Yeeks! On Aug. 4 I blogged about a column in the U.K. Daily Mail by Nirpal Dhaliwal, writer and husband of the more successful Brit chick-lit writer Liz Jones. Dhaliwal was making the point that the last thing women want is a sensitive “New Man,” however they might protest to the contrary. That sounded sensible to me.
Then, reader K.H. emailed to say that while Dhaliwal’s message made sense, Dhaliwal himself sounded like a jerk: boasting of his sexual prowess and insufficiently apologetic for an incident of infidelity that nearly broke apart the marriage. I reread Dhaliwal’s column and agreed with K.H.
Now comes reader L.T.–with a link to this column by Jones in the U.K. Guardian that makes Dhaliwal out to be an even bigger jerk than I’d thought. Jones is the author of the best-selling (although in print only in the U.K.) “Liz Jones’s Diary,” detailing her desperate search for a husband during her mid-30s. Here is how Jones describes life pre-Dhaliwal:
I did eventually get boyfriends, but they weren’t very good ones. The first was a lunatic called Richard, whose phone was always frustratingly switched off. After all those years of honing and hoping, I finally lost my virginity in his squalid flat in Lewisham. Then there was Trevor, who wooed me by making me tape mixes, but then rapidly went off me, despite moving into my flat. A seminal moment, if that is the right word, was when some of his friends came round one afternoon and I noticed he’d hidden the Durex in the bathroom. Did he not want his friends to know we were having sex? Not a good sign.
Last but not least came Kevin, Boyfriend Number Three, an Osama bin Laden lookalike. We had sex, you’ll be pleased to know, after I had pursued him for two years. We went to see precisely one film together, The Blair Witch Project. And when we went out to dinner he apologised but said he could afford only to pay for his half. Hmm. He told me he didn’t own a mobile. I wonder if he was lying all along.
And here’s her description of life with Dhaliwal:
At what point, I wonder, do you know they actually like you, let alone love you? I get weird silences, and closed doors, and sighs, and lowered eyelids; his friends get numerous texts, usually sent furtively in the car while I am driving, and long, snickering phone calls (mobile to mobile, of course), and helpfulness and attention and sympathy, and I get nothing. Not even a date on New Year’s Eve, not even a decent present on my birthday (a lily, in a horrid pot, bought on my credit card). I think I annoy him, to be honest. I ask him questions and he pretends not to hear me. I am watching telly and he turns over without a word. I get his back in bed. I had more sex when I was dating, which, considering my track record, must be grounds for divorce. The last time we did it was on Christmas Eve. Is he having an affair, or has he just gone off me, or both? I really don’t know, and I can’t bring myself to ask.
So what happened to Mr. Orgasm? And which sounds better–living with Dhaliwal or living without him? As L.T. comments:
“If this is about her true life and real husband, then he’s not a Real Man, he’s just a Real Ass!”
And D.D. expands my my remark in the Aug. 7 Mailbag that the best kind of parenting consists of marrying and staying married to the other parent of your child. D.D. offers a raft of excellent parenting suggestions, so many that I’ll quote only a few:
Don’t physically, emotionally, sexually, verbally, or psychologically abuse your child. When you tell your child to do something, see to it that it gets done promptly. Do set a good example for your children. Do use the best manners and train your children to follow your example. Do assign your children age-appropriate chores beginning when they’re old enough to pick up their toys and continue this practice until they leave home. Play with blocks with your toddler. If it doesn’t matter, don’t redo work your child has done. Continually, watching someone improve on something you’ve done undermines confidence and creates apathy.
Do love your child, and express that love frequently in little ways. Hugs, caresses, a smile, a hand on the shoulder can often communicate feelings more effectively than words. Do monitor what your children watch on television. Since you can’t monitor what you can’t see, televisions need to be kept out of children’s bedrooms. Do praise your child when she deserves it. Praise appropriately. Praise that is exaggerated is baloney, and kids know the difference. Don’t ‘label’ your children,the good one, the wild one, the talented one, the smart one, the lazy one, etc. You be your child’s role model and mentor! Do check their homework religiously and be there for them when they need help with schoolwork and projects.
Don’t make derogatory remarks about your child to other people in their presence. Don’t give in to a whining child. Do instill in your child the belief that success in life is due to hard work rather than luck or inherited traits. Don’t allow your children to patronize gutter media, that is, television, movies, and video games that portray base, vulgar, or violent behavior. Introduce your child to media that portrays honesty, sacrifice, loyalty, perseverance, modesty, love, humility, courage, courtesy, respect, and reverence.
But the best advice of all from D.D. is this:
“Do provide your children with a good mother/good father by marrying someone you believe will make a good parent.”
The only one of D.D.’s parenting theories I’d disagree with is this one:
“Don’t start a family immediately after marrying.”
Some of the happiest married folk–and most loving, responsible mothers and fathers–I know waited about 10 minutes into their marriages to start a family. But they did follow D.D.’s dictum about “marrying someone you believe will make a good parent.” That’s what’s made the difference.