I know that’s an inflammatory post title, but it seems that today we bad-mouth men everywhere we can. They’re pathetic with the kids. They can’t cook. They can’t look after a household on their own. They’re selfish. They’re overgrown kids. They run around on their wives. They can’t be trusted.
All of that, in a row, sounds ridiculous. But how many TV shows do you watch that forward at least one of those stereotypes?
We live in a society that things women are saints and men are sub-par.
I think this does women a great disservice, too, because we become overly critical of men. We’re always hearing how guys shouldn’t do this and shouldn’t do that and how pathetic they are that it becomes difficult to accept who our husbands are. We can always find fault.
I was reminded of this when I read this article recently titled, “I realized my husband was of no added value.” Dr. Helen is talking about the phenomenon of older, middle aged women ditching their husbands in search of something better–and largely not finding it. I think she’s right. When I think of the marriages that I know that have broken up recently, by and large it is the woman who has left (now, in several of those cases she was completely justified, but in others it seems like devastation is all that it wrought).
Everywhere you turn, it seems that some women’s magazine, Suze Orman or some other cheerleader for the divorced (including the Atlantic magazine article mentioned in the essay) is telling women to throw in the towel and get rid of that guy. Women are told to be unhappy with everything about men. It’s no wonder they are walking away from their marriages. The article says that women claim they don’t regret it. Maybe they won’t. But given the male shortage, especially for older men, I think the guys will be just fine.
What women often don’t factor in is that being married is actually a nice thing.
Sure, he may leave dirty socks all over the place. Sure, he may not talk about your feelings. Sure, he may watch football all Sunday afternoon. But isn’t that still better than being alone?
My best friend didn’t marry until she was 30. For most of her 20s, she assumed she’d be single her whole life. Now she didn’t marry the most sensitive man in the world, but she knows what it’s like to want to be with someone and to not have anybody. And she’ll stick with this marriage forever, perfect or not, because being married is wonderful, even if he aggravates you sometimes.
Of course, if he’s being verbally abusive or having an affair, it’s not nice. And being married to someone who demeans you or ignores you is one of the loneliest things in the world. But I still think that many women say their husbands are verbally abusive, or emotionally handicapped, when they’re just trying to justify leaving. (Sometimes you have no choice, as this post points out. I definitely believe that verbal and emotional abuse, as well as other issues, need to be dealt with swiftly and strongly. However, I also believe that many women leave marriages that could be saved because it seems easier.)
Being married means you have someone to discuss things with. The decisions are not all on your shoulders.
Being married means you have someone who knows you and knows everything about you.
Being married means you have a father for your children. That gives incredible benefits to your kids, but it also means that you have more money for them.
Being married means you’re not fighting over custody at Christmas and birthdays and vacations. You are with your children all the time, so you always know what is going on in their lives. As soon as you divorce, you don’t just leave your husband. You leave pieces of your children’s lives that you will never know anymore or have any control over, because they are going to your “ex”. I think women underestimate how traumatic this is for both them and the kids.
Being married means you have an extra pair of hands to do the things you don’t know how to do–even if he rarely does housework!
Being married means you’re not lonely. Being married means it’s much easier to form friendships with other couples and do things together with others. You’re part of a group, and ironically, the married tend to have more friends.
Being married means you have a sexual partner. And even if you’re tired of him wanting it all the time now, you’d miss that aspect of your life if it were gone!
Being married means you have someone to care for you when you get sick. I think we underestimate, too, the necessity of a partner as we age. It’s easy to ditch someone when you’re 38. But no one wants to be alone at 68 or 78.
Being married means you will grow in character. You will learn compromise, and love, and kindness, and forgiveness, and perseverance. It is not that those who are single can’t learn these; it’s just that in marriage, we are given unique opportunities to learn these. And marriage changes us for the better.
Few who leave their spouses actually end up with a better life. They often just end up with a more complicated life. Even if you have grounds to leave, it doesn’t mean you have to. Some of the most successful marriages I’ve seen are those that have healed after a major rift. God can do amazing things. And leaving is no piece of cake.
I was speaking with a pastor last year who was determined to do a series every year, for at least a month, on marriage. Week after week he was having women come into his office telling him they were leaving their husbands–even though no abuse or affair was occurring. They would detail a litany of complaints of how awful their husbands were, even though these amounted to little more than the fact that he didn’t talk very much and he never did any housework. And he would remind these women that they made commitments before God. But that didn’t work, because they would say that the men broke the commitment because they didn’t know how to love.
I wonder what those men would say about the women’s ability to love? Tomorrow I’m going to give an extremely important Wifey Wednesday to talk about how to deal with a man who won’t share his feelings or help, and put that problem in perspective.
But today, I’d encourage you to count your blessings if you’re married, even if that marriage is tough at times. I want to leave you with a clip from “Shall We Dance”, that sums it up well: