Time to invent a new value proposition.
“I don’t feel connected to him anymore”
“He doesn’t know how to show up”
“We’ve just become different people over the years”
Ever heard a woman say anything like that before?
These phrases are indicative of the widening gap between the needs of the empowered women around us and the old cultural script telling men what their role is.
Up until very recently in human history, men had historically been the providers and protectors of the society.
This idea goes all the way back to the animal kingdom and analysis provided to us by the late Joseph Campbell, a scholar who is perhaps most well known for his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
His most relevant work on the man’s role in society was looking at male/female dynamics in the animal kingdom, most specifically his interpretation of Jane Goodall’s work with chimps.
At the most primal level, Campbell’s view on the role of the woman was:
“The condition of the female in the human society has been that of service to the coming and maintenance of life”
It’s not exactly how we speak today but it basically means a woman’s life was devoted to conceiving, delivering, and nurturing children – the newest expression of life and the continuation of the species.
Campbell’s view of the male’s role was in clear contrast:
“The function of the male in this society is to prepare and maintain a field within which the female can bring forth the future”
So while the females were concerned with raising children, the males were gathering food and defending against invaders.
After all, she’s gonna have a pretty hard time raising children and doing her life-bringing business if the males can’t maintain the perimeter and keep her safe.
This shows us why men have traditionally played provider and protector role throughout our world’s history.
However, this model got detailed around 40 years ago with the rise of the women’s right’s movement and feminism.
By empowering women to choose between a career or being at home with the children, our society unknowingly stripped men of their sole reason for existence for thousands of years all the way back to the animal kingdom.
It’s no wonder men today are reeling from the shock! We’re being forced to deal with an experience we have no frame of reference for!
As society got more established, we went from warriors that literally maintained the perimeter to staring at a computer screen and collecting a paycheque to secure a place to live and put food on the table.
But in today’s world, a woman is totally capable of doing that for herself (and her kids).
In fact, she might even be able to do it better than her husband.
So men are left wondering “Now what?”
It’s a fantastic question and one that every man now has a chance to look in the mirror and ask himself.
Because even if you’re still able to fulfill the traditional role, the reality is she doesn’t need you the way she used to.
Sailing on yachts, partying at swanky hotspots, and cracking open $125 bottles of wine isn’t enough to guarantee a woman will want to be with you for the rest of her life.
This is because the needs of women have changed as they became more self sufficient.
Rather than allowing this reality to drag us into a dark night of the soul that’s sure to drive any woman farther away, let’s reframe this and see the opportunity here.
By being forced to redefine what value we actually bring we have the opportunity to build the genuinely loving relationship our parents and grandparents were promised but didn’t actually have.
The romanticism of returning to a time when men were “real men” in order to reclaim our lost masculinity is enticing, but it ignores the fact that these “real men” were often very difficult to be around.
Let’s face it – even if our Fathers were able to fulfill their role as protectors and providers, our Mothers were often left feeling like something was missing and it most often had to do with not feeling emotionally cared for.
Since we have to restructure our role anyways, we might as well fill in the gaps that the men before us weren’t able to solve.
It means we have the opportunity to be the first generation of men to actually develop the loving, passionate, happily ever after relationships that our culture has been promising since we started marrying for love.
So how do we make it actually happen?
Think of it this way:
It’s not that she NO LONGER has needs because she can provide for herself, it’s that her needs are DIFFERENT than the women that came before her.
As good men are ingrained to fulfill the provider and protector role, women are still ingrained to be look for that safety and security even if they can’t articulate how that actually looks in today’s world.
So while you may not be needed to provide a physical box or perimeter to meet her physical needs, you can still fulfill the protector and provider role through the idea of an emotional box.
Instead of providing her with a physical box to feel safe and protected by, YOU become the box where she feels emotionally safe and protected.
This means YOUR PRESENCE becomes the box ITSELF.
Imagine yourself as the center of a box that is expanded twenty feet in all directions around you.
The box is a part of you and goes wherever you go.
And guess what?
Your mood permeates that box and influences her whenever she’s inside it.
This means your role is to maintain the emotional quality of the environment you are providing her.
If you’re often mopey, whiny or feeling defeated, THAT’S the environment you are providing her to live in.
If you’re grouchy because she’s come home late from work again then her body thinks she’s walking into a hostile environment (even if she logically knows it’s hers).
And when a woman is capable of providing her own physical needs, she’s not gonna put up with that kind of emotional environment for too long.
But what if you were supportive?
What if you felt like a rock she could come back to at the end of the day and know that everything’s OK because she’s safe in your arms?
What if she knew that no matter how bad her day went, you would be there to give her the love and encouragement she needs to help her pick up the pieces and get back out there with a renewed sense of confidence?
What if she knew she could count on you to take the lead when she needs a break from being the ambitious superwoman?
THAT’S how you become an INVALUABLE support system and place yourself firmly into the role of a modern protector/provider.
You adapt from providing a physical box to an emotional box.
This way you meet the needs your wife ACTUALLY has rather than the needs society says she’s supposed to have.
It doesn’t make you any less of a man for being with a woman who went above and beyond.
The fact that you can make yourself relevant and adapt to meet her where she’s at (when there’s no cultural narrative to tell you how) is EXACTLY what men have been doing all along – learning, adapting, and executing.
That’s the most important thing to understand here.
Beyond the masculine acts of providing food and shelter and defending the perimeter, what was actually happening was good men were doing whatever needed to be done to keep their women safe and thriving the best way they knew how.
Your relationship may look different than how our society tells us things “should” be but it really doesn’t matter.
So forget the inferiority complex and questioning your relevance.
Provide her with the a emotional box of safety and support and she’ll never even think about whether she actually needs you or not.
(And neither will you.)
So help her calm down when she’s upset.
Reassure her when she’s doubting herself.
Become her sanctuary.
And then watch your relationship blossom because you found a way to make yourself significant and irreplaceable.
The reality is the skills we used to get the girl aren’t the skills we used to keep her.
It’s time to step up and get the job done because that’s what men do.
We got this guys.
Photo: Getty Images