Both Mom and Dad feel bad, but for different reasons. Mom, you imagine your child, crying, with no one to play with, wondering when Mommy is going to come. Your heart breaks a little and you feel like a terrible mother. Now let's cut to Dad. He is imagining how mad you're going to be when you find out that he was an hour late. He visualizes that he will not be having sex tonight--or this weekend--if your child is still crying by the time they get home.
After your child is brought home safe and sound, Mom, you will feel guilty for weeks afterward, and probably binge on cheesecake, which will make you feel worse. Dad, on the other hand, will consider the child's safe arrival to be a "crisis solved" and promptly forget the whole thing ever happened.
Charmed lives, I tell you. Charmed. Sometimes I think we overcompensate for their gruffness. For example, on a guilt scale of 1 through 10, if you feel a 5 for leaving your child at school, and he feels a 0, we women will often subconsciously try to make up for our men by working ourselves up to a 10.
Do you know how many binge-cakes a 10 is on the guilt scale?
My suggestion? Write yourself a permission slip to think like a guy for a day. (Don't worry, you won't be able to do it. But it's fun to try.)
We women also ignore men at our peril. They tell us who they are, but we don't respect their opinion. We think, Oh, I know that's who you think you are, but I know what you can be. As if we're shamans with mystical powers that allow us to change the elements.
Hey, we rationalize, if Jesus turned water into wine, why can't I change this player into a husband?
Well, (a) Jesus's feat is considered a miracle, and (b) you ain't Jesus. Women, we need to get realistic about our abilities.
Sometimes men are right, especially when they're telling us who they are.
If you married your husband thinking you would change him, now is the time to give yourself permission to lose that battle. I married a man who told me he couldn't be monogamous. Told me. Looked me dead in the eye and said monogamy wasn't his thing. And what did I do? Thank him for dinner and leave the restaurant?
No. I decided to make him monogamous.
I think you know how that turned out. And if you don't know, hang tight--it will be revealed to you shortly. The bottom line? I failed to change him. And I spent years after my husband cheated feeling like a failure, when the war to make him monogamous was actually unwinnable. Life is hard enough; why do we women want to make it impossible?
The next time you are stricken with the female urge to tell a man who he can be, after he has told you who he is, stop. Stand up. Walk outside. Look up to the clear blue sky, and tell that sky that the only thing keeping it from being bright purple with orange polka dots is a woman's touch. Because that makes about as much sense.
It's painful to reorient your way of thinking. But when you finally see men as they see themselves, your taste in men will change dramatically. It's like you've been going through life slightly buzzed, and now you're sober. And that guy who seemed so cool when you were high? Now you have the clarity to see he's a mess. But that dull civil servant who comes home every night? Not so bad.
Write yourself a permission slip to let your man be himself, because that's what he's gonna do anyway.