Most American/Western men will never say what they often think/feel. We may be too ashamed or embarrassed to admit it – but for many men, there is a gnawing truth deep in our bellies that never really surfaces: (whispering) we kinda hate our homes.
We kind of do hate our homes. You can see why we want to keep that tucked away! What a nasty thought.
Now sure, we all acknowledge that family is super important. And of course, we would rather be at our house than logging long hours at work – dealing with demanding clients or system glitches, right? There’s no doubt about that. And who among us wouldn’t take a bullet for our kids? I mean come on, we love those rascals! And that wife – we love her, she’s a babe (that’s how we got all the kids).
The home-front is fraught with problems – it’s a sort of minefield, if we’re honest, for the typical modern father-dude.
Stick with me and see if this doesn’t ping something in you:
First, the house dwelling itself requires maintenance. Even if you are one of those sick-suckers who enjoys cutting the grass and trimming the hedges, there are a variety of other maintenance projects you DON’T love. Gutter cleaning, repainting the trim, re-insulating the attic, installing a French-drain, adjusting sprinkler heads, or replacing the garbage disposal. Even those without a house to maintain, still have maintenance duties related to cleaning or laundry or installing new shelf-systems for the wife.
Second, upon returning to the home, many fathers feel they enter a miniature world that often runs itself and keeps time differently from the rest of their life. The mother and children have routines and systems that dad pops into at the end of the day – looking for his bearings. Many men feel awkward about engaging their children in meaningful conversations, and we work quite hard to avoid any topic that might ‘set her off.’ More than once, I’ve had a young father say –‘I honestly don’t know how to engage my family when I’m around them. I just do the grilling and keep the cars up and pay the light bill – I’m the machine that keeps things running.’
Third, we should acknowledge that the house can be quite LOUD. Multiple children, pets, and a wife who wants to connect/process verbally means men often re-enter the house at the end of the day only to find more chaos and noise than their work-site. This explains the rise of ‘man caves’ and ‘entertainment rooms/basements’ – there has even been an increase in garage conversations to accommodate pool tables and sofas in recent years. We are altering the ways we interact with space/rooms in our homes because men aren’t enjoying their hours at the house.
At my wedding reception, an old man approached me with a drink in his hand said,
‘Get a hobby that requires many hours out in your shop. It’ll save your marriage – you can thank me later.’
He slapped me on the back and stumbled away. Many guys have taken just this kind of advice to heart and logged many hours on hole #8 chipping from a sand-trap.
Ok, makes sense, so what? Is there a point?
Well, maybe that isn’t a big deal at all. But, if you couple this aversion to domestic life with the recent statistic that 86% of American men report working MORE than 40 hours a week (more than any nation on the planet) you begin to see a picture emerge. All the guys I know spend more time working than just 40 hours!
Generally speaking, we would prefer to work longer hours (connected to increase productivity, accolades/advancement, and financial rewards) than spend more hours in our chaotic homes. AND – if we are stuck in our homes for many hours at any given time – how many of us are ‘zoning out entirely’ on our phones and televisions via sports broadcasting or streaming media? Those hours at the house don’t necessarily translate to meaningful connections with all those other household members.
These points, taken together, reveal one big truth. The reason we seek to escape our domestic life is that:
AMERICAN MEN DO NOT FIND THEIR IDENTITY IN THEIR HOUSEHOLD/FAMILY.
WE FIND OUR PURPOSE / VALIDATION / VALUE IN OUR CAREER.
Truthfully, our careers offer more immediate rewards than just about anything else in our lives. The problem with this orientation? Downsizing happens; national economies face recessions; industries collapse; retirement age eventually rolls around due to failing health or fatigue, or we are put out to pasture by our company. It just happens. My friend’s company wanted to move him out of state last year, so he had to uproot his entire family (and leave his faith community) to keep his job. It had a very negative impact on everyone but my friend – the family paid a high cost for his career advancement.
Every Viceroy should take a minute and pause in self-examination. Where is my identity found? What would it look like if I started thinking of the King’s intentions for my family above all other considerations? It might mean I get worse at my hobby. It might mean I initiate a career shift, leave my phone charging in my truck starting at 7 pm, or make it a point to ask my wife to sit with me in my ‘man cave’ for the first 30 minutes of every day after work to re-hash the day. Make a move to get a little ‘win’ for your home and see if there aren’t some significant ripple effects for the better.
——– IDEAS ———
Find another Viceroy kinda-family guy in your town and volunteer to help him with his next ‘less than exciting’ home project to show you support what he is trying to do with his household – help him install his fence or lay sod for example. There are always more projects than any one man can tackle on a home. Tell him you will work for beer. The hours you save him will translate to other time inside the house with his family.
Log the hours with the little ones – make it a point to take him/her off your wife’s hands one extra period of time ( a Saturday morning, so she can sleep in?) this week.
Make the grocery store run this week WITH all the kids – pro-tip – take two grocery carts through the aisles. Make all the little ones sit butt down inside the cart, hand out treats (keep the wrapper to pay at check-out), and then fill the second cart with items. This system works pretty well – tell them whoever behaves best by the end of the trip gets to pick out the next ‘treat’ for the next grocery run.
Make it a point to walk each kid around the block and ‘just check in’ on how they are doing this week. Ask them – ‘what’s one thing you are kinda worried about that is coming up’ or ‘what are you most excited about – looking forward to right now.’ There are a finite number of days that they will be under your roof – take advantage of it!
Whatever the next holiday might be – whatever is coming up – think about a way to communicate a memory you have associated with that holiday. You can face-time your grand-kids on your phone and tell them about that memory or stop by if they are in town. OR an even crazier idea – write them a letter and tell them about the memory and how you are praying for them. Letters have a way of sticking around for a long time – even in our modern world.
CONNECT and discover more.