What Makes a Manly Man?

A warning before you go on: this is a slightly mushy post. Sorry about that.

Generally speaking, what men think as manly, and what women see as manly may be different. I actually don’t know. I just know there are particular attributes I see in my husband that make me go “Oh my! What a man!” and they have nothing to do with bulging muscles.

Okay, that’s not entirely true; I do admit to being totally sucked in by my tall, dark and handsome husband, especially in a suave black suit like in the picture below, taken on our wedding day over 12 years ago. Oh my!

what makes a manly man

There is more to it than that. While I remain physically attracted to my husband, it’s less to do with appearance and more to do with his confidence, the way he cares for his family and the relationship we have fostered over the years, through many ups and downs.

When it comes to manly moments, images come to my mind of my husband cradling our children, only moments old.  There is something very beautiful about a man cherishing his child.  In the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero, “Of all nature’s gifts to the human race, what is sweeter to a man than his children?” Yes, watching my husband hold, love and play with our children makes me go, “Oh my!”

what makes a manly man

Laughter, humour: it goes a long way in the ups and downs of life. Sometimes you just have to laugh, right?  My husband still can make me laugh after all these years, and I tell you: his ability to make me laugh often helps me put things into perspective.

what makes a manly man -- good sense of humour

I have to tell you about the time I watched my husband pull a princess towel of the beach bag to use without a bat of an eyelid. In a household of 4 females and 2 males, there is a natural excess of princess pink around and I love the fact that he embraces this.  To me, this photo is oh-so-manly because it says, “My manliness is not based on stereotypes but my identity as a family man and I’m proud to show it.”

what makes a manly man

I may as well mention that he carries my handbag for me if we are out for a long periods. I think that is all kinds of awesome.

See? When I think about it, many of the attributes I admire in my husband are about how he cares for me and our family, and how he lives love in action: selfless and without thought to ego. That is manly to me, and I felt like writing this post because I don’t want to take these things for granted. I notice them. I acknowledge them. I appreciate them.

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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  1. Bec says

    Yeah, I definitely agree about a man with his babies and small children.

    Here’s another one from our life at the moment, again to do with caring for his wife: I’m really sick at the moment. My husband, gently made me to go to the doctor when he knew I needed to and I didn’t want to make a fuss. Without blinking, he has gladly taken the kids out for most of the weekend so I can rest – dragged the kids around the shops to buy me a ‘get well soon’ present, taught Sunday School, gone to a picnic for my Dad’s birthday (which included our 3 kids under 7 and canoes!) without me. He has re-organised work so he can do school runs and is sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the lounge so I can get better rest. What a man!! Selfless love personified!

  2. Anwen says

    You have an amazing way with words Kelly, and I completely agree!
    My husband has dragged my two year old daughter to work with him today to leave me to rest and recover from a combination of tummy bug and mastitis. I’m camping out in bed with our 2-week old son and enjoying the peace and quiet! A real man takes care of his family!

  3. Jenny says

    A real man, does his own ironing, can cook a proper meal, reads to his kids with the voices, mops and vacuums as he is able and sees the need, empties all the bins before taking out the rubbish, makes sure the car has fuel and is reliable and on we can go. A real man is the one I want to help every way I can, because he is so considerate, generous and hard working. Really he makes himself too indispesable, and totally desirable.

      • Jenny says

        Absolutely! And it doesn’t matter who started it, but I love that his helping me, means I can help him and round we go. It is the ultimate partnership and whilst we make the big decisions it is so reassuring having lots (but not all) of the little things in check. Especially with little kids, fatigue, One and a half careers etc etc. It is such a blessing having my husband be my best friend and hero and I’m saddened that everyone does not know this security and joy.

        I love that this article is about the lack of ego that truly amplifies manliness, and I am so relieved and proud when I see these qualities in our friends also. That arrogant ocker stereotype of the Aussie male is being surpassed by men who can cook a bbq, change nappies and be genuine. MAN I respect that!

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