Why He’s Trying to Blow Himself Up

July 4, 2016

in Uncategorized

Today is Independence day here in the USofA. It’s the day we celebrate the success of our rebellion revolution against The United Kingdom. (I have a British friend who says, yes, they celebrate over there too – they were glad to be rid of us!)

In addition to grilling and eating far too much of things with almost no nutritional value, one big part of the Fourth of July is fireworks. Fireworks stands are everywhere. If your state has stringent limits, just drive to the nearest state border where you will find plenty of stands capitalising on their location. Some folks spend hundreds of dollars on fireworks. Last year people a block from us put on a better show than our town provided!

Fireworks © Sherri Camp | stock.adobe.com

And, every year, a lot of people are injured by fireworks. Of course, when I say “people” I mean men, who account for three-fourths of the 10,000+ emergency room visits a year related to fireworks. Why are men, especially men under 45, so willing to risk blowing themselves up?

One Word: Adventure

We crave adventure. We need it almost as much as we need food and water. It’s built into our DNA and applying safe boundaries can be difficult. Fireworks are but one of the thousands of ways men seek to satisfy their need for adventures and thrill seeking. Odds are your husband has one or two such things in his life, and it may be a source of concern (or stark terror) for you.

Trying to stop him altogether isn’t likely to work well. He may “behave” when you’re around, and then do things even more dangerous when you’re not looking. If he holds back he may resent you for restraining him. He may feel a little bit (or a lot bit) castrated by your worry and nagging.

If you work it right, you can be the voice of reason for him. Not a controlling voice, but another voice adding to what he considers before he acts. If you’re okay with being a voice he can ignore he will respect what you say far more. Over time your loving concern will modify his choices and behaviour. He won’t play it as safe as you would like, but he won’t take as extreme risks as he would without your voice.

~ Paul – I had bottle rocket wars as a teen and I still have both eyes and a majority of my fingers!

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

IntimacySeeker July 4, 2016 at 2:30 am

He craves adventure? How about he disrespects combat veterans and pets? A mature man does not take unnecessary risks because doing so puts his wife and children at risk. If he can’t give up the thrill seeking, he should remain single.


libl July 4, 2016 at 6:46 am

Yes. There’s adventure, and there’s showing off and foolishness.


Paul Byerly July 4, 2016 at 12:44 pm

@libl – Exactly!
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Paul Byerly July 4, 2016 at 12:43 pm

@IntimacySeeker – Unnecessary is a tricky concept. Plenty of what women feel they need some men find unnecessary, frivolous, and unacceptable expencive.
God gave us certain desires, and expecting our spouse to cut those out of himself is neither loving nor wise. The goal is to find balance, not cut things out.
The interesting fact is men do cut back on thrill seeking when they marry. This is why auto insurance goes down when a man gets married. Women help to calm and civilise us, as God intended. We also help women to grow and become more balanced.
I don’t get the combat veteran reference – do you mean PTSD?
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Rosemary July 4, 2016 at 1:16 pm

If it’s illegal and endangers unwilling participants and bystanders it’s unnecessary. I wish the law could be enforced against the many people in this fire danger zone where I live. They teach their children to be scofflaws and place everyone’s home and life at risk.


Paul Byerly July 5, 2016 at 6:49 pm

@Rosemary – No argument from me. Either enforces a law or remove it from the books. Unenforced laws set a horrible example.
Here you can legally set off fireworks in the city limits as long as you don’t do it the road. I find it totally weird, but those who grew up here think nothing of it.
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IntimacySeeker July 5, 2016 at 5:48 am

People called to serve as law enforcers, fire fighters, and in the military risk their lives to protect others. That’s what I mean by necessary. However, endangering one’s life for “fun” (fireworks, motorcycles, etc.) shows disrespect to one’s loved ones. They are in effect saying they would throw away their spouse and children and their life together for a quick thrill with something that goes vroom vroom, zoom zoom or boom boom. This seems incongruous, if not mutually exclusive, with being wired to protect and provide. It seems to be more about maturity than masculinity.

If I buy a blouse I don’t “need” that can be classified as “unnecessary.” However, I”m not putting myself in harm’s way and thereby threatening the happiness and wellbeing of my family. If I remortgage our home to pay off gambling debts, that’s a much more serious matter in which I am endangering our financial health and wellbeing.

And yes, I was referring to PTSD. I understand fireworks traumatize combat veterans. And I know from personal experience they traumatize pets. What woman in her right mind wants to have sex with someone who intentionally traumatizes others?


