avatarDr. Samantha Rodman Whiten (Dr. Psych Mom)


The Fun Guy And His Responsible Wife: When Does This Dynamic Work?

If you’re a fan of this blog, you know that I like to categorize couples into different dynamics, which is why I’ve written about five types of couples you meet in counseling. Although those five types covered dysfunctional dynamics, it is equally interesting to explore healthy versions of these same pairings. A while back, I wrote a post called The Stable Guy And His Sensitive Wife: When Does This Dynamic Work? which is a healthy version of a dysfunctional dynamic that I write about called Mr. Perfect And His Crazy Wife. This time, I’m exploring a healthy version of The Man-Child And His Long Suffering Wife, which I’m calling The Fun Guy And His Responsible Wife.

The Fun Guy can be a thrill seeker, or the life of the party, or a guy with a million cool hobbies and “toys.” Either way, he is not known to be responsible, and probably did not do that well in school (and may currently not do that well at work, although often, his social skills will get him by). Often, he has some form of (possibly undiagnosed) ADHD. He is someone who grabs life by the horns and is always down to try a new activity, or experience, or way of thinking about the world.

The Responsible Wife enjoys her husband greatly and gets a kick out of him. She may be more introverted, or more anxious, and is drawn to his exuberance for life. Initially, the dynamic between them was that he drew her out of her shell and forces her to relax and have fun rather than solely focusing on work/school. Later in their lives, he ensures she is not consumed by house stuff and parenting, by always suggesting fun things for them to do outside the house.

As a dad, the Fun Guy can really shine. He is the dad that all the other kids love, who coaches Little League and horses around in the pool with all his kids and their friends. He befriends the other parents, and makes sure that he and his wife have an active social life in their community. As the kids get older, he will try any amusement park ride or extreme sport, which is fun for the kids and whichever friends they bring along.

When this dynamic sours, it turns into The Man-Child And His Long Suffering Wife, where the guy does nothing for the family at all and focuses on his own needs for stimulation and amusement, and his wife feels neglected and contemptuous of his self-centered, childlike behavior. However, there are many cases where this dynamic remains healthy and functional for the entirety of a couples marriage. Here are some indicators that your Fun Guy and Responsible Wife dynamic will stay the course:

  • The Fun Guy also knows when to be serious. He is not financially irresponsible and does not abuse substances or gamble. He goes to work every day and provides a solid role model for the children in more ways than just enjoying daily life.
  • The Fun Guy takes feedback from his wife, and openly appreciates her. He doesn’t cast her into the role of the “buzzkill,” but rather views her as a wonderful co-pilot and counterbalance to his more devil-may-care tendencies. He frequently tells her how much he respects her and how he could not function as well without her. He also respects plans that she feels are set in stone, and takes his cue from her about what is non-negotiable in terms of home and family life.
  • For her part, the Responsible Wife steers clear of eye-rolling and mockery about her husband’s pursuits, even if she herself would never allow herself the spare time for hobbies. She appreciates the fun and joy that he brings to all aspects of life, and believes that he helps her loosen up. She respects him as a father and loves how much the kids love spending time with him. In fact, she may have had a dad that was like him, and remembers how much fun she thought her own dad was.
  • The Responsible Wife tries to be flexible and adaptable, even if this is not her nature. She tries to appreciate the spontaneity that her husband brings to all parts of life, and allows her plans to shift if he is excited about something new and exciting to do as a family. She understands that the baby’s nap schedule may be less important than creating a positive memory for the rest of the family (or at least, she tries to think this way).
  • Both the Fun Guy and his Responsible Wife try to prioritize couple time. They value the other’s happiness and are openly loving toward each other in front of their kids, friends, and family.

If you’re in this type of relationship, comment below! It is lucky to find someone in life who complements you and makes you a better version of yourself. And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Sees More Of These Couples In Daily Life Than In Counseling!

For therapy, go here for Dr. Whiten and go here for other clinicians in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health. For coaching with Dr. Whiten, go here. Order Dr. Whiten’s books, 52 Emails to Transform Your Marriage and How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family, and listen to The Dr. Psych Mom Show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. Join The Dr. Psych Mom secret Facebook group for more discussion about these kinds of issues!

This blog is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis and should in no way replace consultation with a medical professional. If you try this advice and it does not work for you, you cannot sue me. This is only my opinion, based on my background, training, and experience as a therapist and person. Also, all examples involving people or clients are hypothetical amalgams, not actual people.

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