The best relationship I’ve ever known is with my wife. It’s one that’s evolved over time and one which continues to evolve. It’s twisting, deepening, questioning and imprinting me like my own personal ranch brand, searing it’s pattern into my flesh, bone and mind.
When I look back over the 23 years of our life together I have a hard time isolating the hard times that we’ve faced. The good memories and quality moments far outweigh the bad.
I’m not saying for a second that we didn’t have our share of good, bad and ugly and I’m imagining we’ll still face some challenges in the years ahead. What I do know, is that my ability to take a risk with Kathy has been one of the major success stories of our relationship.
Making a stand when it came to a parenting decision I felt strongly about.
Letting her know she hurt me with her words or actions.
Admitting I was wrong.
Following my path and not hers.
“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – Barbara de Angelis
It’s never easy to take a risk.
I’ve been considered a “Risk Taker” by my friends and peers. My lifestyle of adventure and living what appeared to be a life constantly on the edge led them to this conclusion. The fact however, is that my adventurous pursuits have much less inherent risk than the risks which I’ve taken in my relationships. In an adventure pursuit, be it Rock Climbing or Mountaineering, the risks are ones which you can prepare for. You gain the skills necessary to proceed with the least amount of risk possible. In a relationship for the most part you’re blindly moving forward, dipping your toe into the water to see how warm it is before you fully immerse yourself.
Relationships are much riskier!
5 Risks Every Man Should Take
Risk – A situation involving exposure to danger
1. Be The Man You’re Meant To Be
Trust your gut and go with what’s right for you.
Everyone out there is going to try and sell you, convince you, change you or sway you to their point of view. It’s natural. The risk men must take in relationships is to be that authentic self. Uncover yourself by staying true to what you know is right and don’t ever be afraid to speak this truth.
If confronted with a decision that makes you feel as if you’re tumbling inside a cement mixer, it’s your gut instinct that you’ll have to learn to listen to.
It’s never wrong and we all feel and know the consequences when we don’t follow our guts.
2. Hard Talk
Have you ever walked on fire or witnessed one of these empowerment sessions? The training centers on breaking through or facing a fear(s). One of the techniques that’s sometimes used before stepping onto the fire is the “Arrow Break”. It’s a beautiful visual, experience and tool which can create a powerful sense of confidence for a participant.
Hard Talks can be like the Arrow Break a relationship.
I define Hard Talks as conversations where we come out from behind any veils that might be in front of us. Hard Talks are our reality. Nothing more and nothing less. The good, bad or ugly with no sugar coating in between. I believe the key to Hard Talking lies in our ability to gain permission to have the talk in the first place. We’ve all seen or heard movies where in an emotional scene two star crossed lovers look into each others eyes and say “Promise me you’ll always be honest, promise me you’ll always tell me the truth”. This is the ground work for gaining permission and the set up for Hard Talks to come.
When you feel a Hard Talk is necessary all you need to do is go back to the place where you’ve gained the last permission. If you said to your relationship counterpart at some point “Let’s agree that if one of us is feeling that the other is taking them for granted, we’ll immediately talk about it”. This pre-work, this setting up and gaining permission is your safe ground. All you have to do when initiating a Hard Talk is remind them first of this permission. Take the emotional baggage out of it from the beginning. The permission can take all the heat, not you.
If your counterpart reacts negatively to the Hard Talk all you need to do is fall back on what you’ve both previously agreed upon and hold fast to that. Do it in a kind, uncharged, and respectful way but don’t hold back your feelings. Push that arrow forward and gain confidence every time.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelo
Definition – To develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
As Tim Robbins famously said in his performance in The Shawshank Redemption – “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Evolving as a man is vital to strengthening relationships. The risk it takes to continually strive for our own person greatness, challenge the status quo, learn more, grow and prosper as a man takes guts.
The forces of society weigh heavily on our broad shoulders.
At times it’s hard to try and carry this weight. The tendencies to eat whatever we want, drink ourselves to sleep, lay on the couch, or escape through other addictions cozily snuggles up to our psyche and can stunt our evolution.
“The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.” – Oprah Winfrey
Continually risking to be put into that uncomfortable place of learning will force us to evolve. In this evolution we gain more skills that can strengthen our relationships. Others are evolving, we must do so or risk becoming extinct.
4. Be Foolish
Life is serious enough. Our relationships can always use a bit of silly. There isn’t a Top Ten list out there which doesn’t include a sense of humor as top trait wanted when searching for a man.
Children want to play with their Dads and don’t always have to witness Dad being perfect at everything.
Co-Workers need to see a different side of you.
Your Lover will appreciate a different twist.
Being Foolish can be defined as lacking in wisdom. So being foolish opens up the path to wisdom and wisdom in a relationship is a good thing.
“He is the wisest man who knows himself to be ill-equipped for the study of wisdom” – Plato
The challenge with risking to be foolish is admitting we’re human. Men like to retreat into caves and solve problems, alone. When we allow ourselves to be foolish we’re showing our vulnerability, our lack of expertise and our playful side. It’s in this foolishness that we can open up and learn from others, gain wisdom and show that we are indeed human.
5. Stabilize Your Environment
It sounds like a science experiment — “stabilize your environment” but to me it’s the most important part of strengthening relationships.
My wife and I evolved into this model very early into our time together and I believe it’s contributed to our success as a couple, a family and as individuals.
Volatility in relationships usually means trouble. There will always be ups and downs but constant instability will undoubtedly lead to relationship failure.
When you look at an immediate family dynamic you have 3 crucial components: Mine is like this
Me – The individual (you)
Kathy – My wife
Family – My 2 sons, my wife and myself
I’m in charge of all of these relationships. I am the Master of my fate. The key to this dynamic though, is although they’re all connected not one is more important than the other. Each is unique and each has different needs and wants. The risk here is to know when to leave the area of stability and focus my attention to the area where it is needed the most.
I cannot risk myself or family for the sake of my wife.
- If I’m only living for Kathy – to please her, to provide for her, to honor her, I will undoubtedly lose myself and my connection to my kids in that process
I cannot risk my marriage or self for the sake of my family
- If I’m so focused on being the family man – being the coach, the provider, the cheerleader, the glue, I will over time lose the intimacy that is needed between my wife and I as well as the evolution of me
I cannot risk my wife or family for the sake of myself
- If my self-journey is the only direction on my compass – growing, experiencing, traveling and evolving, I will lose connection with both my wife and family
Leaving the area of stability is a risk each and every time. It’s a risk to my comfort, to my communication, to my ego and to my desires. It is however a risk that I gladly accept for I know it’s benefits far outweigh the brief moments of discomfort when I leave the oasis of stability.
Men shouldn’t be scared of taking a risk to strengthen a relationship. The 5 risks that I’ve stated above have worked for me but I’m also excited to take more. I want to continue to evolve and stretch my boundaries in all my relationships.
Writing is one of these risks for me, putting out there what I believe and feel strong enough to share with you. It’s sometimes foolish, often unstable and at times hard to talk about but at the same time I’m evolving and being the man I’m meant to be. You might say I’m risking my relationship with you the reader.
What say you?
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