Understanding the Male Ego
It’s absolutely true. Men and women struggle sometimes to understand one another. So in this blog post, all you women out there – I want to help you understand the “male ego” as it’s called.
Often, it gets a bad wrap. But it’s part of how we men are made, and any woman who understands it, has just unlocked the door to her man’s heart.
So, here goes …
A Fragile Thing
Ego is a bit of a negative word isn’t it? So let’s talk instead about a man’s sense of worth and value. That’s really what we’re talking about when we talk about the male ego.
You’ve probably heard that it’s an incredibly fragile thing – and speaking as a man, I can tell you, that it absolutely is!
Now I’m a good case because on the outside, I appear “together,” articulate and confident. Not many situations phase me. I’m comfortable in dealing with conflict – I don’t go looking for it, but when it comes my way, that’s fine, I’m happy to handle it.
So on the surface, I don’t have any obvious problems with my sense of worth and self esteem. I really don’t go looking for recognition, I don’t mind all that much whether people like me or not – I don’t want to upset people, but I realise that I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
So for all intents and purposes, I am a very secure person.
And yet – with all that going for me – there is one person on this planet, who’s opinion matters greatly to me. There is one person on this planet, who’s approval I need – and that person is my wife Jacqui.
The point that I’m trying to make here, is that I don’t think that most women really understand the power they have to support and encourage their husbands, or alternately, to criticise and undermine them.
A Woman’s Power for Good or for Evil
If you’re a wife, as a man I’m asking you to recognise the huge power that you have in your hands for either good or evil when it comes to your husband – who I’m hoping is the single most important human being in your life.
In the early part of a man’s life, as a young boy, he derives most of his sense of worth and esteem through his mother – that’s what the psychologists tell us – and then through the teen years, his dad becomes incredibly important.
Interestingly though, once he’s established as a man and finds himself a wife, it’s his wife who he looks to for guidance, for approval and for validation.
We all know that how parents treat their children in their formative years has a huge impact on their own perceptions of themselves. Loving parents, with the right mix of discipline and reassurance, tend to produce well balanced, well adjusted children who carry that forward into their adulthood. Whereas parents who make a hash of it, produce children who struggle with many issues as adults.
In the same way, wives, you have the power to reassure your husband, to be an emotional rock for him, to love him through his mistakes and to encourage him when he’s struggling. A wife’s depth of emotional strength and endurance (something that’s often under estimated) can be used to support and help her husband be all that he can possibly be.
Let me tell you this – as strong and secure as I am, I need my wife to approve of me, to support me and to show her love to me even when I get things wrong.
And if you’re a woman with a husband, he needs exactly the same thing. He’s wired inside to care about providing for and protecting his family. He wants to succeed at that. That’s why when you criticise him openly in front of others, or attack him about something in private, he’ll either lash out or withdraw.
Have a listen to this piece of wisdom from the Bible about how precious a great wife is, and how she ought to behave:
She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10–12)
God’s Timeless Wisdom
You know what every husband is looking for? A capable wife – a woman who is more precious than jewels. A woman that he can trust. A woman that will always do him good, and not harm.
If you go on and read the rest of Proverbs 31 in the Old Testament of the Bible (and yes, it’s written in the context of the culture of the time) what it talks about is a woman who is emotionally stable and strong and supportive of her man.
A husband’s world is made so much the richer when he knows that his wife won’t criticise him when he makes a mistake, but instead she’ll help him get it right. And when he knows he has a wife like that, he naturally opens up his heart and learns from her.
So … there’s my perspective on the male ego.
It’s not so much an ego, it’s a need for him to be who he was created to be, with the help of his wife.
Other posts in this series:
3 Powerful Ways to Tear Down the Wall In Your Marriage
What to do When the Passion in Your Marriage Dies
Why Marriage Based on 50/50 Doesn’t Work
Why don’t people seem to realize that everything a man and his ego needs is the same as what a woman needs. If he wants this, he needs to give it in equal measure.
