Do Women Want a Father or a Man for a Spouse?

Marry Me?

We have all heard the wives tale that women like the bad boy or the rebel. We have all gone through the the riggers of middle school/junior high where the skater was the hip and cool guy often leaving the nice guys to finish last. But just like a prevailing wind stirs up dust and debris…women discover that once the dust settles what they really want in a man is someone who resembles a caretaker more than a rebel.

This of course may cause some of my female readers to scoff or even curse my name…you wouldn’t be the first ;)…but this is a reality that permeates a great number of marriages. Many women want to marry someone safe…someone like their father. The challenges to this scenario are obvious yet quite elusive to cure.

How is it that a woman can look at her husband and desire him sexually if she sees her father? How can a woman reconcile the fact that she not only despises her associations to dad, but knows that she has been a significant contributor to the problem?

Does Father Know Best in Marriage?

One could argue that we are truly battling ingrained evolutionary commodities. For thousands of years our genders have had pretty basic roles for the successful continuation of our species. Men hunt and protect…women bear and raise children. Others could take that premise and add a dose of social norms and practices to demonstrate the evolution of expected roles and responsibilities.

Did Father really Know Best or are we all experiencing self-inflicted wounds? We think battling debt collectors is tough…how about battling the entirety of a species groomed for procreation and protection from villains? I guess if extinction were our goal then we might all approach marriage like Liz Taylor. But, we don’t and so we look for men who will excite us during the initial chapters, console in the middle, and protect throughout the duration of our life’s story. Quite a lot to juggle. Quite a lot to comprehend on a random Friday night when he wants to be intimate and all you can think about is how long it has been since he took out the recycling.

Nobody teaches, men or women, that love evolves just like our greater species does. That love blossoms into appreciation and back to love like a fantastic yo-yo trick. We wish we knew how to manipulate love to coincide with our moods, dreams, desires, and fears…but that is the beauty of love and why we KNOW it when we feel it. Thus the challenge is to better prepare ourselves for the curves ahead even if the road may be winding to an unknown location. What we don’t want is to come to a pass where we are lost for words, pay attention to mundane things not related to love, and forget the reasons we found our spouse so exciting and sexy during the courting phase.

“I feel like my husband is my father more than he is my best friend.”

her confessions Her Magazine Nashville February 2010

Her Magazine February 2010

It can become quite sad…quite fast when a marriage has reached the fatherly-friendship phase. A phase marked by rigidity and ingrained roles that suit neither party. The woman and the man are unhappy yet feel torn. A man, for instance, likes the feeling of responsibility and safety he provides his family. He gains great satisfaction from knowing what is right and wrong. He relished the times when his opinion is sought over all others. That is how he was raised…either by a real, in the home father or by movies and t.v. There can be a great sense of pride for a man who knows he provides his wife and children such protection.

Normal Males do not want to feel alone or isolated as the Grand Pubah all of the time. They want to feel the great duality of humanity…that they can be the protector and recipient of protection and guidance too. Normal Males want their wives to feel safe, sexy, and secure. And thus we struggle to understand the delicate balance between knowing everything (which we do not but act like we do or should) and seeking the arms of our partners…making us a lot like you. Just as much as some women want to be married to a father figure…men too want to be married to a mother figure.

A Mother's Love...A Woman's Touch

And, so goes the pendulum…swinging back-and-forth between controlling…I mean parenting our spouse and loving and desiring our spouse. Both genders are guilty and maybe men are to blame even more because there are currently so few good men representing fathers and husbands. I would imagine women feel like we push them to mother us because we play dumb so often.

It truly speaks to the notion that we are what we are when we enter marriage with another human being. We are that lonely child wondering where dad is. We are that young person that desperately wants guidance from the parent of the other gender only to be disappointed with every missed visitation. We are that scorned lover who went bad only to miss the caress of a protector.

We are all of these things and more, and our challenge as men and women is to understand the ebb and flow of romantic love, know that it won’t cure the ills of a lost or jaded rearing, and that you too will change your wants and needs throughout your marital union.

After a series of setbacks myself, I am of the mindset that we, adults, can actually learn a thing or two from our younger generations. You see…when we all were experiencing the great rush of hormones we selected mates on attributes that excited and thrilled us. As we got older we begin to select mates out of a need to complete a Checklist. We did so after seeing our own caretakers and assumed that that was what love and marriage were all about–becoming friends whose greatest affection came after work and before dinner with a symbolic peck on the cheek.

We forgot that love symbolizes living. That to select a mate means that we are compatible on a number of levels…not just lust and not just protection. Nobody wants to be pegged as someone’s parental savior…you don’t want that for yourself because you will be forever disappointed…and you don’t want that for your partner because the only love you will get will be on February 14th in the form of a, “I couldn’t have written it better” card.

If you are married currently…communicate with your spouse the challenges of your wants and needs and I bet you will get a sigh of relief in return…because they are experiencing the same Normal feelings as you.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Fathers, Girls, Good Men, Males, Marriage, men, Mothers, Relationships, women

4 responses to “Do Women Want a Father or a Man for a Spouse?

  1. Boy you said it all. We want so much, and often offer much less. I think we need to be a lot more compassionate and forgiving. I agree with what you say, that we need to be honest and not just settle, but on the other hand we need to be realistic and act towards our partners as we wish they to act towards us, the old golden rule…

    • Hi Trish,
      Thanks for your thoughts! I think that so many are afraid to treat and ask for what they want because they fear they won’t be able to come through on their end of the bargain.

  2. I am astounded by your ability to integrate the emotional and social complexities of relationships between a man and a women in such a understandable fashion.

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