Southern Man

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Teen daughter leaves her iPod jacked into the stereo in The Hyundai so over the last month Southern Man has listened to pretty much her entire music library. It's an eclectic mix with everything from classical piano (she plays well, and how much Scarlatti and Mozart and Chopin do your teens have on their iPods?) to Broadway to rock from old to classic to new (Beach Boys, Queen, Green Day) and grrl bands (Bangles, Ting Tings) and former Disney starlets (Hillary Duff and Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus) and dance pop and pop rap (Kei$ha and others) and above all her beloved Lady Gaga. And that is but a small sampling and Southern Man appreciates the continuing education in modern music. But one tune by a girl band called The Pierces really jumped out at him the other day.
Nothing thrills us anymore
Nothing kills us anymore
Life is such a chore
When it's boring...
Ah, yes, the ennui of modern youth who believe that life is over before it even begins. Southern Man sees a lot of that in Teen Daughter. But they continue...
Sexy boy
Girl on girl
Menage a troi
Whoa. That's boring? What else do these girls think is boring?
Dom Perignon
Beats what's in Southern Man's kitchen, which is more along the lines of canned chicken and cheap Mexican beer; the most exotic treat in his pantry is chocolate peanut butter. But the most telling is yet to come.
Love of my life
Bear your child
Everything I've ever wanted
In a rare moment of candor some months after the separation the former Mrs. Southern Man stood on the porch of our brand new mini-mansion and said "I left you because I was bored and unhappy and my friends said that being single would be more exciting."

Well, that's all water under the bridge and Southern Man, while amused by the truth unwittingly revealed by The Pierces, tries not to take pop lyrics too seriously. But then at work this morning one of the first articles to appear on the morning blog-read reports a distraught wife saying (all italicized text is quoted, more or less, from the article)
Help! I hate my husband!
Well, please describe this knave.
Well, he's a gentle man and a hands-on father. I have never been suspicious of him being with another woman. He makes a good living that enables me to stay at home with the kids. I find him sexy and enjoy sex with him.
The problem?
My husband chews his food too loudly.
This is not a woman who hates her husband. A woman who says she hates her husband but then describes him in glowing terms but picks on a minor behavioral issue doesn't hate her husband; there's something else brewing in her head. This is a woman who has everything she ever wanted and is still unhappy. And now life has become such a chore that her marriage is disintegrating around her. All she can see is that things aren't right and it must be his fault.

Now let's put ourselves in the husband's shoes.
I'm a good husband, a good father, a good provider, but my wife is never satisfied. It's as if she hates me!
Oh, yeah. Been there, done that, thought that, for sixteen long years.

Some women (and Southern Man's ex was certainly one of them) go into marriage expecting that The Prince will carry them off into the sunset and they will live Happily Ever After...
When we got married I imagined this great life we would have together and instead we seem to be always fighting, about the kids, about the fact that he is so remote, about the stupidest things.
Been there and done that, too, and carry plenty of the blame for it as we had lots of (in hindsight) really poor church-based counseling in which it was claimed that the husband is responsible for keeping his wife happy and that her emotional issues were his fault, not hers - and, unspoken, that his happiness was irrelevant. Needless to say, this "counseling" was no help and actually did a lot of harm. Neither of us had any idea what the other really needed and didn't provide it and what Eggerich calls the "crazy cycle" took hold early (Southern Man's response was to withdraw, just as the woman above complains) and we never recovered. And it took a lot of post-divorce counseling before Southern Man began to understand that, just maybe, it wasn't entirely his fault that his ex wasn't happy.

But that's not an excuse. The bottom line is, had Southern Man known twenty years ago what he knows now we would have a rock-solid, very happy marriage. But he didn't. And the sad part is that most of what he needed to know was right in front of him and he was just to young or stupid or stubborn to understand or accept it. No, you can't be responsible for another person's happiness, but you can affect it. Southern Man knew we were both unhappy and didn't know how to counter it and thus did (mostly) the wrong things. And we stayed unhappy and the marriage ended. Sadly, it's not uncommon; Southern Man knows lots of men who were good husbands and fathers and providers whose wives left because they were "unhappy."

With age comes wisdom, and regret, and longing for what might have been. And determination to learn from error, to put the past behind and move on. Lord, I'm so sorry for my past failures and for those who were hurt because of me. Let me grow in Your wisdom and Your love, that the future will be brighter. Amen.


At Tuesday, February 14, 2012, Anonymous CH Lurker said...

Found your blog through CH. Nice. Do you ever post about game?

At Wednesday, February 15, 2012, Blogger opit said...

I wouldn't say that community based counseling is any thrill either - and I did go, unlike many apparently.
For what it's worth, remarriage gave me the chance to walk out - small consolation for wasted years.
These days my first wife and I are - finally - congenial and work to live separately and relate to the kids together. My stepdaughter ? Says she cares for me and gives evidence scarcely at all.
We have dreams. They die hard.

At Wednesday, February 15, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marriage is like a triangle. The tip is God and you and your spouse are the ends. The further you are from the tip (GOD) the wider the distance between husband and wife. TRUE.

No one is responsible for anothers choice of happiness. That falls to them...ever heard of the cliche' making lemonaide out of lemons?

With God in the marriage (I mean really in the marriage by BOTH
parties) anything and everything can be worked out...if you want it to. Seek ye first the kingdom of know what I mean?

Don't give up on marriage Southern Man. I have been married to my Bride for 32 years. Life is a roller coaster with highs and lows, twists and turns and the sheer thrill of marriage never ceases to amaze me.

At Wednesday, February 15, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is your daughter unhappy? What kind of crowd does she hang with? Does she miss her parents not being together...some kids think it is their fault. Sometimes teenagers just get in a funk where nothing seems to go right for them. TALK to her OR just ply a little extra attention to her. Girls are needier than most boys but boys need affirmation too.

At Wednesday, February 15, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of music do you listen to?

Would your parents have been bothered about what you listened to at her age?

How did your valentine's day go? Did you have a date?

Take your teen daughter out for her favorite meal to honor her then maybe she'll open up.

Glad I'm not a parent of a teenage girl.

At Thursday, February 16, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your Eggerich link. I believe you can thank t.v. sitcoms for crapping on men and the role of husband. The man is always stupid or a clutz and the woman is the strong one who comes to the rescue. Just look for yourself and see if I am a little bit right. They call it humor but it isn't. It has been that way for at least 2 decades if not more.

What are your thoughts on this?


At Thursday, February 16, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about the "boring" issue.

As an academic, do you have any published papers? Are you working on any?

At Thursday, February 16, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"really poor church-based counseling in which it was claimed that the husband is responsible for keeping his wife happy and that her emotional issues were his fault, not hers"

Good Lord, how can a woman deal with her emotions if she won't take responsibility for them??? So sorry you and she were lied to like that. :(

At Friday, February 17, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since your divorce, have you ventured into any relationships? Hope this did not jade you into thinking all is lost.

At Friday, February 17, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not give my 2 cents: it takes 2 committed people to make a marriage or any relationship work


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