Strong Men
Strong Marriage
 

June
It’s Time to Become “Relationship Warriors”


We’ve all heard it: men are clueless when it comes to relationships. Relationships are women’s territory, not men’s. It does seem true that testosterone and thousands of years of evolution give men the ability and inclination to be warriors, to go out, hunt and kill our prey, and to keep our tribe safe and equipped with food and shelter. In other words, we are equipped to respond to external stimulation with aggression and ambition. We often apply these skills today to our careers, and they are abundantly useful in athletics. But, compared to women, most men are much less comfortable and adept at looking inward, whether delving into the complexity of intimate relationships or exploring their own feelings.

I often think that we men treat relationships and marriage like buying a refrigerator: we go out and buy one, set it up, plug it in, and then expect it to run for a long, long time without any maintenance or cleaning. Recently, a man told me, “My marriage must be going OK, because if it isn’t, my wife would’ve yelled at me about it!” Most men don’t want to think too much about their marriages. They especially don’t want to talk about them. If you want to see a man squirm, watch him when his wife says, “Let’s talk about the relationship”. The worst part of those conversations comes when a woman says, “So, how do you think our relationship is going?” (The man knows there’s a right answer—he just isn’t sure what it is!)

So many men are confused about what’s required in the area of marriage. We men do want to make our relationships work; who wants a lousy marriage? But, it feels like women and therapists have all the answers. It’s like they speak a unique “relationship language”, while we can’t even find the dictionary!

Many men expect and hope that their marriages will run well while they go out to conquer the world. They are often surprised when their relationships get into trouble while they are looking the other way. Times have changed, and a lot of men haven’t noticed.

In the 21st Century, women have much more economic and social power and the stigma of divorce has lessened. As a consequence, women expect more from their husbands today and feel much freer to leave their marriages if they aren’t satisfied. So, for many men, the heat’s on: change or you lose your woman. But there’s more at stake here. Our committed relationships have great, unexplored potential for us, for it’s in a committed relationship that we learn to grow stronger and more loving, and have the opportunity to illuminate and whittle down the blunt edges of our egos. After all, who knows us as well as our women? We know we need and want great relationships with women, but we are learning that what worked in the past is sinking fast in the rough waters of relationships.

I believe that we need to change our whole view of relationships and marriage. The good news is that we men already have what it takes to make relationships and marriages work—and we don’t need to become more like women. In fact, the opportunity is to become more like men, powerful, aware and fully masculine. How? The answer is to utilize our birthright: our warrior spirits, to become “relationship warriors”, as well as warriors in the world of work.

We already bring much to relationships, qualities that are too often overlooked or under-utilized. Men are naturally inclined to act, to build and to solve problems. We have the power to dream and put our dreams into concrete action, and to make powerful commitments and stick to them. We are usually able to keep our distance from the daily swirl of feelings, because our biology allows us to focus intensely outward. Men have the power to stand for something great and to fight for it with resolve.

Now it’s time to stand up for something important: the power of our relationships and marriages as vehicles for love, growth and true fulfillment. We men can stand firm in our marriage commitments. We can learn to take full responsibility for the relationship’s success, to pull our own weight, not expecting our wives to do all the heavy relationship lifting or “take care” of us. We also can learn to tune-in to our spouses and appreciate and listen to them better. A man who can listen with empathy and caring becomes a greater man.

It’s time to put our energy and attention into getting what we truly care about. It’s time to be relationship warriors and to commit ourselves 100% to creating alive, powerful unions with the women we love.

©2008, Marty Friedman

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Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years. - Simone Signoret

Martin G. Friedman is the author of “Straight Talk for Men About Marriage—What Men Need to Know About Marriage (And What Women Need to Know About Men)”. For many years, Marty Friedman taught corporate managers how to create good relationships at work before tackling male/female relationship issues--and applying what he learned to his own marriage. The founder of Men in Marriage, Marty is regularly interviewed on radio and television, and talks to organizations and individuals from a unique, inspirational and humorous perspective. Find out more at www.meninmarriage.com



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