Monday, February 11, 2008

My Un-Sweet Husband

It really makes me cringe. I know it isn't all that huge in the grand scheme of things. I mean really, what with global warming and all (right Mr. Gore?), it just doesn't rank up there in the top list of world issues. Being aware of this, I still reserve the right to vent a bit. On behalf of husbands (and sons over ten) everywhere, I am about to do just that.

Maybe I just have a warped sense of masculinity, or perhaps I have too much free time on my hands for thinking about gnats in eyes and all things irrelevant, but it sends a creepy fingernails-on-chalkboard tingle down my spine to hear women call their husbands sweet. We've all read the blogs with something like this in the bio, or seen e-mail signature lines proclaiming it - they're everywhere:

"I am a mother of three and wife to the bestest and sweetest hubby in the whole world!"

I am almost sure, if this were real life, that her next move would be to start coochie-cooing under his chin and making lipstick marks on his cheek. Now, we have all seen this process happen with Barney Fife, and as amusing as it was to watch on The Andy Griffith Show, (and as apparently effective as it was on Old Barney), it just isn't good ladies. Barney not being the picture of masculinity, we wouldn't want to use him as an example of what to do with real-life, real-men hubbies husbands.

I recognize that this is purely opinion, but I also suspect that, in a moment that includes no fear of repercussion in the form of wifely pouting, most husbands would agree that they do not appreciate being called sweet. Praise, appreciation, encouragement and affirmation... are all good and necessary. Done properly it can truly minister to a man, and they need this type of ministry from their wives above all people. I am not arguing the principle, just the method.

Especially these days, our culture is female dominated. Everything is focused on the woman in a relationship. When the relationship is faltering the perception and, indeed, proclamation is that it is because he doesn't communicate enough, he isn't loving enough, or he isn't meeting her needs. It it enough to make me sick on behalf of husbands in this country. For just once, in at least this once instance, girls, can we care about their side? (Yikes... I was trying so hard to make this a cute post.) I'm not busting anyone's chops, I just want to encourage us to think about our words, and realize that the wrong ones can be not just ineffective, but deleterious to our man's self image.

If we desire to compliment our husbands let's do it in a way that will actually touch his heart, not make him roll his eyes. You know how your older sons behave when you tell them they are "so cute" or "such a sweet boy"? Their opinions of such "compliments" do not change as they get older, they are just more subdued in their response. A word fitly spoken that honors his masculinity (and I'm not just talking muscles here) can be balm to his soul. Especially when it comes from his wife.

So, please compliment your husband. Respect him! Encourage him! Admire him! But whatever you do... please don't call him sweet.
Proverbs 25:11 "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."


  1. I think you just may have a warped sense of masculinity. :) You are talking thinking about what society calls masculinity. Much different that the biblical view of masculinity. I have no problem being called sweet! :)

  2. I call my husband 'darling', like in Lady and the Tramp, because they both seemed to love their God-given roles and did not feel the need to compromise on that. For some it might conjure up images of a pansy man, but for us it is part of our inside language and shared experiences. They had what we want to have (albeit a cartoon!)

  3. I forgot to mention that the inside 'joke' or meaning of the name for us was a misunderstanding that his name was Jim Dear Darling! People are probably shaking their heads thinking I have flipped my lid!

  4. Hey, I fully agree with you! If you've got metro-sexuals over there, imagine how many we have over here on the west coast! YIKES!!

    Shalom really hates it when I call him sweet or cute. But we also don't have nick names for each other. I'm Mom, he's Dad. I'm Lisa, he's Wes. We both think nicknames sometimes get a little weird. Then again we're both fully willing to admit that it could be US that are weird instead of everyone else.

    I was thinking of Valentines Day as I was reading your post. If memory serves me correctly, isn't the whole day centered on the women?

  5. But, he IS sweet. What's more sweet than a big manly man cuddling a baby, or rocking a child, or being tender to his precious children? The contrast between his masculinity and strength, and a tiny, helpless child makes him all the more sweet. When he could crush you with his strength but holds it in check to be tender, then that's sweet.

