Courtesy of Rebecca Tidy
I was in a relationship with a “wife guy” for 14 years, and married to him for 10 years.
His Twitter bio used to say “devoted husband,” but he cheated on me, so I left.
People who knew us tried to put the blame on me for not being more understanding.
I spent 14 years in a relationship with the kind of man who wrote “devoted husband” on his Twitter bio. Everyone said this guy adored and cherished me. He even waited at home in London, posting lovesick Facebook statuses, while I traveled the world in my early 20s.
“There aren’t many men who’d do that,” my mother admonished me.
“She doesn’t appreciate how lucky she’s got it,” another woman disapprovingly told him.
This “devoted husband” cheated on me, so I ended things. Yet I was seen as the bad person for upsetting a nice man who “made a silly mistake.” My sister let him move into her place for three months, then my parents loaned him an apartment on their farm. Just over a year later, my neighbors still look at me in disgust for tearing apart our “happy” family.
He created a brand around meMy ex-husband had actually crafted a strong personal brand by flooding everyone’s timelines with content about his undying love for me. He was a textbook “wife guy.”
But social media isn’t an accurate portrayal of anyone’s daily lives or relationships. The sickly sweet graduation photos and effusive praise for my achievements failed to convey that he was rarely at home.
The oh-so-predictable selfies of him in blue scrubs, while I was being sliced open to deliver our baby, brought him effusive praise from online observers. Yet the fact he was at a Christmas party when I came home from the hospital with our newborn slipped by unnoticed.
I believe that my ex-husband had a deep desire to be seen as a selfless hero: He thrived on recognition and congratulatory responses to his posts. But as any reader of childhood fairy tales knows: Where there’s a hero, there’s always a villain. The “heroic” cops have their “villainous” robbers, while the wife guy has, well, his wife.
My ex basked in the halo effect of “being a devoted husband,” a label that all too frequently renders almost any negative characteristic void. Thanks to his public displays of emotion and “vulnerability,” people overlooked his flirting, excessive partying, and questionable ways.
They didn’t know that he rarely changed a diaper, but he was always sure to share a selfie on the rare occasion he did.
Women are expected to be devoted to their husbandsIn contrast, critics seemed all too keen to highlight my “faults” in the face of his apparent devotion.
Working long hours? You’ve got no time for him.
At the gym? You’re making him insecure.
We live in a society that tells women to be grateful for the smallest amount of male attention and assistance — from offering empty compliments to taking out the trash. The bar for men is set so low that even finding your wife attractive is deemed worthy of congratulations.
Robbie Tripp, one of the first internet “wife guys,” was lauded for a cringe-inducing Instagram post about loving his wife’s “curvy” body.
Why does society celebrate a dude who talks about being sexually attracted to his wife as if it makes him some kind of hero?
There’s no female equivalent of a wife guy — you don’t hear the term “husband chick.” That’s because society expects women to be devoted to their husbands automatically and without question.
For now, all we can do is hope that Ned Fulmer and Adam Levine’s recent escapades may help bring the era of the wife guy to a long-overdue close.
Do you have a personal experience with a ‘wife guy’ to share? Contact Senior Editor Conz Preti: firstname.lastname@example.org
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