In this week’s guest post, Hugo Schwyzer responds to Lisa Hickey’s article, “Are Husbands Really Assholes,” where he muses on the idea of what constitutes a “good” husband and what responsibilities men must shoulder in efforts to fulfill the role of a partner in a relationship.
Most men, as far as I can tell, do want to be good husbands. And most of them really don’t know what that entails. But that inability to figure out how to be the good husbands we dream of being is not our wives’ problem to solve. The source of our frustrated inability to connect with our spouses and long-term girlfriends isn’t their elevated expectations or some innate male biological trait that serves as an impediment to self-awareness. The problem is that most men are raised with what is often called the “Guy Code.”
The Guy Code, which boys learn from their male peers and older men, prizes action rather than words. It teaches boys, as the sociologists Deborah David and Robert Brannon pointed out decades ago, to be highly competitive “sturdy oaks” with little vocabulary for anything other than ambition or anger. The Guy Code teaches men how to pursue women, how to court, and how to charm; it teaches us nothing about how to be in an actual relationship with a woman once we’ve succeeded in catching her. (If you’re getting an image of a dog who looks bewildered and helpless when he’s finally managed to catch the cat he’s been chasing, you’re not far off the mark.)