Knowing the Needs of a Man’s Heart

Bob Damrau, LPC, LMHC

Men feel most like men when purposefully moving through life with the confidence that what they have to offer impacts the lives of family members and neighbors in some positive fashion. Navigating this side of eternity, however, is rarely marked by fair skies and calm seas. The storms of life often bring doubt in one’s ability to make a difference. The winds of adversity can add despair as thoughts spiral downward. Men tend to think, ‘I don’t have what it takes,’ so they drop their sails and are tossed aimlessly in need — never sending out a call of distress.

Most men learn to hide their needs as boys. They are taught what is acceptable and not acceptable at home. The masculine characteristics are encouraged and usually include strength, independence and fearlessness, while unmanly attributes like weakness, dependence, and fear are disdained. So, to be accepted, guys strive at an early age to gain supreme control over their feelings (usually by pushing them down) which results in not being able to identify the needs that are embedded in those emotions. Dragging this type of strategy into adulthood results in a continual denial of a man’s needs, as well as the deprivation of his heart’s longing for genuine connection.

‘Needs are a key factor in love and intimacy,’ says David Ferguson in his book entitled Top 10 Intimacy Needs. Ferguson continues, ‘It’s possible to ‘hydro-plane’ through life and never share the joys of intimacy with another human being.’ The lack of a real emotional life, where feelings are voiced and needs are met through caring for one another, leaves a man vulnerable to the changing current of his times. When not directed by their feelings about themselves or the needs of those for whom they care, many men turn to an addiction, which will never bring satisfaction ‘ lust.

Before reading the rest of this article, I encourage you to reflect on these questions.
What do you think are the origins of lust in your life?
How does this problem affect your relationships today?
Are you willing to change course?

If your musings conclude that your acting out behaviors go deeper than, ‘It feels good;’ if your fantasies often center around the desire for real intimacy; and if you genuinely want to break the compulsive cycle, then listen up. IT’S OK TO HAVE NEEDS! God created man with emotions in line with His own image. He also made humanity needy, so that individuals might exercise faith in the context of relationship both with Himself and others bearing His likeness. The very first problem recorded in the Bible is spoken by the Lord. Genesis 2:18 says, ‘It is not good that man should be alone.’ God’s remedy for this was to create another human being for the purpose of relationship. Man was never meant to go it alone, neither should he remain isolated.

So, what does a guy really want? Knowing the needs of a man’s heart requires him first to identify what he is feeling. Let me explain. When a man acts out, whatever he was feeling would most likely go away, leaving him unable to target that emotion and, therefore, sinking him deeper into need. You see, there are needs imbedded in every feeling. For instance, a person feeling alone needs support. Or a man who is in transition may need comfort (change always carries a degree of loss). The guy who is feeling rejected probably needs acceptance or a sense of security. Now, once the feeling is identified and the need is generated, then a healthy connection with a spouse, friend or brother-in-arms will lead to getting that need met. And whether or not a need is met has a profound impact on a man’s life. This is another appropriate place to reflect.

Are you OK being a person designed with needs? Can you identify the relationship between your acting out and your unmet needs? What are your most vulnerable internal triggers (feelings/needs)? A person admitting he has needs is not admitting some personal weakness or that he is unhealthily dependent or that he lacks courage. Rather, it is a confession of one’s humanness. All men have needs as per God’s design. Acknowledging neediness is both truthful and beneficial. It is the rudder that keeps a man on course as he grows to love God with his whole heart and those around him from his heart. May you have fair skies and favorable winds.

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.

Loneliness: Winter in the Heart

Roger Parks

The experience of loneliness has been very familiar to me although I wasn’t aware of its impact on me until later in life. Having grown up as only child in a rural setting, I spent a great deal of my youth alone. At the time, I considered it quite normal to play by myself since I was very shy and didn’t have the desire or confidence to cultivate any friendships. My active imagination enabled me to entertain myself by creating various scenarios of baseball games in my mind and then acting them out on the field next to our home. Needless to say, it’s very challenging to enact an entire baseball game when you have only one player!

During the years from age 12 through adolescence I never consciously perceived myself to be lonely. Having no close friends and lacking a strong connection with my parents, I immersed myself in watching sports, reading, and studying, all of which kept me busy and assuaged any sense of boredom. Then at age 13, I distinctly recall viewing my first photograph of a naked woman, not in Playboy or Penthouse, but in Life magazine, a mainstream family-oriented publication! It was a small picture of Marilyn Monroe lying on a blanket. Even though it wasn’t sexually explicit (we’d call it soft porn today), it was enough to stimulate my adolescent hormones and introduce me to the exciting world of sexual fantasy and its close companion masturbation.

