What makes a man a man? Is it a fondness for booze, sex, sports, video games? Is it the clothes he wears or the size of his bank account:? Is it something deeper than that? Is it how he treat others? His wife and children? Well folks I'd say it's many things, and I'd like to spend a little time today discussing a need for men everywhere to stand up and make their voices heard. I was discussing this very topic with June the other morning and it comes to my attention that nobody's teaching today's boys how to be men, and frankly that makes me sad.
In the media driven culture we live in, we are taught to adopt an ideology that says that a healthy masculinity does not exist, that a woman can't be happy unless she "has it all"... you know the high-level corporate position, fictitious waist size, the mini-van.... all of it. We are also sadly led to believe that men are hapless, juvenile idiots who have no hope of managing themselves let alone their families... you've seen it, you know the commercial where the husband looks like a clueless adolescent. Even the way we educate children ... during recess (which is sadly a dying concept) boys at play are unfairly branded as troublemakers and even simple games that where once commonplace are often prohibited or unfairly vilified (cowboys and Indians, tag, capture the flag.) It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that masculinity has become a downplayed and unwelcome concept in modern society.
I would call out to my HoH brothers and entreat them to display the benefits of their masculinity in their relationships. Healthy masculinity is thoughtful, balanced, kind, and courageous. These qualities, when nurtured by the thoughtful accentuation of a loving TiH make for a complete relationship dynamic that provides for the emotional needs of everybody under the roof. Personally the way I see it, the onus falls upon me as the HoH to ensure that I not only be unapologetic in my healthy expressions of manhood... I must also do it right... I must be an example to two growing boys and show them that the way one carries oneself speaks volumes not just about themselves, but their families as well. I want to teach my sons that being a real man isn't about being the flashiest or loudest, it's not about treating others poorly or walking with a "swagger" it's not about being boastful, it's not about having a self-centered attitude... Being a man is about confidence, poise, intelligence, grace, kindness, RESPONSIBILITY, and with a grace and thoughtfulness that speaks to the quality of person he is.
I will also admit that I do have certain hobbies and pass-times... I am an avid sports fan.... (love basketball and football) I love reading, I love to cook. I also understand that as the head of my home, that sometimes these hobbies and interests that I have accrued over a lifetime, need to be put aside in order for my wife and children to benefit from my presence. Family time also seems to be an area where many modern families struggle in a variety of ways. Just as surely as a child needs a mother, a child surely needs a father. Sadly, one does not have to look very far in order to see the evidence displayed in homes where a father or father figure is not present. It really does break my heart to see children, but especially young men adrift and rudderless without the guidance, mentoring and a strong but compassionate voice of experience that helps guide and shape them. There comes a time when we must put away the things that distract us, sacrifice our time, energy, and attention and provide a better product to the people that depend on us.
Now that we've discussed the responsibilities of men, there are a few other things I would like to say to the Media, to society, to our school systems and yes even to ladies everywhere... There are some things that many men do that, to put quite mildly, are ridiculous. Being inattentive to one's loved ones is obviously wrong. Some of the things I mentioned in paragraph one go beyond basic irritation at the media and society at large. I recognize that the male sex does have particular challenges, but I guess my question becomes: Why do we expect boys and men not to be boys and men? It even starts at school on the playground, and I know I've previously mentioned this, but why is it so wrong to play tag or cops and robbers? Some would say that the trouble comes when boys stay boys and never become men. Those people would be right.
In order to galvanize and develop healthy masculinity in boys and enrich them to the point of producing quality men, we must all play a roll. Realistic expectations, firm guidance, and leadership, both male and female is a requirement for male children. Jumping forward to the future, men must recognize the characteristics that make masculinity important and relevant. These are some of the things that a man, (especially a man in a DD/TTWD relationship) must espouse on a daily basis.
These things and many more are what defines how a man is perceived by not just the world, but his family as well. By being thoughtful, thorough, and tangible we not only better ourselves and our families, we improve the world around us as well.
Ward is without a doubt the finest man I have ever known. He is kind, he is sweet, he is considerate, he is empathetic and compassionate. He is strong, and he is unquestionably the leader of this family.
You will have heard me say before that he is possessing of quiet command. He is not loud, he is not boisterous, he is not vulgar. He doesn't have to be. The man only needs to walk into a room to garner attention. He exudes confidence and a certain very masculine magnetism.
He would, as the song says, walk on water, walk through fire, and literally give up his life to be all that he could. My Daddy is a man who does not need to sing his own praises (I'll do that for him), he proves in every thought, every deed, every word, ever action what kind of a man he is, and the great capacity of his heart.
