When I was deployed in Iraq, I lived in a one room hut with a number of other guys. Basically, we were living in a locker room, and the conversations reflected that.
Guys would try to make each other laugh and top the stories just told. Most of the time, these BS sessions were hilarious. Unfortunately, it was also common for the conversations to turn toward stories of sexual conquest, and guys would try to one up each other here too.
They would brag about sexual exploits, they would gripe about the stupid ways their money was being spent back home, or complain that their girlfriends were just too emotional. They would share pornography with each other and brag about trying to act it out with girlfriends or women they met in bars.
When conversations turned to these topics, I was always uncomfortable. But I was also one of the youngest guys in the room and cowardly; so I tended to keep my mouth shut when these topics came up. I started asking myself: Is this how men treat the women in their lives?
But then I also noticed that my squad leader never participated. As our squad leader he ran the show. He was also the oldest and only married guy in the squad. I noticed that the way he talked about his wife was different. You could tell that he deeply loved his wife, and, over time, the way he talked about her made us all love her too. We felt that she had to be someone special, because he was a father to all of us, and he clearly knew that too.
As the deployment went on, I was inspired by him and another man in our squad to start pushing back when conversations would turn to sex or disparaging comments about women. Eventually, guys started to avoid these conversations around me.
The example of these two men showed me that one of the most important, and sometimes the hardest, ways to express love is to honor someone in your speech. And I don’t just mean when you’re with them, like telling your girlfriend she’s beautiful, or how much you like spending time with her. I mean when they’re not around, and when you know they’ll never hear what you say. Especially when the people you’re with are complaining about their girlfriends, or when they’re trying to show off. I love to fit in and be liked, and so when I hear conversations turn to griping, it’s easy for me to jump in. I also know that I’m never proud of myself when I do, and I know that it’s not what a man does.
Now that I’m married, I want to protect my wife, and to honor her, and I know a major part of that comes in my speech. Since I am convinced that I married the best woman out there (sorry guys), why wouldn’t I want to honor her? The people we date and marry are a reflection on us. So I’m proud of the woman I married because she makes me look better. When I hear a guy talk as if his girlfriend is a loser, I think it is a reflection on his character. A man honors those he chooses to have in his life.