But for today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. My husband just got back from being away for ten days. I know that’s not much of a secret, but at the time, it was. I don’t like to announce on the internet, “Hey, everybody! I’m home alone tonight with two teenage girls!”. Just doesn’t sound smart.
He went away with seven other guys to North Carolina, where they swam and windsurfed and biked and read and goofed off. He had a good time, although his comment when he came back is that he’d rather spend time with me. He’s glad he went, though.
He was initially nervous about asking me to join this trip, because it coincided with my birthday. Actually, that didn’t work out so badly for me. Everybody felt sorry for me because he wasn’t here, so I was taken out to four birthday dinners by different people! I ate very well. Maybe I’ll send him away next year, too!
But I wanted him to go. We have lots of time together, he and I. We prioritize it. But sometimes guys just need to be with other guys. And we don’t always let them. We get upset because it takes time away from us, or from the kids.
Now there’s a balance here, isn’t there? No guy should be out with his friends every night, or even once a week if he’s barely home with the kids because of his own work schedule. Obviously the family needs to come first. Yet I think it’s important that we encourage male bonding.
Think about it this way. How many women do you know that you could share your heart with? How many women could you pick up a phone and say, “I need to talk, can we go for coffee?”. Chances are there are more than two women on that list. For many of us there may be quite a few!
But men don’t have that as much. Apparently less than 10% of men have a real, male friend that they could actually bare their souls to. Many men have acquaintances that they do things with, but they don’t actually talk.
And the only way to get to that level of relationship is if they start to spend time together and act like men.
When I wrote my book, Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight, I included a chapter called “Who Wears the Pants in this Family?”. I knew it would be a controversial one, and I do get occasional emails from readers challenging me on this. Here’s the point I was making: what makes sex interesting is that it is two very different individuals joining. God made us male and female. He didn’t just make us the same with different body parts. He made two separate packages that can now be joined.
But what do we do? We try to turn men into women! We don’t let them act like guys, because that’s wrong. We’re the good sex. We know how to share our feelings, raise kids, look after a house, and organize schedules. He’s helpless and hopeless. So he needs to learn to bow to our expertise.
Maybe you don’t think of it that way, but that is often our attitude. The funny thing is that it is often his masculinity that attracted you to him in the first place! But once you’re married, those things start to bother you. We need to get to a point in our marriages where he can be a guy again, and one of the ways to encourage that is to let him hang out with other men. And if he won’t take the initiative, you can. Invite couples over for dinner that include a guy that you think would click with your husband. Often men only have friendships because we “set them up”. And that’s okay.
And we need to let him be a man in the way that he relates to the kids, too. Don’t expect him to parent the way you do! You are not necessarily the expert; kids need both parents.
I think it’s hard to figure out this masculine-feminine dichotomy in today’s world because roles have gotten all messed up. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Some women need to work, and that’s good. It’s great that men are changing diapers! But the price we pay for all of this is that suddenly we may not be as sexy to each other anymore because we’re too much the same. I think every woman needs a time where she can feel feminine: cared for, attractive, and desired. And every man needs a time when he can feel masculine: capable, strong, and respected. But is that happening in your marriage?
It was right about here where the hate mails started to arrive. What did I mean saying that men needed to feel strong? That women needed to feel cared for? Didn’t I know that women’s lib had happened so that we weren’t subject to these stereotypes anymore?
Yes, I do know that. But I also know that God made us male and female. And we don’t gain anything in the marriage relationship by trying to erase that fact. We need to interact with each other as two different genders, or we risk losing something precious. That has nothing to do with who cleans the toilets; it has everything to do with how you feel about each other.
If you’re wondering how to walk this line, or how to help him feel masculine, I have lots more in Honey, I Don’t Have a Headache Tonight!
I also have a 45-minute hilarious and practical talk I gave on the same subject for sale this month, too.Don’t miss it! I know it will change your marriage!