Thursday April 16 | Men in Balance

April 15, 2009 at 8:42 am | Posted in Coming Up | 2 Comments

Many men find it difficult to talk about their struggles- from career issues to marital and family challenges. This inability to discuss personal hurdles can lead to a feeling of desperation, depression, divorce or even violence. Our guests today have been working on getting men more comfortable in talking with each other and their significant others about difficult topics. We’ll discuss why men have trouble communicating about their troubles and ways to help change this trend.
Guests
Jerry Hancock – Director, Men In Balance and Host of WTVI’s Final Edition
Philip Loydpierson – Marriage & Family Therapist, Founder of Joshua Project
Dr. John Rowe – Therapist and Director, Davidson UMC Counseling Center

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  1. I frequently listen to Charlotte Talks, but this morning was the first time I felt compelled to share my thoughts. One of your guests mentioned the struggle men feel with need to be the Malboro Man and a reader of poetry–strong and sensitive, a world in which work defines and feelings are surpressed for the sake of image. My husband is a published poet. He works at a local private university, and his career is to educate about his art form, one that is frequently stereotyped as “sensitive.” He struggles constantly with his salary as a measure of his self-worth, and sometimes he wishes he had not dedicated his life to art and teaching, though he ultimately recognizes how unhappy he would be if he had pursued a career for monetary purposes. As his wife, 13 years younger and not as far along in my career, I know I have a very distinct role in his self-perception. I am torn between the traditional breadwinner role and my own desire to make a competitive salary, one greater than his eventually. For now, the age dispartity does not facilitate this desire. He often feels trapped and “less of a man” because he can’t “provide for his family” in the same way as other men he knows. We are artists and very low-maintenance people, yet these stressors affect us as much as any couple. My husband is defined by work that is deeply emotional and intelligent, but as an artist, he is vulnerable to the pressures all men feel, if not more so: he has dedicated himself to an art form that pays little and expects detachment from materialism, yet he is also expected to provide. The greater unspoken issue between men and women is the unreasonable expectation many women have of men as the provider, coupled with our own expectations to earn a competitive wage. Women are pushed to also be breadwinners, yet there often appears to be a glass ceiling, one in which our husbands are frequently just above us. Women feel extremely complicated feelings about this new societal expectation, and they frequently do not voice it to their partners or to each other during “b-i-t-c-h” sessions, as Mike so casually described our intimate conversations. Women need a forum to discuss these issues as well, so they can better assess how they value men, themselves, and their relationships.

    • Sarah, how eloquently you stated the case–and the problem. I applaud you for your awareness of the need to support your husband emotionally and also your consciousness of the issue. I too am a poet and a writer and have never been able to make a living exclusively in that craft, except as it served commercial interests (advertising writing, for example).

      I hope you will continue to separate your identity as a couple from society’s expectations/stereotypes. Meanwhile, both of you will likely have to develop something of a tough skin in response to the inevitable quips from others.

      Jerry Hancock
      Men in Balance
      704.895.8976
      http://www.meninbalance.org


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