Dr. Helen

Observations on Relationships in a Grocery Store

I was traveling to the Midwest and stopped by a Target store to pick up supplies when it started pouring rain. There was a tornado watch that was not serious, but the rain was torrential. The shoppers all stood by the door and watched the downpour and some brave souls ran out to get their car to pick up their families who were inside. Some were moms who ran out to get the minivan to pick up their daughters. Others were men running out to get their girlfriends, wives or kids.

As I watched the scene, I noticed one couple in their twenties or early thirties with a young child. The mother held the child and looked sourly at the father who did not say much. He tried to put a blanket around the kid but she gave him a look that said he was incompetent (at least from what I could observe). She looked put out with him as he pulled his jacket hood over his head and ran out to get the car in the downpour, looking like a soaked rat, and then pulled up to retrieve her and the child, who got into the warm car and left. I thought about how men quietly go about their day helping in ways that are often not recognized, or worse, greeted with a sour expression and a sense of entitlement from the women in their lives (and sometimes from other men). “Is this the life of a man in a relationship?” I wondered.

I often think men’s contributions to families and society are overlooked these days or taken for granted. It’s no wonder so many men feel that it is better to flip through women on Tinder than to get into a long-term relationship. A smile from a woman you don’t know might be better at times than a smirk of irritation from the one you do.

I understand that men have faults and that women’s look of disgust might be warranted, but in a relationship of caring, research by John Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert, shows that facial expressions of disgust and anger are not good signs for a marriage.

Perhaps if the woman in Target had thanked her partner for going to get the car or trying to help with the kid, it would have been better for their relationship. A sneer doesn’t seem like a good idea. Over time, it can wreak havoc on a marriage. The society sneers at men, making it easier for women to do the same. It is no wonder so many men avoid marriage altogether. Being taken for granted is not a good feeling.

More from Dr. Helen:

Tinder and The Dating Apocalypse

Whistle if You Have Survived Whistling Abuse…