Marital, Family or Individual Therapist serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana

Time To Man Up, Fellas
Written By: Mark Smith

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My favorite sports talk show, Mike & Mike In The Morning has been emphasizing the need for men to "Man Up" this past week and it struck me that from a therapist's perspective that there are a lot of men out there who truly do need to Man Up. By "Man Up", I do not mean burping, scratching, farting, beer drinking, brawling, etc. I mean that men need to be strong emotionally. So many of the men that I work with have a tough exterior shell that basically holds in there emotions, not because they are strong but because they are too weak to face their emotions. From my perspective there are a lot of men who need to be stronger and manlier in the following areas - in facing and feeling their emotions, in maintaining a connection in their marriages, in being committed to their wives and children and even in the area of having fun.

It takes a strong man to cry! If a man can't cry it is because he is suppressing his emotions so much that he doesn't feel them or he is too insecure to show them. Crying releases pain, poison and depression. Many men walk around with festering boils of emotional pain dating back their childhoods but they refuse to let the poison out in the name of being a man. Then they allow their unresolved issues to dominate their lives and destroy the lives of their wives and children in the forms of alcoholism workaholism, sexual addiction, gambling, etc. Men are human beings too. There are hurting little boys inside you guys - let them cry and talk and heal. A man who faces his emotional demons is actually a tower of strength who then can truly be strong and stable for his family.

I believe that God created an awesome system for keeping husbands and wives emotionally connected. He put an extremely strong desire in men for sex. He then put an equally strong need in women for emotional connection and love. So when Mr. Husband comes knocking on his wife's windowpane requesting sex she then informs him that the emotional connection thing must be addressed first. However, many men can't talk about emotional things because they are hiding that previously mentioned festering emotional boil from childhood. Opening up their hearts would mean opening up their pain, and they aren't strong or courageous enough to do that. So they end up living in loveless and sexless marriages and they are oblivious enough to then blame their wives for not meeting their needs. Men, don't settle for that. Be the man of your home and be the man in the bedroom. Learn how to open up and talk to your wife. More importantly, listen to her. Change in the ways that she needs for you to change. You will then benefit by reclaiming your manhood in the bedroom, which is quite a reward!

The typical pattern for emotionally disconnected men is to be married to wife #3 by the time they are 55. They simply don't have the tools to maintain a marriage emotionally. They can certainly attract a woman. They can do the early on magical falling in love thing. That is easy. The problem is that it just does not last. It has a shelf life of anywhere from 2 to 7 years. Lacking the insight, maturity and the emotional skills to sustain a marriage they give up, get kicked out or seek affection from a new woman while still being married. Then they have 2 to 7 years of fun easy times before they are right back in the same boat again. They equate the early enmeshment falling in love times to mature, committed love. The problem isn't the woman you are married to fellas; it is your inability to be a man emotionally in the marriage. A trip to therapy land just might be the ticket to getting you in shape emotionally. You go to the gym 4 times a week to keep physically fit, but put zero effort into emotional growth. That is why you keep getting your proverbial butt kicked in relationships.

Life isn't all work and no play so I will mention recreation too. I think that most men do OK here, but there are some who just never have any time for them selves to go out and do some manly things with other men. They are bitter workaholic martyrs who complain about having to work all the time. Almost all wives would do without that extra income to have more time with their husbands. You need to recharge the batteries guys. Stephen Covey frames it has taking time to sharpen the saw. A sharp saw will cut through the timber many times faster than a dull saw. I want to give a shout out to my boys down at the Jordan Y. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the past 13+ years I have fought the good manly fight with my fellow old fat guy warriors on the basketball court. It usually isn't pretty, but it sharpens the saws, keeps the body fit and it gives some time to hang out with buddies. I could not do what I do without that time. Make some time to do something for you guys - you'll then be more effective at work and at home. See you next week.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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