A PRO-TIP FOR MY FELLOW ‘FALLEN’ HUSBANDS
“Sure, whatever you say dear
Everybody knows the story of the Fall of Man. Eve was tempted by that shiny apple and all of the divine knowledge that it represented and then she went and convinced her unwitting husband to be originally sinful with her. This is one of those powerful myths that is embedded in the psyche of much of the Western world. It is a powerful myth but the interpretation that I opened with here makes me yawn. Myths like these are not supposed to comfort or reassure us. The interpreters of this story (mostly men) have retold it for centuries in a way that gives them comfort and allows them to point blame. But myths like these are supposed to put us off balance and they’re supposed to make us cringe because the purpose is to cause us introspection which is rarely comforting. So let’s have another look at this myth and let me see if I can help illicit the desired (or undesired) response.
A Word About Patriarchy
I have a borderline obsession with myth and symbolism and if Symbology were actually a subject, as the DaVinci Code’s Robert Langdon lead us to believe, then I might have majored in that. But alas, I went on to study counseling so you are now reading about how myth and symbolism impact your relationship. And when I study the myths that have shaped our society I see a lot of men having to leave to pursue things (golden fleece, knighthood, etc.) so that they may eventually return to find true love. I also see love portrayed as something that is always beyond the reach of the starry eyed lover. Always divine or ethereal or unattainable by us mere mortals.
So what is the problem with all of this so-called patriarchy? The problem is that it has been ruining relationships for thousands of years. And any time I see love portrayed as something that must remain shrouded in mystery I want to smack myself in the face with a copy of Homer’s Odyssey (Extended Annotated Ed.). Not because I dislike these stories — they are enthralling yarns filled with intrigue and all of the elements of timeless storytelling — but because they have led us astray.
Patriarchy Kills Intimacy
If you know much about me then you probably know that I define love as an action first and a feeling second. And while this is not nearly as romantic as believing that love can only be delivered at the tip of Cupid’s arrow or by dispatching a tyrannical dragon, it is also far more attainable.
Patriarchy kills intimacy because anything that tells us that love must be found elsewhere and not in the present moment has the potential to drive us apart.
What is the Sin of Adam?
So enough with the patriarchy lecture, what is the sin of Adam! Okay, okay. So that brings me to my point. Remember what I said about the power of myth? I believe that myth can bring us comfort but more often when we find comfort in a myth we are not learning from it. Or in other words, if you’re not confused then you’re not learning.
We have it beaten into our heads what Eve did wrong here, but what about Adam? It’s my opinion that the sin of Adam is indifference. When Eve offered him the apple he simply took it and ate it. If you don’t believe me just check this out:
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.”
There was this epic ongoing debate between Eve and the serpent and then it says that Adam was with her. So what exactly was he doing this whole time?! My guess is that he was sitting on a tree stump looking stupidly into the distance like those husbands you see outside of Dillard’s waiting for their wives to finish clothes shopping for their children. God forbid they take some initiative in the clothing of their child or at the very least walk around the store with them and offer their occasional feedback.
Adam was indifferent and he even uses this as his defense later on when confronted by saying, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”
You see what happened? Adam just did what he was told by his wife and when it came time to face the consequences he couldn’t be held responsible because he was merely following orders. There was no input or debate or opinion. Eve was engaged (misguided but engaged) and Adam was checked out.
But I Gave Her My Rib!
If we want intimacy in our relationships we have to move beyond the transactional model of old. It is not enough to merely bring home the bacon or, in Adam’s case, give up a rib. We all need something more in our relationships, we need friendship and we need passion. What we definitely cannot have is indifference. I’m certainly not saying that we have to be involved at the granular level in every aspect of our partner’s lives but when it comes to the important things, like the thing that could get you kicked out of paradise forever, we need to learn to work as a team.
How to Work as a Team this Holiday
Every year I offer this advice to husbands: If your wife seems stressed out around Christmas it’s because she is single-handedly running Santa’s workshop. She basically is Santa. So how can you work as a team this holiday? You can start with your strengths. One of my strengths is making sure important things are added to our calendar. So one of the ways I can contribute is by making sure all the upcoming holiday events are scheduled out: extra choir practice, violin recital, John Aielli’s Christmas Sing-Along, etc. While we will probably miss the Sing-Along again this year, this schedule has helped out immensely so far this season and not only because it keeps us on track but because it makes me feel more like I am a part of everything.
I dedicated this post to husbands because, let’s face it, we are the ones who are guilty of this type of behavior most often — I know I am. But we are all guilty of the ‘sin of indifference’ and remember, the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.
So husbands stop right now and practice something that a high-level event planner taught me. Consider that you have 19 days until Christmas and think about all of the things that will happen on that special day. Now make a list of 5 things that must happen between now and then for Christmas day to be a success. Maybe you don’t have your tree yet or there is a present request that will require some extensive online research. After you have finished your list go through your calendar and plug these tasks in wherever they make sense. Then go and share this plan with your wife. Now the two of you work together as a team to make this your best Christmas yet.
Yours with conviction,