Since the dawn of time, men and women have struggled, fought, argued and loved their way through history. Fighting for change, hoping for fairness and love. Carving out pathways for the next generations, and constantly looking for the betterment of self. Yet throughout all of this, our basic fundamental roles in society or home have changed very little.
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we will take a brief look at the mans role in the shaping of the family home, and our basic functions, wants and needs.
The role of the man in history has been fairly constant. There have been many outside influences that require different behaviours and responses as the need arises, such as wars, revolutions and great tragedies. Yet in spite of all this, there seems to be a built in default behaviour that we as men will generally resort back to. It’s our DNA. Naturally over time it has been adjusted and has taken on its own little evolution as we have learned to communicate with and understand our gender opposites. Sadly, I feel that this pursuit of understanding will never be accomplished.
As men, our role in the home hasn’t really changed much since the days of clubbing mammoths, building pyramids or wrestling wild animals in the name of protecting our families. We still work today to provide, feed and care for those we love, albeit in a more sedate, non-violent manner. We are still emotionally simple. Please don’t confuse simple with stupid. Our needs are basic; we are ego based and driven, and generally quite easy to please. If you were to ask my wife what are the three things that I ask for, she would reply clean socks, clean underwear and nice words. The latter being the most important. We usually think with fact and logic first, so please understand our utter confusion when you begin to cry over wedding invite colour options.
A man's role as far as parenting goes is as equally important as the woman’s. It’s never about whom the important parent is; it’s about maintaining a balance, understanding and complimenting each other’s role as a parent. In this I believe there hasn’t been much change at all. In general terms a father and mother will strive to give what’s best for their children, however there are instances where this is not the case.
But I believe it is in this era that we currently live in that man has had to undergo the greatest change of his history; that of his emotions. The emotions themselves haven’t changed, but it is the understanding, use and acknowledgement of them that has caused the greatest upheaval in our psyche.
This has come about by the constant push to understand who we are as individuals, and how we can best respond to each other. It was never really very normal for men to sit around and discuss how we feel with each other. It’s something I still struggle with today. Yet it is becoming widely accepted that sometimes a guy just needs to sit down and let it out, usually to someone very trusted or on the understanding that it goes no further. There has never been a men’s movement. We didn’t need to burn our underwear to gain anything. We have always just gone through life trying to keep everything simple, uncluttered and easy to understand.
Now with the advent of understanding our emotions, and taking a good look at how we feel about things, and then voicing those concerns with each other or our partners - we sometimes feel as if we are losing a part of our identity. The reality is we are just beginning to understand ourselves; something women have been doing for centuries.
One statement I can never really understand is when a man is told to be a man. We always have been a man, and nothing has really changed there. What has changed is the perception and expectation of the man's role. There was no pre-definition about our function or how we should act, but rather it is an inbuilt expectation that has been passed down since Adam and Eve. We have always been expected to be strong, stable and secure, and take care of ourselves and our families. Yet now we are expected to not only do all that; but also be in touch with our emotions; understand our partners emotions, and those of our teenage children. The list goes on. We do our best, but in trying to assimilate all this new learning into centuries of cultural moulding, there will at times be a breakdown. The brain on some days will suddenly cease to function for a couple of hours. Words won’t be heard; birthdays or anniversaries will be forgotten, and milk or butter was never written on the list you gave us to bring home.
It is a journey we walk together, and there are times when we have to stop and wait for the other to catch up. There are other times when we swap between teacher and student, yet it must never be forgotten that one is never greater than the other. We are merely the sum of two parts.