Sad Bastard of the Week: Nobody wears the pants in this family

Posted at 10:45 AM Apr 06, 2010

By Andrea Grimes

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Slate's Dear Prudence is on a roll with sad bastardry, this week bringing us the predicament of a married woman who is verily tired of her husband trying to get her out of her pants. No, it's not a case of mismatched libidos--it's a case of mismatched senses of humor, and probably some serious assholery.

What do you do when your husband won't quit pantsing you? Well, first you become the sad bastard of the week.

Writes the wife, from Pensacola:

I know this sounds stupid and petty. I have a great husband and love him more than anything--but he does something that ends up causing a fight every time. He thinks it's hilarious to pull my pants down, for instance, when I am doing dishes or just getting up off the couch. It's constant, and I find it annoying and unfunny. When I ask him to stop, he gets pouty and says I am not playful, and it's "not like it's in public." Well, I don't care--I think it's weird, and I hate it. How can I get this to stop without causing a fight?

There are many, many ways to be playful in a marriage. Repeatedly pulling your wife's pants down even though she hates it and asks you to stop, is not a case of her lack of playfulness. It's a case of a husband who gets a rise out of her discomfort. Red flag, much? Prudie is appalled:

I always wonder in cases like yours whether, as you were dating, you thought, "This is the man of my dreams! There is that little problem with him abusively pulling down my pants all the time and pouting when I tell him how much I hate it. I wonder how mauve and peach would look as my wedding colors?" If this is not a new behavior, why did you marry this guy? If it is a new behavior, then he has some disturbing ideas of what's allowable behavior. You say he does this constantly and ignores your pleas to stop. Next time he does it, without a word pull up your pants and walk out the door, and go stay at a friend's house.

Prudie further advises marriage counseling, and I concur. Is the joy of yanking someone's pants down really so great that this guy has to do it at the expense of her personal comfort? Doesn't sound to me like this is a marriage where personal boundaries and desires are respected.

Readers, what do you think? Is the wife overreacting, or does this husband need to be given the what-for?


Comments

Calvin said:

Obviously the dude is overstepping. At the same time, there is probably more to the story.

What if the wife hates the depantsing because she thinks her legs and ass are fat/ugly and is self-conscious about them? Maybe his depantsing is some (admittedly stupid) way of saying "Come on, your legs are sexy! I still like chasing you like a teenager" or something?

If she says, "Stop, that makes me uncomfortable!" then it's one thing. If she says, "Stop! My legs look fat!" then it's another.

Again, not defending the dude. I'm just trying to think how on earth it could even be true. I mean, what guy does that compulsively for no reason? I agree that "getting off on her discomfort" is a HUGE red flag in any relationship, but I would imagine there could be something else (probably equally as weird, however) going on.

KLondike5 said:

It sounds like he gets off on it, and like anything else between adults who like to have fun, consent is mandatory. Agree with Prudie that she needs to draw the line clearly. He's not hurting her or humiliating her in public, but that doesn't mean he's not being an asshole.

Not Guilty said:

I'd suggest doing it to him, but that could backfire if he thinks it's funny. Personally, I'd slap him hard across the face next time. Clearly her words mean nothing. Maybe the best way would be to approach it when he hasn't just done it. Bring it up and say in no uncertain terms it is not appreciated, no matter how funny he thinks it is. If he refuses to change is demonstrates an utter lack of respect and thus, the marriage is over. I didn't like Prudie's seeming underhanded comment that if he did this when they were dating and she still married him, it is her own fault and she should accept it. That is just how I read that part.

Kris said:

Not Guilty, advocating exacerbating any situation to violence is a very poor idea. She should definitely not "slap him hard across the face". ESPECIALLY if he's already engaging in abusive behavior. Besides being assault on her part, he might just decide to strike back.

His behavior is abusive, but it is not a threat to her or her life, and she should not feel the need to resort to violence when words might work.

SheffieldSteel said:

He doesn't take it seriously. The question is whether he takes her feelings seriously. A quiet talk, where she explains exactly how it affects her, should establish that - one way or the other.

Amy said:

The line that makes me nervous - and more willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt - is the woman wondering "How can I get this to stop without causing a fight?" This baffling question (why on earth shouldn't this cause a fight?) makes me wonder if she's ever clearly communicated her discomfort. What if every time he pulls down her pants she giggles nervously or lets out a big sigh and says "c'mon, cut it out," and he thinks she secretly enjoys the schoolyard teasing? So often it seems like young couples (at least the ones writing in to advice columns) say "I have this problem, now how can I fix it without actually talking to my spouse?"

If the wife has told her husband what she's told Prudie, clearly and firmly, and he continues to subject her to this behavior - then absolutely it's a problem of a husband getting off on the discomfort of his wife. But it's also possible that the problem here is immature or insufficient communication between the two.

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