Freya Watson believes only when men and women see other as spiritual beings with lessons to learn, will the mutual wounding stop.
No one knows what it’s like
to feel these feelings,
like I do,
and I blame you.
~ Lyrics, Behind Blue Eyes ,The Who
These days it seems there are many men who are acting twice shy when it comes to new relationships, holding back opening their hearts and lives to a woman in case the relationship goes wrong and they end up being held over a barrel by a woman’s change of heart—and an unfair legal system.
The level of hurt and anger in a few comments left below my last article caught me by surprise. Are modern men becoming slaves to a woman’s whims when it comes to separating at the end of a relationship? Are they rendered impotent by law that upholds a woman’s rights, particularly a mother’s, over those of her former partner? I’d almost forgotten that, in some quarters, the battle of the sexes still rages on—fuelled on both sides by injustice, both real and imagined. Anger can be a healthy reaction—a step towards reclaiming our sense of personal power which, in turn, fuels our ability to shape our lives more closely to what we want rather than have it shaped by others.
And, of course, there’s plenty of anger among women, too.
“I find it hard to meet an available woman my age who isn’t cynical about men,” a forty-something, single, man commented recently, bemoaning the loss of innocence that was dogging his attempts at a new relationship. “I don’t want to be dating younger women but they seem more willing to give me a fair try than women my own age.”
No-one likes being hurt and the instinctive reaction is to lash out against the perceived perpetrator, and then to seek the company of others who have experienced similar pain. When a man hangs on to anger too long, though, it starts to eat away at him inside, holding him back from the happiness he really longs for.
I’m not a legal expert but I’ve seen enough evidence to support the view that men are often dealt with unfairly by legal systems that automatically pre-assumes ‘mother knows best.’ And I have to express a personal view that I don’t believe this should be the case. As a woman who has chosen not to be a full time mother, I happily watch as my partner steps in fully as an equal participant in every way in family life.It may not be something that comes as naturally to him, having been raised by a mother who believed the home was a woman’s jurisdiction, but he’s finding his feet—in the same way many other men are, and in the same way many women had to when they first started to enter the workplace in significant numbers. Arguably, it’ll take time for men to fully find their feet en masse as nurturers and home makers, to get a sense of what kind of home life they might like to create and how it might be different to the one in which they were reared themselves. And taking time is just fine.
Regardless of the injustices that may be happening in the divorce courts or the hurts many have experienced at the hands of women, though, I believe men are far from being victims.
“The problems that exist in the world today can’t be resolved by the level of thinking that created them”
Einstein wasn’t alone in recognising that we need to take a different perspective on problems in order to resolve them. Many ancient shamanic and modern therapeutic approaches suggest a similar approach—rising to the level of eagle, for example, in order to see an issue in a wider setting, or stepping into another’s shoes to become aware of an angle we mightn’t have seen before. And my own personal experience, and my experience with clients, has shown this to be the case.
I don’t believe the way forward for men lies in taking an anti-women, or an all-male, stance. In fact, I have deep reservations about groups or movements which rely on exclusivity for their power. They tend to reinforce existing prejudices and limiting beliefs at a time when understanding and communication are most needed.
The anger towards men still found in some feminist groups is evidence, if any were needed, of how harmful it can be to develop movements based primarily around hurt. Exclusive groups have their place for confidence-building, developing awareness and bonding, but I don’t believe the solution to an inequality of rights between men and women lies in taking sides.
Although it may take some adjustment, when we come up a level and view ourselves and others—ex wives included—as spiritual beings having a physical experience, we have a chance to respond in a more empowering way to the difficulties we face with others. From that perspective, we become aware that there may be a bigger game at play. No matter how nasty a piece of work our ex may be, when we start to see her as a soul expressing through a woman’s body, we can learn to step back a little from the details of our conflict and to leave room to see what the wider agenda may be.
Perhaps, at some level, her actions are giving us an opportunity to embrace a part of ourselves that we have neglected—taking more ownership of our home life, maybe, being more assertive about our rights, or even developing greater emotional empathy.
Difficult though it can be to make this shift in awareness, particularly because it involves a willingness to release our attachment to woundedness, it is ultimately more empowering to face challenges as opportunities to grow rather than become hardened by cynicism and disempowered by despair. And understanding that conflict is only relevant to our lives as human beings, not souls, can help us to accept it and work with what it’s presenting to us.
When our actions are also guided by that understanding, the outcome tends to be radically different. We’re less inclined to react from a place of hurt taking an eye for an eye—though not necessarily turning the other cheek. With this perspective, a man can draw on that innate masculine gift of holding his energy until the right action, if any, is apparent, reflecting on what the situation may really need in order to move forward rather than lashing out.
As long as we are locked in a head-on conflict, busy lobbing grenades back and forth from women to men and back, we fail to see what else might be happening. Like two football players locked in a tackle on the corner of the pitch, we forget that not only is there a whole match going on of which we are only a small part, but there is also a league of which the current match is only one game.
And, ultimately, we’re all just in it together because we’re all players. By challenging each other at times, we have the opportunity to up our game and to explore aspects of our playing we mightn’t normally employ—so long as we don’t forget that, at the end of the day, we’re really all the same. After all, men and women are spiritually the same underneath and simply expressing themselves energetically in different forms as human beings. When we rise above the level of sex to the level of spirit, there can be no ‘war of the sexes’. This is the understanding that can start to heal our relationships at an individual level. The legal systems, as creations of humanity, can only change when enough people do.