Thursday, March 11, 2010

Creating Male Characters (and Living with Them)

Several friends lately have brought me material (sent links, brought a book by) on men, particularly husbands. The book proposed to help you understand your husband (please note: written by a man) by giving you the clues to making him happy - more praise and adoration coupled with less negativity and let's be honest, sex on demand. For complete honesty, sex should be mutually beneficial, so to suggest that only a man benefits from it or cares about it is simply ridiculous. So, let's put that aside.

I have no problem with the concept that we need to thank our men more, build them up. One of my favorite quotes from Sex and the City was when the Kim Cattrall character (I didn't watch this show very much) responded to inquiries from the other girls on her frequent tendency toward oral sex by saying, "I may be on my knees, but I have him by the balls." I'm not stupid. I understand that men, like children (too often is this a necessary comparison), behave better when we give them constant praise. "Oh my goodness honey, thank you so much for emptying the dish washer."

Still, there's the tigress in me that has a hard time with these simple marriage/relationship solutions on several levels. First, and men should be totally on board with this, I hate to think men are so simple that a pot full of honey is all it takes to rule the world. If so, then let's just say that Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama are really our last few Presidents and be done with it.

Second, I think any "fix" to relationships should require two-way giving. If I'm going to compliment more, then he should compliment more, etc. If I'm going to be more positive and rah-rah team, then he should be, too. Simple.

Finally, I have too much "piss and vinegar" in me (thanks for the saying Dad) to just suck it up and blow smoke up someone's ass all day long in the hopes he might love me forever. A well-timed, well-earned compliment... absolutely. "Thanks for putting your shoes away this time." No!

Still, I understand that I should take some of this to heart and consider the possibilities of turning the idea of "Positive Parenting" (thanks BVSD) into "Positive Spousing". I'm working on that in my own way.

The other point of this book (from my friend... I have not read it) is how to approach men so that they help us more. This one I get, and I have used in my 15 years of marriage. Ask directly and with little words what you want. Still, it assumes a man (especially a man like mine... a successful, productive professional) couldn't think his way out of a paper box unless you drew him a map. I would think MEN would have a problem with this.

But then I wonder... do men want us to believe all of this so it makes life easier for them? I have a hard time believing men are over chuckling in a corner thinking, "Ok, she might think I'm a dunce, but who is NOT picking up their shoes!?!"

You might ask why I'm even pontificating on this. I have to find a way to create and make believable male characters that on most days, quite frankly, I just don't understand. I loved Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As it Gets when a woman asked how he created such believable women characters and he said, "I think of a man, but I take away reason and accountability." So does that leave me with taking a woman and leaving all guilt, intelligence and emotions at the door?

The main male character in my novel (cowritten by my mom), Depression Cookies, is a father. In many ways, my father. My dad recently read the book and had plenty to say about how "he" was portrayed. I gave "Bob" the characteristics of my dad from a daughter's point of view... the things I adore. But I also biased it with how a 13-year-old viewed a man's dedication to his work above other things. Dad says he hates Bob, but I don't. I respect him. He made tough decisions... yeah, I wished he would have made more time to bond with me, but he also sent me (my character) to college and taught me the value of hard work and dedication. And Lord knows I wouldn't want "tough decisions" made by a man who couldn't bend down and tie his shoe unless I gave him a road map and then immediately clapped when he stood back up, mission accomplished.

But, maybe I'm just in a bitchy mood or PMSing, right?

(Please note: I've been with my husband for 20 years, and married 15. I adore him, and I wouldn't trade him for ANY other man. I don't blow smoke, but I tell him he's appreciated. So we must be doing something right!)


Dana & Keith Newbrough said...

Why the hell don't women give men books on how to be better to their wives. Seriously if I hear one more person pitying the man I am going to puke. are the way the are simply because they are babied by both sexes. Women just can't win. And yes I dearly love my husband too, but don't bother passing that book to me. ;)

Bach said...

I don't have the book, don't worry! Aren't you proud that I'm still spilling my guts on this blog! Can't wait to see you guys in April.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I write almost all male characters, and I think I do okay with it because there is a little less thought involved. But then, I hate writing internal narrative, so there's that. :)