Friends, I am still astounded (even though I should know better) when I hear some men use the "argument", "Because I'm the man" to get their way and to exert control over their partners. That this still continues in this day and age is really amazing... and pathetic. Yet it does still and it takes all my professional training to keep from... Well, I won't say. Fortunately, there are many men who have long ago rejected that worn-out oppressive model. I am grateful that my best friends treat their wives with all the respect they deserve, defer to them, adore and respect them. I am also surrounded by many good men in my neighborhood and church who feel the same way. The thought of using the "because I'm the man" to them would equal what we abhorrently call in our church "unrighteous dominion." So thankfully, most of the men I know are good, kind, caring men.
Personally, I first learned what it meant to really be a man from my step-father in a way that has made me proud to the kind of man that my dear wife and children love, admire and respect. Instead of learning a sense of entitlement "because I'm the man" I learned a sense of duty as follows:
Thanks to my step-father's example in my house growing up "Because I'm the man..." meant:
- Being responsible to provide for his family;
- Believing that being a man of God = bowing in humble service to his wife;
- Serving my mom/his wife in countless ways: loving us kids, washing the dishes, cooking meals, etc. I loved my mom so incredibly dearly and to have a man enter our lives who also loved her, admired her and respected her just as much made me love him all the more;
- Doing many fun, romantic, silly things for her, making up elaborate and often suggestive nicknames for her that made her giggle and exclaim, "Oh, George!"
- Praying and fasting for my sick mother night after night, year after year with great faith and earnestness, and "mourning with her as she mourned";
- Being willing to humble your stubbornness and admit when you're wrong;
- Being willing to seek help and counsel;
- Being attracted to a strong woman (such as my dad to my mother, and me to my wife) and allowing them to help you become a stronger man;
- Being a true partner, a true helpmeet;
- That true strength didn't come from pride and ego but from humility and compassion;
- Keeping his faith even in spite of trial after trial after trial after trial after trial...
- Affair- and divorcing-proofing your marriage—most female clients I've had have stated time and time again that these are exactly the traits they've always wanted in their partner. Further, if they had left their partner it was often because of the absence of these traits;
- Showing his son how to fix things both around the house, under the car and in the heart;
- Being patient, compassionate and understanding when his 16-year-old son (me) crashes the car two-weeks after getting his license. And then regaling his son and his friends (who were scared I was "going to get it!") with all the funny, crazy and idiotic things he did with vehicles as a youth.
That's what it meant to be the man in my home growing up. And I'm trying to make sure that's what it means to my kids in their home now.
PS: Years ago a friend shared, "I'm the Man" from the Bob and Tom show with me. It's a fun play on the juxtaposition from the old school to the new school relationship between men and women. I play this at some of my workshops as an ice-breaker. Great stuff: