Wednesday, January 22, 2014
i regularly help out one of my mother-in-law Sue's friends who owns a woman's clothing boutique. At Christmas it's coordinated outfits, at Valentine's Day it's lingerie. It seems there are always a lot of clueless men coming into the store looking for gifts. I match up outfits for the men, ensuring that their wives or girlfriends get something special; and, of course, i also maximize the money the men spend at the store. i make no apology for this. In fact, i'm always looking for ways to max out a guy’s credit card or empty his wallet; the woman in his life deserves nothing less. After all, what's the average guy going to do with money in his pocket? Probably spend it at the bar or sporting goods store. Far better that the woman in his life has a great outfit and accessories.
My benefit from all this? Well, plenty! Sue gets my earnings and storediscount, but i gain knowledge. i've learned so much about coordinating women's clothing that Nancy now trusts me to choose her daily outfits and pack her bags when she's going out of town. In a world where most husbands don't even know the size of their wife's bra and pantyhose, I think that's a real compliment as well as being another way to serve my wife.
By the way, i serve women at the clothing store, too. They don't expect much from a man, but are soon surprised that i have the same coordination skills as the female associates and do a darned good job of gift wrapping! It's another way to please and serve women at, i might add, a great price since the women get our best prices and discounts.
But the real benefit is serving women and, through my service-oriented behavior, showing them how men should treat women. My training at home is a huge help here. Women are initially skeptical that a man can properly serve them, so it's always a treat to see their attitudes change. I have women coming into the boutique who are even willing to wait for me to serve them, or who come in and specifically ask for me. That is truly flattering!
What do i do to merit this? Well, i look at every woman coming into the shop as a Goddess, someone to be served, someone to be addressed as "Ma'am" or "Madame." Women are the superior sex and men should be serving them. my experience at home makes this second nature. One of the niceties i’ve introduced is serving coffee and tea to our customers; i have a little setup in our kitchenette and will offer our female customers beverages on china, not Styrofoam cups. It makes their waits more tolerable during busy times. "Ladies, may I serve you coffee or tea?" is a greatly appreciated gesture. Women don't expect this of a man although they deserve it. i've told them that they should have husbands or boyfriends doing the same—my little plug for their taking more control!
Nancy's advice, "When women talk, shut up and listen" works particularly well at the boutique. It allows me to offer advice and work with our customer to coordinate things. i'll comment on colors, bags, accessories fragrances, and, of course, shoes, encouraging but never pressuring. i'll spend as much time as needed helping customers, whether it's a woman making a quick purchase or one who tries on nineteen pairs of pumps without buying one. When this particular woman apologized for trying on all those shoes, i told her no apology was needed. Far better that she be satisfied than make a purchase that didn't delight her. And I told her that it was my privilege to serve her. "You mean that, don't you?” she said.
"Yes," I answered, "I do." That woman has spent hundreds with us since that encounter. I love serving her; she can try on all the shoes she wants, whenever she wants.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
(Note from Mark Remond: Here is another Comment (from reader Tommy) and Response (from Dennis) that I decided to turn into a separate posting.)
“I find it fascinating how much guidance men need in housekeeping. I guess I've been doing it so long, I have been regarding housework as a common sense skill, refined to Her preferences. One point I find particularly useful to convey is efficiently effective housekeeping. Anybody can spend 3 hours to make a bathroom spotless and sparkling, but to do as perfect a job in 45 minutes or LESS is the challenge.
“One point I would like to convey is scheduling. In Her house we have established a housekeeping schedule. A whole-house light cleaning is done daily as schedules permit. I say “as schedules permit” because let’s be honest, one cannot always work a full day at the office, come home, cook, clean, shop, serve AND please Her, every day! Some nights we entertain or go out, or simply devote the night to Her pleasure; but, of course, the tasks must be made up. So, light cleaning daily. Deep-cleaning at least 2 rooms on Sunday while She shops with Her Gal-pals or, during this time of year, watches football with them. Deep-cleaning involves cleaning walls, floors, ceiling fans, scrubbing bathroom fixtures, polishing and moving furniture and appliances to clean behind, windows and vacuuming, plus washing all sheets and towels.
“During this time, it's important to note that i am to serve their slightest whim if they're home. And i am strictly prohibited from placing a single glance at the television, ESPECIALLY if it's a sporting event (men+tv(esp.sports)=worthless zombie). Special projects (home improvement, painting, repairs, etc.) are undertaken when She is away on Her Gals weekends monthly.
