My Top Ten Favorite Parts of How to Not Hate Your Husband
- One of my favorite parts of Dunn’s book is her attention to acknowledging the invisible work that moms are doing all the time. Moms and in many cases these days, dads, are the home manager which means that they are planning everything, grocery lists, doctor’s appointments, school, dinner, you name it. It takes time to formulate the grocery list that is given to dad but Dunn notes the actual action of Dad getting the groceries gets credit, not the time mom spent making sure that everything necessary was on the list in the first place. Dunn notes that “Giving direction to the husband is labor” (pg19). She mentions a mom that says, “I do not want to be the boss here, I do not want him coming to me and asking me. I want him to take ownership. (19)” My own husband has a way of asking me questions about everything. How does he look, what shoes should he wear. When I ask him to get the baby dressed, I get more questions, ‘Does this match? Where are her socks? Where are the wipes? Is it cold outside today?’ among many, many other questions I am asked regularly. Often I would feel bad for being irritated but I feel vindicated in Dunn’s book because all of the planning and mental labor I do every single day is finally being acknowledged. Closely related to this is another mother’s complaint in Dunn’s book about having to continually prompt her husband to do something such as get the kids ready for bed on time if she is busy doing something else. Mom, once again, might not actually have to get the kids to bed but she is invisibly at work again giving direction and prompting for the routine to get under way. It’s EXHAUSTING!
- One of the most eye opening “AHA” moments for me was what psychologists call maternal gatekeeping. “Mothers can swing open the gate to encourage fatherly participation, or clang it shut by controlling or limiting Dad’s interactions with the kids (37)”. Since remarrying and desirous to facilitate a relationship between my three children and new husband, I have not been as guilty of this lately. “The latter behavior can range from making all decisions about school without consulting the father, to criticizing what he serves for lunch, to protesting when he’s roughhousing with the kids(37).” Oh wait, yep! I do these….
- I think we can all agree that as you get older, you become wiser. I mean, if you never gained knowledge with experience you’d still be buying expensive diapers or still expect your kid’s clothes to wind up in the hamper. Alas, inevitably, even despite our best efforts, we become wiser. So I ask you, why do men not think before they do, well, anything? In an experiment cited in the book about multitasking that involved searching for a lost key in a field, one conclusion was that, “The women…tended to plan out a strategy in the beginning, whereas men jumped in the “field” too quickly (49)”. Apparently thinking and planning before doing is a genetic discrepancy we need to talk to God about, but I digress.
- While writing this book and conducting her research, Dunn was incorporating these changes and advice into her own relationship and I truly love her and her friends’ reaction to one piece of advice a therapist gave. The wife, who wants a particular chore she’s been nagging about completed, such as cleaning the garage, is to start thanking and recognizing her husband in all he does. After a couple of weeks, the husband, of his own volition, decides to tackle the garage because he’s feeling up to the task. One wife says of the experiment, “It worked. I’m never doing it again, but it worked” (239).
- During a conversation with therapist, Terry Real, he says, “Don’t pee on the gift(158).” This isn’t true of my own marriage but I see this a lot in other couples. The wife says that the husband can go out with his friends and then complains about it later. Alternately, a husband might pee on his gift of free time for mom by not keeping the kids out of the bathroom while she takes a bath.
- Dunn even brings in an FBI Negotiator. Um, Hell Yes! His advice? Paraphasing how the other is feeling; Label the emotions they are having: Offer minimal encouragement: Mirror the person’s message: Ask open ended questions: Use I messages: Allow for effective pauses. I mean, if this stuff works in hostage situations, this shit could save your marriage.
- A little tidbit for men, Jancee Dunn gives, is that men and women who split the house work more equally have more sex. That should help your husband clean up more!
- One disagreement my husband and I have on a regular basis is how to load the dishwasher, yes! I’m serious! And apparently more than 40 percent of couples fight over this. Because everybody says there is a “right” way to do it. Of course there is, it’s just everybody else is doing it wrong.
- I really loved this one part in the book about mom vs. vixen. It’s so hard to go from one to the other sometimes and it can really put a damper on sex in a marriage. She writes, “Enough already, can I have some private time with my own body?” (191). I’m a nursing mom and sometimes at the end of the day I’m over stimulated and do not want one more person touching my breasts!
- Talk about parenting expectations. My husband and I had very different childhoods. I know that we both want to bring the experiences we enjoyed into our parenting and leave the bad stuff behind. However, we never talked about it before, or really I never thought to. She points out that discussing what values are important to ourselves as parents, helps to clarify why we make the parenting choices we do.
These ten points are my favorite parts but by no means all that I loved about this book. I recommend you read it, hell, take my copy and scribble in on the margins every gasp and LOL like I did.