of his example – to become less-feral and more human (although I still, obviously, have my grizzly moments) and he showed me how to really live, and how to live on faith that is supported by unconditional love. I make a balls of it all quite often, but he never gives up on me, and he would never, never publicly do to me what this “superior” woman has done to her husband.

Actually, we didn’t use Corinthians 13 at our wedding, but he embodies it:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,

it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

He is not perfect; of course we fight. But when he is wrong he’s quick to apologize. When he’s right he doesn’t pummel me with it. He takes no joy in putting me down.

If one is gleaning satisfaction in putting down one’s spouse…maybe one should look at that. And work on it.

Rachel links to another man-hating screed – specifically a “white male” hate screed. Imagine the shrieks of rage were a man to write this way about white women. All this really tells you, though, is that the author goes after the safest targets.

Fausta says, Jeremy, take yourself out of range of her fire.

Dr. Melissa Clouthier ain’t having any more of this!.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Piano Girl

    Yes, you are a lucky woman with such a dear husband, but he’s pretty lucky, as well!!!

  • Sensible Mom

    I’m sure the nag you quoted also demands from her husband the money for every one of the latest fashions, house designs, etc., and then complains that her husband works long hours, that her house is too small….

    Women like her also never give their husbands credit for what they do, like mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, fixing the clogged toilets. Or maybe that’s another thing she demands he hires out, thus making him work longer hours. Oh, and I bet she’d send him downstairs if she heard an intruder. God forbid she’d risk her life.

    Women like her are high maintenance, self-absorbed snobs who can’t think beyond their most recent wants. His biggest fault was obviously marrying her.

  • Victoria

    The miserable toothache of a woman finished her piece with this parting shot, about how she successfully managed her 17 year-marriage.

    “By holding my husband’s feet to the fire every single day of our lives, of course.”

    OMG. I feel so sorry for the guy. Some women just never know how bad they sound in public.

    Thank God my mother, a very independent woman mollycoddled by my father, who in turn she adores, is not like that. Chances are, I won’t be either…


  • chardonnay

    Ungrateful comes to mind, and very self centered. She should spend a week or more tagging along side a SINGLE mom, who works full time, commutes 45-60 minutes one way, mows the grass, shops, cooks, laundry….you know.

  • GOPSoccerMom

    It must be husband appreciation night. I’ve been bragging on my man, too. :)

    I think that this man-bashing will have to die out on its own eventually. Those women are a dying breed. Or at least I hope they are! I work hard to be sure my girls don’t EVER get into that “Girls Rule, Boys Drool” garbage. Any time they say anything of that nature (which is not often), I say, “Hey! Your FATHER is a boy, you know!” It’s incredibly important to me that they see men as equals, not as someone to be pushed down so as to make oneself feel important. Modern feminism seems to have become the thing it claims to hate, huh?

    Or maybe I should say the second-generation feminism? I’m thinking that women who love and appreciate men are the modern feminists.

  • Sigmund Carl and Alfred

    In all seriousness, for some of us ‘second time around guys,’ the refrain that ‘there are no good men out there’ sends up the red flags.

    There are plenty of good men out there (many of whom are refugees from marriages with the kind of women Rachel Lucas writes about) who have a tough time finding the right woman.

    It has been my experience that single men over a certain age have nowhere near the baggage women of the same age carry. Here is an account of a personal experience that illustrates my point.

    And every word is true.

  • ricki

    I ADORE the phrase “miserable toothache of a woman.” That is so perfect for the situation.

    And that thought she had, that “Jeremy is not sooooo wonderful, *I*, actually, am the one who is sooo wonderful” kind of sums up the whole attitude in this – that everyone else is childish scum who needs the firm hand of their “better” lest they live in benighted filth all their lives long.

    I’m single – on the outside looking in – and I see an awful lot of women doing this sort of thing to their husbands. (It’s especially distasteful to me when they start bashing their husbands right after doing the “oooooh yooooou pooooor thing” coo at me, because they feel bad, apparently, that I don’t have a husband. Or, more likely, they’re enjoying the chance to patronize a woman who is “lesser” because she has, in their minds, not been able to “catch” a man.)

    I wonder – could it be a lot of the women who do this sort of thing are just basically insecure, and they feel the need to build themselves up constantly by finding the shortcomings in everyone around them?

    Life IS hard, and people who spend an inordinate amount of time preening over themselves while simultaneously complaining about the kind efforts of those who love them apparently have it a bit too easy.

  • Gayle J. Miller

    This woman clearly doesn’t comprehend how fortunate she is that she is married to someone who actually tolerates her nonsense! And dear Anchoress, it sounds to me like you and your husband have a TRUE marriage – not some sham relationship based on distrust and unpleasant behavior.

    As to the man-bashing, it has become tedious, predictable and just plain dishonest. Added to that, far too many women have removed the father of their children from their lives (all too often through deceit)and, worse, the lives of their children. Children need BOTH parents and they certainly don’t need a parent so selfish and self-centered as to be willing to remove one-half that equation from the child’s life. I have watched my cousin suffer with custody issues with his older son (so egregious was his ex-wife’s disregard for visitation orders that he eventually was given complete physical custody) and although he had custody of his younger son, the mother kidnapped him and my cousin hasn’t seen his now-17-year-old son or known his health or whereabouts for 15 years, until very recently. My cousin is no pristine angel in some ways, but he is a very loving father and he takes fatherhood seriously – but to a great degree his younger son has had no experience of that. Nor did the younger son ever have the opportunity to know his paternal grandparents, and he never will since both are now dead. If this is mother love, spare me!

    I admire you for so many reasons, dear Anchoress, but most of all I admire the strength of your marriage and the willingness of both of you to work on your relationship, probably on a daily basis.

    I think this whole man-bashing thing is part and parcel of the rancourous public conversation we have been experiencing for the past 15 years or so. Instead of listening to each other and considering each others’ point of view, we just automatically seem to decide that if someone doesn’t agree with us, they must be evil. What sophomoric nonsense!

  • Victoria

    What with Nora Ephron’s hit job on “White Men” in HuffPo, it’s not been a good couple-a days for the fairer sex…

    I’m really embarrassed at these two morons having anything in common with me, even if it’s only two X chromosomes.


  • dellbabe68

    What a beautiful post (and a beautiful story)! God bless him, and you! I’m glad you found each other.

    I also love the phrase “Miserable toothache of a woman.” Some days, that just fits.

    I’m so sick of hearing men get diminished by fems. They are not all great, but they are half of the population and their role is important – in the home and outside of it.

  • Rich Fader

    Dear God…don’t send me the steel-wool, Roman-taxi-horn kind. Send me the kind that knocks off a bucket of Guinness and then sings along with Flogging Molly. Thank You. Amen.

    I’m glad at least some of us have parents like mine, and like you. I feel sorry for Leslie’s kids. Really I do.

    And Leslie, my dear…I’m trying to figure out whether you consider withholding nooky as a punishment or a reward. Based on that photo in the Times, I’m guessing reward. Am I right?