May 28, 2013

Boys to Men: what makes a man "manly"?

What does it mean for a man to be "manly"?  I think many people understand it to mean a man who participates in activities that require muscular strength, sweat, anything that doesn't imply any sort of femininity.  A manly man is one who feels strong and proud about the things he does and the things he owns and who feels that other people looking in on his life view him as strong and manly.  A manly man hunts, fishes, hikes, camps, chops wood, walks with a swagger - head high, shoulders back, grows a beard, drives a pickup truck with a motor that growls (in a good way) and in which he hauls lumber and the carcass of the dear he shot in the woods. And on the weekend, he loafs on the sofa with chips and soda while watching football or baseball.  At least, that's what many people think.

My husband doesn't hunt.  He doesn't fish.  He doesn't hike or tent camp in the wilderness.  He doesn't lift weights.  He doesn't chop wood or dress deer or walk with a swagger.  He doesn't like sports at all.  And he's perfectly content to drive a minivan.

Does this mean he's not "manly" enough?  Do you think these things cause him embarrassment or make him feel emasculated?  Do I, his wife, think less of him?


My husband is, in fact, the most "manly" man I've ever known.

He may not hunt or fish, but he can fix and build anything.  Ever heard of MacGyver?  My husband is MacGyver.  Car not running?  He can fix it.  Computer on the fritz?  He can fix it.  Water main broken and spewing water all over the house and yard?  He can fix it.  Tractor won't start?  He can fix it.  Need a new porch?  He can build it.  Swing set for your kids?  He can build it.  Wall reconstruction?  Yep.  New electrical system in your entire house?  That too.

But, that's not what makes him manly.

He may not lift weights, but the strength he has amazes me every day.  He literally can lift a vehicle.  When need be, his strength is super-human.  I don't know where he got it from, but I can tell you that I never fear for my safety when he's around.

But, that's not what makes him manly.

Driving a minivan doesn't make him feel like a soccer mom.  He isn't emasculated by the type of vehicle he drives.  He owns a truck, and he drives it more often than the minivan, but he's never ducked his head in embarrassment while driving the minivan past other men who might see him in it.  Maybe it's because he knows he can drive just about any vehicle you put in front of him.  Truck.  Tractor.  Ambulance.  Back hoe.  Excavator.  Motorcycle.  RV.  You name it, he can operate it.

But, that's not what makes him manly.  Frankly, a man who prides himself in any of those things, thinking they make him more manly, isn't, in my opinion, very manly at all.

My husband is a strong, "manly" man, because he lives according to Biblical principles.  He strives to be a Godly man, and (more often than not) succeeds.  What makes him a manly man is how he teaches our boys, by word and by deed, to follow Christ and live their lives in a way pleasing to Him.

My husband is a manly man, because he puts others ahead of himself.  His wife, his children, his parents and siblings, his friends, and even strangers.  He does everything he can to make life better for those around him.  He works so his family can have not only what they need, but also much of what they desire.  He helps so his friends and their friends and their friends' friends will see Christ through him.

My husband is a manly man, because he loves me, his wife, in a way I've never felt love.  His love makes me feel not only desired, but also needed and important.  He is a manly man, because he speaks highly of me to others, even when I'm not there to hear it.  He uplifts me.

My husband is a manly man, because he takes care of his wife and children.  Everything he does is for the purpose of caring for his family both now and looking toward the future.  He anticipates and plans for our needs.  He keeps us safe.

And my husband is a manly man, because his manliness isn't tied up in things or circumstances.  It isn't tied to what he drives or the hobbies he enjoys or the amount of hair he grows on his body.  He isn't concerned with doing things or owning things that make him seem more manly in the eyes of other people.

He's the manliest man I know, and I wouldn't have him any other way.

What is your idea of what makes a man "manly"?


  1. Yes, you are right. There are many things we can do to look more manly. I think beards are very important thing for men. We should try to buy best beard oil and balm to take care our beard.

    1. Are you serious? Or are you trolling me?

  2. Yes, I am serious. I know beard is not only thing or I can say not that important to feel more manly but, we can’t ignore the fact that beard can make us feel more manly.

    1. While I suppose a beard could make a man FEEL manly, it's extremely superficial, and is NOT what MAKES a man manly. The point of this blog post was that manliness is NOT a superficial thing. It's much deeper and more important than a beard.