Inside the Mind of a Future Husband, Part 1

Is being a dumb schmuck all I have to forward to in marriage?

One thing I’ve noticed during this entire engagement process (in case you missed it, I am indeed getting married) is that, as the groom-to-be, I figure very little into the overall picture. That’s not to say that Renae is excluding me by any means, but rather, nearly every aspect of being engaged always seems to relate the most with the bride. This has been made evidently clear whenever we’ve gone to register for gifts. Looking through the paperwork and pamphlets, I was surprised to see that the word “groom” is rarely mentioned (if at all), whereas everything is “bridal” this and “bridal” that.

Now, this blog entry is not intended to be a screed against the wedding gift registration process (though I do have some bones to pick with the interfaces on some of those registries — but I’ll save that for another time). Nor is it meant to dish out all sorts of dirt on my engagement. (First of all, Renae would kill me, and second, being engaged is actually pretty cool.) Rather, what I’ve really found most interesting are the responses I get whenever I relate to someone the thoughts contained in the paragraph above.

Inevitably, someone will pull me aside — most often a man — and remind me that I need to get used to this. That it’s no longer about me, that I no longer matter. (If that’s the case, than why am I even getting married in the first place?) That married life is all about giving into the ol’ wife. That the three most important words are not “I love you” but rather “I’m sorry dear”.

Now, I realize that people are kidding when they tell me these things, and that the men who tell me this are great husbands and wonderful fathers. And I also realize that there’s a good chance that I’ll probably do the same at least once or twice in my life. However, it certainly does seem to be indicative of a trend that I’ve long noticed when people talk about marriage, and that is of the husband’s role essentially being reduced to playing the part of the Total F*cking Idiot.

(Nowhere is this better exemplified than in tepid, uninspired sitcoms such as Everybody Loves Raymond. You know, those insipid blocks of programming in which the husband is portrayed as a complete and utter tool — much to the annoyance of his smart, capable, and still-slender-even-after-bearing-eight-kids wife and to the amusement of the studio audience.)

And it’s really interesting that a lot of the men who tell me these things are strong Christian men. Is this some sort of attempt to deal with the Biblical concept of submitting to your wife, and the fact that we fail to carry it out so often? Is it an attempt to strike a subversive blow against the perceived threat of feminism? Is this some sort of guy code that I need to decipher in order to join The Husband Secret Society?

Yes, I know I’m probably making too much of these jokes that are all told in good fun, and I’m being somewhat sarcastic. However, they have to start somewhere, and I wonder how many of these jokes are, if guys were really honest, actually somewhat passive-aggressive. That, or a way to divert attention from insecurities and fears (which is often the case with humor).

Part of me wonders if this “advice” would be more “applicable” if Renae and I were younger. However, we’re both in our late 20s/early 30s. We’re certainly not entirely prepared for marriage (is anyone really?), but we’re not exactly naive young pups either. We’ve both seen and experienced many relationships, some that have worked and some that have (spectacularly) failed. We’re both very aware of ourselves as individuals — our strengths, our weaknesses, and our roles in life.

If we were younger, say 21 or 22, chances are a lot more about our lives would be up in the air. We’d also probably be a lot more full of ourselves, and in need of some ribbing to take us down a peg or two.

I could very well be speaking out of my naivete right now, and I’m sure that if any older married folks are reading this, they’re probably shaking their heads and thinking “They’ve got so much to learn.” Fair enough. However, that still leaves the question as to why those lame comments are so prevalent, especially in the religious circles that I travel.

I suppose I just find it a tad annoying that much of what I hear from men has very little to do with actually being a good husband that loves his wife sacrificially and honorably, and more to do with looking like a doofus in case I screw up in order to cover my ass.