Thursday, February 12, 2009

Since When Are Men Stupid?

(This is an archive from SFL that has been reworked for today's post. Before reading this, please know that I am not talking to women who are in physically abusive relationships. Please, if your safety is an issue, please, please get help today.)

Boink! That's the sound of me stepping up on a soap box. Are you ready? Let's go...

Since when are men stupid? When did women let pop culture decide that Homer Simpson was the rule, not the exception; that men are, in fact, lazy, spineless, and foolish? I've seen some women treat their husbands like garbage, like subservient children who are lucky to have a wife to educate them. I've seen this on TV and in movies. It seems like this is everywhere I turn, even the church.

Now before you bounce off the page, hear this: Men are not blameless, they have their faults and I think they're the first to admit it. They have insecurities and shortcomings and they know it. I have never seen a perfect man. But I surely have seen very good men become an empty shell of their wives own styling. How does this happen?

When two people are dating everything seems perfect. She adores his ideas, opinions, and strength. They get married and somewhere along the line her attitude changes. The smiling woman he adored gives way to a person he doesn't know, who may even demean him to her family or children. Everything is suddenly fodder for a fire that burns a dark, steep abyss between them. The friendship goes, the camaraderie turns to jagged blows, and intimacy gives way to void. He clams up out of hurt and loss; he's grieving the wife he lost somewhere along the way. So, he makes due the best he can by simply and quietly enduring.

At first glance you’d think it’s because he’s just given up. But I have another theory: Perhaps because after all the chipping away at his armor, he thinks, "Maybe she's right - maybe I am stupid." Of course this isn't true, but I think people can only take so much before it starts to do damage.

So why do we sometimes do this? You know what I mean, a group of ladies get together and it isn't long before someone starts making fun of her husband. And another joins in, and another.

Years ago I listened to a woman emphatically declare that if her husband didn't do housework "her way" she would withhold sex until he did it right. "It's his reward for coming around," she laughed. She wasn't kidding. All I could think was, "What if he withheld comfort and conversation from her until she was empty? Then she might know what she's putting him through." But I'm a coward, I said nothing. Well, that's not entirely true. Somewhere during her tirade I interrupted with, "Are you high?"

Any of this sound familiar? Have you ever treated your husband like he was stupid? Men, have you ever been treated this way? It's a mistake that's common, but there's grace to cover it but the basing has got to stop.

Here are a couple of ideas that have worked for me:

- Watch how you talk about your spouse to your kids. Don't make your frustration theirs; if you do you're unfairly asking them to carry a burden for the rest of their lives. Instead of saying, (infer sarcasm) "Dad's working late again. Typical!" Try saying, "You are lucky to have a daddy who works so hard for us. He misses you, too." You may not believe it at the time. You may have grounds to be really pissed off. But children, no matter their age, are children and they love their father.

- Treat your husband like he's the man you dated. Chances are, when you were dating, you both did as much as possible to extend grace to the other. Why not try that again now? Yes, times are different and maybe you're both hurting. I'm not asking you to pretend. I'm suggesting you forgive and move on. If you spend your days waiting for your husband to suddenly transform into Mr. Perfect you'll be waiting for a long time. Let God work on you. Surrender your will to His. Let God deal with your husband.

- Enjoy sex. Withholding sex hurts men in ways women don't understand. When men have sex there is a chemical reaction in the brain that tells him to protect and provide for you. Being female, I don't quite get it. But I do know that sex is bonding for both partners. Assuming there are no larger issues like abuse in your relationship, sex can bring back the fire between you. You say you don't enjoy sex? Increasing frequency will help both of you learn about each other. Try it and see.

-Don't set your spouse up for failure. I sometimes have expectations of my marriage that don't fit my husband's personality. Hanging on to those Harlequin dreams will sabotage any fun we have. So, instead of falling for all those lies that good husbands give their wives diamonds and roses for Valentine's Day, I'm going to surprise him with a gift he'll love. This year Valentine's Day will find Dan and I blowing $20 at a local arcade. We'll have a blast because that's what works for us. Ladies, your husband wants you to be his playmate, and not just in the bedroom.

