Inside His Head: Husband with wandering eyes?

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Dear Inside His Head husbands,

Whenever we go to the local pool, my husband always stares at other women. I’m not really the “jealous type” but he is so obvious that I can’t help but notice. How can I convince him he’s being a jerk?

greg1thumbnail.jpgGRAY: You can’t. I’d suggest you get him a pair of mirrored sunglasses so you won’t know what direction he’s looking in anymore.

It’s just in men’s nature to look and if you’re stuck with some poor schmuck who does everything short of having his tongue loll out and drool then I can only thing I can say is: you’re the one who married the fool. The rest of us at least believe we’re a bit more cunning about sneaking glances. And if you think you’re married to a guy who doesn’t sneak a peek at women at all, then you’re just not watching
him close enough.

glasses.jpgSo I suppose the only conclusion to be drawn is all men are jerks and your oogle-eyed man is simply got a bit more in the jerkdom department than most. If you want to change his behavior I suggest stern measures, like a Louisville Slugger, but that may only make him bedridden and a bit slower to pick up on your hints.

And why do we stare? Well, it’s really all your fault as women. If you weren’t nice to look at we’d undoubtedly spend more time watching football instead.

marty3thumbnail.jpgMAX: “She doesn’t have to convince him he’s a jerk. He IS a jerk, a big, fatheaded jerk, whether he thinks he is or not.” ~ My wife

I couldn’t find a suitable, pithy quote to start my answer, until my wife read the question over my shoulder and provided one ad hoc. The quote works because, well, it’s absolutely true. Men, don’t ogle girls in front of your woman. You break this rule, you’re an ass.

You must tell him immediately that this behavior is disrespectful and insulting. This should solve the problem with a decent man. If it doesn’t, then his ogling is a symptom of a much larger problem: He doesn’t respect you enough to stop a behavior you find offensive.

If he continues to leer, I would strongly suggest you get some form of counseling or some form or lawyering. Or, as my lovely wife suggests, “Next time the bleeping fatheaded bleep stares, make a big bleeping fire out of his bleep in the front yard.”

johnthumbnail.jpgMAVERICK: Wow, what pool do you hang out at???

Well, he’s not really being a jerk unless you’ve told him to quit peering at the other ladies and he keeps doing it or he’s actually leering and drooling.

And make sure there’s no double standard. If you eye-boink guys and comment on their builds (and face it ladies, more and more of you are doing just that) don’t expect your husband to put on the blinders.

Only other real issue is if he’s staring at young women who are, shall we say, just barely young women. That’s really uncool.

bikini.jpgGuys will look. We can be discreet about it, though. Tell him he looks like a creep. If he gives a fig, tell him it bugs you to see him ogle other women. Both are viable reasons not to let our whole heads turn or our tongues loll when a nicely proportioned women walks by.

But we’re only human, and we’re guys. We should get points for at least trying and not be taken too much to task if we are tempted by exceptional shapes in tiny packages.

To read more Inside His Head, click here.

remix (4)Note from the mamas: The Summer Remix symbol appears on posts previously published on nwaMotherlode that were noted as a “reader favorite”. If you missed the original publication date, we hope you’ll enjoy this encore performance. Happy summer!

Inside His Head: How to handle your mother-in-law moving in

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Dear Inside His Head husbands,

My mother is planning to move in with us soon — for a while. My father passed away recently and she’s going to stay with us so she can get her finances in order and deal with her grief. My husband is worried about our family dynamic. It’s just a big change. What can I say to help with the transition?

generichead-1MICHAEL: The first thing I hope you can say is that you’ve discussed with your mother exactly how long this arrangement is going to last and that you’ve talked about ground rules for life at the house.

Because it’s your mother you’re going to be the proxy for all disagreements and snide remarks. Be prepared to deal with it. It’s understandable that this type of thing happens, however, it doesn’t sound like it’s been planned for so the best thing you can do is anticipate what the challenges will be.

Examples are things like:

♦ Your mother doesn’t hear well so now the television has to be turned up all the time.

♦ You watch what your kids eat very carefully and your mother questions your choices in front of them.

Just having another opinion and voice around the house will make it stressful. You’ve got to make sure that you’re not consistently siding against your husband. Remember you’ve got to put with him forever. Your mother hopefully only for a short while.  Make sure he knows you realize that.

MAVERICK: I’d tell him in the nicest way possible that there’s no sense in worrying about something until an actual problem occurs.

If you mother is overbearing or generally a pain in the butt or objects to your husband breathing air or thinks him a fool, well, you or more accurately he, is hosed. But since your husband agreed to this arrangement, I can assume either he likes your mother or he’s a good son-in-law, or really just a decent guy trying to help here.

The main way you can calm his fears about your mother messing with the family dynamic is not to let her mess with the family dynamic. She’s your mother, so she’s yours to deal with where conflict is concerned. He’s the son-in-law, which gives him less power in the relationship than a bum off the street.

♦ The best way to avoid trouble with the new situation is to head it off.

♦ Make your mother feel welcome, let her pitch in and help, be there for her, be kind, be supportive, be family.

♦ Don’t let her take over your house, determine your family routine, decide what you eat or where you go or undermine your husband’s authority in his own home.

If she likes certain TV programs, get her her own flat-screen for her room – they’re not super expensive now-days and this ill will avoid conflict. Most of us guy-types can relinquish control of the remote when needed or on short trips to visit family, but don’t expect us to do it for an extended period of time and in our own living rooms.

If she becomes critical of your husband, nip it in the bud. Your mother is in a less than happy place and needs support but she doesn’t get to bad-mouth your spouse. If it starts, you have to tell her to stop. It’s your place. Fight the dynamic that says your mom is always right. Your husband does not deserve to be ganged up on.

And remember, even with your mom in the house, he’s still your husband.

Don’t let the new arrangement turn you into your mother’s daughter at the expense of being your husband’s wife. Turn things to your advantage. Let mom watch the kids so you can go out on a date or a romantic mini-vacation. Spend time together.

In short, give your mother a place in your home but don’t let her make herself comfortable at the expense of your husband’s peace of mind or your relationship. This could be a great time for your husband and your mother to become close.

He’s being a decent guy for opening up his home. Don’t make him regret it.

greg1.thumbnailGRAY: “We’ll get a cat…because your mom is deathly allergic. That way she can’t move in,” would likely be my wife’s remedy to the issue should we face a similar situation.

We’re not a culture that’s used to living with extended family and it can be a mess. The best thing is to get your husband’s worries addressed before the situation turns into a bundle of frustration, before your mother even arrives.

I would be worried about never having privacy, always turning around and finding her there, perhaps thinking I’d like to hear the 2-hour story of the summer she grew a pumpkin for the county fair.

So set some boundaries. Maybe meals are family time, but after the last meal of the day it’s understood that everyone gets some alone time, completely uninterrupted. You get the idea.

But what if mother says, “Well, I’m so comfortable here. What if I just stayed? Would that be so bad?”

The thought of having an in-law transition from temporary to permanent would push many husbands right off the edge of the cliff (and, no, that’s not just a figure of speech) but it’s easy enough to allay. Put a timeline in place. It doesn’t have to be meticulous, but don’t let “three months” become “some day.” Always move forward and don’t let a setback derail the whole works.

The most difficult issue would be personality conflicts. Does your husband fear hearing “my daughter used to date that nice boy before she met you…he’s a doctor now” or some kind of continual drone about how he’ll never be good enough? You may need to play referee for a while and make sure his head doesn’t explode. Just keep reminding him it’s only temporary.

Finally, having you on his side can carry a lot of clout. Let him know that if things don’t go as planned you’ll buy that cat she’s allergic to ensure she’s heading out the door.

Inside His Head: Who should take our kids if we die?

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Dear Inside His Head,

My husband and I are leaving on a big trip soon without the kids. The problem is, we can’t agree on which relatives would take our kids if something happened to us while we were away. We’re leaving soon and need to make a decision. I want my sister to be named guardian (I think she’s the most qualified), but he says his sister should be the one. There’s really no middle ground here. Any advice?

