The myth that real men are sexual dynamos is widely accepted, and gets strong support in the media—particularly television and film. The man on the screen who’s perceived as truly manly is ready at the slightest sign of female interest, and the encounter is always a smashing success.
Guys, the media’s depiction of sex comes straight out of Fantasyland. In the real world, a man’s readiness for intimacy with his wife can be dampened by a number of factors: illness, a bad day at work, a good football game on TV, or a large number of other things. The man who compares his real life situation with the dynamos on TV may be tempted to panic and wonder if something might be wrong with him.
The myth of the perpetually ready, willing, and able male promotes deep feelings of inadequacy in many men. And when they feel inadequate and out of control in this area, the temptation to become angry is never far. In fact, some of the most violent men psychologists counsel are those who suffer from some form or another of sexual impairment.
For the vast majority of men these fears and frustrations are unfounded. In other words, relax! The more confidence and inhibition you have in this area of your marital relationship, the more you’ll see through popular mythologies. And the better you feel about yourself the less anger and frustration you’ll experience as a result.
The masculine stereotype demands that men are healthy, strong, and self-sufficient. Admissions of weakness are seen as contradictions of manliness. Yet listen to these findings by Dr. David Forrester: ·By age six, boys perceive themselves less vulnerable to illness and injury than girls.·Men experience more accidental injuries and coronary artery disease than women.·Men die more frequently than women from an array of respiratory illnesses.·A higher proportion of men suffer from physical limitations due to chronic conditions.·Men engage in more physical activities characterized by risk, aggression, and violence than do women.·The average women will outlive the average man by seven to eight years.·And yet, men see physicians less often, take fewer days off from work, and spend less time convalescing in bed than women!Men are expected to be rough-and-tumble, which exposes them to heightened potential for illness and injury. The expectation to be competitive and self-reliant discourages any admission of weakness or incapacitation. Therefore, countless men everyday deny their ailments, ignore medical care, and disregard time they need to recover from sickness and injury. Men, part of coming to terms with what it means to be a man requires coming to terms with your physical limitations and weaknesses. The myth that men are physically invulnerable is dangerous. Have you bought into this masculine stereotype?
Masculine mythologies affect our emotions. From their earliest years boys are warned against being sissies or crybabies. They’re encouraged to be tough. Displays of emotion, and often affection, are for girls. “Your sister can hug and kiss Grandpa,” many tough, World War II fathers said, “but you’re a man, so you just shake his hand.”
A friend of mine grappled with this myth when his best friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “When I found out about Eric’s condition,” he reflected, “I was calm and collected on the outside. I kept my emotions well hidden. But on the inside I was falling apart…I knew Eric was in for a struggle. I wanted to give him a hug and tell him I loved him. But I had all my years as a tough, strong man working against me. If Eric had been a girl, I wouldn’t have had a problem sharing my feelings…But since Eric was a man, everything inside me told me that is was inappropriate for me to express my affection to him.”
Fortunately Eric recovered and my friend was able to tell him face-to-face that he loved him. But he had to do some growing up before he was ready to do so.
Men, your emotions aren’t signs of weakness. They’re natural, normal human expressions. When you deny or suppress them you’re not being manly—actually just the opposite is true. Believe me, real men can and do cry!