There are few things more toe curling and grimace educing than a contemptuous wife.
You’ve been there before. You have dinner with a couple and every time the husband does something – carves meat or passes a spoon or fiddles with the light switch – his wife will roll her eyes at the utterly stupid and useless way he’s doing it. The husband, trying to be nice for company, is successfully put on edge. He knows if he drops a knife with a clatter his wife’s eyes will spin with washing machine rapidity from her contemptuous delight.
Whenever he says something she will sigh, sneer and correct him. We saw a movie on Tuesday, he says to the guests. His wife throws back her head in exhausted exasperation. No, she interjects, it was Wednesday. I don’t know how you have so much trouble keeping track of days of the week. Jaimie can do it and she’s three. The husband chortles, makes joke of it or ignores it and continues his story, but he has trouble keeping the thread because he knows that his wife is waiting for the slightest error or lack of clarity, ready to pounce.
The guests see what’s going on and politely pretend not to notice. The wife is trying to bring them to her side, to demonstrate what a martyr she is in remaining married to this stumbling, bumbling trilobite. Martyrdom being women’s favourite hobby and perhaps even their highest goal in life, alongside gaining attention.
Sometimes the stupider guests fall for the wife’s game and pity her suffering. I was once so stupid. Wiser ones subtly look at their watch and thank Odin they are not in his shoes.
Some husbands fight back. I’ve seen one guy yell at the Mrs., “Shut up with your fucking martyrdom act. I’ve had a fucking gutful. You’re being a total cunt to our friends. Jesus Christ!” It didn’t solve the problem but it must have felt good. I suppose a few men actually slap their spouse around but I’ve never seen it happen.
One thing I don’t know is what female guests make of this act. On one hand they tend to stick together in gender conflicts. On the other, they must sometimes be able to see the bigger picture. They are entirely without a white knighting instinct. Further, unmarried women must get annoyed because their married sisters are not helping their case. Any single blokes who might be present as a potential set-up will be thinking, fuuuuuck thaaaat.
What percentage of women show such contempt to their husbands? At least occasionally, 100%. Consistently, I don’t know. Quite a few.
This contempt can spring from various causes. Perhaps the bloke has gone to beta seed. Maybe she just got a message from a former lover and hubby does not compare well. Given the widespread nature of the issue, I suspect one cause is that the average woman cannot respect a man whose life she can so easily destroy and whose children and stuff she can take. Women respect power. The opposite of respect, for them, is never neutrality or pity. It is always contempt.
There are whole websites that instruct husbands in how to avoid or repair this situation. There is online counseling and there are step-by-step books.
And there’s also Thailand.