Helpless Husband Not So Helpless After All

Humor is the best medicine for what ails you.

DEAR ANT: My wife asked me to get her a tattoo for her 40th birthday. I told her no. I will get her anything else, but not a tattoo. I think tattoos on women are a turn-off. She says she plans to have it put in a private area and claims it will be artful not trashy.  

I asked her why she suddenly wants a tattoo. She said to make her feel attractive and desirable again. Even though I told my wife I don’t like tattoos and I find her as attractive and desirable as the day we met, she insists she wants one. She thinks I’m being stubborn, insensitive and unreasonable. It’s gotten so bad that she’s giving me the silent treatment.  Should I break down and get her the tattoo in order to save my marriage even though the idea of it disgusts me? I need your advice.  HELPLESS HUSBAND


DEAR HELPLESS HUSBAND: Over the last decade tattoos have grown increasingly prominent in our culture. According to a 2006 study undertaken by the Pew Research Center, nearly half of all Americans ages 26 to 40 have at least one tattoo.

It’s no wonder on a day full of errands I’m confronted at every stop with indelible décolleté hearts and butterflies, not to mention the array of cartoon characters, super heroes and inspirational words people choose to have stamped across their bodies. 

Why can’t everybody just be satisfied with leaving tattoos where they belong? On the burly forearms of drunken sailors, thank you very much.

I know. I know. Tattoos have emerged as a socially acceptable form of self-expression. Here's what I say. You want to express yourself? Write a poem. Sing a song. Do a dance. Whatever you do, don’t get a tattoo. Call me old-fashioned, but (and I'm bound to offend at least half the population with my next comment) a tattoo still connotes a rather unsavory reputation when I see one…especially on a woman.

Narrow-minded opinions aside, it’s serendipitous, your seeking my advice on this matter. Like your wife, I have a milestone birthday on the horizon. Like you, my husband solicited me for gift ideas.

Don’t get excited. It’s not that serendipitous. Clearly I do not want a tattoo. What I want is a miniature pot-bellied pig. When I told him, my husband looked at me like I had three heads, blinked a few times and said, “A pig?”

Yes a pig! Pigs make wonderful pets. They’re adorable and smart and loyal and get along well with dogs and…do you know what he said? No. Can you believe it? Why do you guys bother asking if you’re only going to say no? Sheesh.

Did I mention pigs are not slobs? In fact, they’re quite tidy. They only roll around in mud because they have dry skin and a little moisturizer solves that problem and…he still said no. AS LONG AS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT SLOBS, LET ME SAY PIGS DON’T LEAVE THEIR DIRTY SOCKS BETWEEN THE SOFA CUSHIONS OR USED DENTAL FLOSS IN THE SINK. (Sorry.)

My husband and I have a fundamental difference of opinion on the matter of pigs as house pets. The point is, even though I'm right, my husband is not going to buy me a miniature pot-bellied pig for my birthday. Period. End of discussion. I will, however, survive because I know my husband loves me (even if he is wrong about the pig).

You and your wife have a fundamental difference of opinion on the matter of tattoos. You’re not getting your wife a tattoo BUT (and here's where our situations differ) she might not survive. Even if you got her 100 tattoos, it might not save your marriage. Let me explain. 

Your wife doesn’t want a tattoo. What she wants is to feel attractive and desirable. The thing is, we wives can’t survive without feeling attractive and desirable which is a direct result of feeling loved and cherished by our husbands. I know what you’re thinking. But I love my wife. I even told her I find her as attractive and desirable as the day we met. Blah.Blah. Blah. Now pay attention. The best way to tell your wife you love her is to show her. At the risk of resorting to an old cliché, remember this: "Actions speak louder than words."

Helpless Husband, it seems to me you're not as helpless (a little oblivious, maybe, but not helpless) as you think. For the love of Pete, quit talking and start doing! Show your wife you love her with a note, a card, a gift, a gesture, something to let her know you think about her even when you're not together. Be sappy and sentimental. Have meaningful, substantive conversations. Listen to her. Don't make her compete for your attention with the television, computer, your Blackberry or anything else that consumes too much of your time and energy. Be affectionate.

Cherish your wife every single day of the year and the birthday and anniversary presents, even ones that acknowledge the milestones, won't matter so much. (Of course, to be safe, I would not recommend forgetting a special occasion under any circumstances). Start today. Make the effort. Tattoo yourself on her heart.

Good luck.  ANT

Need advice?  Ask Ant! Click Email the author or send questions askantadvice@gmail.com.


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