March 21, 2009

Lessons in condecension and marital failure

A week ago gave space to a woman whose delight in treating her husband like a child elicited all but no response from commenters.

"Could it be that the same tactics I use on my two sons -- one in second grade, the other still in diapers -- might work on my husband as well? Would, say, a cranky toddler and a cranky 34-year-old scientist respond to the same things?

... every relationship has its rough spots. If I could smooth them by using the child-rearing tricks I already knew by heart, so much the better. I tried -- and my successes led to one of the more enlightening weeks of my marriage.

... creatively disciplining felt a whole lot better than arguing, and at the end of the night, I felt oddly forgiving instead of resentful. I even felt fonder of Greg than before.

So, did the week of using parenting skills in my marriage work? Absolutely. For one thing, it was tremendously refreshing to see these strategies actually get results. (Grown men are amazingly more responsive than children, I thought one night as Greg picked up all the towels while Zander ignored my exhortations to get out of the tub.)

It turns out that trying to find the best way to relate to your kids (who certainly put all kinds of new stresses and strains on your relationship) can actually help you relate to your spouse.

Will I persist with the experiment? Definitely. As a wise man told me just the other day, scientific research can take longer than you think to complete. We may never get this whole thing exactly right, but the results are promising."

Which is great. Really. So long as you don't want your 34 year old scientist husband going to work and earning a living, undertaking adult responsibilities, conjugal duties, or in general behaving remotely like a grown up - like a man - then by all means treat him like a wayward toddler in nappies. And if you find that you like your husband a great deal more when you're training him up as you would a naughty toddler, that's fantastic. Really.

Parenting techniques to try on your spouse


  1. Anonymous11:37 AM

    WTF? That is the craziest story ever. I'll have to forward it to my husband so that he'll see how lucky he is that he's not married to this woman!

  2. She lost me entirely in the first few lines L.E. Yet, remarkably, she lost me entirely all over again (how the hell does that work) when she perkily explained how much more she liked her husband when she treated him like a child. Arrrgghh!

    Most of us try to teach our children about mutual respect, consideration and empathy, it's certainly the very least that we hope for from adults.

    Poor man, how demeaning to be treated like that by your wife, the insult compounded by the rest of the world reading her gloating about it.