“Efficiency in shopping is also very important. You often see men wandering the market like zombies looking for the most basic of items. Learn the shop, where everything is, when it's stocked, and the prices of items. Know what you want. Have a list. And this is critical, know the checkers. Who's fast, who chats, who's helpful. Go in, get it all, get out. I plan shopping continually and organize my list and coupons during lunch breaks at work, and ALWAYS ask Her if there's anything special i need to pick up.
“Oh, and need I say that everything mentioned above should be concluded with ‘...or as otherwise directed.’”
Tommy, thank you for your excellent post from the perspective of one who's in the lifestyle and obviously enjoying it. You and i have much in common in terms of our approach to serving our women and taking on our domestic responsibilities. i and other men i know in the lifestyle work from a schedule that parallels yours. Light cleaning every day with some heavier tasks also in play, circumstances permitting. i also have daily tasks to tend to, laundry being one, ironing another. And, as you note, serving the women is always top priority, so housekeeping may have to be postponed to accommodate their situation. If Nancy is going out of town on business, it's my job to pack her bags. If the women are entertaining, then my priorities are focused on preparing a small meal, serving drinks, greeting the women, hanging coats, making drinks, and so on. A lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. In these situations housekeeping takes a back seat temporarily and often gets done in the wee hours of the morning after the women have left. I have two hours of personal time allocated each day, but it's understood that that is only with the women's permission AND if my work is done; otherwise, personal time has to be work time.
Heavy cleaning is done on weekends or when the women are away, much as you note. It's a practical approach that allows me to focus my efforts appropriately. Any of the things i'm expected to do are spelled out. Nancy's mother, Sue, has standards for everything, such as the 52 things that add up to a clean living room. There are things She checks when inspecting my work; and She does inspect! Sounds burdensome but it isn't; i know exactly what's expected and do it.
You are also correct that one must be efficient; this is very important. There's a lot to get done and get done in an acceptable manner. Unfortunately when most men are trained, often by their wife or a member of her family, efficiency just isn't taught, and this leads to problems later. In a pending post i will discuss my working as a housekeeper in both a hotel and for a residential maid service. Frankly, this is what most men should be getting, not just instruction on basic skills but on how to do these things efficiently; how to do more in less time. Sue arranged my housekeeper work for that reason; the more efficient I am, the more i can do. my doing more makes all of us happy! i take a lot of pride in serving the women and in keeping house; it's enjoyable and fulfilling. Men in traditional relationships just don't understand but once one gets into an FLR, men get another perspective and adapt readily to the role of homemaker.
Nancy and i have done a number of posts on this blog that concern things like housekeeping, shopping, and so on, all topics that are important to a mutually fulfilling FLR. We appreciate your post; it's always nice to hear from others in the lifestyle.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
(From Mark Remond: Dennis’ reply to Surrendered Husband’s comment on CHECKLIST FOR CLEANING A LIVING ROOM was extensive enough that I thought it merited a separate posting here. As an additional note, some readers may have noticed that Dennis has recently adopted the convention of lower-casing gender-specific masculine nouns and pronouns, while upper-casing all feminine ones. Dennis informs me that this change was made at the behest of his mother-in-law, Sue.)
Thank you Dennis. It must be a wonderful thing to have all your expectations laid out so clearly for you. You really must thank the ladies in your home on my account for this nice list.
Yes, it is nice to have things spelled out and to be told what to do. I am a
I first encountered the lists when i went home from college with Nancy for a weekend. Nancy, her Mother, and her Sister were going to the mall and left me home with the task of cleaning the living room. Simple enough, i thought, but it wasn't that simple; it was a set-up that turned into a teaching moment. When the Women arrived home i was relaxing in front of the TV having spent about a third of the time they were gone actually cleaning the living room; i learned that had i done it properly i would have likely needed an additional hour after the Women arrived home.
"So, you've finished cleaning the living room?" Sue inquired, with a devilish tone of voice. "Yes, Ma'am” i responded with a lot of pride. Now is it they say about “pride goes before a fall”? i was about to fall and fall hard. Sue pulled put on a white glove and started an inspection, much to the delight of Nancy and her Sister. i hadn't moved the furniture, spot-cleaned the carpet or rearranged the magazine rack. Sue's white glove showed dirt in corners of the bookcase and i missed the tops of the door frames, something i found later that EVERY man did.
