When my wife Angie and I first met in 1999, I was a passionate Baltimore Ravens football fan. Soon after our first date, I bought us season tickets, and we went to every home game over the next few years until we moved. We found some friends who were Ravens fans, so we made a big deal about away games, too, spending numerous hours partying it up, celebrating our team. In order to keep up with the football world, I listened to nothing but sports talk, watched nothing but ESPN, watched football on Monday night, Thursday night, and of course, I spent all day Sunday watching three games. My favorite time was toward the end of the season when the NFL would add Saturday games, too! I was in sports heaven. But actually, looking back, I was in life hell.
My basement was covered in Ravens autographs, jerseys, hats, artifacts, and other memorabilia. I displayed the towel and a glove that I caught one time as the players ran off the field. I had a hat signed by six Ravens players, a beer bottle signed by another, and a football signed by yet another. I wore Ravens clothes constantly and even had a few pair of boxers that had the logo. I did two things in the world: I worked a job I hated, and then I threw myself into my Ravens obsession the rest of my time.
Angie likes football. When we first began our relationship, I told her about my Ravens crush and I remember her response like it was yesterday: “I like purple.” It was love at first sight. Angie put on a smile and acted excited as we went to games, tailgated, traveled to see them away, went to signings, and all sorts of cool events. We watched, with my parents, as the Ravens celebrated their first Super Bowl win in 2001. My dad had been a die-hard Colts fan when they were in Baltimore, so I wanted to experience the game with him. Angie loved my dad, so she had no objections. She just went along with the plan.
I Didn’t See That Things Were Fading
I thought I had scored a great girlfriend and soon-to-be fiancé and wife. When we’d first met, we would celebrate every score. After a few years when the Ravens were on television, she’d still put on her game day “#1 Angie” jersey, but she’d soon fall asleep on the couch right after kickoff. I’d wake her up to tell her what was happening, but before I knew it, she was back to sleep again. I thought her interest in the Ravens was fading, but I was missing the bigger picture. The only reason she ever liked the Ravens, to begin with, was because she loved me, and that was the only way to get my attention. As time went on, she slowed at trying to get my attention because she saw that I was singularly focused, and her fire was dying. Our relationship faded until it eventually hit rock bottom in 2016.
After both of our personal lives and our marriage fell apart in 2016, we needed to reevaluate everything. We had become so far detached. I had remained singularly focused on things besides her, basically reducing her to an afterthought. Her attacks and complaints about me increased over the years until I couldn’t take it anymore and fought back even harder. I thought she was the problem. But the real problem was that from the beginning she was focused on me, and I was focused on my true love – not her. That hurt her and it hurt her bad. I didn’t understand how painful it was for me either until I reevaluated everything. My fire had to go out for a while, but when it came back, it came back burning hotter than ever – and it didn’t burn for the Ravens. There was something even more important and meaningful to Angie and me. It burned for a purpose. And that’s really what our ladies want most of all, fellas. They want us to have meaning and purpose in the world.
Do You Have a Purpose?
Angie was scrolling through Facebook one morning and found an interesting thread. Here are the highlights:
Main post: I wish my boyfriend loved me as much as he loves that damned game.
Response #1: Wish my husband loved me as much as that TV remote….
Response #2: Wish my husband loved me as much as his TV.
Response #3: Sits at that f*cking computer all day and night. Well, days when he doesn’t work.
Response #4: Well at least he’s not out getting drunk.
Response #5: We should have a girl’s night in! SMH.
Response #6: My husband and his Xbox.
There is a plague sweeping the nation, and it’s what’s driving up the divorce rate and the bitterness of women toward men: men sleepwalking through life. Men with no purpose. Men with no meaning. Men surviving. Men not showing up except for our hobbies and passions – other than our brides and our significant others. The plague sweeping the nation can be summed up in two words: apathy and survivorship.
When men are unconscious and sleepwalking through life, our lives look like this: work, distraction, distraction, distraction, sleep, work, distraction, ask for sex, distraction, distraction, sleep, work…
Men, that is not what our women signed up for. That lifestyle might be ok for a teenage boy, but not a grown-assed man. Our women are getting crushed by our apathetic search for distraction from anything real and meaningful – including a real relationship. Women are complaining not because you have hobbies, but when you’re not working, you’re drinking, watching sports, fishing and hunting, playing games, or seeking entertainment, and that seems to be all that you do with your life. When you only turn to them for our physical pleasure, you act like they should just be open to your whims all the time.
You’re at the 10-Yard Line. What Are You Going to Do?
Our women are tired of us playing small. They want more. Are you ready for a hard truth? Do you know what our partners want most of all from us? It’s not our time, and it’s not our undying attention. That’s not it at all.
That’s what they want. Our women want to see us actually know and feel like we matter and are significant in this world, and that we have a mission to help others, impact society and the world before we die. My wife gets more of a focused presence from me now, but when I’m serving and creating impact in the world, she supports me unconditionally.
She sees me on fire for how I serve a meaningful purpose in the world, and that lights her up! She doesn’t challenge how much time I focus on her, or how much attention I’m giving her because most of all she wants me to have purpose and meaning. She just wants to know that I’m not wasting my time, talents, and the opportunity I have to create impact before I die.
I played small and survived for the first 43 years of my life. I just wanted to make it to tomorrow and felt my only role was to bankroll the family. That is a survivorship mentality. That is playing to survive. Our women don’t want survivorship. They want leadership. It’s time we put down the Xbox controller, turn off the television, begin to feel significant and meaningful in the world, and create change. It’s time we lead – not do what we can to survive. I had to learn the hard way. You can learn before your life and relationships collapse. It’s never too soon. But for God’s sake, my man, step up. Show up. Start to live instead of distracting yourself from life, waiting to die.
A Healthy Balance
This year, our Ravens went 14-2 and had a heartbreaking loss in the playoffs. Angie and I watched every second of every Ravens game that we could together. After each touchdown and score, we’d high-five, and we’d get excited when we knew the game was won. When they lost, we moved on. Either way, after the game was over we’d turn the television off and we’d get back on with our mission.
We are now business partners in the greatest hobby we could have together. We’re now business partners in the mission of our lifetime – together. We are helping leaders shift from survivorship to leadership. For me to help them show up and lead, I must first show up and lead. I show up daily, for myself, our society, Angie and my children.
Are You Ready to Show Up?
Keep this in mind – your family deserves better. Our society deserves better. And most of all, YOU deserve better. It’s time to show up before you lose it all. It’s time to show up before you lose yourself. Are you ready?
It’s time to step into real leadership. Join our community of leaders gathered to learn together, and who are committed to supporting each other and holding each other accountable for leading themselves, their society, and their families more powerfully. Join now. I commit to you that it will be the best decision you’ve ever made.