The other week my wife and I had to sign some paperwork at a lawyer’s office… no, we’re fine; it wasn’t that kind of lawyer. As we were walking from our car to the office, I noticed my wife was struggling, which was unusual. The reason? Heels. Between kids and covid she hasn’t really worn heels in several years. As a guy, I naturally asked, “Why are you wearing heels?” and as a woman, she naturally responded, “Because I wanted to feel nice.” Before I could make a sarcastic joke about it being strange she’d feel “nice” walking weird, you know, like a jerk, she had looked at me and realized what I was wearing – I set myself up for that. I was very classy that day as I was wearing a bright yellow shirt with bright red letters that said “Hulkamaniac” on it. Are you thinking my shirt sounds like a child’s t-shirt? It’s not; it’s an adult shirt… that’s a replica of a shirt I had as a child. My wife started scolding me, “How could you wear that to see a lawyer?” and I maturely responded, “Why did you let me leave the house wearing this to see a lawyer?” You know, the way a child would. At least my shirt represented my behavior; I was being consistent.
The staff at the lawyer’s office was very friendly, and soon the lawyer came out to get us. Guess what happened when he saw what I was wearing. If you guessed that he threw me out of his office for not being dressed better… you’d be wrong. He greeted us and made a comment about my shirt – uh oh. I didn’t really hear him, so automatically apologized, “I’m sorry for wearing this. My wife has already reprimanded me,” as I tried to separate her from the blame for my clothing choice. The lawyer laughed and said, “No, I made the comment because I didn’t think you’d be old enough to be a Hulkamaniac.” I told him that in grade one I had the Hulk Hogan lunchbox like half the kids in my class, so I was definitely old enough. My wife was in shock – oh, yeah. The lawyer and I hit it off, and after doing a ridiculous number of signatures on the paperwork and talking about random things, it came to the money part. The lawyer looked at my wife and very seriously said, “I’m going to give you a discount today, but it’s not because of you. It’s because of your husband.” That’s right. I wore a shirt my wife didn’t approve of and it helped lead us to getting a discount – score! Best lawyer ever!
Right after the meeting, my wife and I went to my mom’s house for dinner. Guess what my mom’s response was to my shirt. If you guessed her first words to me before even saying hi were, “You better not have worn that to a lawyer’s office,” you’d be right. My mom was appalled, and that’s when I got to tell her how it helped us get a discount. Being a proper lady, my mom still didn’t approve while my wife was now too grateful for the almost four hundred dollars in savings – that was a magic shirt choice.
Can you see the gender difference? Women are typically more worried about being proper while men are more relaxed. As a guy, I know there is a limit. For instance, I wouldn’t wear my Hulkamaniac shirt to a wedding – I’d be castrated. I also wouldn’t wear it to work – I’m not an idiot. When you’re the worker there’s a different expectation for professionalism, but as the person paying for a service, who cares? Personally, I don’t care what my clients wear as long as they’re dressed… and they pay. If you’re paying me, do what you want. Sure, your clothes say something about your personality (I clearly have a nostalgic, child side to me), but clothes are just clothes… a statement I think will make many women cringe: “Clothes are so much more than that! They… um… I don’t know… they prevent you from being judged by other women?”
Together, women and men can balance each other out: women having a higher standard can make things better while guys being more easygoing can relieve stress and keep things lighter. Unfortunately, these differences can also lead to some major fights, especially if the guy is so easygoing he’s lazy (aka a loser) or the woman is contemptuous to her partner (aka a condescending witch).
This becomes an even greater problem because I find men are scared of their wife’s anger. There’s something about an angry woman that crushes us (at least a real man). Other guys being angry isn’t that big a deal. My dad could’ve been angry and I’d be angry back. If my mom was angry… that was very different. I’d feel terrible. This isn’t always the case for men, especially if the mom wasn’t the kind, nurturing mom like I had, but I’m yet to meet a real man who wasn’t scared of their wife’s anger. Wives have power over their man. This power may not motivate us to have as high a standard, but it can easily cause us to want to hide, avoid, and do things to cope with our fear that can get us in trouble.
Guys having a lower standard often include having a more playful side because we’re not as worried about being “proper” and more worried about having fun. From my experience, single women tend to be similarly playful until they get into serious relationships, which is when they become very serious and put ridiculous amounts of stress on themselves to be proper. This stress can cause the woman to resent the guy’s playfulness that once made her laugh because now it just gives her more stress as it gets in her way of being proper (aka perfection). Meanwhile, if the guy gets too serious, the woman will likely complain that he’s changed. Ultimately, a guy’s playfulness can be a gift to the woman if he uses it properly and it’s received the way it’s intended. It can also be a curse as it can lead to a resentful wife who wonders why her husband is such a child. What women need to remember is that just because a guy has a different standard doesn’t make him a child; it makes him have a different standard. If a woman complains that her husband is a child, either she resents his lower standards or she’s married a loser because sometimes the guy is just a loser – I’ve definitely met a few. I’ve also met a few soul crushing witches who cause their husbands to use some terrible coping tools they would never have used if they hadn’t had their souls crushed so badly (e.g. drinking, never being home, or talking to other women). When this guy is broken, this resentful woman will start to complain that her husband has become weak, morose, and offering little passion. This means the guy’s confidence is gone, which will lead to him making more mistakes as he second guesses everything he does thereby adding more stress on the woman and fuel to her contempt.
Being able to tell if the woman has married a loser or if she’s being too hard on him is pretty easy to tell: The loser guy spends a lot of his time in selfish pursuits like sports, video games, and working too much leaving his wife to carry the burden of the household without care while soul crushing witches have a husband who is constantly doing things to win her approval, but nothing is good enough. The reality is both sides, men and women, have some serious losers on their teams, so a breakdown in the relationship isn’t just one gender’s fault; it can go either way or include a little of both – those are the really fun relationships. Ironically, the people most likely to call themselves a loser or soul crushing witch, are least likely to be the loser or soul crushing witch because they are quick to blame themselves (aka passive people) while those who are quick to accuse the other side have a high probability of being passive aggressive and wanting to assume they are the innocent victim.
For the most part if we can learn to accept each other’s differences, like how women have a higher standard and men are more easygoing, we can create healthier and mutually beneficial relationships. More importantly, we need to be careful not to marry a loser or a soul crushing witch… or be one ourselves.
This week may you consider how your partner’s differences can balance your relationship.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavd.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)