Nowhere Men—More Thoughts

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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.

41 thoughts on “Nowhere Men—More Thoughts

  1. I find #5 interesting. I wonder if that is not due to an upbringing rather than a man/woman issue. I don’t wrestle with that expectation a whole lot, but I’ve seen it come up regularly in your writings. You feel that you are expected to come up with The Answer. (I don’t know how to do the trademark logo…very clever of you).

    I don’t struggle with that. I am very comfortable stating “I don’t know,” and then working out a solution with whoever else is involved, regardless of status or sex. I am not threatened by others’ knowledge or opinions on a given matter.

    As I stated yesterday, I am more prone to stop and ask for directions than even my wife. I think this goes back to my upbringing where seeking a solution or an answer was just as (if not more) important as the actual solution or answer itself.

    Does that make sense?

    • Sue

      I’m probably going out on a very small limb here, but something just popped into my mind…if someone can’t/won’t take the time to ask simple driving directions, how likely is it that they will take the time to ask God for direction? I’m not addressing one gender over the other, women can be just as bad as men when it comes to asking for assistance, it’s just in different areas of their lives.

      The feeling of assurance that God, your parents, your spouse, your good friend, even the gas station guy/lady would care enough to hear your dilema and want to help you out takes a humble view of yourself and a positive outlook of others. Will we be humble?

    • Nathanael,

      I use the Firefox extension with the crazy name of “abcTajpu” to generate all sorts of unique diacritical marks and symbols. I consider it essential. It lurks in the contextual menu and is easily accessed (now if only Microsoft got through their thick skulls and did the same in Word).

      To the rest of your comment, I say that because men are supposed to be the Prophet, Priest, and King in their households (as some Evangelicals claim); they can’t ever say, “I don’t know.” They’re forced to find an answer. Again, women don’t have that same responsibility. Nor, do I think, do they understand how crippling it can be when an answer doesn’t immediately come.

      • David Riggins

        What is this “Prophet, Priest, King” stuff you’re talking about? I’ve never seen it in the bible. I don’t see how evangelicals could call for the husband to be all these things. No normal person could be all, and the bible only mentions 2 people that were (and some believe they were the same person). Even the kings of Israel were not called to be all things…they were surrounded by a cloud of helpers, including a high-priest, a hut full of lesser priests, and usually a rather bothersome prophet, like a really serious Jiminy Cricket.

        So where do evangelical know-it-alls come off telling men that they need to be something that is impossible to pull off unless one is God incarnate? Sheesh. No wonder men have issues.

        Of course, then there’s the well meaning people who tell women how to be the perfect wife, mother, priestess, mother of the savior, and general all around baker of perfect cakes, muffins and Baklava.

        • francisco

          David,
          I guess it is the WWJD-mentality that so permeates our evangelical culture. And our obsession for SS-driven perfeccionism too. If we could only grasp the Gospel more tightly…

  2. David Riggins

    Ladies, how much effort is involved in maintaining a relationship? What do you do to maintain a relationship with, say, a high school friend you haven’t seen in 10 years, vs. someone you see every week at church? Do you feel that you need to have some sort of reciprocal effort made in order to maintain a relationship?

    Ladies, how hard is it to maintain a relationship if the women you know are only interested in Nancy Grace, or Desperate Housewives, while your interests run more towards gardening or Stargate? When you gather in a bible study, how much time is actually spent in bible study? When you gather at the coffee shop, what are the topics you discuss? If a man is present, does that stifle conversation? If your husband were present, would the conversation be different?

    If your husband approached you and said that he was getting really upset with his boss or coworker, that it was discouraging, and he was thinking of changing jobs, what would your response be? If he acknowledged to you one night that he was having a hard time staying away from a porn site, and needed your help and encouragement, how would you feel? If he asked you if you thought he needed to lose weight, what would you think? What would you say?

    Is your husband a success? In what way? Does he merely meet your physical needs, or does he spiritually lead you? Do you feel that the strength of your relationship with God is in hands?

    If your husband came to you and asked you what you think he should do regarding a particular issue, like an investment, or what kind and how much life insurance he should take out on himself, how would you react? Would you shrug and say “whatever you think is right?” Would you be lost and concerned that he wasn’t leading? Would you help? How?

