Five Things All Husbands Need to Keep In Mind

I’ve already said once that I was married before to a different woman than I am now married to. My first marriage crashed and burned after eight years, but we were legally married for ten. Those last couple of years was only a marriage in name.

Now, only a pure coward would look back on a marriage like I had and not look at all the reasons he caused the marriage to fail. No, it wasn’t all my fault, but yes, there were things I did that were hurtful, and I have to learn from them. In fact, all husbands need to know the following five things, which I learned the hard way. I strive daily to achieve them in my current marriage.

This list isn’t ground-breaking. I’ve read other, longer lists of ways husbands from failed marriages acknowledge their part in destroying their relationships, but this is my point of view, and I only write this post to share what I personally learned. This list is in no way exhaustive, but it hits the five points I think of as the ones to hold closest in your heart and head.

5. No really, your wife is not a sex (or food, or chore)-dispensing robot. Now, I was hardly the sort of husband who demanded sex just because it was a “wifely duty” or something. In all honesty, I didn’t realize there were still husbands who held that viewpoint until I met a few of them. But seriously, your wife does not exist to service your needs. That is…not unless you’re willing to service hers just as regularly. Most women, true, aren’t as focused on sex as your average man, but they have their areas of need, and if a husband expects that his wife will fill all of his needs, he has to be willing to do the same. If your wife needs you to be attentive to finances, be attentive to finances. If your wife needs you to be the sort who helps with housework, help with housework. Moreover, if your wife needs you to just simply listen when she tells you all about something you couldn’t care less about, pay attention to that need as well. Now, I don’t mean “give in to all your wife’s demands until she finally consents to sleep with you.” But I am saying that you cannot expect that she will be attentive to your needs if you are not even aware of what her needs are. And, if you find that you don’t always have the energy or inclinations to be attentive to all her needs at all times, don’t be surprised if she also isn’t when it comes to your needs.

4. The kids are both of your responsibility…even if your roles are slightly different. Men have a tendency to decide that their role as a father is to provide for their kids and maybe play a game of catch or drive their daughter to prom. Meanwhile the wife’s role as a mother is literally everything else. Wives, meanwhile, tend to get upset if it seems like her husband isn’t jumping in to help with the kids in every way the minute he comes home. Both miss the point somewhat. Here’s the bottom line; both of you made those kids, and both of them are your responsibility. But the roles are different. These aren’t society-placed gender roles that are hideously unfair; these are roles that children naturally look to each parent for. Moms, in particular, are the ones kids naturally go to if they’re hungry, hurt or upset, or have lost something. Dads, meanwhile, are sought out by their kids when they’re scared, or want to play, or need to learn things like riding their bike or other physical activities. Children seem to gravitate toward Mom for advice on relationships or school, etc. while looking at Dad for more general types of advice. Am I saying that each parent is useless in the opposite areas? Not at all. A mom can teach her child to ride a bike, and a dad can be a comfort to his kids when they get a boo-boo, etc.. I am saying, however, that kids expect and need their parents to handle different areas of their lives, and that’s a totally normal, acceptable thing. I used to get slightly upset when my son would hurt himself and yell “I want Mommy!” when I would try to help him feel better. But that’s the thing; kids want Mom when they get hurt. When they’re happy and want to play a game, they seek out Dad. This is often why it seems like dads get the “easy” part of child-rearing and why moms often feel like they’ve been left alone to raise the kids by themselves. Dads, generally, aren’t much help when it comes to looking after kids’ homework and making sure they’re fulfilling all their responsibilities. This is usually because Dad has a long list of responsibilities himself, because your average dad is probably also the one bringing home a majority of the wages. He cannot do this without a full time job, which, as a side-effect, means he’s gone to work most of the day. By the time he gets home, the kids have usually been home for at least an hour, and chances are good that Mom is there, too. Mom might have a full time job herself, but even if she does, it tends to be her that makes sure the kids are getting to work on their chores/homework and it tends to be Dad who listens as the kids tell him about their day. Both of these roles are incredibly important. And contrary to popular belief, neither role is “easy”. It may seem like the dad isn’t doing much when he listens while a kid talks to him or watches them as they show him something they learned. But this doesn’t mean he is doing “nothing” just because he’s not up and active. However, what husbands primarily need to remember is that, one, you do have responsibilities to your children and, two, your wife might need help with her side of it, just as you might need help with yours. Your responsibility to your kids does not begin and end with “make sure you earn enough money for them to live” and “punish them when they piss you off.” And no, just because your children seem to expect different things of you than they do their mother does not mean that you shouldn’t lend your wife a hand when it comes to things like cooking, cleaning, looking after their homework, etc.

