If you’ve been on any form of social media at all lately, you’ve likely come across the term “wife guy.” And because bad things usually happen in threes (or so my Nana always said), three “wife guys” who are in the public eye in different ways have made headlines recently for, well, cheating on their wives. A very “un-wife guy” thing to do, right?
Well, that depends. Because while there’s nothing wrong with a man who loves his wife, there seems to be something deeply problematic about those who insist on regularly proclaiming that love publicly.
What is a wife guy?
According to social media, a “wife guy” is a man posts content about his wife in order to upgrade his social standing and the public opinion of him, or a guy whose fame or career is owed to the content he posts about his wife. It’s different than just a man who loves his wife and doesn’t care who knows it.
Because when a man is telling the whole world how much he loves his wife (as ‘Try Guy’ Ned Fulmer, singer Adam Levine, and comedian John Mulaney have all done—and also profited from it), is he telling her?
The “wife guy” seems to love all the adulation that comes with being a man who appears to be obsessed with his wife or partner. I mean, how often have we all heard a man going on and on about how much he adores his wife and nudged our own husbands and partners as if to say, “Why can’t you be like that?”
And, as we’ve seen a lot lately, these guys end up cheating on their wives and shocking everyone because we all thought, “But he loved her sooooo much.”
Because, for a “wife guy,” that love is always centered on how it relates to himself. Here are just some ways the three main WGs have proven this.
“There’s two kinds of men: There are men who are misogynist pigs, and then there are men who just really love women, who think they’re the most amazing people in the world,” he told Details magazine in 2012, after meeting his now-wife Behati Prinsloo. “And that’s me. Maybe the reason I was promiscuous, and wanted to sleep with a lot of them, is that I love them so much.”
“When my wife walks down the street, she does not give a s— what anyone thinks of her in any situation. She’s my hero. When I walk down the street, I need everybody, all day long, to like me so much. It’s exhausting,” he said in his 2018 Netflix comedy special.
“One of my favorite moments from our movie & tour was this moment seeing Ariel backstage after opening night. She’s supported me for years, sat through countless terrible improv shows, celebrated every milestone, been there for every setback. I’m so thankful for her love and support,” he said earlier this summer, while actively engaging in an affair with his co-worker.
And again, there’s nothing wrong with a man who is open about loving his wife! The problem is with “wife guys” who are open about loving their wives for the benefit of the public and himself, rather than his actual wife.
Case in point: Gomez Addams. He doesn’t constantly tell everyone how much he loves Morticia. He constantly shows Morticia how much she’s loved. See the difference?
The secondary issue with idolizing wife guys is that—aside from the sus content and public proclamations—we’re basically heaping high praise on men for loving their partners. Something they’re just…supposed to be doing anyway. And because society’s bar for men rests firmly on the floor, we all collectively insist on being congratulatory to these men for loving their wives, and to their wives for being loved (to the outside world, anyway).
Now, if you’re kind of getting the “wife guy” concept but are still feeling a little confused about what constitutes genuine displays of love and what’s transparently for show, here are some famous men who love their wives but are NOT “wife guys”:
- Tom Hanks
- Ryan Gosling
- Hugh Jackman
- Alexis Ohanian
- Prince Harry
- George Clooney
- Ryan Reynolds
- Keith Urban
The men on this (incomplete, non-exhaustive) list all love their wives. We all know they love their wives. But they’re not making it part of their shtick, you know? They are, for all intents and purposes (and because none of them are involved in any cheating scandals—yet), men who show their love and adoration for their wives in consistent but subtle ways.
These men have also discussed their wives, publicly, as fully-formed human beings with personalities and interests without constantly bringing the conversations back to themselves.
You know how sometimes, couples on social media pour their hearts out in statuses and captions and videos about how much they love their partner? And sometimes it’s really sweet, but other times it can seem disingenuous. Or like they’re overcompensating for something?
Yeah, that’s a “wife guy” kind of vibe.
Also, it’s probably worth reiterating again for good measure (this one goes out to the comments section), there is nothing wrong with showing your love—privately, publicly, etc. The problem is when that love is rooted in narcissism, it’s not actually about respecting and honoring the other person at all.