My life has been way too peaceful and simple as of late, so I thought this might be an occasion for me to spend a little time and space expounding upon that ultimate mystery of the universe: the relationship between men and women.

My life has been way too peaceful and simple as of late, so I thought this might be an occasion for me to spend a little time and space expounding upon that ultimate mystery of the universe: the relationship between men and women.

This issue has weighed on our collective consciousness for as long as anyone knows.  Our most ancient documents discuss it.  The Epic of Gilgamesh tells of how a beautiful woman was used to tame the wild man Enkidu; the Bible tells of how Eve was made from Adam’s rib so that a man would leave his family and cleave unto his wife.

All of this to say that it’s unlikely I am going to add anything new to the mix.  That having been said, I think that sometimes it doesn’t hurt us to say the old things all over again, and it sure doesn’t hurt us to hear them again.

We are living in the modern age and anyone who says that a woman’s place is in the home would be rightfully dragged out into the street and stoned to death. And, in order to insure my own safety, let me say that I would hold the purses of them that did the stoning.  With that preface, I will say the home belongs to the woman in a way that it will never belong to a man.  My evidence for this is the crisis many men go through when they are on the verge of retirement.

These are men who’ve worked hard for years, who’ve got plenty of money for retirement (or at least did have), and who would dearly like to retire.  These are men who are leaders among their peers, who have hired, have fired, and have dealt with serious matters with great delicacy. 
They’ve served their employers and their communities, and their God. They are men who’ve been caller number nine, as it were, and have won the five-hundred dollars.

But they cannot retire because they are afraid their wives won’t be able to stand to have them around the house.

Now lest you think this is because of bad blood or moral defect, let me disabuse you of this notion right away. These are marriages where the wives love the husbands and vice versa.

No, this goes back to the very nature of man and what I, being a man of faith, call Adam’s Curse. Recall, because of his sin, God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken;   for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

There is a lot going on there, I will admit, but a big part of it is that Man will not like to work.  When we are at home and given a choice, this means we will choose leisure over productive activity.   I’ve not observed the same in women.  I can’t speak for the way things are done at your house, but at my house my wife is doing something productive from the time she gets out of bed in the morning until she collapses from exhaustion into the same bed at night, and, when the kids were little, there would often be a period or two of work during the night.

My dad told a story one time about his Uncle Tunce who was married to a Choctaw woman.  The men-folk were sitting in front of the house talking while Tunce’s wife drew water.  Then she began to chop wood whereupon Tunce spoke up.

“I just can’t stand to sit here and watch her work that hard,” he said.  “Let’s go out back.”

It is easy to sit here from a distance of 75 or 80 years and judge Tunce, and we can quickly come to the conclusion that men should help their wives.  That’s one of those things that we can all nod our heads to.  And it’s the politically correct thing to say.  And Lord knows that I am not going to argue against it.

But I will ask you this.  Have you ever tried?

You can get up from your Law and Order reruns and help your wife with whatever task she is doing.  Working as a pair, you can finish it up in record time.  And when you are done, do you get to sit down again?  No, because she’s got something else to do.  And if you helped her with that, she’s still going to have something else to do.

It never ends.

Most married men figure this out after a while and give up.  Somebody in the house should be well-rested, and it’s not going to be her, so it might as well be me.

What bothers women is that men can make that jump in logic without any feelings of guilt whatsoever. What is more is that they betray this guiltlessness in the expressions on their faces.
That is why their wives can’t stand to see them sitting around the house.  If their husbands are gone, the wives can at least pretend they are being useful.

Bobby Winters is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University.  He likes to sit typing at his computer so that he can look busy.  He’s been dusted a number of times.