Below is one of my favorite commercials from the Super Bowl, though I disagree with the premise. I do appreciate the humor though. The message to married men, perhaps not completely tongue-in-cheek, is “you’ve sacrificed a lot, but surely there is a limit to your chivalry. Drive the car you want to drive”.
The commercial aims to portray married men as whipped dogs suffering under the oppressive thumb of dominating wives who’ve stripped us of our manhood via forced compliance with petty etiquette, housekeeping and social demands. The only hope for retaining our last bit of manhood, according to the message, is to drive a manly gas guzzler with a throaty sounding exhaust system, chiseled lines and lots of horsepower. Thus the title of the piece, “Man’s Last Stand”. Let’s have a look.
OK, so I have something else to add to the list of statements that could have been included in this commercial:
“I will let you make the final decision on which house we buy”.
Should husbands defer and give the final decision of which house to buy to our wives? Absolutely. As a husband, I’ve never once regretted letting my wife have her way or over-ride me on decisions related to house, home or kids. I also pick up my laundry, try to remember to put down the toilet seat, say “yes” when I know it’s the only practical answer, keep my mouth shut when when no upside utterance exists. Luckily I’m not forced to watch vampire shows or walk a dog, but do any of these other things make me less of a man? No.
As a buyer agent, I’ve pulled more than one husband aside and delivered this exact “”As a husband, I’ve never once regretted …” script. I think every husband who wants to impose his house hunting requirements on a reluctant wife should consider what I have to say.
A house is a home. Family completes the home, whether “family” is a freshly married couple without kids, or aging baby boomers (like us) with teens. Most of my men friends are like me. We’re simple creatures. I can function in just about any living space. I could live in a garage and be happy. But no matter where I live, life is much better when my wife is completely happy. Much of her happiness is derived from our living circumstances, our home.
At present, as our youngest daughter approaches the end of her K-8th years at our nearby private school, Sylvia wants to move to Westlake where our youngest can live in the same neighborhood as the kids she will attend school with at Westlake High. Many of these kids she already knows from volleyball league.
Our oldest attends Westlake High as a transfer student while we remain in Oak Hill. This has been fine except that she never invites school friends over. She thinks they’ll think it’s weird that she lives so far, way out in Oak Hill. She thinks her friend’s parents will find it inconvenient to drive them “way out here” and pick them up. All of her social interaction and group studying outside of school happens at her friend’s houses, some of whom live within walking distance from Westlake High.
We’ve remained in Oak Hill because we live three blocks from our younger daughter’s school. Our oldest can, when needed, drive herself to school and to meet with friends. So the commuting logistics make more sense to remain closer to the private school. But when our oldest heads to college and the youngest enters 9th grade, that logistical challenge will be eliminated. We could remain where we are and enroll our youngest as a transfer student as well, but Sylvia doesn’t want her to suffer the same geographic dislocation issues that bother our oldest, so we’re making the move to Eanes ISD either this summer or next, depending on whether our current home sells fast or not.
My Opinion, and Does it Matter?
As a man, I pooh pooh this location issue and the related hand wringing over where the kids live. I understand the reasoning, but I think it’s much ado about nothing. Our oldest has lots of Westlake friends, and if the truth were told, she would invite them over if we had a Wii and a ping pong table. She says there is “nothing to do” at our house because we don’t have Cable TV, video games or other entertainment. I tell her they could take a hike out our back yard through the woods and go exploring miles of creek beds and wildlife. Or they could play cards. She rolls her eyes.
Furthermore, our house in Oak Hill is actually a closer, faster drive to Westlake High than it is for those who live in Barton Creek West and Senna Hills in Eanes. Google Maps proves it. To be truly close, within walking distance of Westlake High School, in the neighborhood Sylvia likes, we’re looking at 1970/1980s homes that are 1600-2200 sqft starting at around $200+ per square foot, with low popcorn ceilings, small bathrooms and tired, dark kitchens. That’s a pretty big step down in size and quality from the home we currently enjoy.
But none of this matters. It’s not a battle I choose the wage. If my wife Sylvia wants to live in Westlake, Westlake is where we’re going to live. When she’s happy, we’re all happy. She knows best. I assess these things with logic. She has the benefit of a Mother’s Heart. Her intuition and instinct trumps my logic. Of this I am certain, and it is without reservation that I defer to her better judgment.
Does this make me a whipped, emasculated Yes-Boy, like those dudes in the Dodge video? No, it makes me a smart husband with a happy wife and great kids. What greater success is there in life for a man? Since when did being a considerate, decent human being who doesn’t leave his dirty socks laying around make a man less of a man? Since when did a man willing to listen to and respect the wants and desires of his wife become less of a man? Sure, the commercial is funny, and it bears a grain of truth, but it dishonors the collaborative relationship and compromise that makes good marriages work.
At the risk of sounding sexist, I admit to believing that women have a nesting instinct that men lack. So men, if you and your wife are on the exact same page with regard to price, location, schools and the physical attributes you seek in a home, more power to you. But if she has wants and requirements that you don’t understand or agree with, I’m telling you to let her have her way. Just do it. Don’t argue. She knows best. She does.
Acknowledging that and being happy with your willingness defer to her better wisdom is the “manliest” thing you, as a husband, can do, no matter what car you drive.