It’s a favored phrase in the relationship world. “He’s just being a guy.”
You’ve probably heard of its cousin. “He’s just a normal guy with normal guy issues.”
Put another way, those oppressive, harmful, unrepentant patterns of your spouse? Eh. Normal guy stuff. Lower your expectations and just let him be. It’s normal behavior from men.
“Actually, you are the problem for expecting your husband keep his promise to honor and cherish you. Yeah, you both committed to that but mens’ baseline is different. Welcome to the real world.”
(By now, if your lunch isn’t trying to make it’s way up…)
Yet the idea that all men are unhealthy and destructive at their core and women should just let them be (just be grateful he’s willing to stay!) continues to rage.
We need to set the record straight. (Again and again!)
Because there are plenty of healthy wonderful guys and the unhealthy destructive ones are not representative of the male population.
18 Things Normal Guys Don’t Do in Marriage
There are many behaviors decent men will steer clear of. Like, even the very idea of other men doing these things is nauseating.
So let’s talk about what regular guys with normal-human issues DON’T do to their spouses.
The list is by no means exhaustive but it gives us an idea and hopefully begins to put the “He’s just being a guy” insanity to the bin where it belongs.
Without further ado,
Normal guys do not:
1. Angrily scold and criticize their spouses.
2. Remind their spouse “how good they have it,” how “lucky” they are to be married to them, or how they would never find another man if they tried.
3. Make it seem like a terrible abnormal thing for their mate to have emotional or relational needs.
4. Get tangled up emotionally, sexually with someone who is not their spouse, (includes porn.)
5. Blame everyone and everything (but themselves) for problems.
6. Say they want help but never really do the hard work of being healthy when it comes down to it.
7. Make their spouse live in fear: She never knows who’ll show up in the relationship, day-by-day.
8. Demand submission and allegiance.
9. Focus on portions of Scripture that benefit them and ignore the rest.
10. Tell others things their spouse shared in private.
11. Give their spouse sexually transmitted diseases.
12. Bemoan regular relationship and parenting commitments.
13. Disrespect boundaries set up by their spouse.
14. Flex masculine strength/privilege.
15. Look one way in public and another in private.
16. Attempt to be god of their spouse: The marriage operates on their terms. No mutuality.
17. Demand control of the money/squander money/keep his family in or on the brink of poverty while he lives comfortably.
18. Engage in criminal behavior.
Regular normal guys don’t do these things in marriage (or anywhere else for that matter.)
The 12 Ways of Regular Guys: Things Normal Guys Do in Marriage
Let’s talk about what, “normal guys with common human issues” actually do.
1. Take responsibility for their individual problems.
2. Use their male strength and privilege to lift others and create safety (Vs. Use male strength and privilege to conjure little kingdoms and consolidate power.)
3. Share power.
5. Are empathetic, even if they don’t understand everything.
6. Respect a “no” (they may get disappointed, because human. But we move on)
8. Exhibit the fruit of repentance..they don’t just say they are changing; their spouse can feel and see the change, privately and publicly.
9. Grow when it’s needed. They reflect, they seek help when they can’t do it alone, they follow through.
10. Don’t expect to be rewarded and pampered for being decent human beings.
11. Pay the price to heal hurts caused. She gets her space, she’s not punished for needing it.
12. Heal for themselves, not to trick their spouse to “normalcy.”
When “regular guys with regular guy issues” fail in these areas (never as a pattern, always reflective), they seek to do better, with long lasting-fruit to show.
So What’s The Difference?
So dear Christians, there’s a vast difference between wounding and offending sometimes (and taking responsibility for it) and operating from the baseline of wounding and offense.
There’s a heaven and earth difference between “regular guy struggles” (and regular doesn’t mean acceptable, just commonly occurring in any growing relationship and folks take responsibility) and “destructive guy struggles.”
There’s a difference between a guy who’s blown it but is willing to reflect and do whatever it takes to engage with the process of growth and a guy who has blown it big time – over and over again – but is in a perpetual state of denial, minimizing, justifying and lying.
Being married to a guy with regular human issues does not drive a woman to the edge of sanity. It doesn’t create diseases, deep trauma, and the death of her personhood.
When it does, it is NOT “regular guy issues.”
Patrick Weaver, an advocate and a leader in the fight against domestic abuse, puts it this way.
“No relationship is perfect but there’s a difference between a toxic, traumatizing relationship and growing pains between two people who uphold and honor the boundaries of love.. It’s not ok to be good to me 80% of the time and traumatize me 20% of the time. The 20% cancels the 80% when our expectation is to be respected, honored and loved 100% of the time. Being loved 100% of the time doesn’t mean the relationship is perfect, none are, it means that love is the guiding principle and respect is never undermined. When someone has a heart to traumatize someone they say they love, they simply have a different definition of love than what a healthy person will accept.”
Not Regular Guy Issues
Bottom line: We need to stop labeling destructive habits “regular guy issues.”
Actually, let’s just leave it to the victims and survivors and their licensed, competent help to judge the “regularity” of issues in marriage.
Especially because many of us Christians struggle to find it in our hearts to empathize with a fellow human being who is being destroyed in the place they should feel most cherished.
Unholy Fruit | Your WILD Guide to Discerning Toxic Character | Workshop
Are you in a chronically problematic marriage? Or perhaps you know someone who is and you desire to support them. In this Workshop and Checklist (affiliate link), Coach Sarah McDugal empowers your ability to discern the Fruit of an UNholy spirit. If you have felt confused by the dissonance between someone’s pious words and their exploitative actions, this workshop offers clarity and some possible next steps in your healing journey. Click here to check it out.