“Why doesn’t your wife leave you?”
That’s the #1 question that gets asked or is implied by women I meet from all over the world. What makes me the recipient of such a question? Am I a cheat? A gambler? A drunk? Or, say it isn’t so—a politician?
Nope. It’s much worse than that. I’m a musician. “Gasp! Oh, that poor woman,” many of you are saying about my dear wife.
Not only am I a musician, I’m an entertainer who actually makes a decent living. Yup. Despite what you’ve read on the internet about arts topping the “10 Worst Career Choices Made by Gen X,” I do okay.
My Job on a Cruise Ship Is Awesome
The downside to my musician success is that I’m away from home about half the year performing on cruise ships as a piano bar entertainer. That’s right—I’m the guy who invites everyone to shout, “So good, so good, so good,” in the middle of “Sweet Caroline.” It’s the perfect job for someone capable of being a pianist, vocalist, therapist, traffic cop, referee, comedian, escape fantasy, verbal punching bag, and alcohol salesperson in the same evening.
I often say that I have the best job on the ship and that my life is like a Cohen Brothers-Meets Jimmy Buffett screenplay but with more piano.
Even though guests are listening to me perform, what they don’t realize is that I’m observing them with equal interest. I pay attention and learn.
While You Watch Me, I’m Secretly Studying Your Every Move
Do the couples sit facing each other? Are they holding hands? Do they kiss? Do they laugh and talk?
Or do the couples barely interact? Does one of them do all the talking while the other just stares at their phone?
Do the married women respond to my smiles like they are starved for male attention their husbands no longer deliver? Do the married men stare at me wishing they could escape their life for mine?
When I make a humorous comment about relationships, who laughs the most? Who rolls their eyes? Who doesn’t react at all because it’s not a joke in their life?
Do the single ladies in their 30s carry on loud enough to be noticed by all the men in the room?
Do the divorced 40-something women look overwhelmed at the prospect of dating again?
Does the 50-year-old single guy think he’s impressing anyone by sending drinks to the girls younger than his own children?
And at the end of the night when bright lights have faded to blue, who wants the evening to continue? Are there lonely souls desperate for attention? Lying eyes? Freshly applied lip stick? Love on the wing? Or just hook-ups to be had?
I see it all, and I take notes.
People Love to Judge the Marriage They Don’t Have
When performed correctly, the job of piano bar entertainer breeds a familiarity with the guests that makes them feel entitled to know the details of my personal life. They’ve asked about my hometown, family, dog, religion, past jobs, and future plans. And to some extent, I provide them answers.
It’s that same sense of familiarity that also makes guests feel they have a right to express their judgment of me as well. This is especially true of the female guests once they learn I am married.
I find women usually divide themselves into two camps—those who LOVE the thought of their husbands being gone half the year, and those who are suspicious I’m a terrible husband for leaving my wife alone and (most assuredly) helpless back home.
Apparently, it’s okay for husbands to leave for jobs in the military, oil fields, or the fishing industry, because those guys are doing hard work that they don’t really enjoy. But piano bar entertainer? That’s not work! That’s just goofing off playing a bunch of pop songs and flirting with guests, right? Good husbands wouldn’t desert their women for such shallow pursuits, would they?
The deeper question isn’t always presented in a direct manner. Sometimes it’s couched in softer forms such as, “So how does she feel about you doing this?” Or, “How long do you plan on doing what you do?” But it all boils down to their primary conclusion—I’m an asshole for having fun at my job while my wife isn’t around.
And so, the ultimate question comes from these ladies of considerable inquisitiveness: “Why doesn’t your wife leave you?”
My Reply to Burning Question
Let’s set aside for the moment that the topic is really no one’s business. And also set aside the implication that my wife is a hapless lady-simpleton unable to function in my absence. Lastly, let’s overlook the suggestion that my decades of training, self-study, and many tens of thousands of dollars spent on formal education don’t make my job legitimate or acceptable in your eyes.
The reason my wife is fully committed to staying married to me is because I figured out the secret to what middle-aged, awesome women are looking for.
