Smith: Men, attend to your wives and children

Two men have expressed to me that they envy my new status as a single man.

Both have been married for many years; one has children.

These men don't wish that their wives were dead, but if there were some soft landing to being single, they would take it.

These comments came to me two days apart, about a month after my wife died. When I heard these men, I was shocked. Since then, my husband-father antennae have been way up. I see men in Newport-Mesa just like them every day.

These married men are not angry and not even miserable — they are worse.

These men suffer from the extreme form of a bad relationship known as indifference. They are ghosts, sleepwalkers, zombies, moving through each day, unaware of the ticking clock and of just how fortunate they are, stupidly wishing they were someone or somewhere else.

When you see these tragic figures, they are working their cell phones while they are with their wife or kids (then they wonder why their kids are always working theirs). They have let themselves go physically by eating too much of the wrong things. They have let themselves go mentally because they rarely, if ever, bring any excitement into their relationship.

Some work too much in the mistaken belief that they are making a living. They are not; they are making a dying.

Men, your wife did not marry you only to have you disappear for so many hours each day; she married you because you were the one she chose to spend the rest of her life with, and you agreed to be that partner. When you're away from home too much, that's as good as a broken promise.

These men are on cruise control, living, as Henry David Thoreau said, "lives of quiet desperation."

Some men reading this are thinking about how some of these comments could apply to their wives as well. That may be true, but that doesn't absolve them of any responsibility to nurture their marriage.

Guys, putting the monkey on your wife's back doesn't solve anything. You are a husband, perhaps a father, and it is your responsibility to take charge and set the example for the relationship you want. If that sounds like an old-fashioned concept, so be it. I make no apologies for this belief.

So, men who think that widowers like me are walking on greener grass, let me tell you about my life.

I live in a home filled with memories of my dead wife and our marriage of 25 years, torn between the guilt of removing them and the torture of being around them every day.

I go to bed at night aching for her to be next to me so I can stroke her arm or whisper in her ear or just hold her and watch a movie, as we did so many nights. I pass store windows looking at things I can't buy for her and see flower shops where I stopped many days on my way home, just because I felt like buying her flowers.

As bad as Cay's final days were, when I was feeding her, sleeping on the floor next to her hospital bed, waking up every few hours to give her morphine to ease her pain and helping the hospice give her sponge baths, I would give everything I own, and more, to have that life over the one I have had since her death. I would give it all up for one more day with her.

You envy me and my life? You don't have a clue.

STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to

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