I see it all the time from women old and young; advice for women on how to keep a man so he won’t stray. Most often this advice is along the lines of “make sure you’re sleeping with your man eight times a day so he’s satisfied when he leaves the house” or “make sure you keep your six-pack abs so he won’t look at anybody else’s.” At the end of the day though, I believe the constant emphasis on telling women how to keep a man is where many of our relationships are going awry. Here are five reasons why:
It creates insecurity among women The fact of the matter is, unless I grow up to be Ernestine Shepherd, I’m not going to be able to compete with a 21-year-old when I’m 70. I can do everything in the world to keep my husband happy in the bedroom, but there are still trained professionals out there that might be able to do it better. There is always going to be somebody younger or prettier or with more stripper skills, and trying to see how I measure up against every woman that walks by is a losing battle I’m not willing to fight. I promised to give my husband the best of ME, not to live in constant competition with the girl down the street.
It implies that a man is a thing that can be kept This logic further perpetuates the myth that men are mindless, vision-less creatures whose decision making skills lie solely in the capable hands of a woman. A man is not a dog or cat who you can decide to lock inside the fence and keep indoors. A man, a real man, is capable of making his own decisions and judgments that are not always simple reactions to whatever it is that his wife is doing.
It creates a false sense of failure and accomplishment The fact of the matter is, man at home does not a good marriage make. Just because a husband hasn’t left for another woman, or simply taken off running and screaming into the night doesn’t mean that the situation at home is positive. Similarly, if the relationship doesn’t work, it doesn’t always lie in the failure of the woman to “keep” her man. Again, in a marriage we are dealing with people; living, breathing human beings who can have the right circumstances, and still do all the wrong things.
It always focuses on the physical Every time I hear advice about keeping a man it’s along the lines of “learn how to cook well and do bedroom gymnastics and your man won’t stray.” If those are the only things keeping your man around, *Newsflash* every woman can have s*x, and a large number know how to cook a meal. Hopefully your husband didn’t marry you for good s*x and barbecue chicken, but instead because there is a unique partnership that the two of you share that he wouldn’t be able to find with just anybody else.
It teaches women not to advocate for their own needs Women initiate 70% of divorces, and far more separations than men, often leaving their partners bewildered as to why their wife has decided to suddenly walk out the door. I think this in large part has to do with the “keep a man” logic. Unlike in eras past, many women no longer need to keep a man for their financial well-being. Putting all of the emphasis on the woman to maintain the relationship and “keep” the man will eventually throw a marriage off balance. After however many years of doing everything to keep him, without him doing anything to keep her, it is not surprising that some wives are eventually asking “what in the world am I “keeping” him for?”
None of this is to exempt wives from doing the things that make their spouses happy, or saying that meeting your husband’s needs is unimportant. But instead of approaching marriage from a perspective of control, where one spouse is capable of keeping the other, why not approach it as a partnership where we both aim to be the best partners to be because that’s what we promised to do?