Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Hi there beautiful ladies

Happy New Year to you and your families! May 2017 be your year of joy, blessings, and freedom in Christ.

I’m shocked to see that I last wrote here to wish you all a Happy 2016. Believe me, I had all the intentions of writing at least one post a month this past year, but alas, it was not possible. The good news is that I am chipping away at my studies. Next year this time I will be getting ready to graduate and I can not wait to get back to blogging, webinars, talking to all of you on the forum, and of course, adding some one-on-one professional counseling for those who may need it.

Now back to the question: Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Tony and I had been married for 24 years this past December, and a few days before our anniversary I had an interesting conversation with a group of very intelligent and beautiful young women at my college. We were talking about marriage and dating and they all agreed that we (our society) are letting men who are emotionally unavailable off the hook too easily by stereotyping their behavior as “typical male” or “something women should simply accept”.

I definitely saw their point, especially for the men of my generation (Baby Boomers and GenXers). I think that the Millennials are doing a better job at this because guys are expected to be more in touch with their emotions and to work harder at understanding the women in their lives. Also, for the most part, it seems that they agree with this and are happy to do it (I asked my sons).

However, I felt a pang of shame as the truth hit me: I am totally letting my husband off the hook (translate forgive and let things go) all the time! Like so many men of my generation, my guy is pretty much emotionally unavailable. Nine out of ten times he does not know how to react to my emotions and claims to have no clue what it is that I want or need him to say.

This kept bothering me: Why do I do it? Do I have a dependent personality disorder? Am I willing to put up with everything just because I need a man in my life? Am I a doormat? Am I settling for less than I deserve? Do I put my own needs on the back burner to avoid conflict?

In order to process my own questions, and also to justify my 24 years of “letting things go”,  I made a list of the pros and cons of my marriage. Here is what I came up with:

Pros:

  • I can tell him anything without (for the most part) being judged or belittled
  • He never makes me wonder about his love for me by flirting with or commenting on other (prettier and younger) women
  • He has a dry sense of humor and we laugh a lot
  • He forgives swiftly and never digs up my past offenses (yes even the big ones)
  • He keeps me grounded when my head is in the clouds and I have difficulty making a decision or thinking rational
  • He has stood by me through really bad culture shock, three pregnancies, raising four children, emergencies, surgeries, sickness, depression, and years of struggling with food issues
  • He encourages my dreams and helps me make them a reality by giving me practical advice
  • He tells me I am beautiful often, and did so through the years whether I wore a size 6 or 16 dress.
  • He holds my hand in public, draws me close to him in church, and opens the door for me
  • He flirts with me in front of our friends
  • He brings me flowers often for no reason at all
  • He brings me coffee in bed
  • He fixes anything that needs fixing
  • He often lays next to me in bed and pray for our family
  • He supported me financially through years of studying and homeschooling our kids
  • And of course, last but not least, he speaks Afrikaans

Cons:
Believe me, there were also a bunch of cons that I would rather not list for the sake of confidentiality, but it basically comes down to the fact that he is not perfect. He is a born entrepreneur who regularly locks himself away emotionally (like Einstein did I’m sure) to tend to a new invention and only appear again once the mission is completed. He works way too much which makes me feel lonely and neglected, and many times he makes me cry because he just doesn’t get me.

However, the main discovery I made in looking at my list of pros and cons is this: I can make up some of the deficits in our relationships by spending time with girlfriends, actively pursuing my own career and dreams, getting some counseling, and turning to God (which incidentally are all healthy things that I need). Most importantly,  the pros in our relationships are things I simply do not want to live without, they are too important to me personally.

So I guess I will keep letting my man off the hook, even if it seems to others that I’m a fool. It’s a trade I’m willing to make, because who he is to me, without changing anything about him, is worth hanging onto.

Challenge: Why not make your own pros and cons list to see if the trades you are making are worth it to you personally? Let’s face it, marriage at its best is difficult, but maybe, like me, you need a reminder of all the beautiful things about marriage that we tend to take for granted.

On the other hand, you may discover that the knawing feeling you have is actually not your imagination and that its time to seek help for your marriage. Please don’t wait, call someone today. Tony and I went for counseling many times through our 24 years together, and it never failed to bring a new perspective.

IMPORTANT: 
It is NEVER okay for any man to abuse you verbally, sexually, or physically. If you are in a marriage where you are often being belittled, humiliated, neglected, and hurt, then the pros CAN NOT outweigh the cons.

Please seek help if this is you. You can not do this alone! It is impossible to just pull yourself up after years of neglect and abuse. There are people who know exactly how you feel and how difficult it is to get out of an abusive situation, and they want to help you. Please get in contact with a counselor, a social worker, or a close friend who can get you to a safe place and help you take the next step out of this pain you are living under.

There are shelters and hotlines for women and children who are abused. Please search for those on the internet, even if you are in a different country than the USA, you will find similar hotlines and shelters in your area.

Books to Read:

  • Christian Men Who Hate Women: Healing Hurting Relationships by Margaret J. Rinck
  • Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change by Robin Norwood

Great Resources and Articles:
http://armsonline.org/getting-help/resources

My dear friend, may God lead you and guide you, may His light shine upon you and give you peace in 2017. I pray for your marriage and relationships, but also for your safety and health. You are so precious to our Heavenly Father. You are his little girl, always.

Love,
Heleen

1 thought on “Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

  1. Heleen, God has really used you to help me and equip me to help others. I’m so grateful for you and excited to see a fresh post from you!

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