Friday, December 23, 2011

What Men Want

Last night at my men’s group (going for about 17 years now, I think), the question came up about the best things about marriage and the most challenging.  Over the years we have asked this question several times of the married guys. Most of us are veterans of long marriages, but sometimes there are guys who have been married more recently.

What is interesting is that there are always similar answers. You might think that sex might be at the top of the positive list (especially for the newly-marrieds), or perhaps dual income or kids. But the most frequent answer is deep and intimate friendship – someone to do life with, someone to come home to.

For me, in addition to the daily friendship, I count having a shared vision and shared purpose as a really high positive as well. It’s not that we always see things identically, but our general trajectory is mostly the same.

What about the hardest things, the most challenging?

At the top of the list is conflict. For most guys, peace at home is of the highest value. I think that may be a huge reason why some men stay at work long after they need to. Or why they come home and hide out. They just don’t want to risk getting in a skirmish and perhaps feeling disrespected. When home is safe, men are happy.

When asked what the most desirable quality a woman can possess – again, no one talked about physical attributes (important, but not a list topper). What we came up with was this: kindness.  Does that surprise you?

Obviously, I can’t speak for the women – so ladies, what would be on the top of your lists? Do you value the same things that we men do?

Why I think talking about this is important is because the messages we get from popular culture are much different. The focus seems to be on the superficial, and the temporary. Without active dialog, we may make wrong assumptions, only to wonder why our reality doesn’t match up with the things we are being sold. 

It’s a great time of the year to offer the gift of friendliness to the one you love the best.    


  1. I think married guys have figured it out, but the men I know who are single are not, by and large, looking for kindness as their number one characteristic in women. Perhaps your married group could start mentoring the single guys?

  2. Sarah -- a very good point. I do think the realization comes after we have already entered into marriage and are dealing with the realities of doing life together.