For men’s eyes only


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I am requesting that women skip my column today because I have something to discuss with men, and it is best said confidentially.

(I promise to return next week with a more inclusive column that may feature a recipe to win back the affection of the ladies, perhaps Dead Things in a Sauce, always a popular dish in the colder weather.)

Men, there is bad news concerning the social fabric of the nation as it affects our guyhood: For the first time, according to a recent analysis in The New York Times of available census data, more American gals are living without a husband than with one — 51 percent last year. That’s a lot of furry slippers not being placed at the ends of beds.

As the Times story explained, it seems that the younger women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods of time.

Older women are living longer as widows and, as the Times said in words to chill the male heart, “after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage — sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.”

Newfound freedom? As the poet might have said (if his wife had let him), what rough feminist beast, her hour come round at last, slouches toward her yoga class to be born?

This growing distaste for men in general and husbands in particular — and after all we have done for those gals! — reflects the attitudes expressed by women in a recent Woman’s Day/ poll.

This found that 36 percent of wives wouldn’t marry their husbands again if they had it to do all over again. Another 20 percent said they weren’t sure whether they would or not. (No word on whether they would marry other people’s husbands.)

Clearly, husbands are not as appreciated as they once were. Back in 1950, for example, only 35 percent of women were living without a spouse and they felt very miserable while those who were married were so happy that bluebirds made nests in their hats — a testament to the wonderful manly men of that period and the sedative effect of martinis on the female constitution.

It would be tempting to blame gay marriage for our current depressing state of affairs — tempting, that is, if you happen to be a conservative religious nut. The rest of us can only look in the shaving mirror and blame the guy staring back at us for not continuing to be a stud muffin and keeping marriage popular.

But what can we do about this? How can we preserve the traditional rights and prerogatives of the married man — i.e., hot dinners — when single women increasingly prefer small furry animals to large hairy husbands?

Must we married men, the few pathetic specimens left, meet in forlorn little groups to bemoan the decline of marriage while eating pizza, drinking beer and watching ball games on TV? Not a bad plan, I grant you, but the desperate situation cries out for a more aggressive approach if we are not to become social relics.

If I may humbly suggest, guys, we need to proceed in a businesslike way. We have a very good product to sell — adorable, cute-as-buttons men — and all we need to do is to market our gender more successfully. It’s no good just indulging in a spiteful show of flatulence and snorting noises while wondering how in the world women would not find men irresistible.

I foresee a series of public service ads to promote marriage. The copy almost writes itself …

“Linda felt lonely in her life but then she met Michael, who thoughtfully tugs her nightie every Saturday night after she’s fallen fast asleep to remind her that a man is in the house!

“Becky was afraid of burglars but she found Nat, who is good at snoring. Now she isn’t afraid of a home invasion because she knows that burglars won’t break into a house that reminds them of a cave full of bears!”

Gals just need to know that men come in a wide assortment of models (check availability in your area), some young, some old, but all adorable and a wonderful addition to an empty sofa. For just the smallest compliment, a newly recruited helpmate might even be persuaded to cook a low-fat dinner (Dead Things in a Sauce). Oh, the bliss these single women are missing.

(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail him at rhenry(at)


  1. T

    Anytime someone tells me not to do something, I feel obligated to do it anyway. Here’s how I see it. It’s a different time. We now realize that we don’t NEED a man. We may well still WANT one. Also, somen tend to become more independent as we get older. I’m 44, female and in my second marriage. All 4 of my kids were from my first marriage. I’ve been married this time 12 1/2 years. He is a good man, and a good husband . He is also the emotionally and socially dependent half of the relationship. If anything happens to this marriage, I’m not getting married again; and if I hadn’t had four young kids I might not have gotten married the second time. I got married the first time very young and remarried a year and a half later. My kids are almost raised and although I love my husband sometimes I get tired of having to answer to someone else. Frankly at 44 I want to do my own things, in my own way.

    Incidentally my mother-in-law is a very happily single 70- something woman.

  2. waynels

    For a man who really wants to spend his life with a woman, first thing to remember is: never, ever, under any circumstances, refer to her or anyone else born female as a “gal.”

  3. Elgee

    Reg, You neglected to mention that there are more women in the world, than men – an important stat!

    And Harville, Cut to the chaise!

    I’m a 68 year old single women; lied to by one “possibility” when Iwas young and fertile and beaten repeatedly by another. Any clues here as to why I’ve remained single? Elgee

  4. David Rosenberg

    Some of you guy’s just don’t get it. Marriage can be a wonderful thing. The first thing that you must understand, if when you decide to get married, the one with the biggest teats doesn’t always make the best mate. Looks are only important to you. If your best buddy thinks your gal is ugly or a skank, he’s not the one looking at her every day. It’s an old saying but it’s true, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”
    I will be married for 43 years this March. My wife looks the same to me as she did 44 years ago. We had are ups and downs but, communication always got us through the rough parts. Knowing when to admit you’re wrong also helps. Marriage is a give and take situation, knowing when and what you have to do is important. Woman aren’t marring for all the reasons noted in other comments. Why do you think it took so long for a womam to hold equal jobs and equal pay? When they reached it, men weren’t that important to have anymore.
    I’m disabled now, my wife is head of the family and I let her. I don’t make demands just becaise I am the man in the family. She is the one keeping the family together, she deserves the role.

  5. Patrick

    This is a serious column, right?
    Well I for one will not mourn the demise of the hetero-patriarchy(if in fact that is really happening).
    One way to increase the number of marriages would be to allow same-sex couples who wish to do so the right! But our Religous Reich and the Republican Party they control will not permit that to happen.
    We need to get over both the idea that every woman needs a man, and that no man is a real man without a woman.

  6. Bill

    “I say all men should go to hell.”

    Posted by: Michela | January 25, 2007 2:31 PM

    YOUR MAN must have treated you very harsly. But it is indeed too bad that you would condem the entire gender.

    At 49 and divorced from a whiney born again christian, I get along very well without a woman in my house. But I have not lost my desire to be with a height/weight proportionate women without two truck loads of baggage. The problem is that there are not too many out there like that.
    Don’t throw the baby out with the dishwater.

  7. Michela

    Reg is a great example of why women don’t and should’t marry: he lies through his teeth. I have been married to the same man for almost 36 years, during 30 of which I was the primary breadwinner. I also had and raised 3 children. The last child was forced on me against my will. I retired six years ago and receive a pension for which my husband is insanely jealous. I have also worked part-time for 4 1/2 out of the last 6 years that I have been “retired.” I pay for all home improvements and family vacations and give money regularly to all our children. I am paying for our daughter’s 30,000+ wedding because my husband will not give a penny. Now, my husband, who brings in 4 times as much money as I do and has a company car, tells me that I am “not contributing enough” to the family income. What gratitude! Yes, I’m still married, but am I happy? I say all men should go to hell.