Learning to be a Husband, Not a Son

My first post with this brand-new blog format is a link to this morning’s column at The Good Men Project:  Learning to be a Husband, Not a Son.  Excerpt:

In three previous marriages and a handful of other long-term relationships (I haven’t been single for long since I was 16), I found myself—like so many men—taking on the parts of the “naughty boy” and the “helpless child.”  Time and again, I turned wives and girlfriends into mother-figures, and the result was inevitably disastrous.

I know that I’m not the only man who found “courtship” easier than “relationship.”  Over and over again, I devoted time and energy to “getting the girl”, and when I succeeded, soon felt vaguely let down and confused about my role. Like so many men, I was good at the chase, and lousy at maintaining the relationship I’d worked so hard to get started. After I’d been dating someone new for a few months, I invariably began to become increasingly childlike. I figured out that most of my partners were students of my emotions (it’s what we raise women to do), and most of them were eager to make the relationship work.  So they were the ones who took over the “feeling work” of the relationship while I settled into amiable uxoriousness.

2 thoughts on “Learning to be a Husband, Not a Son


    My @#*% of an ex who cheated on then dumped me because of exactly these kinds of issues reads the Good Men Project. Hopefully he’ll have this kind of moment of clarity too.

  2. Not sure I’m familiar with the resentment you talk about, but the rest is pretty familiar. What you don’t really address, and what isn’t obvious at all, is how to avoid the situation.

    Cultural background being what it is, at lot of this is set up beforehand. Women come into a relationship owning the moral highground, and trying to assert more control, more influence, more judgement, whatever, than is presented in models (or I’ve experienced in history, whatever) conflicts badly on an emotional level with the usual feminist rhetoric that men have more power/control/standing than women. Conflicts with the traditional model too.

    I don’t know. It seems like, in practice, the only way to reach any sort of peer relationship is to be invited, not to take it by (whatever unilateral action, I have no idea what it would be). My wife is the second woman I’ve been involved with who thought of me as a moral/social peer, but if she hadn’t, I don’t think I could’ve done anything other than ended it and moved on. Whatever space there is/was for action on my part, I don’t see it.

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