I was asked, along with five other men, to be on a panel for a women’s group (one of them couldn’t make it today). The group is for women of children who are preschool aged. My wife has been attending this group since our oldest was born. It’s a pretty large group that meets every other week for a couple of hours. It’s called “Mothers of Preschoolers,” you can find out more about this group here.
Some of us on this panel are younger families with kids who are preschool aged, and others on the panel have children who are well into their adult years. It provided for a well-rounded range of responses to the questions. The questions that we were asked were provided to us in advance so we would have time to think about them. Imagine a bunch of guys on stage in front of over 100 women being asked questions on the fly.
The questions were put together by the women in the group. What I first noticed about the questions was how tied to a specific emotion each question was. As men, we often ask simple questions that require a simple resolution such as, “do you want Chinese or Mexican food for dinner?” These questions were rooted a bit deeper than my male brain typically ventures on a regular basis. Perhaps this is why these women had these questions to begin with. Most of these questions are pretty hard to answer in a sentence or two. It was hard to get through too many of them in the one-hour long panel. Even having prepared a bit, it was still hard to answer some of them because there are so many variables to consider.
I was intrigued by these questions as I went over them with my wife. It was quite apparent which questions were written for me to answer as there were a few tech and social media questions thrown in there. The reason I was interested in these questions was because I think as Men, we assume that our wives should already know the answers to them. There are a lot of things that we might expect to be a certain way, and when they are not, we either bury the issue or complain about it. If you are like me, you probably bury it. Most men choose to pick their battles and ignore the rest. This likely leaves our wives feeling confused with no solid direction in the matter.
If we don’t give our wives information or feedback, how are they going to know how we feel about things? I think society has made it harder for men to feel comfortable doing this. The concept of “the man” has changed a lot since our parents generation, and even more since their parents generation. Though my wife considers her occupation to be a homemaker, I don’t treat her as an employee. I do realize that I might have gone in the opposite direction in an attempt to prevent coming across as a demanding husband. We all need feedback and occasional direction.
I run a business with employees and clients. I spent my entire day dealing with requests and either delegating or, handling them personally. When I come home, my kids want my immediate attention, and my wife is relieved to see another adult. Most days I dive right in, other days I feel like flopping down on the couch and sending everybody to other rooms. I try to be as open with my thoughts and feelings as I can, but I know that more often than not, I show no signs of what I want or how I want it.
I think that we often assume that our spouse knows what we want or how we feel about something without having to say it out loud. Sometimes I feel that wife has been married to me for almost eight years, she should just know. The problem is that she doesn’t, and I don’t know what she needs as well as I think I do at times either. It takes communicating these things, and it feels awkward. It seems awkward because we seldom do it. Looking at these questions I initially thought that a spouse should just know the answers to some of these things, but they don’t.
I do not believe that I received this list of questions so I could pick a question or two and only answer them at this panel. I immediately felt that some of them needed to be answered publically. Not because my answers will be able to speak on behalf of all husbands, but so that men can see some of these questions and how I attempt to explain them. My answers won’t be perfect. I am not yet sure how to respond all of them, but they will be honest. I plan to take them on one at a time, here on this blog.
Over the last few years, I have felt a tugging on my pant leg to write to other Dads out there. I have somewhat ignored that tugging because I don’t feel qualified to write about parenting. Most of the guys on stage with me today have many years and much more wisdom than I have to offer. What I have discovered is that there are not a lot of men out there sharing ideas or advice about parenting, especially young men. There are a few books and some blogs, but not enough of them. I have also felt a desire to help Men understand that they can achieve success in their career without trading the success of their family for it. I’m not quite sure how to flesh that out yet though.
With permission from the group that hosted the panel, I am going to try and tackle these questions. There were thirty-six questions provided to us, I think about twenty-five of them are something I can answer. I will try and collaborate with my wife on this as well and get her thoughts on these questions and any feedback she has on my responses. When I don’t feel like I have a clear answer to give, I will try and reach out to those who have more experience and wisdom to offer.
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