If we’re lucky, our relationships become the best classes we can enroll in—and our husband or wife our most transformative teacher. Real intimacy, after all, is a powerful mirror, and often what our partner reflects back to us are the qualities we have long desired in order to become more balanced, whole and authentic. In that spirit, what follows are 10 things men can teach women. Not the typical inventory of boardroom strategies, this list instead examines the deeper ways men shape themselves that in turn may help keep you in better shape.
Men are routinely criticized for putting themselves and their interests first, but this criticism is often leveled by women who have been wrongly taught that personal passions detract from others—where their attention should be focused. Self-focus, unlike selfishness, is guided by a healthy desire to fill one’s well. A well that, when full, not only leads to a richer experience of living but also will offer more to others.
2. Speaking Bluntly
It’s true that men can go too far with this virtue; there is a fine line between bracing candor and blunt-force trauma. But if women can get past a slight compromise in tact in favor of greater honesty, there are rewards to be had. For one, when you speak more clearly, you feel clearer, and that can relieve an enormous burden. Second, a habit of verbal honesty cultivates other forms of honesty, including straight talk with oneself—which is also freeing. And finally, speaking directly enfranchises the recipients of your truth-telling—they know they can come to you for the real stuff, and that’s called trust.
3. Acknowledging the Dark Side
Most men understand that they are deeply flawed, and at times it can seem women strive so hard for an image of perfection that they will admit nothing that could undermine that perception. But there are two serious benefits to owning up to your shadow side: You are less susceptible to it and more empathetic because of it. Women are often so invested in being seen as good or generous or empathetic—rather than actually being that way—that they tend to have harsher judgments of others and conceal vices that, in their repression, become more toxic. Acknowledging taboos, even if they subtract from womanly virtues, yields a more real and more sympathetic integrity.
4. Clean Fighting
It’s been said that men fight cleaner than women. Whether you’re punching the guy in the face with fists or words, it’s soon over, apologies are made and beers are shared. The truth is that men can be as petty, passive-aggressive and grudge-holding as women. But even a stereotype is worth its lesson if it offers a good one. Women should try emulating men when angry: Speak your mind, don’t give in until you’ve made your point, and if your “opponent” apologizes, accept it and resist all temptation to hold onto the offense. If no apology comes, protect yourself by downsizing that bond and not offering up the same vulnerability again.
5. Fearless Parenting
Asked how their playdate went, a friend’s children reported to him that they were only allowed to go to the edge of the host’s mowed lawn. The great beyond—where the forest, and all its potential forts and battles lay—was off-limits. Why? “Their mom said the kids could catch something or hurt themselves.” Insert head-shake here. There’s a disturbing trend in our world today toward safe-proofing childhood. Sure, a little caution is fine, but confining your child’s imagination to his room or a swing set in the backyard is irresponsible. It teaches fear and replaces discovery with neurosis. Men’s affinity for danger or risk is a good offset to feminine caution, and those activities that seem rough around the edges maintain a healthy vitality within them.
6. Yes, You Can
One of the perks of male privilege is our innate assertiveness and sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, “the idea that women should be nice, pleasing and accommodating of other people’s wishes still prevails,” says Ronald Levant, EdD, former president of the American Psychological Association and a professor of psychology at the University of Akron, who does research on gender and masculinity. “Just like men experience a tug of shame when they violate gender norms, women must try to overcome that shame so they learn to be assertive.” As an experiment, try entering your life as we do: with the presumption that you deserve solicitude, respect and attention.
7. No, You Don’t Have To
Another perk of male privilege? Unapologetically following gut instinct. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel manipulated or exploited, heed those feelings. Then act accordingly. Many times women will instinctively caretake when they should cast off, nurture when they should abandon. Men save more than just time by calling foul early.
8. The Taboo Emotion
A side effect of following one’s gut is that it may lead to an increase in anger. For men, anger is the one approved emotion, but for women it is the taboo emotion. The gifts of anger, however, are what women need most. Anger reveals good boundaries, sharpens our sense of justice (and injustice) and demands accountability in others. In doing all these, it also prevents festering resentments, which can afflict women. Hard as it may be, women should not dismiss anger too quickly; its suppression can be self-sabotaging.
9. The Healthy Cynic
Maybe it’s our innate competitiveness, but men can see the world in an adversarial way. We don’t presume human beings have the best intentions—and we prepare for their worst. You may be asking: Why is this a good thing? Being more realistic about people’s limitations not only preserves energy for those who have proven themselves, but also defends against mistreatment from those who haven’t. More important, it keeps us realistic about human nature and less affected by how it can disappoint, all things women might find refreshing.
10. Boyish Gratitude
Whether it stems from getting yelled at for crying as a boy or being mercilessly teased until we developed titanium armor for skin, the posturing men do to appear stoic and manly is a result of being bullied into it. The upside to this is that we are almost shocked by genuine acts of kindness and can have a heartfelt gratitude for the little things: a homemade cake for our birthday or thoughtful praise for a job well done. Women, being more attended to in those ways, can be jaded when it comes to such niceties and always look for more. But if you’ve ever seen a grown man’s face light up with appreciation, you, too, will want to maintain that childlike surprise for the benevolent.
source: woman’s day