Men and the doily dividend |

Men and the doily dividend

Alex Miller

It’s April, and our Christmas wreath still hangs from our front door. This may seem odd to most, but in our family, we recognize that we have in our midst a certified Christmas nut in the form of my wife. She’s a Yulemaniac, a Noelaholic and an unapologetic one at that. She thinks it’s the greatest season, the most fun time of year, and she sees no reason not to start early and run late with the trimmings.If it were up to her, the tree would still be up, Christmas music would be blaring from outside speakers with an animatronic manger scene at work in the front yard.I mention this because, in a family, where a healthy relationship between mom and dad is critical to success, men need to recognize the doily dividend. This is the realization often a long time coming that women and men have different quirks and needs, and that identifying and accepting them is imperative. For men, this means accepting things like the presence of doilies, Christmas wreaths in April and other things we simply don’t understand like potpourri or those plug-in scent things that are like having a car air freshener duct-taped to your face.In the High Country, it may not be doilies but your wife’s need to have her ski boots next to the bed (because she likes them warm) or the kayak hanging from pulleys in the living room (someone could steal it were it left outside). The point is, men, that there are things in every marriage that will land in the doily realm, and if you want to remain happily married, you’d better learn to live with them. Wayne Levine, a friend of mine, who runs a men’s center in California, actually wrote a book about this. There are other lessons in it as well, but the gist of it is that men in successful marriages will find their “terms” and stick to them. In other words, find what’s important to you and make it clear to your wife what those things are. Don’t go to war over your wife’s need to have ballerina figurines on the mantle what’s it really matter? What’s more important to you as an individual are things like your Saturday mornings skiing with the boys, or your presence in church or temple … or whatever it is that makes you feel complete.Wayne calls them “N.U.T.s,” which stands for “non-negotiable, unalterable terms,” and he argues that men need to find and hang onto them if they want to be better men and husbands. Compromise on those things and men find themselves fighting pitched battles over who makes the bed, who washed the dog last or why the Christmas wreath is still hanging on the door. Is that really how we want to spend our time?My own father understood the doily dividend quite well. He might grumble, but he was as adept at hanging curtains and putting up shelves for my mom as he was at swapping the clutch in the car. Like most husbands of the previous generation, Dad mostly ceded the interior of the house to Mom and made the garage his domain. He shrugged at the bunches of dried flowers, ceramic statuary and other essentially useless items with the recognition that they were important to Mom – and there wasn’t anything he could do about it anyway.Where men get hung up on the doily dividend is when they expect fair trade in return. It doesn’t always work that way. What’s more important than the scales of justice being balanced in our mind is that we husbands make the effort without expecting something immediately in return. Women have much more advanced tracking systems than we men do, and believe me, your doily dividend will be realized soon enough.So take your time, shrug lovingly at the wreaths, kayaks and centerpieces and know that your ambivalence is for the greater good of your marriage.For more information on “N.U.T.s” and Wayne Levine’s upcoming book, check out Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or Daily, Vail, Colorado

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