Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Perfect Husband

I thought my marriage was in great shape. Then, one day, when I got home from work, my wife hit me with the words I had dreaded only in my worst nightmares:

“I can't live like this anymore.”

My gut tightened and vibrated, as if I'd swallowed an electric toothbrush. The world began to spin around me as I braced for the impact of her next sentence.

“The house is a disaster.”

I looked around. Everything was where it belonged: a pile of mail on the counter, next to the cutting board. On the table, remnants of Tuesday's dinner remained available for scavenging. Laundry was compressed into an out-of-the-way pile next to the bedroom door.

I marveled at the effort I had made to neatly stack the dishes in a way that would pack the maximum number of plates and cups into the sink while still allowing the faucet a solid inch of clearance to swing back and forth, at least on one side.

Even though I had prepared with dread for this pivotal moment in our relationship, I momentarily forgot I was dealing with a woman at the end of her rope (read: cycle), and I tried to reason with her.

“This is not a disaster,” I said, with a tone of authority that would later haunt me on the couch. “Hurricane Ike was a disaster.

“This, my dear, is simply a case of mild disorder. Nothing to freak out about.”

It was soon made clear to me that I was the one with the disorder. Several of them, actually.

I tell this story to illustrate that no matter how much we think our society has advanced toward equality of the sexes, the males are still the ones who have to register for the draft, and the females are still the ones who are trained subliminally to notice every puny, insignificant patch of soap scum that makes it nearly impossible to breathe within eight or ten feet of the bathroom.

I don't know bout you, but it really burns my briefs.

The Today Show recently aired a segment explaining that women want men to take on an equal share of domestic responsibilities, but they resent it when we do a good job at it.

The modern dad spends an average of 21.7 hours a week “on childcare and related duties, like shopping and housework,” an increase of nine hours a week since 1978, according to msnbc.

Sometimes, experts say, if the dad actually does something well, mom gets insecure about no longer being #1, and has to knock him down a peg with a few weeks of incessant nagging or nitpicking.

(Okay, the article didn't say it that way, but you get the drift.)

I found this insight very helpful. Every time I get my daughter dressed, my wife has to make a bunch of exasperated comments and do it over again because I made some critical error, as if her eventual college admissions status will depend on whether or not she wore a pink shirt with red pants.

After a while, I start to wonder why I bother.

“Researchers found that even dads who believed they should be highly involved in childcare shied away from doing things for their infant if Mom was very judgmental,” the article states.

Fellas, we just have to remember that the wife’s criticism is just her way of saying how wonderful you are.

Mention that to her the next time she tells you she “can’t live like this anymore.” Let me know how it works out.

No comments: