The Perfect Husband is actually another Woman.

24 Feb

She launders and irons your clothes. She may even colour coordinate your lingerie. She never second guesses whether your mood is really tied to your hormonal state or suggests that you are using your period to get away with rotten behaviour.

It was a slow day at the office. I was overhearing one of my colleagues who is a busy bee and receives and makes lots of calls. I started noticing how her voice changed when she answered different people. She was instantly alert and serious when it was a work-related call. When she was speaking to her friends she assumed a lively, fun voice. If she was speaking to her sisters or her parents, she would be bubbly and warm.

So when her voice became more affectionate and  tender, I naturally assumed that it must have been her husband on the other end of the line. And when she was snappy, business-like and almost grumpy, I guessed that it must have been her quasi live-in nanny/house-keeper on the phone receiving her marching instructions for the day.  Eventually after the 20th call or so, I started asking her casually who was on the phone just to test my own skill of reading her tone of voice. Guess what? Her tender, loving voice was actually for the benefit of the nanny, while her curt and dry persona was reserved for her husband. I had it all wrong. Not that you didn’t see that coming.

So let me dwell once again on a topic barely broached by Ms. Doubtfire but never fully explored. Is the perfect babysitter and housekeeper a potentially superior alternative to a husband or partner for the busy working mother?

Let’s consider the facts from the perspective of any woman who is fortunate to have a good nanny/housekeeper combo, whom we shall call Exhibit A.  She lovingly takes care of your children as she teaches them good manners and life skills. She cooks delicious, nutritious food for you and your family from ingredients that she shops for. She launders and irons your clothes, folding them and placing them neatly in your closet. She may even colour coordinate your lingerie. Your house is a home, always tidy and clean thanks to her. And beyond the services rendered, as a woman she understands you. She never second guesses whether your mood is really tied to your hormonal state or suggests that you are using your period to get away with rotten behaviour. She never judges you or makes insensitive comments about your weight. And amazingly, you never feel her PMSing because she is always in a positive mood. Over time, you develop a meaningful friendship that will transgress the employer-worker relationship. She may even become your confidante, especially when you are sounding off and complaining about your husband. She becomes your perfect life partner, giving you everything you need.

Now let’s look at Exhibit B. Your husband. He hardly ever spends quality time with the children, but when he does it is usually in the pursuit of fun and exciting things that don’t require disciplining or parenting skills. He breaks all the rules you made, and as a result assumes the position of the fun parent, while you are relegated to the mean one in the family. Even during the weekends or holidays, he always seems to have something else that’s distracting him: a buddy, a sport, an iPad, a television screen, a bar, and in some cases another woman. He never cooks for you, and when he does, he leaves you wishing that he hadn’t because of the tsunami of a state that he leaves the kitchen in. And not only will he never do your laundry or fold your undies, he will leave his own trail of clothes around the house like a dog marking its territory, and then have the nerve to complain when he can’t find his favourite 501s. Overtime, the love and friendship that was the hallmark of your relationship back in the day evolve into a constant battle of the sexes. And because all you ever do is argue, there is no point to confide in him, because he will somehow find a way to put you at the centre of the blame. And any way, the only thing you really want to complain about is him.

And the sex and the intimacy? Sure, for most women, this will remain an area where the husband holds an advantage over the nanny/housekeeper. But here is the thing. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that the quality of the sex has not deteriorated or was not lousy to start with. In fact let’s assume the sex was earth-shattering. If the choice was between a perfect “soulmate” in a sexless relationship, or a sexually fulfilling relationship that was deficient in every other respect, what would most woman want more?


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