Have you ever heard a guy go on and on about a rental car? “Wow, that’s the coolest Ford Focus I’ve ever been in.” “I love the way that Toyota Camry looked in the hotel parking lot!” “I can’t wait to take a Nissan Altima to my high school reunion . . . they’re going to be blown away!”
Never. Because you don’t own a rental car. There’s something different about things we own. We take responsibility. We take care of them. We’re not reckless or careless or overly demanding. Things we own get our attention. Give us a healthy sense of pride.
Guy talk about cars, our wives, and our marriages
Get a ‘car guy’ talking about his ride and you’ll have a hard time shutting him up. But men don’t talk about their marriages much. Oh, we talk about our wives plenty. But not our marriages . . . not as a ‘thing’, not as a responsibility or an opportunity.
We’ll talk about stuff with our wives when they bring it up. But it’s usually painful because there’s something we’ve done wrong, too much or not enough of.
Say to your wife “Honey, I’d like to sit down and talk about our marriage”, she’d either faint or start recording the conversation to use in divorce court.
Why do men shy away from ‘owning’ our marriages?
Here’s three reasons . . .
1. It’s confusing – On one hand, “two are supposed to become one”. We’re supposed to be this seamless fusion of two people, collaborating and unified in working life out together, right? On the other hand, my wife and I are very different. We’re individuals. She doesn’t want to be told what to do and neither do I. Taking ownership of my marriage sounds like a problem waiting to happen.
2. It’s too conceptual – No one ‘owns’ a marriage. It’s a relationship between two people. ‘Ownership’ implies ‘rights’ are involved. The last time I tried to exercise my ‘rights’ in my marriage, I slept on the couch for three days.
3. It takes too much courage – To step up and own your marriage means you risk being wrong sometime. Maybe a lot. You expose yourself to criticism because you’re trying things that seem hokey and don’t work.
Imagine asking your wife dangerous questions like “Tell me what you dream about” and “I want to talk about things I do that irritate you” and “What can I do to help with the house and the kids?” This kind of stuff takes balls. It’s what owners do.
Who is responsible?
In management, we learn that “when two people are responsible, no one’s responsible.” Sure, there are teams and partners and task forces, but ultimately, there’s a leader somewhere who’s ‘on the hook’.
If I asked your wife if she ‘owns’ your marriage, she’d probably say ‘no’. If I asked her if you own it, she’d almost definitely say ‘no’. But if I asked her if she’d like for you to ‘own’ it, I’ll bet you a dollar she’d say ‘yes’, not having any idea what that might lead to.
Our wives want to see us step up and own things.
Would she like to see you own being the father your kids need? Yes.
Would she like to see you own your responsibility to lead your family spiritually? Yes.
Will she see huge benefit to you stepping up and owning your marriage? I think yes.
My radical idea is that in marriage, it’s the guy who owns it. He initiates. He looks for threats and takes them out. He protects, nurtures, provides and loves.
When he owns it, he’s involved and committed. It’s his to be proud of. It’s no rental car . . . it’s his baby – on it’s way to being a classic!
Fellas, what is one way you’ve stepped up and owned being a husband?