3. Learn to understand when your wife just needs you, and be there, even if you’d rather be somewhere else. Sometimes your wife does not need you to do anything or say anything. Sometimes she just needs you there. She needs to know you’re with her, that you’re beside her. She needs to feel your presence in a way that has nothing to do with physical intimacy but is instead a means of comfort. This is not a selfish or demanding thing, and you need to understand that as a husband, one of your primary duties, the top duty, in fact, is that you need to not just love your wife but do what she needs you to do to let her know that, to let her feel that. That might mean that tonight you don’t go out with the boys for a drink. It might mean you don’t get to go fishing/bowling/whatever this weekend. It might even mean (gasp! horror!) that you miss the big game. But why should you have to give all that up? Well, for one thing, you don’t, at least not on a regular basis. But when your wife really needs just you, everything else should be a distant second. I know that you might be tired, or you might be preoccupied by something else. You might really prefer to be watching the game or reading, or doing anything else than being present for your wife. This is not her fault. She is not being pushy or demanding. You’re the problem if you deny her in these moments. This sorta goes back to point 5, but it’s more important. Things like housework, cooking, being willing to fix something that broke…these are all things that under certain circumstances might be able to be put on the back burner. But not this. There will never be a time your wife needs you more than when she needs just you. And if you deny her then, you might as well just say the words “I don’t love you” or “you’re less important to me than other things.” Maybe that isn’t true, but it’s certainly what you communicate. So learn when your wife needs just you, and if you really love her it won’t be hard to learn that. When she does, be there. Don’t tell her “in a minute”. Don’t tell her “after the game is over”. Don’t do anything except run, not walk, to be by her side.

Now, number 3 on this list might be the most important, but you can’t do any of these other things unless you remember the following two points:

2. Porn is cheating. Yes, it is. No, it’s not harmless. Yes, it’s hurting someone, and not just your wife. True, it may not be exactly the same thing as physically cheating on her, but you’re lying to yourself if you think that it doesn’t hurt her the same way. See, guys see the entire pornography thing in a very different way than women do, even if men are themselves not in favor of porn. To a guy, porn is just pictures. Sure, they’re pictures that might arouse him, or might give him fantasies, or, if he’s against pornography might be disgusted by the idea of getting off on just a picture. But it’s still, ultimately, just him looking at a picture. To a woman, pornography is a rejection of her as a wife. It is a message that she is not good enough for you, or that you still have sexual fantasies that don’t involve her. And trust me when I say, men, that these are in large part the same way she would feel if you actually did physically cheat. Sure, in your mind, it might be different, but because she is your wife, and she feels the very same way about both things, your duty as a husband is to put the porn away. If you have trouble doing so, seek help. You might have an addiction you don’t even really know about. But the long and short of it is that porn will harm your wife, even if she pretends otherwise. But I said it doesn’t just harm your wife, and it doesn’t. It harms you, too. It gradually takes away your ability to be sexually fulfilled. Give yourself over to it for long enough and you will find yourself less and less able to be sexually satisfied by real live sex with your wife. In a way that almost makes it worse than physically cheating, because you’re undermining a core piece of your marriage.

