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.
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
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 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 him, 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.