Man-to-Man: A father who wants more for his son
Vail CO, Colorado
I’ve been married for almost 20 years. I have wonderful kids and I take great pride in my spirituality and in the teachings of my religion. But I have been struggling, and the struggle has worn me out. I am not happy in my marriage, and I have not been for a long time. We have gone to religious counseling and all I hear is how wrong I am for feeling the way I do. I have tried for years to accept that I should not feel this way, but I really do and it is killing me inside. I have begun to act out in ways I would rather not talk about ” it is so embarrassing. I do not know what to do.
Stuck and Dying Inside
One of the most prevalent problems for the men I’ve worked with over the years has been shame. They feel there’s something wrong with them. Sometimes it’s because of childhood abuse or loss. Often times the shame is a result of being told, as a boy, in any number of ways, that what they’re doing or feeling is wrong. I suspect that was your experience long before marriage. And so you’ve become a prime candidate to fit right into this shameful trap.
What you’re feeling is real. You’re unhappy. The fix is to figure out why, see what can be done about it, determine whether you’re willing to do what it takes to make changes in yourself and in your marriage, and then giving it a shot. Then time will tell whether your commitment to change is enough to impact your wife and to improve your relationship.
It’s scary because you never know just what you’ll want once you become that changed man. But I guarantee that where you land will be significantly better than where you are today. Though it can be a painful process, courage, commitment and the support of other good men will see you through.
Your faith is important and it will always be your guide on your journey to becoming the best man, father and husband you can be. But be careful. Many men have allowed the teachings of their temples and churches to lock them into being the men others want them to be, rather than being the good, strong and ethical men they want to be, on their own terms. Determine your terms, and your faith shall set you free, rather than keep you stuck.
I want my teenage son to be better than me. I want him to feel more secure, be more confident and not be afraid to disappoint me, the way I was afraid of disappointing my dad. That fear caused me to make school and career choices that I regret to this day. I don’t want my son to have the anger that I feel toward my dad. Any suggestions?
Dad Wanting More
First of all, you’re a good man for wanting your son to be healthier and more at peace with himself than you have been. Keep doing your work ” especially on your relationship with your dad ” and the progress you make will have a great impact on your son.
I do have a suggestion for you. Make a short list of men you know who have teenage boys, men you’d like to hang out with. Suggest a father/son overnight. Let the men know what you’re looking for ” support of the other men to become a better dad, a great time, and the wisdom that’s there for all of you when a group of good men come together.
You can camp out or grab a few hotel rooms a road trip away. Play something physical, like water polo or football, grab a steak, play poker, smoke cigars, and circle up to talk about what’s really on your minds. It only takes one courageous dad ” or son “-to get the ball rolling.
Men are so reluctant to ask for help. Imagine the impact all of you dads will have on your sons by treating them like men, rather than boys, and showing them how valuable it is to have close relationships with other good men.
Wayne M. Levine, M.A., mentors men to be better men, husbands and fathers. E-mail your questions to MantoMan@ BetterMen.org. See how you can become a better man at http://www.BetterMen.org.