Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Losing His Grip
In my book, Worshipping Your Wife, I talk about husbands losing their grip—on the TV remote control:
“…husbands ought to haul themselves off their couches en masse, relinquish their remotes and take up their honey-do lists.” (Chapter 5)
“…my advice to husbands is: Find the ‘Power Off’ button on the remote, get off the couch and start courting your wife. (Chapter 6)
“Not a few husbands mention handing over the remote to their wives as a big-deal behavioral modification. And it IS a big deal. Watching TV with my wife, I often find myself with a death-grip on the button-studded contraption. Like NRA card-carriers, most of us guys will give up our remotes only if they're pried out of our ‘cold dead hands.’ (Chapter 7)
But why, guys, is handing over the remote to our wives so difficult? Even for a moment? For some of us, endorsing the entire paycheck to her or giving up our nights out with the boys can be easier.
I’m not going to get psychoanalytical about it. You can speculate, if you like. Let’s just stipulate, as the lawyers say, that it IS difficult. In some way, the ultimate power transfer.
Which reminds me of another quote from my book, in chapter 6, about “Meyer’s Law” as codified by mystery novelist John D. MacDonald: “In all emotional conflicts, the thing you find hardest to do is the thing you should do.”
Husbands who successfully unwrap their fingers from this battery-operated IR-gun report a sense of liberation, like kicking an addiction. They find, again to quote myself, “it's lots more fun to play with her in bed than with the TV remote.”
Some eloquent examples:
“After we reconciled, I realized that I would much rather be with her than watch the shows I like… Because of this, she ended up as the undisputed queen of the remote control. When we came downstairs to look at television, I would pick up the remote and hand it to her, and then submit to whatever she wanted to watch. She commented the other day that I am so domesticated now that I'm watching HGTV with her, and that she never would have believed that a couple of years ago.”
“Over the years, i have developed a number of routines that i now follow out of habit… [including] handing Her the TV remote. Each time i perform these little domestic routines i reinforce my supportive role in Her Life.”
“When we adopted an FLR marriage,” another husband explains, “the TV remote became Hers. However, the music to be played in the car had been determined by who was driving. That changed too. The car stereo is now an extension of the TV remote and She will now choose the music, regardless of who is driving or which car we are in.”
“I truly love my wife and do the utmost to please her. I wasn't always like that, but now I get up before her, prepare breakfast, make up the bed and clean up while she gets ready for work. I cook and clean up. And she controls the remote on the TV.”
“I rub my wife's feet every evening and give her massages whenever she wants them. And she now exclusively has the remote for the TV.”
“I have handed over the TV remote, although sometimes I ask if she minds if we watch a certain show.”
Many husbands realize what a big deal this “little” gesture can be:
“I realize that I am able to be defer to my wife in many subtle ways, from small things like turning over the TV remote to sitting at her feet as she reads or watches TV and massaging her feet.”
“You should vigorously pursue every opportunity to give your wife massages, talk to her about things that interest her, leave the remote in her hands, fetch her something to drink, make dinner, clean up afterwards, etc.”
And what about the wives? Almost without exception, those embarking on female-led relationships seem eager to wrap their lovely fingers around this particular symbol of power, recognizing it as akin to the scepter of state held by the queen:
“You will come to enjoy the freedom in decision-making afforded you,” writes Emily Addison of Around Her Finger. “If you want to be the only half of the couple allowed to use the remote control, you need only say so.”
One wife, reveling in newfound domestic supremacy, ranked “I get first rights to the remote control” as No. 11 among her new perks.
I don’t mean to give the impression that wife-worshipping husbands eagerly surrender the remote control. Many guys, indeed, have to have this favorite toy pried from their grips, and not always at an opportune time.
One wife chose to assert her electronic-gadget authority in the middle of Monday Night Football. The shocked husband recounts the traumatic incident: “She turned it off, took the remote. I was stunned. ‘From now on,’ she said, brandishing the remote, “this is mine. You are not to touch it.’”
“We decided that from a certain date on,” writes another wife on the Around Her Finger blog, “I would decide what TV shows he and I watched. Most of the time he was very agreeable to me changing the channel to watch what I wanted, but there were times, especially on Sunday afternoons, when I would switch to a romantic movie and force him to miss a football game. He grumbled, quietly, but he grumbled nonetheless.”
In some advanced arrangements, husbands are expected to defer happily to their governing mates in all things, most definitely including channel selection: “My husband and I are believers in matriarchy,” a wife explains to Elise Sutton. “At dinner, I'm the one who sits at the head of the table. While we're watching TV, I'll have him bring me a cup of coffee or a tray of fruit. Best of all, I'm in total control of the remote.”
But even the most compliant guy can harbor a few frustrations as he observes occasional female ineptitude with the finer points of electronic button-pushing: “We have a complex TV setup and despite three months of gentle coaching, she keeps screwing it up. There is an element in me that feels very insecure that I've seeded control of my life to Someone who can't use a remote control.”
Another husband concurs: “It still drives me crazy that she now has the universal remote control and struggles to use it... Man, I've got a long way to go.”
What’s a well-meaning guy supposed to do? Well, according to fdhousehusband, he should just settle back and realize that “she has the authority to make mistakes."
One couple arrived at an electronic compromise, as this husband details: “I sit at my wife’s feet while she sits in the comfortable easychair. I am in charge of the remote control, but she is in charge of me.”
Pavlovian Postscript: As I was getting ready to post this, I came across a quote from a husband whose wife kept two electronic remotes, one to control the TV and a second to control him:
“The power of a remote control can be used for so much more interesting endeavors than just changing channels on the television. My wife had a remote control and she would give me different sensations of pleasure and pain from the very mild electrical charges.”