Well it depends what you’re looking for in a husband!
I have to confess, a husband is something I have at many times in my life assumed I’ll never have, and (see blog title!) I certainly don’t have one at the moment. So, maybe I’m not the best person to ‘answer’ this question.
But I can tell you that what I’ve desired in a husband has changed over the years. Whether or not I’ve desired a husband at all has changed with it!
At first, I did not want a husband, but this was because I was a small person, and the idea of growing up into the ancient age and responsibilities of my parents seemed ridiculous and alien to me!
Also, I found adults confusing, adult males no less than adult females, so I thought, well, I don’t want to deal with that! (Yet another reason to grieve the practise of child-brides…)
It’s hard to figure out when I first would have considered husbands as a special breed, a category of humanity, a job taken only by some.
Your idiot man? As Paul so charmingly calls men in 1 Corinthians 14:35 (if you needed more evidence for why quoting the Greek is usually useless)?
A dad? Or is that subsidiary to the task of husbanding, even though etymologically we’re in the same territory (husbandry and the getting of children I mean)?
Those men around the barbecue?
None of my childhood compatriots had husbands, so we certainly didn’t swap stories over the monkey bars about what our husbands were up to, or how they currently annoyed us…
Husbands belonged only to the rich, complex and alienating world of the adult.
Some women clearly chose to live with boys. And that was (is) weird.
Well, that was it for me at least.
My mother suggested that maybe I liked or could or should like a really really really old guy (4 years older than me. FOUR WHOLE YEARS!!) and I was COMPLETELY grossed/freaked out and slammed a massive gate quickly shut, like, I’m talking triple barred, draw up the bridge, lock out the bats, slide that lock across now! At the idea of ever having to actually be touched by or spoken to by a boy like I belong to him or something and have to like him back or whatever. Eew! Slash, eek!! I don’t want to do that!!!
The door remained closed for…. 3 days… Ish…
In some ways it still remains closed. The idea of being totally invaded and possessed by another person, of willingly surrendering to that, is TORTURE to me! They yet to own you like you own yourself?! And frankly, men still seem a somewhat alien species and to have to hang out with one permanently seems stressful.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve been more and more beguiled by the sweet blessings of such an intimacy…
Aaaaaaaanyway, needless to say, when husbands first burst upon me, the idea was so violating that you bet if I had had to choose someone to marry right then and there, I would have chosen the most gentle, simple, straight forward and unexciting boy I could find, mostly so he wouldn’t demand much, and I could therefore boss him around a little and he could spend plenty of time outdoors in the garden while I read in the library. Yes!! I admit it!! Without knowing it at that point, I wanted the Charlotte Lucas version of marriage before I even knew what that was!!
A boring husband would be great because he wouldn’t be threatening in any way, and wouldn’t necessarily need to touch or speak to me all that much, and I could continue on with my life barely interrupted, right?
As a child, the idea of a boring husband had a lot of appeal.
And then, puppy love. Hello ages 13 to, well, 25 if you’re lucky! The phase it’s hard to move on from, unless you marry your crush and it ends abruptly and painfully by being married to your crush…
Suddenly, the idea of a husband became more attractive. Ooh, you mean I get a hunk of man-trophy? And an outlet for all these hormones? Bring it on!
So of course it needs to be someone sexy and dangerous, cos that will tell the world that I’m fascinating, sexy and carefree. For some reason the three things every teenage girl wants to be (for 4-12 years, coincidentally also the gaol term most of the guys teenage girls are attracted to are looking at for drug or alcohol related crimes and misdemeanours).
If my worth and esteem as a female will be measured by my ability to trap and mesmerise a virile, dangerous male, then, I better get out there looking, and those nerdy, geeky, boring, good boys can just go wait on the benches a while. I want me some New Romantic/Skar boy/Leo DiCaprio/Bieber cake (tried to reference a wide range of decades to be inclusive of all readers… Did it work? I’m not really sure what New Romantics are though… Something to do with Byron + hair gel?)!
This is the phase when girls date untrustworthy idiots and boys date vacuous hot girls. Or when girls try to date Romeo and boys, Juliet, and their love is unlike any love witnessed by the earth before because they just totally are like absorbed by one another, but not in a selfish way, no way! Their love is pure, and everyone and everything should bow down to it.
Some friends and acquaintances did not survive this phase.
Some married what in Year Nine was their ideal, and have found it a rough ride. I don’t mean the Christians-who-marry-young thing. I mean those who marry, even in their 30s, the childish dreams of their adolescence.
Some spent years devoted to relationships that really needed to die quietly so everyone could move on.
Some ruined good relationships that had fallen in their lap by feeling unable to resist the pure of that exciting, dangerous/vulnerable, sexy boy over there who they’re not with.
Phase two seems to be characterised by desiring all the wrong things…
But finally, at last, possibly with a few scars and on a stage littered with the bodies of relationships and crushes past, you begin to move on to the next stage of emotional development, and look for actual connection and intimacy in relationships. Friendships, romantic relationships, whatever. The strange beast ‘husband’, applicable to me at least, began to be an object of research, questioning and examination.