- Enjoy more sex. Be willing and have fun. Wait, did I already emphasize this? I'll just assume some body's husband will have a great weekend because I repeated myself. Now don't make me look stupid...

- Fall in love with Jesus. He made marriage and He made men and women different. He longs to love on you and your spouse. Sometimes we use God as a last resort. In a crisis we turn to Him and He pulls us through. But what if that same grace carried you day to day as you tried to love your spouse? Think about it. (Also, He wants you to have more sex. Just saying.)

-Talk to a counselor and get accountability before things get worse. Sometimes hurt piles up and starts to rot like maggoty meat. Getting the help you need today can save your marriage and a world of hurt. Don't be a hero - ask for help until someone listens.

Maybe you're here reading this and didn't get what you expected today. Perhaps this hits a sensitive spot for you. Know you don't struggle alone. The person you married (or may marry one day) isn't your worst enemy. If you fell in love once, you can do it again. By stopping the jabs you can restart the process today.

So what do you think?

P.S. I would really like to hear the male perspective on this if there are any guys willing to comment. I think "Anon" is a perfect alias, don't you??


Kelly said...

I think you wrote exactly what I needed to hear.

Helen said...

True. But sometimes it is good to share the struggles woman to woman with laughter. I remember being upset with my husband for using a good bath towel to mop up a spill instead of paper towels (I know, I should be glad he mopped it up, but I was saving those towels). I was really upset, so I told a group of girlfriends over coffee.
They all had towel stories. One woman said her husband used the towels with lace on the edge, the one she only uses for company. He couldn't understand what was the matter. "You don't even like those towels. You hardly ever use them." We all laughed so hard that we were crying. I don't think we were laughing because we think men are stupid. We were laughing because we realized that we were thinking differently at the time. And that they thought they were being helpful. After that I was able to apologize to him for getting upset over the towel incident, and recognize that he is thoughtful, but not a mind reader.
Btw I did not withhold intimacy over towels. Towels aren't that important...

teamstrand said...

stacy that was dandy. well said and a great reminder that i married my best friend. (unless of course, you want to be my best friend, then i can dump him)

teachmom said...

Great post, Stacy! I think we all need these reminders. There are always dips and road work being done in marriages. Sometimes the road work is done for that stretch of the road...until a little earthquake called a sin comes burrowing through again and yep, another broken road to be fixed again.

HUGS! I always gotta be wearing knee pads or else my knees get scraped too. Ouch! :)

Anonymous said...

stacy, next time you hear husband-bashing going on, pay attention to who gets quiet. you may have a new friend who's on the same page as you, loving a man who's as imperfect as she is. or you may see a wife hurting, like me. i try hard to put in the work and be a partner and i got repeatedly cheated on. he pretends everythings ok but wants no relationship w/ me, doesn't care about our kids, and yet i smile when others ask how he is. a few friends know, but i won't let his choices damage my kids. so pls pray for us quiet ones, and treasure your man of god.

vanilla said...

Premarital assessments: A man looks at the woman and thinks "She's exactly what I want." A woman looks at the man and thinks, "He has potential." So, long story short, she changes, he doesn't.

Appreciate your perception and perspective. But men aren't always fair to the wives, either. Belittling, lack of recognition, inattention, one could go on. The marriage/best friend relationship has to be worked at, and with God at the center it will work.
(My spouse simply asked me kindly to please stop doing the laundry. Is that so hard, to tell him what you want? Yeah, yeah, I know, if only we were more perceptive --)

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Oh SfL you are right on the money here. Bless you for your candor. I wrote about something similar: and think I have version 2 somewhere too. Husbands, boys, ya gotta love 'em. Lord grant me patience to endure my blessings!

sara said...

