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Ask The Good Enough Guy: Shower Power

 

Hey Will,

I’m hoping you can help me. My husband and I just completed a major (read: costly) renovation in which we added bathrooms to our kids’ rooms. But my 12-year-old son still likes to shower in our room. So after my husband leaves for work I let him, as it’s easier for me to ride herd on him  on school days. But it sends my husband into orbit! I don’t get it, what’s the big deal?

Baffled in the ‘burbs

Dear Baffled,

The best part about this gig is that I get to give the guy’s honest answer and I won’t end up sleeping on the couch. So here goes, your husband is right and you’re wrong, twice. (Man, I love writing this stuff!)

The first reason may not be your fault. It’s a man thing that most women either don’t know or don’t take seriously enough. Heck, I’d even go as far as to say it can be blamed for a lot of arguments, break-ups, unhappy marriages, and unhappy men in general.

*MAN FACT* — We are VERY territorial creatures.

Sometimes, when women become wives, they assume that husbands have changed and/or “out-grown” this behavior. That is absolutely false. We NEVER stop being territorial. It’s why we have OUR chair. It’s why we go to OUR bar and drink OUR beer. But when we meet OUR wives and have OUR children, something happens.

It usually goes like this; a husband and wife buy a home together. It is supposed to be THEIR home. But from the first day, the wife (unintentionally?) begins to decorate the husband out of each room. The kitchen and dinning room were never his; he knew that going in. The bedroom soon becomes her escape room, painted in soft colors, the bed covered in flowery comforters and throw pillows, the scent of potpourri wafting through the air. “But he said he loved how I decorated the bedroom.” Of course he said that, he’s no fool. Soon the kids have their rooms, decorated for them, and eventually by them. The family room is just that, a room for the entire family. The office, the living room, the game room, no velvet ropes, all access.

So where’s Dad’s room? Early on, he was promised the den, which became the family room. He was then told the basement could be his “man cave” but it’s now filled with summer clothes, artificial Christmas trees, and that Bow-Flex that she swore she’d use. Now dad just spends a lot of time in the garage, which, let’s face it, is actually the car’s bedroom.  What happens to a territorial creature when you take away all of his territory? He begins to take every opportunity to steal it back, a little piece at a time. My wife and I have been together for a long time, and I’ve been decorated out of an apartment and two single-family homes …so far. So now, if she says, “This is your half of the closet”, I guard it like it’s the Arc of the Covenant. If she says, “The back half of the basement can be just yours”, I’ll fight that Bow-Flex in a steel cage match before I let it sneak onto MY HALF. And if she says, “This bathroom is just ours now,” and I catch a child scrubbing his dirty little butt in my shower it will send me into orbit too!

Which brings us to your second wrong and this actually IS your fault because I’m pretty sure you knew this one. You and your husband agreed that the children needed their own bathroom. You and your husband agreed on the cost of the “major renovation” and you and your husband agreed that once it was done, the children would have their own bathroom and you two would have yours. I bet your husband has even told the children more than once, “This is just OUR bathroom now, so stay out of it!”

But you folded. It’s not that the boy took a shower, who cares? But the fact that you let him take that shower after your husband said no makes his word (read: him) not matter. As husbands, dads, and men, we don’t rule the house with an iron fist like our dads tried to, but when we do say no to something, we want that no to be respected. We expect our wives to back us up, just as you expect to be backed up on the things that you think are important and we think are silly (and trust me; there are a LOT of those). It may seem like no big deal to you, but we still like to feel like the man of the house, and whether we complain about it or not, it is a big deal to us.

Pretty simple fix: tell your son that his father’s word still stands in the house whether he’s home or not and mean it when you say it. Telling him within earshot of his father will earn you extra points and help mend dad’s slightly bruised ego. Remember, your son will be a man soon and seeing his father’s word and personal space respected will help him to be a stronger one. By the way, if you really want your son to be strong, I know where you can buy him a barely-used Bow-Flex.

William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few, spare moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing.

13 Comments

  1. Rich

    February 6, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I love this answer – it’s so spot on! I hope the person who sent the question is reading 🙂

  2. Rene Syler

    February 6, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Yes, I HOPE SO TOO! *eye roll*

  3. David C Freeman

    February 6, 2011 at 10:47 am

    The one thing I agree with here is that the wife derogated her husband by going against his wishes. All the other stuff are the words of male imaturity. And I don’t mean that in a mean way, but in the scheme of things, if someone is encroaching on my space, esp. the wife with whom I’m supposedly sharing my life, I speak to them like an adult and resolve the situation amicably and neatly.

