Authentic Masculinity’s 7 Tips to Understanding Male-Female Complementarity
Are you one of the unfortunate men who doesn’t know what a complementary relationship with a woman is?
If so, you’re not alone. Most men don’t know what complementary relationships are. Many of us don’t even know what complementary means. Complementary means combining two things so they enhance or improve the qualities of each in its separate form. The word complement comes from the Latin complementum, meaning “something that fills up or completes,” so when differences fulfill one another in accompaniment, they co-exist in harmony.
In a complementary relationship, each individual’s strengths are improved. If a man says, “She completes me,” or “She makes me want to be a better man,” it’s a pretty good indicator he is in a complementary relationship.
At Authentic Masculinity we believe the key in all things is for men is to be more masculine in the right ways. In this post we examine male-female relationships for clues that may reveal how men and women are different in ways that actually encourage a complementary relationship with each other. We suspect a true male-female friendship of strong, radically different equals is one where each brings out the best in the other. Our assertion is that men and women are equally intelligent, gifted and capable, but in different ways. Confirming that men and women are equal but different—created for complementary relationship—is not obvious, but is itself a journey of discovery. However, complementary relationship—harmony between the sexes—becomes possible when we as men begin to discover how we are different from the beautiful, captivating, intelligent women around us.
Learning to navigate those differences makes true love, commitment, and fulfillment as husbands and fathers possible, but it’s tricky because navigating a complementary relationship is both art and science. Remember—science is knowing the rules that govern something, art is knowing how to apply those rules. To that end, Authentic Masculinity offers first these clues that indicate a male-female complementarity relationship exists and then Authentic Masculinity’s 7 Tips to Understanding Male-Female Complementarity.
First, clues that indicate male-female complementarity relationship:
1. Men are visually stimulated, women less so, and men are visually attracted to women. This sets in motion a compelling, thrilling dynamic.
2. Men tend to fantasize about physical affection from women, women tend to fantasize about emotional relationships with men.
3. Men tend to be interested in things, women tend to be interested in people. Moreover, women notice relationships between things and people, while men tend to focus on the things or people themselves.
4. There is a complementary relationship between men and women and problem solving: men simplify problems to solve them, women drill down in detail to understand and thoroughly confirm they understand a problem.
5. Men tend to act, women either encourage action, invite action or respond to it. Their response communicates the man’s next step. This, too, sets a dynamic in motion.
6. Men prefer reason, women are comfortable with emotion. Men becoming emotional sets things off-balance, but a little masculine emotion at the right time, in the right measure can make everything better, because a complementary relationship benefits from authenticity.
7. Forced to choose, men will choose respect over love; forced to choose, women will invariably choose love rather than respect, which men tend to communicate with coolness.
Next, let’s look at tips that will help you understand and navigate the complementary relationship you may discover.
Authentic Masculinity’s 7 Tips to Understanding Male-Female Complementary
First, agree on the definition of love.
Here’s one we recommend: Love is willing the good of the other as other. This means you both recognize that each of you seeks the best for the other, not for your own welfare or benefit. Willing love means it’s a decision, not an emotion. The good news is that if you decide to love and live the discipline of love, the emotion will flow more freely over time.
Second, forgive each other of all past wrongs and commit to reconciliation of all past wrongs. This can be easier for men than women. Don’t expect the woman you love to be able to reconcile as quickly as you may be able to. This itself is helpful in understanding a complementary relationship. Women tend to love more sacrificially than men. The genius of women is that they may love children or even us as men, so much they neglect themselves. Our responsibility in a complementary relationship is to protect women from loving too much, for men are less inclined to love sacrificially, though we do sacrifice for those we love. Begin the journey to complementarity by forgiving.
Third, take responsibility for all your own faults and failures. Say goodbye to blame in any form, which means taking full and complete ownership of your emotions. You must commit never to losing your temper and re-commit to never criticizing, condemning or complaining in your marriage. A complementary relationship requires personal responsibility.
Fourth, a complementary relationship demands you accept that you and the woman you love are radically different right down to your DNA. Reject the seductive suggestions that men and women are the same or that differences between us are minimal. Once you accept this powerful concept, everything else gets clearer.
Fifth, agree who leads in different circumstances. Even if you agree the man should lead in a complementary relationship, sometimes it makes sense to yield that privilege. Be prepared for different answers in different circumstances, for exceptions to every rule and as a man, to lead the majority of the time. Most women prefer for most men to lead most of the time, but understand that in a complementary relationship you earn the privilege to lead every day. Remember—lead as a servant. Do not assume leading connotes superiority.
Sixth, learn the discipline of love, as defined above. When emotions tell you to be hurtful, let your discipline and will take over. All emotions come and go, but a complementary relationship provides a more stable framework for emotion. Emotions associated with love need a solid, predictable, reliable framework. Men are responsible for ensuring that framework stays strong and stable. Stability, safety, predictability—these are things you must provide artfully for the woman you choose and decide to love.
Seventh, all of the foregoing indicates that men and women, though fundamentally different, are equal. In this equality and difference we do fit together in a dynamic. Revel in the complexity and the variety of our differences. Get comfortable in the discomfort and you’ll be on your way to a complementary relationship.
So what does a relationship look like when these seven things are not respected?
A relationship like that looks more like a competition than a relationship. Each party is out to get what he or she wants at the expense of the other, instead of serving the other.
When men and women are not in a complementary relationship we get competition and pettiness and we all fall victim to the forces that seek to divide us. It’s hard to get complementarity right because it requires courage to confront the unknown, humility and strength to change and the willingness to love as a discipline and a decision. That is very tough and a work of a lifetime, but when we do it, we improve. When we improve and when we improve together—everybody wins.
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