I recently received this email from a Simple Marriage reader …
Your article on 5 ways to ignite your wife’s passions was good up until point 3 at which you completely lost me.
In it you describe my exact personality: ‘…men who are anxious, passive and eager to please exude anything but confidence.’ Well if that’s the case I’m in deep trouble. I’m struggling to decipher whether this is your own bolshy American swagger or whether it’s the truth.
I come from a long line of genetically enhanced worriers. We’re not timid, but there is a reluctance to exude anything that vaguely resembles American bolshiness (I’m not American or a swarve Italian, haha). That sort of confidence is definitely not present in the men and women in my family: lots of happy, sweet smilers and most definitely we are a family of eager to pleasers!
I’d have to say much of this died in me after I lost my business to a Christian businessman who took full advantage of that particular trait turning me into a bit of a hater and someone who is far less trusting of human beings since. Yet it’s still very much in my blood and I’m reminded of this when I start having anxiety attacks (of the clinical kind) when I find myself in conflict or high stress situations – something that was alien prior and seemingly dormant as an experience up until I had that nightmare experience of almost losing everything.
I now see it in my son too: this genetic lack of confidence playing out before my eyes much to my and my wife’s dismay. He assumes a victim mentality and we’ve seen this in his social interactions with friends who end up rejecting him. A self-perpetuating problem we’re trying to solve.
Luckily I had church to bury myself in growing up and faith became the crutch I used to find confidence – as has my whole family. I say crutch not as a bad thing because I do honestly see this genetic lack of confidence as a good fit for finding church and faith.
So you see the problem here. You’ve branded me as a failure in confidence without hope for those like me and my family who genuinely have a personality trait that has its roots in a genetic lilt.
I get what you’re saying, but believe me, I have done many things to try and figure it out – including spending 4 years at university studying social services, abandoning that, but getting my psychology degree without finding a solution to my problems. Of course I married a woman whose father is even more timid and lacking confidence than me or my dad. Her mom dominates in every way on the one hand as an energetic, delightful person who is the life and soul of every social gathering, BUT on the other hand is a most critical, self-centered lady whose power to destroy with words matches her power to bring life.
So here I sit, madly in love with my gorgeous wife, dying to make to love to her and dealing with her apparent apathy toward touch and sex, lack of ability to want or enjoy intimacy, and dealing with my own lack of confident personality which I will not be able to change at base and according to you this leaves me hopeless haha! Great. Just what I needed to hear. Thanks!
Dear Innate Worrier,
There is nothing in my book that says those with a genetic disposition towards anxiety, worry and/or lack of confidence can’t be, and possibly aren’t, actually confident.
The mere fact you can name and own your traits is in itself confidence.
Confidence has many outward traits: standing tall, speaking with a firm tone, looking others in the eyes. But, confidence also comes from knowing who you are and who you aren’t — and then most importantly, not trying to act like you’re something you’re not.
It’s a knowing who you are then a willingness to let that be seen by those you live life with, without them having to accommodate or cater to your insecurities and worry.
As you have termed it, what you describe is more a man who is a “nice guy” than a man lacking confidence.
The trouble with the nice guy isn’t that he’s a pleaser, it’s that he’s often a manipulator – he tries to get his needs met without asking for them. He is also overly attached to the outcomes rather than simply seeking and being driven by his desires.
I hope you can actually begin to see a clearer picture of where you stand, and that you can stand taller than before because you in fact already have more confidence thanks to your willingness to state your struggle.