There’s a challenge all men face in intimate relationships. It’s not just in marriages, but any close connections, including our children, siblings, and mothers.
As males, we’re taught to fix, to make things better. Sometimes that is not possible. All men who partner will find their mates have experienced pain which we are not able to erase. All fathers will find the same thing with their daughters.
If we don’t erase our partner’s pain, we have been convinced by our culture that we have fallen into an area defined as ‘unmanly’. We suddenly are weak….puny….less than heroic. Whether you’ve known it or not, you’ve been taught to consider yourself less than worthy of your gender if you don’t make everything right for your woman, whether she is your wife, mother, sister. This identification of ourselves as unworthy of the title ‘man’ can quickly and easily lead to a fear of women’s feelings and thoughts.
Take a brief inventory of a recent time you have felt conflicted with a female you love. Was there a sense of helplessness, small stature, insignificance? Did you feel attacked, overlooked or demeaned? I’m betting you did, that WE did as males. We learned to aspire to solve all the problems, be heroes in every challenging situation, and relieve the suffering of helpless females.
Because this ethos is unrealistic (as well as demeaning to females), we find ourselves in a position of looking at the beliefs and behaviors in our lives. For forty-five years I’ve been reeling in my learned protection of ‘helpless’ females.
My wife is one of the best examples of compassion and courage possible. An example: wordlessly she got out of our car at a stop light, picked up a cigarette just dropped onto the ground by a large, ominously angry looking man, and dropped it simply into the back window of his vehicle. The only help she needed was helping me not wet my pants in fear.
Help everyone, not just the suffering females
We’re here to be loving and kind in all circumstances. Take a look at your conflicts with your wife and daughters and sisters and you will find an element of fear. The fear will lead directly back to your insufficiency in the presence of female challenges and pain. Of course, help when you can. But if you can’t change her mind, habits, self-doubt, fears, don’t get on the bandwagon and blame her for your sense of powerlessness. She’s probably not a bitch, always complaining, making your life difficult. Consider that you can help the situation by accepting that she is both strong and conflicted just as you are.
When we accept that life brings with it pain and suffering, and that our role as humans is to be companions who sometimes just travel together through the difficulties, we are in the space of replacing misogyny with the power of loving acceptance, growth, and joy.
The good news is that you are capable of much more than being a fixer. You are capable of being compassionate and patient and loving, which makes room for her to tell you what she needs. Be prepared that it might not be your solution.
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