Ever wonder how a confident, powerful man loses his self-respect and the respect of his partner in his relationship?
Well, I can tell you. I see it everyday in the men I work with.
He loses that respect by not standing up –by not acting as a Warrior — for himself and what he cares about.
It usually starts out like it did for my client, Matt (innocently) under the guise of keeping the peace.
Matt mentioned in our session that his wife had called him a “lazy father.” It was obvious he didn’t think much of it.
“What did you say to her when she made that accusation?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “Just ignored her and went on with my day.”
“Do you agree that you’re a lazy father?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “not at all. In fact other fathers look up to me because I’m so engaged in my kids’ lives. I just didn’t want to get into it with her. Sometimes it’s easier to just let it go in one ear and out the other. “
In the same week, another client of mine was accused of not doing anything around the house. He was told: “You don’t do anything around here.”
I asked him, “Is that true that you don’t do anything around the house?”
“No,” he said. “I do a lot of the errands, and I cook dinner most nights.”
“So why didn’t you stand up to her?” I asked.
“Didn’t want to get into it with her,” he said, not missing a beat.
This male behavior is frustrating and sad.
It’s frustrating because it misses a beautiful opportunity for a man to teach a woman to relate to him with love and respect.
It’s sad because we women get lip service from you men, instead of your genuine engagement and interest in what is going on for us and what we need from you.
Many years ago I was in a relationship where I was the woman in the above scenarios – complaining to get my man’s engagement and attention.
My partner, like my clients, was often passive, wanting to avoid conflict with me, so he didn’t make the effort to discover what was really going on for me.
The more he was passive and avoidant, the louder my complaints got.
I wanted him to hear that something was off. I also wanted him to stand up — for himself and also to me.
What’s now clear is that my complaints were an attempt to express my fear: That I didn’t feel safe with him. I didn’t feel he was keeping his word or exercising proper integrity in our relationship, so I complained to bring his attention to those matters.
Since his mission was to keep the peace and avoid conflict, he didn’t come up against me (in a good way) — in a way that would have calmed my fears and helped to create confidence in him.
His avoidance told me I had good reason to be afraid.
When you don’t challenge a woman when she makes claims about you that may not be true, it demonstrates a lack of self-respect. It makes you look guilty and it teaches her to disrespect you – by default.
It’s also just lazy!
So I’m on a mission to get men to stand up – to women!
Now, let me clarify that I’m not encouraging men to become mean or aggressive, or to pick fights.
I’m encouraging you to stand up for yourself (calmly but firmly).
- Stand for what you care about — because it’s important. It’s particularly important when you fear your partner will not agree or approve of what you have to say. Those are the moments that truly demonstrate strength and courage.
- Ignoring a woman’s complaints, however invalid you think they are, does not demonstrate caring or respect for her, and it doesn’t earn you her respect.
It’s important to challenge her when it’s important
Hear her complaints as an opportunity to create safety and closeness. Doing so will build your Warrior muscle, your self-respect and her respect for you.