Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Man of the house: the 50's man and the puppy dog.

(c) 2004, Lexington, KY.  Eric Graf photography.

I've been thinking for a long time about the conflicting thoughts and emotions I have when I think about my role as 'the man of the house.'  I think this is one area--one of many--where traditions, both social and religious, should be called into question.  I have thus far been dissatisfied with what I perceive to be the general consensus in either group.

I think about this a lot.  Every man wants to be 'the man of the house.'  I know that's a general statement, but I believe on some level, it's true.  It won't always look the same, but in some way I think we all want to be 'the man.'  I think that's why I have such a tough time with silly things like pink shirts, purses, matching attire and. . . the aisle.  Now, just to be clear, I do all of those things.  I don't think I've ever even complained about any of them, because I realize they're silly.  That doesn't mean I don't feel silly while I'm holding her purse, and I don't spend any extra time in the aisle.  But, she's never even tried to force any of these issues and for that I'm eternally grateful.  She's never been anything but grateful for the things I do. 

That being said, let's get back to my quandary about roles: there seem to be two major camps.  Most people I see fit one or the other. . . more or less.  I don't like either one.  I have seen both kinds all over the place, and the funny thing is, the happiest husbands--and correspondingly happiest wives--I've seen don't fall into either category.  I call them, the 50's man and the puppy dog.

The 50's man has 51% of the vote.  He of course gets input from everyone, and then HE makes the decision.  He always is employed full time.  His wife may work, but preferably not full-time and she can't make more money than he does.  After all, he is The Provider.  If she does work, she should still not neglect the household chores. 

The contemporary husband is very doting.  He does his best to fulfill the every whim and desire of his beloved.  Everyone knows how he has fallen for her and some might even feel a bit badly about how hard he has to work to keep her perfectly content.  He tends to follow her around like a little puppy dog.  I had one such friend that used to joke, "I'm the man of my house.  My wife said I could be."

So, it seems you can fall into a bit of a ditch on either side of the husbanding continuum.  Where's the middle?  Well, I don't think it's in the middle.  I think it's an entirely different philosophy altogether.  I think the husband and wife are happiest when they are a team.  When he dotes on her and she admires him.  When he responds to the things that undermine her security and when she allows him to be the problem solver that he wants to be.  When there's no hierarchy.  When we don't think of it as one being strong and one being weak, but rather one being strong here and the other being strong there.  When we are each free to give and receive input without judgment.  When we can each be loved as we are: fallible, imperfect, and wonderful.


  1. Very insightful, I shall forward this to my man of the house.... I am waiting impatiently for the "O" Marriage conference. I have the feeling it is gonna be good.

  2. Thanks Kelly! I am excited about doing a marriage thing here in South Portland. We need to talk to E about it.