Can you let him know he’s needed, even necessary, and capable of anything?
I’m originally from the beautiful twin isles of Trinidad and Tobago, and for many years I lived in South Florida where most of my colleagues and friends were of Caribbean or Hispanic descent. I noticed a trend in the way boys are raised that may or may not derive from cultural similarities. On any given day, I would hear women complain about men being lazy, worthless, and good for nothing. Yet, many of these women were the same ones coddling their sons and the males in their lives. I don’t live with these men, so I cannot comment on their traits or behaviors, but I do wonder about our role as women in these dynamics.
All relationships are imperfect. I know that I have faltered in giving the men in my life the love, acknowledgement, and respect they deserve. I still don’t have all the answers, but as with any issue, acknowledging it and reflecting on it is always a step in the right direction.
This starts with making the boys in our lives feel needed and necessary, capable, and loved. However, treating their fathers and adult male peers this way is equally important. How comforting would it be for boys to grow up knowing that they will be treated well, respected, and valued when they reach adulthood, too?
Needed and Necessary
There was a time when men were needed to support the household financially. In many modern households, this may not be the case. I’ve heard true stories about men being told that they are not needed simply because their finances were not. I cannot imagine how hurtful this is to a male partner. Just as women do not care to be reduced to sex objects and body parts, I’m sure men do not care to be reduced to a paycheck.
While most women are probably not this extreme, we sometimes may send the message that we don’t need and value the roles that the men in our lives play. I’m not suggesting we stroke their egos in a superficial way by pretending we need them to open the pickle jar.
I am suggesting that we think about all the ways they contributes to our lives. What would we miss about them if they weren’t around? What would be so much more difficult? What tasks do they take off of our hands that we really appreciate?
Some of these may be big and some may seem insignificant, but once we identify them, the next step is the most important- tell him. Show him. Make sure he doesn’t forget.
Let’s make sure we don’t forget, lest we start taking the men in our lives for granted.
I’ve seen women speaking to men in a way that makes me cringe, in a way that we would never accept if the tables were turned. I’ve seen men trying to help and being criticized and micromanaged for not doing things the exact same way that we would. I’ve heard women openly say that having their husband around is like having another child in the house. Treating men this way is unacceptable, unfair, and inequitable. We do not accept women being treated this way. If a man puts a woman down, especially in front of others, we call this emotional abuse and we call him an asshole.
You might say that your husband is like a child and he does mess things up all the time. I would implore you to look into how frequently these statements are really true and to explore your role in these dynamics. We cannot control a man’s actions, but we can control our own. You can choose to remember that we are all imperfect and treat him respectfully. You can choose to focus on his efforts and what he does do well. We can make a choice to remember and appreciate these things.
Only you know what makes your man feel loved. Whatever it is, try to give it generously. God knows there are times when this is difficult.
Try to hold your partner in a place of love by noticing and appreciating all the ways he’s loving to you and others. I actually keep a running list on my phone of all the things I appreciate about my significant other. It includes, but is not limited to, his best qualities; sweet, little things he’s said to me; kind gestures toward me or others; and special moments or funny inside jokes we’ve shared. I look at it and add to it regularly. I add to it when I’m feeling good about him and our relationship, and I study it in those moments when our relationship currency is running low.
Work on speaking to your partner in a loving way. I can be a very blunt person and this does not always go over well when dealing with sensitive topics. I’m learning the hard way that talking about things while I’m upset is not usually a good idea. While I’m aware of this, it’s often easier said than done. If I can’t communicate constructively, I’m working on at least saying nothing at all until my emotions are not in control. I would rather withdraw temporarily than say unloving things that cannot be taken back.
The man in your life may have different criteria for feeling loved. You may have different areas for growth to make him feel this way. You are the expert on your partner and your relationship, but there’s always room to learn more.
Thankfully, love is forgiving. Thankfully, we can always start fresh when we have fallen short. We will never be perfect, but we can learn how to make the men in our lives feel more needed and necessary, capable, and loved every day.
Photo: Getty Images