"What the hell kind of job is this?" Sue demanded with more than a little anger. Picking up an ashtray that i had emptied but not cleaned, she yelled, "You call this clean?" She then made me lick it out before having me clean it at the sink. But then came a devilish laugh. She announced that i was forgiven - THIS TIME - as She pulled out the list of things that to Her lead to a clean living room. She went through each point with me.
i was supposed to be having dinner out with Sue, Nancy, and her Aunt, but now i was going to stay behind and "properly clean the living room." My meticulously following the list led to a passing (although not perfect) score. Sue explained that she didn't have the time or inclination to supervise men's doing household chores. The list made this simple: "Here's the list, follow it and everyone i' happy!"
With this understanding, work with your Woman-in-charge to make up your own lists of how She wants things done whether it's housekeeping, expected behaviors, and so on. Have Her walk you through the chores once to ensure you understand Her expectations. Have Her critique your work the first few times to ensure that you are doing what's expected. After this She should reasonably expect quality work with a minimum of Her involvement. men often want Women standing over them, supervising every little thing; this is NOT what Women want, so don't expect it! Women want men to do as they're told with a minimal amount of supervision so that They, Women, can better spend their time. Think of it, do we want increasingly higher-educated Women who are above the domestic routine having to supervise such work? Of course not! Make sure She doesn't have to!
Finally, shut up and listen! If She makes a comment about your work, take heed! Ask Her for Her further comments. Volunteer that any suggestions She makes be put into the lists you have. And don't forget that Women love men to take the initiative around housekeeping and personal service. If there's something you'd like to add to your routine that She would find beneficial, do it! This is something i am always looking to do and that Nancy has come to expect. Over the years i've added many things to my routine that are satisfying to Nancy and me. A rewarding FLR is one in which the man is always looking to do a little more here and there to satisfy Her. That said, lists are living things that grow with a relationship.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
The weekend before Christmas my boyfriend mentioned at breakfast that Geneviève and her husband, Marc, were having a difficult time with their Christmas arrangements. The couple planned to join the rest of their family in Italy for the week, but were having a very difficult time completing their Christmas shopping because of their new baby, seven-month-old Angelique. Geneviève is a flautist in an orchestra, and I thought this odd because the government hires something of a “mother's helper” (as I think they call them in the U.S.) for the first year.
While my boyfriend meandered vaguely around the subject, I picked up on the real premise. The couple had asked him if “he” (read “we”) would watch Angelique while they finished all they had to do.
I am purposely child-free. I was, further, a little annoyed that my boyfriend wanted to take on this venture and had tentatively said “yes” without consulting me. He approached me timidly on Tuesday and, after thinking it over, as well as all the incidentals, I said yes, but that there was a lot of work to be done.
Our apartment is a pre-war apartment in Montmartre. It is exactly my boyfriend’s style, though I am trying to get us to move to the much better XVIe Arrondissement. Anyway, we have what some would call a spacious apartment, but the rooms are large, and between us we have limited space for a baby's things.
All that week baby things started to arrive, which made me very anxious. First the father, Marc, came over with a crib-like thing, and then a few larger pieces of furniture which completely overwhelmed me.
On Friday she came. I had made it clear to my boyfriend that in no way was the baby to interfere with his usual tasks; making my breakfast, setting out my clothes, and doing the household chores would still be his responsibility. Sitting in bed, wondering where my breakfast was, I was dreading this. I heard Geneviève enter (presumably with little Angelique), and I stayed in bed for a while, until I called him in and said, “Breakfast.”
At this moment I was not sure how I felt about this little stranger. She was pretty cute, though, I must say. I waited until Geneviève left before I exited the bedroom to eat my breakfast. All was well until she started to cry and my head began to pound. I really did not like this idea, and I thought of scheduling some appointments to get away. To my surprise, however, my boyfriend calmed the baby down rather quickly and managed for a while to keep the toys confined to the spare room, so he could attend both to me and to the child.
It has always been a secret dream of mine to have my boyfriend completely at home, waiting on me and taking care of the house. I really feel that is where he belongs. It was not until he began putting my boots on that morning that I really felt it. I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach as I realized this would be the first day I would leave my little man at home, tending to the house, with a baby. There is something about this arrangement that filled me with so much joy, so much happiness. I looked at him, petted him, and felt, yes, this is just how it should be. When a man has a baby at home, I began to feel, he is so much less likely to get into trouble, to get distracted with trifles, or be led astray. At least when there's a man like mine.
I stroked his chin, his cheek, I looked at him lovingly, I petted him on the shoulder, and I said, “You have a good day.” He smiled a little, then turned to tend to the baby. That was the first small wrinkle. I wanted him—right then. As per our household rules, it's my right to take him when I want. So I pulled him by the beltloops, which I usually do, and began to take him, but the baby was right there, and my boyfriend protested. I rolled my eyes, and then smacked his butt to get him in the bedroom.
