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#1 of 6
You’ll pardon my delay in posting, but I’ve been working on men for the past few weeks.
For the better part of a month I’ve been talking to men about their take on relationships, what they think about sex and commitment, what makes partnership stick — you know, the good stuff. I didn’t honestly have any other goal in mind when I started this, other than to begin a personal dialogue with a few good men. Every one I spoke to had a lot to teach me, and in the course of our conversations, they each seemed to flip a switch in my understanding by letting me poke around in their private thoughts, and most surprisingly, each man gifted me with a piece of a puzzle I didn’t even know I’d been missing.
What follows is the first of these conversations. It comes from Bruce — in snippets and not entirely verbatim — but it’s him. Bruce is in his fifties and he’s got a voice that’s as pleasant and smooth as Georgia sweet tea. Bruce owns and operates a trucking business in the south. He was on the road when we spoke, hauling parts from Texas through to the Carolinas. Typical of many of these talks, what began as a twenty minute interview fanned out past an hour, stirring the pot of our preconceived ideas, and it left us with lots more to think about. Bruce invited me in — and you, too, honey — to share these love notes from the road. ♥
My grandfather, he gave me his view of man’s role. It was about being accountable, responsible, embracing the female. Grandpa taught me that being a real man is about embracing the woman’s needs above his own. If you truly love a woman, you’ll find yourself putting her needs above yours. Most women I dated were astonished by this. They thought I was either too good to be true or that I had ulterior motives and hidden agendas. But it was Grandapa’s training, and that’s just the way I was.
Some didn’t receive it well, and it caused me to look for a specific type of woman. I had to create some guidelines for myself; I developed standards. I started by looking for genuineness. I wasn’t looking so much for the talk or the trimmings, because it’s their actions that have the bigger impact on you than anything.
After seventeen years of marriage, I’m single. People look at you funny when you say “divorced”, like you’re broken or something. So I say “single”. That keeps it less complicated. She called me on the road one day and said she couldn’t do it anymore. One thing we’ll never be able to control is another person’s emotions. You can’t make somebody love you.
If we had a better understanding of the other person’s interests, goals, intentions, then it would prepare us for real relationships. People need to establish what type of relationship they desire. There’s risk in everything, but it’s not fair to enter into without truthful, honest expectations of the other person.
With men — we’re conquerors, right. So, the way she carries herself is important. If women go out there exposing themselves and men’s hormones get to boiling, well, that’s no good. I know I might get flack for this, but you can’t expose yourself so much to men that it’s overwhelming. You don’t have to be buttoned all the way up your neck, but don’t be showing everything, either. That puberty stuff had me wanting to reach out and grab everything walking by, but I didn’t because Grandpa had planted that seed for me. So, I knew early on how to sit down, look a young lady in the eye, and have a real conversation with her. That fabric has worn thin for most now, and things are different.
Women, don’t ever settle for less. But if you meet a man who exceeds your standards, try it. Don’t deny yourself something good. Risk it. There are going to be issues in any relationship, but how you handle them will determine if it works or not. If you’re gun shy about getting into a relationship, though, do everybody a favor and just don’t do it. A real man will be able to accept it if you’re not ready. If he can’t handle that, or if he starts asking you to help him with things — his bills and little extras at first, run. If he’s still in boyhood, same thing: run!
Grandpa and my grandmother could be sitting in the living room and he’d get up, go get a glass of water, bring it back, and set it down on a napkin right beside her — and never once did she have to ask for a thing. I know that on his dying day she still loved him. I guarantee you. That’s what it is to be a man who puts the woman’s needs above his own. The real man, he holds a huge responsibility there.
Trust is the heartbeat of the relationship. Once that stops, it’s over. It would take a monumental piece of work — on the scale of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus — to be able to rebuild after infidelity because once that column of trust has been chiseled and it falls apart, it leaves everything brittle.
We have to define love and what it means to us. If I didn’t do this, I could go years looking for love in the wrong direction. You have to be clear about what you want. Otherwise, what good is it if we go around trying to avoid each other by walking through different rooms of the same house?
Brother Percy Sledge said, When a man loves a woman, she can do no wrong. That’s how committed a real man is. He’d turn his back on his best friend if he put her down. That’s Brother Percy right there.
I want women to know that if a man wants to be with you, he’s going to make time for you—quick, fast, and in a hurry, he will. You’ve just got to sit down with each other and talk about your expectations. Be transparent in expressing what you desire in a relationship and in each other. Just don’t lower your standards. Keep on mingling through that puzzle box to find your fit. I think it’s mature people who can handle this kind of responsibility a whole lot better than the younger set.
I wish more young brothers of every race — it’s a melting pot of relationships now — I wish they could grasp on to more principles of how to embrace these women. The music sure isn’t teaching them the right things. What I want to know is how is the young man supposed to understand his role if he’s not getting good information? I’m keeping an eye out because I need to be able to give my sixteen year old daughter a heads up. As a matter of fact, after all this talking to you, I might have to come out of this truck and write a book.
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