Monday, March 05, 2007

Appreciating a Man's Boyish Nature, Part II

If the wife enters marriage expecting her husband to be as mature as her father, she is sure to run into problems appreciating his boyish side. Or, if she did not have a good realtionship with her own father, she may compare him to a mature man at church -- particularly if this man has a visible leadership role.

Just as we don't function well when our husbands compare us to our mothers-in-law or to other women, we do our husbands harm when we expect our young groom to be exactly like another, more mature man. A groom of one year can hardly be expected to think and act just like a man who has been married for twenty-five or fifty years! We have to extend patience to our husbands as they mature into their roles as husbands and fathers.

If a wife is impatient with her husband's boyish side, she may rush to take control. She will try to monitor how he spends his time and his money. She will nag him to make sure that he has followed through with his responsibilities. She will quit sounding and acting like a concerned wife and will start sounding and acting like a worried mother.

Now, if a husband really is irresponsible, the wife must respectfully speak up and let her husband know how much this hurts her. She will also need to seek godly counsel in order to learn how to deal with her specific situation.

Even so, the answer is not to take on the role of "mother". Mothering a husband prevents him from doing the very thing that the wife desires; it prevents him from growing up and taking responsiblity for leading the family.

In the same way, a mother may have a hard time letting her son grow up to be a man. Yet, she does him much harm if she stifles his budding masculinity.

As a boy passes through the years between eleven and twenty-five, he looks to both of his parents for support. He gradually leaves childhood behind him and becomes more and more adult, a process that is full of joys and full of challenges. A mother's encouragement will go a long way in helping a boy to develop into a healthy, happy, mature, and godly man.

One thing that will help a woman appreciate a man's boyish side is if she understands that boys bond differently than girls do. When two or three girls are at play, they will use more words in a certain amount of time than two or three boys will in the equivalent playtime. Girls and boys may both tumble about the yard and climb trees and play a sport with equal fervor. But, girls will incorporate into their playtime activities that are rehearsals for future relationships. They will rock baby dolls and hostess pretend tea parties, for example. Boys, on the other hand, incorporate activities into their playtime that prepare them to be morally courageous, mentally strong, and physically active. They imagine themselves as knights in battle, for example. Knights are brave and noble, but they aren't known for their ability to chit-chat.

This difference often persists into adulthood. There are exceptions, of course. But, in the main, women are simply more conversational than men. Thus, boys and men often use active pursuits, such as sports, as a way of feeling connected with their peers. The conversation may or may not go deep during an afternoon of paintball with the guys. But, no matter what, the men will come home from such bonding times knowing that their buddies are there for them.

Of course, we women enjoy doing fun things with our friends, as well. But, likely, if two women decide to play tennis together every Saturday morning, they will chatter all the way to the court, during the match, and after the match is over, and they may even converse at different times throughout the week, as well. Two men who decide to play tennis every Saturday morning will likely concentrate more on the sport and less on talking. And, unless they see each other at work or church, they may not talk again until the next Saturday rolls around. However, the two men will find that the tennis match does provide a framework and opportunity for conversation. Over time, the men will build a deep friendship, and they will open up to each other about the deeper matters on their hearts.

Similarly, some men and boys find it hard to sit and have a face to face conversation with their wives or mothers. But, men and boys may find it easier to open up to the women in their lives if they are engaged in something active.

If your man is the proverbial strong, silent type, you may ask him, "How did your meeting go?" only to hear the one-word answer, "Fine." This is particularly true if the man in question is your teenaged son.

If a man isn't very expressive, he may be stumped if you ask him direct questions about what he is thinking and feeling. But, if you play a game or do something active with him, he may open up to you without even thinking about it. You may learn more in twenty minutes of playing cards or riding in the golf cart with a quiet-natured husband or son than you would in an hour of pulling a conversation out of him.

My son is a very personable, fun-loving young man. Yet, he is also a man of deep thoughts. And, you just never know when those deep thoughts are going to bubble up to the surface. I don't think he always knows they are there, himself.

When he was still young enough to be living under our roof, we'd often have a nice chat about things in his day. Then, he and I would both go on to other activities. Sometimes, just as I'd get focused on some task, he'd come back to me with some thoughtful question. I confess to sometimes feeling stressed that I needed to attend to the task at hand and listen to my son, too. But, I came to realize that the moments when the ponderings of his heart rose to the surface were very important -- both to him and to me. These were opportunities for me to catch a glimpse into the depths of his heart. And, it was good for him to be able to voice his thoughts. Besides, whatever he had to say was always interesting; many times I learned things from listening to his perspective. Perhaps, he even felt more comfortable pouring out his heart as I puttered about the kitchen. So, I tuned into what he was trying to say or to ask. Usually, he wasn't looking for a long conversation. He was more needing a sounding board, and I was grateful that he came to his father and me rather than going to his peers. At any rate, I learned to see these moments as precious treasures. Of such, some of the sweetest memories of motherhood are made.


No comments: