Man tears are like unicorns. Hang with me for a minute.
I think it’s safe to say that women and men express emotion differently. It isn’t super hard to figure out how a woman is feeling based on her expressions. When women are joyful it is all over their face and in their body language, when they are sad, the tears roll, and there is no shame in it. So, why is it that men do not feel the same freedom to express emotion?
Culture (mostly masculine male culture) has taught us the strong men don’t cry, and we have believed it for the most part. From grade school through high school, if you are a boy and are overly expressive or emotional, you’re considered a cry baby or a wuss. The names that you are called and the shame you feel, warrant boys growing into men who seem stoic, or who hold back from “letting their emotions get the better of them.”
So, much in the same way that culture tells women they should be skinny and perfect and look great in a bikini in order to be beautiful, men feel cultural pressure to suppress emotion so we can maintain masculinity. Culture is shifting, however and it’s my hope that more men will know that it is okay to cry and it is okay to get overly excited about something other than the latest game on ESPN.
Man tears are rare (like unicorns), so if you have trouble with why your spouse or significant other seems unemotional or like they don’t care, this could be part of the problem. I, myself feel the need to turn and hide my face if I am publicly crying and even feel the same shame in front of my wife sometimes in the privacy of our home. That’s ridiculous. That shame has been reinforced throughout mine, and many other boys’ childhoods and through college, mostly by peers. So don’t take part in man shaming and share this article with your male counterpart. They won’t want to read it, I guarantee, but they will do anything for you, so just make them!!
So why in the world am I on a man tear rant? Well, it mostly had to do with Catie and Jim’s First Not Look (still a thing). Catie and Jim wanted to exchange gifts before the wedding without seeing one another. I love, love, love first looks, and first not-looks too. They nervously began to speak to one another on either side of the door so as not to see each other. Comfort settled in and they exchanged gifts. Jim’s gift to Catie was a beautiful hand made box with lavender and moss in it and a scroll that sat just beneath the wooden cross embedded in the top of the box. Enclosed was a note that only Catie and Jim know the contents of. Catie’s gift to Jim was a journal of their relationship. It was basically one giant love letter that described her love for Jim and the importance of that relationship to Catie.
They held hands and Jim said a prayer. Jim is a strong, handsome dude who played football. Super masculine by societies standard of masculinity. But, Jim did the most manly thing I have seen him do during their prayer; he began crying as he was asking God to bless their marriage. I had a job to do, as I was hired to capture this pivotal moment, but something made my job much more difficult. My vision started to get blurred and my eyes began leaking. Two sets of man tears, Jim’s and mine. So, why did this make me cry? I realized, how vulnerable and how beautiful this moment was in which Jim was perhaps the strongest and most courageous he’s ever been. I realized that I wanted the same happiness for Jim and Catie that I have had with my wife for the last 9 years. I realized this was the beginning of a journey that would become an amazing adventure full of laughter, love, loss, aging, and possibly children. When it boiled down to it, I was genuinely joyful and hopeful for this marriage, and I saw a reflection of my own relationship to my spouse in this blossoming marriage. That has power and meaning that I cannot even begin to describe.
So men, shed some tears, be vulnerable and don’t hold back. Don’t leave things unsaid. Ladies, you are the key to helping us rid ourselves of suppression and shame. Help us to be vulnerable.
Below is a photo movie that tells the story of Jim and Catie’s day. Click the movie to play. Be sure to enjoy the photos below as well.
Venue: The Farm: A Gathering Place
Day of Rep: Connie and Becky
Officiator: Robert Wright and Dale Heath
Caterer: Rosalie Philips
Bartender: Country Club of Asheville
Cake: Miranda Wilkie Makeup: Carly Pollock
Florist: For the Love of Flowers
Entertainment: Sound Extreme