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I was invited by a men’s group to a session with a family lawyer. I thought it could be useful but that I wouldn’t fit in. The divorced men in the group were probably domineering. I was a nice guy who tried to make my wife happy, but she didn’t appreciate me.
I went. They were all the nicest guys you could meet, who couldn’t understand why their wives didn’t appreciate them. Each one blamed their wives for the problems. The solution was for their wives to change.
It’s easy to blame and hard to see the whole picture of your own situation, but seeing other people in similar situations gave me an more impartial view. I asked myself: What do these men and I have to learn — as men?
Men today receive confusing messages about the man’s role. I started looking for insight. I read books on marriage. They said little to me. I then went to the wisdom that fathers and other older male role models would teach younger men. I was moved by what I read. Interestingly, these insights were the same crucial traits I heard women complain were lacking in men today, which often led to the disintegration of the marriage:
Show leadership — One of the biggest complaints women have is that men don’t show their share of leadership at home.
Make decisions — To avoid being accused of being controlling, many man have gone to the other extreme — they leave most decisions to their wives. To women, they’re shirking their responsibilities.
Take responsibility — If you make a mistake, don’t blame your wife. There is little sympathy for a man who blames a woman. People will say, “You’re the man. Why did you let it go on?”
Be strong — Being strong means being able to control your emotions — such as anger. If you think you can’t, imagine you’re angry, the telephone rings and it’s your boss. Would you be able to calm down?
I put the insights I learned in a book called Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants. I wrote it for men, like the fellows in the men’s group. I tell them to read it, do as it advises, and see how their relationships change. Women buy the book to give to men and ask: “How do I get him to read it?”
Elliott Katz, based in Toronto, is the author of Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man.