Being a good earner with little debt is helpful. Having a healthy appetite for romance keeps things interesting. And I’m no slouch when it comes to being respectful and treating her like a lady. But that’s all basic Husband-101 stuff. Any rookie Dude should get a handle on that.
Nope. I’m talking about the BIG secret. Women in their 20s like a man to romantically sweep them off their feet. In their 30s, women are drawn to providers who contribute to a secure household. But what comes after? It turns out that all my experience watching thousands of women and men in the piano bars provided me the grand solution to what my wife was looking for.
So, here it is, the most important sentence in this article:
Wonderful Women Are Looking for a Husband Who Will PARTICIPATE
Wait? That’s it? That’s the big secret? Oh, hells-to-the-yes, it is. And let me break it down and tell you why participation will rock your marriage or long-term relationship.
While it’s true that I’m gone for half the year (2 months on, 2 months off, repeat), during my time at home I am COMPLETELY dedicated to being present in my marriage. This ever-presence is exemplified by my consistent actions including:
The Do List
- Do or participate in the grocery shopping, cleaning dishes, dog walking, kid rearing (both young adults now), cooking, floor sweeping, laundry, yard work, house repair, and anything else on the honey-do list
- Pay the bills and update all our financial accounts as needed
- Help out with planning and gift-picking for family birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and any other functions that come along
- Both our mothers live within a mile of us so I’m their go-to chauffeur
- Make sure the cars are serviced and maintained
- Take part in planning our next couple vacations
- Take the lead in making sure we have several “date nights” throughout the month
- Most importantly, I also open jars and kill spiders
Some of you men may already do a pretty good job performing a similar list. Excellent. But here’s the tricky part—I’ll now share a list of things I don’t do in place of spending time with my wife:
The Don’t Do List
- Play video games when she’s home
- Spend hours at the gym
- Shut myself off in a home office
- Hang out with the guys at a bar for just “a couple drinks”
- Putter endlessly around the garage/work shed
- Watch whatever is on TV because the TV is on
Let’s be clear. It’s not that I don’t do those things at all. I’m actually a fan of every item on the “don’t do” list. I just don’t do them when my wife is available. The women readers are all nodding their heads in agreement right now, while many of the men are cocking their heads sideways like a perplexed Golden Retriever. Don’t worry, it will sink in.
You Want Specifics?
That’s right guys, participation means you give up your solitary man-tasks and spend focused, deliberate time with your wife on a daily basis.
If she’s making dinner and you’re in the family room watching the 7th episode in a row of something about trucks, get your ass in the kitchen and contribute. Put your hand softly on the small of her back and say, “How can I help?” Trust me, you just made her evening.
If you absolutely have to finish compiling data for a project, bring your laptop to wherever your wife is and sit next to her while you work. Let your hand rest on her leg between mouse clicks. Boom! You’re a husband hero.
If she opens up a calendar app and complains about how stressed she is concerning upcoming events, DO NOT simply say, “I’m sure you’ll figure it out” and return to your cave. Your wife was sending a coded message saying, “Help me figure this out you dip-wad!”
Sit next to her, move in close, and say, “Let’s plan it together. Maybe I can help handle some less dip-waddish details.” You will quickly receive the status of “Best Husband Ever” in your wife’s eyes.
And to make such a remarkable difference, all you did was show up.
Participation shouldn’t be that big of a deal. But I’ve witnessed the unpleasant truth countless times on my job that many men have simply checked out of their marriage.
Women desperate to get their husbands attention and men desperate to be somewhere else—that’s not the formula for a happy marriage.
Wrap It Up
To the women giving me stink-eye for daring to have a fun job away from my wife, I have heard your “Why doesn’t your wife leave you” question loud and clear, and I say this:
I offer my wife twice the participation in our marriage than husbands who sit on the couch every night of the year ignoring the world around them. My wife doesn’t leave me because I make the moments together count for something. That kind of thorough presence goes a long way towards marital bliss.
To the women out there wanting more from their marriage, and the men who want to be better husbands, the big secret I’ve learned is to simply show up, step up, and participate.
More info on Gregg’s exploits as an entertainer and relationship expert can be found in his books at this link.
Here’s another article you might like titled, “Why Arguing with My Wife Is a Waste of Time.”