An Easy Marriage

Today is my one year wedding anniversary and I have to say to the whole world that I am in love with a woman that is truly my best friend. My life would suck without her and I am a better person because she shows me how to be empathetic and sensitive. Marriage is easy when you have a wife like mine and I thank God for this gift that I do not deserve. As we go into our second year of marriage I want to continually work on being a better husband. Being a truly good man is extremely hard but I am so grateful that I have a patient wife that holds my hand through the journey.

The Two Income Trap

What happened to the idea that a wife would stay home and care after the house while the husband would be the bread winner? Well, feminism extricated women from their historic-domestic role and starting in the 1970’s women began to flood the workforce with fervor. I am all for women getting equal rights and being allowed to strap on the business suit and sit in a cubicle all day. My nagging question is why the reverse scenario wasn’t afforded to men? Sure, men can technically stay home and let their wife be the bread winner but I find it not nearly as socially acceptable. In the US at least, I find that woman are supported if they desire a career or a domestic title. A woman in the workforce can still be feminine and is viewed as strong, ambitious, intelligent, etc. A woman who stays at home, to take care for her family, can still be feminine and is viewed as strong, caring, nurturing, etc. How is a man viewed who stays at home to take care of domestic manners? I would say that he may be looked at as less masculine, lazy, lacking ambition, and weak. Sure there are exceptions to what people believe but I am talking about the general societal views that are brought up behind closed doors. The reason I bring these points up are two fold: firstly, I think it is important to identify that we do not need two income households, and secondly, we need to rethink what true masculinity represents.

You are probably thinking, “Jon what the frick, we need all the money we can get and are scrapping by with two incomes!” You probably are scrapping by, but that is because of spending habits and the life you created more than the actual amount of money you need. The two income trap is that you end up spending most of the money you make and hence build a lifestyle that corresponds to your dual income level. Think about if you had your pay cut in half. You would change your spending habits and adjust your lifestyle. I challenge both women and men to think about how they can cut the amount of time they spend working and readjust their lives to do the things they truly love to do. Men, I am reaching out to you and asking to rethink what masculinity truly means. Masculinity is not defined by the amount of money you make or the amount of respect you receive from a title. True masculinity is being secure in your own faculties so you can be the best lover, friend, mentor, son, and father. To anyone interested in the concept of the why two incomes is not beneficial I would recommend reading The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke by Elizabeth Warren. I know I had two points in this post but they are really related. Women and especially men need to let go of perceived societal norms, support lives that tout relationships over greed, and realize that life can be so much more fulfilling then the rat-race. I end with the question, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” 95% of people I have asked this said they would quit their job’s immediately.

The Poison of Unconditional Love and Earned Respect

The wife just doesn’t get why her fat-lazy husband never picks up his clothes. She has berated him over and over about cleaning up after himself and she is at the point of treating him like an over-grown child. The husband on the other hand hasn’t been attracted to his wife ever since she became a frazzled-OCD soccer mom who reminds him of his naggy mother. The closest they get to intimacy now is accidentally touching hands when reaching into the popcorn bowl while watching reruns of Big Bang Theory. This is a fairly common occurrence among married couples and it comes down to two major problems-the wife doesn’t feel loved and the husband doesn’t feel respected. This conundrum was the subject of my most recent book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. I really enjoyed this book because it gives a different message then the usual rhetoric of, “…you need to unconditionally love each other and pray and kiss and have your penis inverted :).” The focus that love is the primary thing men and women desire is just flat out wrong. Dr. Eggerichs uses the acronym C-O-U-P-L-E to describe the love women need for a healthy relationship: C is for Closeness, O is for Openness, U is for Understanding, P is for Peacemaking, L is for Loyalty, and E is Esteem. Men in general desire respect and the acronym for this is C-H-A-I-R-S: C is for Conquest, H is for Hierarchy, A is for Authority, I is for Insight, R is for Relationship, and S is for Sexuality. Now obviously both genders desire love and respect but in general they find one more important than the other. The point Dr. Eggerichs makes is that women need to change their thinking that respect needs to be earned while love is unconditional; both need to be unconditional to get out of the crazy downward spiral of fighting and misunderstanding. The cycle goes like this-without love she reacts and doesn’t show respect which then makes him react and not show love. This goes round and round and usually ends with the wife thinking “he doesn’t love me,” and the husband thinking “she is not the women I married.”

A healthy relationship has the energizing cycle-with his love she is motivated to show respect and her respect motivates him to show more love. Alright, how do you get on the cycle of true marital bliss. Well, first off, you have to be patient and be the mature one in the relationship to start showing love/respect even if it is not immediately reciprocated. If you are a wife I suggest going up to your husband and saying “…honey I respect you because of (fill in blank).” I bet your man will be surprised and feel great after this comment. If you are a husband go out and buy a card and write one thing you love about your wife. Place the card somewhere she will find it and booyah your wife will feel pretty awesome. Keep up the love/respect attitudes and like a snowball that is rolling down a hill it will grow into a perpetuating cycle of positive feelings. For husbands this may be difficult because your wife is a fat devil and treats you worse than a dog. For wives this may be difficult because your husband is a moron and only associates love with eating chicken wings at Hooters. Alright, you need to step up, be mature, and know that God will be with you through the process. Women, you may have to fake respect for a bit but stick with it because if your husband is good natured he will eventually reciprocate love. Also for those strong willed women out there, it is not chauvinistic or anti-feminist to let your husband make the decisions. A husband will feel immensely respected knowing that you trust his judgement. Think of the power in a relationship as 50-50 with the final decision going to the one who desires respect the most. Let’s all try to improve our relationships with this knowledge. I am going to lift Christina up by giving her kisses and hugs whenever she wants them-even when she puckers her lips half way across the room. Christina is not going to bash me in front of other people because I’m a cheap fricker. Remember, love comes slow but it can be destroyed in a second. Cherish your relationship and treat it as your most valuable possession on this earth.

“Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

-Ephesians 5:33