a note to the husbands



The scene:

Luau and I are standing in our bathroom. He is holding my newly repaired favorite pair of boots, relaying the shoemaker’s instructions.

“So,” he says, holding a boot in one hand and pointing to the zipper with the other, “he told me to tell you that you’ve got to be careful because he didn’t replace the zipper, he repaired it. And the part that broke will continue to be vulnerable. So, what you need to do is pull them up all the way when you put them on so that they’re taut and then …”

I interrupt him. Partly because that’s my job as his wife and partly because I get what he’s saying and well …

“Honey, I can’t pull them up all the way.”

He thinks I don’t understand, so he continues his explanation.

“You have to or the zipper’s going to keep breaking and it’s going to cost you $35 each time to fix it.”

“I get that, Luau. But I CAN’T pull them up all the way.”

He looks at me with that patented husband as golden retriever look. Throw the ball, lady, throw the ball. 

I am under the impression that I’m spelling this out for him. But we’ve been at this long enough that I know full-well that I might as well be speaking Swahili.

“Babe,” I say, “I can’t pull them all the way up because MY CALVES ARE TOO FAT. So yes, I get it. But the damned zipper made it two and a half years. If I have to replace it in another year, I’ll live with it. Because PULLING THEM TAUT IS NOT AN OPTION.”

Since he’s now looking at me like a deer in headlights, I add, “Because my CALVES ARE TOO FAT.”

His eyes don’t blink. I can see the panic. It’s written all over his face.


No right answer!



After an awkward pause, he chooses option C:

He hands me the boots, says, “I’m not going to say a word,” and walks away.

Out of the goodness of my heart, cause I’m a giving kind of gal, I would like to take a moment to talk to the husbands out there. Come closer. I won’t hurt you, I promise.

You might want to grab a pen so that you can write this down. I’ll wait.

You, my friends, when you married your lovely wives, took an oath. There was some explicitly specified stuff like sticking with us through sickness and health and flush and broke and lots of blah blah blah about fidelity and what have you. But there were also a whole lot of implicit points that you might not have realized were covered right there in your vows. I’m going to tell you one of them right now.

We don’t care if it takes a crane and the jaws of life to get us out of our bedroom. We don’t give a crap if they need a flatbed truck to transport us across town. Or, oh, if say, our boots won’t go up all the way up over our calves. You are contractually obligated, even in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary, to say — or at the very least to imply — that we ARE NOT FAT.

Round, curvy, womanly, feminine, sexy, soft, perfect just as we are … these are all options. “I’m not going to say a word” is .. well .. not.

So here’s my advice. If you don’t want to lie, that’s okay. It’s not perfect, but it’s okay. But if you say nothing, then you’ve said everything. So please, for the love of God, don’t say nothing.

If you must, use the fine art of redirection.  I’ll even give you a script that you can carry with you just in case. I promise it will work. “Oh, honey, you look … um … so I was thinking … what say I take the kids and we schedule you a massage for this afternoon?”

You’re welcome.

36 thoughts on “a note to the husbands

  1. I don’t have anything at all to contribute here. Somehow we have negotiated that for 20+ years but I can’t explain how! It does strike me as kind of amusing the timing of things that in his big interview last night Lance Armstrong was talking about one of the people he hurt and he skirted around whether he had called her a “b” and a “liar” but he specifically said, “but I did NOT call her FAT.” 🙂 🙂

  2. I need my husband to read this. My husband, who just yesterday while I was getting ready for work, very calmly asked me, “So, what do you think changed that you gained weight, Hon?”
    I’m not usually oversensitive about these things, but my head almost exploded! For one I HAVEN’T gained any weight recently, I’ve actually lost a few lbs. And for another, I had shoulder surgery 3 months ago! I haven’t been to they gym in almost 6 months from the pain of my shoulder injury!
    If I said the same to him, he’d be so upset. But I won’t, cause he really is a great guy, even if he’s clueless sometimes and believes that being married to me for so long entitles him to be honest about these things.

  3. I bought some tall, grey Cole Haan/Nike Air last fall. The front is leather, the back half is sort of stretchy suede – NO ZIPPER. Check them out!

