Last time, I told the story of the Pack Mule.
The Pack Mule is the man a wife takes shopping with him to carry bags and nothing more. She might permit him to voice an opinion on an outfit or two, bit it’s for his benefit, not hers. She’s picked one specific outfit to let him see to confirm an already-made decision. His opinion doesn’t really matter.
He’s miserable, awkward, and fairly lonely. Not to mention bored. But he’s dutiful, if grumbly about it.
But, if she’d let it happen, instead of being a Pack Mule, he could be a Husband. And rather than experiencing shopping with dread, he could anticipate shopping with drool.
The Husband Experience
In many ways, the Husband experience is similar to that of the Pack Mule. He still carries all the bags. He still tries not to sock kids with shoeboxes. He still daydreams about going to the lingerie store. But mostly, it’s a vastly different experience.
The most obvious difference between the Pack Mule experience and the Husband experience is geographic. Whereas the Pack Mule spends the whole time in the waiting area (officially dubbed the Chair of Penultimate Awkwardness) playing games on his phone and trying to dodge the skeptical scowls from other women, the Husband is usually in the dressing room with his wife.
“Sorry, honey, I’m going to have to strip in close proximity to you about six times in the few minutes. Do you mind?” Um, heck no?
He might have to haul bags around, but this has got to be the perfect gig! The Husband gets to see his wife get nearly naked. Repeatedly. I mean, how awesome is that? “Sorry, honey, I’m going to have to strip in close proximity to you about six times in the few minutes. Do you mind?” Um, heck no?
On top of that, he gets to see all the outfits— not just the one or two she decides she likes. This has all sorts of benefits.
First, the Husband gets to enjoy the ones that don’t fit right. Some of them are too small, which can be a lot of fun. Some of them are too big, and are practically falling off. And they effectively do! She takes them right back off!
Second, the Husband gets to express his opinions on each of them rather than a censored list. This makes his opinions automatically mean something. At best, a Pack Mule’s second opinion only reaffirms what she’s already decided. Here, he can actually go against it. This is important, because she looks at her appearance through the lens of her fledgling self-image, whereas he’s looking at her appearance though the lens of his intense appreciation for her body. He might think things look great on her — stuff he’d desperately want to buy — that wouldn’t ever be seen by the Pack Mule because they didn’t pass through her filter of poor body image.
And third, he gets to see how a variety of styles and colors look on her, which can influence what he likes, and potentially (through his fervent approval) what she likes, too.
She looks at her appearance through the lens of her fledgling self-image, whereas he’s looking at her appearance though the lens of his intense appreciation for her body.
All this stripping to near-naked gives him tons of visual gratification, which makes the trips from one store to another become anticipatory. He’s excited as they peruse the aisles, perhaps even grabbing something just so he can see her put it on. And then take it off.
And who says he only gets to see her get nearly naked? Maybe once in a while in between outfits she takes off her underwear, too, giving him a nice little “public” peep show to bask in for a couple minutes? And yes, maybe he gets to exercise some of his Husbandly privileges, too. A touch here, a finger there, a kiss everywhere.
When the Pack Mule gets lucky, he finds a fellow Pack Mule to commiserate with. When the Husband gets lucky, he actually gets lucky. Maybe he unzips and gets in a little quickie before she gets dressed again, or maybe he gets to go down on her for a few seconds. Maybe she just strips down for him to look at while she unzips him and goes down on him a bit.
When the Pack Mule gets lucky, he finds a fellow Pack Mule to commiserate with. When the Husband gets lucky, he actually gets lucky.
Dressing room sexy time, FTW. Even if it’s just for a few seconds.
Even without sex, the Husband experience is infinitely better than the Pack Mule experience. Did I mention he gets to watch her strip? Over and over and over?
The Father Experience
There’s a middle-ground version, though. When shopping with kids in tow, the Husband experience transitions into the Father experience.
This experience does involve a lot of sitting in the waiting area rather than watching from inside the dressing room, but the wife is diligent about letting him see the outfits and express his opinions. Even if they’re outfits she doesn’t personally like, and sometimes even if they don’t fit her well. After all, the Husband_ _might like them, even if she doesn’t.
This makes the shopping trip take longer, yes. And that’s not always a good thing with a pack of hungry munchkins nibbling at kneecaps. So, not as much shopping would get done, and that’s just part of it.
To accomplish the Father experience, the wife must accept that lesser shopping experience (shopping with kids in tow is almost always a lesser experience, so this isn’t much different). Then she can still enable her man’s participation so he’s not instead given the Babysitter experience, which is actually far worse than the Pack Mule experience, despite the fact that women don’t seem to be nearly as creeped out by a man with a gaggle of kids waiting outside a dressing room.
Ideally, the would-be Father is able to arrange for child care so he can instead be Husband, but that option isn’t always available. So make the best of it you can.
Make it Happen
The Husband experience doesn’t happen on its own, and it’s not a good idea for the husband to try to make it happen on his own. This requires some intentionality, some logistics, and some wifely initiative.
We’ll delve into that in the next post.
Originally posted 2016-06-20 08:00:45.