Defining Masculinity: The Measure of a Man

The Measure of a Man

What do you think of when you think of a masculine man, a man’s man, a bloke? If you had to give a picture of masculinity, what would you draw?

I’d imagine that big, giant muscles are part of that picture. Maybe a body builder. In your mind, you probably even see him flexing. He’s probably a little sweaty because, well, if he has muscles, he probably works out a lot. He’s probably even lifting weights as we imagine him.

A picture might pop into your head of a successful businessman. Definitely the broad-shouldered kind. He works hard, so he is carrying a suitcase as you imagine him, probably in a hurry because there is just so work to be done. He is a hard worker and that is why he is successful. A real man.

Do you maybe think of a farmer? He has red skin and beads of sweat hanging on his forehead underneath his hat. He works from sun up to sun down, taking care of his crop. He lives a simple life and he lives off of the earth. That is a man worth admiring.

We see a lot of different pictures when we think of what it means to be a man. When we think of masculinity, there is quite a bit that springs to mind. And that picture changes a little bit depending on where we live and what we think is important in life.

History and culture tell us a lot about masculinity. But, what do we tell ourselves about it?

Here are some questions to consider: Post-feminism, is there a re-defining of man that needs to take place? If women are different and powerful, then what are men? Is duality even necessary apart from body parts? Or do we still need to have polarity between what it means to be male/female simply because we are human and like to categorize things?

I don’t want to answer these because I don’t know the answer. But, when I think of a masculine man, I think of my husband – not because he climbs trees and can shoot a turkey, though those things contribute to it. He is a man because he is loyal and compassionate. He cares about people and he cares about nature. He is the best kind of man.

I think about my Papa, my dad, my brother, my uncles, and even my cousins. They can smoke a mean brisket, run marathons, and lead churches. But when life has not gone their way, I have seen integrity and humility flow out of them, gently paced. The same way my dad and brother run marathons is the same way they live their lives. All the men in my family are genuine “real” men in my mind.

So back to the first question: What comes to mind when you think of a real man?

And a second question: What really makes a man?

If you are male and reading this, what kind of man are you? What kind of man do you want to become?

See y’all on Monday as we look at what some of the greatest men in history had to say about masculinity. Have a great weekend!

Wife Life Wednesday: 21 Ways My Husband Loves Me


21 waysI really, really enjoy writing “Wife Life Wednesdays”! It’s like my own special way of appreciating my spouse. This week, I finally got nominated for that “Love Your Spouse Challenge” that’s been going around Facebook… so I’ve spent a lot of time looking through photos and thinking extra hard about my husband and how lucky I am to be his wife.

I am sick quite often – Which, in our first year of marriage, hasn’t made things too easy. Mark works hard and also has to take care of me. This invisible illness thing sucks, and I know it must be hard for him as well because he has to do more than he should have to do. But, he never complains.

Thus, today, I thought it would be a good idea to write down a very few of the many, many ways that my husband shows me that he loves me. In effect, the reasons that he is wonderful.

If you’re married, I invite you to make your own list! It’s a way to appreciate your husband whether you feel like he’s doing anything nice for you or not. In most cases, I’d say there’s always something to be thankful for!

21 Ways My Husband Loves Me


1)      He makes me coffee.

2)      When I’m sick, he orders me Pad Thai. And then goes to get it for me.

3)      He shoves medicine down my throat.

4)      He tells me I don’t have to work.

5)      When I’m stressed, he helps me calm down.

6)      When I’m cold, he either builds a fire or turns the heater on.

7)      He makes sure I eat. And he reminds me not to eat sugar.

8)      He works hard – studying to be a nurse, finding odd jobs to pay bills, and dealing with finances.

9)      When I cry, he wants to know what’s wrong. And then he listens.

10)   He tells me that I’m creative.

11)   In the middle of the night, he makes sure I’m tucked in and warm (even if he’s half asleep).

12)   He understands that I need to go out with friends.

13)   My husband teases me… in a good way.

14)   He catches hedgehogs in the garden so I can hold them.

