Remedial Husbandry: A Synopsis

I'd like to digress momentarily from the scheduled activities of the symposium to offer my views on the smart way to be someone's husband. The principles I'm about to express are, I believe, universal. They are based on many factors of my personality and life experience, not the least of which are university-level coursework in organizational behavior and a childhood spent taking judo classes. The extent to which these universal principles apply may vary, but they are universal just the same.

The first and gravest mistake most husbands (and many wives) make is that of focusing on the battle* of the moment and forgetting the war. The long-term goals in my marriage are and forever have been very simple:
a) to be left in peace, and
b) have my beloved avail herself of the manly bounty that is Joke with the greatest frequency which practical circumstances will permit.

In order for these goals to be successfully -- and continuously -- met, TFBIM must be in a good mood. Therefore, I do my best to:

1- Avoid earning her wrath
2- Try to prevent those things which set off her wrath-o-meter from reaching her
3- Gauging when, in moments of her wrath, she is to be placated (and with what) or simply left alone or allow myself to go limp so that she can expend her energy, dissipating it harmlessly.

Inimical to this set of procedures is Trying To Win or Telling Her What To Do. Reflexively, she'll redouble her wrath, aim it at me, and the best I can hope for is a Pyrrhic win. Which gives me a tenuous grasp on a) and zero opportunity for b). (Mind you, there ARE times when sharp disagreements arise and which necessitate my strenuous opposition to her views/actions, but even that is aided by the above approach; it's called "pick your battles.")

In yesterday's case, the requirement was to allow myself to go all floppy as she ranted and raved (my BiL absorbed much of the blow, which serves him right for not warning me when I married his sister) and, for all appearances, give the impression I am listening raptly. For whatever reason, my beloved was not blessed with economy of speech and therefore this takes some time to complete. At first it wasn't easy, but now I have mastered the half-listening/half-daydreaming approach and therefore she extracts all the sense of sympathy she requires without taxing my reserves too severely.

The only time where this approach has been violated comes in the form of assorted chores. I have a Y chromosome and must be told what she wants me to do. In any marriage there are tasks that eventually become X's task or Y's task. I have no qualms about telling TFBIM to please take over a certain task as I am busy with some other burden, but getting her to reciprocate and ask me is, frankly, murder. I have more or less gotten through to her with my mantra of "My crystal ball fell off the shelf and broke." This is the brief way of saying I have zero intuition and stuff that is plainly obvious to the wifely race, registers with the likes of me as if it were the infrared heat signature of a disembodied spirit in an adjacent meadow.

I can't speak for other husbands, but my default is what the military calls "UnODir" i.e., "unless otherwise directed" which means I'm willing to do what you ask, but only what you ask and only IF you ask. You may rail and vent and fulminate, but you stand a better chance raging against gravity. My other BiL (sister's husband) got around this by putting up a list of all conceivable household tasks with boxes to check (or "tick" for you UK-types) off if a chore needed doing.

However -- and here's a trick -- whenever TFBIM reaches the end of her tether and breaks down and tells me to do something (fold laundry, thrash a recalcitrant offspring, store some items, whatever) I make it a point of doing so with great cheer AND throwing in a bonus. "Honey, I finished drying the dishes, y'want me to put them away also?"

That sort of thing.

Oh, and it helps to cook yummy food for her.


P.S. I am making sure the lads are fully up to speed on this manner of husbanding. I call this the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not get yelled at.

* Marriage has been described as the only form of combat where one sleeps with the enemy.


Frogdancer said…
I should print out four copies of this post for each of my boys...
Your wisdom and sharp instinct for self preservation is inspirational. My lads could learn much from kneeling at the feet of the master that is Joke and learning how to live, thrive and survive in the real world.

Not that they're ready for marriage yet, (16, 14, 13 and 11)but at least they'll have some pre-planning time to avoid the pitfalls their father (my ex husband) fell into.

May your wisdom keep your a) and b) goals satisfied, and your wife never realise that you're only half listening as she raves!
Joke said…
If the choice is to stand my ground in a chest-thumping, Alpha male way or, on the other hand, simply sprinting to expedience...I find I could use the exercise.

For better or worse, I am fixated on results, at the expense of process or intention.

Stomper Girl said…
Honey I finished thrashing the recalcitrant offspring, want me to make him tidy his room too??


But Why? Why can't you men have a crystal ball. You know we want you to.
Joke said…
I have a theory. No, wait, scratch that.

I have a hypothesis as to why women want men to have a crystal ball. It's only a hypothesis, so the rough edges will need a lot of sanding before I present it as a fully functioning theory to the Husband Guild.

Here goes:

I think women want men to have a crystal ball because if a man were able to do what the woman wanted without being asked then that would be indicative of said man being REALLLLLLLLY in love with her, because he is so attuned to her every requirement that he has trained his senses to, er, sense said requirements.

Stomper Girl said…
Hmm. You don't think it's because women are able to sense what the matter is when the positions are reversed, and we're just amazed that men can't? Without wanting to make too many sweeping assertions here....
Joke said…
That may have something to do with it. Sort of like when one of you is fluidly bilingual and the other has avery, er, tenous command of just the one language.

Part of it could be what you state, but I think deep down many women are imagining how cool it would be if Mr. Wonderful would intuit the way women seem to do.

Incidentally, I have discovered that intuition (in this realm anyway) can be faked with not-bad-results.

If you would permit me a little crudity here

I have told my J on a number of occasions that foreplay is a 24 hour exercise. It has taken him a number of years to get to grips with that notion. He has certainly learnt that cooking me a meal helps things along nicely. As will a superb glass of wine.
Joke said…
Whew. For a moment there I thought you meant crudités.

shula said…
If you guys HAD a crystal ball, then you would most likely be female which, while making domestic arrangements far less complicated and political, would probably take all the fun out of it.

Or something like that.
Badger said…
Heh heh. You said "limp" and "floppy" and didn't even tell me to shut up afterwards. Bit off your game, old boy, eh wot?
Sarah O. said…
I suspect your troubles may lessen once the kids are back in school and no longer underfoot.

Too bad, because you write so well when aggravated.
Joke said…
Badge - Well, DUH. I was all floppy and limp.

Soggy, too.


Popular Posts