Aug 252015 1 Response

Why Men Run to Football and From Marriage

Few things cause the average man to light up quite like the remembrance of his glory days. Whether he was the star quarterback or rode the bench for three straight years, he fondly recalls his high school football career.

He is quick to talk about the struggle. Practices were tough. Two-a-days were grueling. Coaches were dogmatic and relentless.

Despite the struggle, many men look fondly back to their high school sports days. Sadly, for a good number of men it was the last time they truly felt part of something meaningful. Since those days, they have not felt connected with others, focused on a goal, and challenged in every aspect of their being to become something better. (See: 7 Leadership Lessons from Gus Malzahn)

For some, the glory days were so meaningful, they never moved past them. As Bruce Springsteen sings, “We went back inside, sat down, had a few drinks, but all he kept talking about was…glory days.”

It’s striking how passionately some men talk about their athletic days, but how apathetically they speak about their marriage. There is a sparkle in their eye speaking about the struggle of long practices, but a bitterness when talking about the inevitable tension of marriage.

Why? (See: What Men Can Do for Marriage)

Why do men run to football but run from marriage? Why don’t more men embrace the work required to make marriage meaningful? Why is the exhaustion worth it for a high school trophy but not worth it for a thriving marriage and a stable family?

Some men embrace the challenge. In marriages that succeed (and even some that fail), the husbands understand what is required.

In many marriages, though, the men do not. They scoff at the idea of working on the relationship. They refuse coaching (counseling). And instead of viewing the difficult times as being opportunities to grow, they assume they are signs the marriage isn’t working.

But what if they had a change of perspective? (See: Five Ways a Husband Respects His Wife)

What if more men looked at marriage the way they looked at football?

Marriage is like football because:

It’s a team sport. Neither marriage or football are about individual glory. The goal is the success of the team. You care for one another and support one another. You take up the slack when the other is struggling. And you appreciate the fact that you are never alone.

It requires individual devotion. While it’s a team sport, the success of the team is determined by each individual doing his or her part. You give it your all because anything less will let down your teammates. You continually do exercises to improve your individual performance.

You can’t do it on your own. You need help. Not only do you need the support of your partner, you also need coaches who can evaluate your performance, recommend areas of improvement, and demand total effort. A team without a coach is certain to lose. A husband or wife without support will not be successful. (See: What To Do If Your Spouse Refuses Counseling)

You are pursuing a difficult goal. Having a successful marriage is not easy. It is not something given to every person who says ‘I do.’ A successful marriage is something earned. It is fought for. It is only the byproduct of an extreme amount of effort.

Even if you lose, it is worth the effort. Success in football is about more than wins or losses. The game is used to build character and transform boys to men. The same is often true for marriage. Even if a thriving marriage isn’t the end result, any effort made in a marriage is worth it.

The parallels between football and marriage are many, but unfortunately many men run to the former and from the latter. They do so because football makes them feel like a man while marriage can feel emasculating.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In the same way football speaks to masculinity, so can marriage. As football can help develop manhood, so can marriage. (See: What a Drunk Girl Deserves)

What should feel more masculine than using your God-given strength to:

  • truly love a woman
  • partner with another to provide for a family
  • raise a child
  • strive to be a better person

In part, men run toward football and away from marriage because many men have a twisted view of true masculinity.

  • They fail to recognize that being intimate with a spouse or child is an aspect of manhood.
  • They see love as a weakness rather than a strength.
  • They view vulnerability as a threat rather than an opportunity.
  • They interpret family as feminine rather than masculine.

Some wives contribute to this misconception. Rather than building into their husband’s masculinity, they unknowingly strip it from him. In the same way that some men devalue their wives, some wives devalue their husbands and even degrade their manhood.

Sexually. While unhealthy sexual desires should be rebuked, a healthy sexual expression should be nourished and validated. Sexual desire is not childish, immature, or sinful. It is an important aspect of masculinity (and femininity). (See: What Your Husband Wants from You in Bed)

Emotionally. Many women are more effective in processing their emotions than men. Because they are more skilled and because society often associates emotional response with a feminine mindset, men often need assistance in recognizing, processing, and communicating their emotions. In a healthy relationship, a husband can learn from a wife. In an unhealthy relationship, the husband refuses to learn or the wife uses her strength to attack the man.

Cognitively. Men and women think differently. We see the world from different perspectives and prioritize different things. Both spouses should respect and benefit from their spouse’s viewpoint. A different opinion isn’t necessarily a wrong opinion.

Relationally. I regularly meet with women who desire that their husband would take more initiation in the relationship. In most cases, the man is far too apathetic. However, in some relationships the woman fails to see how she is stifling his effort. She wants decisiveness; he makes a decision then she debates it or rebukes it, even in a matter which is trivial.

In each of these areas, husbands and wives must find the appropriate way to communicate their thoughts and opinions while also validating and encouraging their spouses masculinity and femininity.

There is nothing wrong with glory days. High school athletics can play a pivotal role in the development of a young man’s life. However, the pursuit of building a strong family deserves far more energy than the attempt of winning of state championship. The pride in a wife or children should far outrank a memorable tackle or touchdown.

One Response to Why Men Run to Football and From Marriage
  1. […] Some women love it. Many wives hate it. (See: Why Men Run to Football and From Marriage) […]...

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