There is a way to pursue masculinity that is the opposite of masculinity.
Sometimes, men will want to start working toward projecting a masculine frame, to communicate better that they are a man. This is a good thing. Whether it is becoming stronger and fit, learning a martial art, or going hunting, we should celebrate that.
But there is a way to take on these masculine markers that is actually a retreat from masculinity. Sometimes, a man wants to project masculinity while running from responsibility.
This is machismo. It is an aping of masculinity. If “toxic masculinity” could ever apply to anything, it would be this type of bravado.
A man starts going to the gym every day to get stronger. But really, he is avoiding his nagging wife.
A man goes fishing with his friends every weekend. But really, his kids annoy him and just can’t deal with it.
A man gets into passionate political arguments online as a defense of the truth. He defends the sanctity of marriage. He calls attention to the horrors of communism. Like clockwork, he denounces socialism. Meanwhile, his teenage son is addicted to pornography.
Doing the hard work of leading your wife and children is the ultimate in masculine responsibility. If you fail to do it, it doesn’t matter what you can bench or squat.
It is easy to retreat into externals and beat your chest at your accomplishments. You will have plenty of people cheering you on and tickling your ears.
Go home. Love your children. Discipline them. Be consistent. If they annoy you, it’s your fault, so figure out how to fix it.
Love your wife. Lead her. Communicate. State your own position clearly, define the boundaries, and do not let her cross them. If it is something you really care about, do not argue. Maintain your own frame and do not budge.
And if it isn’t something you really care about…don’t argue!
So many men fail to confront their wives and instead let bitterness grow in their hearts. They retreat. The more savvy cowards will eventually be unfaithful. The rest will continue to live a life of quiet desperation, letting their wives roam without a shepherd.
Leading well is not easy, but it is the burden you accepted. With this responsibility comes the potential for great reward, so do it with joy and don’t retreat into machismo.
One day, you will have to give an account for the souls of your wife and children. Every excuse you have will die on your tongue.