Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > why do wives put up with it?

why do wives put up with it?

Lately I have been back on the train a lot, and have been reminded of a phenomenon I had largely forgotten. One of those strange ritual behaviours between the female and the male of the species that puzzles, even troubles me. So let me set the scene:

Join me on platform one at Swindon as I await an early Paddington train. As an avid people watcher I have plenty of material to work with in such situations; travel provides a fascinating insight into one’s fellow humans. The platform regulars are instantly recognisable, as is their pecking order.

But, just beyond the tracks, is activity in the north car park that has reminded me of a, to me rather sexist, behaviour that really should have died out in these enlightened times. A car will sweep into the car park, pull up near the station entry and from the driver’s side will emerge Mr Businessman, suited and booted for his day at the office. From the passenger side will emerge, well, for the purpose of this story, let’s call her Mrs Businessman, and she is dressed for doing stuff around the house.

Mr B will take his briefcase from the back and depart for his train, and Mrs B drives the car back to the 4 bed, 2 rec, 3.75 bath or whatever.

Now there are variations on the level of human contact in these vignettes, but most are pretty perfunctory at best, but one stands out: The Volvo estate is brought to a stop with some authority. Mr B emerges, takes his briefcase and strides away without a glance at his companion. She walks round the front of the car, seeming to distance herself from him as much as she can, and departs with a decent touch of wheelspin. It is a shame that she had to pause to adjust the driver’s seat and that the car is front wheel drive. If she had been quicker and had had rear wheel drive she could have sprayed him with gravel such was the violence of her leaving the scene.

What domestic strife had preceded this journey? What was the atmosphere in the car along the way? These are the joys of people watching, speculating on events.

But I digress. The point here is that this ritual, something that I have seen for as long as I can remember, still goes on. OK, it is none of my business how other people live their lives, but this behaviour is so alien to me and seems so insulting to the ladies, although they seem quite happy to accept it.

I would never have dreamt of behaving like this with any of the ladies I have shared my life with since I flew the nest over 40 years ago. I know I’m not unique here as the guy who lives opposite is equally as happy to have his wife drive him as he is to drive her, but he and I do seem to be in a very small minority judging by my observations.

Maybe all of this is covered in the Handbook of Inter-Gender Relationships, I don’t know. Perhaps the ladies concerned are quite happy to have things this way. Maybe it means that they don’t have their driving criticised by some chauvinistic oaf. Possibly one of them might read this and enlighten me.

I hope that they do, because I would love to know. Whilst I’ll never find out what the story behind Mr & Mrs Volvo was, my natural curiosity is aroused and do I like to learn something new every day.

  1. June 13, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I bet that Mr Chauvinist turns up at the office and becomes Mr Sweetness & Light in front of all the young ladies that work with him!

    A good post John and it would be good to hear from some of the ladies that endure this type of man.

    • June 13, 2011 at 9:00 am

      I’ll bet you’re right 😉 I am hoping for some feedback though; it really does puzzle me that, in this day and age, things like this still go on. Was that aroma of molten Playtex I remember back in my younger days all in vain?

  2. Nigel Fitzhenry
    June 13, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Hi John

    Interesting blog but I’m worried about you hanging around train stations with your binoculars trained on all and sundry (or have I got it wrong?) . I’m always quite happy to be driven by anyone (within reason) but I know other males who would always expect to do the driving, except when it gets in the way of a few beers or a bottle of wine.



    • June 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Hi Nigel. Tricky one this. Do I say that I’ve promised the magistrates that I’ll stay away from certain other places, or just admin to being a train spotter? I’ll plead the fifth, but I did once own an anorak……

  3. June 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    If you watched our goodbyes, you’d see a different scene! I drop my sweetie of 11 years off at the taxi rank near the station and the drivers get a kick out of our hugs and kisses.

    The guy’s a jerk and she’s a fool for letting him treat her thus.

  4. Sophia Spencer
    June 25, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Ha! Well this one didn’t, and maybe what you refer to was one of the cracks that started to appear in our marriage.

    When first married we both worked in London and my car had the station car prk sticker so I always drove us each way. After we moved out to the country and worked locally it was only when Mike had to make the odd trip to London that he might ask me to drive him as parking was nigh on impossible at the station.

    That was OK when it was the right time for me to do it on my way to work, but one day I followed him out and we each got into our respective cars and had a blazing row on the drive, each sat in our own car, engines running, with him wanting me to sit in his and then drive it back and me sayiing that if he wanted a ride we were taking mine. In the end he stormed off, couldn’t park, missed his train and drove into Reading to park there and catch another train to town.

    He was late, flustered and screwed up his presentation and I got the blame. We had another row over it that evening and things ran down hill after that until we separated.

    Like you I don’t understand why women put up with it and I don’t understand why men want to do it, but you are right; you do see a lot of it.

  5. July 11, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Omygoodness! Well apart from the fact we are Mr and Mrs Volvo estate, I am happy to say this is not my experience. In fact my partner was kind enough to pick me up (in the Volvo estate) from a rather boozy client event recently and he had offered to do it so I could ‘at least relax a little with a glass of wine’ without having the lengthy drive home.
    Your description reads like textbook lack of respect for the homemaker type scenario.
    If he were mine, he would be going to the office with an iron-shaped burn on the back of his shirt….oops!

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