MEN OUT THERE – Do YOU want to know how to read your spouse? Would you like to earn effusive praise, respect and undying love from the woman you’ve chosen as your partner in this crazy life? Want this tip free of charge, no strings attached? Then lean in close for a minute, I’ll whisper the answer I’ve stumbled upon after years of prodigious effort……
*you can’t win*
There. I’ve said it.
Look, I love my wife, I really do, and what I’d like more than anything is to be able to pave the path of our marriage as smoothly as I’m capable of doing. But, to continue this horrible analogy, the job-site plans keep changing on a moment by moment basis. Quite frankly I, and the rest of my gender, are quite incapable of comprehending the fluid dynamics that constitute the parry/thrust of communication with our wives.
The tradition most guys bring to the table is to meet the threat of violence with escalation. It’s just the human male version of fight-or-flight. You do some tough guy posturing internationally? We will bomb your people back into the Stone Age. You make a freeway lane merge without proper signaling? Then there’s a good chance we’ll fly a finger, cut you off and behave like enraged silverback gorillas, and we don’t even know why. The same methodology applies to the way we approach trying to communicate with you, the spouse.
We want to get along. We want to keep your fury in check. We’d love to be able to read your minds and predict your moods, really. And you just won’t let us, so we react as we can, with confusion and senseless gesturing leading the way. Not coincidentally, we tend to appreciate the value of a good whiskey as we get older. We need you. According to you, we could not function without your intervention; we’d all be hopeless slobs who can’t ever find their keys, who rarely do laundry or eat anything that isn’t pre-processed and has various pig parts as the primary ingredient.
So, to further the species, to better society and because we tend to get lonely and tired of eating pig parts, we enter into binding contracts of various forms with you, the better gender. Easily talked into the most ridiculous behavior with the potential reward of seeing you naked, we begin to eat vegetables again and take jobs with good dental insurance. Mini-vans become “a good idea”. We develop a fine tune filter that you call “selective hearing” that allows us to go to our happy place while you inform us of all of our shortcomings. We seek out other housebroken males in similar situations and lament wasted youth and our collective shock at the migration of hair from our heads to our shoulders. For fucks’ sake, we wear KHAKI PANTS……WITHOUT IRONY.
We do all of this because…….well, I’m not really sure why, but I know it’s what I want to do. It’s called love and it’s covered in marriage, and I guess I should thank you. I am now in a place where, according to you, I would die if left to my own devices. Just tonight, I went to my boys football practice without him because he and I could not locate his jock nor his pants, and he didn’t want to go in his underwear and I was supposed to be coaching. Yes, you brought him a short time later when you used your magical Uterine Tracking Device to find his clothes, and for that I am grateful, eternally. But that look you gave me, the one where one eyebrow shoots skyward as if to say “shouldn’t there be a Lemon-Law in place for husbands like you?” I just love that one. All husbands do, and some of us take that look as a threat and we respond in kind. I’ve learned that’s not the best time to act on that emotion. So I roll my eyes, which, apparently only serves to anger you further. The best thing to do is to accept the fact that I’m never going to win, I’m never going to predict your emotions with any degree of accuracy and you’re always going to feel cheated in The Great Husband Lottery.
To concede at this point would be the smart thing to do. To learn the lesson I’d brought up earlier, about never winning, that might be wise.
But no one has ever accused me of being smart, much less wise.
If I was I probably wouldn’t have written this, either.