I specialize in helping men and their partners create happier lives and better relationships. One of my primary practice areas is men’s work. I believe that there is a great need for this type of work in our world today and that this work has the power to transform our lives and relationships.
Many men tell me that something is missing in their lives. They seem to feel chronically unhappy with one or more parts of their lives. They may tell me that they love their partner, but something about him or her frustrates them and they feel like they are settling for less. They may have a great job, but they would be so much happier if they could just get that next promotion or make a little more money. They may have children, but feel frustrated by the demands of parenting and how this has changed their relationship with their partner. Or they don’t have children and believe that having a child will bring purpose and meaning into their lives.
Often they have secret or not-so-secret habits that they once brought them pleasure, but now seem to be more a source of shame or a way to escape from life’s demands. These might include pornography, masturbation, surfing the web, watching television, drinking, smoking, playing fantasy games, having an affair, spending money, or working too much. We were all born and raised in a culture that promotes an external focus on material things. We are taught to be goal-oriented and that the purpose of our lives is to seek pleasure, to compete, and to win at the game of life. Many men measure themselves by how much money, sex, and power they have attained.
This is the culture of patriarchy. Today there is widespread understanding of the cost of patriarchy for women. The cost of patriarchy for men is not as well known. Yet the evidence that patriarchy has failed us is all around us in the form of broken relationships, high rates of addiction, and violence in our culture. Patriarchy is fundamentally flawed in that it is based on the concepts of better than/less than. It is anti-relational and vulnerability averse. It denies our basic nature as loving, caring human beings.
The good news is that many men and women have discovered a different way to live. This way is not new. It is based on ancient wisdom and knowledge that has been handed down for many generations. It is not a quick fix. It requires time and effort, so it has not gained popularity with the mainstream, pleasure-seeking crowd. It is a different way of answering the question what is missing. For men, it is called men’s work. Men’s work requires a fundamental shift from searching the external world to looking inside for answers. Most men in their teens and twenties have no need and no time for this type of work. It is not until men reach their thirties and forties, when the old ways of doing things have left them feeling empty and unfulfilled or have created a crisis in their relationships or their own sense of self, that they become interested in doing inner work.
Most men are amazed to find that the path to true strength, power, and wisdom, the road to
becoming a “real man”, requires them to look into their hearts and to allow themselves to be
vulnerable. They are surprised to find that their brilliant minds often can not provide them with the answers they are seeking. The inner path leads them to the undiscovered world of feelings and emotions. They learn how to feel, how to be mad, sad, glad, and scared. They are often amazed to find that their partners and children have been waiting years to see these parts of them.
Men’s work is best done in a group of other men. The messages of “be tough”, “don’t cry”, and “do it alone” have caused much pain and wounding for men. One of the greatest forms of healing for men is to be surrounded by other loving men. I facilitate Men's Groups that are a great place for men to begin or deepen their journey of self-discovery.
If you are a woman reading this article, I invite you to bring in your man for couples therapy. Many men are called to men’s work by the women who love them. Women who are tired of settling for less. Women who want a true partner. Women who see the great potential in men to be strong and loving. I believe in empowering women to ask for what they want in their relationships. Coming to therapy individually or as a couple is not always easy. It requires work and can at times be painful. There is a payoff for this hard work. You will find more joy in your life and you will create better, more satisfying relationships. I invite you to join me on the journey.