I remember feeling guilty and yet very excited that I had found a new ‘hobby’ to entertain myself whenever I wanted. At that juncture in my life, I had not yet been exposed to pornography but that absence didn’t prevent me from generating my own images. Remember, I have an active imagination! Combining these self-generating images with those elicited from seeing actual girls at my high school served as a powerful source to fuel my masturbation habit which eventually developed into a daily practice, i.e., addiction.

During my early adult years I viewed pornographic magazines on a very sporadic basis as my embarrassment usually kept me from entering stores to buy them. The masturbation continued unabated and by that point I didn’t give much thought to the habit since it had become such a routine part of my life. There were occasional episodes of guilt, especially after becoming a Christian during college, but I never seriously considered eliminating the habit altogether. I compartmentalized it and assumed the rest of my life could function as normal. Then came the Internet which introduced me to the intoxicating world of cyberporn. Viewing countless images generated a sexual obsession and intensified the masturbation. Of course, like any addiction, one builds up a tolerance such that greater amounts of the substance are needed to produce the desired effect. Without realizing it at the time, I had found a way to address painful feelings of loneliness by comforting (self-medicating) myself through viewing Internet porn and masturbating to these images. This led to a self-perpetuating vicious cycle of loneliness ‘ distress ‘ self-medication ‘ guilt ‘ and more loneliness.

This cycle generated an intense conflict between my desire to please and honor God through maintaining sexual purity and my actual addictive behavior.

Feeling disconnected from God and powerless to overcome this addiction through my own efforts, I sought help from a group of men who have struggled with the same addiction. Among the several valuable lessons I’ve learned in my quest for sexual purity, the importance of accountability within the context of a caring community is critical. I firmly believe that as Christians, God calls us to bear each other’s burdens and struggles in truth and love so that the body of Christ truly does become a healing community for all those afflicted with sin and addictions.

Can you relate? You don’t have to go this alone. Please see Every Man’s Battle for help on this subject.

The WEB Ministry

G. Mike Clark, L.M.F.T., D.Min.

What is the WEB?
First of all, the WEB has nothing to do with a spider web or Spider Man. WEB begins with an understanding of relationships and its importance to each of us. God made us from the very beginning for relationships , starting with God and Adam, and then Adam and Eve. WEB stands for Watch Each (others) Back. This phrase has crossed over from military usage. For our purpose, this concept in WEB focuses on the husband-wife relationship as they ‘look out for each other’ in their every daily lives.

The last two decades

During the last two decades, multiple ministries have emerged with a focus on men and accountability. Men’s groups promote this concept by meeting together on a weekly basis for accountability, encouragement, prayer, and the availability to call each other throughout the week. However, WEB has a different approach. The proposal of WEB gives hope and direction to couples in their daily lives. It begins with each of them having a teachable heart; a commitment to God and their spouse.

The basic principle of WEB

The principle of WEB is that couples are watching out for each other, protecting the other person as much as they can from being hit by the enemy. Like soldiers, husbands and wives are not to see each other as enemies. Sometimes it can feel that way unintentionally in their marriage. When situations in life occur either of them may feel alone, in the foxhole, vulnerable to ‘being shot’ at from the tree line or by each other.

An example of how it works

Some weeks ago, Fay, my wife, and I walked through one of the local malls. One of the stores we browsed through sold art pieces. While walking through the store Fay gently steered me away from one of the aisles and we exited the store. I asked her, ‘What was that about?’ Her response was, ‘There was something you did not need to see?’ I understood and immediately thanked her for watching out for me. She knew that I did not need to see what was on display. She was watching out for me.

Husbands protect your wife

The same can be true for us husbands watching out for our wife’s back. It may take another form, but the principle is still there. If we are neglecting her needs physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we may leave her open for a vulnerable moment just like my situation at the art store. We men need to realize that it is not just a ‘me’ issue dealing with pornography on the store shelf, on the Internet, or any form of lusting after women. It is an ‘Us’ issue, couples looking out for each other’s back, daily. This takes away the sting when either of them is free to bring up a topic or concern and find resolution. Here both are in agreement, because they are looking out for each other.

The two of ‘Us’

The two of ‘Us’ is the central component of WEB. Accountability related to our marriage is more than just us men being on the alert looking out for what is ahead, bouncing our eyes, filters on the computer. It is both the husband and the wife protecting the other person. Husbands, we are to look out for our wife by protecting her during those vulnerable moments wherever and whenever it may be.

Looking to the future

Again, the ministry of WEB is for both the husband and the wife. To do this, both need to be educated in men’s groups and ladies support groups, and couples workshops. During these workshops/classes, a priority must be put on how to implement these principles in their marriage. Looking to the future, what would marriages possibly look like five, ten, fifteen years from now, if couples began to ‘look out for each other’ using the principle of WEB in their marriages?

Please join us for our next New Life Weekend.