Its That Simple

I was a little shocked when she told me that she had separated from her husband. They hadn't been married for really more than two (maybe three) years, and although I knew nothing about him, I may have shook his hand once, she seems a relatively down to earth person. Smart, funny, attractive, capable. So despite my having never really known the man, I must admit that my final impression of him was that he was clearly too dumb to enter the gene pool and good riddance.

Cause really? How tough is it to keep a woman happy?

Sure, scoff as you might, but think about it for a moment. Is there ever any question as to what is going to make your woman happy at any given moment? Follow me here, cause I can see your eye's rolling, but I'm entirely serious.

Exhibit A: Your wife is cleaning the house. The trash is full. Do you take out the trash, or do you turn on the TV?

Exhibit B: Your wife is coming home from a tough day at the office. What do you hand her first, the baby with a dirty diaper, or a glass of wine?

Exhibit C: Its her birthday/christmas/mothers day. Do you get her anything else? Or do you get jewelry?

You may think I'm over simplifying, but think about it, every moment is an A or B decision. There is a decision that is going to make her happy, and there is a decision that will not. And these are not complex algorithmic hypotheses. Do you mow the lawn? Yes. Do you empty the dishwasher? Yes. Do you choose the restaurant? Yes. (if she doesn't like that restaurant, or has something else in mind, she'll say "What about that new little Italian place?") When she say's "What about that little italian place?" do you say "That sounds even better than the stupid place I was thinking!"? Yes, yes you do!

And why always jewelry and not, let's say, the same value in lottery tickets? The answer should be obvious, but if it's not let me take you down to the pub for a little genetic common sense.

Men compete to show off how good a provider they are. Women compete to show off what a good provider they can snag. Jewelry acts as a great modern neon sign that says "Not only can he feed me and keep my children out of the rain, but he can buy me useless crap as well. The sheer frivolity of this jester shows that he is more man than yours." Just watch what happens to a woman when another women compliments her on her earrings. Watch her light up like a pyramid of coals drenched in kerosene.

The reason she can't stand to see you on the couch is because come Monday morning, the woman whose husband built the life size tree house out back gets her first pick of the cupcakes over the woman who's husband lost yet another week of fantasy football. Its ugly, but its office politics.

The point I'm getting to is: The answer to making her happy is invariably simple. This does not, of course guarantee a life of fulfillment or copious amounts of casual monkey sex, but it will generate some easy coexistence and more than your fair share of peaceful sunday afternoons with which to watch your fantasy football team lose once again.

So in truth, when a woman leaves a man, it can only be for two reasons. Either he is too stupid to know these things, or too much of an asshole to care. All men fall along this spectrum, but it can take decades before a woman has finally decided that no amount of passive aggressive behavior is going to fix his being an asshole. No one wants to admit their man is an uncaring asshole, because why would he want to see her naked all the time if he didn't care about her needs.

Now, I'm not too dumb to recognize that there are some exceptions, and I'm also not making a case for why men would leave women (we'll save that subject for long after my wife is dead, or can no longer read), but my friend would never have left her husband for superficial reasons like he had gotten a little too fat or maxed out their credit cards on shoes. In fact, had he maxed out their credit cards on shoes, that might have bought him another ten years, or at least until the day when she realized there was no shoes that matched her new evening dress.

Nope, he was just stupid. And too bad for her. Its hard to peel that mask and find the truth underneath. So much stuff that hindsight sees plainly is shrouded by the fun and exhilaration of the first few years of touching, tasting, laughing and loving. All that adrenaline bleeds out into a puddle of passion, understanding, indifference, pure rage, and if you're lucky, a mature way to express those feelings. And if not, you're left with a lot of regret and an empty bag of nacho chips.

So why write about this in a space dedicated to being Dad? Because being Husband is one of the most important things about being Dad there is. More and more I'm inclined to believe that we don't choose our mates as much as they are thrust upon us. And we don't get to choose how we feel about everything all the time. We don't get to choose what we want to eat, but we do get to choose what we do eat, and how much, and how often. And sometimes we are seduced by the bag of nacho chips, especially the ones that say positive things "No Artificial Flavors, No Preservatives, Low Sodium" and the like. Oh, we might know how wrong we're being and where we fall on the Too Stupid/Don't Care spectrum, but life is chaos, and love is delirious and the master is as flawed as the pupil.

So ten, twenty, thirty years down the line when his mate like comet bursts into his atmosphere from an afternoon at the beauty parlor, I want to make sure that he's going to be smart enough to tell her how pretty her nails are and then ask her if there's anything she needs him to do before the game begins.

Because, that boys, is how simple it is.


  1. Thanks for splitting this into paragraphs. Really annoying to read in the other form.

    1. Yup. I'm working on creating content mobile, and there was a glitch where none of my formatting transferred. My wig ecaught it first. Oh, bless her.