This is so true...and I think it's why Ephesians tells husbands to love their wives and wives submit to their husbands...part of submission is about respect, and we are not that good at respecting our husbands, oftentimes. I know I catch myself at that. We have little trouble loving our husbands, but we have a harder time with that respect thing. And it happens so much in Christian women gatherings...we get together to talk and encourage one another, and before you know it, it's become a husband-bashing session. Husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loves the church...but that's a two way street. We wouldn't go around saying, "You would not BELIEVE what that goofy Jesus did today! What a moron! I'm not going to spend any time in worship with Him till He does what I want!" So if we wouldn't say that, why say it about our husbands? Whoa, conviction on me as well there...thanks for telling it like it is, Stacy.

Shaybplus3 said...

I agree one-hundred thousand billion percent. I love that you wrote this today. I am meeting (for my birthday last week) some friends tonight for coffee and conversation and my husband (who scarily really was my best (man) friend before we got married) is keeping our two kids for me to have some woman time. I get to hang with two other women who also love their husbands and when we get together we talk about marriage and kids and housekeeping and jobs etc... but we do it with a positive attitude and not one of tearing each other down and belittling our husbands and families.

Thanks Stacy I heart you!

Donna said...

as ET said, "ouch"....

Brenda said...

Several years ago I was in the habit of watching two sitcoms regularly. "Raymond", and "King of Queens". My son who was Jr.High age at the time, walked into the room one day while I was watching and asked why I liked watching those shows. He pointed out that they always portray the husband as being stupid and the wife is always bossy and right. Wow, it took my young son to open my eyes to that fact. I was so convicted that I didn't watch anymore. (King of Queens is still funny to me!)

Stacy from Louisville said...

Dear Anon,
Sept 4 @ 4:11

Your post is painful to read and I am so sorry for your hurt. I don't know where you are in your siutation or how God is working, but I promise you, He is. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. Thank you for giving me and my other readers a chance to pray for you. He knows your hurt better than you do. I wish I had an easy answer, but thank you again for reaching out. It takes courage, and maybe your courage is example of His work.


fb said...

Saw this book in the bookstore - a place I want to live in when I retire - Reminded me of this post. I got here from SCL - but love the humor and truth. The book is - Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs I have been married for 35 years and need these refreshers as much as anyone. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Wow, you nailed it well. I have been married for 5 years and have come to believe that I am a worm and a fool. For 4 years my wife has told me how dumb I am and she keeps taking the wheel, in all matters. I have come to believe every word of it too. I want a divorce, but I honestly fear her. She has become a pitbull and I a mouse. I endure quietly, for when I speak up, she wins the argument.

Please pray for us.

Anonymous said...

fb, thanks for the book recommendation, I will have to check it out.

Joanna said...

Sociology student answer- Women have been socially conditioned by media representations of men that are influenced by extremist feminist ideologies to believe that men are biologically determined to be of inferior intelligence to people of the female sex.

Real english version- The media has shown us rubbish about how genders relate and we've believed it.

The truth- Sin has messed us all up big time including in this area.

mj said...

Some friends and I used to get out every month or two to meet at a scrapbook store for an evening (until feeling perpetually 'behind' on my albums made the whole thing more of a stress than a hobby!). I was always amazed by the way the women who were there talked about their husbands. There were two who apparently came every week, who would go on and on about how useless, uncaring, unsupportive (blah, blah, blah) their husbands were. But in overhearing their (loud!) conversations, we figured out that each of their husbands had built them entire ROOMS in their homes, specifically and extravagantly equipped for scrapbooking. And let them spend $100's, actually $1,000's on supplies and materials for their hobby. And let them go out every single Saturday night to eat at a restaurant and then go to this store to spend more money and enjoy their hobby with a friend. And we just couldn't understand how a man who does all of that for his wife could truly be so useless, uncaring and unsupportive.

Lauren said...

