We often oversimplify and associate manly needs in a relationship with physical affection and leave it there. Women are the softer side of the marriage, right? Guys are all grit and sports and beards and cars and red meat and stuff – real Ron Swansons if you know what I mean.
We must not forget that men can be very emotional; even intensely emotional.
I’d like to accomplish three things here: 1) untangle unproductive and brash assumptions society tends to make about men, 2) help wives understand and encourage their husbands, and 3) encourage men to feel intensely about things that matter.
This is a bit of a departure from my typical subject matter, but I hope it’s worth the read.
Our culture tends to polarize the roles of husbands and wives – like they’re supposed to be equal-but-opposite, diametrically opposed forces in a marriage relationship. It’s a nice tidy fit:
- Women just want romance and connection, men just want sex.
- Wives want to talk, husbands want solitude.
- Gals over communicate their emotions, guys are emotionally sparse.
- Ladies like the Hallmark channel, gentlemen like ESPN.
Since generalizations like these come from majority sentiment, there is bound to be at least a little truth in them… in general. I do tend to lean in the male directions as indicated above (except the ESPN one). But not for long. In fact, I don’t know many men who are adequately defined by such generalizations.
This is a call to men to depart from the particular generalization about emotions—and instead, to feel intensely about things that matter and use those emotions to become agents of godly change in our world.
Great men feel greatly.
Coldness and apathy are the most cowardly stances a man can take. For a man to resign his emotion—the part of him which feels intensely—is for him to resign part of God’s very likeness in him.
God himself was moved by his great love for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave…” (John 3:16). So loved. He loved the world in such a way, and felt so intensely that He was compelled to send his only Son. Having children of my own, I can’t imagine loving anyone so intensely that I’d give up my kids for them.
Look at the mightiest men in the Bible; even the most hardened warriors cried bitterly with emotion. Quick character studies of a few would illustrate my point (read about David, Samson, Saul, Joshua, Daniel, and most of all, Jesus).
Great men do indeed feel greatly.
Wives Refuel Us
During my Mount Rainier summit a few years ago, I realized just how much Selena’s encouragement and approval means to me. I realized that when she’s behind me, I feel virtually invincible. There’s little I wouldn’t do or attempt for her, because I love her intensely. Our 15+ years married has shown me that I do, in fact, need her on many levels. No, she doesn’t complete me, and she’s not my source of significance or identity, but I do need her, and that’s okay.
Man wasn’t meant to be alone; God created this amazing being called “Woman”; and she is incredible.
John Eldridge sums up the wonder of woman very well:
“She is the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. Woman. In one last flourish creation comes to a finish with Eve. She is the Master’s finishing touch.”
In Genesis 2, God said himself, “it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). I couldn’t agree more (not that my agreement make God’s words any more true).
Selena makes me better; she humanizes me in ways not possible without her.
She keeps me from working too much or being too intense about life. She fills my emotional bucket and reminds me how to feel. Even more importantly, she loves me and fills me with confidence (and I do my best to reciprocate).
In my experience, my wife often plays the role of being an emotional refueling point where I can reset, recalibrate, and re-engage with things that really matter. I need her and want her.
Men should feel outwardly
We must engage our passion and emotion to change the social issues of our age. Just a few generations ago slavery was acceptable. Now our nation looks back with shame at what we allowed; slavery has forever tarnished American history.
What did my parents and grandparents do in the face of something so atrocious? I heard Matt Chandler (a pastor in Texas) discuss this in a sermon as a means of drawing our attention and action to the social issues of our age.
He asked, 50 years from now, what issues will we look back at and say “how could we have allowed such injustices?” This is primarily a marriage blog so
I’ll spare the details; but I do believe there are (at least) three huge human issues men should be passionate about:
- Abortion – kicking, feeling, reactive children are killed for convenience. (Video)
- The sex trade – pornography, prostitution, and surrounding issues (Video).
- Human trafficking – modern day exploitation of kids and adults (More info)
These are three topics that make me so passionate (angry, really), that my throat knots up and my heart literally begins to race. I feel intensely for those harmed by sin and injustice but are unable to help themselves. God can and will take that righteous anger and put it to use for his good and right purposes.
Marriage is also one of these issues for me (and Selena); hence, we started Fierce Marriage years ago.
Men should feel intensely
If we are to become great men, we must feel with great intensity. One person put it like this, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Granted, I have no idea what issues that person was outraged about but the sentiment is strong—we must feel.
Keep in mind, your passion should have godly direction; I’m certainly not proposing a carte blanche to make mountains out of mole hills.
If anything moves us, may it be the incredible grace of God and a desire to share His goodness, justice, and love with those who need it.
May we be men who feel with great love toward our wives and families. May we be passionate about God and His concerns before our own. May we be anything but docile and quiet.
May we feel the same intense love for others that God so intensely feels toward us.