    I think the answers that we all have in the back of our minds would go a long ways towards explaining the problems men face in our society. I’m not saying that we would all answer the same way, or that there is a particular direction our answers would go, but I do believe that what we think in our minds will not necessarily mirror reality, and how we wish things would be are a far cry from how they are.

    • Elizabeth

      Ok, wow. I’m running up against an extraordinarily alien way of thinking here. If my husband-to-be *didn’t* come to me with these issues, I’d be incredibly upset.

      Is that what you’re saying, Dan? You don’t think you can bring issues like these to your wife? Or that men in general can’t?

      • David Riggins

        I’m not saying he would or wouldn’t come to you with these issues. I’m asking what your reaction would be. Not what you hope it would be, but way down deep inside know how you would react.

        Most people would say “I don’t know” or “I can’t imagine”. But I believe most of us have a good sense of what our knee-jerk reaction would be.

        I’m not trying to be mean or petty, I just want us to recognize that many of the issues we face are due to reactions and actions founded upon deep-seated cultural norms that need to be shaken up examined under the light of the gospel.

        • Elizabeth

          No, I understand that, but several of those issues have already come up for us, and we’ve taken them on together.

          Believe me, I’m not trying to talk myself up here. I’m just trying to understand a framework wherein conversations like that DON’T work. Then again, I grew up Methodist, so this notion of the husband as “Priest and King” is not only foreign, it borders on sacreligious to me.

      • Dan,

        I believe that if most men, even Christian men, were to approach their wives with their (male) personal inabilities to always meet expectations in any of the critical need areas that women desire in a husband, it wouldn’t be pretty.

        Women desire security above almost all other things. If a man confesses weakness in this area, he’ll only make his wife anxious.

        Say a guy’s finding himself crushed by a dead-end job. He hears about an opening as a cowboy in Wyoming and decides that’s exactly what he feels he should do. All the Christian men’s books on the bestseller shelves would support that kind of decision. He may even believe that God has ordained that for him.

        Now he tells his wife about the crushing feeling he gets from his job and how God is opening doors to make this cowboy thing happen. It will mean selling their house, and greatly reduced income, and possibly having to homeschool the kids since the place they’ll be living is remote, but it will all work out.

        I can tell you one thing: that’s wife’s thinking, “I can’t let this happen.” It’s a huge explosion in the midst of her sense of security. She’ll not only think her husband’s gone off his rocker, she’ll be suspicious of any ideas he has for the future.

        So much for communication, eh?

        When that guy drops the bomb and watches the look of horror spreading over his wife’s face, do you think he’s ever going to be vulnerable again? No way. He’ll just keep it all bottled up inside.

        Millions of men in this country, Christian or not, are in that bottled up state. They know the life they’re living isn’t it. They missed it somehow, but now they can’t undo it. They can’t confess those feelings to their wives, either, because it would damage their wife’s sense of security.

        The reason for the bottling and the exact nature of that bottling is different from one man to another, but those states are real and can’t be easily dismissed.

        One guy was voted most likely to succeed, but his life post-schooling has been a series of dead-end jobs. Another guy had a talent he was forced to bury long ago in order to carry a bigger burden for a time; now that that time is over, he can’t find a way to get back to doing what his talent once afforded him. Another guy finds it hard to connect with his kids. Yet another wants to spend more time with his kids, but to keep his family up with the Joneses (because his wife wants to), he has to put in the long hours at work. This guy struggles with a litany of sexual sins, while that guy’s wife never seems to have time for intimacy.

        Are all these issues solvable? Yes. But too many of them are time bombs that will drive a wife crazy if mentioned, especially if they’re brought up repeatedly. Too many wives are not equipped to deal with these kinds of things. I think for men, though, about the only issue their wives bring that would upset their worlds would be to hear that the wife is having an affair or wants a divorce. And possibly running up huge debt.

        But a man’s security and a woman’s are very different. Men can live with less security. Women simply can’t. Every study ever done on this issue has proven it a thousand times over. What this means for men is that cannot say or do anything that jeopardizes their wife’s sense of security. That’s why men simply can’t talk over some issues with their wives.

        I know that many men purposefully shield their wives from what others say. That’s part of the role of protector. To share those things would be too hurtful. So men keep them bottled up to save their wives the grief of knowing what others said about them. Because many women feel that communication is always the best policy, they are more likely to share those thoughts.

