Thousands of years ago, our cavemen ancestors were responsible for defending their families against cave lions who wanted to eat their wives and children for dinner. Not only that, but our cavemen ancestors also had to hunt day and night with primitive weapons to find enough food in order to keep their wives and children from starvation.
Thankfully, we men no longer have to fight against cave lions to protect our family. In fact, most of the fighting that we have to do these days is fighting against traffic in order to find a good parking spot. And instead of having to hunt for food using primitive weapons, the most primitive hunting we have to do is hunting down the best prices at three different supermarkets in a car with no air conditioning.
Yes, thankfully times have evolved to the point that we men no longer have to fight against cave lions to keep our families safe. But even though it's in our evolutionary genes to be protectors and hunters without any fear to do what's necessary for the protection of our family, there are still things that scare the living daylights out of us. Sure, they might not have to do with getting eaten by predators in the middle of the night (I'm sure that would scare us, too, if the occasion ever came up - who wouldn't be scared of that). But they're still scary to us in their own right.
What men actually fear the most
Fear of failing
As men, we still have higher earning power than women. Even though we think this is just as unfair as you do, it's still a statistical fact. And we're very aware that our paycheck is usually the bulk of the household income. So if we fail, it usually means we put our family in a financial pinch, and our kids will have to go without the new shoes they wanted for school. And that makes us feel as bad as if we didn't protect them from getting eaten by some animal. We fear this scenario so much that we sometimes put an unhealthy emphasis on work just so that we make sure we never have to put our wives and children through that.
Fear of rejection
We recognize that times have changed. Because we men are no longer needed to physically protect our families, sometimes we feel lost about what our role in the family is. It's especially scary to see that half of mothers having children are single mothers, one-third of children are currently in father-absent homes, and the strong majority of divorces (over 65 percent) are instigated by women. Because of this, we can't help but feel disposable. And it's one of the most terrifying feelings in the world.
Speaking of our cavemen ancestors, cavewomen had to be very selective of their mates. Because a woman who is nine months pregnant can't run very fast from a cave lion, she has to be very selective in picking a mate who will stick around to protect her and their unborn child. And the cavemen who were lucky enough to be selected by a cavewoman felt very lucky indeed.
But as stated before, times have changed. And women no longer need us to protect them from animals when they're pregnant. And there are a lot of times when we feel like our wives only want us to help with stuff around the house, or help with the kids. Yes, we're happy to do it (after all, they're our children, too) but if that's ALL we're wanted for, it makes us feel objectified. And when we feel like our wives only want us to be Prince Charming instead of the person who we are it's even more difficult to bear.
Yes, men and women have come a long way since the stone age. But just because men don't have to fear our family being eaten by predators doesn't mean we have no fears anymore. It just means our fears have evolved. And sometimes these evolved fears are the most terrifying of all.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.