What can be learned about men and vulnerability from a men's group?
by Jude Walsh www.Good Men Project.com
I was invited into a nine-month study group on men and men’s health and well-being. I was at first hesitant to join a “men’s” group because, well, I’m a woman. But the group leader pointed out that I am also the mother of a son and take seriously my responsibility to raise a good man. And, since I was dealing with the aftermath of betrayal by the person I considered the best man in the entire world, if not the universe, he thought being around the energy of these men would be beneficial. He was absolutely and gloriously correct.
I am grateful to these men; they taught me so much.
Today I want to share Lesson One: The five things I learned about men and vulnerability.
Men are vulnerable in different ways than women. The expectations to be the strong one, the problem solver, and the provider are deeply ingrained. Even if their partner does not expect this, men still feel the cultural burden.
2. CULTURAL SHIFT
The cultural burden will not shift on its own. It is like turning a cruise ship around, plenty of room is required, the speed is slow, and you need a good captain at the helm and a good working crew. Sharing our vulnerabilities is a good start.
3. MEN CAN SHARE
Men CAN share at a deep emotional level. I belong to many women’s groups and sharing flows easily and freely. People postulate that women are hard wired for collaboration and men are hard wired for competition. I don’t think it is as simple as that. I do know that the trust level I experienced with these men had the same energy that I feel in my women’s groups. This was a surprise to me. It served as a reminder to not automatically chalk things up to men and women being different as if the ways they are different might never be breeched.
4. FEARS & FLAWS
These men do not blame anyone else. They courageously face their fears and their flaws. I did not hear the dreaded, “I had to do what I did to meet my needs.” Note to world: We all have needs. Yours are no more important than anyone else’s. The world is abundant and there is no need to take something from someone else as if other people did not also have needs to be met. It was refreshing to watch these men dedicate themselves to learning how to negotiate the most loving and collaborative ways to resolve differences.
5. ACCEPTANCE & APPROVAL
These wonderful men have the same need for acceptance and approval as the women I know. But here is the amazingly beautiful part; they admit it! This is directly opposite to the cultural meme that men are strong and silent and just tough things out and move on. These men make themselves vulnerable because they know they have the inner strength and confidence and courage to handle whatever life sends their way. And they lovingly accept that the people they are in relationship with struggle too. They are sweet souls who will accept it when things don’t work out perfectly and negotiate changes and separations that leave both partners’ feelings intact and friendship possible.
Now, isn’t that lovely?
o – o – o – O – o – o – o
Read Jude’s original article on the Good Men Project.com
JUDE WALSH WHELLEY is a writer, mother, and traveler who delights in life. Visit her blog, Writing Now, at her website.