        This doesn’t make either sex bad. This is just how it is.

  3. Hi Dan,

    Could it be that the relationships between men are inherently different from those between women? I don’t know. I only know what I’ve observed. I know my husband is often disgusted by the brutish mannerisms and habits of hs own sex and does not understand the gladatorial obsession with sports a lot of men have. I also see women copying men in their efforts to get ahead in the workplace. If you put any faith in the popular personality profiles, you can see who is what among your friends, family, and co-workers over time. We are not all the same, Thank God. Some people are networkers, having seemingly zillions of inch deep friendships. Others prefer to have a handful of close friendships and remain pleasant acquaintances with everyone else. Not that they don’t care, but they find shallow friendships aren’t worth the personal investment. Some people are bossy, some are cooperative, and some follow, and some do nothing. Some people are balls of energy and some are almost tortoise-like, but the tortoise and the hare are equally valuable in God’s sight.

    Let’s just let the facts speak. With so many divorces, illegitimate births, and absentee fathers, women usually end up as the only parent in the home. If there are no grandfathers, uncles, or other positive male role models around, boys are going to copy their mothers. Children learn what they live and they live what they learn.

    • M.E.,

      Ironically, I had the opportunity to just sit down with yesterday’s Wall Street Journal and it had an article covering how men as a whole are increasing being portrayed as predators. It had a story about how one guy was approached by a police officer in public because some patron at a mall saw him touch a little girl—his daughter.

      That’s just nuts.

      Fact is, the US Dept. of Health & Human Services notes that most children who die in the care of an adult are victims of their mothers.

      We won’t have any positive male role models left if we continue in this broad, hare-brained sort of tar & feathering of the male of the species.

      • Yes, I do find this attitude towards men in general being predators as bizarre and twisted. Unfortunately the media plays a big role in this. If you watch Chris Hansen’s “To Catch a Predator” enough times, it’s easy to start believing predators are lurking under every bush and behind every teacher’s desk and church altar. And it doesn’t help that a self proclaimed sicko calling himself a pedophile and posting pictures of little girls on his website has become the center of attention on various news sites.

        If you are bitter about losing a career choice because of the media exposure of pedophiles hiding behind the church’s robes, Dan, I don’t blame you. Before I married, I enjoyed the Christian camp experience as a counselor/house mother for several years and I remember how hungry many of those middle schoolers (boys and girls) were for genuine affection. Some of those children were sponsored by people wanting to give them a week’s escape from abuse and/or neglect at home and it broke my heart when one little girl told me her stepfather had been molesting her. At times, Dan, I literally had children clinging to my legs and refusing to let go until I promised to give them a hug. But now with the current spotlight on women predators, I’d be leery of taking on that responsibility again. Now even children are being charged with sexual abuse for hugging or kissing a classmate. Our entire culture is obsessed with sex and fending off sexual abuse. And we have the ACLU defending the vile NAMBLA’s freedom of speech rights. Unfortunately the pedophiles are winning by making us suspicious of everyone’s motives.

  4. Beyond Words

    David, my husband does come to me with concerns like that and it melts my heart when he does. My prayer would be that all husbands and wives could have that kind of relationship. Sometimes it takes a gentle question from the wife to help the husband stick his toe in the water. Sometimes it takes manly courage to approach the wife. But it’s all worth it. And if the response falls short, the couple should seek counsel.

    • Beyond Words,

      But what you experience is not the norm. Nor is it the majority voice in our churches. We have a sort of double-standard there, where we require men to be vulnerable, then label them as ineffectual and weak when they are. That’s not going to work.

  5. Beyond Words

    I can’t resist saying this: I love men as my brothers in Christ. I love the way they think and express themselves. I feel sad that you feel so beat up and misunderstood.

    That’s not to say I don’t sometimes misunderstand my husband’s passing remarks, but when we sit down and talk intentionally, it doesn’t seem that hard for him to express himself or for us to understand each other. I’m baffled by all this male-female relationship angst. I don’t dismiss the fact that it exists, and I would like to have the chance to apologize to any man who feels I’ve contributed to it.

    • Beyond Words,

      Your answer blesses all men. Thanks. I hope that we can find the middle ground necessary to allow men grace. Too often, we preach a gospel of success and not one of grace.

