Lessons from a Househusband

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Blog, Featured | 2 comments

Lessons from a Househusband

We raised our two sons in a beautiful, turn-of-the-century town in New Jersey. I was traveling for work a lot in those days—mostly short trips—but out of town practically every week. Farn managed most of the day-to-day care of the boys and relied on a network of friends for help and support. One close friend was a househusband. He and his wife had two young sons about the same age as our sons and because she made more money than he did in her profession, he quit his job and took care of the house and kids.

One of the things that happened right away is that this friend got very close to the women in the community. He used to sit on his front steps when his kids were walking home from school or outside playing, talking to women friends who were in the same phase of life. I remember him once leaving home to visit his parents and having to write down instructions for his wife on the kids’ activities, suggestions for dinner, play-date invitations, and how to use the washing machine.

All of this sounds so simple and logical, and yet the dynamics that this role reversal created were startling. What happened is that men in the community began to feel threatened— myself included, although I considered him a good friend. It was so uncommon for our wives to become close to another man and many of us struggled to grasp the fact that this was totally platonic.

Nowadays these types of relationships between men and women seem very natural to me. Some of this is age related. It’s nice to be in my late 60s and have friendships with women without feeling that I’m overstepping boundaries. I love it when I send out an email to a couple and the woman feels comfortable being the one to respond. It’s easier developing close friendships this way.

Farn and I have lost touch with this friend over the years, but I would love to track him down and thank him for breaking down some barriers. It wasn’t easy creating friendships with the opposite sex in those early years—there was too much sensitivity and fragility. And yet he made it work and was a role model for all of us men in the community.

2 Comments

  1. John, I resonated with what you wrote here. I was always surrounded by boys and men until I became a mother at age 40. Then, as a stay at home mom, the men disappeared from my life and I missed them terribly. And when I did come across a Dad at the park I needed to be careful not to be perceived as flirtatious or too interested. I think it is great if some of these stereotypes and concerns are being broken down. With maturity and clear communication it is entirely possible to have friendships with the opposite sex.

  2. Very interesting. However, I have seen male/female friends start out as purely platonic and then become romantic and threatening as more and more is shared, especially when the woman’s husband does not spend sufficient time with her, romancing her, and communicating intimately.

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