Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Husbands . . .

Not so long ago I was sitting in a Junior League meeting.  I was on the Nominating Placement committee.  Our committee was charged with the responsibility of identifying new leadership, determining chairmen and putting forth a slate of new officers for the general membership to vote on. 

During one of our marathon weekend, where we went away so we could read all the questionnaires submitted by those seeking leadership and reviewing the interviewed candidates, we took a quick break.  This was day two of our weekend, we had only one more day to get this portion of the leadership done.

We were standing in the kitchen of a friend's lake house.  Everyone refreshing their drinks and getting a snack to push through the next four house when a girlfriend started to complain about having to be away this weekend.

My girlfriend, Suzanna, had twin girls, a one year old boy and one bun in the oven.  Her husband traveled often as he was a military contractor.  It seemed while she was required to be away with us to do the job of this committee, her husband was home but without the kids.  We inquired as to where her kids were and they were with her mother.  It seems Walter was too tired to take care of the kids, needed to study for his masters and had to pack for the next trip overseas.  He just couldn't handle the kids this weekend.  Suzanna went on and on about it.  Several girls, who clearly thought that had a better situation at home, offered advice on how to fix this!

A few weeks later we were back at it again.  We had determined our slate of officers and they had been submitted to membership for approval.  We were now moving on to the next level of leadership.  My friend, Suzanna, was at it again.  "Can you believe he won't make dinner?"  "He won't even put the children to bed, so my mom has to come over and do it."  "He has never bathed the children."  She went on and on.

The next week I had lunch with two close friends and an acquaintance. The girls brought up Suzanna.  They started talking about Suzanna's husband and how uninvolved he was.  How he was hands off and how she had to do everything.  It was then that I realized this had gotten out of hand.  So, I called Suzanna.

Suzanna and I had many circles that interacted so I started out on a familiar and friendly topic.  Something like, play dates, puppies, balloons - something non-threatening.  I am not sure when but at some point I said "Suzanna, you have to stop talking about your husband."  There was silence.  I said, "please excuse me, I do not mean to get in the middle of your marriage or your problems."  I explained to her that when she bad mouths her husband she is turning the girls against him.  She is exposing her problems which changes the way people feel about Walter.  These problems were just a blip in their lives, but as far as our girlfriends knew there was a constant problem.  She had not shared and they were not privy to the happy times.

It didn't help that our group of friends often dined out with Suzanna and Walter.  Things got even worse when the husbands would joke with Walter and Walter was completely unaware of the issues she had been airing!

I told Suzanna, "you clearly love him, or you wouldn't be married."  "You clearly want to spend your life with him, or you wouldn't have 4 children."  I went on to say "when you speak so poorly of him it makes people think poorly of you.  First because you are talking about the man you love and have built a life with, second because it make people think you have real problems and third because when people are offering their help with the situations you describe they expect you to do something about it.

It was then when she realized what I was saying.  She had turned the girls against him through her comments, that at the time seemed like nothing to her.  The husbands started leaving him out of things like going to the game and poker.  I always found Walter to be so funny and very sharp witted, and now we couldn't spend time with them because everyone was uncomfortable.

I am not sure I heard Suzanna ever speak poorly of her husband again.  I am not sure if it is because I got through to her or she just didn't do it around me.  Either way . . . I am good with it.

Life is hard, and no one is perfect.  We are all just doing our best to survive.  I am certain I am not all things to my husband, I know there are things he would want to change.  But you can bet, I am not discussing those things at a Junior League meeting, with my friends or family.  Those conversations are better left between the two parties who have much invested and can forgive and forget hurt feelings!

Happy husbands, sure make life easier!

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