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.