A Plea to Spouses

One of Christian’s biggest pet peeves is the treatment of men in advertising and comedy on TV. Men are portrayed as clueless, lazy, stupid, and easily manipulated—not to mention singleminded.

I try to make him feel better by reminding him that advertising is marketed to women, but that doesn’t help—and to tell the truth, I can see why. If that view of men is so ingrained in our collective feminine psyche, it doesn’t say much for us. I don’t know if it’s always been this way, but certainly in the post-feminism world, women have a habit of man-bashing, of considering ourselves perpetually victimized.

That’s not to say that victimization doesn’t occur, because obviously it does. But I often feel that the whole “I am woman, hear me roar” thing is used as a justification to do whatever we feel like, regardless of the feelings of the opposite sex. And that’s not right. We blame our hormones. We blame getting up at night with the baby. We blame everyone except ourselves.

And when I say “we,” I am not excluding myself. I know that I often feel irritable and think that my husband should do more/different/know what’s going on/understand that my job is 24/7…you mention it, I’ve been there.

But I’m not without fault, either. And this is my problem. We women tend to talk to each other more than our husbands do. Sometimes we get into the habit of commiserating, but without remembering that there are two sides to every story—without entertaining the point of view of our husbands, who no doubt have a long laundry list of things they’d like us to change, too—and I’m sure that the list is NOT limited to the bedroom!

Here’s the thing, though: why are we griping to friends instead of talking to each other?

I know that I am blessed beyond all comprehension. As irritated as I get with Christian, he is an incredibly gentle man who devotes virtually his every moment to his family—both me and the kids, and his siblings and parents. He makes an effort to talk through his fears, concerns, and irritations with me, even though it’s not something he would instinctively do, the way I do. But if we have a problem with each other, we talk about it. We have varying success at modifying behaviors, but we talk, we make the effort to change.

Doesn’t everyone enter marriage with a relationship that lends itself to communication? (If not, it explains a lot about the divorce rate!) If so, why are things different now? Parenthood is no excuse for neglecting the spousal relationship. Children need married parents who are happy together. The spousal relationship is the primary one in the household. The parent-child relationship is second to that.

This is my plea to spouses:

Women, stop bitching about what your man isn’t doing, calm down, talk to him, and be prepared to accept that you are not the only one in the house who feels undervalued and overworked, your contributions underappreciated.

Men, make the effort to really listen, and to come toward your wife. Meaning, you’re going to have to make a real effort to alter your mindset, because the things that your wife sees are not necessarily things that you would normally notice.

To both: be open to each other. No one is all right, and no one is all wrong. Marriage is a masterpiece in motion.

The blog post that inspired me today can be found here. Generally I love everything on her site, but I feel compelled to hold the middle ground on this, as on everything else.

I’d like to wrap up properly, but I expect a voice lesson to walk in the door any moment and I really want to get this posted.

(Bracing for the backlash…)