Wednesday, January 26, 2005

‘Good husband’ fantasies

‘Good husband’ fantasies

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Wednesday, January 26, 2005 12:52 AM

Third of 4 parts

Just as there are good-wife fantasies, so too have we been raised in the midst of good-husband fantasies. Husbands also are pressured into roles and scripts that society has given them.

For example, there is the fantasy which requires that the husband should not appear vulnerable or weak. He must not show emotions like weeping or choking up. He needs to be “strong” and the strength we refer to is one that shows no signs of weakness. This “macho” image must be maintained so that the wife (the weak one) feels safe and secure. Men who show emotions, who reveal their vulnerabilities are weak and not good husbands.

The truth is that men have just as many intense emotions as do the women. It’s just that their role does not allow them the freedom to express them as they would like to. This is perhaps why there are a whole lot more men in mental hospitals in this country than there are women. It is also why men have such a tough time expressing even feelings of love to the women they court and marry. It is as if the culture works against them in this regard.

Another good-husband fantasy is that he should keep his work and his home life separate. He must not talk about his problems at work, nor should the wife ask. He is strong enough to deal with all the pressures and tensions without having to share them with the woman he loves. He must not be allowed to lean on her since she is the weak one.

It is so sad that these men keep so much of their lives from the woman they love. So sad that countless opportunities to share and bond even more are missed.

A third good-husband fantasy is the one that says he must not be dependent on anyone including his wife. He must be self-reliant and independent, otherwise the wife will lose respect for him. It’s no problem if the wife is financially and emotionally dependent on him. After all, he’s the strong guy. He must take care of the whole family and be the rock, the anchor.

When things don’t work out this way and the roles are reversed, the man feels humiliated and devastated. He believes he has failed and starts to resent the wife for her leadership role that he feels should be his. And should he willingly concede this role to her, he feels inferior and resentful. When this happens, trouble is just around the corner.

Fantasy number four: The good husband must handle everything except the domestic part of the family. The woman should take care of the house, but the rest is his. There is a very strict line between both roles.

Another fantasy: The good husband must have the final say in all the decision-making in the family. Everyone should bow to him when it concerns major and even minor decisions in the family. When this does not happen, he feels insulted and demeaned. And if his decision was the wrong one, he isn’t expected to apologize. In short, he’s the boss.


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