This is essentially part 2 of my blog entitled Gentlemen, do you love your wife at the lunch table? If you haven't read it yet do so now.
In case you haven't noticed, I'm a woman too.This post is aimed as much at me as any other married woman. The main reason I can write this is because I'm just as guilty as everyone else, so take note.
I know about that which I write.
The actual hair salon where all the blabbing happens.
Before you get all sexist on me about the hair salon choice, let me explain. I believe there is no other place I blab to my heart's content except in the stylist chair. I have short hair, so that's at least every 6 weeks. I don't really blab at the lunch table as in the husband example from the previous post.
Here's a sample of actual snippets from actual women I've heard in public in the past year or so. Some are from women I know, others not.
- My husband is such a loser. I mean, I know he loves our daughter, but he never helps with her.
- My husband never lets me spend money. I have to pay all the bills with my check and he gets to spend whatever he wants on his "toys".
- Why can't he just PICK UP THE KID AT DAYCARE ON TIME instead of me having to come all the way across town to do it? He's right there!
- I send my husband to the store with a list and he only comes home with half of it. I can't rely on him to do anything right (sigh of disgust).
- He's going hunting AGAIN while I have to stay home with the kids AGAIN.
- My husband is just useless.
Evidently, men are obsolete. According to Hanna Rosin, the author of Resolved: Men are Obsolete, there are several reasons why this is true.
- Men are failing in the workplace. In 2013, 20% of men were unemployed. The economy is changing rapidly, but men can't seem to change with it fast enough. Men are failing in schools and women are thriving, earning 60% of all college degrees. Boys fall behind faster in school than girls, earlier too.
- Men are failing because the traditional male supported one-income household is vanishing. The concept of "alpha wives" is taking hold. That is, more women are making more money than their husbands (40% of households), not counting single mom households. Women are making great strides in executive leadership and powerful government positions (i.e. Janet Yellen, Christine Lagarde, Mary Barra).
- Men are failing because of the weakening of the working and middle class. Quoting from Rosin, "The working class feels the end of men the most, as me lose their jobs and lose their will to be fathers, and women do everything alone, creating a virtual matriarchy in the parts of the country that used to be bastions of good old macho country music style values. Why don't these women marry or live with the fathers of their children? As many a woman told me, 'He'd be just another mouth to feed.'"
Rosin includes two more, but they are ridiculous, citing the Real Housewives of New Jersey and Anthony Weiner's chest hair, so I'll just stop here.
Just, NO, to all of this.
Rather, let's hear from Eduardo Garcia and a numerous other men who left comments after his piece entitled Chivalry is dead? HA! It's alive and needed now more than ever on the excellent site The Good Men Project.
- Did feminism kill chivalry? Garcia provides a brief history of chivalry as a military code to provide safety for those under your protection. He makes a good point here: "If Feminism killed chivalry, why is it that most women state how they appreciate a genuine gentleman." Further, Garcia argued that the push for gender equality, or the Women First movement, promoted the idea that "men were disposable and a woman's life is more valuable."
- Chivalry is optional. Guys don't have to give up their seat on the bus for a pregnant lady, stop to help a stranger on the side of the road change a flat tire, be a good step-father. "A man is chivalrous because he expects it from himself, not because he expects payment in return or because women expect said behavior from him", Garcia said.
Most men just try to be what you need them to be. You're not either a good man or a bad man. Men are people. Some care more than others. Some try more. Some are just existing. A real man accepts his failings, tries to fill in the gaps left by others and fights alongside his partner for the best life possible.
I've got a good chivalry example from 2008. My sister, Jackie, tagged along with me to NYC for an academic conference where I was scheduled to present my as-yet-to-be-written article Living in the Gray: Lessons on Ethics from Prison. I should clarify that she did not attend the conference, but we did get to do 1.5 days of sightseeing, which is absolutely not enough.
Sis and were navigating the NY subway when I noticed (well, first I noticed the smell, but then...) a woman with a double stroller getting off at our stop and heading towards the stairs. Y'all, there are a lot of steps to navigate out of the subway station! At that time my oldest daughter was almost 2, so strollers were pretty important in my life. She approached the stairs. [pause] Coming up behind her I thought, oh my, she's going to take that stroller up the stairs by herself! Just then a young 20's-something commuter dude swooped past me in a hurry, bounded up one step, paused, stepped back down, grabbed the front of the double stroller, looked at the woman as if to say grab your end, let's go and there they went, up the stairs. At the top, he gently put down his end of the stroller and went on his way. He didn't even look back. She didn't look after him.
