To hell with the stereotypical husband. Artistic ones have so much to teach us.
How many times have I heard backhanded comments about someone’s husband not being a “real” man, husband, provider, etc.? Too many times.
I always took offense to the idea that a male spouse had to meet an absurd imaginary checklist of traits in order to be seen as worthy in the eyes of outsiders. Shouldn’t the only opinion that really matters be that of their partner? I mean, if my mom is still madly in love with my dad after 30+ years of marriage, should it matter that he’d rather tend the garden than mow the lawn?
Maybe it was my parents ability to defy gender roles that led to my open-mindedness, but whatever the reason I appreciate a good non-conforming man. And I have to say, that I’ve never once regretted marrying a man who spends his time painting, writing, and playing music as opposed to working on cars, hunting, or watching sports.
Everyday, I get to witness my husband lost in something that he loves. It’s a beautiful thing to watch as he creates a portrait from memory, a story that touches a nerve, or a piece of music that comforts the soul. Because not only do I get the opportunity to witness him in his element, but I also get an inside look at what is going on his head and what he’s feeling. I get his own personal story two-fold. Witnessed once in the process of creating and again in his final product.
Having always considered myself as a creative spirit, I never thought I could learn so much from another artist/creator. But being married to a man who creates every single day has taught me so much. Here are five of the most important lessons I’ve learned from him.
The Process is as Meaningful as the Product
If you have ever watched an artist create something, you probably already know what I mean by this.
Although hard to describe, there is just nothing like walking into a house or room where someone is lost in the process of making something. I used to feel this change in atmosphere when I would walk into my uncle’s garage when he was rebuilding a car. It was like his body was doing the work of his mind, but his mind was completely consumed by the vision. In teaching we call this the flow state, when a student is allowed to focus so completely on something that they lose track of time.
Admittedly I do sometimes get tired of having paint, charcoal, and paper everywhere, but it is 100% worth it to be reminded of how emotional and fulfilling it is to do work you love. It brings me back down to earth and reminds me of what my mind and hands are capable of.
Creating Helps You Process Pain
You can usually tell how stressful my husband and I’s lives are by how many musical instruments and art supplies are within arms reach. Having dealt with a lot of loss and major life changes over the last few years, art has played a major part in our coping with the pain and mourning.
When my husband lost his mom earlier this year, he didn’t get angry or seek someone to blame. He delved into his art and used writing to help him deal with his emotions and what the loss meant to him. There are thousands of sketches, notes on napkins, memories on paper, and pages of fiction that have been created in the year since she was diagnosed with cancer. And honestly, I don’t know what we would have done without the outlet that these provided.
Writing and sketching helped my husband process the fact that he lost one of the people he was closest to. It also helped him feel a sense of purpose. It was a way to spend his time doing something he love for someone he loved.
It Brings Out the Kid in You
Few things bring a smile to our face like getting dirty and trying something new. As kids, we felt free to experiment with art, music, writing, dance… We often dreamed of making careers out of our work, but simply because of the joy that came from the process not the fame or fortune. Dipping your fingers in paint and letting your imagination fly without knowing (or even caring) what the final product will look like can be so liberating.
And the same is true for adults. When you allow yourself to be creative in one realm of your life, it tends to spill over into other areas. Suddenly your meals become more healthy and inventive; you come up with solutions to problems that you couldn’t before solve; you find meaning in work you previously found dull.
Allowing yourself to create is like opening the door back to your childhood.
Art Can be Better than Conversation
As wives, we worry. And even though my husband and I talk a lot, sometimes words just can’t quite reassure me the way actions can.
There have been many times when I’ve walked into our studio stressed out and just sat with my husband as we both work on projects. We didn’t talk about what was stressing us out. We didn’t ask each other how our days were. We just shared space and time as we both got lost in creating.
And while it might at first glance seem cold and unfriendly, it is actually incredibly intimate and fulfilling. I can often learn more about my husband’s day and his emotions by sitting beside him and watching him work than I can from talking to him. It usually makes me feel more connected too.
Creating beside one another is a powerful bonding experience, and allows us to connect on a much more intimate level than with just conversation alone.
Creating Art is Necessary
Being artistic is not just a hobby or a way to kill time. It is a powerful and necessary part of our society. You can tell stories through art that you can’t tell through a news article or interview. Art has a way of being controversial and in your face while also being accessible and enticing.
What more beautiful way to show your outrage over current events than by creating a piece of art that calls out injustice and starts a much needed conversation? How many hard lessons have we learned from fiction novels that we would have turned our backs to in real life?
Art is powerful. And art is necessary.
Men come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. Although our society has tended to play favorites in terms of what kind of men fit the mold, I am pleased to see this starting to change. Hopefully we will soon be in a place where men with more artistic talents are seen as just as valuable as those with traditional masculine talents.
So the next time you hear someone putting down a man as not being “husband material” because of their talents and passions, stand up for them and let your voice be heard.
And to all those men who have felt emasculated because of your non-conformist interests, know that there are plenty of women out there who would love a MAN like you.
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Photo: Getty Images