As I contemplate what I want my son to know when he starts marriage, I pray and think through how to “raise him like a man.”
But, I find myself asking, “What does that even mean?” I ask that question because I have many examples of men who influenced me growing up and they were all different. My dad was a coach and teacher who always put the student/athlete first and winning second. My uncle was a funeral director and pastor who was wonderful at walking with families through their most difficult times. My grandfather was a pastor and electrician who worked until he was 88 years old. My father-in-law worked at a rock quarry most of his life. With my dad, uncle, grandpa, and father-in-law in mind, I identify one more very important and beautiful blueprint of manhood, especially for one entering into marriage: Christ.
When my son starts marriage, I want him to know a few things I learned from the men in my life and what I continually learn from Christ.
What I Learned from My Dad–Grow in Genuine Care for Your Spouse
My dad is a loving and caring introvert. His introversion often masked the affection he had and still has for my mother. However, my dad always made an effort to break out of his introverted bubble in order to show my mom that he cares. He was not always able to verbally express his care at first, but Dad worked to have the ability and understanding to do so as they grew older together. With his “Papaw” in mind and when he starts marriage, I want my son to know that caring for a spouse requires growing in your ability to understand what your spouse desires and in self-expression of care and understanding.
What I Learned from My Uncle–Emotions Are Normal and Necessary
My uncle is not an introvert. He’s anything but an introvert. One of his funny sayings to me growing up was, “If you’ve got it, you flaunt it.” Due to my uncle’s extroversion, he was not afraid to express his emotions. I saw my uncle cry at an early age. He and my aunt modeled what healthy marital conflict should look like and that conflict requires the expression of emotion. My uncle has always had a big grin and is quick to light up at something funny or encouraging. With his great uncle in mind and when he starts marriage, I want my son to know that it is necessary and even “manly” to express emotion, even the softer ones that are not always associated with cultural expectations of manhood.
What I Learned from My Grandpa–Slow Down and Eat Lunch at Home
My grandfather worked for our local utilities company for over forty years. He was a lineman that worked the hills of eastern Kentucky running electrical cable from hilltop to hilltop. My grandfather taught me many things, but it is what he did every day that I still remember. Regardless of where he was in the area or what project he was working on, my grandfather always came home to eat lunch. My grandma would make him an abundant spread of food, “Pap” would eat the food while watching t.v., and then hug my grandmother before returning to work. Now, eating lunch at home is not a major life changing activity, but “Pap” taught me something that I hope my son appreciates when he starts marriage; always, always slow down and engage your wife throughout the day.
What I Learned from My Father-in-Law–Love Your Wife Like a Princess
When I first met my father-in-law, he was very kind and engaging. However, the second time I encountered my father-in-law, he was a little more cold and standoffish. Turns out he was struggling with the fact that his daughter was falling in love with another man. Why? Because his daughter was his princess. Thankfully, my father-in-law warmed up to me and now we are very close. And, I am thankful for that closeness because I learn from him, more than anyone outside of Christ, how to love my wife because he was the first man to love her with a deep love. When my son starts marriage, I pray that he is able to love his future wife like my father-in-law loves my wife.
What I Learned from Christ–Healthy Marriages Require Sacrifice
In Ephesians 5, Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” What do all of the men above have in common? They all had or have a deep love for Jesus and it was their love for Him that inspired them to love their wives to the point of sacrificing for them. I pray that my son models the Christ-like discipline of sacrifice and loves his future wife by serving her when he starts marriage.
What do you want your son to know as he starts marriage?