He took a woman so broken, and he made me whole. He took two children with greater than average challenges, and he loved them in a way they have never, ever been loved by another man. He is teaching them about truth and integrity and honesty, and what a man's word means. Daddy is the greatest gift I have ever been given, and because the creator saw fit to put him in my life, I am able to give our children a gift of immeasurable value.
The ripples of my Daddy's strength and goodness will spread gently through the future in the actions of our sons, who learned what it means to be a man in the heart of this man I love with my all.
On this day. I find myself reflective. That should be the other way around, I imagine, and perhaps it is reflective for you, too.
On this day. I give thanks, thanks to the God who perhaps knew that there was unmet need, or who knew that I needed a hero. I give thanks that he took so many good, pure, wholesome, loving, compassionate characteristics and placed them in your heart.
I give thanks to the woman who loved a man so much that she expressed her love in the creation of a life. I give thanks that she nurtured and nourished you, heart, mind, body and soul from the moment that God breathed you into her body.
I give thanks that for the first time in my life I am seen, really seen; that I am loved richly without restraint or condition. I give thanks that I see things about myself that are good, because you see them, because you know me better than I know myself, because you care to give me the gift of clear sight. I give thanks, on my knees, with tears in my eyes for the greatest gift I have ever known... the gift of a man, tall, strong, gentle, firm, honorable, loving and compassionate.
Every time I look at you and with your every look; with your every touch; with your every smile; with every deep and melodic laugh; with every word that flows like deep, rich honey from your lips; with your breath soft upon my hair; every time I breath in the scent of you; with the strength of your arms enfolding me - I am grateful, humbled, surrendered, owned.....and so very happy.
You spoke and said "If I could be your hero...", silly man, you already are my hero. You are every shining, bright thing that is right with my world. I am blessed. I love you with my all.
I'm sure the title seems rather ominous to folks, but June and I felt that it was important to talk about the high price of selfishness in DD/TTWD relationships. What is selfishness? Well, it is our belief that selfishness is something that can manifest itself in a number of different ways, but before we get to all of that let us see if we can define it.
sel.fish adjective - Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's on interests, welfare etc.
It becomes easy to see why this is a negative, but it also paints a clear, honest picture of the need for both HoH and TiH to be cognizant of their actions and motivations. Words spoken offhand, doing some of the same old things we've always done, or just dismissively not hearing the words that our partners speak are not just dismissive, but clearly selfish, and in this discovery we must determine the course(s) of action to grow closer, stronger and more affirmative to the needs and desires of our partners. As an HoH I realize that my life and the direction of all of those under my roof must be positive, and this positivity must be catalyzed by a fair amount of love and sacrifice. Turning off the tv, following a conversation (even when I am tired), spending time teaching and playing with my sons, and giving her an opportunity to be heard... I said sacrifice before but honestly it really isn't for me, by being unselfish and attending I gain so much more than I would have by napping on Saturday afternoon, or by watching hours and hours of sports. No, I can be better than that for my family and I can be better than that for my June. I guess when I think about it that way it's not so much of a choice, it is the right thing to do and I honestly find that when I make the right choice the day goes so much smoother.
Selfishness is also a two way dance and as surely as an HoH can be dismissive and ignorant of fruitful communication and familial growth, so can a TiH. Talking over her HoH, being unconcerned about things that are important to him, being dismissive or downplaying his words, or by saying nothing and later being resentful that something wasn't handled just the way they would do it... these are all small examples of selfishness that can cause a great deal of harm and slow or damage growth within a healthy relationship. Encouraging open honest dialogue, and giving her my undivided attention, making eye contact, having an open, but solid posture, these things, and my own personal demonstrations of love, attentiveness, and tenacity allow June to see me for who I am and what I desire, need, and crave from our relationship and these same ideas also allow me to see to my June's needs with a happy, engaged heart.
We find as we do these things, the desire to give of ourselves to each other only grows greater with time. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't think of ways that we can improve our service to each other and our relationship. As a man, I find it pleasurable to find ways to give my wife, my lady, the attention, care and effort that she needs and deserves. It also thrills me that she never fails to give me the kind of care and love that I have needed for the longest time.. It is a true privilege to call her mine and a true honor to be hers.
My Daddy honors me with his words. And he honors me every single day, in every single look, every touch, in the seemingly small considerations, that to me, are immense. I have never been important to anyone before. I have never had the reciprocity that he shares with me. I have always given, thinking that someday it would be returned, some day someone would see the heart in my service and I would become important. That never happened till the day I sent an email to tell a man that his words touched me. From that very moment I have been treated with the most extraordinary care and kindness that I have ever known.
