Over 40 Dating: Don’t Step on His Male Ego – Emasculation Isn’t Pretty

dating after 40
dating after 40

The Situation
Paul and I went to Home Depot Sunday to pick up a number of items. The biggest one on the list was the filter for our under-the-sink water filtration system. We walk in, I see a couple of employees and I ask where the water filter replacement parts are. The guy walks us over to where they are displayed.

Paul had written the model and filter numbers down for me and I had the paper in my pocket. I had also called GE because they don’t seem to sell those filters  any more so I got the new replacement number. The employee hands us the filters that match the new numbers and it becomes obvious that this was incorrect.

The Fax Paux
Had I been using my feminine brain instead of my masculine chick-in-charge brain, I would have realized the best course of action was to step back and let my husband take over.  No such luck – I forged ahead discussing options with the guy. My husband started fuming – it took me  while to catch on. Oh oh.

Emasculation is Not Pretty
Since the Home Depot guy was interacting with me – he was ignoring my husband. And that makes sense since I was obviously the person in charge –  not such a good thing when your husband is standing right there. As a woman, in a man’s world, taking charge makes your man feel superfluous and unnecessary. Anyone want to volunteer to feel unnecessary? It’s not a good feeling and it’s really not pretty for a man.

My Nature and Family History
I am a chick-in-charge. Getting to 40 and being on my own, I had  to be a chick-in-charge. It was a job requirement too because I worked in a very competitive field – marketing at a top consumer packaged foods company.  And in all honestly, I come from a driver family where we are a bit bossy, speak up for ourselves and get our point heard if you catch my drift.

Fast Forward to Today
Today I’ve been married for nine  years (it’s so hard to believe.) Having dated 30 men in 15 months to meet and marry my husband, I was more in tune with this during my dating frenzy. But in marriage, now that we are together, I can tend to forget that I need to leave room for my husband to be the man.

What is My Priority?
Being in charge at Home Depot? Is that really my top priority? It better not be if I want my man to stick around. Why couldn’t I have let him take over, step up and be in charge of the water filter? My nature is to step up and take charge, but it sure doesn’t suit his nature – at Home Depot. There are other situations where my nature is perfectly acceptable and he’d be fine with me being in the driver’s seat. But not in the man’s world of home building supplies.

Once the event was over, I took a step back to understand his perspective. I get it now. Of course it would have been better if I had gotten it then, in the moment, before I made him feel small and foolish. Before I pounced on his easily wounded male ego and pride.

Yielding the Right of Way
Allowing Paul to be the driver of Home Depot activities, is this really a big concession? No. Mostly he goes on his own which in hindsight is clearly a better option. I love my husband and to keep a marriage happy requires a series of compromises and adjustments. Giving way at Home Depot is a rather small concession in the scheme of things. After all, its tiring to be in charge of everything. I’d prefer to split the duties. What was I thinking?

After we made our purchases, I suggested we cross the street for a hamburger and french fries.  He loves burgers and fries. But, I’m the decision maker regarding most meals so he doesn’t get that often in my quest to eat healthy.

It may be an old tired saying, but you can catch more flies with honey. I’m not really trying to catch flies, but I do want my husband to know that he is loved and very needed. He started smiling again when he saw how many fries were in the bag.

photo credit  photos from PT

Single for too long, Ronnie wanted to find love. So, she made a few tweaks and then dated 30 men in 15 months to meet her adorable husband Paul. Discovering the keys to midlife dating, she founded It’s Never Too Late for Love to help other smart, successful women find love too! Her mission is to share her proven dating advice  and keen insights about men with women everywhere who are serious about finding love with the right man. Ronnie Ann Ryan, MBA, CCC is a Certified Coach who has helped 1,000’s of midlife women with her Love & Dating Coach services. She’s been featured on BBC’s 5 Live Radio, NBC, ABC, and Fox News, NPR, eHarmony, MSN.com, MORE.com, Connecticut Magazine among others around the world. An established author, you can find her 6 books on Amazon.

8 thoughts on “Over 40 Dating: Don’t Step on His Male Ego – Emasculation Isn’t Pretty”

  1. I have an entirely different take on your piece than Clint. I’ve been struggling with the concept of the “male ego”, emasculation and male emotional intelligence (no that’s not an oxymoron) for a while now. Paul knew you had chick-in-charge tendencies long before the you two walked into the Home Depot. Logically, getting the right filter should be the focus, not how to avoid bruising a man’s self image.

    Is there something about men at their core that necessitates women learn relationship management strategies just to be with a guy? At work I rely on woman who have more expertise than I in a number of areas. It’s all about solving the customers’ problems and getting the job done. Shouldn’t I be the same way in dating and relationships, instead of worrying about being “less than a man” if she chooses where we go for a date, or worse yet, bests me at something physical activity? I guess it’s appreciated if the woman is OK with avoiding my hot buttons, but isn’t this really my problem and not hers?