  6. Dee

    I am not a fair representation of what all the guys who commented here imagine about women and their relationships with other women. I find it impossible to be the Proverbs 31 woman.

    Don’t we (men and women) perceive higher expectations of us by the church than is realistic for anyone to achieve?

    • DV

      The woman in Proverbs 31 is an acrostic for each letter in the Hebrew language (someone more knowledgeable in Hebrew might be able to add to this) and is not a list of criteria to being a “Godly” woman — its a poem celebrating some of the wonderful attributes that are seen in women.

    • Dee,

      I think the expectations are high because they are—as I see it—invested in the wrong things. Most of them are aimed at individuals rather than at the church as a whole. Because we are always asking individuals to conform, we neglect asking the group to conform. Worse, our focus on the individual only feeds the crazed hyper-individualism we worship here in the US.

      I think that instead of asking questions like, “What can you do to be more sensitive to the poor?” we should be trading the “you” in that sentence with “we as a church.” That makes us examine our community rather than being so self-focused.

      Read Revelation 2-3 and ask me if the Spirit spoke to individuals or to communities? The answer is clear. Now let’s stop tying millstones around the necks of individuals and start acting like a communion of saints!

  7. Suzanne

    I’m not surprised by your point #4. I don’t think American Churches as a whole know what to do with ANY unsuccessful person. We want to follow the Christ triumphant only if he is triumphant here on earth in a visible, worldly way. By our standards, the apostles, and many of the early Christians, were miserable failures. They were killed, exiled, and sent to the fringes of society. We forget that so often.

    As to point #2, sports are now so endemic in our society, I don’t think it’s just the men who suffer, although they may suffer more. Take a look at most middle and high schools and see how the non-athletic boy or girl fares. It doesn’t much matter if it’s a parochial or public school, but they are generally towards the bottom of the social stratum and usually overlooked for awards and honors.

    • francisco

      Susanna,
      I don’t see nothing wrong in the practice of sports per se. Neither do I think you see this too. However the definition of greatness in our culture is different than the definition of greatness given in Scripture. Just think about it.

      • Suzanne

        No, I don’t see anything wrong with sports in themselves, but they’ve gotten so out of control. I am convinced that a contributing factor to childhood obesity is that mindset that by 4th or 5th grade a kid better be focused and dedicated and willing to give all to sports, or he or she isn’t wanted on the team. Playing for fun and exercise is seen as “silliness”, even on the playground. Our local community foundation gives out a full-ride scholarship every year to two kids from the local high schools. To my knowledge, not one kid who did not participate in sports has ever been awarded the scholarship, even though kids in speech, drama, and music spend just as much time and effort in pursuit of their goals. But in today’s society, participation is sports is seen as the crowning achievement to seek.

  8. CS

    Hi Dan —

    I have to say that I’m incredibly blessed by your various posts on this topic – and have shared them with many people. I would like to pose a controversial followup to your point 1 above;

    You are completely right that men are generally really lame when it comes to keeping in touch with their networks of friends – absent some kind of displacement activity which they share together. Having said that, perhaps women’s greater need for emotional engagement means that they are much more likely to get involved in the friendships of their husbands than their husbands would be to get involved in their friendships. Perhaps over time this has a certain destabilising. How many men do you know who have friends whose wives aren’t also the friends of their wives. Now think of how many women you know who have friends whose husbands aren’t friends of their husband.

    • CS,

      I think that the models we hold out to men today automatically disrupt their male friendships. Listen to any parachurch ministry on Christian radio and you’ll hear them telling men a million things they must do that all center on their families, but you NEVER hear any positive comments about men seeking time with the guys. It’s “date night with the wife” or “time with the children.” Hanging out with the guys is somehow portrayed as a dereliction of duty! We do not view women hanging out together as a dereliction of motherhood. In fact, those same parachurch ministries laud women who seek to hang out with their girlfriends.

      The double-standard is simply mind boggling.

