Sometimes (ok, most of the time) I have a weird sense of humor. Not everyone can appreciate that, but it is part of what makes me who I am. Things that others see as natural and normal, I sometimes see as hilarious. Such was the case recently. With the much-anticipated release of a popular movie whose intended demographic is teenage girls, I was shocked by all of the response and excitement that grown women had over this same movie. While many of these women were sharing their tears via various forms of social media, I could not help but find a little humor in the fact that glitter-covered, sparkly vampires could reduce otherwise intelligent women to tears. Someone caught my humor, and asked me if I was open to discuss the value they saw in the movie. Of course, I was willing. At the end of our discussion, my previous laughter and amusement were replaced with an even greater thought, “We have to do something. This is out of hand!”
Yes, you may have laughed at that last statement, and perhaps it is somewhat humorous. Essentially, as I left that conversation, my thought went from an easy laugh to a great feeling of failure and disillusionment. Why are such movies attractive to grown, married women? (Men, hold on to your hats because I am afraid you are not going to like some of the response.) The underlying reason behind all the others that I was given in that conversation is that women so crave the love that is manufactured fictionally by the authors, directors, and actors/actresses.
Being the analytical thinker that I am, I kept asking myself, “Why is this?” Unfortunately, I think to a large extent, it is because men (myself included) have failed to “man up” in our marriage relationships. We have failed to be what we are called to be and what our wives need us to be. The Bible is clear that the woman was made for the man. In fact, the very first woman’s name, Eve, means “mother of all the living.” The two have a mutually dependent relationship. The same is true in our marriages and homes today. Men, our wives still need us. Our wives do not need sparkly vampires or fictional billionaires of whom they read in erotic novels. They need men; they need their husbands to man up and be their warriors. Unfortunately, what women see too frequently today is that when a situation in a marriage gets difficult or challenging, the marriage is often thrown away. Our wives need their husbands to man up and fight for their marriages and their spouse! Let me be clear: the fighting to which I am referring is the fight of preparation. Our wives need us to man up and be the warriors who will let absolutely nothing destroy our homes. Think about the vows we made on our wedding day. Those are the vows to which we commit on that day. We commit to fight for our marriage. Too often women have failed to see actions which support those vows. Trust me, they have not failed to see said actions because they have not been looking, but rather because too frequently, we have not lived out the actions which support our vows. The reasons for this lack of fleshing out our commitments are varied, but there is hope.
Another reason that women are drawn to movies like the one I referenced earlier is that they see male characters who are secure enough in their manhood to adequately express themselves to women. If we were honest, I think we would agree that we are at times more like Al Bundy (siting on the sofa watching television while basking in our own odors) than we are Casanova. We are like the e-greeting cards on social media that show pictures of us as we see ourselves and then progress to show us as others see us. The final picture in those cards often shows us as we really are. Unfortunately, we would not like that picture, and too often, the picture of us as we are and us as others see us are not too different. Our wives need and crave husbands who can express their feelings better than their flatulence.
Obviously, these expressions of why our wives need men who will “man up” are not exhaustive, but our wives will continue to run to over-romanticized versions of reality that do nothing to promote the health of a marriage until we as men decide to put our foot down and declare, “Enough!” Enough of us making excuses and enough of us shirking our responsibility. Enough of us thinking that as long as we provide financially we have done our duties. Enough!
How do we remedy this? It is not an easy fix, but the reality is, things that are often easily attained are not of great value. As men, we have to “man up.” For many of us, this concept is difficult because we grew up in single parent homes where there was no positive male role model. While that may have stunted our growth as men, we can no longer allow that to be our excuse. Our wives need us. We can do this.
First, I would encourage you as a man to find some other men in your church and community who have a passion to love their wives well, to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and to connect with those guys. I am not talking about a group of grown men starting their own clique or gang; that is lame. I am talking about a group of men where you can be accountable to one another. You can be encouraged on how to love your wife. You can be challenged on how to love your wife. Remember, iron sharpens iron. We need some men to “man up” and be iron rather than limp biscuits. In my own life, I have a group of men who challenge me regularly. Some are guys I went to seminary with, and some are guys I have met since, but we encourage and challenge and support one another.
Not only would I encourage you to find some guys to hold you accountable, but I would also encourage you to read a book with your spouse. No, not Fifty Shades of Grey, but a book on a healthy and growing marriage. Read Song of Solomon together in a modern translation of the Bible, and then send your notes of thanks. As you are reading with your wife, you will connect on deeper than surface levels.
Also, turn off the television and put down the phones, ipads, computers, and other forms electronic devices. Admittedly, this is the hardest for almost all couples. Our wives need our undivided attention, and it will not hurt us to give it to them occasionally. Your marriage will be strengthened.
There is a generation of wives right now who is desperately searching in books, movies, and online relationships for what is supposed to be a common part of their marriage. There is a generation of teenage young men who desperately need role models to whom they can look and gain wisdom. Tim Tebow and Lecrae are great options, but the reality is, many of those young men to whom I refer will never have the chance to do life with either of them. You and I already have the connections and relationship with many of those men. They do not need larger than life heroes; they need real men who “man up” in their marriages. Our wives do not need Team Jacob or Team Edward. They do not need Christian Grey. They do not need Channing Tatum anymore than you need Mila Kunis or Jessica Biel. Our wives do not need, or truly even crave, the extraordinary. No, they simply want and need the ordinary man they married to “man up” and become even more than the extraordinary by being who God created Him to be: the warrior, leader, secure, man they married. Will we “man up,” or will we continue to let our wives, families, and future generations down? The choice is ours.