“So you say child rearing is hard do you? So useful qualities in a husband for you include; ability to know or be prepared to learn how to fasten a nappy, clean up vomit, walk around the living room ceaselessly at 3am? Innnnnnnnnteresting….!”
“So, let me get this straight. The thing you appreciate most about your husband is his consistency?! That he makes you a cup of tea every day? And balances the budget every month? And gives you a hug every time you cry even though he doesn’t know why you’re crying almost all of the time?”
Very very interesting…
THIS is the stage at which women are most likely to form the opinion that boring men make the best husbands. The more we learn of what marriage actually involves, the more we understand what a husband is for and what makes a good one.
It’s a specific and unique task. It’s unique to hetero marriage, in the sense that being a husband to a wife is a different task to being a husband to a husband or a wife to a wife. I assume that in practise, the other two are quite different kettles of fish!
But when a woman starts seriously pondering the idea of sharing her life forever with one man, you’ll notice things from stage one and stage two pop up in their final mature form.
I used to feel my vulnerability even more closely to the surface than it is now. An awareness of my fragility, both as a person and as a female in this world. The idea of a gentle guy was extremely appealing at that point, even though in phase two I would have seen the gentle guy as ‘boring’. Now, even though I’ve grown out of the unique vulnerability of childhood, gentleness is still an attractive, ‘boring man’ quality.
Yes I understand and feel more my ability and scope to stand whole and firm, in Christ, not at the mercy or whim of the race of men. But also, if anything, my fragility, the fragility of us all, has become more known to me. More prominent. Gentleness is attractive.
As is ‘companionship’ – another word comfortably applied to the ‘boring man’, but not the dangerous, unpredictable Teen Hero. I once said to a group of people, “you should marry someone you’d feel comfortable going to funerals with”. Partly because I had experienced a few devastating deaths at that time, and thus, had been at funerals. I had been aware that in all the times I have felt the creeping, sinking, overwhelming sense of loneliness most familiar to me, and longed for a warm hand, arm, shoulder to be there for me; staring into the grave of a loved one is the time where it is absolutely most needed to draw me back from the brink of oblivion. I also said it because in the every changing, ever same-ing throes and slings and arrows and stuff of life, funerals are more common than your wedding day.
Apparently my statement was a bit gloomy…
But I stand by it to this day. There are plenty of people I love going to galleries with, love watching movies with, love grabbing a coffee with. But there are few people I want to be with me in mourning in that horrible moment when you suddenly realise how deep a grave actually is, and it’s gotta be someone who won’t mind my snot on their shirt, my yelling ringing in their ears as I rail at the universe before/during/afterwards and the strange task of blending logistics and finger-food organising with grief and strained familial relations.
That’s when the boring man comes in. That’s when he shines.
Sure, he’s not a Parisian artiste, or a bad boy with a motorcycle (and a childish inability to relate to grown women – hello-o! You’re not seven any more!!), or a gay best friend, or a male model, or a doctor on a horse (never really understood that one…).. He’s an accountant, or an obstetrician, or a book keeper (sorry, I have actual examples of good ‘boring’ husbands I know of in mind as I compose this list, so variety was not the strong point), or a teacher, or an assistant minster, or a pianist. He’s not the best or the worst looking guy you’ve ever seen. You would describe him as average, and even some of his friends might have difficulty helping a police artist draw his face.
But you can fart in bed next to him. You can argue about who was supposed to buy milk on the way home from work with him. You can be vulnerable with him (although you may have to teach him first – too many men are taught not to express that they feel things), you can be multi-dimensional to him (he’s not been expecting a super mum/super model/stepford wife-bot, which is good, cos they’re a lie), you can rely on him, you can have fun with him, you can introduce him to your mum and you can enjoy the challenge of being the second greatest thing ever to happen to him.
‘Boring’ men are more suited to the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly task of husband-ing. So I’d like one! I’d probably sign on for one now (if they asked nicely and put in a fair bit of work convincing me to abandon my splendid (yet oft complained about) (yet oft enjoyed) isolation for them).
However, I fear that some of my family, friends and fans may balk at the idea of a boring man being suitable for me. That in union with boring I would become bored.
It is true that any list, even if it’s a good list, with ‘boring’ at the top, does not equal perfect husband, great relationship. Unlike Charlotte Lucas, surely it would be best to choose a man who is not only suitable but also that you want to spend time with? Cos he’s gonna be around. For a while.
But in considering the boring man, it is important not to forget two vital truths.
1. Greatness can be extrapolated from the minuscule. Scripture calls on us to study the ant; small, repetitive, short-lived creatures that they are, and from them, to learn the engines of human society, how to structure and entire civilisation. Only stupid minds are bored by little, seemingly boring things. The ant-hill contains the universe, and can unfold deep secrets to the patient eye. So can the ‘boring’ man.
2. Monotony is the marrow of existence. Ponder your breathing and consider how repetitive, simple and monotonous it is. Then get bored of it and stop for a while.
Let’s see boring men and women everywhere stand up and be counted!! Let us see them recognised as the image of their repetitive, monotonous creator, who habitually gives of Himself for the good of the other.
Let the romantic poster boys of our cultural childhood change to the mature, ‘boring’, real life men of the reality we have woken to.
Let the Ryan Goslings turn into the beautiful swan that is The Boring Man!