Whatchu Talking About Wifey?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Welcome to Day 3 of Devis Do Man Week. Today we have Gopal G. on what men really want, and in the afternoon we have a father who discusses the unique set of issues involved in raising a child when you are gay. Many thanks to all the guest-bloggers so far--Swap, Dileepan, Tarik, and Bill; I'm loving the ongoing debate and commentary.

Gopal G. is a father of two and writer who lives in New York City.

I approached Devis with Babies about writing a response after the "What Do Boys Want" piece was posted on a dad blog I read. (Yes. There are dad blogs. Yes. We talk about our kids. Maybe just not the same as you guys.) At many people's prompting, I read the Motherlode article about how angry you all are with us too. How we don't do anything. How when we watch the kids we don't do it how you would. How you have all the details in your head. How we don't help you. In response to that I have some simple words: Tell us what you want. What I absolutely cannot stand is the dance of "what is wrong"/"nothing." My wife and I, who I love dearly and who is very hot (and I promised I would write that she did not ask me to say that), do this dance often. We could go on Dancing with the Dysfunctional Stars with it. I understand where it comes from. She doesn't want to "nag". She wants me to "figure out what's wrong on my own." But if we had limited time to figure out these things before Lord help us we have no time now. So here is my Modest Proposal. No I don't think we should eat our kids. I think we should tell each other what we want.

Along those lines, here is my wishlist. Feel free to wrap any of these up in a big red bow for your husbands. We want things too.

1) Dress up. For me. Not always, but once in a while. You know all that effort you used to make? The effort you still make for a party or for the girls? Do it for me too.

2) Don't ask me to do stuff and then get mad when I don't do it exactly how you would. You know the old adage, "if you want something done right, do it yourself?" It's crap. But this one, though less catchy, is true: "If you want something done exactly how you would do it don't ask me to do it." This is mostly true for things involving feeding/bathing/caring for our children. Just because you manage to watch the kids while doing the laundry and making them wear pristine clothes and brushing their hair doesn't mean that when we watch the kids and eat lunch on the floor and don't take baths that it's bad. Obviously it isn't what you would do. But it works doesn't it? We aren't you.

3) Once in a while stroke our egos. Even if you don't want to. Even if it makes you roll your eyes and wonder where feminism went. Trust me, it's not that hard and it keeps us going.

4) Let me win at sports. Just kidding. Except not really: My wife beats me at everything.

5) Try to remember why you married us. We never had candle-lit dinners, looked into each other's eyes, and said things like "I can't wait to co-parent equally with you" or "I know you'll be the kind of guy who will remember to pick up your socks." Sweet nothings aren't really nothing.

6) Be patient with us. Especially if you really know we are trying.

7) If you choose only one of my wishes choose this one: Please please please have sex with us. More. Even more. As much as you can.

One more thing: From what I can tell, most of us men really love you women. Most of us are in awe of what you are able to do. Most of us really want you guys to be happy. In part so that we don't have to be scared of you, it's true, but in part because your happiness is independently important to us. I can't be happy unless my wife is. Seeing her sad is bad enough; seeing her sad because of something I did destroys me. I vowed to make her happy and I intend to keep that vow. I just think I can watch a little football too, forget to do some stuff, and let my kids live in some filth along the way.
S.J.P. said...

Gotta say: Number 7 works wonders!

Ina said...

I think (2) is a serious issue. I have to bite my tongue sometimes so as not to dictate how to do things to my husband. I didn't do that pre-baby but all of my mom friends say the same thing. I guess something happens when that little thing pops out of you!

Anonymous said...

Agree with you, Gopal, on the "what is wrong?" nonsense. I can be oozing anger and still say "nothing" and sometimes I am not sure why. IN part to "keep the peace," suer, but it doesn't ever keep the peace does it???

N said...

Hmmm... I'm confused.

