It’s much simpler than you think.
By The Good Men Project — Updated on Jun 01, 2023
Photo: Vadym Pastukh / Shutterstock
By Luke Davis
A question was asked, “Where have all the good men gone?” and answers were found — the good men are scared of marriage. They are scared of divorce. They are scared of losing their kids. They never wanted to, or never had to, grow up or they simply can’t find any good women.
Pondering this, I began to wonder if I remarried again, what would I want in a marriage?
What would make me take that leap a second time? What would truly make me feel blessed in both good times and bad?
I asked the old dogs, those who have been married for decades, those who should have an answer, not necessarily my answer though, and they responded; respect, support, tenderness, love, passion, honor, commitment, compatibility, intimacy, listening, communication and tenacity to weather life together.
But these were not enough for me. It’s like describing a fish by saying it has fins, or a tree by saying it has leaves. Only I could answer my own question, a question I should have asked myself a long time ago.
So, what am I looking for?
I’m looking for my equal, someone who’s seen the harsh realities of life, but someone who can still see the beauty in life, too. I’m not a man who leads, and I’m not a man who follows either. I’ve always traveled my own path, my journey towards forever, and I’m looking for someone to share that with, someone who walks a similar path.
In dating, a man is supposed to take control and lead, but this, to me, does not make for equals. In movies, a man is supposed to be nagged, because he does not know what to do. But this does not make for equals either. There are times that I should take the steering wheel, and times I am weary and my partner should take that responsibility, too.
There will be times we will both be weary, and it falls upon us both to search for a romantic rustic cottage, a place we both can pause and recharge.
I’m looking for an equal, but I despair that the rules of this game are rigged.
Am I searching for love, passion, intimacy, and tenderness?
You bet I am, but I must feel it in return. As a man, I need to be shown that I am loved; words are not enough for me. I need to be touched; to have my hair tussled playfully while I concentrate. I need to see the playful exuberance a woman wants to display from time to time.
I need to see that hunger in her eyes when she desires me. I need to be shown what she likes in bed, I need to hear her fantasies, I really won’t judge.
I want to be let into her mind and enveloped by what I find there. I want to catch her smiling when she looks at me when she thinks I can’t see. I want times when we do nothing more than enjoy each other’s presence. I want nothing more than to know that I touch her heart as much as she touches mine.
But some of these things seem to be forbidden as if some rule precludes too much, as if I must guess how much I am loved, because if I knew I would somehow lose interest.
I want to share my dreams; they are important to me.
They define every fiber of my being, and I am nothing without them. My dreams are uncut diamonds, and my worth is cut out from their shaping. The person who I marry, can’t have me and not my dreams, because that is not the person they met. I know they’re large and impossible, but that’s beside the point.
I want to fly through space, to show the world that beauty still exists, and to see and feel that beauty every day. It’s why I study astronomy, why I write, and why I dance. This is the journey that I will share, I need my partner to understand that I may well never reach these impossible heights, but if I stumble, I want to know I can count on my partner to offer me a hand up. The true ring on her finger will be set with the diamond that I shape myself into.
I fear, though, that I live in a world where dreams are dismissed as nothing but flights of fancy.
What do I want most though?
I want to know that my partner values our commitment together. I want to know that my partner honors and respects that commitment as much as I do.
I know full well the costs that come with a failed marriage, I know full well how easily I can be left as a mere husk of a man taking years to heal. I know full well the power a woman can wield in those final days. For better or for worse, you have been given this power.
So, I ask of my partner for two things. It is our responsibility for our commitment, not all mine, not all yours, but ours. It must be maintained by both of us as equals.
Secondly, I can’t promise things won’t be hard. They will be. They can be very hard, but it is our responsibility to weather them, not all yours, not all mine, but ours. Please remember we are committed together. We are not enemy combatants, and we are not trying to be better or worse off than the other. Our happiness, victories, losses, and miseries have to be shared, or our commitment will break under the strain.
But I fear the media has taught us well how to see the green grass in distant pastures and commitments are abandoned, left to fallow, rather than fertilized and watered.
So, I have started to answer my question. I am sure there is far more but these are some of the things that were missing, disappeared, or lacking in my past and I feel their loss even now. I don’t know whether I am a good man, but I see my friends searching for good women and men. Somehow, they rarely ever meet.
I have started to wonder if we have spent so much time perfecting what we are looking for in a partner that we have somehow forgotten to look at what we want in a relationship. They seem to be very different things, traits in a partner versus traits in a relationship.
I think there are still a lot of good men and women out there, but I think we spend far too much time looking for a perfect partner instead of what we should be looking for — a good relationship.
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Luke Davis is a writer, blogger, poet, and former contributor to the Good Men Project.