Men justify the diminishment of their masculinity by their wives by throwing out excuses like “but she’s a good mom” as if that is a fair trade off for being relegated to the back seat of the marriage relationship.
I was actually struck by the number of responses from guys who saw themselves in that blog. One friend of mine challenged that a man cannot have his masculinity diminished unless he allows it.
That is a true statement that leads to a deeper question – why? Why do men allow it? Why does the road of passivity seem like the attractive option when it causes so much internal damage?
Here are some of the reasons that a man will take the road of “gutting it out” in a relationship and justify being diminished.
- Culture is saying, louder and louder, that the desires a man has are wrong. His desire to lead is chauvinistic. His desire to provide subjugates a woman. His desire for sex is self-serving and perverse (an ironic contradiction is if the man was single, his sexual desire is seen as a strength).
- He tells himself that if he just performed better as a husband then there would be no issues. So, being dismissed is really his own failure to please his wife.
- Many men feel that their own needs are less important than other concerns. This scarcity mindset says that emotional or physical energy in the relationship directed at them would leave a deficit elsewhere. This is simply pride.
- Because much of masculinity is learned. A man will repeat generational patterns and may not understand what true masculinity is. He adopts a role in marriage that is familiar because it was modeled for him.
- Fear of being left if problems are confronted.
- Misplaced belief that his wife is not capable of respecting him rather than it being the case that she simply won’t.
- Narcissistic need for things to appear ‘fine’. Passivity and withdrawing seems to keep the peace. Yet, this type of peace is simply a mask for two dissatisfied people.
- The man has unresolved issues with or distorted beliefs about God, who He is, and how He acts.
- Finally, the man has placed all or part of his identity in being a husband. That requires the love of his wife. Since that is the foremost concern, this leads finding ways to please the idol so that the identity is affirmed.
Please don’t mistake this list as heaping blame on wives. Men are fully responsible for their choice to not develop their voice in the relationship and abandon their role. Most every marital problem is a two way street.
Nor am I advocating a false machismo style masculinity, filled with bravado and contempt for women.
The question I am trying to answer is: what causes men to shrink from their masculine role, just as Adam did long ago in the garden?
I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.
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