Last night I was making spaghetti bolognese and it came to the part where I have to open the jar of pasta sauce. The jar I use has a wide lid and I was struggling to open it so I walked to the cutlery drawer and took out a butter knife and slipped it between the jar and the lid until the suction broke and I could open it with ease.
I learned this trick when I was a young, solo mum .
My husband had watched me and said "You should let me do it so I can show you how manly I am"
I said to him "I already know how manly you are and it has nothing to do with opening jars."
And it's true.
To me manliness is the million and one ways that he takes care of his family; me, my kids, his daughters, his father (we lost his Mum 18 months ago).
He showed me how manly he was when we were friends and I was pregnant with my youngest boy. He saw how tired I was from looking after the kids and being pregnant and he knew the Dad wasn't around so he took my kids for the weekend so I could rest. He also came and cut firewood for me so we could be warm.
He showed me how manly he was when we had to get our dog put down and he came home and spent the afternoon with me and we cried and hugged each other. she had been his constant companion for 15 years even though she was supposed to be my dog, for them it was love at first sight.
He shows me how manly he is everyday by going to a job to support us while I follow my dreams.
He shows me how manly he is when he is gentle with animals. Like the day he put food out for a baby hedgehog.
My darling talking quietly to a broody chook as he puts eggs under her for hatching
He shows me how manly he is when he hugs me tight like he will never let go when we have been apart for only a few days. And always texts me - every day.
To me, manliness isn't about brute strength. Instead it is about how open and soft and tender you are . How vulnerable you can be while never once losing the essence of manliness.
I watched a Brene Brown talk on shame and felt completely crushed when she spoke about one man who came and talked to her and asked why she never wrote about the vulnerability of men. You can read the transcript here ( scroll down to 16:22 to see the quote I'm talking about). He was saying that the women in his life would rather see him die on his white horse than see him be vulnerable.
Which just made me unbearably sad , not just for him, but for his wife and daughters too. Some of the most profound and deeply bonding moments fro my husband and I have been when we have dropped all our guards and be completely naked and raw with each other.
If we don't allow our partner to be truly themselves, if we expect them to always be stoic and brave then we can't be surprised when they crack under the strain or get ill with heart disease or ulcers or drink or just want to hang out with their friends.
We are supposed to be there for each other and allowing each other to share all of their emotions with us is part of that package. Holding space for your man is incredibly powerful and heart healing for both of you.
What does manliness mean to you? What is the most manly thing your husband has done?