How to behave like a partner, not an additional child.
By Samantha Rodman Whiten — Written on Jun 01, 2023
Photo: pics five / Shutterstock
If your wife has said that she thinks of you as a “third [or whatever number after your actual kids] kid” this is for you!
Many women complain to me that their husbands act like children.
That is why I am using the term “kid zone,” meaning that in your wife’s mind, she categorizes you as a child.
The “kid zone” is like the “friend zone” except even worse, because a drunk woman will sleep with her friend but not with her kid. What are examples of a man acting like a child?
Here are 5 things you do that make your wife see you as a third kid:
People even hate when their kids sulk and kids are a lot cuter than middle-aged men.
If you whine and make passive-aggressive jabs about not getting your way, this is a massive turnoff. It is never cute and the sex that you get from sulking is a pale shadow of the sex you could get if you acted more maturely.
2. Laying around
Women hate when their kids laze around on the sofa all day, but it’s even less appealing in a grown man who could be getting stuff done.
Women love proactive, confident men who make plans and execute them. If you did not see this modeled for you in your family of origin, therapy can help you get out of your inertia and have a more proactive mindset.
3. Immature jokes
I wish I had a dollar for every woman in therapy who tells me her husband initiates sex with a joke that a 14-year-old boy would make. Then I could buy a Sybian to pleasure all of these women because at least an actual machine doesn’t make silly jokes and expect women to laugh and take their clothes off.
4. Dressing poorly
Men hate when their wives slob around in clothes from ten years ago, and women hate the same thing in men. I discuss this here in un-PC things I’ve learned in couples work.
Sloppy dressing and especially dressing like a fourth-grade boy is a big turnoff for women. If your clothes are ill-fitting and have stains and holes, your wife will be turned off just like any other human would be.
5. Not doing your part
While “emotional labor” is problematic for reasons I express here, it should not take a brain surgeon to recognize that dinner is made every night and therefore to cook some of them or order out, and that the kids go to sleep every night at the same time so you can execute bedtime half the time.
Just stepping up to do your part as you hopefully do at work can go a long way in transforming your image from a large child to a big strong man.
Now let me reassure you that I know what you are thinking: My wife is so disappointed in me all the time that none of this would work AND/OR I do all this already and she still thinks of me as a child.
Well, certainly I’ve repeatedly said that there are plenty of reasons that your wife doesn’t want to have sex with you that don’t have to do with you at all. But if you take a deep and honest look at the above points and see that you are doing any of them, then it would be stupid to assume that these aren’t turnoffs that are worsening your situation even more.
Most of the above five points stem from a deep lack of confidence in the man, often from not seeing an effective, strong male role model when growing up. (In some cases, lack of confidence can also stem from seeing a narcissistic, overly “macho” dad who didn’t allow you, the son, to grow into a man in the home because he didn’t want a competitor.)
Also, undiagnosed depression or low testosterone can lead to a passive, low-energy, hopeless mentality. Get checked out by your provider!
When you don’t do things proactively, this leads to your wife feeling overwhelmed and like the CEO/Mommy of everyone in the house. Read this about confident momentum and this about not caring what your wife thinks.
If you struggle with these issues, start small. Pick one thing that you will work on and transform in your marriage today.
Here are some examples:
Today I will clean the garage like I have been saying I would do. I will do it with my kid so they see me doing something proactive and useful and therefore learn these traits too.This weekend I will teach my daughter to ice skate. This will make her feel good as well as give me some exercise.The next time my wife makes some passive-aggressive remark, I will own whatever my part was in what is upsetting her, and then try to move the conversation in a more positive direction with a smile.I will proactively initiate sex tonight and if she says no, I will move forward without sulking or blaming her.
These are examples of taking small steps to act more maturely in a range of situations.
You may think that your wife “makes” you a doormat, but honestly, this is a chicken-and-egg situation. It may well be that your own passivity or lack of maturity “makes” her act patronizing and aggressive. Honestly, an impartial observer would probably say that both of you are acting pretty poorly, so working on your contribution may push your marriage into an upward spiral. Why not try?
If this post speaks to you, therapy can be very helpful in facilitating your development into the best man you can be, and finally growing into an adult man who can lead your family and attract your wife (or other women if she is really done with you).
More for You:
Zodiac Signs That Are Terrible At Relationships (And Why)20 Little Things Women Do That Guys *Secretly* LoveThe Perfect Age To Get Married, According To Science5 Little Ways Men Wish They Could Be Loved — Every Single Day
Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.
This article was originally published at Dr. Psych Mom. Reprinted with permission from the author.