As women, we know what pressure is like. Truth is, a lot of us put that pressure on ourselves, and we’ve finally figured out that it doesn’t do any good. So these days, the resounding message to women seems to be – you’re too hard on yourself; give yourself grace; stop pursuing perfection.
But the message from the church for our men seems to always be STEP UP, you’re not doing enough. And then they tout this model of a hard-working, high-earning spiritual leader who’s emotionally available and stepping in at home to relieve his wife and serve his family.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s a beautiful picture.
But maybe, just maybe, we should stop focusing on where men go wrong and start focusing on where men go right. For us women, the perfect wife/mother model seems unattainable. And for those of us who have chased it and finally given it up, we know how exhausting it is. Why do we expect something different of our men? Same approach, different result? Why can’t we send the grace message – that has encouraged so many of us women – to our men? You know the one: the message that you can improve in some areas, but perfection isn’t the goal.
Right now we’re telling women, ‘it’s okay to do less,’ while telling our men, ‘you have to do more.‘
In all honesty, I bet some men don’t even try because the model feels unattainable. I can relate. I stopped taking pictures because I was never going to be amazing. It discouraged me. Why bother starting when I knew the end point would fall short? But when my goal seemed more achievable – just enjoy it, just practice a little, just improve a couple skills – I finally had the motivation to pick it back up again.
Maybe this is just a difference in the sexes? Do men need the super-high bar to reach for, and they don’t crack under pressure the same way that women do? I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t think that’s the whole story.
I think a big part of the story is that we’re pretty hard on our men, and we need to do a better job noticing what they’re already doing right instead of telling them what they’re doing wrong. What do you think?