1. Learn to be open with your feelings, but do so without becoming a doormat. There’s a joke that says women claim to want a sensitive man, but always leap over the sensitive guy to go for the bad boy. There’s a ring of truth to that, but really, it’s less that women want “bad boys” and instead want, well, men. In this day and age where acting like a man has been turned into a bad thing, it is usually only the bad boys who behave in a confident, manly way that attracts women. Unfortunately, because they’re bad boys, they also think they have carte blanche to abuse or cheat on their women. A “sensitive guy”, on the other hand, usually doesn’t even get a second glance, because a woman is usually not looking for an achingly “sincere” doormat who is so “in touch with his feelings” that he practically has more estrogen than the woman does. These are the guys who get “friend zoned” and well they should because women are not vending machines that you pump full of sensitivity quarters until sex falls out, which, let’s face it, is generally what a man acting all sensitive like that is really hoping will happen. What a wife needs her husband to be is a man who is open, communicative, honest, truly sincere, and sensitive to her needs, but is still the man in the relationship. He doesn’t just weep at poetry or at a sad movie along with his wife, but he’s genuinely in tune with his wife and knows how to be her rock to lean on. At the same time, even if they won’t tell you this, women expect their men to act like men. If you come home from the office depressed because you didn’t get a raise or promotion, sitting around and crying about it will¬†not impress any woman. For that matter, letting the woman lead in the household and doing nothing without her say-so is also generally not something women prefer, even if modern feminism tells them is how it should be. While a man is to respect and value his wife’s opinion, he needs to convey the notion that he’s “got this”, as the saying goes. Yes, the woman can drive, but the man is still expected to give direction. I learned this by being married to a woman who had unfortunately been exposed to a lot of modern feminism, and thus expected to lead the household, but still would get angry when I just caved in and let her. Am I saying become a caveman who rules with an iron fist and tells his wife that he makes all the decisions? Emphatically no. But I am also saying that the other extreme, becoming a doormat who is so sensitive that he never speaks up or does anything without his wife’s say-so is a man headed for divorce without even knowing it. A real woman wants a real man. And a real man understands that being a real man means being his wife’s rock. Yes, even a strong woman expects that her husband will be the solid rock in their marriage. That’s his job. If a woman is forced to be the rock, she will end up resenting it, even if she demanded that position in the first place. But while rocks are strong and can weather a lot, they are also places of protection and safety. A real man needs to be both.

It’s Not About “Race”, it’s About Respect

I’m a white anglo-saxon male who lives in North America. I speak English. I don’t speak any other language because I have never had an easy time trying to learn the “conversational” versions of other languages and I never plan to move to a country where English is not the primary language spoken.

I realize that, to many people, this makes me an uncultured oaf. After all, so many other people from other countries take the time and effort to learn my language, so why wouldn’t I care to do the same?

The answer is that, if they’re learning my language, good for them, and it probably means they plan on living in a place where the primary spoken language is English. If I was going to move to a place where the primary language was Spanish, I’d start, today, learning to speak Spanish. Same with French, Punjabi, Mandarin, Cantonese, you name it. I will not move to a non-English speaking country with intent to live there long-term unless I know how to speak their language before I get there.

Also, contrary to popular belief, no, there aren’t tons of people learning to speak English so that they can live and work in North America. Oh, they still plan to live and work in North America, but they have no intention of really learning English in order to do so.

I first noticed this phenomenon in my late teens, which is when I learned that the city I lived in had large sections that pretty much exclusively were for people of Indian descent to live in. I drove through these sections several times. The signs on the businesses in these areas were in Punjabi or Bengali, or one of the other Indian languages. The street signs were even in these languages. No English was seen anywhere. Everyone I saw walking on the streets was of obvious East Indian descent. I later lived close to a medicine shop that, because it was so close, was the one I went to when I needed meds. The problem was that it was owned and operated by East Indians, and the shop was set up to cater more or less exclusively to them. Whenever I walked in, I got strange looks. They couldn’t exactly refuse me service, but you could sure tell they wanted to. They would speak only in their language to other clientele. Much of the wall was covered in signs, charts or posters that were exclusively in their language. They very obviously only wanted to maintain clientele that was their own nationality and spoke their own language.