  9. AW

    More thoughts on these subjects:
    Busyness is the biggest challenge to maintaining relationships. People are trying to do so much these days it’s difficult to make time for others. Even our Sundays fill up with “stuff to do”, including ministry.
    I am blessed to be in a strong marriage with a wonderful man. We have had some tough conversations over the years and it has taken a LONG time for our communication skills to improve. It takes courage to be vulnerable, for both genders. Yes, David, et al, I hope that my husband feels he can approach me with these things and that my reactions would be that of a wise, responsive, supportive wife. Honestly, that is not always how it happens. Sometimes my initial reactions were born out of fear. Sometimes fatigue. Sometimes immaturity. Sometimes selfishness. Sometimes simply bad timing. Then after prayer and thinking/talking things through comes the support. For us it is a process of growth.
    We are also in the position of raising boys into men in this crazy, extremist culture.
    Dan, I think your experience with the camp was terrible.

    • AW,

      Busyness isolates. Christianity binds together—at least it’s supposed to. That’s all I need to say.

      As for the job issues I faced after graduating, it wasn’t just one camp. It was dozens.

      I once drove ten hours to an interview at a well-known camp in MI. The first question the interviewers asked me was, “So, are you married?” I said no. They said, “Well, all of our staff are married.” To which I said, “Does that end the job interview?” They nodded. I never got past that first question! They could have spared me twenty hours of driving round-trip by just asking me that question on the phone! Another camp issued me a job offer and I accepted. When the camp explained the accommodations they’d provide for my wife and me, I told them it was only me. The director seemed startled. He promptly ended the phone call. A week later, after not returning my calls, I got a letter in the mail saying that the board of directors had decided that they actually didn’t have the money to pay the job’s salary (considering it was for camp manager, that was pretty much a baldfaced lie). Six months later, I got a letter from that same camp saying they’d love to consider me for a different position. Someone had scribbled “Ideal for a single man” in the margins next to the job description for a marketing position that had no contact with children.

      Those are just two situations. I could go on and on.

      Pretty darned sad, isn’t it?

  10. Maybe I’m just unusual, but most of the time I have no trouble expressing my feelings…and I usually talk my wife’s ears off. Frequently, I admit I don’t know what to do, and that’s been all right with my wife. In fact, just the other day I was so burdened and stressed over a situation at work (I’m a teacher in a public high school) that when my wife asked how I was doing, I couldn’t say anything–I just cried. I don’t feel pressure at home to know it all or have it all together or keep my feelings buried.

    Where I do feel pressure, sometimes, is among evangelical Christians. Several years ago, I decided I would not attend another men’s conference just to be told, once again, what I was doing wrong, and how I was failing to be the leader in the home, and how I’m responsible for my wife’s happiness and my children’s psychological well-being, and how I must financially support my family so my wife won’t have to work (I’ve never earned THAT much money), and how I must be the spiritual leader in the home, and a man of prayer, and have an accountability partner, and find a mentor, and be a mentor, and….

    It was too much!

    Another thing: Although “I come to the garden alone” has never been one of my favorites, I have never had trouble singing about Jesus walking with me and talking with me and telling me I am His own. I understand what you mean, Dan, but I would never think of that image as being feminine if it wasn’t pointed out to me first.

    • Wyeth,

      Yep. I know I get tired of well-intentioned Church people “should”-ing on me. “You should, you should, you should….” Only in many cases, it’s “You must, you must, you must….” And then you ask them to help you satisfy their list of musts and they scatter.

      That’s bogus.

      Yes, the list you wrote of what is minimally expected of a Christian man is pretty accurate. I think all those things are millstones unless others are willing to help.

      As to the money situation, let me propose an illustration. A man and woman get married. He has a decent job at a factory in a field he’s worked in for ten years, while she works as a nurse. Pretty typical.

      Now, pressures on the guy’s company forces them to cut wages or ship jobs overseas. They cut wages and freeze salaries. Meanwhile, there’s a dramatic need for nurses, and nurse salaries start to skyrocket.

      When the dust settles, she’s making twice what he’s making.

      Suddenly, in the eyes of a lot of Christians, he’s half the man he used to be, a layabout soaking off his wife, a slob who doesn’t want to get a decent job. They both have jobs, but somehow he’s turned into a pariah. But what are the complainers willing to do to change that situation? Not one darned thing.

      I live in an area where most couples who work have the woman bringing in more money. Many of those couples are exactly like the illustration I gave. In today’s economy, with many companies far more willing to hire women than men, it is increasingly the case that the wife is making more money. In some cases, the man, tired of constant layoffs in his industry, attempts to recreate himself in other by starting his own business. Ramp up time for that business will mean that he may make less than his wife for several years. Sadly, he’ll endure lots of catcalls during that time from folks. I know, because I’ve been there!

