you killed that rhino all wrong

Happy Monday folks.  I wrote this weekend, so I should have good material to draw on for the week’s writing.  Here we go with a personal one.

Sharaun’s folks were in town all last week.  As usual, I enjoyed having them around.  The more we hang out the better our son-in-law to parents-in-law relationship seems to get.  Yes I realize this makes sense, but it’s still something that makes me happy about having them around.

Something that doesn’t make me happy about having them around?  The peculiar changes that come over the way my wife interacts with me.  For see, consistently, since we’ve been married, Sharaun changes ever so slightly when her folks are around.  In short, she becomes emasculating to me.  In long, she adopts an overly-showy “I’m the boss of you; I’m the woman in charge; I run this marriage” way of speaking to me.  It’s an amazing thing, really, as this attitude only shows up in front of her parents; I never see it demonstrated elsewhere at other times in our lives.

And, despite the fact that I’ve made her aware that she does this, and that it destroys me, she says I’m imagining it; being over-sensitive or making something of nothing.   But let me tell you this is not a simple case of my imagination or my sensitivity or me something-izing a nothing.  No; it’s a 100% real and observable change (I promise).  She questions  my decisions; makes it a point to illuminate my errors or faults; informs the room of my failures; and openly doubts my “leadership” and sensibilities.  OK so that may sound justifiably overly-sensitive, and it’s certainly not all of that all of the time, but you get the idea.

I’m a firm believer that this sort of thing is one of the worst fates a man and husband can be made to endure; for it’s truly a humiliation.  Women may not understand this, I cannot know, but for men pride is a living, breathing thing.  And around the man that fathered the woman they are now charged with caring and providing for, pride snarls and bristles and wants fresh meat.  After all, I’ve assumed his former role to some extent: his child is now my responsibility.  The torch has been passed to me, in a manner of speaking.

I think of all the ways I as a father care for Keaton today, and have a better understanding of the implicit trust I’m granted from my own father-in-law.  Not having been there yet, I marvel that a man can ever really wholly get over his God-given fatherly instinct and be secure in knowing that the husband his daughter chose is “good enough.”  I take care of his daughter while she’s sick; my coin fills the coffer that feeds and clothes her; I listen to her when she cries.  To say that I want to appear strong and capable and sensible and in-charge around this man is understating things grossly.  I need to be strong and capable and sensible, for it’s imperative that he understand I’ve got this; his progeny is safe under me; I am in-charge.

So when this unconscious bravado bubbles up in my wife it really derails me; pains me; sucks.  It makes me mad, but an angry reaction only works against me in front of the audience I care so much about.  So the best, and simultaneously worst, reaction is silence – synonymous with acceptance, I’m afraid, for said audience.  Why o’ why woman, woman whom I love so very much, do you seem to strive so hard at making me look and feel stupid and inadequate in front of one of the two men in this world I most need to be a man in front of?  It’s a rare thing that I care about how I’m perceived (outside of work, that is) but in this case it’s of critical import to me.  So it hurts.  It hurts really bad.

But, in the end, I don’t think my wife does it one purpose, nor do I even thing she knows she’s doing it.  I try and make her aware of it, and it’s not like she ignores my feelings or writes me off (even though I may have made it sound that way up above)… I just think it’s some unbidden thing.  So what happens is I end up turning up the machismo in retaliation, projecting some half-hearted misogyny as an ill-chosen, but mostly subconscious, defensive response.  Of course this just feeds the reactor and dials-up the whole thing.  Problem is this “shut up woman I’ll do what I want” attitude likely makes me look more a heel than does being seen as the wife’s do-boy.  What’s that they say sometimes, damned if do, damned if you don’t?  Indeed.

I dunno; I’m,sure that there are some legitimate times where I deserve a little deflating, or am over-reacting out of pride or something….

Well that’s about all I care to write on the matter.  I could go more, but I think I’m done.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll get less introspective.

Goodnight.


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