It was essentially the opposite of “Chinatown”, you know, that section in almost any large city that is primarily Chinese restaurants, Chinese clothiers, etc. Business owners in any Chinatown I’ve been in didn’t look at me strange or wonder why I was there. Chinatowns are about sharing the Chinese culture with other cultures. This is not the case with these urban areas that were all but cordoned off so that only East Indians could live there.

I’m not singling out East Indians, though. Presently, I work in a job that has me speaking to clientele over the phone, all of which live within the same locality that I do. And before you ask, no, this job does not require anyone to be bilingual. All my clientele work in a local industry, and nothing about this industry requires them to be bilingual. And yet, when I talk to a client, there’s a fifty/fifty chance that I won’t understand much of what they say, and that they will have similar problems understanding me.

They live in a primarily English-speaking area. They work in an English-speaking business. They deal primarily with people who speak English. And they have about as much familiarity with the English language as I do with a White Dwarf star. Which is to say, I’m aware that such a thing exists.

I recently spoke with a woman whose job it is to help people look for work. Many of the people she helps are immigrants. She has a colleague who is visually from the middle east but speaks English like she was born here. I know her because she helped me find the job that I’m in. The woman I was speaking to tells me that when immigrants who are looking for work see her, they immediately announce that they what her to be the one that they deal with. Sometimes they actually are assigned to her, and when they are, they each and every one tries speaking to her in their own language. She has to tell them, “No. You live in an English-speaking country now. You are looking for work primarily in English-speaking places of employment. You will speak English.” She reports that many do so only very reluctantly, and some pretty much ignore her after that.

Apparently it is becoming very, very common. People from other nations really want to move to North America to live, work, and be a part of this country. But they don’t want to be a part of this country. They want to turn this country, or at the very least, the area they live in, into another version of the country they left. They only want to associate with and/or become romantically involved with, each other. They only want to speak their language. They set up businesses of their own that cater only to each other. And they get really angry when we expect them to assimilate.

Apparently it’s “racism” now to expect that if they’re going to move here, they at least gain one ability, just one, that will enable them to live here and get along; that they learn to speak the local language. Understand, I am not speaking of people who still speak with an accent. I am speaking about people who mangle the English language so badly that I wouldn’t be surprised if their only attempt to learn it, ever, was skimming a few phrases out of an English phrase-book. If they even went that far. But when I complain about it, I’m the racist one.

I don’t exaggerate when I say that a good quarter plus of my clients are completely unintelligible. We have a forty-minute conversation that should take five minutes because I have to ask them to repeat everything they say, and they in turn ask me to repeat everything I say. In other jobs I’ve had, it went even further. They asked me if I speak their language, and grew annoyed when I said that I don’t. Yeah. They move to a country that doesn’t speak their language, and then get mad that we don’t.

I’ll admit, when I complain about this, I feel a little racist. This is mostly because I’ve been told I should. I’ve been told that, thanks to being white, nothing I say on the subject of race should be listened to, or heeded. Instead, I should feel only shame; shame at how my race has treated the other races of the world, and I should use this shame to understand that I can never, ever expect people of other nationalities to show me or mine the sort of respect that is demanded by them of me. And because this has been ingrained in me, I admit that when I talk about how frustrating it is that others of different nationalities have little to no respect for the language of the country they live in, I feel racist.

But I shouldn’t. I don’t care if I’m white, purple or green. It’s not about race. It’s about respect. Another rule I was raised on was “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule, this is called. I’ll treat you with respect, and in return I expect that you will do likewise. Apparently, however, this rule is expected to be completely negated if you’re a person of a different skin tone than white, and you’re dealing with a white person. In any such encounter, the expectations are on them, not you.¬†They must walk on egg shells in your presence and do nothing that even slightly offends your sensibilities. You can be rude, disrespectful, call them all sorts of names, refuse to speak their language and even get offended that they don’t speak yours, you can forbid your children to marry outside their race and/or culture, you can expect, even demand, that the culture around you will bend themselves all out of shape in order to “respect” your culture, which, to you, means adopting it, you can even declare that your culture will one day be the dominant one around the world and live as though that’s already happened. And that’s okay, because you’re not white.

