As a dad advocate that means I’m also a man advocate. Years of doing “men’s work” have taught me much, but top of the list is the fact that men need other men in their lives. A great way to have men in your life is to be part of a men’s group. There are many kinds of men’s groups. After you’ve read and agreed with this list, go out and find one that is right for you.
The sad generality is that as men get older, have families, and get involved in their careers, they tend to allow their male friendships to drift. Or, they become friendships around carousing: poker games, trips to Vegas, golf, or other hobbies/sports. Do men get together and “Shoot the sh*t?” like women regularly do? You know the answer.
I’m a believer in the non-PC notion that men and women are built differently. Generally, women are better at maintaining relationships and caring – sometimes too much – about the emotional side of their families and themselves. As I also say when I discuss the differences between men and women, it’s those differences that can make us better. I learn from my wife and, hopefully, she learns from me. In a broader sense, this is an area where we men can learn something from the women.
Sometimes It’s Best to Air a Problem Before Bringing it Home
Given that men generally want to “fix it” that usually means a man will want to deal with a problem often in the heat of the moment. Reflection can’t hurt and talking to another man or the men in your men’s group will likely help you reframe your response.
Hello? It May Not Be About You
One of life’s great lessons is that it isn’t always about you. Yes, teenagers tend to only see the world through their own prism but even we adult men can believe the world revolves around us. Talking to other men may help in the realization that whatever problem you may have may have nothing to do with you.
Taking the Time to Reach Out to Another Man Will Give the Problem Perspective
Taking #1 and #2 a step further it is often very helpful, as it was in my men’s group, to air an issue/problem with “the men” and get a different perspective. In my men’s group we had a rule that we brought ANY problem to “the men” before acting on it…assuming, of course, that it could wait. Most problems can wait.
When a Man is About to Do Something Stupid – Which is Often – It’s Good to Have Checks and Balances in Place
The first four items on this list are really all variations on a theme. When a man is about to do something stupid, airing it before another man or men will usually give the stupid idea extra stupidity upon disclosure. I remember one man in my men’s group who wanted our permission to regularly go to strip clubs. When questioned about his sex life at home, he revealed that it was non-existent. He was summarily told to get his own house in order before considering ANY outside activities.
Truly, Before You Do Something Stupid…
Oh, you want more examples of the stupid things men can do? How about a half-dozen?
3. Mid-life crisis Porsche
4. Mid-life crisis attempt at doing a triathlon or mudder
5. Quitting job due to ego reason
6. Drugs and alcohol abuse
Men Need More Help Than Women
Yes, it’s a gender generalization but women tend to reach out for help more readily than men do. Having good men in a man’s life – especially via a men’s group that has a good leader – gives the man without that wisdom to seek help a forum for when he does need that help.
With a Little Help From Your Friends
Too many men have too few male friends. Fix that.
Friends Fade After Divorce
Again, it’s a generalization, but men tend to lose more friends due to divorce than women do. My own experience was shocking in this regard. I knew my marriage was failing and I joined a men’s group several months before my wife and I separated. Those men became my lifesavers while my so-called friends from my marriage largely retreated.
Yes, dads are taking a more active role in parenting but, again, as with the earlier examples, men don’t tend to have those clicks of support that the moms have. Learning from other men who have experienced issues you may be facing with your children is just smart. Women do it all the time. Men need to do it more. The goal for both of us is to be the best dad or mom we can be. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of caring and desire to do the best job possible.
Men Should Leave Their Comfort Zone and Men’s Groups Help That Happen
Human beings are creatures of habit and men probably fit that description more than women. Other men will help a man break bad habits, begin better behavior, and challenge a man to be the best husband, son, and man he can be.
Men Need to Fix Themselves Rather Than Trying to Fix Their Women
Duh!? Like we men don’t need as much fixing as our women? Other good men – other men in a men’s group – will be brutally honest about what needs fixing. Your golf and drinking buddies won’t.
Maybe Your Wife Should Not Be Your Best Friend?
This may not be conventional thinking, but sometimes your wife should not be your best friend, your confidant. Maybe it’s better to discuss your feelings about “wandering” with another man rather than your wife? Maybe when your wife has gained a few pounds, telling her isn’t the right first move? Maybe when your wife has an emotional issue – due to menopause or her period – maybe you should just keep your mouth shut and simply hold and support her?
Too many men that are married with children are just not interacting with enough other men. Some men continue to have “girl friends” which I suggest is rarely a good idea unless that “girl friend” is well known to your wife and probably existed in your life prior to your marriage.
What say you about these assertions?
Please note: This is a re-purposed column, originally written and published at 12Most.com, where I’m a regular contributor. Look for my 23rd article for them about lessons we can learn from Elvis!