The face of relationships is changing in modern times, bringing to the surface some questions for men, that will help them understand relationships better.
Interpersonal relationships touch at the core of who we are, and this need to have our relationship “just right” can consume us.
So what defines the “perfect” relationship? Is it even achievable?
The definition and focus of a “good” relationship have significantly changed in the past half-century or so, and this has created some confusion as we adjust to a new definition of what a great relationship looks like in the 21st century.
Thus, I invite you to explore the following five domains that have evolved over the years, and how today’s relationships have a potential for a happier ending—if you ask the right questions.
1) Do you consider your significant other as a partner?
Today’s Man is adjusting to a new era, where his dad’s advice about relationships is no longer valid, if not downright damaging. Statements like, “I’ve never changed a diaper, and I’m proud of it,” is not an uncommon comment I heard growing up from my own dad.
Not too long ago, relationships (say in the 1950s) had a very strong power differential. Men made most of the money in the household, with less than 10% of women holding jobs above clerical positions. This is in sharp contrast to today, where things are shifting fast.
We, as men need to redefine how we see ourselves in relationships, so ask yourself:
- Are you seeing yourself through your dad’s lens—meaning, do you have preconceived notions of how financial responsibilities, chores, etc. are shared?
- How much of your current views are influenced by your past and old thinking style?
- Is it in your best interest to change how you see yourself and relationships as a whole?
- What views are currently serving you, and which would you consider revising?
Spend some time contemplating these questions; your relationship will be better for it.
2) Are you emotionally connecting?
This is something that was not on a man’s priority list back in the day. Some “marriage experts” suggested that when a woman gets married, she should take on a doting role, almost like a professional responsibility to attend to her man’s and family’s needs. This, as you can imagine, did not help with an emotional connection to a partner, as a woman was fulfilling a role out of obligation rather than a desire for closeness.
Current theories, in contrast, focus on emotionally focused conversations, where emotional expression and acceptance of partner’s needs are at the forefront of creating a strong, emotional bond. One treatment approach called EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) has been shown to be highly effective in helping couples stay in happier, long-lasting relationships.
The challenge I throw out to you, guys, is this – are you man enough to have a deep emotional conversation with your girlfriend or wife? And by that I mean, can you be vulnerable enough where she feels that you can open up and talk about your own areas of growth and challenges?
How do you balance being a strong, empathetic, warm, and supportive boyfriend/husband, without compromising one’s manhood? We typically alternate between trying to be the alpha male—dominant and in control, and opening up to show the more hidden parts of oneself. If we can tap into how we feel, communicate, and connect with our partners, we will be a more realized Man, where great relationships abound.
3) Are you open to less rigid role definitions?
This one focuses more on potential behavioral change in relationships, meaning asking yourself how married are you to your defined role, e.g., as a provider, father, partner, lover?