  4. I truly enjoyed this far too much, but for reasons you might not expect. I am not laughing at you…I am shaking my head in painful recognition. When you are married to someone on the spectrum, this is reality. Actually, I would take the silence or awkward pause over the brutal honesty. My husband would have calmly said, “If your calves are too fat, why would you wear them?” Or, worse, “If you know your calves are too fat for these boots, why would we waste money on repairing the zipper?” There is no insult intended. It is pure logic. But, in the early years of our marriage, I heard, “Why waste money on something that matters to you…because you aren’t good enough.” If we gain weight, wear an unattractive outfit, have a bad hair day, sing off key, or drive like a little old lady, it WILL be pointed out with the dry logic of Spock. Eventually, like all good husbands do, he has learned to recognize certain facial expressions…perhaps a look of intense pain or rage on my face…and has realized that his brutal honesty was a cruel experience on the receiving end. But, the brutal honesty was replaced with the “deer in the headlights” look. The golden retriever “throw me a ball” look. Because, to my husband, I am, indeed, speaking another language. He is desperate to figure out how to negotiate this complex, mostly unspoken, language of the committed relationship. God bless him, he tries so hard. This post made me laugh, mostly because, an Aspie spouse is like this in spades. Anything that is a “typical” relationship error for most men, multiply it by a bajillion. Don’t even get me started about life in the “bedroom.” (Not a time ANY woman wants brutal, logical honesty.) I am sure you can fill in the blank. But, I wanted to say thank you. It helps me to remember that other husbands struggle, too. I helps to be reminded that, even accidently, the NT husbands can fail to complete the maze of unspoken, unwritten relationship communication rules. I guess what I am saying is that it feels good to know I am not alone.

    • My dh has at least made enough progress that he keeps his mouth shut. 🙂 My son, on the other hand – he would be the one to point out well before the repair scenario that ‘those boots don’t fit you Mommy, look, your leg is too squishy and big for it’ 🙂

  5. Pouring a little out for @Luau, my brother in not knowing what to say when confronted with the real “f word” so I think I’ll just clam up or run away or EVERYBODY PANIC!!! But yeah, thanks for the free advice. It is duly noted!

  6. HAR!!! I remember years ago – before I realized it broke a rule – I asked my husband if an outfit made me look fat. He paled, and backed out of the room. Moments later, my then two year old daughter appeared: “Dad says you need to ask me something?” Well played, sir, well played.

  7. My husband gets the “deer caught in the headlights” look all the time during our conversations! I try to think that means he is taking in every word and trying to come up with a way to make an intelligent reply. Well after 18 years of marriage, I am still waiting for it to happen. It is okay, I just tell him to stand there and look pretty and let me figure things out.

  8. Hysterical post. True, but hysterical. I gave up buying boots at regular stores and finally found some that fit – fully zippered and all – online. Even at my skinniest, my calves have always been, let’s say, muscular. So these boots made for skinny minnies never ever fit. Try onestopplus.com for boots that can be pulled all the way up. 🙂

  9. I was just going to post the same thing as Jaime! Even at my skinniest and fittest, I have had a hard time finding boots that fit over my calves! I have never heard of Onestopplus,com Jaime. Thanks for the info! I just spent a lot of time trying to stretch the ones I have that cut off my circulation when I zip them up!

  10. I would prefer, “Well honey, I’ll have to invent some boots then that will fit you just perfect.”, a kiss, and then walk away. Thankfully my husband is an engineer, and actually thinks that way! =)

  11. Well….since my husband would have taken his time to take my boots to the cobbler, actually remember to pick them up, and then remember to relay what the guy told him to tell me about my boots….” I call that a SCORE at my house. Guess it is all in your perception. I honestly could have cared less what my husband would have said at that point. Cuz it’s no secret to anyone that everyone in house could stand a little “weight-therapy.” ~ LOL~

  12. Husband takes boots to be fixed +5 points
    Husband returns home with same boots +5 points
    Husband relays key info. In detail +10 points
    Falls into fat boobytrap…….-100 points, some days you just can’t win Luau.

  13. I use the comment, “that is not the required response” and give my husband a chance to rethink his answer. If nothing else, it lightens the mood. 🙂

  14. Oh this is all so funny, some of the best comments ever, #19 especially but I would assign higher point vale to first three items. Btw, -100pts=at least 2 pairs of new boots. Zappos will have them for you by Monday. Think aquaitalia, la Canadians or frye. Classic, weatherproof and expensive enough to guarantee this unexpected behavior will never happen again.