  11. Dan,

    The first man post sent my brain to whirling…I cannot put it all in words yet, now you have added this. My testosterone is getting in the way of my thoughts and feelings…I think I may sneak a bit of my wife’s estrogen cream the next few days. It could help me sort this all out;)

      • I had an interesting conversation with my father regarding this today. He is 76 and grew up in the south. He talked about the very narrow confines of manhood he was taught and how weird the metaphor of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is to him, Jesus the groom and the Church the bride. He knows it, but it makes him uncomfortable as a man to think of Jesus in that way. I agree and wonder if 1st century Christians saw and experienced this metaphor in a different way than we do today. What was the context of their hearing? How do we contextualize the metaphor and the narrative of the manhood of Jesus today?

  12. Matthew

    Dan,
    A lot of great stuff has been brought up here. I wonder how what the criteria are in #1 for a friend to qualify as being in a “close network”. One of the things I’ve noticed is that there does seem to be a different level of reciprocity expected in women’s friendships. For instance, when my wife and I were first married we live basically across the hall in the married w/o children apt. building from a friend of hers who had married a friend of mine. If 3+ days went by without one of them taking the first step, it was like pulling teeth to get them to walk across the hall and knock on the door. By contrast, once I moved to Alaska at age 18 there were many friends I saw once in only 5 years or so, but our friendships picked right up when I was able to get down and visit them. Likewise, after 16 1/2 years in Alaska, my best friend and his family moved within two weeks of my family moving. We are now cross country from each other instead of across town. But we’re still tight. Can I go have a beer with him whenever the mood strikes, no. But we Google Talk, etc. I even GT with his son who of course I’ve known all his life because our whole families are close. But if one of us is busy and we don’t “talk” for 2-3 weeks, I don’t start fretting that he doesn’t love me anymore and has decided he doesn’t want to be friends.

    On the sport thing. I am a total geek. Comics, RPG’s, Star Trek, etc. In fact before I finally decide to use my degree I spent ten years making my living in geek service industry. But I haven’t found that to be much of an issue in my friendships since high school. Maybe this crosses over for some, but my difficult experience’s with other men lie more in the arena of “if you can’t fix your own car. dress out a moose, plumb and wire the house you’re building yourself” you don’t have any useful skills type thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad others are talented in that way. I often wish I was (usually when I’m reaching for my wallet), but I’m not.

  13. Dan,

    I’m not sure that the issue you are raising in #3 (and #5) is as much about manhood as it is about communication issues.

    Of spouses who work things out together, you said, “But what you experience is not the norm. Nor is it the majority voice in our churches. I’m not sure whether this can be known, although I think we can safely say that many spouses don’t get along, because we have the divorce and other statistics to prove it. But I would doubt that all characteristics of spouses who don’t share with each other fit into the categories you’ve given. I have not experienced the dysfunctional model you give as the majority voice in the churches I’ve been a part of, anyway, though I wouldn’t disagree that the church could help both men and women understand what it means to be a godly man or woman better than it does.

    You also said that “Women desire security above almost all other things. If a man confesses weakness in this area, he’ll only make his wife anxious. This may be a general suspicion more than actual truth. A husband may hold back from confessing to his wife because he fears this, not because it’s actually true. I doubt whether, in general, a woman would experience more anxiety over her husband’s confession of doubt, weakness, etc. than she would over typical stressful situations like job trouble, money trouble, family trouble, etc. or over knowing that he’s holding back from her, not consulting her, etc.

    In your example of the guy in the dead-end job who wants to be a cowboy, perhaps the reason the wife feels blindsided is because he decides that this is what he should do — and what the family should do — without consulting her. You don’t mention that he includes her in the thinking or decision-making process at all. How can he say God is opening doors or even ordaining his vision if he’s ignoring admonitions in Ephesians such as that in vs.5:25, to give himself up for his wife as Christ did for the church?

    It goes both ways, of course. Women need to honor their husbands in communication as well, and, as another commenter said, it’s a growing process that hopefully continues for the duration of a marriage.

    I also agree with those who say that we must look to Christ and not to human examples (unless they’re good ones!) for instruction and modeling and affirmation in who we are. When we do this we will gain proper confidence and then ourselves be the kind of leaders we want to see in the church.

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