Here are six tips on How to Be a Man that I think will be helpful in how to think about your masculinity.
1. Lead with your vulnerability: Yes, that is right. Do the hard thing. Especially in your most intimate relationships. Say “I am sorry, I apologize and especially, “I was wrong.”
These statements let your partner/spouse know that you are taking ownership and responsibility for your actions or words. Being defensive and not taking ownership only create more distance and hostility. Saying” I am sorry” shows that you value the health and resiliency of your relationship over your own ego. It is taking a step closer to be intimate and more connected. The outcome can be less of the distance and loneliness that is so hard to bare at times.
2. Help more around the house: Don’t come home with the attitude that you have done your part by bringing home a paycheck. This is not the 1950’s. In most households both spouses work and therefore it is only fair that you do more to keep your home and family well taken care of. Pitch in with the housework and preparing meals. Also taking care of your kids: spending time on helping with homework, giving baths and bedtime routines.
3. Listen: Even if it is the end of a long day take the time to give your loved ones your full attention and listen, especially with your spouse or partner. Turn off all devices, distractions and give them your full attention. Better yet sit down facing them, hold their hand and say something like: “I want to know how you are feeling. I’m here and ready to listen”. Also do more that be a passive participant. Ask questions to make sure you are getting the meaning of what they are saying or even do active listening and paraphrase back key parts of what they are telling you.
4. Be more thoughtful: Along the way pay more attention to what your spouse and, or kids are interested in. What are their passions, desires and dreams? In a casual way notice if say your kids have an interest in a sport or martial art. Maybe it is seeing that they have a high-energy level and following up by taking them to a dojo. Or you could take them to a soccer try out and meet with the coach. Notice if your spouse has an seem to have an artistic flair so engage them in a conversation to find out if they want to pursue drawing or some other form. Then make it happen for them. Give them lessons or go to an art class with them. One of the ways we know we are loved is when someone pays attention to us and notices who we are and what we are about.
5. More fire in the Belly: Become more of the well-rounded man. Find and pursue your own passions. If you have always wanted to play a musical instrument seek out a teacher and get started. If you enliven yourself you will be a more passionate Dad, partner and person. We as men easily make other people’s needs and wants a priority over our own. Do a healthy thing and find the time and energy to follow your own dreams.
6. Connect with other healthy men: It is important to connect with other men who are working to become the best men, husbands and fathers they can be. Create or become part of a support group, or men’s group where you can help each other by being real about the struggles in your life. There is great power in being listened to without receiving advice. Having men that share openly about their own struggles creates less shame that many men struggle with when they feel that they are the only ones who have a hard time in their marriage, job or being a good dad.
Following through with these suggestions will help you in being the best man that you can be in your own life and your family’s life.