I know I shouldn’t follow these types of links of Facebook, but I do, and then I get miffed, and then I want to blog about it. What better way to get things off my chest than writing?
A family member recently posted this article on her page, and I was instantly skeptical due to the title, 10 Things I Want in a Husband. My negative gut reaction has roots in my experience of getting burnt by the marriage myths I grew up believing, as I sensed this might be an article following along those ChristianPurityCulture-myth lines…
I believed some of the following marriage and gender myths:
- Pretty much, any two people could be compatible enough for marriage, provided they believed in God and had faith in Him to help them make enough sacrifices and compromises.
- Any man would be so happy to be with me because, unlike other women, I have a high sex drive, and of course every man wants to have lots of sex, all the time.
- Men don’t like women who are too emotional, but want to be with a woman who can be rational. This means as a woman you need to be in control of your emotions to be appealing.
- Men ultimately want a “cool girl,” who doesn’t care about the petty things most women do.
- If you have enough faith in God, you can pour yourself out for another person and bend yourself to try to be their everything, and God will magically keep you happy and satisfied in your marriage.
I could go on, but I’m pretty disgusted as it is. Sometimes I forgot how warped my worldview really was. I especially hate the views I had regarding other women and the need to feel constantly in competition with them, to be cooler and smarter and prettier and wanting more sex and…
Another day I’ll have to write a post about purity culture and southern culture and the problems with phrases like “Modest is hottest,” but today I want to focus on the article that got me thinking about all this.
The article could have been titled “Generic List about Cookie-Cutter Christian Husband.” But before we even get to the list, I have to comment on the train-wreck of an idea that an exact timeline for your life is. Having direction is one thing; having plans for what major life events will occur when you are 26 is another. Maybe your life will go as planned, but maybe not. There are so many variables and potential tragedies – accidents, injuries, deaths of loved ones – things you never want to plan for, but may happen and change your life in unexpected ways. I really hope nothing tragic happens to this author and that her timeline can play out as planned. But I think having a timeline like this can make tragic events that much more difficult to bear, having the regret of, “This is not where I pictured I would be at 26.”
Also, apparently all women want to be a “hot mom.”
Then, there’s the problem of dating to marry. You’re putting too much pressure on the relationship to turn into marriage before you’re even beginning the relationship. You’re committing to a relationship that hasn’t even begun! I don’t have a problem with marriage, but I do have a problem with the pressure to get married, and the expectation that one day you will be married. Instead of dating to figure out how you are in a relationship, what your individual likes and needs are, and what you feel comfortable with in terms of levels of intimacy, space, physical closeness, etc… you date to ask, “Are you the person I am going to marry?”
Ok, on to the list.
1 A sense of humor. A generic sense of humor. Does he think it’s funny to tease you? Does he think it’s funny to make puns all the time? Does he think it’s funny to be as silly as possible? Reading this, I don’t actually know what kind of humor the author thinks is funny. I groan at bad jokes, but maybe she loves them. I love to be a ridiculously over-the-top silly person with my husband, but maybe that would just make her feel weird or uncomfortable. Shared senses of humor might be more appropriate here, if that’s important to you, which you might not know until you’ve been with someone who doesn’t share your sense of humor.
2 A strong work ethic. We get no insights into what this means to the author, just that her dad “worked so hard to give [her] family what [they] needed and wanted.” And then a statement dripping with privilege that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough, which I literally can’t even right now. I’m all about people doing ethical work – not breaking laws, doing work that helps others when possible – and people getting satisfaction about working hard at a job. But I am also in a privileged position, being white and coming from a middle class family in the U.S., and I know this affects my view of jobs and working. Does strong work ethic mean showing up to work when you’re sick, or does it mean staying home, even if it’s without pay so that you won’t spread infection to others? Does it mean working two jobs to provide money for your kids to get the Christmas present they want, even if it takes away time with them? We don’t know exactly what she means by “strong work ethic” except a vague idea of not being lazy or ungrateful.
3 A giving heart. Yes, I do support being generous of your time, money, and energy when you can. One of the things I admire most about my husband is his desire to be fair, honest, and ethical towards others. He tried to evaluate all sides of a situation and understand best how his actions will affect others, and act in the kindest way possible. But I also want to treat him with that same kindness, and I want to make sure his needs in our relationship – and his life in general – are being met. Part of that is his responsibility: he needs to understand himself and communicate with me what he needs. He can’t magically give selflessly all the time and never get his needs met. No one can. That is not how it works to be a human. So while I admire my husband’s kind and generous nature, I also overwhelmingly appreciate his knowledge of himself and his willingness to communicate with me what he wants and needs in life. And I strive to communicate with him what I need, and if we don’t know what we need, we try to work it out together. It allows us to stay happy and satisfied, which in turn allows him and me to continue to work on being kind, generous people.
4 A future. A generic, unspecified future. We get no insights on the kind of future he needs to have, and I think this is so incredibly personal. I picture a future where I can one day work from home and have dogs in a small to moderate sized home (well, using U.S. standards) with a yard. I don’t plan to have children. I would prefer to live somewhere with a good, solid winter complete with fireplace and hot chocolate for use during snow storms, but this is not necessary. My husband just so happens (read: NOT just so happens; this is one of the reasons I chose to marry him) to be on a path to a similar, compatible future that we can hopefully get to together someday. How does she picture her future – and, therefore, the kind of future she wants a potential husband to be working toward? White picket fence, kids, and dog? Or, gasp, no dog because she doesn’t like animals (the horror!)? Stay at home mom? Career woman with a stay at home dad? DINK?
5 A good amount of patience. Girl, reading this made me so sad. I used to be like you. Sometimes I still am, and my husband reminds me that I don’t have to be. You wrote, “It’s going to take one patient man to put up with me on an everyday basis.” And I was so sad, because this view of yourself is so negative. Maybe you’re using self-deprecating humor, and I get that, but there’s still an underlying feeling that you really see yourself as someone who will test your husband’s patience, constantly. What if, instead of seeing yourself as someone who will inevitably try a man’s patience, you shift the view? How about, instead, you want someone you find it easy to be patient with, and someone who finds it easy to be patient with you? I know that in any close relationship people tend to get on each other’s nerves. But imagine there’s a man who finds it easy to be patient when you’re being dramatic, and is skilled at either helping you stay calm or making you feel validated emotionally. Imagine he might even like that you’re sassy. And imagine that there might be things about him that would test others’ patience, but that you don’t really mind. Yes, you still need patience in a close relationship, but compatibility is so much more important, in my opinion. That, and viewing yourself not as someone who will wear on another’s patience, but as someone who wants a specific sort of man who can appreciate all of you.
At this point, I’m realizing I have more to say about this article than I originally thought! Keep posted for Part II, coming soon!