MICHAEL: Sounds like you’re in a pickle. There’s no easy answer to this but I can tell you what I’d do.

Sit down with your husband and make a list of the most important things you want for your kids as they grow up.

I’m not talking about material things.

I mean things like a good education and treating people the same no matter what their background or life choices. Focus on what it is you think will make them the people that you want them to be. Then talk about each of your sisters and determine which of them you feel would be most likely to accomplish your wishes.

Don’t forget that these things don’t happen in a vacuum. If one of your sisters already has four kids and the other only has one then that could make a difference.  Don’t be too quick to judge each other’s choices. Most likely either one would do their best to follow your wishes.

Just make sure they know what those wishes are by writing them down.

GRAY: It sounds like you’re both too personally invested to make a decision. It’s likely both sisters are equally qualified or there wouldn’t be a debate, so the real argument becomes about your opinion instead of who’s passing muster.

And, really, what‘s “qualified” to you may be different from your husband’s.

First, I would open the conversation up to your respective families (or at least the family members you trust). It may yield some surprising insights or considerations you have not thought about. Who knows, if you haven’t mentioned it to your respective sisters already, you may discover one would hate being named guardian. Similarly, you may have someone you hadn’t considered suddenly become a viable choice.

 Next I would get your kids input (assuming they’re old enough to have input). I mean, if something happens to then this is the last decision you’ll be making for them and arguably the most important in their lives. Even if they have no say, it could be wise to include them in the conversation so they’ll at least understand what’s could happen.

Finally I’d suggest that you put emphasis on the potential guardian’s personality and ability to love over their financial means or living conditions. If you’re taken away from them they’re going to need all the love they can get and no degree of money can make up for losses like that.

Hopefully these steps will help some and make your family realize that no matter who gets chosen, they’re all still there to support and help raise your children…let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.

MAVERICK: Well, since you say there is no middle ground, I don’t know how I can provide any advice, since by definition, you are at an impasse.

It makes sense that you are both championing members of your respective families. Unless you have an unhealthy family dynamic that you can actually recognize it seems natural to favor your blood relatives over in-laws, all things being equal. You know your family better and assuming what you know is positive, you’d want that for your child if you were gone.

But are all things really equal?

I suggest you both write down on a hunk of paper the qualities and qualifications of the two prospective guardians and exchange lists and then discuss the pros and cons of your choices.

As you do, frankly consider these issues:

First, ask if the person you are championing would really willingly take your kids. I mean without reservation, not just accepting the role of surrogate parent out of guilt. This is a key consideration. If your choice isn’t willing to take on the responsibility of raising your children with full commitment the end result will be disastrous.

Can your choice financially take on the addition to your children into their family? Look at this one with cold logic; it’s a vital issue.

Will your children fit in with the rest of the prospective guardian’s immediate family? What is the family dynamic like and do you approve of it? Are there other kids in the equation, so your children will not only be getting surrogate parents but surrogate siblings as well? How do you think that would work?

It’s also important to consider what the spouse is like. Would you want your children to grow up under his or her influence? Are they even capable of parenting and loving your children? How do they do with their own kids? Would you like your children to grow up like your brother-in-law or sister-in-law?

Kick around the notion of whether the selected guardian really understands who your children are at their core. Do they realize who your children are as people? What they love? Who they could turn out to be? Does the prospective guardian have the willingness and ability to nurture what makes your children unique? Will they raise your children with your and their best interest at heart?

Talk all this stuff out with your husband and be willing to listen to what he has to say.

If, in the end, you can’t make an informed decision, flip a coin, ask your child who they’d like to live with, or fight a duel to the death. I suggest a battle of wits using iocane powder.

In the end, you have to make sure your preference is really in the best interest of your child or more in the interest of keeping the family peace. You will be gone, but your child will have to live with your choice for the rest of their life, so don’t let family politics or dynamics sway you.

Choose wisely.

Inside His Head: Husband doesn’t care about his appearance anymore

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Welcome back to Inside His Head, a monthly feature on nwaMotherlode which offers women an opportunity to take a little spin inside the minds of men.

From time to time, all women ask themselves this question: What was he thinking?!

In this space, our panel of anonymous husbands answer questions from local moms like this one:

Dear Husbands,

My husband doesn’t seem to care about his appearance anymore and it drives me crazy. I don’t think he’s depressed or anything; he just seems to be fine with being sloppy, like he doesn’t need to impress me anymore. I feel shallow about being bothered by it, but I can’t ignore the fact that it does. How do I bring up/talk about this topic without coming off as mean?

GRAY: Has your prince charming gone the K-Fed route, exchanging his swagger for fat-covering sweatpants? Do you find yourself looking at photos from a couple years ago and wondering what the heck happened? Well, welcome to being an adult when our metabolism slows down and we’re too stressed out between mortgages and work to find time to go on those 5-mile runs every day.

Speaking as a man, I’m not a physically glamorous specimen, nor am I a keen dresser, nor am I the most fastidious housekeeper; however, I wasn’t aware part of a husband’s responsibility was to keep their wife impressed in that manner.

If I’m going to be impressive it’s going to be by doing something like getting our taxes done and still making it to my daughter’s softball practice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the wave of obesity our country seems struck with. Health issues are serious things and making an effort to eat in a healthy manner and stick with an exercise program.

It’s easy enough to talk a guy into taking evening walks or a bike ride…maybe even join a fitness club together to give each other some support. And if he’s just suddenly become slovenly, then make him pick up after himself. It shouldn’t be a spouse’s responsibility to clean up after their mate as they would for a child.

At the end of the day you need to ask yourself if you’re concerned about him because you love him or if the real issue lies elsewhere. It’s never meanness when a conversation comes from the heart and because of compassion for another.

MAVERICK: You say he doesn’t care about his appearance anymore, which indicates he once did. So what has changed since then?

If you’re still making the same efforts you did to impress him, it seems like he’s had some sort of disconnect.

Barring some passive aggressive stuff, I think it really boils down to falling back into old bad habits or establishing new, bad ones.

You use the term sloppy, which doesn’t seem to mean he’s let himself go physically, more like he’s just not concerned much about his overall appearance, so that means clothing and/or haircuts.

Haircuts are simple. Tell him to go get his haircut when he looks scruffy.

Good example: “You’re looking a little scruffy. Why don’t you stop by and get a haircut on the way home tonight and then we can go out to a movie.”

Bad example: “You look like a freaking hippie. Don’t come home tonight without getting a haircut. I didn’t marry the wolf-boy from the circus.”

Next, I’d suggest taking him shopping to get some new shirts, pants and shoes. Something nice but not super pricey unless either he or you can afford it. Guys can get into a clothing rut pretty easily and we tend to stay in said ruts far longer than women. Once he has some new stuff he’s much more likely to wear something less grungy.

Try letting him know that some of his clothing choices are not particularly appealing to you and likely by extension most of polite society, but do it nicely. When  he opts to wear a ratty t-shirt, maybe suggest something different, but don’t be hyper-critical.

Good example: “I really wish you’d wear that nice shirt you got last week. I’m wearing some of my nicer stuff -  we’d match a little better.”

Bad example: “Oh, my God, I can’t believe you’re wearing that crappy ‘I’m with Stupid’ t-shirt again! You look like a hobo for crying out loud.”

What ever you do don’t ditch his stuff. We guys get attached to some of our clothing, t-shirts in particular. Just help him add more acceptable stuff to his wardrobe. The older stuff will eventually be worn out, eventually.

I’ve needed new shoes for months now and I keep either forgetting or balking at price.

If my wife bought me some new ones, I’d say thanks and wear them. My money says your husband will do the same thing.

MICHAEL: First I’ll assume that you take care of yourself. You’re not shallow to want your husband to look his best for you.

When we get married we’re making a commitment to each other to do our best for each other. Part of that commitment is to take care of our appearance to maintain a level of attractiveness that keeps our spouse interested. Having said that, I don’t think it’s unusual for a person’s level effort in this area to fluctuate at times due to things like fatigue or stress.

