Men Are People, Too

Posted on August 25, 2011 by

Women can do anything a man can do.  Men can wear pink and still be masculine. Gender roles are obsolete. Leadership is for tyrants and women with no brains. A real man knows that all you need is love, love. Love is all you need. Truth is whatever each couple determines it to be.

In this corner of the ‘net, we often decry the androgyny that our culture has embraced in an effort mask the innate differences between men and women. There is an increasing backlash here against that type of foolishness, and rightly so.  In our zeal however, we have to be careful not to box men into the same rigid corner that those who hate complementary marriage claim women need to be liberated from. Our men are called to lead, but not to sacrifice their humanity in some misguided attempt to “be the man” at all costs. They need to be able to lean on us, and we need be able to let them without challenging their manhood when they do.

Maybe I’m an odd duck, but I rather enjoy being married to a strong, authoritative man. I like feeling protected and I find his decisiveness rather sexy. I like that he has an opinion about what I look like. At least I know he’s looking. I think it a credit to his resourcefulness that we rarely have to call someone with something breaks, even something major. He works well with his hands, and his hands often bear the scars of hard work.

I love that, but beneath all of that armor is a man with a heart, and sometimes he needs to be able to be vulnerable enough to reveal that heart to me without worrying that I will view it as a weakness. One of the things I learned early on in my relationship with my SAM was to appreciate that my husband, who is very overtly masculine, has feelings. He gets sad. He has fears, hopes, and dreams just like me. Not to mention tear ducts. I’ve known my husband for 19 years and I’ve only seen him shed a tear twice, but I’ve seen it.

It’s very easy for a woman married to a harder man to forget that a man’s reluctance to express his vulnerability doesn’t make him invulnerable. Sometimes it takes a bit longer for him to trust his heart to anyone, and marriage won’t automatically make him comfortable doing that. But when he does,  his wife should do all she can to make it clear that his vulnerability doesn’t make him weak in her eyes.

The church’s swinging pendulums in reaction to the culture are actually dangerous and detrimental, in my opinion, and I see this as one area where we need to tread lightly. We should be able to stand on the truth as revealed in Scripture and work out how that looks in each family. We can do that without having to discard the truth just to function, which is what far too many “believers” have decided to do.

We seem incapable of being balanced, don’t we? We react to henpecked men by encouraging them to seize their authority or attempting to browbeat wives into becoming boring and docile. Isn’t it better if married believers can just trust that God’s ideas of masculinity and femininity are light years better than anything we can come up with and live that out? When we do that, our men can rest in the knowledge that we trust them to lead not only because it makes us feel secure, but because we trust that God knows best. He commands us to submit to our husbands, and we’ll do that to honor Him, and we’ll do it for better or worse, in sickness and in health.

A while back I had to attend to some car repairs when my husband was injured and couldn’t tackle them himself. His injury was actually quite serious creating a scenario where I had to step up and do a whole host of things I wasn’t used to doing for several weeks. I was  relieved when he healed but I was thankful for the opportunity to learn to do new things  and surprised at how quickly I picked up the skill in a few instances. My husband’s temporary period of injury didn’t make him any less strong or capable than he was before. He was still the same person; he just needed a little help from his helpmeet. That’s what I’m supposed to do.

During a season of economic turmoil, when many men (particularly those skilled  in male dominated fields of work) are attempting to reset and start over, it’s more important than ever that wives not undermine their authority in the family. To do that while allowing them to share their vulnerability is a delicate balancing act, but one that every wife, regardless of her husband’s personality, needs to strike.

Posted in: Relationships