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“What are three things I could do to be a better girlfriend?” I asked Big. I sat on my bedroom floor with my back to him while I painted my toes a juicy magenta. (It’s amazing to me that in these kinds of situations, men rarely turn the question around and ask what they could do better.)
“Well, you can recognize that I’m a man,” he said without hesitation, crossing his size 15 feet over one another over the curlicued ledge of my twin day bed. “That I’m different than you, and that the things you like and do aren’t always the things I like and do.”
“Okay, what’s the third thing?” I asked impatiently.
“That was only the first thing.”
“Oh okay, go ahead.”
“And you can work on your persuasion skills. You have a bully gene in you, and that doesn’t really work with me.”
I thought about whipping around and yelling at him, “NO I DON’T!” and decided that might prove him right, so I just sat there eyeing my fantastic polish job and waiting for him to finish.
“You know, some women get what they want by kind of…tricking the man into wanting to do it–like it was his idea. If you want something, or want me to do something, use your womanliness to convince me–not your bullying skills.”
Who were these women? What exactly did these women do? And how in the world was I going to figure out how to use my feminine wiles?
“So what’s the third thing?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t have a third thing. You’re so great in so many other ways,” he said, wrapping me in a hug. Good answer.
Now that I knew I needed to do a better job of using my feminine wiles, I had lots of questions, so I went looking for answers.
My grandma would rather I look for those answers in the Bible, but I usually seek them in the self-help section of the nearest bookstore. Sometimes, I end up getting my answer from the Bible anyway by way of the latest self-help book.
The next weekend, I plopped down on the floor of B&N’s self-help section with The Vixen Manual. I figured that I needed to re-educate myself in the school of womanly arts. And who better to educate me than a woman who had made herself famous by seducing men? Yes, I was only focused on one man, but I figured that she might have some helpful tidbits for me.
I flipped through the book and soon came across a word I’d heard before but had never paid much attention to: helpmate.
The Grand Vixen was explaining the importance of being a good helpmate to your man and how it took her a long time to realize this. She explained how a man who recognizes a good helpmate in a woman will do anything to keep her happy–because he knows how valuable she is to his own happiness–and even his survival.
And don’t you know, the notion of a helpmate is discussed in the Bible (though there is a lot of controversy surrounding exactly what is meant by a woman being man’s “helper”). Looks like grandma was right all along.
I liked this idea of the helpmate and thought it could work well for me. I put the book back on the shelf, made a mental note to check the price on Amazon (who buys books at retail these days?), and began thinking about how I would use my new knowledge.
Since then, I’ve been working on being a good helpmate. And yes, it’s working! So here are some of my ideas on how to be a good helpmate to your boyfriend or husband. Hopefully, they’ll work for you as well as they have for me–and you won’t have to
put your boyfriend in a headlock nag your boyfriend anymore.
Ways to be a good helpmate to your boyfriend or husband
- Keep him fed. I’m in charge of making sure we eat. Whether it’s cooking, finding the restaurant, or packing snacks when we’re out for the day, I am the food czarina. In exchange, I never have to do dishes when we are together. I hate doing dishes. And after nearly a year of dating, he still pays for most of our dates. I don’t expect it, but I do appreciate that.
Keep him clothed. If I didn’t pick out clothes for him, I think Big would wear the same thing every day when he wasn’t wearing his work clothes. I also do his laundry sometimes (gasp!) but he does mine sometimes too (and folds it!).
Keep him employed. Obviously, Big’s employment status is not up to me, but I play my part in helping him stay in good standing at his job. When he wants to fall asleep at my place the night before a work night, I kindly but firmly make him go home so he won’t have trouble getting up for work the next morning.
Encourage his hobbies. If it was just me, I’d rather read gossip magazines to seniors than go to a baseball game. But Big loves baseball, so I go to the games with him and I have fun. And if I see something that I think he’d like–such as a stadium tour–I tell him about it and help organize it. In exchange, I have a partner looking out for ways for us to enjoy the things I like. You know, the usual: melancholy romantic movies starring Ryan Gosling and eating in sexy restaurants that serve complex cocktails.
Be willing to pretend sometimes. If you’re inexplicably lost, just pretend that you aren’t. Sit back, relax, and be nice about it rather than getting all huffy and I-told-you-not-to-take-that-turn about it. Men hate to be wrong, they hate to look stupid, and they are not going to ask for directions. Life goes on after getting lost–and he will be so grateful if you let him save face by not making a big deal out of how lost the two of you have gotten.
Help him get up (more pretending). I don’t know why Big loves this so much–especially because I am definitely not actually helping him up when he extends his hand out for me. But my dad used to do that help-me-get-off-the-couch thing with me all the time too, so I guess it’s a man thing. Just go along with it and help him get up.
Take his shoes off. This is another one I don’t understand. Sweaty socks are pretty gross, but I think it means that I’m earning credits for when he has to one day rub the gas bubbles out of my pregnant stomach (at least that’s what they said on Glee).
Help him save money. Suggesting low-cost dates, eating in rather than going out, and renting movies instead of going to the theater are all wonderful gestures to let your man know you are looking out for him. You don’t have to try to save money all the time, but being mindful of how much money he is shelling out for dates is an excellent way to be a good helpmate.
In closing, just remember these two principles about being a good helpmate:
Never try to be a good helpmate to make a man want to be with you. Being a good helpmate is not about being a doormat; it’s about being a teammate to someone who has already demonstrated his commitment to you and the relationship.
Don’t constantly point out the things you do. You can point out the nice things you do occasionally, but don’t make it seem like you are keeping track of points by constantly reminding him of all the things you are doing.