One idea that drew me to Big Ocean was the tenet of valuing the irreplaceable role of fathers and building interdependent relationships with men. I am often troubled by the terrible trend in the media of portraying fathers and men as bumbling buffoons, as incompetent, as unnecessary. I was grateful to find a feminist movement recognizing the power of men and women working together and strengthening each other.
I have seen the power that can come into a relationship when we value those relationships and work on building them, especially within the home. I have a great husband. He’s dedicated to our family and works incredibly hard. He helps around the house and insists on doing the dishes even after a long day. He takes over whenever I need a break. He gives me freedom to spend money however I need. He lavishes me with affection. He honors my requests. He makes me laugh. He takes time with each of our kids. He encourages them and helps them succeed.
I haven’t always thought so highly of him. In fact, when the above picture was taken, I was planning to leave him. On the way to our family photo shoot, we had had one more argument. We’d reached a point where it seemed impossible to overcome our difficulties. I was done. I was tired of fighting and feeling like things would never improve. It was too much work. I was perpetually miserable with him. I couldn’t see any possibilities for improvement. That day, I told myself I’d follow through on the pictures and fake a smile, because our friends were expecting us. Then I’d come home, pack up and leave. Well, it’s been five years and we are still together.
Ironically, this photo has become one of my favorites. It’s a reminder of the choice we made that day. Our decision rested on the fact that we knew our children would be better off with their father at home.
Statistics show that children with an attentive father are more likely to escape poverty. They are less likely to commit a crime, to be abused, to have emotional problems, to engage in questionable behavior, to struggle academically, or to become more delinquent (http://marripedia.org/effects_of_fatherless_families_on_crime_rates).
That’s huge. Having a father means having a greater possibility for success in life. It’s no less beneficial for the mother. Single mothers typically experience more stress, more depression, and less leisure time.
If we look even further into economics, we see that when a man is committed to a family, he tends to obtain higher education and earn more money–he contributes more to a strong economy. Married families in the United States account for 50% of the population, but pay 74% of the nation’s income tax. The benefits cannot be overstated.
My husband came from a broken family. He represented the statistics of living in poverty, struggling in school, going through a period of depression, etc. He knows from experience the challenges that come from growing up without a supportive father. He didn’t want to do that to his children. And neither did I. We knew we needed to put our selfishness aside and put in the effort to strengthen our relationship with each other.
It’s been a lot of hard work. We had to let go of incorrect perceptions and false beliefs about relationships and learn to accept each other as is. In short, we had to find the positive. It wasn’t just a one-time attempt. It still takes constant effort. We’ve had many setbacks and fall into bad habits, but we keep going.
We recognize that the benefits have not only impacted our children and our marriage, but also reach into our community. Because we are a team, we have more to give. In my husband’s example of growing up without his dad, he received a lot of support from other good men in his neighborhood. Many who understood the need he had for a father figure, took him under their wings. Because those men were in a supportive marriage themselves, they had more to give outside themselves.
In Big Ocean, we understand that not all marriages will succeed and that not all men will rise to the challenge and responsibility of being good fathers. Nevertheless, we know that husbands and fathers are essential and that the world’s problems will not be solved without including the efforts of both men and women. We embrace this as the ideal for which we sincerely work and fervently hope.
How have you been influenced for good by the men in your life? This month, let’s join in spotlighting the good men of the world. Let’s raise our voices in support of men. Let’s honor them and show our gratitude for the sacrifices they make to support us in a myriad of ways. Please share your stories of the men who have been meaningful and important in your life: husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, grandfathers, cousins, coworkers. #hisstorymatters.