Defining the power and essence of masculine strength

2007-11-30 00:00

“What is it like living with a strong man?” you might ask. Does it mean he hits you? Does it mean he is like a father to you? Or does it mean that he protects you, treating you like each new morning’s mysteriously woven spider-webs? Is he worried that, if merely brushed, you will crumble and be useless, unless he is there to fend off life’s evil and keep you intact? Do you want to be kept intact?

Or would you rather live with a man who will build his own complex web right next to yours, where you can explore life’s adventures together? Isn’t a strong man one who is secure enough to let you live life for yourself, in your own space, on your own terms, and yet is man enough to partner you as you live out your own experience?

I believe that living with a strong man is living with someone who is able to walk in humility next to me through life. This man will not treat me like a child. A strong man will not feel threatened when my spirit soars, or when I want to explore boundaries and push the limits of conventionality. A strong man will stand by and applaud as I mature into the full power of my femininity, as age confers wisdom and womanly strength, and frees me from the constraints of motherhood. I am privileged to be married to this kind of man.

Yet, you might be asking: ‘So, how has he proved his strength, this strong man of yours?” A good question. I know he is strong because I did things that would have shattered the fragile masculinity of a weak man.

A few years ago, I left my strong man. I left him, partly, because I thought he was weak. He did not fit the image of what popular culture tries to tell us a “real” man is. He did not fight me; he did not try to father me; he did not treat me like his little woman; he did not force himself on me because it was his right as my husband. He was never jealous. nor did he hit me. However, he did not really see me either. I was simply there to come home to, like a mother, a daughter or a sister. I was convenient to have around. In my muddled mind, any kind of attention would have seemed masculine and strong compared with the indignity of going unnoticed.

But, I also left him because he seemed afraid of my strength and my yearning for independence. He seemed afraid of my growing rage at being unseen. I interpreted this fear as a weakness when, in reality, it was only ignorance.

After I left, for a while my strong man continued to seem weak. He behaved like a spoilt child whose favourite toy had been taken away from him. But, gradually, this man was no longer fighting me, but was fighting FOR me. He was fighting for me using civilisation’s most potent weapon: peaceful freedom. He let me go.

Over time, he grew stronger: he freed himself from his own expectations of what constituted a “real man”. He no longer needed me to be his mother, daughter, or sister. I ceased to be his appendage. Instead, he released me to become that most wild of creatures, a one-of-a-kind woman walking next to, and not behind, her man.

That was two years ago. I have since seen my husband become secure enough in himself to cease trying to impose limits on me. He knows that if a woman chooses to return, it is because she knows she is seen by a man whose quintessential masculine strength is not diluted, but is concentrated by her femininity.

This is the kind of strong man I am now proud to call my husband.

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