Monday, May 5, 2014

Husband or draft horse?

It was this time of year, nine years ago, when my thirty-four-year-old husband sat down with me and said, "The Army has missed its recruiting goals again, I'm going to enlist."

It was a statement, not a question. My opinion and/or input was not what he was seeking, he was informing me on what was going to happen.

Now that the Army will no longer be his career, he is free to pursue whatever he desires once again. He was contemplating something the other day and I asked him, "It's not me that is holding you back from this decision, is it?" He said it wasn't, but I reminded myself to get my thoughts into check and root out any sense of expectation when it comes to his decisions.

Our role as help meet is designed to be as flexible as is needed to help our husbands in whatever endeavor they pursue. If a former endeavor provided excess and abundance, we, as wives, need to make sure those pleasantries do not turn into expectations that influence our husbands to maintain where they are instead of following their desires, or even their calling, to change what they are doing.

My thoughts on the subject were confirmed again when I was reading through the comment section of the Just Four Guys blog. Go read it for context if you'd like, it's an excellent thread for women to read. I'll just be highlighting some snippets of what commenter BuenaVista had to say:

Well, as a former drafthorse, who got up at 3 a.m. so I could do my share of the housework, run 5 miles so I look like a 20 year-old, and write two poems, before going to work for 14 hours/day, because that’s what constituted a manly-man to the ex-, at least I wasn’t a gelding like this dude. Does he do the toilets, too? Get up earlier, pal. You can always get up earlier. I hope you’re doing all the cooking on the weekends.
Sure, go ahead. Throw away any aspect of your integrity so that you can do shuttle runs on the weekend in a minivan, after investing the entirety of your existence M-F in supporting this woman and her precious children. The wife will say you’re magnificent — yay — because that’s less revealing than reality. Reality is that he’ll blink and be dead, or blink and be divorced. Reality is that she and her friends gather and cluck “Farm him out, honey; farm him out.” Reality is that a housewife has four hours per day of labor, maybe six, but this one has her man running errands all weekend in a piece-of-shit family breadbox because, well, it’s just so important to share the load.
Perhaps they will bury him in his minivan, with a few Dad of the Year! t-shirts thrown in.
If this woman had gotten anything out of her claimed redpill insights, her guy would have a life other than one that exclusively celebrates her leisure. Men: harness up. We’ll praise you!...
More reflections on the OP and why I find it so alarming, especially here of all places. No anecdotes, but fair warning for mixed metaphors, Blade Runner, quantitative finance, and aviation references, not to mention invective informed by experience:
Let’s amplify and exaggerate: Our fair correspondent here could be married to a independently wealthy Channing Tatum, sensitive beyond measure (say he has a book deal to update treacle like Kahlil Gibran) and brilliant beyond comprehension (when not cleaning his Vepr he writes monographs on public choice theory), teaches hot university babes Miesian economics … oh, we actually know someone like that, oops. Well. Anyway, let us now add the wedding cake and overlay some Ward Cleaver, and watch him trade out his TVR for a minivan and the infinitude of striving that is the Honey-Do List Lifestyle. He is now defined solely by what he brings, does, and provides. It doesn’t matter how pretty the harness, it’s still a harness.
A drafthorse is an impressive figure: we all admire him. Until, and there’s always an until, he can’t, or won’t, pull the wagon; or until, sight unseen to our plodding hero-horse, another prancing drafthorse or quarterhorse or closing-hour unicorn horse enters stage left. Then, as we know, Davey Drafthorse gets a bucket of seat oats, and a .308 to the brain.
It’s important to realize that our Fair Correspondent has found the perfect man. That perfect man — and none of us will ever walk the earth as either the perfect greater beta or sun-kissed maximal alpha — exists *at the pleasure, at the whim* of Fair Correspondent. His emotional life, and wholesale aspects of his economic life, *hang by a thread.* Should she change her mind about his utility, for it is utility that makes him Maximal Man, he’s now just another disoriented loser, alien to his children, to himself, to his potential, to his autonomy. And the only answer that provides any comfort whatsoever to this bleak, factual, 40-50% probability is: NAWALT.
Really? We’re going to say this is good enough? NAWALT? Because some chick drops props on a blog for men about how, really, men-in-minivans are just da bomb?