15)   He picks up the slack when I’m not well.

16)   When I’m sick he takes me to the doctor. He even calls to make the appointments.

17)   He does things like the laundry, the cleaning, and the cooking!

18)   He is the rock of our family. He is my rock.

19)   He is patient and kind with me.

20)   He prays with me almost every day.

21)   He reminds me that he needs me.

Your turn! Write your own list and share it with your husband. Better yet, find a way to tell him “thank you” twenty-one days in a row for all the things on your list. He’ll love it, and you’ll love the little smile he gets on his face when you appreciate him. 😉

Reality of Fairy Tales

What does a fairy tale really look like?

I’m sitting here in a sun-drenched bach, looking out the window at green mountains and valleys – out into the ocean and the beach down the hill, out to boats resting in the harbour for the winter. The water is so blue, I could easily mistake it for sky, so the boats look like little seagulls flying far away. The song of native birds rings out in the air – beautiful hymns that the tui sings with the angels and happy, joyful tunes from the fantails as they flit and float through the trees. The deep, intimate ballads of the wind and the sea makes it easy to feel that I am one with this place – that nature doesn’t mind sharing itself with me.

Untitled design (2)When Mark & I were married eight months ago, I felt a sort of happiness that I’d not felt before. It was similar to the calm I feel right now, sitting here. That everything was alright in the world – that I was one with another person. He and I are the same.

We have only been married for those mere eight months, but I have a different view of a fairy tale than I had before we got married. I mean, I knew that marriage was hard, and I was not soooo naïve that I thought we were going to live the rest of our lives in a magical castle and ride together on horseback every afternoon of our lives. I knew that I probably wouldn’t be wearing a crown or that fluffy pink dress every day for the rest of my life. Fairy tales have a use, but they look a bit different when they aren’t animated and people aren’t singing and dancing like a flash mob wherever you go.

Having said that, marriage is better than I imagined. You know how the prince and the princess ride away in their carriage after the wedding and you don’t really know what happens in “happily ever after”? In this “honeymoon stage” of my marriage, I feel like the movie should start with the wedding. Yeah, I’m lonely sometimes (even though I have Mark) and I get sad and homesick, but there is another person with me. I am his and he is mine. Where he goes, I go. Where he stays, I stay.

This goes for friendships, too. Mark is my best friend, but I have other best friends as well. I have a best friend in Holliday, a couple in Oklahoma, another in Dallas, and luckily, one in New Zealand. They bring me peace and comfort. And I think that a committed friendship is like marriage in a lot of ways. My best friends are my friends for life and we don’t give up on each other in the hard times. We get closer.

So, sitting here in the Coromandel, gazing out the windows into the sunshine, listening to the wind and waves soothe our souls, I reflect on peace and I reflect on my friendship and on my marriage. I am grateful for the friendships my husband has – that we can be here with his friends, and that he is out there now spearing fish with his friend’s spear gun, wearing another friend’s weight belt.

I am thankful that our friend found a octopus yesterday. I never dreamt of ever seeing one in real life.the octopus

I am thankful for the starfish and the kina we found.

I am thankful for the quartz and jasper at the top of the ocean.

I am thankful my husband let me bring home seashells and random rocks.

I am thankful that he found a perfect paua shell for me to keep.

I am thankful for the sunset’s colours pouring out over the Coromandel cliffs and valleys.

I am thankful for these little things.

Mark has finished his studies for nursing, and took his final test last week – the state exam. He has been offered a job where we wanted to be, and so many others won’t get jobs or interviews this time around. We have a roof over our heads, and a fireplace for the winter.

I am thankful for all these big things.

I get to experience a fairy tale – walking barefoot on the sand with my lover, my husband, my best friend – sharing my life with him, laughing when he laughs and crying when he is sad. I am thankful for this life in the good and the bad. And I want to remember to do that for the rest of my life. My happiness doesn’t depend on my husband or my friendships. But they do enhance my life.

This fairy tale – this life we have – is ongoing, and I’m glad it doesn’t end with a wedding.