Since people seem to enjoy talking about yesterday’s post on men, I thought I’d throw a few more disconnected thoughts out there to keep people talking. Just random thoughts here on the topic of men, but I hope they keep you thinking.
1. Every study I’ve ever read on this topic says that by the time a man gets to be 40 years old, his network of close friends has dwindled to one or two other men. For most men, their spouse becomes their closest friend, with most male relationships given little time. Women, on the other hand, are good at maintaining their network of friends, even from their youth. Men are far more disconnected and lonely than women are.
2. As someone who has almost no interest in professional or collegiate sports, I identify with men who feel left out of the brotherhood. For some reason, men who enjoy intellectual pursuits find themselves marginalized in today’s manly culture. Or a man may be athletic, but finds non-team-based or non-competitive activities more in keeping with his interests, only to find that ideal less appreciated by other men.
3. Nearly every book I’ve ever read on Christian marriage states that spouses should be open and honest with each other. However, I’ve found that this openness and honesty is truly only available to women. Men are not allowed to confess their mistakes or weaknesses without suffering undo hardship for doing so, not only from their wives, but also from the rest of the culture. In other words, despite the fact we men are encouraged to let our guards down, when we do, we typically wind up savaged. Despite all our talk in our culture, and especially in our churches, we like our men to keep all “that stuff” buried inside.
4. Modern Evangelism has no idea what to do with men who are not successes. If a man isn’t a success in his work life or his community life, we simply don’t know how to deal with him. (Worse, we tend to measure that success solely by the world’s standards.) I’ve known men, even national Christian leaders, to lie rather than be seen as a failure in some part of their lives.
5. I know that one aspect of my own life that I struggle with is the expectation that I will always have a solution for whatever problem I face. Though I consider myself a smart person, sometimes I don’t have The Answer™. I think a lot of other men face this dilemma, too. Men are encouraged to live out of their brains, but not every problem has a satisfying intellectual solution. Many men don’t know where to turn for practical advice when they can’t put all the pieces together. Again, even admitting we might not know it all is a sign of weakness not well tolerated in some circles. Women can get by with saying, “I don’t know.” Men can’t. This is one reason that men let some intractable issues fester for years.
And those are my thoughts for today.