They feel deeply, they care passionately, and they want to be respected, and loved. And, as so many men have shared with us, they become self-conscious and fearful of opening themselves and expressing their truth if they’re not sure women will acknowledge and respect them for their full range and depth of human experience.
You see, men are eager to share themselves with women, but only when they can feel safe that their inner reality will be valued and treated with care. Otherwise, yes, men will retreat from the threat of women’s contempt or rejection. But otherwise, men want very much to have adult-to-adult relationships with women rather than acting out the pretense of Knight in Shining Armor with the Damsel in Distress who needs to be rescued from danger in order to feel loved and made whole.
But the roles that men have been expected to play have been very limited. Only recently have men been allowed to participate in the births of their children. Only recently have men been able to make the choice to be house-husbands, staying home to care for the children while their more ambitious wives go to work-without becoming the butt of jokes and mocked by friends. And only recently have men begun to actively participate in planning their own weddings.
So many men start off their marriages feeling like accessories, not what their new wives had in mind. They learned their sideline role very well. So when they retreat to their computer, the newspaper, or Monday Night Football, they are only continuing to leave all the action and responsibility to their wives just as they learned during the wedding preparation process.
It is only when we remember that men are human that we open the door to spiritual equality, relating as partners, making ourselves available for deeper emotional intimacy, more trustworthy and romantic love. Only then is the path available to create far more fulfilling relationships, the kind we all truly want.