Are Men Emotional Prudes?
As far as I can tell, listening is the key to healing the men who have become emotional prudes. It's easy to think that we are good at loving until we actually experience love. We might have lofty ideas about sex and romance but our relationships reveal who we really are. They are a standard. They judge us. Until we learn to put aside the pictures in our heads and love the actual person in front of us, it doesn't work.
Pornography, movies, and even too many Christian books about "courting" can put unrealistic ideas in our heads about what a relationship is really like. We can create a world of romance that doesn't exist in real life. It might be flowery. It might look pure. But it is not real. Relationships hurtle us, sometimes against our will, into the most fundamental reality of what it means to be human. A man that's fully alive can be a sexual prude, but he can't be an emotional prude.
I believe God made sex interwoven with affection, the future, and death. Good sex is possible only in marriage, and marriage summons men to be emotionally vulnerable. Without the kind of vulnerability epitomized in marriage, sex becomes a matter of performance. The whole awkward-beautiful dance is turned into one big solemn production. We lose the natural grace possible only when we aren't aware that we're being watched.
Today's culture might not produce many sexual prudes, but emotional prudes abound. The bachelor moves from one partner to the next, from one one-night stand to the other, a new body in his or her bed for every new phase of life. He sees your naked body as just like every other naked body. In marriage, however, not all naked bodies are equal. Here, husband and wife come to each other to make their bodies extraordinary, irreplaceable, and soulful. In marriage, men must give the gift of being emotionally open and attentive.
Adapted from Tyler Blanski's 2010 book Mud & Poetry: Love, Sex, and the Sacred. Used with permission of Fresh Air Books, 1908 Grand Ave., Nashville, TN 37212. All rights reserved. More of Blanski's work can be found at TylerBlanski.com.