When you are a complete failure as a father, husband, and worse yet a man, giving advice to others on how to be the best father or husband they can be, at first, seemed to me a ludicrous concept, or at the very least, stupid, for me to attempt.
Yet, as I sit here typing these words, words that could never overcome the rock of regret that abides in my throat, words that would be washed away, drowned by the torrent of tears streaming from a once honorable soul, should I endeavor to voice them. I can but hope that perhaps, just perhaps, a touch of dignity and self respect, a renewed sense of worth can be found and molded into a plug for the hole in my heart. For if only one man reads or hears of this and it provides the motivation to become what he needs to become. Then the anguish I am enduring in my old age, will be tempered to the point of tolerance. For then my life would have had at least a small purpose. A point.
I do not want sympathy. I do not deserve it. I want only to convey the importance of considering the following advice. Before ever becoming a father or husband,(and especially after), a true man must be, and is, in charge of his entire being. He must be the master of his emotions, his desires, and his ego. Long before he can become master of his future, this mastery of self must be accomplished. If it is not, then do not expect the sustaining companionship that loved ones provide, as you near the end of your time on this planet. Lonely indeed is the warrior, no matter how brave or strong, that goes into battle to meet his fate, alone.
If driving in a car, someone cuts you off, and as a reflex, you give them a lewd hand gesture, or find yourself swearing curses at them. You are not ready to be a father or husband. Anger is the blinding light that blackens your soul and distorts your ability to reason. It resonates and echoes in the mind like thunder and deafens your ability to hear those that need to be heard, such as your children, and will drive them away. It must be controllable.
Controlling desires, of all kinds, from the carnal to career goals, to beating a friend at ping pong, to acquiring that sports car, or winning that league trophy, is vastly important. These desires to obtain, or posses, or achieve, come with a price. The price at the time maybe small, simply a bit of self sacrifice. Such as going to the sons’ little league game or the daughter’s piano recital instead of the office party, or attending the so called ” Big game”.
It can also be simply understanding when the wife is not “In the mood” , you do not storm off to the nearest bar, or contact a friend in which to bemoan, and commiserate your mis-perceived rejection. Instead, take command of that carnal desire, invoke the passion of love from whence it gains its respectability from, and use it. Use it to open your eyes to HER needs. Elevate yourself from the animalistic slime of the Neanderthal. Engage the empathy that a civilized man should have. Especially for some one so important in your life as your wife.
Your wife is not your property no matter what history may have once said. A wife is not just a caretaker of your children while you go off and forage for a living. She is not the mother who washed your clothes, made breakfast or diner, or made sure you went off to school with clean underwear. A wife is not a replacement for a mother. She is an individual. She has her own hopes and desires; Her own dreams; Her own fears and doubts. When taken as a wife a woman becomes the reason for your existence as a man. The justification for all that you do after, to diminish her in any way, is to diminish your self, two fold.
Not paying that afore mentioned price, and giving in to the immediate self gratification of self centered desires, can become far more costly down the road. Trust me, you do not want to find yourself looking at a phone, alone, forgotten, longing for it to ring knowing it will never ring with a happy birthday call from a loved one. You do not want to be sifting through junk mail for a fathers day card that you know was never sent. You do not want to, as you sit alone, perhaps on some Christmas Eve, to open the album of memories, and find it empty. A testimonial to your failures.
And then there is the ego. That insidious and demonic in nature snake that slithers in an out of our behaviors as men. Injecting the venom of over inflated self worth that, at times, transforms confidence into arrogance. Arrogance and self righteousness is the poison that kills empathy. Without empathy there is little chance of treating those around us with the respect and understanding that they deserve, and is what is needed, by you, in order to effectively relate to your family.
Have you as a man scoffed at someone scrounging through trash receptacles or dumpsters in the hope of finding cans to recover for the deposit, thereby having enough money to buy something to eat? Do you, even though you have money in your pocket, disdainfully reject a panhandlers request for some change? Do you look at a beat up old car and assume the person driving it is of lesser value, or talent, or ambition then yourself? Do you look down your nose at the person sitting on a park bench with a bottle of booze or beer and assume he is just a lazy bum? If so, think again. For there is an old saying, “.. but by the grace of God go I”. I tell you this because what you see at times are warnings. Warnings of what might be. Take heed of them.
Life is full of perils, perils that at times, are beyond any humans abilities to control. You can lose in a heart beat all that is precious and important to you. For all you know that man on the park bench was the victim of a flood. He may have had to watch his whole family die as he struggled with all his might to save them as the current washed them away. His drinking is maybe the only thing that deadens the pain of his loss and sense of helplessness . Even the strongest of men have a breaking point.
Would you refuse the panhandlers request if you knew that in his pocket he carried a medal for saving seven of his comrades in combat? That he took bullets dragging them out of harms way. That he put his life on the line so you could be free to look down on him. That he would give his life for you, a stranger, defending the country you live in and prosper in? Or would you still dismiss him as a bum?
If the ego is not kept in check, it will result in a person becoming so self centered, so focused on their own needs, wants and desires, to the exclusion of all others. Wives and family will become nothing more then a means to serve you. You will be like the child that wails at two in the morning for his mothers milk, without regards as to how tired that mother is. How in need of sleep she might be. You will not mature. You will not develop the wisdom and patience you need to be the best father or husband you can be.
I suggest that If you have not yet gained control of your emotions, desires and ego refrain from thinking of becoming a father or husband. Establish yourself first and be secure in your abilities to take care of yourself before contemplating taking on the responsibilities of fatherhood or marriage, which primarily consists of taking care of others. The success of which depends on how much you are willing to give of yourself in time and effort.
If you have already gone down that path and have taken on the task of husband and father. Then I suggest you take the time and quietly observe your wife as she goes about her daily routines. That you take a moment to truly see your children , perhaps as they play, or while they sleep, and consider this. How would you feel if the last thing you and your wife said to each other were words of anger? That when she left to go to the store she was taken from you in some senseless act of violence? If some unexpected natural occurrences like a tornado or earthquake were to take her or your children away from you forever? And now how do you feel life would be like without them or her? How lonely and meaningless life would become.
As bad as those things might be, consider how worse it is when you, in your loneliness realize that it was by YOUR own actions that they are no longer in your life. By the way You conducted yourself, by the decisions you made, by the lack of understanding in that their needs outweighed your own. That the lack of empathy caused you to miss the signs that your wife was in distress, so instead of staying home and perhaps helping and guiding her through it, you went bowling instead?
You want to be the best father that you can be? The best husband? Then work at being the best PERSON you can be. Learn how to shut out your own egotistical views. Work on communication skills. Not just the ones that help you voice your views but those that help you hear and see the ones being broadcast to you.
I tell you it is worth whatever it takes, whatever personal pleasures have to be set aside, whatever sacrifice of ego has to be made, whatever compromise at home or work have to be made, are worth it. If you don’t believe me, try this. Go sit in a dark closet with the door closed and no light, and see how long you can stay in it. I doubt you will enjoy it for very long.