Justifying a Diminished Masculinity

Posted on July 10, 2012 | 8 comments

Last Thursday I posted a blog that described one of the ways in which men justify the diminishment of the masculinity by their wives. They throw out the excuse “but she’s a good mom” as if that is a fair trade off for being relegated to the back seat of the marriage relationship.

I was actually struck by the number of responses from guys who saw themselves in that blog. One friend of mine challenged that a man cannot have his masculinity diminished unless he allows it.

That is a true statement that leads to a deeper question – why? Why do men allow it? Why does the road of passivity seem like the attractive option when it causes so much internal damage?

Here are some of the reasons that a man will take the road of “gutting it out” in a relationship and justify being diminished.

  • Culture is saying, louder and louder, that the desires a man has are wrong. His desire to lead is chauvinistic. His desire to provide subjugates a woman. His desire for sex is self-serving and perverse (an ironic contradiction is if the man was single, his sexual desire is seen as a strength).
  • He tells himself that if he just performed better as a husband then there would be no issues. So, being dismissed is really his own failure to please his wife.
  • Many men feel that their own needs are less important than other concerns. This scarcity mindset says that emotional or physical energy in the relationship directed at them would leave a deficit elsewhere. This is simply pride.
  • Because much of masculinity is learned. A man will repeat generational patterns and may not understand what true masculinity is. He adopts a role in marriage that is familiar because it was modeled for him.
  • Fear of being left if problems are confronted.
  • Misplaced belief that his wife is not capable of respecting him rather than it being the case that she simply won’t.
  • Narcissistic need for things to appear ‘fine’. Passivity and withdrawing seems to keep the peace. Yet, this type of peace is simply a mask for two dissatisfied people.
  • The man has unresolved issues with or distorted beliefs about God, who He is, and how He acts.
  • Finally, the man has placed all or part of his identity in being a husband. That requires the love of his wife. Since that is the foremost concern, this leads finding ways to please the idol so that the identity is affirmed.

Please don’t mistake this list as heaping blame on wives. Men are fully responsible for their choice to not develop their voice in the relationship and abandon their role. Most every marital problem is a two way street.

Nor am I advocating a false machismo style masculinity, filled with bravado and contempt for women.

The question I am trying to answer is: what causes men to shrink from their masculine role, just as Adam did long ago in the garden?

I would value your own responses to this valuable question.

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8 Comments

  1. Great post Scott. The reasons put forth are eyeopening. great points to ponder

    • Thank you, too for reading. It is great to get a woman’s reaction to this topic.

  2. Hey Scott,
    You definitely do bring up some important things to ponder. In your opinion, what should we as wives to to support and encourage our husbands to embrace their roles as patriarchs in our homes and marriages?

    I come from a single-parent family and so does my husband. However, we both can clearly see many mistakes our parents have made and have made conscious decisions to not become what they were.

    In my marriage, I expect to work as a partner with my husband in leading, teaching our baby (both spiritually and temporally), decision making, chores, managing finances and whatever else needs to be done, so that we can share both the burdens and the joys of running our household. Marriage should be a partnership in all aspects. I expect to be consulted in decision-making and have my thoughts and opinions taken seriously, but I know that I must provide that same respect to him as well.

    What might I be missing? How can I avoid making my husband feel second-class? What kinds of things show support for his role as husband and father, without becoming burdensome, smothering or naggy?

    In your opinion, what should we do in order to do this right from mostly the start? (We have been married almost three years, but he was deployed for nearly 18 months of that time, so I still feel mostly new at this!) Thanks!

    • Wow, lots of amazing and honest questions here. I will reply later today – meetings, meetings, meetings!

  3. You want to see your marriage go from okay to good or good to great, build up your man. Fastest way to his heart is not through his stomach…

    • True. While it is hard to do, taking humility and daily denying of self, ultimately both spouses will be built up and will thrive.

  4. Do you have any suggestions on how a woman who has messed this up (and caused her husband’s passivity) can apologize and encourage him to be the man I know that he can be, without nagging him (which is obviously counterproductive)?

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