Training Husbands- A Life-long Job

Husbands need to be trained their entire life. We wives can’t ever slack off, ease up. That’s the reality of it. And Pennsylvania German husbands, however good-hearted and loyal people they may be, suck at manners.

My husband had a terrible teacher in this department. When we were first married, my new mother-in-law merely grunted, “Salt!” when she wanted someone to pass the salt shaker. I was speechless. I realized shortly after I was married, that my husband had a very difficult time with the words, “Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. I’m sorry.” I repeat them after I give him something like you do a very small child in training, preparing them to be a polite adult.

When my husband began work wth a Pennsylvania German man, I began to see the same behavior in him. If we took him out to lunch, or bought him a present, he would not say thank you, although I knew he was grateful, not just for the act but also our friendship, but these men certainly do not vocalize it. When I witnessed my husband leaving the job and not saying good bye to his boss, I questioned him. He told me that they do not even say “hello” or “good morning” at the start of the day.

I found this shocking and after over thirty years of witnessing it, I am continually shocked.

I came downstairs from my workplace last night and went down into the cool cellar for a grapefruit. I passed my husband reading in his chair and said, “Do you want a grapefruit or an orange?”

he said, “no, I just had one.”

I looked at him and said, “Are you a bachelor?”

No.”

Do you live alone?”

No.”

Tonight, just one night later, he came into the bathroom while I was taking a bath with a dish of ice cream.

I said, “How about me?”

Here, take it,” he said, pissy.

I don’t believe you. Why don’t you think of me?”

He said, “You get things for yourself all the time- coffee, tea.”

That was just lame. My husband NEVER drinks hot liquids unless he is in the wilderness fighting hypothermia.

I said, “I always ask Bryce if he is home if he wants a cup of coffee or tea if I am making one.”

My husband got angry and left the room with his bowl of ice cream. We had just gone out to hear music and held hands lovingly. He had just had sex the night before so he was not grumpy. He just has piss poor manners. How did we get to be married for thirty years, after thirty years of work trying to teach him manners and he has not learned them yet? Is it hopeless? It feels like it.

When the kids are home, he gets into bed and doesn’t says, “Good night.” I sometimes make him get up and kiss the kids good night, if they are home from college or visiting from a foreign country. We don’t get blessed with our children’s presence as much as we’d like, so we should celebrate them being home, make them feel as if we are glad they are here. Or they might not want to return as frequently.

I have a good man. He will do anything for me. He will do nearly anything for anybody. He puts himself last. Why can’t I teach him manners? Why isn’t this something a man can learn? Why does he refuse to learn? Is it really a cultural Pennsylvania German thing? I Googled German rudeness and found this behavior to be spot on.

They just seem to have this bizarre understanding between each other that there’s no need to apologize or say thanks, etc.”

Or good night. Or please. They are an efficient and thrifty people. No need to say more words than is necessary.

My husband’s ancestors came over from Germany in the 1600’s. That’s a long time ago. His family has been marrying other Germans for hundreds of years, until MY husband marries a warm and fuzzy, vocal Sicilian/Pole and he runs into trouble.

I know other wives have to train their husbands when it comes to other traits. Mine sucks at manners. I have my job laid out for me until one of us dies.

Please. Thank You. You’re Welcome. I’m Sorry. Good Night.” I will not quit.

PS Please read what Holger Heinz wrote in comments- a brilliant insightful look at the German male mind.

 

 

 

 

 

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30 thoughts on “Training Husbands- A Life-long Job Leave a comment

  1. Oh this is so true! My ex was the same way! I met a guy from California and he is constantly saying please and thank you more than I do now! Unfortunately some of my ex rubbed off on me!

  2. Cindy, you are right on about the focus and personalities of those who grew up in older tradition Pennsylvania German families. My parents did not tell us they loved us; but their actions, unlike some of the things you described, demonstrated caring. In fact, many of our childhood friends told us how they wished they had parents like ours. My parents would also reach out to help an serve others, which served as models for us as we grew older. Many PA Germans believe in productivity and efficiency, which can result in using as few words as necessary. Thank God I’ve moved beyond that over the years; and, it has been beneficial as I see the terrific adults my children have become and the heritage they are leaving their children. Wow, you do present your message honestly, but certainly a lot more strongly, bluntly than I would. Bob Grim

    1. well that is the tradition of the Italian too- lay it all out there! I am grateful my husband and who he is- and grateful that he gives me material to write about and express myself and learn! Check out the reply from German friend, Holger, he is spot on and very insightful. He knows himself and his people!

      1. brilliant- thank so much for sharing- i think learning about other cultures is fabulous- we just forget that they re here intros melting pot of America too- even after many hundreds of years-still going strong

  3. You do make me laugh Cindy. I can hear you saying:
    “I looked at him and said, “Are you a bachelor?”
    The thing is, living in Uganda for seven years, I’ve learned that some cultural differences will just be there until the end of time, however much we don’t like them or even try and change them. We just have to accept them.
    A lot of people say please, thank you, sorry without actually meaning it, and in many ways I find that more disturbing.

