One consistent factor I have observed in my work with couples is their caution or outright fear of each other. They are not able to be present in their relationships with the truth of who they are and what they are feeling. I invite you to consider the following suggestions about one reason we suffer this difficulty.
Who taught you what it means to be a Man?
After asking this question of countless men, I have learned the answer is often not what one might expect. The first responses are usually "I learned to be a man from my Dad," or "my Uncle" or a respected mentor. Then a deeper truth emerges: "My dad was always at work," or "Dad left when I was six," or "My dad was an alcoholic." Most men are surprised to discover it was not their fathers who taught them what it means to be a man, but their mothers.
They often discover that the message they received from their mothers was "Don't be like your Dad." The message might have been delivered overtly, when Mother was home at night and Dad was out drinking. She felt alone, abandoned, and afraid. She turned to her young son and said: "I hope you don't grow up to be a worthless bum like your father” Another boy, in a gentler family situation, might simply observe that his mother is unhappy-- perhaps she has sacrificed too much of herself for the marriage, or feels lost, unfulfilled, lonely, or resentful.
In either case, the young boy senses this hurt in his mother, and looks for the cause. He doesn’t have to look far to identify his father as the perpetrator of his mother’s suffering.
I think males are genetically programmed to be Heroes, and to protect and rescue Damsels in Distress. When a young boy sees his mother hurt, lonely, angry, or depressed, he wants to rescue her. It is his nature.
The Male Conundrum
And here the boy encounters the conundrum that may be with him for the rest of his life: The Villain is not only Dad, it is "maleness," and the boy has identified himself with that same maleness all his short life. He is both the Hero wanting to rescue, and the Villain causing the pain.
The young boy becomes the Impotent Hero, wanting to protect and rescue his Damsel from himself, which he cannot do. Many men go into the world feeling guilty for being male. They know they are a man, and they know men hurt women. They know their job is to rescue women in distress, and they cannot. They are guilty AND impotent. Rarely is a man conscious of this drama in his inner world.
The World's Greatest Lover
Imagine how we might all relate in romantic relationships if men were proud and powerful in their masculine nature, and women trusted themselves and their man. How might a man show up with his woman if he were not afraid of her finding out he is guilty and impotent? And how might that woman receive her man, if she trusted his masculine?
I call this liberated man “The World's Greatest Lover.” He must learn a new way of loving and accepting himself. He must learn he is NOT GUILTY! The World's Greatest Lover comes to understand that his nature is divine Love, not the fear and doubt he has lived with all his life.
The World’s Greatest Lover celebrates the highest expression of living as a man, knowing the truth of his Divinity, and reflecting that Divinity back to his Beloved. In his reflection, she joins with him in knowing their highest truth together.
For a more detailed exploration of this topic, including the Relationship Strategies of the Impotent Hero, and the woman’s role, go to the articles page on joydancer.com
Allan Hardman is a relationship coach, author, teacher, and Toltec Master, trained by Miguel Ruiz in the tradition of The Four Agreements. He is the author of The Everything Toltec Wisdom Book. For information about Allan’s spiritual coaching, his online Toltec apprenticeship community, Spiritual Journeys and Relationship Retreats, or to subscribe to his free e-newsletter, visit: www.joydancer.com. Or call (707) 528-1271. E-mail comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.