The Future of Men tracks gender roles and stereotypes across media, politics, and advertising, but it also includes real stories from real women. Below is Tina's story.
When I was young, I didn't have many conversations with my mother about men; she seemed untrusting of and a bit peeved at them. One of the few tidbits of information I did glean from her was that it didn’t matter if there was something about a man I didn't like – I could change him. Well, that seemed interesting. If I didn't like who he hung around, his hobbies, or the way he dressed or acted, she made it seem that he would easily change his entire lifestyle because I, his woman, requested it.
At the tender age of 19, when I was first married, I found out how very wrong she was. That marriage lasted five long years, and there wasn't a single thing about him (or the relationship) that he changed for me. He didn't change the yelling or the violence, nor did he change seeing his girlfriend after we were married; if anything, he stepped all those things up a notch. He didn't stop the mood swings, he didn't suddenly start doing things to help around the house, and he didn't become a nicer guy. Nothing swayed his opinions, his lifestyle, or anything about him. Being with him was my own damn fault; I should have known that you need to be with someone who you want just as they are, not who you think they could be if they changed this or that.
When that marriage finally came to its end, I remarried. My second marriage has lasted 20 years, and I realize now that sometimes men can change. My husband has flaws, and there have been times that I really wanted things to change –and he has been open to and accepting of my requests. I love him for who he is; he’s a man who is willing and capable of changing certain aspects of himself. I realized, though, that he’s not changing for me; he’s changing because he cares about being a better husband, a better father, and a better man.
Going into relationships with the belief that you can change a man is wrong. Men are men; love them for who they are and not who you believe you can make them. If they truly love you, and if they know how to love you, they will listen to your needs, express their own needs, and makes the changes in their lives necessary to show you their love. Unfortunately,these men are currently few and far between; fortunately, more and more young men are approaching relationships with less need to establish their dominance and impose their will over their partners.