The described husband here appears to exist in middle-manager land (their resources provide a tenuous middle-income lifestyle). He could — nay, he *will* — eventually get canned; he could get sick, physically or emotionally; he could fall off the marriage chastity wagon, because unlike his spouse he thinks sex is in fact a very big deal, and particularly so in monogamy; he could simply decide that no, he’s not getting in harness today, he’s going to rewrite his senior thesis and family income this year is going to be 3% of last year’s, so deal with it.
There is an implied contract in all of monogamy, and that contract never includes the words, “Honey, I know that we have enjoyed two decades of equilibrium, but, you know, this new thing is really important to me and I’m going to see it through. This is my moment.” At that moment he’s in breach. Good luck, Davey Drafthorse. Suzy Homemaker holds the reins.
What then? Boom. She points to the contract: “Show me where your agency is permitted, absent, in my sole discretion, I deem it reasonable?” He’s out and the State drops an Enforcement Action on his ass. The choices then, for Davey Drafthorse, are obliteration or massive self-reconstruction. He will need to reinvent himself after 20 years of relentless, habitual nurturing and provisioning. He will need to do so with no support from his friends of the past 20 years, who instead look the other way rather than, themselves, stare at the smoking crater that is this man’s blasted hopes and relationship equity. He will be erased, overnight, by everyone whose social access to him (this would be everyone) was managed by his ex-wife; overnight, his despairing children will (out of desperation to survive emotionally) place him on the shelf with the other clever, maybe charming, irrelevant knickknacks that we accumulate in life. Overnight his highest-and-best use to his children will be to become the best distant uncle a child can have, the kind of uncle whose value can be easily measured: How often can he reload their debit cards? Overnight he’s a security in default, all of his lines of emotional and financial credit closed. For he’s not a man, it turns out, at all; he’s a marriage market replicant experiencing “retirement.” Those 20 years? It turns out that his memories are, overnight, merely programmed impulses designed to make him feel whole within the perfect world his ex-wife desired; it turns out that he’s been dreaming of electric sheep. He stumbles about, reaching for the photographs that documented his entire adult and parental life: Suzy Homemaker already removed them on the court-ordered stripping of the household. Simple artifacts, these photographs, like every other pretty lie, are gone.
Alternatively, he could be permitted his autonomous dreams, his agency, and his emotional distinctiveness. If you want a leading indicator of relationship success, it would be some acknowledgment of a committed man’s legitimacy in autonomy. Find some, for me, in the contributor’s self-aggrandizing paen to servile masculinity.
So, recovery. To recover some modest integrity, a shadow of his potential self at 25, he will be condemned to a life of solitary effectiveness: Decker, best in “love”, only capable of “love”, with a replicant like himself. “Love”, now properly seen for the fancy tissue paper that wrapped up the sum of his investment in a woman — who here celebrates her marionette husband, provided he doesn’t hang himself in her piano-wire strings as he contorts himself left-and-right at her fingertip command — is just more tissue paper thrown on the fire now that Christmas has passed. His only freedom, now, is in his solitary awareness that when they say it’s love, it looks like a business; and when he acts like it’s a business, he’s shamed for not realizing it’s love.[...]

[...]Don’t believe me? The other blog had a thread last spring in which the subject of marital infidelity came up. The proprietor, who celebrates her marriage to the perfect greater beta as the model for all the young girls, noted: “If he cheats, I will hire the nastiest divorce lawyer in town and take him apart piece by piece.” That is the piano-wire thread that all men must either love, or differently manage.

As your husband's help meet, does he have the ability to say, “Honey, I know that we have enjoyed two decades of equilibrium, but, you know, this new thing is really important to me and I’m going to see it through. This is my moment.” and have not only your full support but your...help?

Have you learned yet to go to God to rid yourself of fear, expectation, entitlement?  

Are you making sure that in no way is your husband in a harness "defined solely by what he brings, does, and provides."


 "If you want a leading indicator of relationship success, it would be some acknowledgment of a committed man’s legitimacy in autonomy."

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Entering the Army at 34! That's something all its own.


    ReplyDelete