I feel the same way. My husband criticizes and puts me down using innuendos, sarcasm and jokes even in front of our kids too but I’m supposed to kiss his ass 24/7 or he throws a temper tantrums and pouts and broods. I’m always wrong, he’s always right and I am always held responsible if he loses his temper or gets upset.
Could you please help me to figure out something. My husband and I have been married for going on 3 years in October. I have made plenty of mistakes and me being so in love and just want to make him happy, I have allowed him to take all that I have. He understands that it was selfish on his part. 2 years later we have yet to go on a vacation or just do something fun together. I want him to take charge, give me flowers just because he loves me. Schedule a weekend getaway just him and I. But lately all his focus on has been just working out and his cell phones. I hate that I am so gullible, and I get my hopes up every time he promises me things. Is it possible to be too honest with our men? I recently told him my truest feelings about how I find it hard to believe him when he says we are going to get a house, get out of debt, go on a vacation, cruise, sea world, buy me flowers, take me on a date, etc. I almost cried when I read the Proverbs 31 woman, because I felt so convicted in my heart when I realized that I have hurt his feeling by being honest. Then I get a thought wondering if he deserves a better wife than myself. It’s so overwhelming to live up to Proverbs 31. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, and it’s scary that we are only in our 3rd year of marriage that I get the sense we need to renew our vows again.
Jen, sometimes it hurts to tell the truth, but that’s okay. Often the truth from God’s Word hurts, but at least God’s Word never comforts us with lies. Marriage is a two way street, and if you don’t set up some boundaries and deal with the issues, things will go from bad to worse. It’s time for your husband to take notice of you and love you the way he should. And if he’s wondering at all what that looks like, send him to Ephesians 5:25-33. Be blessed and never be afraid of speaking the truth in love. -Berni
So I’m wondering about the other way around… I’ve often seen my mother as the nurturer to all of the men in her life (which has only been 2). These 2 men (one my father and one my stepfather) did not return that nurturing and it always seemed like it was my moms struggle with building up their confidence. I see myself swinging to the other side of the spectrum. I’m 41 and have never been married. I have a lot to offer, but have run into many men who lack confidence and feel that I knock them down rather than building them up. I’ve heard it enough to realize I may be lacking a bit in the nurturing department, but my question is….. How much is it a woman’s job to nurture and build a man up compared to it being a man’s responsibility to build up his own confidence? Is it how men are wired compared to women? Is it biological? I want to make a man feel good and I want to be supportive, but I also struggle with doing this to a man who expects to get his confidence from someone else….
You are so right in your comment. I was just now feeling the same, “I want to make a man feel good and I want to be supportive, but I also struggle with doing this to a man who expects to get his confidence from someone else….”
Please, share if you have found a solution to this because I have not and I am 49.
Those are wise words, thanks. I’m not married yet, I don’t even know why I stopped by,but I believe it’s good to hear these things so that when my time of being a wife comes,I’ll be wise enough to understand, encourage and support my husband,if the Lord has one for me
Unfortunately, you cannot generalize as to how men are “wired.” I have always supported and assisted and protected my husband even as he has been dishonest and not at all concerned with providing or protecting me or the children. I have concluded that his ego is the problem. He seems to only see reality from how he feels and how it serves his mood or inclination and not able to see or consider the effect of his ego-centeredness on others and how it hurts them to be neglected.
It is a good reminder! What if someone is in a relationship rather than a marriage that a girlfriend was so hurt enough and do not have the strength to love her boyfriend back? Women can be fragile too, men expects us to have the loving capacity to be tolerant and considerate, but sometimes, men would do something seriously wrong hurting his girlfriend/ wife. Therefore, when a lady doesn’t have the strength for loving her man back, what should she do? Or simply she doesn’t trust love again in the worst case, what should she do?
