Strong Men
Strong Marriage
 

October
Going Out With the Guys


My wife and I went to a party at a nightclub the other night. It was mostly attended by young men and women in their twenties and early thirties, and I enjoyed studying the endless poses, posturing, circling, feints and dodges of courtship. But all the while I couldn’t stop thinking of what awaited any of the couples that actually get married and attempt to claim their part of the fantasy we think of as marriage in America.

Do any young people really understand what it takes to stay married? Could they? We are all so filled with phony ideas that we get from movies, songs, magazines and all the rest of the American media machine in the new millennium that it’s almost impossible to understand what it means to be married. Our expectations for romance and love are wildly out of line with the reality of marriage. And the institutions that used to shape long-lasting marriages—religion, community, family, and schools—have become so weak that many young people look at marriage as conditional: “I’ll stay married as long as I can. If it gets too messed up I can always leave.”

One of the ways to remain balanced and sane in marriage is to make time to enjoy being with your own sex. Women typically do a better job of this than men for the simple reason that they are usually more sociable and enjoy making and maintaining social relations, while men tend to share less and reach out to others more seldom. Men who have been married a while often find themselves with no friends. Their lives revolve around work and family, and they begin to feel constrained and isolated.

I strongly believe that men of all ages need to hang out with men regularly, whether they are married or not. Marriage and children can blunt one’s masculine edge, and in being a home-body/father/husband we may lose much of our power. We are masculine beings and enjoying the company of male friends can help us feel our innate masculine energy. Besides, men act differently with only other men around, and it’s good to remember the “uncivilized” guy inside and goof around a little bit.

The challenges of young men differ from those of older ones. Young married men must learn to cultivate a life with one woman and to turn away from some of the careless and fun activities they had with their friends. For young men, this time can be painful, because they fear that their marriages will cause them to give up freedom and independence. When they try to hold onto old friendships with their drinking and carousing buddies it can be dangerous to the health of their marriages.

It’s wonderful to get away sometimes, but going out with buddies can raise some red flags. If you are a young married man who goes out regularly with a group of male friends, notice: Are you going out with the guys to places where there are available women? If you are, you are flirting with disaster as well as women. If you have a few drinks and “see what happens”, eventually something will happen, and you will have a sexual affair that will threaten your marriage. If you are in this boat I would seriously question whether you are ready for marriage.

On the other hand, many young men (and quite a few older ones, too) go out with the guys simply to escape their marriages, because they don’t want to deal with the inevitable problems and let-downs that marriage brings. Frequent escapes like this are dangerous and self-defeating, and they can weaken not only a man but his marriage. A strong man works through the issues in his marriage; he doesn’t run away.

The marriage fantasy has it that you marry the “perfect” woman and live happily ever after. If you want a life-time marriage, you have to learn how to be in the marriage for the long-haul, and you have to understand there will be times when it will be boring and you may not even like your wife, much less think she is perfect. The only way your marriage will last in today’s cultural climate is to make the fierce commitment that you won’t quit, no matter how hard it gets. I believe that men need to become “marriage warriors”, fighting for their marriages’ health, and they need to put much of their energy into making an alive, strong relationship. Our marriages need our attention. Hanging out with other men, however, can do wonders to help keep you sane.

©2010, 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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