Now, some advocates for people like this suggest that the reason this isn’t a racist attitude is that many of these people came here as refugees. Therefore, how on Earth would they have had time to learn the language, not to mention that since they came here to escape something, and not because they were eager to live here, then why should I expect that they’ll respect my culture?

Well, I have several responses to that. First of all, if you’re a refugee, then obviously things weren’t great in your home country. So why would you flee from it and then try to turn my country into a reflection of the country you’re fleeing from? Second, respect is respect. The country you’re fleeing to doesn’t have to take you in. Is it too much to ask that you show a little courtesy? Third, there are ESL programs everywhere you look. Heck, one of them operates out of my church. There are people who make careers out of teaching English as a Second Language, and before you ask, no, these programs don’t cost anything. There are also social programs that exist to help immigrants receive housing and food while looking for work. There is literally no reason to be in North America and not know how to speak English.

And that brings me back to the people that I primarily interact with. I don’t know the story behind most of them, but I’m reasonably sure that at least 90% of them are not refugees. And most of them, I’m fairly certain, believe that they speak English as well as they are required to. I’m confident that they do not speak English at home, or indeed any time they speak to someone who speaks their language. I know this because I hear it.

Whenever I see two people from the middle east conversing, I don’t even have to get within earshot to know that they are speaking their own language to each other. I also know that in many cases they do this specifically so that people who don’t speak it don’t know what they’re saying. I knew a security guard who took night classes learning how to speak Punjabi, because at the mall where he worked, there were quite a few Punjabi people and he wanted to be able to speak to any of them, even if they didn’t speak English, and many didn’t. He told me that he frequently overheard them saying unconscionably racist things against white people (especially white women), and quite loudly, assuming that he couldn’t understand them. At the time, I also worked with a Punjabi-speaking East Indian man, one who spoke English well and understood that he was the one who needed to acclimate to the culture around him, and he repeatedly told me that East Indians would try to swindle me if I let them because I was white, and in their culture, not only was respect for white people not expected, they expected practically the opposite.

For that matter, I have sat at my job and listened to groups of two or three people sit and talk audibly in their own language. This fosters something of a poisoned work environment, particularly when the odd English name can be heard. Just who in the workplace are they discussing, and is it positive or negative? If it’s positive, why wouldn’t they speak so that they can be understood by all?

So, just to break this down, because I’m white and live in North America, I’m expected to respect all other cultures, even those who don’t respect mine. This is fine, as long as you don’t expect me to tolerate disrespect on a person-to-person basis, but I am expected to tolerate it! Worse, even calling it disrespect gets charges of racism leveled at me, and heck, I even feel a little racist just talking about it.

It’s not peoples’ race I have a problem with. I work with, and go to church with, and am friends with, people of a wide variety of races. It’s not peoples’ culture I have a problem with. It’s not peoples’ language I have a problem with. It’s not even their accent. It’s the lack of respect, in fact the expectation that they will not need to show any respect to me, all while more or less demanding I show it to them.What happened to affording people the same respect you wish from them? Is it really a “racist” thing to expect? So, here’s what I’d like to get across; by all means, come here. Get jobs here. Interact with us. Even keep to your culture, as long as you understand that you don’t live in your culture anymore, and you should not expect that those around you will conform to it merely because it offends you when they don’t. Speak your own language to each other, but keep in mind that it can be taken as a sign of disrespect when you do so where you can be overheard, and if you do decide to use this in order to denigrate those around you, just remember that some of them might actually be able to understand you. While you are at your job, for example, speak English at all times. And by all that’s Holy, learn to speak English to the degree that the average English speaker can understand you.

And again, it’s not that we don’t like your language, or that we don’t want you here.

It’s all about respect. Want to get it? Give it.