Real Life Mad Men Marriages
The husband comes home from a hard day at the office and is greeted by his dutiful wife, who has spent the day cleaning the house and making sure that there's a home cooked meal waiting for him on the table. This may sound like a scene out of the 1950s or from the hit TV show Mad Men, but it's actually a group of today's women who are embracing this traditional role. "Ever since I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to do was to be a stay-at-home mom, to have a husband that I love and take care [of] and have children." For her 12 years of marriage, Courtney has taken sole responsibility of cooking every meal, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and tending to their children's needs. "That's my job and I love it," she smiles. "I believe our marriage is successful because I give my husband everything that he needs and in return he gives me what I need."
Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women: How to Get More Out of Your Relationship by Doing Less, explains that there are many women like Courtney who play the traditional role in their marriages. "What they recognize is that husbands and wives have different needs. And you can be in this type of relationship, in this type of marriage, and have the happiness you're looking for."
Dr. Haltzman points out that one of the pressures facing women today is that they have to be the perfect wife or the perfect mother, and that doesn't leave time for the most important job - taking care of themselves. "Treat yourself well," he advises. "We husbands want our wives to be happy; we don't expect it to be perfect all around." Plus, a happy wife will mean a happier marriage. "When the husband gets home and sees his wife is exhausted and feels terrible about the day, it deflates him too," Dr. Haltzman adds. "So both of you end up feeling like you're in a worse place at the end of the day." Courtney agrees that this is key to her marriage. "I think that women need to get their rest," she says. "We need to exercise, we need to take care of ourselves emotionally, physically. When we're taking care of ourselves, we have more to give to our families."
Rachael wonders if Courtney ever feels grumpy, and if so, how she expresses it to her husband. "I'm human, of course I have down days," Courtney admits, "but I know that I set the tone and the mood of my home and it affects the way that everyone feels; I have an influence there. So, if something is not going my way, I'll save it for later in the evening so we can really talk it out." Dr. Haltzman points out something important about Courtney's statement: "I love when you said, 'I have some influence there.' It doesn't feel at all like you're a slave to a man. It feels like you are master of your household and it's a really positive feeling for you. And look at Keith - look how happy he is with the results!"
Julia, 27, says that she first came to idolize the traditional stay-at-home mom while watching shows like I Love Lucy when she was young. "As I got older," she says, "I set my sights on finding someone who had those same values, those same traditions." Her husband Patrick, 37, explains that his hard-working father was the role model for how he views their marriage. "A man's job is to provide for finances, to provide for happinesses," he states. "If my wife is not happy for any reason, how can I make it better?"
One of the keys to Julia and Patrick's happiness is the "45-minute rule" - the amount of time Patrick gets when he comes home from work to unwind and de-stress from the pressures of the day. "After 45 minutes, if I've had any problems during the day, or I've got something that I really need to discuss with him, I come to him at that point and he's much more receptive. He gives me as much time as I need and I don't have to worry about an argument." Dr. Haltzman explains, "It takes that much time for a man to transition from his role in the workplace to taking care of home. You've done what many happily married women do which is to see that your husband functions differently than you. If you respect those differences and capitalize on them, you end up having better communication and a happier marriage."
"I also find that I tend to get my way a lot more too!" exclaims Julia.
What do you think about the traditional roles that Courtney and Julia have chosen? Are they outdated or the keys to a happy, successful marriages? Join the discussion!
Dr. Haltzman's top tips:
• "Men want to feel like they're your hero; so give them a gold star. When your husband goes to the car and helps you bring in a few groceries and puts them on the counter and stands like he's just moved the world, say to him, 'Thank you! I could never have done that without you!' even though for the last week you've been doing it twice a day."
• "Have lots of sex! Men have maybe 10, 20 times more testosterone in their system. On average, men have higher sex drives and women think that sex for a man is just biological need, but it's actually a way that men bond to you. It's a way that men can feel closer. Sometimes you're not quite in the mood, but physical studies actually demonstrate that once you get started, in the majority of cases for women, [you become] interested. And I'm not just talking about sex under the sheets; sex can be things like holding hands, cuddling, sharing time together. But just a word of caution: if all you do is hold hands and cuddle week after week and month after month, you're going to have a frustrated man. Occasionally, you have to get under the sheets ... and you'll be happy you did!"
• "Talk less. Men have rates of attention deficit disorder probably about 10 times higher than women. Men want to communicate to get what the point is up front. If you want to communicate with your husband, part of communicating for you is developing a story, enriching it, growing it, telling it - like reading something out of a novel - and you've lost him. Tell him your point up front."
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