The Intertwining Role of Father and Husband
I had a sneaking suspicion that a realization was setting in: that at least in my mind, I can’t be a good father without being just as good of a husband as well. The more I processed it, the more I believed it: The role of father and husband are completely intertwined and inseparable. However, I didn’t just want to take my own word for it. It’s times like these when I ask the world of Facebook and Twitter.
Something I have learned/taught myself from blogging since August 2005 is the importance of being my own devil’s advocate; addressing any potential arguments by simply answering them before a reader ever has the opportunity to bring them up. Therefore, I knew not to ask the question: “Can a man be a good father without being a good husband?”. Because I personally know men who are wonderful fathers despite being divorced, separated or widowed.
So I cleverly asked my social networking friends, “Can a married man be a good father without being a good husband?”. I received convincing answers from both sides, but ultimately I realized the way I asked the question wasn’t clever enough. Because some of the people who answered “yes” made the point that many moms and dads are stuck in unhappy marriages, mainly staying together for the kids. And while that is sad to hear, I know it’s true.
In the journey of confirming my perception of the intertwining roles of a father and husband, I learned a better question to ask: “Can a happily married man be a good father without being a good husband?” My own personal answer to that question is “no.” And if a man could actually be happily married while being a good father and a sub-par husband, most likely he would be taking advantage of his wife somehow, like by not doing his fare share of the household duties. The man would be living in an ignorant bliss while his wife would be living in a world of “unappreciation.” So while the man would be happily married, the woman would not.
After all my failed attempts at trying to ask a particular question, the best version is actually, “Can a happily married man in a mutually happy marriage be a good father without being a good husband?”.
Of course I get it that a man can be a better father than he is a husband, but I believe a good father would also be highly concerned with improving his husbandly skills. I just can’t separate a good father from a good husband, in my mind, at least.
Most importantly I realized that the question isn’t one that can be answered by anyone else anyway. It can only be answered by me, a happily married man who is part of a marriage in which neither party will settle for mediocre. My wife and I decided from the very beginning that we would end up being one of those old couples who still held hands; who still deliberately go on dates no matter what distractions in life come along.
Last weekend my wife and I were at Earth Fare, an organic grocery store, having a coffee date. The woman making our coffees randomly asked us how long we had been married. Up until that point, she didn’t know anything about us other than what she had observed by watching us wait for our coffee and learning our appreciation for the delicious cookie samples we partook of at the counter. “This July will be three years,” we answered.
“You act just like newlyweds!” she replied.
For me, a man who is obsessed with being a good father and a good husband in a mutually happy marriage, that’s one of the best compliments I can receive.