"Where There are Friends, There is Wealth"
- Plautas (3rd century)
I shudder to begin this blog with something so cliche’ but here’s the truth. I was reflecting on the question, why this blog and why now, when I thought…"everything happens for a reason." There is a reason that this blog began now and not before. There are multiple reasons why I have experienced what I have experienced, and applied myself to learn what I have learned. And I wouldn't trade those lessons for the world. I could share with you bullet points, but no bullet points appeared in the air in my life, rather it unfolded in the form of a story…. Here are some of the tidbits that led to the creation of this blog and what I hope you can get out of it. Also check out the About page.
Several months ago, at a leadership gathering, the facilitator was leading us in some self reflection on our core values when I realized: “Joel, with all that you’ve been through, all that you’ve learned, why are you not sharing it with more people and mentoring other men who may need your insight right now?” I argued back with myself, “But I am meeting with people, consulting over coffee or lunch quite often.” Indeed, over the past few years, several men have sought me out to discuss their very personal journey and their relationships. I remember being asked by one of these men the question, “how are you OK inside?” He really wanted to know. Considering what he knew of my story of the loss of my family as I had known it, the personal pain and upheaval of going through divorce that I had been through, he wanted to know how I had a sense of peace with reality, a sense of grounded strength, and still relational success with people around me.
One day, a group of single women walked up to me and directly asked me, “can you teach a class to other guys?” They were serious. It is a sad but true fact that there are far too few men out there who have tackled, let alone mastered relational skills, nor have done the internal work of becoming a true adult man. Consequently, I decided to dig up my journals and books and started to write and put together a roadmap of sorts, attempting to articulate for others the principles and lessons that changed my life.
Society has changed so quickly in recent times. In the past two generations, male and female roles have changed so drastically that men have very little information and even fewer positive role models to help with these cultural changes. We no longer have “coming of age” rituals in our culture, as in so many generations before us. And with the increase in divorce in our culture over the last 50 years especially, and the necessary but interfering legal system putting most men on occasional visitation with their children, we now have a generation with primarily maternal influence, adding to the problem. Questions in the male psyche continuously circle within us as we grow up, constantly asking “what is a real man?”, while looking for role models around us to show us. More questions follow such as, “what does he do with his time, how does he interact with women, and how does one know when he has become a man?” and a host of others from how to shave, survive puberty, throw a football, talk to girls, and the like.
I was a camp counselor recently because my son and daughter were at camp this summer and there was a need for another dad. My kids begged me to go to camp for the week and I reluctantly gave in. There was one boy in particular who was dropped off by his mother and grandmother. It was obvious to me that his connection to his mother was very strong. As I saw him interact with other boys, I sensed a major chip on his shoulder. It was an invisible insecurity as he struggled to connect with other boys, yet had to constantly prove himself in competitive ways that shoved others down. He desperately wanted their acceptance as well as mine, but he constantly behaved in ways that sabotaged his chances of receiving what he sought. When I later learned from the camp director that he didn’t have a father at home, and also didn’t know who his father was, it all made sense. It was a behavior that could be seen and observed. There was no qualified masculine role model around to show him how a boy is to interact in this world with other boys, with women, with adults, and so he only receives the maternal perspective. The trouble is...the feminine cannot impart masculinity.
Imagine many such boys running around as young adults, having picked up some skills perhaps from piers or the media, now out trying to date eligible young ladies. Now imagine being one of a seeming throng of eligible ladies observing a grown up version of this boy, lacking in social skills, unable to connect, not knowing how to interact, communicate, or show masculine leadership, let alone be romantic. I believe this is the sad situation many women face in the dating world today. Many of them face it also in their marriages.
These women end up settling because that’s all there is. It would be a bit like being in a the harsh African plains, searching everywhere for water. All you can find is this wet mud pit that elephants were recently bathing in, drinking, and is contaminated with bacteria that will likely give you disintary. You are starving for water and the sun is beating down on you, so you are going to end up drinking it, but all the while you’re looking for better water because you know that your body needs clean water, not this stuff. Out of desperation, you settle and hope for the best. That is what many women do in our culture with regard to relationships. Certainly this is a generalization and there are many great men out there, and certainly all women are not relationally mature, but it is generally true that women are more advanced in the field of relating and we men are woefully behind and lack the models and information on how to navigate our relational world. And because the feminine cannot impart the masculine, and because they are masters at feeling and intuition, but do not understand the male psyche, they don’t know how to describe this problem. Ask any single woman. All they keep saying and wondering is “Would the real men please step forward! Where are they??” And this is why those ladies walked up and asked me to teach a class.
So here it is. If this medium allows me to help other men, then I will write and share what insight I can to help other men with their journey. Who am I writing for? All men in general, but more specifically men who could use some guidance for the journey of enriching relationships. In a prismatic sort of way, this journey can be described in several ways, such as both the journey inward, and the journey outward. It is also the journey of becoming a real man. It parallels the archetypal hero’s journey. All these things will need greater explanation over time. But from a symptomatic perspective I am writing for the man who:
• feels alone and doesn’t know why he has so few friendships
• is desperate to connect with a woman in healthy ways but has no idea how to get there or what that even looks like
• is married, dating, or single
• has been through divorce or other traumatic relational events and has no idea how to move through and beyond
• needs to develop some relational tools to radically change his relationships and his life
I have centered this blog on the concept of relational wealth. One of the big realizations I had was that the skills I employ with people in my life, which overflow from the internal work I have done, have over time built equity or value and have increased to the point where I realized that I am relationally wealthy. Trusted friends have reflected this back to me so that I could see it. I just thought I was normal, but realized over time that my relational wealth is the exception, not the norm. So along with this realization and the above stories, I humbly submit to you, www.buildrelationalwealth.com. I ask that you share your comments below the posts, and that you enter your email address in the subscription field along the right side or below in the footer to get tips for building your relational wealth. Focussing on the relationships in your life and learning how to build them well will greatly change your life for the better. Let's begin this journey.
Get a Free Ebook!
Subscribe here to download your copy:
Joel is a husband, father, musician, and lover of life; especially life that is shared with the wealth of amazing friends and family he is blessed to have near.