Doug July 6, 2016 at 5:09 am

I do much of what you mention in your post, and I really have to work to not take a measure of offense. I do not “intentionally traumatize” anyone.
I have also jumped out of over 100 aircraft, and was a mountaineer and technical climber, both in the military, and as recreation.
I ride a motorcycle, that I’m quite certain you would cringe if you saw it.
I do all of these things recognizing that there is a measure of risk to myself, and my family, and I do everything within my power to mitigate that risk. I am 54 years old, and not some 18 year old thrill seeker, but I was at one time.

All of those things may seem incongruous to you, but I assure you they are not.

That said, I would not be the person my wife married, if I hid in a corner and never did any of those things. They don’t define me, but they are part of me. For the record, my wife celebrates that part of me, and if I start getting into a rut, she is often the first person to tell me to go out and take my motorcycle for a ride. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t wish me harm.
I’m sorry for your pets. It is unfortunate that they are so affected by fireworks. Mine are as well, and we care for them as well as we can during this season. It really doesn’t matter to them if the fireworks are going off in the neighbors yard, or a professional display somewhere in town. This time of year, we are bombarded, no question about it. It even becomes annoying to me, and I enjoy them myself.

And yes, I am a veteran, and like many I deal with at least some measure of PTSD. I associate with other veterans pretty regularly, and I never met one who would eliminate fireworks on the 4th of July. Most that I know still shoot regularly and given the chance to set off some real explosions to remove a stump or something, they would be dancing around like little boys.


Anon July 4, 2016 at 1:15 pm

So happy hubs doesn’t buy fireworks, loves to watch from a distance. They scare our pets. He loves a good fire, so it’s not fear. He gets lots of adventure out where we live. Our neighbors frequently light fireworks on holidays. So happy my hubs doesn’t.


Sarah July 5, 2016 at 9:08 am

I must be the dissenting voice among women. I think that we should actively find ways for our men to have adventure. Last night, I was the one who bought the fireworks for my husband and kids to shoot off. With my boys, I take them to the forest, say “Don’t die. Be responsible and respectful. Have at it.”, and watch them learn how to work together and “conquer” something. They learned something walking mostly naked, covered in pond scum and mud in 50 degree weather for the half a mile back to the car while their clean, warm, dry sister smugly flaunted her wisdom between them, but if you ask the boys they will say, “It was our best forest day EVER.”

I offer sex in the backyard, with the blinds and windows open in the middle of the day, in the car in a parking lot. He’s the one shocked and taking steps for our privacy. But he knows he’s got the option. And it thrills him.

Taking my bra and panties off while he’s driving home and saying, “I’m just getting ready…” counts as adventure too, I’ve learned.

I encourage my husband in all sorts of dangerous hobbies while reminding him how much we gave left on our health insurance deductible and the amount of his life insurance. I also tell him that I fully plan to remarry if I can find a better guy than him. He then lectures me about never letting the boys do that and how dumb that is. I smile and get “I fell for it again, didn’t I? Okay. You talked me out of it.”

For us, the message is clear. You’re a man. I’m not your mother. Do what you want, but the consequences are all on you.

Almost always, he is unwilling to risk it, but the guys had a great time when the Roman candle shot off down the street on accident last night. And I treated his burns without comment except to laugh and kid him, telling him to try for better ones next year.


Paul Byerly July 7, 2016 at 12:49 pm

@Sarah – Good for you. You are setting some outside boundaries that keep your sons and hubby safer than they might otherwise be, while allowing them to do what makes them feel like men.
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IntimacySeeker July 5, 2016 at 11:35 am

So if my husband craves adventure and needs it almost as much as food and water, and adventure means risking his health and wellness, and risking his health and wellness means risking my health and wellness, then my husband craves opportunities to risk my health and wellness almost as much as he needs food and water. And if he’s not endangering me, he feels castrated and may resent me. In other words, he feels manly when he puts me in danger. So maybe the vulnerability men long for with sex IS about putting their wives at risk of injury?


Paul Byerly July 5, 2016 at 6:53 pm

@IntimacySeeker – I never said adventure had to risk health or wellness – at least not in huge ways. Not sure where we took a left turn, but we are no longer where I was going.
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IntimacySeeker July 6, 2016 at 3:36 am

Point taken. One definition of adventure is “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” Another is “put (something, especially money or one’s life) at risk.” My understanding is that if there is no risk, there is no adventure.


IntimacySeeker July 6, 2016 at 3:36 am

Also, I wanted to help men understand why their women have such strong reactions to their need for adventure.


