I’m going to go out on a limb and get a little edgy with this post. Clearly, all women, wives and mothers are unique individuals and gifts from God but as a Mother’s Day gift to all women, I want to have an honest, transparent conversation with all the men out there. My wife and I have held other couples hands through death, infidelity, divorce and all the trials of life and the question we get asked most often is “How do you two do it?”
The humble and emotional side of me will tell you that my wife is simply an amazing woman, I am truly blessed, and that her presence and grace in my life covers up the majority of my own flaws. She is a gift from God to me and I don’t take that lightly. I also fear losing her and realize it is my calling from God to ensure her that she chose the best man. She is the reason I get out of bed each morning because every day is another day for me to earn her love and respect and to unconditional give her my love and respect.
Okay enough emotional stuff; let’s talk guy logic and how to “Fix things”.
The three things women want in a man are:
- Excitement and Intrigue
- Leadership and Ambition
The three things that men can do to kill any relationship or marriage are:
- Creating boredom and stagnation
- Lack of Leadership
- Neediness – Insecurity
Let me inject that things like unconditional love, trust, faithfulness, time and attention with her and the kids and overall dedication to the marriage are all also very important to any marriage. But, to me these are also inherent in any marriage and do not need to be highlighted. If these are issues, men need to have a better relationship with God and understand Biblical Manhood.
What my wife and I often witness the most is the “nice guy syndrome” – where a man falls into being a good provider and is striving to be a Godly man but the relationship simply lacks the passion and zeal of its early days and this leads to discontent from one or both of the spouses. Furthermore, the man feels his role as provider is sufficient enough and does not continue to pursue her or these other areas as the marriage progresses. Simply put – men stop doing the things they did in the dating phase and move into the “provider only” role. It’s the slow drift towards resentment, stagnation and possibly divorce.
Before we discuss each one of these in depth, let me first give you two hypotheses of why these have become more prevalent with men in our society and why women are increasingly frustrated.
The Women’s Movement – No one will argue that the women’s movement has been a great thing for women and society as a whole. While there are still areas that need improvement, this movement and empowerment have come at a cost…Weaker Men. Today’s women are better educated, getting paid more and are more long term focused than many of their male counterparts, women have raised the bar and expectations and the problem is that many men are backing down from this challenge. How many times have you heard a single woman say “There are no real men anymore!” or they wonder why men are still living with their parents in their mid-20’s with no job or ambition. Even worse is when today’s women settle for one of these weaker men and only realize later the mistake.
Status and Value – Many men have bought into society’s success illusion that our value is derived from our occupation. When meeting people for the first time, how often are we asked “What do you do?” I always answer that question something like this – “I skydive, write, play chess, travel to exotic places, drink scotch and smoke cigars on occasion, speak two foreign languages, try to live each day to its fullest and I have a passion for helping parents and reaching the lost and our youth.” After the shock wears off, then they usually ask “Oh. What is your day job?” The social misconception is that what I do for income is somehow tied to my legacy, goals and ambitions in life. An older mentor told me last week in a Bible study, “I work to make a living but don’t live my life for my work.” I currently work with a senior guy at my office that makes over $200K per year but he openly admits he has given that past 30 years to his career at the expense of his family and other areas of life. He bought into the success illusion. This is why so many men have mid-life crises = they realize that they’ve been working hard in the wrong areas of life and feel trapped and like time is running out. How many divorced or unhappy senior guys do you know? I know a lot and vow that I will not become like them.
Back to What Women Want...
1. Excitement – Keeping Boredom and Stagnation Away. Married life can get boring and routine, if you let it. You get up, drink some coffee, wake the kids up, get the kids ready and off to school, go to work, slave all day for some money, come home, drink more coffee, take the kids to sports practice or ballet/gymnastics, eat some dinner, watch some TV, help the kids with homework, put the kids to bed, and fall asleep completely exhausted. Now repeat this for the next 18-20 years. Guys, women need some excitement amongst all this daily routine, something to look forward to and it needs to come from you, not from her friends or play dates with the kids. Remember back when you were dating and you used to create elaborate dates and getaways for your wife? When life get's mundane with daily routine, we need to give our wives something to look forward to. My wife and I try to have “couch time” every night. We go on a date at least once per week and just enjoy each others company. Okay, you need some motivation? How about sex or passion? Try this…plan a Friday night getaway to her favorite place or restaurant. YOU do all the work but don’t tell her. Hire the babysitter or better yet, find someone to take the kids for the entire night and reserve a hotel. Early in the week, send her a note or text saying not to plan anything for that night, tell her it’s a surprise. Throughout the week, give her other little hints “Wear something nice” “Be ready by 7:00PM on Friday” “Bring an overnight bag” If you don’t have the money, get creative – Parks, Waterfalls, Picnics, etc. What is all this? It’s building excitement, intrigue, and anticipation in her and giving her something to look forward to amongst the daily grind and routine. It shows her that you adore her and are actively still trying to pursue and romance her. It also shows that you are doing number 2.
