I have the BEST readers. Seriously.
One of my smart, articulate, funny ladypeeps just sent me this (via email) in response to TK’s awesome writeup on the Giant Man-Baby Phenomenon. This one is all about what to do if you find yourself already married to a giant man-baby. [I have a new post of my own stuff coming real soon (working on it right now, in fact), but I can’t resist posting another great perspective on a topic that seems to have hit a nerve.]
And now, I surrender the floor to … let’s see. She told me not to use her real name. In that case, I shall dub her the Mistress of Infinite Pleasure and Wisdom. (See what happens when you give me a little license?)
I’m going to go way out on a limb and respond to TK, even though I never read your original man-baby article.
First, let me say this: TK, would you like to meet for a drink? (Ladies, don’t laugh. A guy who’s actually willing to articulate such a thoughtful response is someone I’d like to be dating. At the same time, I’m sure he’s waaaaay too young for me.)
Second, TK has a point. If you don’t step into a “parental role” with your guy, you’ll never set yourself up to take-on parental responsibilities. And personally, I never, and I mean never, have wanted to be my lover’s mother. It’s best to just talk to your partner like he’s an adult, albeit one who may be communicating in a language slightly foreign to your own, while at the same time “getting the gist of it.” Ladies, I’m not saying you haven’t done this already. I’m just saying that TK has a point.
However, only some of the man-baby problem can be solved that way. Let’s pretend, for instance, you married your husband while still in your 20’s. You, neither of you that is, pretty much knew diddlysquat about how to run a smooth life – finances, jobs, meal planning and preparation, pregnancy, children, balancing acts, stain-free laundry, boiler explosions, dog licensure (and excrement), mail stoppage for vacation, budgeting, joint tax prep that includes real estate, buying real estate in the first place, property lines, weird neighbors, etc., etc., etc. Maybe you knew somestuff, and if you were raised in a traditional household, you may have had more of the ‘girly tasks’ down. Maybe not. In any case, I’m not sure how many young almost-marrieds ‘study’ the various living skills of their potential mates. The importance of doing so is an awareness that develops with maturity. People who marry at older ages are much more in tune with that importance.
Now let’s say, you’ve made the plunge. Okay, you find that you should have, maybe, studied his living habits a bit more. You find out he has certain qualities terribly similar to those of a certified man-baby. What do you do? Rat poison in his coffee? Pack your bags? Call your mother? Cry like a woman-baby?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you should talk to him like a real smart adult. Things won’t necessarily be perfect afterward, but you’ll always have the assurance that you made your best, most mature and loving, stab at it. The idea is that, in the end, you don’t want to be responsible to tell him to do everything that needs to get done. You want him to see things for himself. If you don’t want to be his mom, don’t act like his mom, nag like his mom, scream like his mom, and punish him like his mom (ladies, you know what I mean here).
The real problem comes when you discover that your partner is not really ready to let go of childish patterns – those acts of dependency that scream, “I JUST WANT YOU TO TAKE CARE OF ME, BECAUSE IT’S FUNNER THAT WAY.” This is a particularly resistant form of man-baby for which there is no real training program. Neither is there an intervention that helps, short of leaving him flat. However, in my experience, this does not constitute the majority of situations out there. And neither is it only a male problem. There are plenty of prima donnas out there, whose husbands shuttle them a cup of coffee in the morning, fill their gas tanks weekly, do most of the cooking and a good bit of the cleaning up, and actually make dry cleaning runs for silk dresses.
What I want to know is why I can’t find one of those guys. It’s not like I’d exploit him or anything. I pretty much took care of a husband-baby for a quarter century, and didn’t even mind it terribly much, except when he was mean. Or got colic. But I’m thinking right now that I’m kinda tired of being the big mommy. I’m looking for a wife-ish husband – someone who does more than half the stuff. Who has to remind me when some chore or other needs doing. Or just does it himself. Happily. Someone who doesn’t stomp around with a long face because I’d like to rake the leaves together one October weekend. Or lay in bed like chief thundercloud because that’s the day the kids need to go in two different directions, and I can’t drive two cars simultaneously while he watches Wimbledon on TV. Yeah, that’s right, that’s what I want because I’M THINKING THAT KINDA GUY MIGHT BE A LOT FUNNER.