John was third generation tough guy. He and his father and grandfather could recall every football statistic in the book but they couldn’t remember their wive’s birthdays: “It’s not a guy thing.”
John reached a point where he was tired of seeing his wife, Becky, so unhappy. He wanted to turn his marriage and his life around. So John came in for counseling.
Life was getting too short to play the role of the middle aged teenager. In counseling, John learned what self-respect meant. He learned how to replace a childhood role with a mature identity by:
• basing his actions on mature judgments not immature impulses
• cooperating with Becky instead of seeking dominance or submission
• managing his anger like a grownup instead of a schoolyard bully.
For example, he caught himself one night about to take Becky’s anger at his sloppiness personally. He chose to put his anger in its proper perspective. He wasn’t worthless, he was merely imperfect. He chose to say, “I’m sorry I made you so angry.” It didn’t cost him his pride, or his manhood. It cost him nothing.
Instead of feeling like an inferior victim, he felt like an equal member of the human race by assuming appropriate adult responsibility for his relationship. It took courage to risk being called names by his friends for “submitting” to a female, but he did it anyway.
It felt much better to be married to someone he actually respected. He didn’t change partners, he changed himself. And he outgrew his friends from the schoolyard.
John had put himself first in his own life. He was not merely reacting to stimuli or operating out of immature attitudes. He was taking the time to use his own judgment and validating his own accomplishments. He was not depending on others for his worth as a person. He did not feel less masculine, he felt mature. It was not selfish to put himself first. He was making efforts to promote self preservation as a cooperative, caring, or trusting man.
Man cleaning floor image available from Shutterstock.