Entrusting his heart to her.

April 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

10 When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
11 Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
12 She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
Proverb 31
A few days ago I read on Dr Helen about an article written by Leslie Bennetts on MSNBC entitled “Chores for two: Why men don’t pitch in“.   The Anchoress also picked it up here and her insights are well worth reading.  About a week ago I wrote on the subject of housekeeping, and the idea of a good wife.  What I said there applies as I reflect on this newer article.  In the Good wife post I quoted Minette Marrin’s article about keeping marriages healthy, how that might reasonably mean one spouse (usually the wife) putting their career ambitions on hold and wives going back to the idea of picking up, putting out and building up their husbands.  While what Ms Bennetts says is not all that different from what Ms Marrin says in application, the difference in attitude is astounding.   Marrin’s idea of a good wife is someone who puts her husband’s and her children’s needs (both material and emotional) above her career ambitions out of love; Ms Bennetts connives to get her husband to “pitch in” more by figuratively castrating him and “insisting” that he do more around the house because that is what she feels is her due

I find it sad in Ms Bennetts article where she says what she really thinks about her husband.  I couldn’t do it justice so I will give you a long quote:

And yet everyone acts as if Jeremy deserves some kind of medal just for making a run to the supermarket. No one has ever suggested that I’m a heroine for doing the things every mother is expected to do. I admit that my husband helps out more than many men, but here’s another news flash: It isn’t because he’s such a fabulously enlightened being. Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work. The reason Jeremy “helps” as much as he does (an offensive terminology that itself suggests who’s really being held responsible) is simple: He doesn’t have a choice.

 From the beginning of our relationship, I made it very clear that I wasn’t going to be any husband’s unpaid servant. If Jeremy wanted to be—and stay—married to me, let alone have kids, he couldn’t stick me with all the boring, mundane stuff nobody wants to do. We were going to share the work, or we were going to forget the whole deal.Unlike my first husband, who announced after our wedding that he didn’t like the way the French laundry did his shirts and he now expected me, the Wife, to wash and iron all of them, Jeremy recognized both the righteousness of the principle involved and the intransigence of the woman he’d married, and proceeded to pitch in.

I will let the reader draw their own conclusions here, but I find it sad that Leslie Bennetts decided that her husband, the father of her children, the person she shares a life and presumably a bed with, the one person in the whole world who’s opinion of her should matter most deserves to be publicly exposed like this.  He doesn’t help out because he loves her, because he is a great guy, no no… he helps out because she has found a way to whip him into it.  And now the whole world know the truth.  So much for “entrusting his heart to her.” 

I rather like Aristotle’s  “On a Good Wife“. 

Therefore not only when her husband is in prosperity and good report must she be in agreement with him, and to render him the service he wills, but also in times of adversity. If, through sickness or fault of judgement, his good fortune fails, then must she show her quality, encouraging him ever with words of cheer and yielding him obedience in all fitting ways—only let her do nothing base or unworthy. Let her refrain from all complaint, nor charge him with the wrong, but rather attribute everything of this kind to sickness or ignorance or accidental errors.

Now of course the whole work is hopelessly sexist and all that but the above passage if rendered to fit more with today’s norms has a bit of really good advice.  It is easy to be kind and loving to your husband when everything is good, when the world looks at him and smiles, when he is successful and healthy.   But sometimes men fail.  They loose their jobs, they have problems, they fall ill.  Then is when the marriage vows become a buttress against the world.  When he has tripped and needs a hand, when the world has crushed him down that is when the good wife’s character shows.  When she hides his shame from the world, when she builds him up instead of tearing him down, when she never speaks ill of him, she becomes his best friend, his help and his joy.  That is when his heart can trust in her. 

I have often found it distressing how many  women come online and drag their husbands through the dirt.  How often they complain about the minor little things he does.  How they whine about the things he doesn’t do.  Now maybe they are all sweetness and light to their husbands in real life, but I can’t imagine how heartsick these husbands would feel if they read what their wives say about them.   But it isn’t just that women do this to their husbands they encourage it.  It become at times a sisterly hobby of sharing all the dirt on their husbands.  

My own good husband would be crushed if I said half the things about him I have seen other rattle off as though they were talking about what was for dinner or how to prune roses.   It all goes back to love and motivation.  When you love someone you don’t want the world to see their faults.  People frequently tell me how great Kyle is because he does something or another.  If the neighbor told me how great he was for going shopping the last thing I would think is “nahhhh, he only does it because I bribe him or whip him into it, I am the great one.”  I wouldn’t even think “Well how come you don’t think I am great when I do all the shopping most weeks?”   When someone says something about what a great guy my husband is I think “Yeah!  He is a great guy.”  Because he is.  He doesn’t do it all, he isn’t perfect, but gosh darn it he tries and that means so much.

I can not imagine being Leslie Bennetts husband.  With the insulting things she has written about him I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he decided her over-entitled-ego was too much and left to find someone who wouldn’t verbally upbraid him for the entertainment of the world.  I will hold out the same hope for them that I did with Corinne Maier and her children.  I hope he was in on this all along. Maybe he has a strong enough ego and is secure enough in her affection to see this article out there and be fine with it.   Maybe she is hopeful that this will build up sales for her book and he encouraged the whole thing.   They will open the big royalties check together and laugh at the world as we all get up in arms about what a harpy she is.  She will look at him while they are getting ready for bed tonight and she will smile and tell him he is the best guy in the world and he will know she means it.  I feel very sorry for him if that is not the case.

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