Relationships: Turn Back the Tide to Comfort and Joy
IF IT’S A MAN’S WORLD, WHY ARE SO MANY OF US UNHAPPY? ONE MAN’S OUTPOURING OF THOUGHT AND FEELING BRINGS A FEW THINGS TO LIGHT.
You can forgive a “Christmas” post after New Year’s if you know the writer’s old-school. That tree in our front room doesn’t come down ‘til Epiphany/Twelfth Night. I’m sure that has something to do with the subject that follows. Or I’m just late posting this. Comfort and Joy needn’t be confined to one month out of the year anyway.
MY NOVELS SMAFU and the soon-to-be-released SMAFU – SoulMates need a better genre. They aren’t romance novels, but they are romantic. I don’t write erotica, but there are erotic moments. The books aren’t “literary fiction” in the world-changing, New York, soon to be Pulitzer Prize winning, sense and they don’t match up well with romantic comedy regardless of the humor.
So, what are they? They are novels about the human experience and navigating the complexities of relationships and communication. The article I am about to share (at the end of this post) embodies much of the message and backstory that the SMAFU series illuminates in the personalities of the male characters. I find it interesting that so many of this man’s issues revolve around the same simple question phrased in multiple ways, “Who am I? How did I get here? And how do I get back to the person I was meant to be?”
For such small questions, none of which require a degree in math, science, or engineering, they carry more weight than perhaps any other in a person’s life; male or female. Bear with me as I explain and contrast.
As young men many of us go forth and find jobs, girlfriends who eventually becomes wives, and have sex which eventually becomes children. Because we now have a wife and a child, we feel the need to own a house or pay rent, earn enough to pay for food, cars, dance lessons, sports programs etc., and at some point, that becomes our whole lives. Go to work, do our jobs, pay our bills and hope someday we can retire. But is that the life we always wanted or are we just making the best out of a situation we never anticipated?
Now the contrast.
Many young women go forth and find jobs, discover the joys of independence and freedom maybe for the first time, and learn that they can support and control their own lives. They begin to date, fall in love, talk about a future with the above-mentioned partner who still has dreams. She gets married and has sex which eventually becomes children and right about THERE: The struggle begins.
Children require energy. They require your time, love, care and balls-out parenting…stuff. Compromises get made. The additional energy has to come from somewhere: careers, the spousal relationship, or from the freedom and independence piece, which suddenly feels like it was wayyy too short. But wait… an only child isn’t a good idea, we should have another, and maybe another*, each taking a little more time, a little more compromise, a little more of whatever hard-won freedom they feel they have left. Many women even lose their names, becoming relegated to Tommy’s mother, or Susie’s mom.
NONE OF THIS IS A BAD THING. It is what it is. What I’m suggesting however, is this may be central to a large swath of what causes problems in marriages or long-term relationships with or without children.
Is that the life they always wanted and chose? Or are they “just” doing the best that they can with what they have in front of them?
Both parties are acting out of a place of love, compassion, and sacrifice, but get so caught up in the act of just DO-ing, that they lose track of what it was they WANT-ed. And sadly, this can impact the main reason they started doing it in the first place: The person they love. Both parties stand to lose track of what brought them together and the dreams they once had. Its almost as if, to survive the day-to-day, they shoved aside their true selves, the ones that drew them together in the first place. Or buried it real deep.
If you are feeling a connection to the words above, let me issue you a challenge. Do something dangerous for a moment and close your eyes and try to remember what it was you wanted to do when you were young. Did you want to be an athlete, or an actor? Did you dream of being a pirate or a writer? Try to get in touch with something that used to make you feel alive and energized you and then–here’s the hard part–share it with your partner and ask him/her to do the same. Reignite THAT feeling. And then find some small (or large) thing to do separately or together, which brings you the same joy. Begin to live again instead of simply existing and who knows? You might just reclaim a youth you never imagined you’d see again.
Comfort & Joy Y’all.
Here’s the promised article from the Good Men Project: A Man and His Depression: Recurrence
The organization mentioned in the article: Stigma Fighters
Articles by Stigma Fighters Founder Sarah Fader: Panic Life Blog (On Psychology Today)
Another take on the same from Urbo: 7 Things That Women Will Never Understand About Being A Man
Read more at Good Men Project. Most of their stuff is good, but you’re likely to find more of the same subject here (Tricky! The page is called Guy-Talk, but the category is called: Advice & Confessions. Gentlemen, proceed with caution 😉): Guy Talk (on Good Men Project)
Jed Diamond, PhD works a lot with this subject. He calls it IMS: Irritable Male Syndrome:
Here’s his main website: Men Alive
Here’s his IMS website. You can take the quiz.: The Irritable Male
He’s written a couple of books about it.
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This one is a more general overview:
This one is geared more toward Significant Others:
And so have I. The sequel is due out next month: SMAFU – Situation Married All F’d Up
On Children and Family Size. Just found it interesting: