Why are husbands generally so unromantic?
He comes from the office, and has not brought flowers or any small gift for her. She smiles quite genuinely and gets a half-hearted and fake smile in return. Once he is settled, instead of spending time with his wife, he sits in front of the TV and starts switching channels. He seems so engrossed in the TV that his wife has to call him several times to even evoke a mundane response like “hmmm”.
After managing to evoke a response, she tries to stir up a conversation and fails. She asks a question she has asked a million times before:
“Do you love me?”
The answer is a bland and needless to say hardly convincing,
She smiles, knowing that the answer is nothing but a rehearsed automated response.
The above behaviour strikes a chord with many wives around the world as this is how men generally behave. Wives commonly complain, and with justification, that even if their spouses are otherwise responsible, they take them for granted and do not show any desired romantic interest in them. They are hardly expressive and prefer the company of their friends or sit in front of the TV sets rather than being intimate with their wives.
I have asked several of my friends and their wives, and generally with minor differences, the story is the same. While some of the wives do acknowledge that their husbands are nice and are otherwise responsible, the emotional and romantic attention is often lacking. Some of them complained, and that too in front of their husbands, that their spouses are often ogling at other women in their presence!
Let me frankly acknowledge that the wives are correct to blame husbands here.
But what are the causes for this male behaviour? Why do husbands, including myself, behave like this? And let’s not forget that this behaviour is common across cultures.
I will not try to justify my own behaviour or for that matter the general male behaviour towards their spouses. I will merely try to introspect on why we are like that. Explaining reasons is not a justification.
It has to be understood that men and women, though equal, are different in many critical aspects. I am not trying to stereotype here or over-generalise, but the fact is that due to environmental factors (or the way we are brought up by the society) and evolution, men and women have developed different mating and sexual patterns. Men are generally much more prone to pursue multiple women. In fact, across most of the animal kingdom, males are like that. On the other hand, females are generally more selective.
This explains as to why even the male fantasy is seldom about one single woman but rather multiple women. The typical male hero (or a stud) is a guy who is a player. Male cinematic role models like James Bond are also not committed men but Casanovas. On the other hand, female fantasy mostly revolves around one person.
On the other hand, marriage by its very nature demands commitment. And there is a reason for that. Marriage is an outcome of collective realisation of the society that human offspring would need the father for a prolonged period of time. Thus primarily, marriage has arisen to ensure the security and proper upbringing of the young. In order to ensure that the male shows some responsibility on a consistent basis, marriage has to assume the form of a proper legal contract.
What I am trying to say is that marriage, despite being an extremely important institution, is not exactly in tune with the nature of men and consequently, tensions are bound to occur. Here I am not referring to tensions arising from the couple’s personal incompatibilities or due to society’s pressures, but on the tensions which arise due to pressures emanating from the very nature of marriage itself.
And in modern times, marriage in most of the cultures is devoid of polygamy. It is expected that men will stay faithful to one wife. Therefore for men, marriage is literally a lid, albeit temporary, on their natural tendency of polygamy.
Consequently, the majority of us, though initially excited when getting married, rapidly lose interest and continuously starts dreaming about other women. This is a fact which we husbands do not admit in front of our wives. We are thinking about other women, even in apparently intimate times, and are perfectly capable of harbouring sexual and romantic desires for other women while being in love with our wives.
Then what do we mean when we insist that we love our wives? Actually, we continue to love our spouses but the only thing is, its manifestation becomes different. Gradually, a wife becomes a person we care and provide for rather than the one we consistently and passionately desire romantically and sexually. The love for the spouse continues to exist but is expressed more through care and support rather than romance.
This also explains as to why we are far more prone to infidelity. The bolder and more lascivious amongst us go one step ahead and start pursuing extra marital affairs while still providing and caring for their wives.
In our daily lives, we continue to witness that despite apparently a happy marriage, a husband is found to be having an affair. In fact, compared to women, the percentage of men cheating, despite an apparently normal marriage, is far greater, thus lending credibility to the famous saying,
“For an extramarital affair a woman needs a reason and a man just a woman!”
On the other hand, women being biologically more selective about their mate have a settling down attitude once the mate has been selected in the form of a husband. Marriage in many ways signals real finality for her. Most of the women really try to make marriage work in every sense of the way.
There is thus a huge difference between men and women and in their attitudes, which in turn have been shaped by their respective evolutionary development, specific roles and expectations. These differences come alive with full pronunciation in marriage which actually amplifies them.
Due to this difference in outlooks and nature, it actually requires a greater effort from men. They have to constantly program themselves and be more attentive towards their wives. But unfortunately, majority of us do not even try. In fact, it is the wives who are often making the effort. The complaints of women are perfectly justified.
Men have to invest more in marriage rather than simply going by their natural instincts. Only by investing more and giving their spouses the deserved attention and respect, can a marriage actually work.
This post originally appeared here.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.