Monday, 28 February 2011

What If My Husband Was a Cheerleader?

A wide-spread "complaint" I've noticed among married women is that their husbands don't "just listen" to them, but instead feel like they have to "fix" things- offer solutions, point out what the woman should have done to avoid the problematic situation, etc. I too am guilty of this complaint, this way of thinking. I want to unload whatever problem I am having, or emotion I am feeling, onto my husband. Then, I want him to smile, tell me it's going to be okay, give me hug, and leave me alone. I don't want to hear how I could have fixed it more easily or avoided it all together. Yet, while I'm refusing his input and advice, I get frustrated when he disregards mine. I was mulling this over the other night while loading my dishwasher (I have my best conversations with myself while loading the dishwasher) and almost started giggling at the analogy that started rolling around in my mind.

I am anti-cheerleader. In fact, I despise the institution of cheerleading as a whole. (No offense to any of the very nice individuals out there who happen to be of a cheering persuasion. I will forgive your questionable life choices if you will forgive my unrelenting judgment of you ;) Why the intense hatred of cheerleading? Simply because it's pointless. And by pointless, I mean absurd. A troop of scantily clad girls, most of whom know very little about sports, jumping about and screaming in hopes of encouraging their assigned sports team. It's ludicrous. Those cheerleaders may, in some small measure, get the spectators enthused, but they really do absolutely nothing for the performance of the athletes. We've all been to those sporting events where our team is performing dismally, and those cheerleaders keep right on cheering, as if they are oblivious to the score and the fact that their team stinks. Those situations epitomize the foolishness of cheerleading. You want to laugh at them, feel sorry for them, and tell them to just be quiet. But you don't do any of those things, because they are simply doing what they are supposed to do, all they know how to do in the given situation. They don't possess the skills to make the situation itself any better. I have never seen an athlete trot over to the cheer squad to ask their opinion on improving his performance. The thought of it is laughable.

That's the coach's job. He is the one who has trained, challenged, and encouraged those athletes. His life is invested theirs, and their performance directly impacts his life and future, as his career is sure to be short-lived if his athletes perpetually fail. He's the one those athletes look to when they are stinking things up out on the field or court, because he's the one that has the ability to help them change the outcome. If the coach is a good one, he tells the athletes what they are doing wrong, how they could have avoided mistakes so they don't make them again, what to change to make themselves better. Imagine a coach who simply stood on the sidelines and smiled and cheered wildly when his team was down and defeated. What an awful, ineffective coach he would be! On the flip side, he's the one who is the most pleased and most positively impacted when the team performs well. A win for them is decidedly a win for him. If the coach is a good one, he gives them the encouragement and praise they deserve, and his words certainly have more impact than cheers from those who did nothing to help them gain the success they are enjoying. And if his players have an opinion or complaint, he is much more likely to listen to the ones who have respected and listened to him, and diligently heeded his instruction, than to those who thought they could do fine without him.

The thought that made me giggle was, "I'm asking my husband to be a cheerleader, when he's obviously wired to be a coach." Actually, the literal visual of my husband as a cheerleader is what made me giggle. It drove home the absurdity of what I ask him to do. He can't do it. He can't stand on the sideline and smile and cheer me on when I'm making mistakes. He can't say nothing when my own attitude, laziness, or emotions are keeping me from playing the game as effectively as I might be able to. He can't, not only because it's not the way he's designed, but because my decisions, mistakes, and unchecked emotions directly impact his life and future. If he's simply my cheerleader, it does nothing to improve me, my life, our relationship, or our relationship with our children. And that's the goal, right? For all of us. To be better, to avoid the stupid mistakes, to have stronger relationships and families. So why do I question, disregard, and even resent, the advice and opinions of the person who has the most invested in my life, the one for whom the stakes are highest if I fail? Why do I ask him to smile and say nothing when he could say something that would actually help me succeed? Why do I render him ineffective and restrict him to the sidelines, when his knowledge, wisdom, and life experiences could certainly help to enhance my own? Why do praise and recognition from him sometimes mean less to me than the approval of others? Why do I expect him to listen to my opinions when I haven't listened to his? Why did I write this and put it out on the Internet where my husband can read it? Now I might have to actually listen to myself...

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