Making It Happen

pack mule
This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Pack Mule or Husband

The default pattern of shopping, for some reason, involves the man assuming the mantle of Pack Mule while the wife does her business. If you’re not going to go that route, you’ve got to deliberately choose to do otherwise. The Husband experience has to be a mutual decision. That means: talking about it.

You’ve heard of talking, right? You remember, that thing you did together years ago? No, the other thing you did years ago. The thing with your mouths. No, the other thing with your mouths. Geez.

Parental Logistics

For the parents, there’s the logistics of child care.

Unless your kids are young (and the dressing rooms are large), they’re not going to be able to fit into the dressing room with the both of you. So, the Husband experience gets downgraded to the Father experience.

Now, the Father experience is still infinitely preferable to the Pack Mule (or the frightful Babysitter) experience, but it could be better for everyone (let’s be honest, most kids don’t like the Kid experience either) if there’s child care.

Then you can take your time and enjoy it, and each other.

Taking Initiative

Then there’s the wifely initiative.

She knows her stores and the culture of those stores better than he does, and she can ask questions that are borderline inappropriate for him to ask himself. If he’s to be Husband, she has to empower it. Basically, she must determine if he’s permitted in the dressing room at all.

Generally, most stores have no issue with it. Also, if the dressing area is open to the floor (doors alongside the main wall), go for it.

But if there’s a more secluded dressing area, like a hallway out of immediate view, then the wife might have a little legwork to do.
The wife can often gauge the presence of implicit permission by the culture of the store, its employees, and its customers. If it’s a laid-back atmosphere, which most retailers try to achieve since it helps sales, then you’re golden. But she might not be sure. She shouldn’t assume uncertainty means “no”. After all, he’s her Husband, and this isn’t untoward. Stores really are almost always okay with it.

If she’s unsure, she can ask an employee (often a younger one is easier to approach and less likely to reproach), “Is it a big deal if my husband goes back there with me to give me opinions?” Nearly always, they’ll say it’s fine. You might receive a smirk or a roll of the eyes. Go ahead; let them think you’re going to do something inappropriate. (And while you’re at it, you might as well secretly meet their expectations.)

The Phone Option

If you can’t bring yourself to ask in person, call ahead. Or if you’re already there, step outside the store and call them on your cell phone.

Blame it on your Husband, even. “I’m sorry to bother you. I told my husband this is no big deal, but he’s worried and is making me ask. Does your store have any policy against him going with me into the dressing room to offer his opinions?”

Sometimes the phone option can give you some great feedback. One store my wife and I frequent said it’s okay by store policy, but when it’s really packed, it could be a concern. Their dressing room was a secluded area with a common open portion with several mirrors, and this common area sees a lot of traffic when the store’s very busy. Such a large number of women increases the chance that a customer might be uncomfortable with it, they explained.

So, they actually recommended some specific times when business was slow or more casual so we could take our time and not be concerned about the risks. This store wanted to facilitate the Husband experience. And why wouldn’t they? It likely means she’d buy more stuff!

If They Say No

If they say no, then just step out of the dressing room to model for him like you would if it’s the Father experience.

Or, even better, just find another store. Maybe even send the manager a respectful email commenting on how you immensely value your Husband’s opinions and how you’re planning to take your business elsewhere because their policy prevents you from being able to readily seek them.

Perhaps you can influence their policy by taking your business elsewhere and politely expressing yourself. Or perhaps they’ll do something like the store we called, offering a compromise.

A Bit of Courtesy

If you’ve received a green light (or if you know it’s okay from past experience or just an impression) and the store has one of the more secluded dressing areas, the wife should still go in first, ensuring no other customers are about, before coming back to retrieve her Husband.

This is a courtesy to the other women who assuredly don’t want some strange man seeing them in an outfit they’re just checking out in the common mirror. That can be worse than the Pack Mule’s encounters with women near the dressing room, even if they’re fully covered.

One other suggestion on this: it doesn’t hurt to lead him in and out with his hands over his eyes. This makes your approach deliberately respectful in a silly way that can be laughed off by anyone you encounter back there.

Value for Her

So, he’s having a blast, getting to watch you put on a show over and over and over and over. What’s the appeal to you, the wife?

Well, for one, you get to see him enjoying your body. This can be a very uplifting experience, particularly when you’re your worst critic. You can pummel yourself into self-loathing at the slightest little things, and you may find him adoring those same slight little things. This can be a healthy source of encouragement for your body image.

Second, yes, you might get a little sensual pleasure here and there.
And third, it might inspire you to return the favor. Time to go into a men’s store and see him do the little multi-strip routine.

Overall, though, it’s a great way to build intimacy in the relationship, and not just from a sexual standpoint. In fact, that sexuality is surprisingly secondary.

The vulnerability you offer him with your body — in what you consider to be unflattering positions, angles, and lighting — is good for your soul, as he encourages you and expresses his enjoyment of it.

Also, there’s a growing that takes place as you express an interest in and a valuation of his opinions. You communicate that he’s a Husband, not a Pack Mule, and his thoughts on how you look are important to you. That breeds emotional intimacy which enhances the spiritual bond in a marriage.

The dressing room is a great place to grow intimacy of all kinds.

A Warning

Let me offer a frank warning: if you have a hypercritical husband, he’s probably better left to being a Pack Mule.

He’s not in a healthy place spiritually if he’s not a source of encouragement for you. As a woman, you’re likely hard enough on yourself. You don’t need an immature prick beating you up, too. And it sounds like he hasn’t earned that privilege, either.

Now, you can express your concerns about his critical nature to him, and maybe you can both grow and mature through the healing process. However, until then, heed Christ’s words in Matthew 7:6 (NIV)…

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

The Husband experience for him should translate into the Wife experience for you (as opposed to the Shopper experience), something that’s playful, happy, and uplifting. And perhaps a bit sensual. If he’s not willing or able to perform his side of the bargain, he needs to grow up a bit first. Then, once he won’t “turn and tear you to pieces”, you can safely put your body image in his hands.

But even then, like right now, you need to remember you’re made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and you’re His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).

So don’t beat yourself up, but don’t let your “husband” do it either.

Originally posted 2016-06-27 08:00:52.

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About Phil (245 Articles)
Philip Osgood is a Christian husband, father, and writer who considers himself a passable video game player, fiction reader, camping and hiking enthusiast, welder, computer guy, and fitness aficionado, though real experts in each field might just die of laughter to hear him claim it. He has been called snarky, cynical, intelligent, eccentric, creative, logical, and Steve for some reason. Phil and his beautiful wife Clara live in Texas with their children in a house with a dog but no white picket fence. He does own a titanium spork from ThinkGeek, though, so he must be alright.

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