Why husband-ness can be difficult to cultivate for some men.
If I were to look into my heart and ask why, in the twilight of my marriage, I was unable to fulfill my wife’s needs by going to therapy, showing more affection, sending her flowers, or bringing to life manifestations of love specific to her needs, it was because I had no idea of how to put myself in a position to fulfill her needs.
My love was there, but when I needed the love to manifest into actions of affection for her during the turbulent part of our relationship, I failed. There is no figurative language to describe what it feels like to fail as a husband, which to me felt like a failure at being a type of person who will move heaven and earth, or heart and soul for another person. It just hurts. I wanted to be a good husband, but that desire existed solely in my thoughts.
Males, especially us introverts, tend not to talk about how we feel, and if your partner doesn’t know how you feel, especially when the relationship is at a crossroads; you can not expect your marriage to last in an ambiguous zone of perceived unrequited affection and communication–even if your love and the desire to love is there.
If I could, I would provide you with a linear, succinct scaffold of 1 to 10 things you could do to save your marriage; however, in matters of eros there is no, save for the act of choice, input-output solution to bring a relationship back from a romantic decline. Once the love you share with your partner loses it’s ability to inspire and improvise solutions that the act of being in love ascribes for itself, your partnership will devolve from choice to duty, and love should be duty-free (so to speak). If your admiration for your partner enhances with each look into her eyes, and swells your spirit to a status you believe is above all forms of being, then you must find a way to harness that energy to discover to do two things:
- Discover what your partner needs.
- Discover the ways in which you can put yourself in a position to fulfill those needs.
Even if you go through the necessary steps of number 1, you can only do number 2 if you not only cultivate your wife, but cultivate the husband inside yourself. Your “husbandness” must be kept, cared for, and watered to grow into an ability to do number 2, and it’s your ability to accomplish number 2 that will keep the esteem of your wife because it shows her that you are willing to improve your communication and shift priorities to pronounce your love for her.
Husbandness requires vulnerability, affection, communication, and a belief that allowing your wife to leave the union due to a lack of your effort is an implausible proposition. I lacked three of the four to an appalling degree.
I have a theory as to why husbandness can be difficult for a man to cultivate inside himself: men aren’t taught to be husbands in the same way women are taught to be wives. In a general sense, women are conditioned to be wives as they are conditioned to be women, as if performing the duties of a wife necessitate womanhood. Typically, men are taught to be “men” first, and after adolescence confront societal norms in order to graduate into a husband. it’s a bit of an oddity that one learns maleness (here I use the societal norms of America) before the husbandness, and that the two require a different set of attributes, and standards. All good men do not make good husbands because “manliness” isn’t a prerequisite for “husbandness”, and this is why it can be difficult for men to grow during a marriage, or even deal with so-called “failures of manliness” in a marriage (I.E. unemployment or making less money than their female partner), even if the man is a talented husband.
Had I learned husbandness before manliness or learned partnership in tandem with manhood, I may have figured out that being a good husband can mean more than providing “things”, as if the act of showing love is some sort of tribal ritual.
There is no desire to cast blame in matters of affection. I just know what it is like to have the feeling of deep love for a significant other inside of my heart, but also have those same feelings absent from my voice, and struggle with showing sentiments of affection that are not specific to the ways in which I show love. I am a very private person, and because of that I can be emotionally reserved. This is misinterpreted as “distant” to others, so when my relationship was on the decline, my ability to express my love in ways that my partner would comprehend had been in a comatose state. The was the time it should have been in its most rebellious form.
Unfortunately headspace is a room for one, and our partners do not live there. Worst of all neither does the heart, so if you feel your partner is the denouement of your love and that feeling isn’t clear to them, stop reading this, tell them, and show them. It may be hard, but show them, despite the fact my personality type is known as a “counselor”, “protector”, or “advocate”, I did not communicate to my partner that I did want to seek counsel, advocate for the marriage and protect the union. It wasn’t because I didn’t value her needs; I didn’t know how to put myself in a position to fulfill her number 1: for me to show I was present. I didn’t even know I was absent.
What was lacking in my ability to perform number two was simple: I had to discover my “joi de vivre”. The french phrase for a joy of living. It’s not that I did not love my wife, or had no desire to accomplish number 2. I did not know how to grow (with urgency) from the banalities of manhood into the joys of life that reside in husbandhood, and share that joy with her. I didn’t even know how to communicate to her that my joy of life (different from wanting to live) had diminished.
Once I let go of my reluctance to pursue number 2, and literally enjoyed life, the world of love I had created for my partner opened its mouth and consumed me. I did everything she had ever wanted me to do: started therapy (on my own), improved relationships with friends and family, found ways to nudge my introverted proclivities into the world of extroversion, and found a way to comfortably express my emotions.
Alas, I did learn number 2, and found my joy of life, but it was too late. The arguing had been done. The packing had been complete, she was gone, and divorce ensued.
Divorce penetrates all sense of normalcy, but the violence divorce does to one’s body is only normal to an account of death, but I suppose death is what one feels when their heart breaks and stops working.
If your partner does not know you are invested in accomplishing number 2, the esteem your partner once had for you will be lost, and your partnership will soon follow. It wasn’t until the esteem ebbed from my partner’s heart: from the ways in which she spoke to me, and from the ways in which she looked at me, and her perception that I was unwilling to do number 2. She didn’t know it, but I had been reading about love languages, apology languages, and searching for meetups so I could be more social and meet her needs. I wanted to say it, but I was emotionally mute.
I was just too late to realize my attempts to understand her needs. Without working on myself to find ways to fulfill her needs, it was a fruitless pursuit.
If it isn’t too late for you, accomplish number 2 by any means necessary. Even if it means revealing your deepest insecurities, or living within your most private fears. The beautiful thing about number 2 is that it bequeaths unto you and your partner an opportunity to build intimacy by growing together. It will make you a more complete partner, and maybe even more important, a more complete person as well.
I could offer some sort of comfort in telling you that you can and will find love again, but know this: it will be different. There are 6 billion different people with different fingerprints and each time two new sets of fingerprints join together, yes the creases, folds and faults will set into themselves in ways that are reminiscent of love, but that new pairing will never match the way you joined hands with your partner, and exchanged vows.
Have you told your partner they are the denouement of your love yet?
Stop reading and show them now.
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