by Gina Wheeler
Hello dear readers! Happy Valentine’s Day – a day which I personally enjoy, while also realizing its over-hyped importance. But what better day to guest on my husband’s blog than today? Jeff has shared with me many of your emails, and so I feel a deep sense of gratitude and responsibility towards you, his most supportive readers.
What kind of romantic is Jeff? How does he treat his wife and kids – what is he *really* like? How does a *man* write about relationships in the fantasy genre, as if he is some kind of rare oddity?
Allow me to include a childhood memory: many times I used to sit at the dining table of my grandmother’s home, at the head of which sat her husband, my step-grandfather. Eating a meal at their home was quite different from my daily routine. Grandpa sat during the entire meal while he was served his food, or the food was passed to him to fill and refill his plate. Condiments, drinks, salt…it was all handed to him as needed. He sat like a sort of Hispanic king over the whole meal, and I admit that when I was young I was a little terrified. I remember asking my dad in a whispered hush to be excused from the table even though my plate wasn’t completely empty – I wanted him to champion me in case my grandfather was displeased with my eating performance!
Memories of Jeff as a young man are far more pleasant! His very young sisters once rushed out of the house to greet him when he came home. He casually swooped them up in his arms and carried them happily inside. It made quite an impression on me, both as an only child and as a young woman watching a boy act in such a tender fatherly way. Another time I watched him bake cookies for his sister’s class, to pass out as her birthday treat. Even though my own dad was a modern Hispanic and cooked meals, watching this teen boy bake cookies was another matter, especially since wasn’t groaning or complaining over the assignment but just took it as a matter of course. (I later found out that he cooked breakfast for his family of ten).
As a young bride, I enjoyed the companionship of washing dishes together or cooking up our 2-person meal. More importantly, we had the kind of relationship where we each spoke freely (and decidedly!) our opinions about all sorts of topics. We were both college students and expanding our minds in the classroom, and at home with healthy debate and discussion. I both expected and appreciated being his intellectual equal, and it was a relief to him that his wife didn’t expect to be “taken care of”. I worked, went to school, and ran the checkbook.
Once the children entered the family and I stayed at home, I secretly wondered if he would ever express the attitude of “you just stay at home and have it so easy”. To my relief, he never did – he jumped into the diapering and late night feedings (and screamings) because he knew he should as their father, but he was also laying the foundation of a close relationship with his kids based on active parenting.
A few rare times Jeff has gotten a review that basically pronounces him a woman-hater. I never got angry, but rather genuinely surprised. I wished that readers could see the daily Jeff that I knew, who came home from work and then started setting the table right away, or helping a teary child with a math problem. And I must mention the more tender actions as well: the personal letters to me and the children, the songs he’s composed or the thoughtful homemade gifts I’ve received.
I could go on and on of course…but I think you get the point and I don’t want to proclaim perfection. Far from it – but we do have a living, breathing, equal and very loving marriage and family. It’s those daily, almost quiet actions that displays a man’s true mettle, that demonstrates if a man really loves a woman.