men, masculinities and gender politics

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Designing “Mr. Right.” (On creating the man you’d want your wife to marry.)

 

 

(This post is about men who are in heterosexual relationships.  While much of what I discuss here would no doubt also apply to relationships between people of any genders, as a straight guy I only feel qualified to comment on men’s role in romantic relationships that occur between men and women.)

 
WHAM!!! 
 
Dude!  You’re dead!  That sucks.
 
You left us so suddenly.  And that really stinks.  It’s tragic.  But you know the good news?  It turns out that because you were a relatively decent guy while you were here on earth, Heaven is pulling some strings and is going to give you the opportunity to have a hand in designing the next guy that your wife or girlfriend is going to get involved with. 
 
So your task is to decide what qualities you would include in an ideal man for your wife/girlfriend!
 
Now, just where to start?
 
Here’s what would be on my list of qualities in an ideal husband or boyfriend for my wife:
 
I would want my wife’s new partner to be a really great guy.  And that means being:
 
Respectful in his interactions.  He will respectfully listen to her concerns.  But more than that, he will actually invite her to share her feelings.  He will work to create a space of physical and emotional safety where any subject – no matter how difficult – can be freely discussed.  And he will be respectful to others as well.  To her family.  To the neighbors.  To service people.  To waiters and waitresses.  To everyone he encounters.  He will treat people well even if he receives no direct benefit or reward for doing so.  Because it is the right thing to do.
 
Emotionally supportive.  He will provide her with whatever emotional support she needs as she faces life’s challenges.  He will be her soft shoulder to cry on when she needs one.
 
 Encouraging.  He will encourage her explorations and adventures as she follows her path through this wild and wonderful life.
 
Congratulatory.  He will celebrate her successes and achievements. 
 
Ethically, passionately sexual. He will bring himself to the physical parts of the relationship with honesty.  He will always be sure that the sexuality in the relationship is respectful, caring, nurturing... and hot.  He will support her needs and desires, and he will express his own needs and desires as well.     
 
Respectful of her privacy.  He will honor her needs for privacy.  For freedom of thought and action.  He will include himself in those spaces into which he is invited, but he will not intrude upon her physical or mental spaces uninvited. 
 
Attentive to self-care.  He will take care of himself.  He will keep any alcohol or substance use within healthy limits.  He will eat a healthy diet and exercise.  He will seek medical help when he needs it.
 
An active participant in housework.  He will do housework.  But rather than seeing it as “helping out,” he will see it as “pulling my own weight” and “doing my fair share.” 
 
 Highly involved in childcare. He will also do his fair share of the care and rearing of any children.  He will cherish any kids she already has as if they were his own.
 
 Financially responsible. He will contribute equitably to the financial needs of the household.  He will work in full partnership with her when making all significant household decisions about money.
 
Willing to disagree.  He will disagree with her.  Because conflict is inevitable in any good relationship.  A  relationship without disagreement isn’t much of a relationship at all.  However, even in disputes he will always honor her humanity.  He will be respectful.  He will allow her to have her say.  He will listen to her.  He will participate in a give-and-take that ultimately leaves the relationship even stronger than it was before the conflict emerged.
 
Passionate in every way.  He will be passionate about life, about work, about her.
 
Progressive.  He will dream of a better world, and he will work toward creating that world.
 
Supportive of feminism.  He will support the struggle for women’s full equality with men.  (After all, who would ever want a woman to be involved with a guy who doesn’t support her full equality?)
 
Consultative.  He will be a true partner to her – in all ways.  He will ask her what she wants and needs. 
 
Speaking of consultative, it would probably be a good idea for me to consult with my partner on just what she might actually want in a “replacement” partner!  Or whether she would even want one at all!  Because, as shocking as it might seem to us guys, a lot of women actually do just fine – or even better! – without us.  Without having to put up with a man.
 
Be that guy!  Okay, you’ve seen my list. 
 
Now, come up with a list of your own!
 
And, after running it by your wife or girlfriend for her input, put it into action!  You don’t have to die in order for your wife or girlfriend to have the partner she deserves…
 
Become that guy.
 
Right here, right now.
 
None of us is perfect, but nearly all of us can do a better job of being the men that the women in our lives need to have as partners, lovers, friends.  We need to figure out what we can be doing better, and make it a top priority.
 
We men are capable of acts of greatness.  So let us be great in our relationships.
 
Be a great boyfriend.
 
Be a great husband.
 
Be a great guy.