Betty Duffy

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Brawny Manly Town, and my Corresponding Husband

The men in my town are of a particular breed, one I’ve come to appreciate. They have buzzed hair, drive pick-ups, wear steal-toed boots. They play fast-pitch softball almost every night of the week, and chase their ball games with a beer in the parking lot. Their necks are sun-burned. Many of them are in town working on the Sheehan pipeline that’s slowly making its way across our county.

I pass a road sign on my way into town that reads, “100% American Crude” and I'm struck by the raw masculinity of the thought. Oil is manly, or maybe it’s the “crude” that’s manly. Where I live, manliness is associated with work, the hard manual kind: farm work, factory work, building roads, the pipeline. And I feel comforted by the brawn that seems to wrap its muscular biceps around the mini-vans and civics that beep and dart under the shadows of their big trucks.

Appreciation for this kind of manhood is a paradigm shift for me. My archetypal male, for many years, was something completely different. My cousin was in the Cincinnati rowing club in high school, and I used to look at the pictures in her photo albums and think that every boy in Ohio was tall, lean and had a swoop of hair that fell over his eye. The word, “Ohio” brought to mind a particular kind of male. As did the words, “Warren High School” which is where all the skateboarders I ever loved went to school. In college, I was always hot for teacher. If you were smarter than me and male, I was in love with you. Even if you had a handle bar moustache greased in earwax, I loved you if you could make me think about something differently.

I mention all of this as a way of noting A.) that I am boy crazy, always have been, B.) that my archetypal male has changed to correspond with the demands of my life, and C.) that God gave me just the person I needed for a husband.

My cousin loves to tell the story about the first time she met my husband. She puzzled for a bit afterwards, wondering, “Where’s his pony tail? Where’s his rock band? Doesn’t he even write bad poetry?” After spending some time with us, she came to the realization that, of course, I would marry someone a little more like my dad.

It’s tempting to cry Freud, and suggest that I have an Electra complex. But I think it’s a little more Darwin than Freud, with a dose of Cupid as well. Not to mention that if you really put my husband and my dad side by side, they’ re not all that similar. But corresponding to my desire to nestle down with children, came an appreciation for manhood that was less ephemeral and emotive, and more virtuous and muscular. It feels related to this post, in which TS charts his disengagement with pop culture, his rising interest country music, and his age. I wanted to know I would be provided for, and that my husband would have the emotional constancy necessary for long term coupling.

I married a man who did not fit into any of my teenage archetypes. It surprised me at first that I fell in love with someone who did not correspond to my preconceived notions of whom I might marry. He's a craftsman, not an academic. He's the emotionally stable baseline to my highs and lows. He doesn't require perpetual affirmation of his creative genius, nor have an artist's fickle constitution, and thank God. He is a quietly hilarious man who is comfortable in himself, in his faith, in his manhood, and in his work. And he has big guns.

After experiencing several relationships that were fraught with doubt and volatility, the peace of being with my husband is and always has felt like something divinely inspired. Even when we're fighting I feel complete confidence that he is the corresponding half of our intransmutable whole. It is confidence, not only that I chose correctly, but that in a way, God chose him for me. He is my home, and the reference point from which I address the rest of the world.


TheSeeker said...

I know what you mean. I've always gone for "nerdy" guys. Book-smarts, gamers, actors...and things always ran awry. The guy I'm dating now is a welder, barely finished high school because he had to work to help his mom. And I'm so in love with him. I hope he sticks.

Betty Duffy said...

Hee hee, My sister tells me that this post reads like making nice for my last post documenting our cross country road trip battle.

I thought it was more: "I like beefy guys, Oh, and you too, Honey."

Pentimento said...

I'm going to read this post every day, because it corresponds quite well to my own situation, though I often don't appreciate my DH as much as I should. I think I'm still at that point in our still rather new marriage at which, when things aren't going well, I think I should have stuck with the etiolated geniuses. But in my heart of hearts, I recognize that what I have now is a lot better.

Betty Duffy said...

Pentimento, I feel flattered that someone would consider something I've written worth reading more than once.

I think that the temptation to wonder what it would be like to be married to "Mister Different Communication Style" (as Pedge puts it) continues to crop up in any marriage from time to time, no matter which mister you married.

Seeker, I wish you the best with the welder!

Pedge said...

Your gift never ceases to amaze. . .I think I will steal your sentiments, print them off and give them to Dick for his birthday! Wish you were coming tonight, P

mrsdarwin said...

My cousin was in the Cincinnati rowing club in high school, and I used to look at the pictures in her photo albums and think that every boy in Ohio was tall, lean and had a swoop of hair that fell over his eye.

Ah, wouldn't my teenage years in Cincinnati have been more thrilling if I'd known more guys who looked like this?

Actually, Darwin is everything I'd hoped for in a man, which is probably why it was just about love at first sight. Believe it or not, we met at a dance -- a freshman mixer. Those things work, yo.