Hooray! I love you and I love this entry. It reminds me a lot of the stuff in "Created to be his Help Meet." Just one of the books that changed my marriage. :o) Also "Love & Respect" and "For Women Only" (which I already know you referenced in your most recent post). My husband's not perfect, but as the wife and mom, my attitude sets the tone. The sad thing is seeing the brokenness in marriages around us, like our parents, and realizing where it begins: love, and respect.

PS - joanna, I heart you.

Gabriele said...

Stacey, thanks for posting this. As a single woman (38 years old, never married), I am saddened to see how men are treated in our society. I am especially saddened by the Christian couples in whom I see this trend.
Like you, I have been silent when I've heard women bashing their husbands, or Christian single women bashing Christian men (and all men in general). It is time for us to take a stand against it. It is time for us to live the blessing that God has promised us. That comes from being obedient to Him and honoring and respecting the men in our lives.
Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your own struggles.

Blessings to you!

Jennifer said...

Yes! I hate how men, particularly husbans/fathers, are portrayed on TV. Practically every "family" sitcom I've seen in recent years has the buffoonish dad and the smart, beautiful mom.

Upon revisiting the "Berenstein Bears" books from my chidhood with my daughter, I decided I would not get those for her, either. The dad bear is an idiot! I don't want my daughters growing up thinking that is the norm among men. Her dad is nothing like that, and she should expect nothing less in men as she grows older.

I wonder whether the ceaseless man-bashing in the media has the effect of lowering the bar for men in real life. If both men and women think that infantile men are the norm, young women will accept far worse treatment than they should, and young men will have no reason to step up and mature.

And the husband-bashing among women. I get quiet, for I really have nothing to complain about. And, really, I do think it is disrespectful, gossiping behind someone's back, whether a man or woman. But I do listen and often sympathize, and I wonder if that's really the right response. I also end up thinking, "wow, I'm glad I don't have YOUR husband!" But now I wonder how many complaints are exaggerated. I should keep that in mind next time.

Kate (17) said...

Hi SfL!

This is my first time checking out your blog, and I was sifting through all your amazing posts, just laughing it up till I found this one. This is an absolutely amazing post.

I'm 17, but you could call me a really weird teenaged girl. I'd rather hang out with a guy, than a girl. Not because I'm boy crazy, but I tend to enjoy their company better than girls. In my old sunday school class I remember almost getting in a fight with my sunday school teacher. One girl in my class decided to say "Boys are stupid!" and I replied "Yeah, but girls are stupid too. We're catty and we can't let anything go." and all the girls agreed. Then my sunday school teacher decided to exclaim "But you will realize that all boys are more stupid than girls!"

That kind of comment really irritates me. I was so tempted to say "So this is why you're 30 and still not married!" But... I bit my tongue.

I might be a weird teen cause I read so many Focus on the Family books or something. So I "understand guys minds" or whatever. My mom practically reraised herself with Focus on the Family books, so she buys alot for me too.

Another reason why I'm weird is because I love to journal, and in my journal I give my future self advice. (yes, you may laugh) So I'm going to print this up and tape it in for me to read in the future. :-D

Thanks Stacy from Louisville!

Trigun said...

Somewhat related story:

It is near impossible to ever find a Father's Day card for my Dad! He's an honest, wise, and hardworking man. He doesn't drink alcohol, he doesn't fish, and he doesn't play golf.
Over half the cards deal with witty remarks about how dads are lazy, stupid, and drink all the time. The other half deal about a father's bitter attitude toward golf or fishing.
I looked at all these cards, and started to realize that either my dad is one unique guy (and maybe he is because he's certainly special to me) or there's a message being preached here that doesn't exactly add up...maybe it's both.

Steve Anon. said...

