Book 35 of my 2015 Reading Challenge
read from June 28 - July 2
How to Be a Husband by Tim Dowling
Summary (via the book jacket)
While this book is indeed titled How to Be a Husband, please do not mistake it for a self-help book. Tim Dowling - columnist for The Guardian, husband, father of three, a person who once got into a shark cage for money - does not purport to have any pearls of wisdom about wedded life. What he does have is more than twenty years of marriage experience, and plenty of hilarious advice for what not to do in almost every conjugal situation.
With the sharp wit that makes his Guardian columns a must-read, Dowling explores what it means to be a good husband in the twenty-first century. The bar has been raised dramatically in the last few decades; back in the day, every time you went out for cigarettes, it was simply expected you came back. Now, every time you're sent out for espresso pods and tampons, it is expected you come back with the right sort. And being a father doesn't seem to command much innate respect these days, either. When his first child was born, Dowling imagined himself eliciting a natural awe as the distant, authoritative figurehead; he did not anticipate a child hacking his Twitter account to post heartfelt admissions of loserdom like "Hi, I suck at everything I try in life."
Still, two decades of wedded bliss is nothing to sneeze at, particularly from a couple who agreed to get married with the resigned determination of two people plotting to bury a body in the woods. How to Be a Husband is a wickedly funny guide to surviving the era of "The End of Men" (hint: it involves DIY) and an unexpectedly poignant memoir about love, marriage, and staying together until death doth you part.
He's a good columnist and I would recommend reading this book in short spurts. When I was near the end I finished it in a longer sitting and it got a little dull (a common issue for me when reading a book of someone's short stories or essays). It could've also been the topic at the end - the chapter on feminism vs masculism veered off strangely to me.
I wavered between 3 and 4 stars but went with 4 because I read some parts aloud to Kevin and we both enjoyed it.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"My successful marriage is built of mistakes. It may be founded on love, trust, and a shared sense of purpose, but it runs on a steady diet of cowardice, impatience, ill-advised remarks, and low cunning. But also: apologies, belated expressions of gratitude, and frequent appeals for calm."
"Like many men, my biggest contribution to housework reduction is that I've managed to lower the bar for cleanliness."
"It is one of the luxuries of long-term marital commitment that you can buy DIY materials without having a specific project in mind. Each purchase is a tiny act of faith that says, "I will still be here when whatever this thing is supposed to fix finally breaks"."
"There is no good rejoinder to the exclamation, "I am NOT your mother!" but among the especially not good ones is "Then stop buying me ugly sweaters!" Take my word for it."
"Young men: your talent for being able to get sex over and done with really quickly is probably not much prized at the moment, but it will come in handy down the road, so don't forget how. It may be hard to believe at your age, but one day you'll reach a stage in your relationship when "Honestly - you'll hardly know I was here" becomes a surprisingly successful chat-up line, especially if your spouse knows you can deliver on the promise."