I’ve always tried to be the “cool wife”- Last fall I baked goodies for his company once a week, I never say no if he wants to go out with the boys and I always act excited when he decides to buy a new man-toy (well, usually I’m excited, too!). I would never let him do something stupid or reckless (although I have to admit, he’s a pretty sensible guy) and he’s never taken advantage of my awesomeness by going out every night.
Unfortunately, there’s something else he does that’s starting to bother me. He’s getting rid of his toys.
It started with his brand new grill when we moved. He had used it maybe 4 times but didn’t want it taking up room in our already over-stuffed moving van. Then after a short trip to Korea he came back with a Coach purse for me and a newfound love of selling his stuff to buy me gifts- his dirt bike and his gun were the first to go. Then he bought a snowmachine (a snowmobile for those of you not “in the know”) so I thought all was well. Now he’s trying to sell his newest and most precious toy- his shiny new pick-up truck- and is even considering selling his motorcycle- so I can have a mini-van.
Now, I know many of you are sitting there reading this and thinking “um… please tell me she’s not complaining because he’s selling his stuff to buy her presents. Is she crazy??!” Maybe. Of course I appreciate the thought (and the stuff!) but I WANT him to have toys. I liked that he had his dirt bike. He grew up riding them and I think it brought back happy memories for him. I liked that he had a gun because he fishes a lot and I just felt safer knowing he was out in the wilderness with crazed bears and stampeding moose well protected. And I love that he has his truck. He’s been talking about buying one for years and he finally has it. He works hard. He deserves it. Not that I DON’T deserve a mini-van (and in fact I’ll need one come December when Perfect Child #3 comes along) but we are perfectly capable of owning both a truck and a mini-van without him sacrificing anything. So why is he being a martyr about this? Why is he insisting on sacrificing his stuff for me?
As it turns out, it’s not really for me. Okay, the Coach purse was. But by selling his truck, he feels he’s putting our family in a better financial situation- one car payment instead of two- and giving the whole family a safe and reliable car that will fit a family of 5. He’s being a good man. A good husband. A good dad. And I love that about him. But I still don’t want him to get rid of his dang truck! Should I insist he keep it, knowing how much he loves it (and then have to listen to him whine about his beloved truck he had to sell) or should I let him sell it and feel good about “doing the right thing,” but then always feel guilty that he had to give up his baby for… well, his OTHER baby? I’m torn.
Recently a friend of mine from an online forum I frequent posted about respect in a relationship. We all want to feel respected, especially by our significant others, but sometimes over time we lose touch with one another. Things become routine and we forget to go the extra mile to make sure those around us feel special. There are even times when we can go the extra mile but choose not to because we don’t feel it will be appreciated or returned.
I sat down with my husband that night and asked him “what makes you feel respected?” He sat there for a while and couldn’t really come up with a good answer. I asked him “what could I do to make you feel more respected?” and he jokingly answered “if you and the kids met me at the door when I come home, all dressed up with smiles on your faces and the house was clean and dinner was on the table.” He immediately laughed it off and we made some jokes about ’50s housewives meeting the husband at the door with a smile and a scotch and the smell of meatloaf wafting in from the kitchen. But even though he laughed it off, I knew a part of him really did want that. Mental note.
The next day I made sure the kids were dressed (I always dress them in the morning but they somehow manage to lose clothes throughout the day) and I fixed my makeup right before he came home. We all greeted him with smiles and hugs and you know what? He was in a good mood for the rest of the night, which in turn made the rest of the family happy.
Then last night I was being super lazy and didn’t manage to start my routine until late in the day. I was still exercising when my husband came home, the kids’ toys were scattered all over and dinner wasn’t started. I could sense this made my husband a little stressed, which in turn made me stressed and of course the kids could sense this, and they became agitated. I felt really guilty.
So today was back to my normal routine. I started dinner on time and made sure all the little messes around the house were taken care of. It took my about 15 minutes to get the house in order. Not much time at all! Husband came home after a 14 hour work day, kids ran up to give hugs, I greeted him with a smile and handful of broccoli ready to go in the steamer and lo and behold, he was happy again. Even when his work called and asked him to drive all the way back to let someone in, he laughed it off.
I have to marvel at how easy it is to make a man happy. Attention, food and maybe a beer here and there. I put so much work into making my kids happy- my whole day, in fact- that taking 15 minutes out of my day to make sure my husband is happy is a walk in the park.
So ladies, sit your husbands down. Ask them what makes them feel respected. You may be surprised at the answer and even more surprised at how easy it is to make him feel important.