By Jonathan D. Sherman, LMFT
I love this. I really do. Once a good friend of mine, in response to his wife (who was good friends with my wife) getting on his case because "Jonathan does this" and "Jonathan does that..." in reference to what I do for my wife and children. He jokingly/seriously said to me one day, "Man, you're making me look bad." I laughed and said, "No. I'm making myself look good. You're making yourself look bad."
It wasn't just him though. I also write a bi-weekly column for a local paper and every now and then I'll meet a couple in the community and occasionally the husband will say the same thing, "You're making me look bad." I laugh, and instead thank them for making me look good. These are what I call "braggin' rights." Not me bragging (except for here, obviously) but my wife and others. I love it.
Oh, yeah, I love this one , too. When a couple of my old buddies and I were first becoming friends they teased me for what they interpreted for my being "whipped" in my marriage. They confused my attentiveness and thoughtfulness for being dominated. I just nodded and smiled and said, "Whipped huh? Yeah, whatever. Look at your marriage; look at mine." I'm usually not that cocky and arrogant about my marriage, but I just couldn't resist. Our friendship was strong enough at that point to take the jab. The funny thing is that one of these friends recently told me that his wife likes him to hang out with me because he's "nicer" when he comes home. He said that she thinks I'm a good influence on him. He agrees. I love it.
C'mon guys. Wake up. Really. Stop and look at the nature of marriage, fathering and relationships. Look at all the nasty, pathetic statistics. Look at all the poor role models. Is it really that hard for me to look good? I love the compliments and I love that my wife feels great when other women talk well of me as her husband, etc. But, here it is, the low down, cold and harsh as it may be: Most men make it so very, very easy for me to look good. So, thank you. However, my enjoyment in that is small compared to my frustration that that is how it is. The sad thing is that the way I am as a father and a husband shouldn't be anything special or unusual. It should be the norm. Society has split men and women so far apart it's beyond ridiculous. I mean, seriously. My call to my brothers is this: Men, wake up and learn how to create a truly GREAT relationship. Make yourself the guy that your wife can't help but brag up. Learn the tasks that GREAT relationships require and task it out!
Earn Your Bragging Rights.
With a little well-targeted and intelligent effort you can make gigantic strides in your relationships and also earn your braggin' rights. A Will Smith song says, "I'm not conceited. I'm as good as I say I am." The right to brag comes not from a giant ego, but from earned accomplishments. From real greatness. Elvis was "The King" not by his naming, but by sheer talent. Gandhi did not give himself the title Mahatma ("great soul"). Muhammad Ali... okay, he did call himself The Greatest, but then he also had the talent and drive to back it up. Don't try to convince your wife with words how fabulous you are. Show her. Overwhelm her. Shock and awe her. Not that I'm suggesting developing a huge ego. The best praise for your efforts should not come from yourself--but from others: Your spouse, her friends, etc. who notice your thoughtfulness and attentiveness consistently over time that they just can't help but comment on it. When you begin hearing these through the grapevine you will have known that you have earned your bragging rights.