I was getting ready to teach a class a few weeks ago with a friend when we got to talking about husbands.
“We should do a class on husband management,” I said after she shared her latest story about her husband. She had just gotten off the phone with her husband, and reported that he had spent the better part of the evening chasing spiders. Now, if you have a husband, you know that this is totally a husband thing to do. Nevermind that the laundry is literally creeping out of the closet, or the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, or the plants are crying for water. No, the important thing here is to spend the evening chasing something that is about 1/100th of your size because life will not go on the same until you squash it. Or find it. Or beat it to death with your shoe.
But when you have a husband, these are just the kinds of calls that you have to take. And just the type of things that happen. In fact, if you come home and find the laundry folded or the dishes put away you begin to look for another woman. Or his mom. It’s just the way of the husband and day to day with the husband requires an understanding of this way.
It’s something my friend and I call husband management. And, day to day husband management requires key skills from a wife. Some days require using these skills all at once. Some days require just turning your head and looking the other way. As in, he did not just do that again. He did not just drop another corn chip on the floor. He did not just wipe greasy hands on the good kitchen towels. And, my latest favorite, he did not just blow his nose in the sink.
I’ve only been married less than 2 years. But I feel in that time I have built a lengthy resume of husband management skills. I have found that most important skill of a wife is locating a husband’s things. Things as in keys, wallets, phones, laptops, sunglasses (three pairs in one racing season), digital camera. If it is not mitten-clipped to the man, he will likely misplace it once a day. In the past few days, I have successfully located cycling gloves in the bottom of a laundry basement, found a wallet in my car, found the wallet again in our other car, in less than 2 minutes found a recent he had supposedly scoured the house for, dug the van keys out of pajama bottoms in the laundry basket (pajamas?), and scraped over a dollar in change out of the washer.
And heed my warning about this very important skill – always, always, always check the pockets; which also helps in locating things. If you do not check pockets, you are likely to wash things that do not belong in the washer, things that may potentially harm the washer; gum, empty gel packets, money, checks, twigs, receipts, and – my all time favorite – the garage door opener which caused the garage door to go on the fritz for the next week going up and down as the circuits dried out.
And as a wife, you better have some skill with socks. The skill may be just learning to tolerate them. Just when I think I have located and washed the last sock, another one pops up. Socks are everywhere, anywhere – the trunk of the car, under the bed, in the bed, in the basement. Apparently, in husband land, clean socks are more important than clean underwear. I am convinced that one day at the end of this trail of socks will be a treasure, a very big treasure waiting for me.
Some days you will find yourself chasing down entire outfits that go missing. The other day, I found the entire lower half of husband’s body – in other words his boxers, pants, belt, and socks – fully in tact in the basement. As in, it looked as those he had just stepped right out of his lower half and stepped into something else. The question is – at what point was he walking around the basement naked, and why? And what did he step into instead? Questions like this never get answered with husbands. Questions like that probably should never be asked.
There will be many other clothing-related follies that you will need skill to figure out. For example, I noticed this when Chris was undressing one day – his boxer shorts were completely torn in half. As in, there was a back flap and a front flap hanging from the elastic waist band. When I asked what the hell happened he said that he had accidentally stepped into them while undressing at the gym and they tore. When I asked why on earth he would even bother putting on something that clearly had no purpose at this point with an elastic band hanging there with two flaps of fabric – he said it just seemed like the right thing to do.
There will also be times when you find your husband missing something very important to you that clearly has no meaning to him. This is often the case in the bathroom. You will discover things you would rather not know. For example, how has he been brushing his teeth without toothpaste or washing his hands without soap. Your skill in this case is simply to not think about it too much.
It takes some skill to feed the husband because what you don’t know is that there is a hole in your husband’s mouth much bigger than the mouth itself. You have seen evidence of this hole. Evidence in the form of dropped corn chips, spilled milk, bread crumbs. You may have also noticed that your husband eats twice as much as you but actually loses weight. This is because half of what he eats ends up on the floor. You could reassemble an entire meal from what you pick up off the floor. But I’m not saying you should…
Then there is manspeak, which requires a whole different set of skills. Manspeak is different than women’s words. Specifically because manspeak does not contain words. Instead, it contains acts of physical expression which may cause you to duck from time to time, or put on your helmet. These things may or may not include a gallon of milk, a road atlas thrown from a window at 75 mph which we then had to back up on the shoulder to retrieve because – DUH – we had no idea where we were going, a talkabout radio also thrown out of the window of a car at high speed, clothing, tools, and my all time least favorite – a dozen eggs which resulted in new marriage law – the law that states thou shalt not throw perishable items in the home unless thou shalt desire to scrape egg yolks off of cabinets for the next six months.
Manspeak also means that only half of what you – as woman – say will get through. Though you assume that folding the towels means also putting them away, in man/husband-speak, this means just folding the towels. Putting them away is an entirely separate step that will require an entirely separate request. Same goes for switching loads from washer to dryer. Did you happen to mention that he should also turn the dryer on?
And miscommunications like this mean that you should probably save your breath, and save your requests for skills the husband is good at, for example building things – like bikes or messes. Husbands are engineers of empires of papers, magazines, and mail built upon any flat surface in the home. Oddly enough, there is an order to these piles so you best be advised not to touch them because they will know. You could cut your hair, you could bring home another man without them saying a word. Touch a paper in a pile – this they know.
You will also find that the husband needs you to be there when you are not there. You could be with him all day and he won’t come looking for you. You could be in the house but he’s in the basement. But the minute you’re not there, he needs you there. Or the minute you walk away, he’s looking for you. Or the minute you are out of reach from your phone, he calls. Disappearing is your worst skill or your best….it’s your call.
At least once a week, husband management will require turning your head in absolute embarrassment and public humility. You may find yourself standing in the middle of a food court while your husband does a move that can only be described as “the hula hoop” as he stands there with bad bike helmet head and running shorts while girating his hips in front of several children, assorted tourists, AN AMISH FAMILY, and his sister. When you give him that look, the OH MY GOD YOU ARE NOT DOING THAT IN PUBLIC PLEASE NO look he will shout something to the effect that he is just bringing sexy back. In front of the entire crowd. As a result, you will ask him to please never bring sexy back again.
And lastly my all time favorite skill – management of drunken husband. Let me think back to the many places where husband has passed out over the years – an elevator in a Lake Placid hotel, along the boulevard in Las Vegas, a lawn chair in Iowa, the car in our own garage. None of your skills are strong enough to drag a 160 lb+ giant drooling rag doll so best leave him there.
I met my friend the other morning for coffee and she was talking again about her husband. They were having friends over and she asked him to go through a pile of papers to see what could be tossed out for trash. Rather than going through the pile, he moved a picture frame in front of it to hide it. Ah yes, the old out of sight out of mind trick. We’ve got closets full of that trick at our house…….
Sounds to me like another skill to master for husband management 101. Coming soon to a course schedule near you. Along with wife management. But then again, all you really need to know about managing the wife is to just learn to say “you’re right” more often, eh?