At work I was more feisty than usual. When some of my colleagues asked how things were, I said they were great, and to the first enquiry about my boyfriend I said, glowing, “At home with the baby.”
I returned home to a sulky boyfriend. He was going crazy, wondering where he had left his keys. Let me make it clear that my boy always knows where his keys are. It’s one of those things he just knows (the full extent of male intuition). He said he was disappointed because he wanted to take Angelique to the park and now he couldn't, nor could he go anywhere.
I took off my coat, dropped my purse and other garments, and walked into the kitchen. “Where's dinner?” I asked. At first I thought he was going to start whining and making excuses. But to my surprise, he didn't. He told me dinner was about to be put in the oven, and I thought, if this is what having a baby with him is like, maybe it's a consideration.
“Do you see how well everything works when you stay home?” I asked, and then I spotted a mess of toys in the corner. “Oh, but those have to stay in that room,” I said, and he put them away with a testy little sigh. But I didn't care. I had had a great day at work, and I was looking forward to a nice dinner. Well, it was not as nice as it usually is. It was simpler, and after I was finished I had to ask him to cook more because I was still hungry. He made me something else, but the baby started to cry, and he had to take care of that as well, and it slowed down the process quite a bit.
France is different from America in how we raise children. We do not answer them every time they cry in the night, we put them on a schedule. But my boyfriend said it was possibly because she was in an unfamiliar house that she was crying. I think he tried to wake me up to deal with the baby, but I did not budge. This is how I want my household to run. Eventually, around 3 a.m., I locked my bedroom door, so he had to sleep with the baby so I could get some rest.
The next morning was Saturday. I am accustomed to taking my boy first thing in the morning, and I realized he would be outside or in the spare room, sleeping with the baby. I sighed. I wanted my breakfast, I wanted him, sans bébé. I took off my mask, and woke him up. He made breakfast, got the baby up, and I told him to play with her. He said he really wanted to do something with her, take her somewhere.
“I have meetings until six,” I said, and by this point my day was wrinkled. I was disappointed not to have him around this morning. He began to get on my nerves, so I said he should play with her until we could go somewhere. I said if he could find his keys he could take her to a park or a museum or something. I did leave the keys this time – not to the car, of course. That car is beautiful, and I want it for myself. He reluctantly conceded, and I went to my meetings. They were all very important.
On Saturday night I worked in the living room, while he played with the baby. Whenever something happened with the baby I said, “Baby,” and he corrected her. It was a nice night, though we had a little quarrel. He had to be reminded this was his baby, essentially, and he had to take care of it.
“If you want a real baby, you should know your responsibilities,” I said, and returned to my work. “Tomorrow we can all go out together. That will cheer you up a little.”
The next morning things went smoother. The baby loves him, by the way. On Sunday after breakfast he packed up everything and we got ready to go.
We have never had this argument before. As I mentioned, I usually drive the car, a Lexus – a super sweet, sleek, black Lexus, with white leather seating, a killer stereo system (the only reason my boyfriend wanted the car) that makes up for its lackluster petrol performance. Once he got it—a birthday present from his father after he won a music composition prize in university—I saw it and fell in love. I love driving his car. It makes me feel like he has given me everything. After he put that hideous car seat inside it, ruining the entire look of the car, along with some of her stuff (I stuffed the snack deep into the bag, I do NOT have crumbs in my car), he looked at me, and, surprisingly, held out his hands for the keys.
For a moment I stared at him, dumbfounded. What was he doing? I have been driving this car more or less for the past year or so, and I said, “Well, go ahead and get in.” I walked to the driver's seat and said, “I'll unlock it for you.”
He stood there, stock still, until he got into the car. He did not like this. He sat in the passenger's side, glancing back and forth at me. Whenever the kid made too much noise, I just said, “Take care of it.”
He started to get sulky, pensive. Whenever men think, it looks as if they find it painful. Finally he said, “W-when we come home, w-would it be alright if I drive?”
I sighed. “We'll see.”
We got to Centre Pompidou, went to a few parks with lots of kids, he talked some with friends, and then finally we went home. He cooked dinner.
I still do not want a baby. I have given it a lot of thought, and I like the way things are between us. It was, however, a good experiment and good to know. Where did he learn all that stuff about babies?
In general it was an interesting weekend, I suppose. I will have to think more about it. When the parents came to fetch the baby, I felt relaxed, happy to have my boyfriend all to myself. And that concludes my adventures with the baby.