What struck me as odd was the reaction by both people. Chivalry was just normal. Of course New Yorkers did this for each other. It's just what you do. No big grand sweeping gesture, just kindness.
I fell in love with NYC at that simple act of chivalry. Thank you, random gentleman.
I like what Doyin's doing over at his blog Daddy Doin' Work about his experiences as a first time dad raising daughters. And while the language is a little rough, finally, someone wrote about an issue that completely angered me while the kids were in diapers: changing tables in men's restrooms. Or, rather, the lack of. Here's the part that supports my point, why is this even an issue in 2014? Where are the changing tables? But, more importantly, YAY DAD'S FOR BEING TICKED OFF ABOUT IT!
Ladies, we need to celebrate our husbands for caring about the lack of changing tables in men's restrooms!
I know, I know, my husband is far, FAR from perfect, nor am I. Let me give you an example that I call The Wet Towel Debacle. Perhaps you've had it too? Husband exits shower, uses towel, wraps himself in it and proceeds down hallway towards bedroom because that's where the clothes live. Rush, rush, rush - everyone is getting ready in the morning.
Day passes. Arrive home. Enter bedroom to change. Notice wet towel from this morning laying on the bed and now there's a huge section of your part of the bed that's soggy. The bed you share together! The horror! Calmly (or, maybe not) this is brought up to the spousal unit in the form of the eternally kind words if I see another wet towel on the bed you can find another one to sleep in.
Next day, same thing. Are you kidding me? Instead of threatening divorce I went passive-aggressive. I made the bed with his wet towel nicely folded on his side of the sheet. This got his attention that evening at bedtime.
Here's what finally worked. My husband is a numbers dude. It's gotta be simple and direct. He needs a scale. It went something like this as we were stripping remaking (his side) of the bed: On a scale of 1 to 10 here's how I feel about this issue. 1 = no biggie. 10 = call the lawyer. I'm at an 8 with this. It really, really makes me angry to have to change the bed because you left a wet towel on it, something that your mother swears she taught you not to do. I know because I called her and asked. He needed a scale, people. This has also worked on picking up after yourself, laundry on the floor, dishes in the sink and inviting strangers to stay. We're still working on everything else. There are a lot of scales.
Here's the important part of the example: I needed to speak his language. He needed to listen and process it. We both had to do something different and uncomfortable and out-of-our-box. I celebrate him for growing on a constant basis and I celebrate myself for calming down and tucking my crazy back in. It was showing, for sure.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss gave men a chance to speak about how what women say can to both affirm and encourage their roles in our lives and as leaders in our families. You can read the entire story here, but I offer a few of the gems from the article below.
Extend Grace - Give your hubs a break once in a while. Like, I know you screwed up and put the wet towel on the bed, but I still love you. (But, still, pick up the towel.)
Let Them Lead - I'm an "alpha wife" as described in the earlier section. It was hard for me to wrap my head around the issue of "headship". My Pastor can attest, we had many-a-difficult-conversation about it prior to this single mom getting remarried. Finally, I heard it from the Holy Spirit: It's not your job. Everything is not my job. My husband has a role, several roles, and I need to let him do them. I need to support him in those roles. Every family has different role designation, so it hardly matters how things are divided.
Heart Attitude - My heart attitude needed to change in regard to my husband, my job and my kids. I'm still working on it, but I was humbled to the point of on my knees, literally during a worship service at church a few years ago. Other attitudes I had to accommodate were: humility, mercy, kindness.
Look, here's the bottom line. We all suck to some degree. Women, your husbands know your weaknesses, pettiness, arrogance and disgusting habits. Why are we putting these things out in the world about our husbands? Our husband's foibles are not to be used as fodder for female commiseration.
In my previous post about men loving wives at the lunch table, I included several excerpts featuring examples of how men love their wives from male celebrities and real men I know. I'm not doing that here, because frankly, I have few female examples from which to draw. That is, I've heard so few wives speak positively about their husbands that I've got a dry well of quotes, people.
Let's change that, ladies.
Our husbands, boyfriends, fiancees and partners need to hear it. Our friends need to hear how much we value, respect and admire the men we've chosen to share our lives, our children, our homes and our beds.
You gave him your body and heart, right? Give him your language, too.
Dr. Jana Craft is a Christian, wife, mother, business professor, fake biker and terrible cook who writes about the struggle to balance these identities and the joy derived from them all. She writes daily on Holding True @ janacraft.blogspot.com