When a woman loves a man with SSA (Same-Sex Attraction), she takes on a lot. If that isn’t the understatement of the year, I don’t know what is. But she does – and she does it willingly because she sees so much more of that man she loves than his SSA.
Some of them will say, “This is not who I am, and I don’t want to be trapped here,” and they do a lot of hard work to get beyond . . . to discover a stronger and better, more whole self — because although it’s not a popular thing to say, SSA is a soul wound. That probably deserves a lot more consideration than I have time for right now, but I’ll say it again: SSA is a soul wound.
And so often, the man she loves too often hangs his identity on that SSA.
So this woman, she loves her man. And she sees in him a nobility of spirit and a beauty not only of form but also of soul that goes well beyond the physical, and she believes in him, and she invests herself in him –because that’s how women do things – and she looks for ways to help and support and encourage him —
Sometimes those ways aren’t wise. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to shelter the people we love that we can start to treat them like our child instead of our equal. He has these struggles, these anxiety issues on top of everything else, how can I help him? and meaning to do the best, she sends the message that, in her eyes, he is small and weak and can’t do it without her . . . which is part of that soul wound, to begin with, that he’s small and weak.
“He’s got all these struggles and I’ve got to support him — I’ve got to take care of all this other stuff so he can take care of himself.” I hear it said with a raw panic in the wife’s voice. “I don’t know what to do to help him, but he needs my help. I have to help him!”
Well, there might be a bit more to consider. If he’s getting appropriate professional help with some of these issues —
I think it’s got to be one of the hardest things a woman can do, to look at her man, to see his wounds, his fears, his weakness . . . and take her paws off the things she could so easily fix for him if only he’d let her . . . and let him deal with it.
Because that’s what a man needs to do. He needs to deal with it – whatever “It” is. He needs to know he’s competent and capable. That he’s strong. And that’s really the best way a woman can tell her man that she sees him as a Man, simply by backing off.
“Well, I know you can handle this. I believe in you.”
But it only works if she backs off, detaches, and lets him fight it out by himself — whether it’s anxiety disorder or depression or the plumbing crisis under the kitchen sink.
Even when it feels as if the roof is going to collapse over her head and the earth is going to open up beneath her feet, she’s got to keep her paws off. Even when she sees just what he ought to be doing but he isn’t seeing it and she wants so badly to get in there and fix it for him . . . she’s got to turn her back and get about her proper business and let him struggle.
A woman can’t fill the need a man has to be validated by another man (ideally his Dad), but she can meet his need to be respected as a man. Even when he can’t see that need, it’s there. We can’t replace the absent masculine affirmation every boy needs, ours has its own value.
And if we withhold that respect, we can do a whole lot of damage.
Sometimes the best support we can give a man is just to get the heck out of his way. Make a safe place for him to collapse when he needs it, maybe — safe from humiliation and belittling or patronizing — but basically stay out of his way and let him be and do the normal things men do as a matter of course.