As women we know we need men to be strong, to protect us. When we are broken, we expect even more from the men in our lives. Our needs can be so great that we think the only reason for their existence is to take care of us. This is not a conscious expectation. But it is easy for us to miss how much they need us too.
Women need to be heard, to be treated with respect. But there is something I see as a trend that I think is harmful to both women and men. In women’s pursuit for equality and fairness, many have taken on traits that may prove counter productive to getting our needs met and certainly mens.
Men are strong, we need them to be strong. But as women, I don’t think we have a clue how much pressure it is for men to always be strong, to never be able to show any weakness at all. We expect men to see the worst of us and still love us. But let a man become vulnerable, or even have any needs at all, and we often turn on them.
Women have come to equate femininity with weakness. We have sacrificed everything that is beautiful about us for some facade of strength. Being loud and brash is not strength. We need to figure out how to keep the soft, tender, and kind parts of ourselves and still evoke strength, not sacrifice these for some false sense of strength.
Men need us. They desperately need us!
We put them down, we point out what they are doing wrong, we jump on them if they have any feelings of their own. They are human. They have needs just like we do. We want men to change the things that make us feel unsafe and harm us as women. But we have far more influence in their lives than we are aware of.
I am not talking about abuse and disrespect here. I am not talking about men who don’t care about our feelings or care if we are hurting. I am talking about men who are just struggling every day to survive in the same way that we are, but are just lost and overwhelmed and in need of respect. And men who are in need of love and affection, encouragement and support. Men who will respond to us when we give them what they need, who will respect us even when we are not around.
If we want men to respect us, it is unfair to not acknowledge their needs. I think because of the tremendous stress and pressure they live with to be strong all the time and at all cost, we too easily miss how much they need us. And often even dismiss their needs.
If they treated us this way, we would be devastated!
Quite frankly, if we had to be strong all the time and never show any weakness, it would cause us to withdraw and turn inward. We would shut down and not communicate. We would act like men do.
I have to say, what changed things drastically for my husband and I was when I realized that he is broken too. He has his own past, his own triggers. Life wasn’t all about me.
As women, we know our children need us, but we too often don’t realize that the men in our lives need us when it comes to their feelings and emotions. Will they let us do everything for them, will they take advantage of us if we let them, yes! But we let them carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. And not only are we more than happy to let them carry it, we don’t even have a clue how much weight they carry.
The day I realized my husband was broken too, it was a huge revelation to me. It changed how I fought with him and how I interacted with him. Instead of expecting him to read my mind and be careful with my feelings, I began to realize that he needed me to remind him that I was not his enemy. I let him know that it was okay for us to be angry with each other and that it didn’t mean it was the end for us, that we could be angry and still love each other deeply.
I struggle greatly with being loved, but I have this endless belief in it and need for it. I wouldn’t want to live life without it. I fear what I need and I need what I fear!
I began to ask him to stay when we had disagreements and when he did, I thanked him for it. I actually thanked him for fighting with me, for struggling together with me. We only fight for what matters to us! I let him know we could express our feelings and still be loved and cared for. That we could be upset and vulnerable and in life if it was just him and I against the world, we could do anything.
I let him know that these were the moments that cemented our love for each other. These were the moments we gained better understanding of each other’s fears and anxieties. When you are willing to struggle this much with someone, you don’t let them go. We have become so close because of this. I am not sure we would even be together if I didn’t recognize that he needed me every bit as much as I needed him.
Sometimes I think men are willing to marry almost any of us because they know they can get what they really want somewhere else.
But I want to say, that I think if men really knew what our vulnerabilities are and how their behavior effects us, any man with a heart would begin to change their behavior. I have seen this in my husband. From the time we met, I have expressed to him what it feels like to be a woman in this world. And how a great deal of men’s behavior communicates to us that we are not good enough. He acknowledged to me that he was unaware of the thoughts and feelings that women have surrounding men’s behavior. And he has changed his life because of it.
I changed to meet his needs, and he changed to meet mine. And this is why we have the marriage that we have. It isn’t that I am a great person or wife, or that he is a great person or husband. It is because we are willing to explore each others inner world enough to know what the other needs and change our lives to meet those needs. It has been a lot of hard work. But it has been worth it. This, that I am talking about here, is really what ultimately allowed me to feel safe in my husband’s arms and him in mine.
He needed the soft, gentle, kind, and yes, feminine side of me.
Men have no choice but to be strong, we shouldn’t give ourselves the right to run rough shod over them and expect that they will open up to us and share their hopes and dreams, their fears and anxieties. They need us to be women every bit as much as we need them to be men. If we want them to accept our vulnerabilities and weaknesses, we need to be able to accept that they are not only men, they are human beings with the same needs that we have for love and affection, for encouragement and support.
They need a soft place to fall, and they are looking for it in us, even if we are broken!
Maybe the title of this blog post could have been Have You Really, Really Ever Loved A Man!
* * * * * * *
I wanted to share the following song again because it reinforces a lot of what I expressed here. This song is about romantic love, but the concept of vulnerability and love this song talks about also applies to friendship.
For someone to care enough to know us, really know us, and love us for what they discover, not inspite of it, is a longing we all have.
I wish I had written the lyrics to this song:
Beneath Your Beautiful
By Labrinth ft. Emeli Sandé