To address the issue, you need to approach it in a positive way.

If your husband isn’t  dressing well comment on ads that you see with clothes that you’d like him to wear. Ask him to go shopping for some clothes. If he needs to work out, ask him to go on a walk with you or suggest he go to them gym for his health. If none of those things work, you’ll simply have to ask him why he doesn’t put forth the effort that he used to.

Inside His Head: Wife wants a Valentine’s Day gift, please

Dear Inside His Head,

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I know I shouldn’t care about whether I receive something — or what it is — but I do. I would appreciate a modest gift from my husband, that’s the honest truth. How should I approach this with him? I always give him something nice, but he doesn’t always reciprocate. I’m left feeling a little under-appreciated. Your advice?

Thanks!

GRAY: Nothing makes me cringe more than hearing a woman talk about how the ostentatious bundle of flowers delivered to their office desk “displays how much he loves me.”

Just because a dude can read a calendar and call a florist might make some women feel appreciated, but it makes me feel ripped off.

This is the problem: forcing a guy to pony up an expression of love on demand is difficult enough already, let alone for a holiday he has no appreciation for in the first place.

valentines01If you want it to work I think you need to make it personal and mutual. Also, it needs to be different from what you might do for your anniversary, birthday, Mother’s Day (you know, all those other days we’re expected to show how much we appreciate you). Just pressuring him to buy something will land you a box of chocolates or something equally trivial.

Maybe you pitch it to him as a night in February (not necessarily Valentine’s Day) that the two of you get a babysitter and eat at that new restaurant. Maybe it’s letting the grandparents take over so you can have a 3-day weekend to decompress from the Christmas season. Maybe it’s even making it a special family event for the kids too.

Sharing something together will make the celebration about the two of you and not about the trite symbols of love bought for a few bucks at a florist or store. Because of this, he’ll be inclined to get behind idea and the day is more likely to become an event he’s willing to put some effort into.

MAVERICK: This is the time where honesty is the best policy, but timing and delivery are important if you want the best results.

If you always get him something nice, and he’s generally not inconsiderate or uncaring at other times, he clearly doesn’t realize how important this is to you, or that he’s disappointing you in the arena of gift-giving.

I realize it’s part of the fantasy of a perfect relationship many women  have — the ultimateman will be able to read their every thought and desire and will act accordingly. In reality, we’re not psychic and if an otherwise good husband is falling short in an area as simple as gift giving, he’s either a moron or much more likely, he’s unaware of your desires and the importance you place on it.

Barring the fact that your husband is an dolt, he’s simply clueless.

So, clue him in.

  • But don’t just hint or expect him to magically know what’s bothering you and what you want to change.
  • Be honest, be direct, do it well in advance of the time you want a present. Don’t ambush him, that never works.
  • Find a time when he’s not distracted or really relaxed and lay your cards on the table.
  • Tell him you’d appreciate a little more forethought in the next gift he chooses for you. Tell him it you feel a little cheated when you go out of the way to get him something nice and he brings you something from the dollar store or the quickie mart.

Do this without accusing him of being thoughtless or cheap or inattentive. Do this without whining or complaining. This is a simple fact, like the reality that it’s raining outside, he needs to buy better gifts, period.

If the situation makes you unhappy or you feel unappreciated, you have every right to speak up. Do it honestly, without a bit of hostility or finger pointing, and likely as not you’ll both be on the same page in no time.

MICHAEL: Why shouldn’t you care? There’s nothing wrong with with expecting a gift from your husband on Valentine’s Day.

What’s wrong is expecting a gift and not making it clear to him that you do. Some guys just aren’t gift givers. They may show their affection in other ways.

However, if you don’t make your feelings known, you can’t expect his behavior to change. Just lay it out there for him. It doesn’t have to be a demand, but it does need to be clearly said.

Try something like, “Hey honey, I really appreciate everything you do for me all year, but I’d really like it if you’d put some thought into Valentine’s Day each year. I know it’s corny, but it would really make me happy.”

Good luck.

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