Hus­bandry: Sex, Love and Dirty Laun­dry: Inside the Minds of Mar­ried Men

  • Review
By – February 20, 2012

The most unusu­al aspect of Stephen Fried’s Hus­bandry is that it satires mar­riage from the male per­spec­tive. In an era dom­i­nat­ed by Sex in the City and Des­per­ate House­wives, Fried dis­sects the com­pli­ca­tions, joys, nuances and yes, nui­sances, of one of life’s most com­plex rela­tion­ships, offer­ing a male per­spec­tive albeit soft­ened by his wife’s undertones. 

Fried’s cre­ation is divid­ed into a mul­ti­tude of short vignettes offer­ing glimpses into his long-term mar­riage and the mar­i­tal bond, in gen­er­al. I hap­pened to have been raised in a house­hold of broth­ers, am the moth­er of two sons and be in a long-term mar­riage, so I was non­plussed by some of Fried’s chap­ters because I am, what my hus­band likes to say, trained.”

Two chap­ters in par­tic­u­lar artic­u­late this point. In “‘Just say, Yes Dear,’” Fried wax­es philo­soph­i­cal about what I lov­ing­ly refer to as the over­rid­ing phi­los­o­phy taught in what I believe to be a secret soci­ety called Hus­band School.’ 

As a wife of fif­teen years, I can­not count the num­ber of times my hus­band has respond­ed to one of my requests with “‘Yes, Dear.’” Due to my exten­sive train­ing in male-speak, and my dis­dain for such con­de­scen­sion, I do not allow a con­ver­sa­tion to con­clude with what I deem a two-word cuss phrase. How­ev­er, by high­light­ing this sim­ple yet con­de­scend­ing phrase, Fried does his read­ers unequipped with male­s­peak radar a big favor. My hus­band is right. I am trained. I am trained to know that when a sen­tence ends with Yes, Dear,” more con­ver­sa­tion is nec­es­sary. How­ev­er, not all wives real­ize that. 

Although dis­cussed in a dif­fer­ent chap­ter enti­tled, “‘Uh-huh Means Nev­er Hav­ing to Say You’re Sor­ry,’” Fried humor­ous­ly reveals how Uh-huh’ is just anoth­er way of say­ing Yes, Dear.” They are syn­onyms in the true sense of the word! 

Fried’s writ­ing is breezy and fun, mak­ing read­ing Hus­bandry quick and enjoy­able. While I didn’t find any of his mate­r­i­al ground-break­ing, his book makes a sub­tle argu­ment for why mar­riage can be the most com­plex, aggra­vat­ing, humor­ous, ful­fill­ing, and impor­tant rela­tion­ship in a person’s life.

Tami Kamin-Mey­er is a licensed attor­ney who would rather write than fight. Her byline has appeared in a vari­ety of pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing Bet­ter Homes and Gar­dens, The Rotar­i­an, Ohio Super Lawyers, Ohio Lawyers Week­ly, Ohio Mag­a­zine, Cleve­land Jew­ish News, the Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency, and www​.chabad​.edu. She is also an award-win­ning Hebrew school educator.

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