  4. David C Freeman

    February 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Yet, I understand his feelings and know many men of a certain type who certainly will feel this way. And thats fine too. 🙂

  5. Tania

    February 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Wow. I’ve learned a lot about men in the few moments I read this response. Really, y’all are territorial and desire personal space that you can call your own? I never would’ve thought it, but it makes a lot of since now. This space thing is a big deal.
    No wonder I’m not married. :/
    To the man cave and beyond……

  6. Jacki Marie

    February 6, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Great advice, Will. Mom, you are not only teaching your son that dad’s word isn’t valid (and all the other ‘man’ stuff Will talked about), you are teaching him that it’s ok to break rules (whether you agree with the rule or not) if you can be sneaky and do it when the authority isn’t looking. Be advised, he’ll do things behind your back too.

  7. David C Freeman

    February 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    You gotta love how closely people read things. Rene, you put “eye roll” after your post, essentially agreeing with part of mine, and we got opposing thumbs. (I’m just glad I’m high enough on the evolutionary scale to have opposing thumbs at all! 😉

  8. Cee Richardson

    February 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Is it just me, or did I read something Freudian (if that’s the right term) between mom and son? I mean, you diss your hubby, your life partner, for your son? Looks like a power play that hubby lost against his son.

  9. Jacki Marie

    February 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Oh and thought of something else…
    Baffled, I have a 12 year old son too. He is the youngest of 5. Bathing is the last thing on his mind and I have to make/remind him. The sooner you make it his responsibility and stop making the responsibility (aka herding) the better off you’ll both be. Tell him you expect him to be dressed and in the kitchen by (fill in the time) or he won’t have time for breakfast. Or he’ll miss his ride… or whatever– just don’t make it about punishment per se, but about cause and effect. If bathing in the morning is tying up the morning routine, send him to the showers (in his room) before bed– cutting out one more thing you have to yell about in the morning. As long as you do it, he won’t take responsibility for it and you will both be frustrated. The best thing I did for myself and my kids was just that. I stopped herding and we are all better off for it.

  10. dianthe

    February 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    i love this post so much i *almost* want to show it to my husband … *almost*

    4 1/2 years of marriage and 2 kids later, my husband has lost his closet (the entire closet – i forced him into another room entirely), most of what was his office (which is now mostly my craft room), and our bathroom (he shares with the kids for the most part) – poor Husband – i do let him have run of the big tv though … for the most part

    i’d almost feel bad for him except he gets to go to work every day without children – and pretty much every other place on the planet he wants to … without children – hmmm, now that i think about it, i don’t feel so bad for him anymore!

  11. Nikki Newman

    February 6, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Such a refreshing take! I can see what Will is saying and what David is too in his comments and respect both. I do think the mom needs to stick by her husband, put her foot down and tell the son to use his own bathroom, absolutely! But I know that not all women hog the interior decor, my husband and I are a team with this, and I’ve made sure he has his cave, believe me!! I read a great book a few years back called Raising Boys, when I found out I was expecting a son. In reading it, I learned so much about men as well as boys and it really was a turning point for me in getting guys. This sort of thing on GEM is fantastic, it’s great to get a guy’s view on things, I’m totally open to it.Thanks!

  12. M.E. Johnson

    February 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I love your take on things, Will, I do.
    So the boy is just ‘used to’ the old shower. He’s a little young to be so resistant to change. If he showers after a game is he going to fight for a certain stall? In a hotel room on vacay is he going to not shower? Mom, don’t be a wuss. Let him go without bathing a couple days, his friends will set him straight with a “P-U”!

  13. Pam R

    February 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I like his answer to this. I’m not a man but I’m married to one who agrees with this too. I feel like when I have my own space that I have “laid claim to” I don’t want any one in that space messing it all up…especially the kids. Take for instance my bed…my husband doesn’t mind if the kids sleep with us every once in awhile, but I CANNOT STAND IT! I have never liked that and when I hear him tell one of our kids that they can sleep with us…I instantly give out ultimatums!!! ~If you know what I mean~ LOL! So I have to say that if the boy shouldn’t be taking a shower in dad’s small space which is the bathroom…respect the man! LOL!

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