I'm finally continuing my post from a month ago about the missing masculinity in the modern male. (Wow, that was a lot of ms.)
What I am about to describe is not the rule, but it is common, and it seems to be getting more common. This is of great concern for a lot of women I have talked to.
When I was a bishop, a number of women would come in for interviews and were quite frank about their feelings (hurray for honesty). Almost all of them were respectful of their husbands and of men, but they could not hide their disappointment.
The second most common thing I heard from wives or young women of dating age was that the men in their lives were not taking charge. They were not taking a leadership role. They were sitting back and not stepping forward. They were not demonstrating true masculinity. These women felt forced to take on a broader leadership role in addition to their other roles. And they didn't like it.
(Pssssst. Women really, really, really are attracted to genuine masculinity.)
Many of their husbands or boyfriends were absorbed in computer games or television or their laptops or worse. These men weren't leading the family in prayer or in scripture study and other sacred duties. They seemed to their wives to be in a constant state of escape, letting family life pass them by as they huddled close to their electronica. They also didn't feel like their husbands or boyfriends were pursuing them. They got along most of the time but they were living parallel lives. Emotional interaction was missing, except when arguments broke out.
Unmarried women of marriageable age had similar complaints. Young men, it seemed to them, were happy with just hanging out. They were not being chased by them, though they wanted to be. Girls and women like to be pursued by men who are attractive to them, but these men seemed self-satisfied, preoccupied with personal pleasures and pursuits, and not striving for a higher plane. (Thing of the term self-centertainment and that sort of encapsulates it.) Even though they may attend church or may have served as missionaries, they wore worldly attire and hair and had worldly, selfish or arrogant attitudes.
I can't tell you how disappointed and disheartened young women are because of this trend of a chosen generation of young men unchoosing themselves. I am somewhat disheartened too, but I emphasize that this is not the rule, blessedly.
Men would complain about their wives negativity and complaining and I would tell these me that much of that would be reduced if they would become true, Christ-like leaders, if they would express their innate masculinity. (Nevertheless, I always encouraged women to not try to change your men through bitter and harsh words. This might relieve some frustration for a moment or two but too often brings about the opposite effect than what they want. Women have much more powerful tools at their disposal, namely their true femininity, the subtle force that is at the core of nearly all positive male motivation. But I digress.)
So what do we do about this? I'll tell you what I am doing: I am repenting.
I am easy going. But a little too easy going. I have let a lot of opportunities pass me by due to my easy-goingness. I have learned my lessons the hard way. I have disappointed myself, my wife and my children too often because I was not stepping up to my masculine role.
As parents we can do a better job of showing (not just telling) young men what it means to be truly masculine, in the purest, best sense. You don't have to be perfect at it. You just have to be making a very honest and open effort and be willing to correct your actions when you discover you have gotten off the path.
True masculinity in my view is to be genuinely Christ-like. It is to be bold yet humble. Full of adventure yet loyal to home and family. Having self-control but willing to let go of and express emotions at the appropriate time. Being reliable and true. Willing to sacrifice anything and everything for loved ones, yet wise enough to be kind to yourself.
I'll close with this observation. A man who does not acknowledge and express his masculinity will go a little crazy. He needs an outlet and a challenge and an adventure to pursue. Daily. Without this, he will seek to satisfy his cravings through video games and pornography and other stultifying pleasures. Wise is the woman who understands this need and supports it.
Here is a personal experience. My last year at BYU, I took 42 credits (fall and winter semesters). I was on task and I got good grades. I was on a mission to finish school and to move on to providing a good income for my family. It was hard work. It took a lot of effort. And my wife was fully behind me. When I finished my last final that April, I felt like I could fly. But a few weeks later, I was depressed. Why? Because I didn't have a huge goal to pursue. I learned a lesson from that: I always need to have a huge goal. It has taken me years to grasp this, but now I get it. (That's huge goal things was part of masculinity.)
Woman who control their fears and support and encourage their men to build their "field of dreams" often find the men they love much better able to express their true masculinity.
(See Part 1, Part 3, Part 4.)