Galatea, thank you for your comment. Of course this post was written from one perspective, if we’re to write another, and perhaps I will, from the other perspective I would have some very different things to say to men, about loving their wives. Watch this space … -Berni
I really enjoyed this read :D. I feel like now more than ever, that i’m really starting to understand men.
I guess that this is another peice of the jigsaw puzzle on how men think ect.
I’ll never stop serching for the answers; it’s making me a better person, but also the right type of person to find a good man.
Well i’m really happy, it means a’lot to hear a man’s direct thoughts.
Now thats what I call priceless 🙂
It’s great reading your explanation of how a man derives his self worth, but surely that works both ways, and yet somehow the women are generally the stronger ones – maybe for some reason we have to be?
Often my fear of my husband’s reaction if I give him my true opinion on something he’s said or done which may not be exactly full of praise but comes under the guise he hates of “constructive criticism” – prevents me from saying what I really feel. Consequently we both lose out, because I’m not able to honest and he misses out on the opportunity to do or say something in what I consider a better or more appropriate way.
On the other hand he has no hesitation in telling me how he views a situation or something I’ve said or done and qualifies it by saying “Well I’m only telling the truth!”
There are times when I really get fed up with “tip toeing” round his ego.
We are both in our 60s, we’ve been married for 10 years next week (2nd time for us both), we both love the Lord and as members of AA hand our lives and will over to the care of God every day. What I’m saying is that we are certainly not beginners at this relationship stuff, and both lead reasonably spiritual lives, although there is obviously always room for improvement.
You’re quite right. Sometimes we men can be overly sensitive. It’s a two-way street.
On the one hand, it really helps when a wife learns how to speak ‘criticism’ constructively. There’s a world of difference between ‘I can’t believe you did that!’ and ‘Maybe next time, we could handle it differently because … ‘
On the other hand, we men can be way too defensive. I know that I can be sometimes. And yet, a man’s initial reaction doesn’t always represent his considered position. If you get a bad reaction, then Proverbs 15:1 is for you. That will give him the opportunity to change his perspective, his understanding and his position. Sometimes we need time and space to change our minds.
From the man’s side of the fence, we need to have an open heart. We need to be prepared to learn and grow. If a man’s heart is closed, it’s impossible to get through using conventional techniques.
That’s where prayer comes in.
I wonder Sue, if you pray about it and ask God to take the sense of frustration away, whether that wouldn’t help you. None of us are perfect, not me, not you, not your husband. If you approach him with sacrificial love, the desire to serve him and to help him, my hunch is that it will get a lot easier for you and in time, you’ll see the change.
Remember, I’m not at all interested in justifying a man’s failings. What I’m after is discovering things in God’s Word – truths we call them – that work.
I always enjoy reading what treasures you have, so thank you. I really needed to read this at the moment. I just went and read your other link about the three things to break down the walls in marriage. I was just wondering what would be your advise to a practising christian married to someone who is not would be. It can be a really hard slog and tiring! I love my husband and try my best, however sometimes I can feel myself putting up those walls even though I know I shouldn’t. I guess its all part of being human, I’m thinking you might tell me to put my boxing gloves back on and get praying!lol
I could give you lots of advice, but nothing as good as God’s advice. God’s truth. God’s Word. He has something very specific to speak into your situation:
1 Peter 3:1-6
Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives conduct, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in Gods sight. It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you.
It’s a powerful truth. He will eventually see that beauty of your gentle and quiet spirit which is not only very precious in God’s sight, but also in his. And that more than anything, will speak the powerful love of Christ into his heart. As you continue to pray for him, will one day – I have no doubt – cause him to give his life to Christ.
Thank you so much Berni, and God bless.
Doing a small talk at my fellowship and part of it is this
“Men believe their wives, we have a lot of power for good or evil towards them” so you are right. thing is we look towards each other for what only God can give. i want a lot off my husband that i have never received, that is the base of a lot of trouble. the more we all seek God first, we find our peace and acception though Him. Don’t have the at the moment to add more.