1. Dress up? When I'm alone I just wear sweats and tees, but when I was with my ex I made a point of wearing nice clothes every day. Did I ever get a compliment from him on how I looked? Nope. But he made comments about other women. Maybe if I started slacking off he would've noticed and said something?

2. I'm not much of a house keeper, I like to decorate and set the theme, but I loathe cleaning, dusting, vacuming, doing dishes.
When my ex did them I never nagged him about not doing it right, because whether or not they were done right, well, I couldn't care less.

3. I would have loved to stroke his ego. In fact, I was WAITING for the oppurtunity. He never got me into that space by stroking mine or making me feel appreciated.

4. The sex. He couldn't keep up with me. What a disappointment. And he came from an ethnic background that boasts of it's prowess. Biggest. Urban. Myth. Ever.

Gopal G. what you wrote rung true for me, about ME, more than it did him.

Maybe I have a male mind in a female body?

Anonymous said...

Ha. I am going to seductively whisper "the way you feed the baby his strained peaches makes me tingle" tonight at dinner! Hehe.

Wife who wants to forgive but cannot said...


Thanks for writing this. Could you also send some reference to the dad blogs - I have been searching for dad blogs for a long time now to understand how to fix our problems.

All these are good suggestions, and I wish we had these much earlier in our marriage and parenthood life. In our case there is so much hurt accumulated over the years that it is difficult to get back to these basics now - when a simple conversation is sometimes a task, and co-parenting is like a business venture as was suggested in one of the comments to the previous posts.

How does one come back from the stage of immense hurt? I would love too, but it is very difficult, to forget the "seething" anger from the past. Especially when I did the whole "Tell us what you want" thing you start your blog with. What does one do when the husbands decide which of these they listen to and which they choose to ignore based on their convenience.

What I have seen is that over time if these issues are not kept in check - the relationship is permanently damaged. I know my husband feels bad now for his past behavior, but how does one forgive him when I know that he was well aware of his actions when he ditched his responsibilities earlier.

Anonymous said...

I hope we can say right back at our husbands: Try to remember why you married US too. We weren't always the worrywarts who were stressing out about naps, schedules, breastfeeding. And I have a feeling we won't always be.

Tanya said...

So the stroke your ego thing isn't unique to my husband huh? I swear sometimes I feel like he is a puppy!! Don't get me wrong, I sort of like to see the way his eyes light up when I give some positive reinforcement but it just is puzzling to me because I don't feel like I need it in the same way from him. I guess I need different things that he doesn't need...

Anonymous said...

I think that you feel like you don't need the Ego stroke because you get it a lot more often. I mean think about it. Don't know if you like Chris Rock but he did a spoof about how we are taught to constantly give mom compliments. "you look pretty mom", "dinner was good mom", "thanks for cleaning up mom". Kids don't say "hey dad thanks for this electricity" "boy it is nice to have a roof over our head" "man this food sure is good." It just is what it is. If you received as little recognition for the things we actually do for the things you do there would be hell to pay. And I don't need extra compliments but one in a while would be nice.

Anonymous said...

you know I was was waiting for someone to write about how it's "offensive" or "degrading" to have your wishlist consist of things like sex and dressing up...but the more I think about it the more I realize that if this is what you want why not be allowed to voice it?? This is actually really honest, so thank you!

aya said...

I think the honesty is nice. I just wonder: isn't this a little simplistic? Will doing such little things actually achieve anything?

A Guy said...

To aya: coming from a man here I can say--absolutely! The main thing i think is doing what makes your particular partner happy and obviously every man and every marriage I'd different. But this wishlist seems pretty awesome to me and I think I can speak for many other men out there as well. Props to gopal for laying it out.

Anonymous said...

To A Guy and other hubbys

This great. I appreciate the honesty.

I do however have a simple question. Do guys ever wonder what would be on a similar list if created by the wives?

Gopal : Can we volunteer you to have your wife help create that. Yours seems to be a well balanced family, maybe if we see both sides wish list, we can all learn from it.

simi said...

