When Mary, my big sister used to come home for holidays in her high school days, she’d do one thing that drove me up the wall. She’d take charge of every electronic gadget and run it like a ruthless monopoly. The TV, radio, DVD player, the remote, heck even the microwave and iron box. That meant no more cartoons for me or anything else I wished to enjoy while she was home. I dreaded her homecoming.
She would play her music endlessly. Mostly R&B tunes from a few artist I remember; Boyz to Men, Westlife, Joe, TLC and many others. Speaking of TLC, I tend to think, that’s where my romantic side came about. This music inducted me to the world of love at an early age. I’d find myself learning the songs word for word despite my initial protest of not liking Mary’s choice of music. I later turned out to be a hip hop head but, the soft R&B side of me still exists (hello John Legend).
Somehow, I learnt the language of women; Tender Love and Care. Mainly from the music and the movies Mary filled the entire oxygen at home with.
Being gentle and tender goes deeper than just knowing a whole lot of R&B tunes. A lady friend of mine asked me about it and I sort to know how exactly, are men gentle and tender to their wives, girlfriends or fiancées. I made a WhatsApp one minute voice note and sent it to my male contacts who are either married or in a serious relationship. My quest was to find out from the horse’s mouth, just how exactly are men gentle and tender in their relations?
A few things surfaced from this exercise. First, I realized how very few men in my phonebook are in serious relationships (that I know of). I mean, I only gathered twenty guys to send the voice note to. Twenty guys out of a huge number of chaps I’ve saved on my phonebook. That’s somehow shocking and illuminating in a sense. If ever the writing failed to work out, I could start a dating agency and hook up a couple of brothers with their future soulmates, eh?
Secondly, out of the twenty guys, very few of them actually responded back to me. The rest dodged the question. Not knowing what to say or how to answer and for the handful that responded back, it was evident that this was indeed a tough ask. Which brings me to the third point, Men-Don’t-Know-How-To-Talk-Emotions. It’s foreign language to them.
What started as a small research turned out to be a huge uncovering of just how indifferent men are to their emotions and how difficult it is expressing ourselves, revealing our tender side, leave alone talking about it to another man.
The question was, ‘How are you able to be gentle and tender to your lover?’
Gentleman #1: He responded back saying hello and told me he’s travelling. Well, I guess his plane hasn’t touched down already and he’s still somewhere in the skies doing a bazokizo dance (see what I did there?)
Gentleman #2: At least he was honest, he texted back saying, “mimi hapo I will be of no assistance. I’m flying solo nowadays.” Ouch! It’s been a while since we spoke about his relationship which seemed so promising and now it’s ended. Such are the unexpected happenings of relationships sometimes. I texted back, “sorry to hear that, man.”
Gentleman #3: Dude told me he’s having a cold and would get back to me. Haha. Get well soon my brother (master dodger).
See what I mean, men would rather run away from talking about their feelings and emotions than face them. It’s a looming giant that few of us really comprehend how to look courageously in the eye. It’s the fire spitting dragon in the cave that gives us shaky knees when it threatens to come out.
In the man’s world, you could have a pal who you watch football games with frequently and hang out with a lot, but never quite get to know his heart. Just his face. Emotions are hidden where they cannot be traced easily.
Gentleman #4: Was courteous enough to call and we had a good chat. He admits that being gentle and tender is a foreign language to him. He’s grown up with male siblings and been in the middle meant he had to fight to get what he wanted. He was accustomed to using brute force to get his way. He carried the same mentality into dating relationships and marriage and obviously, there was friction. He’s had to learn how to be gentle to his wife, and daughter.
He talked about using pet names, showing affection through touch; a warm embrace and mostly through his choice of words. It’s been a journey of shedding off his default settings, to learning the tender, love and care language. This comes after nasty experiences of being subjected to female bosses who treated him harshly just like a male colleague would and it led him to treating men and women the same way.
Somehow, his daughter is his saving grace. She brings out the tender side in him and he admits that both of them have a very good relationship.
Consequently, our upbringing and past experiences hold heavy weight on how we learn to be gentle and tender.
But then, two of my pals gave me their responses, which I found quite insightful. One said;
“Being gentle and tender is something I had to learn. I have always related through tough love and speaking loudly which tends to make situations worse especially in marriage. Love is kind and patient, that’s the only foundation that created an environment which my wife would thrive and flourish.”
The second guy sent me a long text I really liked…..
“Understanding has made my relationship strong and moving. Before I never seemed to understand my wife but when I started understanding her, things started running smoothly. Men need to take time and know what a lady wants in a relationship. Understand what she likes most, what she hates especially about you (just let her tell you what she hates about you). Be ready to accept what she hates and try and change. It might be difficult to change but if you truly love her just change and make her happy. My example is alcohol. My wife was against it and that became our everyday fight. I understood that and promised to change. It was hard but due to her understanding she helped me fight it and now we are happy. Trust comes second. Trust your wives in everything and all will be well. Let her trust you as well. Open up to your woman; talk to her about your plans, don’t hide things because if she finds out she will get mad. Lastly, forgiveness – all of us have a past, so forgive each other and move on.”
Good advice is never too long, is it?
After thanking him for the message, he replied saying,
“Yeah, it’s a long journey and no one is perfect. We are all trying our best to see those beautiful smiles on our women’s faces.”
The fact is, not many of us men really know what it takes or means to be gentle and tender to our women. We try our best, sometimes we are terrible at it. It’s somewhere inside of us and to some; we’ve discovered how to bring it out and to others; it’s yet to come out. All in all, it’s a learning journey.
A journey that can be made much easier when the ones we love help us to learn that which comes so easily and naturally to them.
Ladies, the best way to get your man to be gentle and tender is to show him what it means to you. Talk about it, affirm it when it’s done, don’t keep him guessing and mostly, understand him.
But this role isn’t necessarily only for the ladies. The men have to take initiative and do their homework, be deliberate about it and beat the odds while at it. And wouldn’t it be amazing if your lady got to know you as a gentle and tender man?
That my friend is what we call being a gentleman. (Can I get an Ahuuuuu!!!)