He comes from the office, and has not brought flowers or any small gift for her. She smiles quite genuinely and gets a half-hearted and fake smile in return. Once he is settled, instead of spending time with his wife, he sits in front of the TV and starts switching channels. He seems so engrossed in TV that his wife has to call him several times to even evoke a mundane response like “hmmm.” After managing to evoke a response, she tries to stir up a conversation and fails. She asks a question, she has asked a million times before: “Do you love me?” The answer is a bland and needless to say hardly convincing “Of course, I love you.” She smiles, knowing that the answer is nothing but a rehearsed automated response.
The above behavior strikes a chord with many wives around the world as this is how men generally behave. Wives commonly complain and with justification that even if their spouses are otherwise responsible, they take them for granted and do not show desired romantic interest in them. They are hardly expressive and prefer the company of their friends or sit in front of TV sets rather than being intimate with their wives.
I have asked several of my friends and their wives and generally with minor differences the story is the same. While some of the wives do acknowledge that their husbands are nice and are otherwise responsible, the emotional and romantic attention is often lacking. Some of them complained and that too in front of their husbands that their spouses are often ogling at other women in their presence!
Let me frankly acknowledge that wives are correct to blame husbands here.
But what are the causes for this male behavior? Why husbands including me behave like this? And let’s not forget this behaviour is common across cultures.
I will not try to justify my own behavior or for that matter general male behaviour towards their spouses. I will merely try to introspect why we are like that. Explaining reasons is not justification.
It has to be understood that men and women though equal are different in many critical aspects. I am not trying to stereotype here or over generalize but the fact is that due to environmental factors ( or the way we are brought up by the society) and evolution, men and women have developed different mating and sexual patterns. Men are generally much more prone to pursue multiple women. In fact across most of the animal kingdom males are like that. On the other hand, females are generally more selective.
This explains as to why even the male fantasy is seldom about one single woman but rather multiple women. The typical male hero ( or a stud) is a guy who is a player. Male cinematic role models like James Bond are also not “committed” men but Casanovas. On the other hand female fantasy mostly revolves around one person.
On the other hand marriage by it its very nature demands commitment. And there is a reason for that. Marriage in an outcome of collective realization of the society that human off spring would need the father for a prolonged period of time. Thus primarily the marriage has arisen to ensure the security and proper upbringing of the young. In order to ensure that male shows SOME responsibility on a consistent basis, marriage has to assume the form of a proper legal contract.
What I am trying to say is that marriage despite being an extremely important institution is not exactly in tune with the nature of men and consequently tensions are bound to occur. Here I am not referring to tensions arising from the couple’s personal incompatibilities or due to society’s pressures but on tensions which arise due to pressures emanating from the very nature of marriage itself.
And in modern times, marriage in most of the cultures is devoid of polygamy. It is expected that men will stay faithful to one wife. Therefore for men, marriage is literally a lid, albeit temporary, on their natural tendency of polygamy.
Consequently the majority of us though initially excited when getting married, rapidly lose interest and continuously start dreaming about other women. This is a fact which we husbands do not admit in front of our wives. We are thinking about other women even in apparently intimate times and are perfectly capable of harbouring sexual and romantic desires for other women while being in love with our wives.
Then what do we mean when we insist that we love our wives? Actually we continue to love our spouses but the only thing is that its manifestation becomes different. Gradually a wife becomes a person we care and provide for rather than the one we consistently and passionately desire romantically and sexually. The love for the spouse continues to exist but is expressed more through care and support rather than romance.
This also explains as to why we are far more prone to infidelity. The bolder and more lascivious amongst us go one step ahead and start pursuing extra marital affairs while still providing and caring for their wives.
In our daily lives, we continue to witness that despite apparently happy marriage, a husband is found out to be having an affair. In fact, compared to women, the percentage of men cheating despite apparently normal marriage is far greater thus lending credibility to the famous saying: For an extramarital affair a woman needs a reason and a man just a woman!
On the other hand women being biologically more selective about their mate have a settling down attitude once that mate has been selected in the form of a husband. Marriage in many ways signals that real “finality” for her. Most of the women really try to make marriage work in every sense of the way.
There is thus a huge difference between men and women in their attitudes which in turn have been shaped by their respective evolutionary development, specific roles and expectations. These differences come alive with full pronunciation in marriage which actually amplifies them
Due to this difference in outlooks and nature, it actually requires greater effort from men.
They have to constantly program themselves and be more attentive towards their wives. But unfortunately majority of us do not even try. In fact it is the wives who are often making the effort. The complaints of women are perfectly justified.
Men have to invest more in marriage rather than simply going by their “natural” instincts. Only by investing more and giving their spouses the deserved attention and respect, can a marriage actually work.