Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stewardship of Your Relationship

This one's for the guys. Do I have your attention, gentlemen?

A big part of being a good man, is being good to the people in your life.  

Ask yourselves, "who do I put first?"

At the very top of this list should be the women in your life.  Remember the old saying that goes, "watch how a man treats his mother; he'll treat his woman the same way"?  There's truth in that, and those two ladies should occupy the absolute top of your particular food chain.

Is the honest answer to who you put first yourself?  Okay, there's a time and a place for that.  Good self-care - mentally and emotionally as much as physically - is the foundation of your well-being.  But a large part of the kind of values I'd label as particularly "manly" is a sense of being in service to others, protecting them and feeling responsible for their wellbeing.  A relationship means stewardship.    


noun : The activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something
1: the office, duties, and obligations of a steward
2: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care (stewardship of natural resources
Relationship, stewardship... well, whatever ship we're in, we're all in the same boat, and if you don't see it that way you're likely to find yourself shipwrecked eventually.

When it comes to relationships, "manliness" can't be about being in charge.  Relationships only work when there is mutual respect and devotion, so hold up your end of the deal!  

I can't possibly count the number of times I've used the following personal anecdote in therapy with clients:

I was 15 years old and a Sophomore in high school.  I'd done something typically dumb, and whatever it was, it upset my mother.  I can't remember what the punishment was, but I do remember not liking it.  I was venting that ad nauseum to my father, and had crossed a few boundaries over the course of my entitled little monologue.  He patiently let me finish, not saying anything while I went on... and on...and on.  Then, sternly, he leveled this at me:  

"She's your mother, son...
                                "...but she's my wife."

Well, that was the end of the discussion!    

Those eight words from my father created an enormous shift in my perspective.  The light bulb had turned on over my head.  I suddenly understood exactly where I belonged in our family's particular dynamic.  I realized just how far I had stepped out of bounds, and how much I had offended my father's value system - by speaking with such entitlement, and speaking so badly about my mother.

A large part of what makes a man masculine isn't his dominance, but his stewardship of his loved ones... and to mistake a man's quiet strength for weakness not only misses the point, but allows so many men to reach adulthood but not maturity.  

A good man supports a good woman; he cherishes her.  Because, let's face it, guys.... if you don't cherish her, why are you with her?  And why would you expect her to stay committed to someone who isn't thinking of her first?

The complicated part is this:  that word "good" I threw in there.  This is where that earlier bit about "self care" comes in... a man does need to recognize when it's not a two-way street.  But be careful you're not being the "one-way" partner yourself.

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