My late wife would go to her all-girl small group and talk about me. I’d hear about it afterwards – often from her girlfriends’ husbands. It was all, “Steve did this wonderful thing for me the other day”, or “Steve said that incredibly deep thing” – always building me up. She was like that – unabashedly boasting about me – which is strange, because I’m certainly nothing to boast about. But it had a chain reaction: (1) it was a preemptive tone-setter and stopped any of the other women beating up on their husbands in the group (not that they would - they were a lovely group); (2) it encouraged the other women to brag about their husbands to the group; (3) they told their husbands in private and their husbands got the competitive bug a bit and maybe even got a bit nicer to their wives; (4) it got back to me and made me stand taller about myself; (5) it made me want to do consciously all those things which she saw me do unconsciously, and (6) of course I bragged about her too. (Even more.) Still do (but you know that).

She went Home several years ago, but memories of someone who finds new ways to sneak in some vicarious love can never diminish.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't read this without posting a comment.


I dated a woman a few months ago who was all sweetness and light when we first started dating. After a month or so she started treating me horribly, running me down, mocking me in front of others (including my parents), etc, etc....

Needless to say the relationship ended when she broke up with me over...get lack of understanding over how she needed to meet up and make out with other guys. I was just supposed to understand and go along with it.

Even after we broke up, she still tried to pull that stuff. Changing phone number and blocking her from emailing me worked pretty good I think.

So, from all of us guys who have been run down, and treated like garbage. Thanks.

bignateym said...

I remember a guy in a small group coming hope from a rather well known men's gathering that was hugely popular in the 90's saying everything that happened was the man's fault. It took some serious discussion with my wife to undo that little bit of stupidity.

LeLe said...

Stacy, I came over here from SCL and just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! This post was spot-on. I get frustrated with TV and media depicting all men as idiotic, beer-guzzling baffoons. My husband is nothing like that. Yes, he is a big kid but that's one of the things I love about him. He matches my sarcasm, makes me laugh, is godly and wants God's will for our lives, and is honestly my BESTEST friend.

This post is a great reminder that there is no reason for me to gripe about him. One day last week, he even put on his Facebook status that he had "the most beautiful wife." I followed with a complimentary status about him and then one of our single friends put on her status that she wished she had someone who would write super-duper Facebook statuses about her! :) So, I think it's women's jobs to lift up their husband so that other women who may be unhappy or who are single can see that men really aren't as idiotic as pop culture portrays.

sam (: said...

Wow. Amazing post...
Some of these comments are very disheartening... if I was praying anymore I'd pray for ya'll.. but I'm going through some stuff with God and haven't prayed in the longest time..
But it just amazes me that people actually do this!! Just joking is understandable.. but constantly bashing your husband... I don't get it. I'm only 18 so not married yet but I hope I NEVER turn out like this...
But I think it can go both ways. I've seen more men belittling their wives.. saying they're not pretty enough and such.. I'm so so glad I have such positive couple role models at my church!! I come from a broken home so it's nice..
Something else I've noticed since I've become a Christian (which was only the beginning of this year) is all the GOSSIP and "polite bashing" that goes on in a church. It drives me absolutely crazy. I hate it. There's this one lady.. a friend of mine's mom.. who sat there and told me about her neighbour's whole life story for like 10 minutes... how his wife was cheating on him and how he shouldn't have worked so many hours and I'm like what the heck. It amazes me that some Christians think they are better than everyone else. Also one time my YOUTH PASTORS WIFE, not a girl in youth, was sitting there with a bunch of youth girls talking about how some girl who wasn't there wears short shorts and is a you know what.....
I really don't get it.. I think gossiping is one of the easiest sins to prevent.. but meh.. I'm rambling so I'll stop.
But Stacy as a young girl I really admire you!!! Thanks for writing this... i heart SFL!!

heartafire said...

You are not only a wise mother, but a wise wife as well.
I absolutely agree with you---
Thought your comment about how to convey respect for your husband to your children--- I think this is one of the most valuable things we can give the, in terms of their future marital happiness. I have tried to always be clear with the girls that "Daddy is the boss." Since there can really only be one head of the household, and the Bible says it should be him, it is.

