February 12, 2022

Friends, I want to address you on something that has been weighing heavy on my heart for awhile now. I have been reluctant to bring this up, because I feel it personally. But the issue is bigger than my personal feelings.

As Cathy and I have worked to write a book and create LILY, we have worked together as equal partners. But the outside world does not treat us that way. On numerous occasions, possible collaborators have reached out only to Cathy to contact our organization and omitted to copy me on the message--sometimes even after being asked to. (This has largely not been true in the other direction.) Several other collaborators have left me out of cross-promotions. One collaborator created an ad post for Cathy's coaching services with a large full color picture of her and made no mention of me or LILY Coaching. When I asked for the post to be taken down and changed, she deleted the post and blocked me. The same focus on Cathy individually has been seen in several forms of cross-promotion. Before one media appearance, Cathy and I were actually asked to switch places so that Cathy would be seated next to the host.

In one recent conversation, a member of this group told me, "Have your lovely wife explain this to you"--as if I was too clueless to understand her message without a woman explaining it to me. (She was entirely serious.)

Imagine if a banker told a woman to go home and have her "smart husband" explain the financial documents to her because "women aren't good with money." It would make your head spin how fast he would be put in his place and maybe even fired. But we tolerate jokes and insults from women on men that would never be tolerated the other way around.

Why is this happening? I want you to really ponder this. I think it is much bigger than my own experience. (Ask men in ANY of the mid-singles groups if they feel understood.) I don't think any of the aforementioned examples occurred because anyone was being malicious--far from it. Most of them wanted to work with us and I am grateful for that. I think it is a mostly unconscious bias. It is disheartening, however, when it appears that they only want to work with Cathy and not me. That isn't who we are in our organization or in our marriage.

I believe this is largely happening because this realm (emotional healing and forging new relationships) is seen as feminine and people expect a woman to take the lead in any improvement efforts. To my female friends in this group (and there are MANY of you that I consider to be friends and who I respect greatly), PLEASE don't complain that men cannot express their feelings and then ignore or belittle them when they try. Please do not assume that we are emotionally unenlightened and unable to connect. Please do not assume because I am a man and a lawyer that I am unapproachable.

The business of emotional healing and forging new relationships at mid-life is too important to be relegated to "girl talk." If you want men to be in relationships with, they need to have a seat at the table and feel more welcome. They need to be taken seriously.

I feel a little like LILY is turning into a girl's club. I SO appreciate the comments of women on my posts and other participation. (Please keep it up.) But we are missing the input of the men. At our LILY Dinner last week, we had two single men show up and like 15 women. At the previous dinner only one single man showed up. We had a great time. But, somehow, we are not reaching the men. We are not speaking their language. We are not giving them the same compassion that we give women--but a lot more judgment. And, to a large degree, we are not recognizing the competence of many men in the emotional-relational realm.

Friends, we can do better. We MUST do better. And our previous failures are not exclusively the fault of men who pose with dead fish in their profile pictures. It is also the women shaming them for it. My personal experience with being left out or thought of as support staff has been surprising and, honestly, disappointing.

So, let's DO something about this. WOMEN (MEN TOO), I CHALLENGE EACH OF YOU TO THINK OF 4 OR 5 OF THE BEST AND MOST ENLIGHTENED MEN YOU KNOW AND INVITE THEM TO OUR LOVE IN LATER YEARS GROUP ON FACEBOOK! Men and women do not always express themselves in the same way--and we have a LOT to learn from each other. Please start encouraging men to participate more and welcoming their comments. We have an amazing group here, and I think we are largely mutually supportive. (I am relying on that in a big way in putting this extremely vulnerable post out there.) I don't think any of you had any intention to hurt me. I think it's a blind spot that many women don't pay attention to when they make assumptions. Let's do better. I know we can!
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