Good relationships are not formed by soul mates in perfect harmony. Two individual lives fail to be individual if they only exist to intertwine with each other in some impossibly perfect and complimentary fashion.
The simple truth is, couples get going different directions at times. That can be over the workload, the financial pressure, decisions to have children, the decisions about children’s lives. Real relationships take work, and they include a lot of pain and suffering as well as a lot of comfort and joy.
Despite that realism, a good relationship is not lacking in inspiration. A partner should routinely be helped to feel like the person we married: the very best person we’ve ever known. They should be able to sense our genuine admiration of them regularly. Daily. We should help make them laugh, and to care about what’s important to them.
For years I’ve seen 80% of the breakups initiate with the women. A lot of men see that as just a case of a lot of women having demands that are too high. And I do see that. It does happen. There are some women looking for the guy to sacrifice his life for hers and that won’t work either. A person without their own life cannot help invigorate anyone else’s soul.
But far more often, the reason it’s usually the women doing the leaving is because the women are getting the bad end of a bargain. For any guys reading this, the simple fact is, too many men are still not truly sharing the daily workload at home.
Even in 2020, shovelling or mowing every now and then, and looking after cars, or preparing the odd meal is not the same as the daily relentlessness of dishes or laundry or cooking. And if I ask men, ‘do you share the childcare work with your wife?’ they’ll often say ‘yes’ and I’ll see their wife’s eyes roll. So I’ll continue.
I ask the man, ‘So how are the childcare tasks divided?’ It’s rare for a guy to have an answer. They’re usually confused by the question. And if they aren’t, then the couple usually isn’t there for marital issues. For those that are, after some discussion, we often learn that the guy has no where near as much involvement with the home responsibilities.
The reason the guys will say they ‘share the workload’ is often only because they’ve done each of the childcare tasks at least once. So if their wife does laundry every second day, and they do it once a month, many guys will say they ‘both’ do laundry. Many guys will want to call that childcare claim ‘fair’ on a technicality –because technically they’ve each done each job. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Maybe it’s genetic. Or maybe it is linked to our ancient heritage. But if that’s the case, then men are still evolving in this regard. It’s not that the guys can’t be great dad’s. Many are now. And even the less involved Dads are still often good at trusting kids more and letting them have more freedom. And kids value that. The real issue is that the Dad’s often grab the highlight reel parenting. The take on the stuff they write about in books or show in movies. The non-relentless stuff.
Even in 2020, a common complaint is that a ‘modern’ Dad will come home from work and criticize their wife for a lack of patience with the kids, when the father generally got to work with adults all day.
Meanwhile, the pandemic has forced the stay-at-home Mom to work as a servant for her often tiny horrible tyrants. No matter how lovable a kid is, that period from 2-4 years old is a busy one for any stay at home parent. And let’s not forget, she’s often now their teacher of every subject too. And they have to do this, even though the kids will display almost no manners and only a smattering of respect for their servant.
For the ladies part, most mature women know they are not in a prince and princess situation. But that does not mean that they have lost all interest in being seen as having a meaningful life outside of child-rearing. If the woman gives the man all day to fulfill his professional and financial destiny, then in the evening the fair trade would be he takes on total kid care while Mom gets her chance to exercise her own independent life.
But that’s rarely how it goes, because most guys will fully admit that after work they feel like they’ve earned their night off. Which is understandable –except it leaves the problem 100% on the wife again. That is unsustainable in the long term.
Also, even if the guy is giving his wife this opportunity for her own life, many might also want to think about the fact that she is still sexual, attractive, and desirable. But many men lose most of their interest at a certain point. And that’s largely because, not so deep down, their physical attraction was always a bit superficial and not really a culmination event. Gentlemen, women’s vaginas are not targets to be hunted down ASAP.
Lovemaking should emerge out of other expressions of passion. It should be more of a culmination than an achievement. In short, try and actually involve the woman’s mind a little more. Take her somewhere in her heart and thoughts. It’s worth it. And that way the man will ultimately like things better too. But the man will need to be willing to be empathetic and vulnerable. And as noted in the previous post, that’s still where too many men lack strength.
Good marriages are not childhood fantasies. They will travel through difficult times and they will require great resilience just like every other part of life. But they will also be deeply rewarding if we truly partner with our spouse. And in doing so, we should not lose sight of their soul or their sense of purpose, any more than we should lose sight of our own.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.