One day, my (now ex) wife actually got on my case for being firm but respectful to her ex about something he’d done that crossed the line. I said, “Would you rather I got into a fist fight with him?” What she said absolutely blew me away, “YES! PLEASE!” She said that she wanted to see me “be a man.” I told her that a real man uses words to resolve disputes whenever possible and doesn’t go around swinging his fist where it doesn’t need to be.

She can think what she wants, but the experience, and everything that’s happened since have taught me one thing… I was right! She may have a screwed up view of what a “man” should be, but I know better, and I also know that a real man stands by what he knows to be right, even if it means he has to sleep on the couch that night.

Don’t get me wrong here… there’s a time and a place to knock someone’s lights out – when it’s needed, when there’s no other way, when you can’t let it go because letting it go would mean allowing something terrible to happen (this usually means that the law will be on your side too and if the law isn’t on your side, you need to be damn sure that what you’re about to do will be worth the punishment you’ll receive for it – e.g., saving someone’s life, stopping someone from harming someone else, refusing to allow unethical behavior to continue even though you may have to take the fall for stopping it, etc.)

There is indeed a time and place to use your fist, but most people will go their entire life without finding themselves in a position where it’s truly necessary and unavoidable; and while a man should always be ready with an iron fist should he have to use it, he should also have the wisdom, maturity, and self-control to keep from using it in situations where it isn’t truly necessary. A man holds onto himself and applies force wisely and sparingly, preferring talking or walking away over violence wherever possible; a spoiled bratty little boy swings his fist without thinking about the potential consequences. Be a Man.

I may have lost face with my wife that night, but if I’d given in and done what she thought I should do, it would have been my butt sitting in a jail cell. I was responsible for my own actions and so are you. Fortunately for me, I decided to be a man and control myself. I hope you’ll have the strength to do the same.