The sex thing: I went to a Denise Glenn conference several years ago, and here is what she said: "Name three ways your husband knows you love him...........
....and the first two don't count."
(thank you, thank you everyone, I'll be here all week)

It has taken me years to realize that this is truly the best way for my guy to know he's loved. It just seemed too pat, too obvious, too easy---- It wasn't nuanced and thoughtful, and sacrificial, like I thought showing love should be.
Especially to my husband---he's different than other men, I thought---he's super intelligent, patient, thoughtful, restrained, refined. He's just not that...simple. Coarse. Etc.
But over the last few years I have reallly come to understand the language of love he needs from me. Boinking, short and sweet. That's what makes him feel loved.

And of course you nailed the REAL way to be a good wife (mother, friend, co-worker, neighbor, sister, daughter, etc.): Know and love Jesus.

This was a great way to start the day, Stacy. I went from SCL to Bible to Stacy---recipe for happiness.

Lynn said...

Excellent post... right on target. Reminders of this type should find their way into the lives of wives more often! Just watched Fireproof (okay, a little late, but couldn't make it while in theaters!) and while my husband and I were watching I couldn't help but be thankful that we have a good marriage... but I also know that even "good marriages" are just one step away from "bad marriages"... attitude is everything... and constant adjustments to our attitudes towards our spouse and their needs are essential! Thanks for such a wonderful way to start the day!

jennyleigh said...

I heard a well-known local minister once say that if you do something consistently for thirty days, it will become a habit. I tried this regarding my husband and giving him a compliment of some sort each day for thirty days. It really does work. I appreciate a compliment and love to be built up, but I personally think men (or my man, anyway) need to hear they're appreciated as much or more than women.

I do share funny stories about my husband with my friends. I wouldn't be hurt if he shared the same type of stories about me.

Like Helen said, the differences between men and women can be very funny. Never let it be said God doesn't have a sense of humor.

jen said...

Thanks Stacy! Great post, great reminder. I'm posting it on my F/B page. If you prefer I don't just let me know and I'll remove it. Thanks again!

Mandy Leech said...

Thanks, Stacy. I know that I have it really REALLY good. Jim is amazing to me, and I know that I complain more than I should about the working late, working lots.... He's providing. I need to be as good to him as he is to me. Or better. Needed to hear that. :)

vanilla said...

Joanna Sept 6 @ 9:59 is so on target.

Thanks for the remix, Stacy. You and Dan have a blast at that arcade!

eastern ky pastor said...

Stacy, thanks for the remix! But, if i can add one thing....most men are more respect starved than sex starved. I don't mean to be crass, but it's easier in our society to find sexual gratification than it is to find respect. I'm one of the blessed ones, but i know many who aren't.

I think the arcade is fantastic!

Ryan B said...

I'm a guy but I'm not married. I've definitely seen this in my parents relationship more than a few times and in other friends' parents relationship as well. I think you nailed this on the head though.

I think it starts in elementary school. "Girls are from Mars and get more candy bars. Boys are from Jupiter and get more stupider." I would enjoy some candy bars. And personally, I came from Earth. I've never even been to Jupiter. And if I could go there I wouldn't want to. I'd prefer Pluto, which isn't even a planet anymore.

Dog snob said...

You know, I know many men that are little more then "shells", and that alone is enough motivation for me to avoid it in my marriage.

On the other hand, I do think there are times when women just need to vent to each other so they can calmly deal with things at home, (or see how irrational we are being by getting so upset over small stuff).

Whitleighsmom said...

Wow! I've been saying this for years as i was raising my daughter. As Women of God, we need to filter what we watch, hear, and speak...and then filter what goes into our kids. Men are so important - we must be encouragers and women who lift up, not women who bring down. Kudos!

UptownHippie said...

Loved this post - I SO hate the typical sitcom setup of hot, demanding wife vs. fat slob husband. It's so harmful to both sexes - it's demeaning to women, because it sets the standard that a woman is required to always look amazing AND manage everything because she can't ever really trust her husband - and it's just plain degrading to men. Hate, hate, hate that setup - in movies, in TV shows, in plays, everywhere.