I know a lot of my readers aren’t at the stage of having small kids at home, so I’m starting a new series today: “Romance to Real Life.” I want to talk about what it was like when Doug and I first got married and bring up some of the struggles we faced when we had to get used to living together.
Explaining why men still wear their oldest T-shirt, Doug gives us the man’s perspective.
What is it that makes guys want to keep their old, worn-out T-shirts?
Like the Boston song, it’s More Than A Feeling.
When I was dating Rachel, I was romantic and tried to look nice. Once we got married, I got comfortable at home and started to wear my old T-shirts. She did not like them at all and began trying to persuade me to get rid of them. I came to understand that it wasn’t easy for her that her romantic suitor was now a hairy, sweaty, old-T-shirt-wearing brute.
Rachel was very clear, like most women, about what an old T-shirt meant to her: “Would anyone like a new dust rag?”
When I look at those ratty, beat-down, torn, stained, faded and glorious T-shirts, they simply mean something to me that she (and perhaps most women) can’t see. Let’s cover some basics.
First, do not try to get rid of the T-shirts. It even helps if you can refrain from making negative comments about them. Keep your thoughts of making rags to yourselves.
Understanding the man/tee link is key, so let’s dig into that.
1. A T-shirt has a special way of connecting to a past memory. Getting out my 20-year-old Texas Tech Intramural Football Championship tee brings backs some glory-day memories of cold fall nights with a group of guys that I literally grew into manhood with. Men are visual, so when I see myself wearing that T-shirt, I can see and feel my old self.
2. A T-shirt can be an experience of freedom. The worse a T-shirt looks, the more free I feel wearing it. Rachel washes my clothes every week, and she takes great care of my clothes. This makes me want to take care of them as well, but the T-shirt breaks away from those feelings because it is expendable, unloved by her, free to go under the hood, free to get torn or stained. Like some kind of man-armor protecting me from having to be overly careful or civilized.
3. T-shirts that are well-worn are softer and more comfortable than most other clothes. During the summer I greatly appreciate a thin, cool tee. Hey, it’s hot outside. Also, when worn under a sweater or other clothes, a worn-smooth tee is very nice against the skin.
So girls, don’t blow off the old T-shirts, because in a small way it could be blowing off your man. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but seriously, understanding can only help. And understanding your man always helps. If you want to work on the T-shirt collection, do it together and talk about it.
When we talked, I found out that Rachel certainly wanted me to have things that I cared about. She didn’t want to get rid of things that I was sentimental about, and I didn’t want to keep the ones that she thought were gross.
Guys, I still have my old T-shirts, but it’s a much smaller collection.
Have a question? Send it to Ask Doug.
Doug’s first job was in a meatpacking plant. He ran with the bulls in Pamplona. He’s read the works of C. S. Lewis. He’s manly, and he’s here to help.