Collected Wisdom for Men

And now one for the brothers.

Like the note I wrote for my female friends, this is just a brief note for my male friends and aquaintances sharing something that has weighed on me in the course of my travels over the last three weeks. After being out of the loop for almost a year, I’ve listened to a lot of heartbreak hotel stories, and I just feel like while each of us individually may not possess enough knowledge to know everything, if we pool our meagre knowledge together, we may just be able to build something great. This is my contribution to the pool.

Can I preach for a minute?

Fellas, it is often said that if you love a man he will respect you, and if you respect a woman she will love you. This is a truism to some extent. A woman may spend her entire life with a man and not necessarily feel the passion and heat that romance novels tell her to look out for, because he respects her. Respect can make any woman go from looking at you to considering you as a life partner. And yet it seems that many of you are losing sight of this. I’m getting tired of hearing stories of friends whose boyfriends swear love and affection but then turn around and treat them like dirt. Why? Because there’s no respect.

If a woman no longer interests you, respect her enough to break up with her. Fooling around behind her back is an insult to her integrity, and to the people that raised her. If a woman’s attitude towards you undermines your integrity and makes you feel small, respect her enough to tell her to her face. Talking smack about her behind her back is an insult to her intelligence. If a woman’s relationship to her friends threatens the security that you have in your relationship, respect her enough to speak to her about it like an adult, to take the time to understand why their bond is so strong. Undercutting them or trying to draw her away from them in a sneaky way is juvenile.

The bible says that women should submit themselves to their husbands as the church submits itself to Christ. Some of you have taken that to mean that you have the right to trample on your woman’s feelings, to undermine her, to disrespect her. Let me get something straight; no woman in the world would refuse to submit herself to a good man.

The problem is that so many of you have no idea what it takes to be a good man. A good man is one that possesses true wisdom. Wisdom isn’t aqcuired from sleepless nights in the library, nor is it found at the bottom of a beer bottle. Think of it as three concentric rings of decreasing size. The outer ring is knowledge, seeing the difference between right and wrong. The next is understanding, appreciating the difference. And the smallest inner ring, that so many aspire to but so few actually reach is wisdom, having the courage to do the right thing.

Its a question of scale. Nowadays so many of you go to school, get your degrees and gain your knowledge and think that is enough. And true, many women will be blinded by that. But eventually the gloss will fall away and things will get difficult, because you will be insecure in your shallow knowledge that posseses no wisdom, and your woman will sense that, and lose respect for you on that basis.

A good man is one who recognises the value of the women in his life – mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, friends – and sets out to protect this value from damage. Protecting each other is not just about putting a roof on your family’s head or putting down your coat on a puddle so she can walk over it. Protecting means that when you look at your partner, you see a whole person – body, soul, mind and spirit – and you never, ever wilfully do anything to undermine or destroy any part of that person. Protecting to me means that when a person goes through your life, you do everything in your power to make sure that if and when they move on they are all the better for knowing you.

Now sometimes, the women who will come to you will be severely damaged. Their previous boyfriends may have hurt them so bad that they learn to mistrust all men. Their fathers may have been so tough on them that they learn not to accept affection. They may even have abandoned them or not been in their lives for some reason or another, and so they may not know how to deal with or respond to you. Their mothers may have told them that all men are only after sex, and are bad so treat them with contempt. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is not necessarily to repair them. But to make sure that they don’t return to the world in a worse condition than they were before they knew you.

A good man recognises that if a woman submits to him, it is not a sign of weakness on her part but of a great strength that allows her to put herself aside to build a strong and stable family with him. He sees that, and he does everything in his power to become the rock upon which this new family will be built. A good man takes responsibility.

A good man does not string the women in his life along. Don’t write a cheque with your mouth that your body cannot cash. Don’t make promises to a woman if you are not in a position to fulfil them. If you’re not ready to marry the girl, don’t talk about marriage with her. She may get excited and try and nudge you in this direction. Man up. Don’t allow it to happen. If you truly want to earn the right to be Captain, then you need to guide the ship. If you’re not ready to stop dating other women – this is not a crime – talk it over with her and lay it all on the table. In this way, when you’re finally ready to move things forward with The One, she will know that it means something and its not just a given.

Your conduct with the women, and indeed the men in your life should always strive to be above reproach. Some of you have had some bad experiences with women. I cannot apologise for that because it has nothing to do with me (unless it does, in which case, I’m sorry). What I will say is that you cannot use the mistakes of the past to justify your own mistakes in the future. Don’t punish all the women in your life for the mistakes made by one misguided woman in the past. If you are not ready to forgive, and truly forgive, you are not ready to be in another relationship. Spend some time alone, figuring out what you want before dragging down someone else with you.

If I’ve tagged you in this note, its because I believe that you are, or have the potential to be a good man. Heaven knows the world needs more of you out there. And if you are out there, be patient. Don’t whore yourself around any woman who will have you because you are too anxious to hold out for the person who will make everything make sense. Everything that happens during the waiting is designed to make the final click that much more amazing. My mom always says that for every good man, there is a good woman, waiting to return his rib to him.

I’m sorry for the randomness, but I hope someone out there benefits from my rambling..