2. Leadership – or Lack of Leadership. I don’t care who your wife is, even if she is the CEO of a company, she wants you as her man to lead. Not in a chauvinistic way but in a chivalrous way. She wants to see and know that you are in control and you can handle things. Start by taking charge of little things at home. Doing the dishes, making meals, helping the kids with their school work, getting them to practice, getting the kids ready for bed. Someone once said “What you do in the kitchen influences what happens later in the bedroom.” One of the fallout's of the women’s movement is that men have become more docile and passive. Men have simply starting deferring decisive initiative and leadership decisions to their wives and thereby relegated their roles as the leader of the family. Men, you need to be the leader of your home and of your wife in the littlest and the biggest of decisions. However, with leadership also comes responsibility and if you make the wrong decisions too many times, she will begin to doubt your role. If it’s a little thing like doing the dishes or making a meal, don’t ask, just take the initiative and do it. Now, if you are going to buy a new car or refinance the house, this is a decision to be made together and is not the time for you to fly solo. When you are the leader of your home, it tells your wife that you (or gives the illusion) that you are confident, in control and secure. The reason many women are over-tasked, tired and worn out is because they are making all the decisions in a home. Which leads us to number 3.
3. Security – Ending Neediness and Insecurity. Nothing kills a relationship or turns a woman off more than a needy, insecure man. As a man, you should be a fully self-sustaining life system and not need your wife to do your laundry, pick out or match your clothes for you, or give you pep talks when people at the office are mean to you. Okay, there are times to be emotional vulnerable but not physically or emotionally needy, there’s a difference. Imagine James Bond – Bond is always self-confident, does not overly react emotionally (unless it’s about her or defending her honor, then make a scene and she will love you for it.) No matter what happens, you act like you expected it to happen and you are prepared to deal with the situation. Don’t argue. Don’t complain. Simply sit back and say “Don’t worry, you relax, I’ve got this.” This is all done with a certain sprezzatura (google it, it’s a great word) and when everything finally works out, don’t boast or gloat about it. Act as if everything happened or didn’t happen because you were in control and were self-assured. There have been times when my wife and I’s plans have gone completely wrong and the times I remained calm, confident and improvised the situation, are some of my wife’s best memories together. What all this tells a woman is that when she is with you, she is secure and she can relax. You can handle whatever happens and do not fall to pieces or throw a tantrum when things don’t go your way or plans get ruined or take an unexpected turn. The more times your wife sees you acting confident during these situations, the more deposits you are making into her trust and security account.
That it. For the most part. There’s a lot more that goes into this and I could give you dozens of examples and exceptions but I don’t want to bore you with the entire psychological how and why of it all. See Point 1.
If you are lacking in one or more of these areas, start now, today to change and challenge yourself to work on each of these areas. Print this post, bookmark it, favorite it and revisit it often. Also find unique and creative ways to tailor these overarching ideas to your personal life, marriage and relationship. As I said, this is not all inclusive but just a snapshot and gives you some talking points to work on and tailor to your situation.
If you are already doing all of these things then congratulations. I now challenge you to go to our Partner With Us page and help lead others. All you have to do is invest the time and be willing to be held accountable. We need more men like you who are willing to stand up and lead.
To all the Mothers – We love you, Happy Mother’s Day. You deserve the best of us (men) because you are God’s chosen helpmates for us and complete us in areas where we are lacking. Even though this post is about being Manly Men, we know that behind every Strong Man is a Strong Woman and it’s you that we strive to pursue, love, secure and live an exciting life with. Without you, we’d simply be a bunch of cavemen standing around a fire talking about sports and beating our chests. You are the God given reason we strive to be better and to live passionately. Thank you for all that you do, it does not go unnoticed!