"Taking your partner for granted is not sexy..."

  • Thursday, 26 June 2014
  • Posted in Relationships
  • No Comments
  • This is a round-table discussions with the Northern Dads Group, Melbourne. We fought through the cacophony of kids noises, food spillages, nappy nightmares, two years old tantrums, and the like, to record our thoughts and opinions on my trusty IRiver Dictaphone.

    The topic was 'In a long term relationship, what do women find 'sexy'?"

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    Dan: Well, I’ve been a Stay-at-home-Dad for a while, and after six or seven years of hearing Mums conversations… most of their complaints about their husbands are along the lines of ‘he doesn’t help with the kids’, or ‘he doesn’t help with the housework’, or ‘I send him out to do the shopping and he comes back with the wrong things and he’s forgotten half of the stuff.’ That’s what women are concerned about, in a marriage, rather than what his abs are doing, or whether his hair is flowing or not… although I guess that helps haha.

    Jack: My feeling is that if a woman found you attractive to have a child with you in the first place, she probably still finds you attractive…

    Dan: … must be something there…

    Jack: …as long as she’s got some mental space to be able to do it. And the issue is that they’re often feeling harried, or that they’re feeling a bit of a martyr to the cause, sometimes, and that’s not sexy.

    Reservoir Dad: Ben, you were talking before about the Mentally Sexy idea not quite fitting with the way men, in general, are perceived or…

    Ben: Yeah, there’s practical and there’s sexy and they’re not the same thing, necessarily. I don’t know if a woman’s going to look at a Dad changing a nappy and go ‘wow he’s sexy’, you know, in the way that she might look at James Bond driving in his Aston Martin down the road…

    Joe: …killing the baddies and saving the world? That’s what Bond does…

    Ben: Yeah, I still reckon that the male archetype… there’s a bit of tension between that and the Mentally Sexy concept. But I still think it’s worth trying to put your finger on that and ask the question, ‘Are men who pull their weight at home sexy?’ or ‘Are men who help with the kids and help raise a family sexy?’ And I think the answer has got to be yes…

    Jack: I think my wife doesn’t necessarily find me doing those activities sexy, I think she finds her not doing those things sexy.

    (Much laughter and merriment)

    northerndads3Joe: Yeah, that’s probably more to the point.

    Dan: Or not feeling that she always has to do the bulk of that stuff. Because the situation where the wife is doing the majority of all the household stuff, and the bloke isn’t, it’s just an inequality of responsibility, to be honest

    Reservoir Dad: And why do you think a woman would find a man who shares the load to be sexy? I mean, it can’t be just the free time…

    Jack: It’s resentment, I think, that can kill attraction. If she’s getting little help from her husband… it’s this resentment that she feels that it’s all her responsibility…

    Reservoir Dad: And the other side of that is that a woman… may not be thinking of it consciously, but she’s obviously going to feel more supported… more cared for and more valued, if her husband is willing to get up and relieve her of some of the responsibility of looking after the house and kids.

    Dan: Absolutely.

    Reservoir Dad: I haven’t met with this kind of resistance yet, but how would you respond to someone who said, that a man taking on more of this kind of responsibility is not as masculine as the guy on the couch, with the bag of chips, who’s turning a blind eye to the domestic mayhem around him.

    Jack: Well, it’s about reclaiming the idea, or broadening the idea of what masculinity is, and that it’s become very two dimensional. It’s become that a man is a very unattached, you know, irresponsible, sort of a child-man, with tons of free time, lots of toys, who’s a kidult, in lots of ways. And you know, men with very childish behaviors are being painted as being sexy. But being a man is broader and bigger and more interesting than that, and we’re trying to claim sexiness back by saying that the role of men is bigger…

    Joe: …yeah, and a lot more varied and will depend on individual relationships and families. What’s good for one family is not so good for another but it’s about being flexible and doing what’s necessary for your family.

    Dan: I think, like you were saying, we need to make the household stuff a more manly thing. I don’t mean doing them in a manly way, I mean just making that an okay thing for men to do. I remember when Liam (Dan’s son) was younger, I used to talk to him about doing my ‘manly chores’…

    (Hearty chuckles)

    northern-dads-earlyDan: …in a sarcastic way, but it’s like normalizing it for him and me. And you know, RD, you were talking about the boy next-door who said, ‘You hang the washing like a lady’ and a kid said that to me in a playgroup. I was washing the dishes and he said, ‘You’re a girl because you’re washing up,’ and you know, that was his way of saying ‘women do washing up and men don’t.’

    Ben: Can I turn that around and say if men that do the washing up are sexy, are women that don’t, and come back late from work with a really big paycheck… are they sexy to men?

    Dan: Well, you’re assuming that attraction is the same for men and women…

    Ben: So I reckon they’ve got as much of a challenge, as men…

    Reservoir Dad: Of course they have. Dads going into the domestic world is as big a thing as women making their way into the boardrooms, not so long ago, and they still confront challenges and prejudice and stereotypes. My wife… she still has to confront stereotypes that say she is not a good mother because she doesn’t stay home with the kids…

    Jack: But taking your partner for granted is not sexy. Whatever they do, if they’re not feeling that they’re respected or supported in their work in the world, or their work at home, you know that’s not sexy…

    Reservoir Dad: Yeah, so what could be more sexy than supporting your wife in her career goals? And some men, and this is the option that we have more and more these days, is that some men can say ‘I’m going to step out of the work force, for a certain amount of time, so that my wife can pursue her career goals. This might not last forever, it may be three years or five years, or it might be a lot longer…

    Jack: And if your wife sneers at that, or treats you badly because of it or looks down on you because of it. Well, that’s not sexy either.

    ~~

    To inquire about The Northern Dad's Group email - reservoirdad@gmail.com

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