Paul Byerly July 6, 2016 at 9:27 am

@IntimacySeeker – Adventure is about finding or pushing your limits. That can have significant risk, but it need not. Sometimes it’s the difference between doing it alone and having someone with you.
Life is full of risks. Every time we leave the house we take a risk. Getting pregnant is a huge risk – a greater risk than many men have taken in many years. We do a risk versus benefit estimation and then go ahead or don’t depending on how we see that.
If you see the benefit as small or nonexistent and he sees the benefit as great, then you will think he is wrong for taking the risk and he will think you are uptight and fearful. Men and women see risks and benefits differently because of how God made us. The trick is trying to temper him without making him feel you have no respect for how God made him. Get that right and you make his life safer. Get it wrong and you may actually push him to take more risks than he would.
The bottom line is no one reacts well to being told how God made them is bad or wrong.
As to your second comment, that’s how God made you. Nothing wrong with that, and he’d be wrong to try to suppress that or to completely ignore it.
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IntimacySeeker July 7, 2016 at 7:37 am

I’d like to hear some examples of finding/pushing ones limits that have little or no risk and would still be classified by men as adventures.

Yes, life is full of risks. I take a risk when I drive to work each day, and I do so for the purpose of earning a living. If I choose to ride a motorcycle rather than drive my car, I increase my risk of a fatal traffic accident exponentially, and such an accident will significantly affect my family. Therefore, because I love my family, I will never choose the motorcycle. It’s a “no brainer” as they say. I care for my family by caring for myself.

My husband does not have a history of weighing risks. He enters into “adventures” hurriedly, impetuously, and without any discussion with me. The secretive nature of his actions adds to the sense of adventure.

Why put the onus on the wife to master the trick of tempering her husband’s choices? Should he not take responsibility for his actions and the ways those actions affect others, especially his wife and children? Should he not think before he acts? Should he not consider these questions: “Even if I avoid death and dismemberment, how will this affect my wife and my marriage? Will it spike her anxiety? Will it make sexual intimacy difficult? Will this push her over the line and be the last straw?” Wouldn’t such questions be part of protecting and providing?

I do appreciate this post, Paul. ‘Tis a helpful reminder that although hubby seems content with golf just now, there will probably be many more “adventures” in the years to come. Not sure I want to live with that, so I’ve a bit of thinking to do.


Paul Byerly July 7, 2016 at 12:47 pm

@IntimacySeeker – What you’re missing is the value of satisfying an internal need. You don’t have the need, so you dismiss it as unproductive.
Consider the women who really wants a child, or another child, despite knowing she faces real risks if she gets pregnant. Not the normal risk (which are greater than we allow ourselves to know), something higher. It would be easy for a man to say adopting is a no brainer because it doesn’t put the woman at risk. And yet women with several children will put their health and life at risk to have another.
It’s easy to devalue things we don’t feel or understand. On the other hand, if we learn to value those things because we value our spouse, then we can provide balance and sanity. Be it wanting to so skydiving or try for a risky pregnancy, the other spouse can help see clearly PROVIDED they have shown they value what’s important to their spouse even if they don’t get it.
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InitmacySeeker July 8, 2016 at 6:29 am

I hope you don’t mind me continuing this conversation. I’m not committed to having the last word, but know from experience with your blogs, I can gain deeper understanding and work some things out.

Regarding the scenario with the woman who feels the need to proceed with a high-risk pregnancy, I think she’d be wrong to proceed because she has a responsibility to her husband and children. Either way, hopefully she would discuss this at length with her husband. By doing so, she would show respect for him and acknowledge that her choices affect him.

Throughout my marriage, the examples of my husband nurturing his need for adventure never included discussion with me. He knew his actions would affect me, but chose to dismiss me. (He learned this behavior from his father.) That pattern combined with my fear of abandonment and anxiety issues have created quite a mess.

Someone (sorry I can’t cite the source) shared a husband’s description of his need for sex this way: if my wife says she loves me, shows respect, speaks kindly, pays attention to her appearance, etc., etc., etc., but refuses sex, it feels like all the other things she says and does are lies. For me, when my husband engages in risk AND refuses to discuss it with me, it feels like all the other things he says and does are lies. It also feels like all the time, energy, and effort I’ve put into our relationship mean very little to him. That leads me to wonder if I should be focusing my time, energy and effort elsewhere. Every time he would do something risky, it felt like he was pushing me out of the picture.