  15. My husband would just say Well do something about it and lose some weight! I never ask his opinion cause I know it will be honest answer! But he does it all cooks,cleans,can fix anything,make almost anything,and has fulltime job. Take care of all up keep on his widow Mothers house and ranch. I’m a SAHM and I have lost about 15lb the last few months and got maybe 20 or so more to go. My husband has been “stick boy” his nickname from a friend(LOL) most of his life. But has put some lbs on the last couple years and went to Cardiologist recently. The cholesterol out of wack. Need to cut out red meat and lose the pounds!! Oh boy! Maybe we can have a contest to see who loses the most! But he will,cause it is all in his belly! Damn him! LoL.

  16. Better than a lecture or offer to help you get your calves in shape. When you are married to someone studying to be a fitness trainer, maybe silence is the best route. I can’t/don’t buy boots for the same reason. Never thought to just not zip them all the way up.

  17. I guess I’m weird, but this is the type of message that really confuses me. (side note, in case you didn’t already know, I am an adult aspie)

    On one side, I get messages like this one. Usually universally stated, that when a woman describes herself as fat I am to disagree with her in some way.

    On the other side, I get messages that I am supposed to do the exact opposite. From women saying that they are offended when someone disagrees with their self-description as fat, because it implies that “fat” is a dirty word. So I shouldn’t do that.

    The best I can conclude is that everyone wants something different and I am supposed to somehow figure it out without always explicitly being told. And when I see messages like this one, stated as though it applies to everyone in all contexts, I feel vaguely disquieted and worried. How am I supposed to know the right answer when people treat it as though it is supposed to be obvious, but it really isn’t?

    • Not weird at all – and NOT alone in being confused! There’s a reason that we so often hear men (across neurologies) expressing their frustration at the mercurial nature of the fairer sex.

      This was meant to be tongue in cheek, so although it was delivered as a universal message, that was really for humorous effect. However, admittedly part of the reason that it’s funny is that there is some truth to it.

      But I think that you said it yourself, in the end, we are all individuals with different needs and different preferences about how we interact. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with overtly asking questions of those we encounter about how what makes them most comfortable or how they would hope that you would respond to them in a similar situation. Heck, you could use this post as a benign conversation starter 😉

      But please don’t think you’re alone. Luau will tell you — he doesn’t get it either. 😉

      • The real problem is, we not only want them to *say* we are not fat, but it also needs to somehow make it true. 🙂

    • I’m with you on this. It will never be obvious enough. God bless my wife, she has put up with my blundering for over 12 years and still loves me. She has me (I am most likely an aspie) and our son is classic autistic to deal with, so she has endured a lot.
      While I learned to live with this behavior and recognize certain individuals’ desired responses, it is a very tiring practice to keep up with (having to constantly change my response delivery and wording based on the person so I don’t offend them as much; this is a sub-conscious process for NT people, but it’s a very conscious process for me). I really appreciate Jess’s gesture (giving us blundering males some advice), patience, and candor on the subject, but I would have said or done something similar to what Luau said/did. It’s a very logical response to a (what would have been for me) confusing situation. I tend to get the deer-in-the-headlights look because there is some detail missing or question in my mind that has just has me stuck in a loop. There tends to be emotion involved in most of the conversations I have had like this and that causes a lot of confusing signals for me. I think and communicate in a very logic-based manner, but have to add the expected touch of humanity and emotion to make it easier for others to relate, or feel like I get it. I try really hard, but I will always stick my foot in my mouth, sooner or later.
      I am sorry if this is disjointed but I can’t adequately express the way I feel about situations like this. I think Andraya alluded to it best by implying that this no-win type of situation for an aspie and a lot of NT men and that is frustrating at best.

  18. pfft…amateur. What you SAY is…honey, it’s not your calves growing, it’s the leather shrinking. These boots are made of defective shrinking leather!!! DEMAND a refund!

  19. So I just went through this hypothetical situation with my attorney-for-a-husband to get a feel for what he’d say.
    “I want a lawyer.” LOL

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