I write this to myself more than anything else. If there’s one thing a partner and kids need it’s quality time with their husband and father. This cannot be skimped over. The needs of the family of ‘their man’—his time to be invested, and genuinely at that—cannot be overstated.
In Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb (1979) song, there are shades of exclusion I’m sure every guy feels. The guy, Pink (played by Sir Bob Geldof), is isolated to his family and friends and in the video sits there in his chair watching television, clearly wanting to be alone—driven to escape; drugs or not, most if not all men relate.
Pink is ironically lonely in his self-inflicted isolation. We men are not much different on the whole. We can’t win. When we’re alone we think fondly of our dear ones—for we have time for loving reflection, considering dotingly their needs of us. Yet, when they’re about we often feel crowded in somehow. Of course, these are sweeping generalisations. But, I’m sure they speak a confounding reality to a lot of men (and women).
Out of all the love languages, the desire and skill to invest quality time seems to elude men most. Men seem apt at giving gifts (okay, not all men); whispering sweet nothings of gentle, loving affirmation or encouraging their partners and children (okay, not all men); loving physically with hugs (okay, not all men, discounting sex with their partners); or, helping out around the house (okay, not all men). Most men do these things at least half well. Men like a playmate but there’s a bittersweet balance to be struck.
Perhaps it’s due to the fact that women, for the greater part, have higher social needs than men—certainly children also require their fathers to be actively engaged in the processes of family, especially in the crucial early childhood through the mid-teen years, inclusive.
The issue most at question is how a man truly wants to engage with his family without actively seeking isolation from them. Perhaps a loving family will want to give their ‘man of the home’ his own time provided they’re getting enough of him. He then needs to accept their best offer out of the available hours.
Only they and he can define and actualise the correct balance.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.