I love him. Purely and honestly love him. It is at once simple and as profound as anything I have ever experienced. I pour myself out on him, but I am never depleted he is continuously filling my heart. It is my joy to be of service and in service to him. I try to always be conscious that he is my heart, and he is committed to being my soft place, my safe harbor. I try to give him the same, with every ounce of intent. I try hard to remember that things do go wrong, but he is not my enemy, he is the one I can always turn to. He is the one that will always have my hand. He is the one that will always do what it takes to make it right. Even when it isn't easy. No matter how hard it is. No matter how tired he is. No matter if there is a program on tv that he has been waiting months to see. He is there, and he is my leader. He stands before me, fighting for us. Do I owe him any less?
He makes his efforts strong and committed and consistent. We hear a lot in blogland about problems caused when our HoH's are not consistent. But I would challenge: How consistent are you in your submission? How consistent are you in showing him your respect? We are equally charged with giving our best and most consistent efforts.
Is that always easy? No, it's darn difficult sometimes. Sometimes we are are the end of a stressful day with children, work, house, laundry, school problems. Sometimes he is tired. Sometimes he says things that may be irritating, or hit you the wrong way. Those are the times I take a breath, close my eyes and see with my heart who this man is to me and what is his due as my husband, as my man, as my leader, as my partner. He used to get frustrated with that moment, now he understands that I may be challenged and working through to my best self. And he gives me that grace. And I remember to give him that grace when he has a moment as well, perhaps gently sharing that he was a bit short. And then we grab hold of each other's hands and give each other the grace of forgiveness. And with that we grow and flourish. That's pretty awesome.
This post comes from a conversation I had with Grace. She posed a question to me that really got me thinking, and became a very long answer that I said would make a great post....so I made it one :) I have a question for you. I know that you (and
Ward too, but we're talking about you right now)
hold yourself to a high standard. You have
certain expectations of yourself and Ward has
certain expectations of you. What I'm wondering
is, how do you avoid falling into the trap of
perfectionism? Because it doesn't seem like you
struggle with that...or do you?
Oh gosh - this is a loaded question for me, lol. I
do hold myself to a very high standard, because I
feel that he and the boys deserve no less. I agree
that perfectionism stems from insecurity and
sometimes fear, I have been afraid all my life that
my best efforts are not good enough, that I am not
good enough. If you consider perfectionism as: Perfectionism,
in psychology, is a personality disposition
characterized by an individual striving for
flawlessness and setting excessively high
performance standards, accompanied by overly
critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding
others' evaluations. - then yes, I suffer from
perfectionism BIG TIME! The one thing is I am always
sure that I will never be able to attain perfection,
because I am inherently imperfect, I try to accept
that with humility. Daddy, bless him, says that
perfection does not matter, but that I constantly
put in effort to be more, do more, even if I don't
succeed, I tried to give him my best.
I used to beat myself up over that quite a lot. I
don't so much with Daddy, because he will not allow
me to do so. Most of the time he is very patient,
and I am learning from that to be more patient with
myself. Honestly looking to examine if I truly did
give the best of myself to the task. If I did, I try
to accept that I did, and that I can try to do
better next time. Sometimes I am less successful,
and those are the times that land me otk - not
correction, more like
kind of discipline.
I was talking to my therapist about it, and she said
because of how ingrained that fear, and that need to
be loved and accepted is, that it is something that
may never go away. But she says she sees improvement
with it since I'm with Ward. So how do I cope? Well,
when I start feeling it, I ask myself if I did my
best, if there was a way I could have done better,
and then I offer it to him with my whole heart. He
has never rejected anything I have given him. I try
to see how it affects him and take that inside,
seeing that it touches him and that the efforts are
appreciated and treasured. It's a work in progress.
I have never had the positive feedback I get from
him. I try to realize that his reaction is kind of
like his gift to me, as much as my actions to him,
and realize that when I doubt myself it is the same
as questioning his sincerity, so I try to accept his
genuine gratitude with a heart as open as that with
which he accepts my offerings to him.
I must remain vigilant in the expression of my love and acceptance of June. More than that I recognize the heartfelt effort that June puts forth in all things... In our relationship, in being a wife and a mother, indeed in all things. I recognize that her upbringing was harsh, desolate, cold and void of acceptance. My love for her is unconditional just as I know that hers is for me. Patience despite humanity is a gift that I long to bring June. Her heart needs it, and I know how much she struggles with this particular issue.
The truth is, I've learned so much from June and I owe her a debt of gratitude... She's very patient with me as well and she has taught me much about what a Father and Husband are all about. She and the boys love me, and more than any amount of fear or perfection (yes I can be a bit of a perfectionist) their love for me, in spite of the things I struggle with, speak volumes.
I am a blessed man to be able to give my all to a beautiful lady and two beautiful children who allow me to make a mistake... I must have the mind process that we can all learn to accept our humanity just as much as learn from our mistakes. Giving from a loving heart is also one of the things I strive to do every single day!