    I did go ask DH if it made him feel less manly to be called sweet in front of people and he thought I was crazy. :-)

    I do stop at the coochie coochie coo under the chin, though, at least in public. :-)

  6. I think this is a very good point, and I agree with it totally. I'm somewhat grossed out by the baby-like things with the men as well.

  7. Oh Beth! You're so much FUN!

    Yeah, Lisa. It's a dangerous time to be a man. If you don't do enough for V day, you'll get reamed by the media, chastised by friends (especially *her* friends) and in our town... the day after, there is always a huge radio contest for women who call in to see who can win the prize for lamest attempt at V day by your significant other. Yet one word from men about how they aren't respected enough, and they are instantly branded chauvinists. Sigh.

    Robyn, that was beautiful, and you are exactly right. It is sweet. I just (for whatever reasons) guess I have an issue with that word.

  8. I asked DH last night what he thought about the "sweet" thing. He said that while he wouldn't mind if I called him "sweet", he'd prefer something else. He also said, "That is basically bedroom talk". He said that he feels nicknames, cutesy titles and such are for private times and that our society has gotten way too far away from honoring those private things. If I called him "cute" to others in front of people, he'd probably not give it a second thought (well, he might since that would be rather out of character for us) but he would rather be described in another way. Babies are cute, puppies are cute.

    Man - I'm finding that word sounding rather funny now that I've said it so often. LOL

  9. Sigh... I'm here late again! But I'd like to confirm that my definition of 'sweet' is perhaps not the same as you are thinking.
    When I say someone is sweet, what I actually mean is that they are thoughtful and give more than is required or expected to those around them. I enjoyed this post because I never realized that anyone perceived the word differently than me. :-) This is helpful info.

  10. how come you don't have an issue with calling me "man" all the time??

  11. Well, I do describe my dh as "darling" but I would have to agree that he is not "sweet". In fact, although he is very good to me, even his siblings have asked me how I can stand that he never remembers things that would matter to most women. Things like...birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's day, that particular December holiday that we used to celebrate, etc. The fact is, it matters to them and they can't understand why it doesn't matter to me. :-)
    I have always said that if he were "sweet", I wouldn't have married him! I dated (horror that it was) and several guys I dated would have fit in the "sweet" category and it drove me crazy. My own dad was a very manly man and I knew that's the type of man I wanted to marry too.
    Society definitely has a warped sense of masculinity-and with women wanting to be men and men wanting to be women, I do think how we describe our husbands should definitely lean towards the masculine adjectives. Out of curiosity, I looked up some synonyms of sweet--- charming, engaging, and thoughtful were all given-I definitely think they would be better adjectives to use than "sweet".
    Just my 2 cents,

  12. Ape... You nut! You're supposed to ask me questions I have a shot at actually being able to answer.

    I dunno, other than old habits die hard. If you knew me in the old days (BC) you'd be grateful that all I say is "Man". I suspect you could say the same, eh?

  13. Julie, I think I know what you mean. It doesn't bother me when others call their husbands sweet, but I don't think I generally describe my husband that way. I guess because I think "sweetness" is sometimes made out by women to be the most important trait a male can have... sort of like being romantic or cute. I think those traits are sometimes over-rated and sometimes damaging. You may have been greatly blessed to have a man who is capable of not being sweet –capable of saying things that disappoint, sticking with the truth, seeing things that aren’t so rosey, leading his wife and family in the hard directions that they may be less than enthusiastic about… You may have been blessed with a man with many excellent virtues and abilities and never recognize them if all you are looking for is “sweet”. Know what I mean? Of course that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with sweet (or kind or gentle or thoughtful!!!)


  14. I don't think that "sweet" is a feminine word. If I say that my husband is sweet, I mean that I enjoy him and delight in him.

    Psalm 19 refers to God's commandments as sweeter than honey.

    I don't think one should quit using the word "sweet" out of reaction to people who get sappy with the word. :)


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