To above poster: I think one of the points of this piece is that we should make similar lists within our own marriages--tell each other what we want. That's what resonated with me at least.

KB said...

Gopal, AMEN Brotha! #2 is, in my opinion, the biggest point of contention in most marriages. Sometimes it seems like women feel like without them, our lives would fall apart. The reality is that we lived just fine lives before getting married...they were just different lives. The laundry didnt always get done on the same day of the week. The dishes didnt always get washed BEFORE sitting down on the couch to watch tv (or the same week, for that matter), the bills didnt always get paid exactly on time, and to parrot the Monday post, we didnt always know how much milk was in the fridge.....oh yeah, and sometimes we had to use fast food napkins as toilet paper (ahh, the memories).

But we were just as happy, nonetheless (notwithstanding the occasional chaffed bum).

Now, when chores get split up in the household, I dont think its fair for women to expect that all of the men have to do their chores in the same way or on the same schedule that the women would have done them.

That definitely wouldnt fly if applied the other way.

Word to #7 as well! Ladies, please hook this up. Take a month and try it, you will see results.

N said...

Men are pretty simple. I think all they want is food, sex and a compliment!

Well boys, we women want the same.

Compliments and words of appreciation do go a long way.

And please, we don't need to know who you think is hotter than us. Are we vocalizing our opinions about the size of your you-know-what?

If that's a place you don't want us to go, and it's something you would rather not hear about, then don't go size up another woman in front of us.

Just keep it to yourself. Make us think you think we are hot and we will also pretend that we are satisfied with you size.


How's that for a trade off?

Anonymous said...

I would love more discussion about 7. I wonder how many husband know that many of their wives would like more sex too! Seriously.

Anonymous said...

Gopal, seriously, thanks, I really enjoyed reading this! My husband could have written this I think. The funny thing is that I bet many of us women will gloss over some of this stuff as simplistic but I am here to say that some of the "simplistic" things (doing something JUST for your husband, initiating sex) can really truly make a world of difference in the happiness of a marriage. End of the day, if your husband is asking for something you are lucky: You know exactly what to do to keep stuff good! It's much harder when there is resentment and unhappiness and no roadmap about how to fix it.

Gina said...

I really like this piece and I just sent it to a bunch of my girlfriends. I think it's a good lesson for us to remember that the flip side of the coin of "why are our husband's so simple minded" is that they are, often, very easy to please. I don't mean that in a bad way! I mean that, it's a ncie reminder, sometimes, that showing our husbands a little bit of love can go a long way. Maybe even get them to remember to get the milk at the store etc etc.!

B.K. said...

The stroking ego/compliments thing is really interesting to me. I can't remember when I started, but I did an experiment where I just started saying "thank you" to my husband for the little things he DOES do all the time that, quite honestly, I started to take for granted. Some of these things I had "taught" him (e.g., cleaning up the sink after he uses it; taking things upstairs if they are sitting at the bottom of the staircase) and I regard as so basic that, when he started doing them, I didn't see it as an achievement, I saw it as him getting to some basic level of human courtesy. Anyway, I started thanking him for even these things (in addition to the other things he does that I am thankful for) and I cannot tell you how much he appreciated it. And its not like he told me "I appreciate it," but he acted differently. I think recognizing our husbands DO make an effort is a REALLY important part of getting to where we want to be.

Anonymous said...

Also this reflects the catch 22 situation highlighting the difference in men and women.

Men want # 7 - and that should lead to a good life overall as per KB, and women usually want the good life first then #7!

Exactly! said...

SO TRUE (to the above poster!), I was trying to find the right words to express the same thign! It's ironic, it's not that I don't want sex, it's almos like I don't want to "reward" my husband's behavior, or lack thereof, with sex! It becomes circular. I want sex more when he helps more, is more aware etc etc.; He might help more, be more aware if we had more sex...

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