    My apologies if it sounds like I’m overthinking this. I’m curious about your take on what’s fair to expect of the woman and what of this I should just “man up” about.

    BTW: While Clint missed the intent of you piece, he was correct in his reaction to the word “allow”. You don’t have authority over your husband when the two of you are in Home Depot (a nutty concept to be sure), so it’s not possible for either of you to “allow” the other to be part of the conversation. You meant something like “Letting Paul be the driver”. It’s a minor point, but such is the nature of conversations on sensitive topics.

    • Eric – Thanks for sharing your viewpoint which is a good one – why should anyone worry about who bests who? The task was to find the filter which is a fact. But the bigger picture is my marriage and respect for my partner. Women in my age bracket were not taught to respect men – we were taught to compete with men. It’s a great skill to get ahead at work. But its a detrimental behavior for a lasting romantic relationship. I’m not suggesting that women need to respect men as superiors as in days gone by, but as equals.

      Your comment does include the word “should’ which of course nullifies the point in my mind. Yes, many things “should” be as you say, but they are not. Is anything that simple? Especially male/female communication in romantic situations.

      In addition, my example is not from the workplace – which I agree – your stance is totally appropriate there. Relationship issues are far more emotional than what transpires at work where gender tends to take more of a back seat.

      My husband is very traditional, therefore he in no way wants to be out-manned by me. Yes, he knows who I am, but I know who he is too – this works both ways. When ego is involved, it’s not so easy to shrug things off.

      For me, this is a matter of respect. I can march around, take charge and shout orders. But if I want a happy marriage – that’s not going to work. I am always looking to better understand the balance of masculine and feminine energy. This is not a one time, static situation.

      This is my romantic life and for that reason, I strive to find ways to allow room for my husband. In truth, I am not allowing him to do anything as you have pointed out. But it is my way of talking about the Universe and “allowing” or “making way” rather than bulldozing an aggressive path. Allowing in this case is to be like the willow tree, flexible and yielding as the wind blows vs. rigid and firm like an oak.

  2. Clint -You missed the entire point of this post. Women who are chicks in charge find it hard to let go. It’s not that we think men are stupid – you are so wrong. But we are used to doing everything independently. So the idea of “allowing” is to make room for a man to step into his normal role – something we are not always familiar with especially if a woman has lived alone for a long time – like myself.

    To allow is NOT about control – OH NO! Its to make way, to create space for men who are not only bright and capable, but wonderful additions to our lives. If independent women can stop being in charge and doing everything ourselves for one minute – we can let down our defenses and allow our men to step up and be exactly who they are – fabuolus masculine partners.

    So sorry you missed the point.

  3. As a man I think this post only re-enforces your lack of understanding of men. First of all the statement… “Allowing Paul to be the driver of Home Depot activities” isn’t showing some kind of enlightened thinking on your part. You “ALLOW” your husband to do things? What does that mean? If he goes with you to get your hair done does he “ALLOW” you to choose the style? You “ALLOW” children to do things not adults and not your husband. A statement like this demoralizes your husband even more then what happened at Home Depot!

    The idea of this article is that you feel men are to stupid to do things on their own. You assume that YOU need to control the situation because they (men) are far to dumb to do things themselves. Offering this kind of advise to other people is even worse. This entire article is insulting and demoralizing to men. If a man had wrote this kind of garbage you would have a half million women posting how sexist this article is. Changing the statement… “I allow Jane to be in charge at the grocery store.” is a very sexist statement, wouldn’t you agree? Yet here you can say you “allow” your husband to do certain things and women think it’s great.

    I hope that some of the women reading this know that this is not the way to have a healthy relationship and this is a far cry from “understand men”. Now if they are looking for a way to control men and dominate a relationship then you have scored a direct hit. But being in a mutual relationship isn’t about allowing people to do things. Emasculation isn’t an action you perform, it is a mindset. You are missing the forest for the trees with this article. You aren’t changing the way you think or trying to relate to your husband, you just let your husband “feel” like he is making choices so that he will shut up and follow the program you have outlined for him. That’s sad and every bit as emasculating. I wonder how you would feel if the shoe was on the other foot. If you’re husband was telling people that he just “Allows” you to feel like your in charge once and a while so that you don’t feel so worthless?

  4. This is a great post. I think after all is said and done it’s the little things that can make or break a relationship. This is a great example of an instance where ‘giving up’ being in charge can make for a much happier relationship. It’s so easy to overlook/forget these things. Thanks for sharing this!


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