  4. There are two sides to that coin. I can very much relate to your husbands style.
    When I’m comfortable, I can shed superficial manners. I can take much comfort in the security that the person I am with will get his/her own coffee when they feel like coffee.
    I can enjoy not having someone waste my time to ask me if I want coffee when they want coffee. If I wanted coffee, I would’ve made some. I can also give that security that I will never be mad at someone for not trying to guess my needs, wether they are based on hunger or etiquette.
    I truly cherish friendships that are so intense and so full of trust that they don’t need hellos or goodbyes any more.
    To say it bluntly: to me, manners are for strangers. Being yourself is for family.

    As you’ve basically said yourself, your requirement of manners isn’t a basic need you’re entitled to. It’s a need based on social and cultural rules. That doesn’t make it less needed. But its important to understand that if you lived in a different part of the world, your husband may be writing a blog post about how you won’t stop making him feel guilty for not bringing you food at a time when you obviously don’t want food clearly visible by the fact that you didnt get yourself food.

    But he wouldn’t of course 😉

    (Obviously this is theory. In practice my wife and friends also (at varying degrees) need and get manners. Probably not as much as they’d like but there is some serious trying for the right mix going on. But your radical post needed a radical Counter pole).

    Love, hello, goodbye and ice cream from Germany.

    Holger

    1. hello sweetheart-thank you so much for sharing this insight!! all the way from Germany- you are completely right and said things I and everyone else needs to hear. You have shed light on this touchy subject for me and enlightened me, which is what i was hoping would happen when I wrote it. I thank you for taking the time to explain. I think you are spot on. I don’t think my husband realized this himself so i will share it with him. He will feel better! ha ha . i miss you so, German boy that you are and so much fun. Please make that visit you promised so long ago so we can all learn more about this amazing thing called THE GERMAN MAN!!!

  5. Holger pretty much summed it up for me. When Todd and I are working together we delight in an economy of words. Sometimes that spills over into or other lives. So I can say sorry now cause I ain’t working!

    1. oh i love you Bob to death – you know I do and every one of your ways and habits- stay just the way you are- you are Todd are brilliant together- that is why it works so well! love you and have a fuckin’ blast over there!

  6. Men….
    As a woman’s ‘project’?
    …Lifelong project, at that…really?
    Maybe count your blessings of all the great and good that is YOU, as in, YOU plural as a couple — a very great and good couple. There is no perfect world with women and men through all time.

    1. Robert- I am only having fun here- don’t be so serious- of course I appreciate what I have and how we together make a great couple- no one is looking for perfection but we must keep trying!

  7. I found your post very disappointing. Whatever your wish to be treated better by Todd, taking your complaint public is really low class in my opinion and effectively guarantees a widening of the gulf between the two of you. But maybe you really do not care.

    1. i adore my husband- and accept him for who he is- and hope that he works to make me better too- and there is no gulf between us- just having fun and thinking and musing which is what blogs are for- making us think- and evidently react- besides, i don’t even know you which means you don’t my husband nor are privy to our 30+ year happy and successful marriage, which is fine- you are entitled to your opinion and i thank you for sharing

  8. Cindy, I loved this post–so you, and so Todd in the wonderful glory of your love for each other with your different personalities! XOXOXO

    1. thank you – glad to hear that- received some slack for this- from my daughter who doesn’t know men yet like we do- ha ha and one guy who trashed me but he doesn’t know either of us- oh it makes me laugh, as if we are any different from one another and behavior is a big secret- wives feel the same, husbands feel the same- on dif planets but somehow we manage to circle together and the lucky ones, the ones that know how to accept and poke fun and have a fuckin’ send of humor!!!, make it- most don’t – love you – see you soon

  9. I found this very interesting. Although both my parents were northerners, they spent considerable time in the Deep South and I was born in Arkansas. I was brought up with southern manners. But my cousin, who was born and lived his entire life in the south is even more mannered than I am.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  10. Hi Cindy; I hear & understand… I guess it’s a Berks thing. It does make for a terse interaction, though… I’m of the mind that, unless I get you to interact w/ me, somehow I’ve failed to do my job… We all have our own peccadilloes… Sometimes it’s just tough trying to deal w/ someone who shows no humor. Yeah, there are times when I energize my (emotional) shields, but those times are few. Mostly, when @ work, we revert to the 7th-grader inside of us; bad jokes, even worse puns, but lots of laughter. In the interim, you keep up the good work! 🙂 End of my diatribe… /s/ Tony S.

  11. Great commentary, Cindy! It sounds familiar to me as I have an Austrian mother and she has some of the same characteristics!

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