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Southern Life

On Southern Gentlemen

Photo Credit: RIM Photography

Something happened to me the other day that made me realize that no matter how much I may try to deny it, I probably do– on occasion– take my husband’s chivalrous nature for granted.

We had just finished up at Moe’s, and I was walking up to my car door after restraining my two screaming demon children in their carseats. As I cursed my children under my breath while I was rounding the car to my side, my husband jumped in front of me to open my door for me. Normally, I wouldn’t have thought anything of this because we live in South Carolina, and that’s what a good southern gentleman is supposed to do, right?

There was a middle-aged couple approaching a car parked near us, and I heard the woman say, “Well isn’t that just the sweetest thing? Did you see that? He opened her door for her.” Like she was surprised or something. I was so confused.

You see, barring any serious injury or circumstantial argument we might be having, my husband always opens the door for me. It’s something he’s done since we began dating when we were little 15 and 16-year-olds. There are a couple of things that I attribute this behavior to– (1) a good upbringing, and (2) me setting boundaries early on in our relationship.

(1) As far as the good upbringing is concerned, the kind of behavior that children grow up around plays such a big impact on the types of people they ultimately become when they reach adulthood. [I’m talking actual adulthood– which totally varies from person to person. For example, I know I didn’t actually become an adult until after I had my second child when I was 25, but I also have 22-year-old friends that are also more mature than I am now– so it really does vary.]

Growing up an only child with divorced parents, my husband really learned a lot about respecting women from his mother, and I am so lucky in that regard. His step-father is probably the most chivalrous southern gentleman of them all, and my husband was fortunate enough to spend a good chunk of his formative years being exposed to that– during the time that his mother was dating him. My husband’s father is also extraordinarily charming, and to this day, asks if he is still opening the door for me– and the answer is always yes, as it should be.

This is one of the reasons I feel so privileged to be a boy mom. I get the chance to raise some more southern gentlemen, and you best believe these boys will grow up holding the door for women. And if they don’t, they’ll get their little behinds whipped by yours truly– with love of course (my decision to spank my babies will definitely be fodder for another post at some point in the future, don’t you worry).

(2) A respectable upbringing alone does not a southern gentleman make, however. A man is only as strong as his woman, y’all. And this is the truth. If I didn’t clearly define what I will and will not stand for at the start of the relationship, then who knows what kind of state our marriage would be in. Guys, for the most part, do not think the same way we do, ladies. They just don’t. Sometimes they have to be told exactly what to do because they are not mind-readers. This is the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten– and if I’m being honest, it was from marriage counseling that we attended when we were 24 and 25 years old…totes norm, right?

And at this point, there are no excuses. He’s had every chance to run for the hills, but he chose to stick with me and let me just tell you, we have an amazing relationship– 95% of the time. We do, on occasion, revert to our high school selves and fight like little teenagers sometimes, but how can you not when you’ve been together for more than half of your life?

Because I am the alpha in the relationship (sorry, babe, you know you love it!), I set my ground rules, and you know what? That works for us. If you want something done right, after all, you need to either (a) make sure it happens, or (b) do it yourself.

To the strong and classy women that these boys of mine end up marrying somewhere down the line, you are welcome. I am raising them right. 

Yes, I'm fully aware that I can open my own door myself. But chivalry isn't dead, y'all.