I remember growing up and learning (as a Christian) that the man is supposed to be the “head” of the household. I won’t go into interpretation and try to debate some point Biblical point here, but I am grateful that my own father showed me (what I think to be) a healthy view of this belief. He was the “head,” but he also showed me that he was not the boss of my second mother, nor were they not on the same page whenever he was about to make a move that would make an impression on the family dynamic.
As funny as it is when I look back, I remember different men telling me how they handled having happy marriages: keep their wife and do whatever she said. My father (as I remember it) didn’t say it in the same way, but it did model this idea in some sense. He really was an advocate of having a peaceful home, so he attempted to achieve this very thing. It does not mean that he was passive (and is not today), which is to imply that he let things slide with my second mother or allowed his wife to just have her way every day. But he did (and does) want her to be happy, or satisfied even, with he life with him.
The older I got, the more I realized that the old adage (even if stated with improper English) was true: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
It seemed unfair in some ways, but it seemed to be true in many homes that I went into, not just my own. It is not to say that the ladies ran the show completely, but if their mood changed or has some dark tone to it, then the “man of the house” and the kids felt it in some way, shape, or form. I remember times when my second mother, whom I adore, would be perturbed about something with my father, there were times that there would be an uncharacteristic silence in the home that would make me extremely uneasy. Of course, there were many times that I could hear them having an argument as well that made me equally uneasy because I didn’t know what would be the result of the quarrel. Many times, it meant a break from the house, so my father would take me out to a store and he would talk to me about what I may have heard earlier or talk to me about something that mattered to me.
I am glad that he later showed me (and my second mother as well) the importance of talking the issue out with level heads and a cool demeanor. Besides, it really never helped yelling. It doesn’t even help me now whenever I have yelled (which has only happened a few times) at my own wife. (Plus, my wife does not play with me when I have yelled at her in the past, she has put me back in my place rather quickly.) My parents tried to practice showing me how to go about settling an issue: sitting down and listening to each other before, repeat each other’s issue thoughtfully, then proceed with one’s own issue and find common ground.
Now, fast-forward a decade later, I am out of the house, married, and with a 10-month old child. My beloved and I rarely argue, but when we do, it typically is due to my own mistakes. My wife is oddly quite similar to both my father and second mother in some ways. For example, she is very disciplined, believes in schedules, and believes that I should work (doing chores in the house) to a specific standard, which is really her standard. She is similar to my second mother in that they both are perfectionists. They get stressed when things have not gone completely their way, which is similar to my father too. This may be a part of the reason that I married my wife: I am a glutton for punishment. I am kidding, of course. It is possible that if she ever reads that line that she could slap me. No, deep-down in my soul, I honestly do respect the disciplined lives of my father, second mother, and, now, my wife. As much as I am laid-back, and some may say lazy, I aspire to be more disciplined, more driven, staying on top of my own schedule. I mean there are ways to live in which one would find the most success.
However, my basic nature is to be lazy and unsystematic, but I am learning that I need to fight it.
Why? Because of the glaring truth that struck me recently: my wife is my Boss! If I want the old Ball and Chain to be happy with me most often and live in peace, I have to continually fight my nature. I must ask her what she wants to be done and how does she want it to be done. My beloved, God bless her, can’t help but to reveal to me her frustrations when I fell to meet some standard. If I clean the house, which is a part of my actual duties as a husband, if the Boss finds something out of place, she cleans it herself but she will stare at me when she passes by me (especially if I am sitting down and watching the television) and will sigh louder than normal. I will ask if something is wrong, but she will act like she is okay and tell me that it is nothing.
I am starting to see that I have to stay aware and on top of my duties in the house. If she is ever doing something that we decided would be my chore, then I had better watch out. I am going to pay for it in some way. It may not be with some physical attack, but she will sit down later, tired from doing some unexpected addition to her day, and either stare or let me know that she is fatigued. Then, she may even probe into what I had actually done when I came home and did my chores. Oh, and have mercy, do not let me ever say that I forgot something, which is the case many times, because I do have a bad memory. So, recently, I decided to create a list of “laws” to go by when I come home purposely; I do not want my wife to be unhappy and irritated forever.
She is a great woman, a great wife, a great mother, but she does not play as my Boss! Thank goodness I am not the only husband out there with one. There is an older gentleman that I had lunch with recently and he told me that he was still dealing with similar issues and he had been married to his wife for over 40 years. We both laughed at the thought of having to do what we are told by the ladies we love. Our interaction may me realize that this is for life. Well, at least, until I get that “man cave” that I desire and then that lair will be whatever I make of it it to be: a sanctuary of my own making, where I will be as lazy as I desire and a vacuum will not hit it until I literally see dust bunnies. Until then, I will daydream of it, while being as vigilant as possible when it comes to meeting my wife’s level of work ethic.
After all, my father lived it, many many relayed it, and I am now seeing it: IF MAMA AIN’T HAPPY, I AIN’T HAPPY!
(Don’t you tell my wife that I wrote this piece. I will deny it.)