I don’t want my husband to feel emasculated. I don’t want him to feel resentful. I must own that my anxiety and reactivity have likely contributed to him choosing not to discuss his plans with me.

The conversation here has been a wake-up call for me. Even though my husband stopped drinking, his need for adventure lives on.


Paul Byerly July 8, 2016 at 11:05 am

@InitmacySeeker – Very interesting stuff. Men reading what you said are scratching their heads trying to understand why you would feel things your husband does not intend by his actions.
Another side of this is the “I’d like to, but I have to check with my wife” aspect – which feels more like “check with my mom”. Sometimes discussing it with one’s wife is easily possible, other times it’s not really. Of course, if he knows your answer will be “I wish you wouldn’t” why bother asking?
All that said, it is loving for a man to temper his actions to keep his wife from freaking out. It’s possible your husband has done that more than you know.
There is no perfect compromise on this. It’s good to see you taking a hard look at it, and at yourself. I pray you find what you need to know and come to a better place on this.
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J. Parker July 5, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Having raised boys and been around a lot of them, I’ve wondered if men are just naturally pyromaniacs. Okay, not that extreme. But they are fascinated by how stuff works and doing risky things, and fire meets both desires. Let’s hope that wives can help husbands choose adventurous alternatives that don’t actually hurt people — that would be a great influence and a wonderful use of balance.

(By the way, my history major self is totally twitching over your opening. Independence Day is not the day we celebrate the success of our revolution. Rather it’s the day we declared Independence, July 4, 1776. The war itself didn’t conclude until 1782; Treaty of Paris signed in 1783. :D )
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Paul Byerly July 5, 2016 at 6:55 pm

@J. Parker – Your history is correct, but 9 out of ten folks in this country think it’s what I said. So we are celebrating it, even if we’re doing it wrong.
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J. Parker July 6, 2016 at 6:10 am

Perhaps. But we don’t have to perpetuate the error! Lol.
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Paul Byerly July 6, 2016 at 9:19 am

@J. Parker – Okay, okay, you’re right. ;-)
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Lynn July 6, 2016 at 10:01 am

Fascination with fire is supposed to indicate, psychologically, fascination with urination and/orthe male member, Paul, so…


IntimacySeeker July 6, 2016 at 12:03 pm

I wonder if there is a similar representation with guns?


Paul Byerly July 7, 2016 at 12:36 pm

@Lynn @IntimacySeeker – It’s no secret men are fascinated with their penises. And why not, it can do so many enjoyable things for us and the woman we love!
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IntimacySeeker July 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Paul says: Another side of this is the “I’d like to, but I have to check with my wife” aspect – which feels more like “check with my mom”. Sometimes discussing it with one’s wife is easily possible, other times it’s not really. Of course, if he knows your answer will be “I wish you wouldn’t” why bother asking?

Could we explore some examples and get your take on whether my expectations are unreasonable? Let’s say your wife does the following without discussing her plans with you. Would you feel left out and/or disrespected? Over time, would you have considerable anxiety about her behavior patterns?
1. She stops her birth control and get pregnant when she’s been told she shouldn’t because of her diabetes.
2. She drives under the influence of alcohol on a regular basis instead of calling a cab.
3. She smokes pot while driving you and the children across the country in the middle of the night.
4. She gets drunk and stoned while visiting a friend, falls and injures herself so she needs surgery. (You, of course, take time off work to tend to her.)
5. She gets drunk in the morning while at a conference, falls, cuts her head open, and you get a call from the emergency room because he can’t find his health insurance card. (You, of course, are the primary wage earner and benefits provider.)
6. She rides along with police officers on the night shift and films their encounters with the public.
7. She refuses to see her doctor about a persistent headache and suffers a stroke.
8. She destroys the lining in her stomach with her alcohol use and nearly dies of a stomach bleed.
9. While she’s out of town with a friend, she calls in the middle of the night, telling you she’s taken some pills and doesn’t know what they are, but she sure is high.
10. She passes a gun safety course, gets a concealed carry license, and purchases a gun.

Should you have had anything to say about any of these activities?


Sarah July 10, 2016 at 6:12 am

Risk-taking to me is distinctly different than foolhardiness which all of these would be. Foolhardiness is just plain stupidity.

The homeschool mother in me is about to come out. We also need to recognize that boys and men tend to learn experientially. Most girls and women never do to the same degree. “It’s not true until it’s true for me.” is a normal boy thought. “It might kill most people, but not me.” is also a normal, overconfident teen boy thought process which we need to manage wisely.

When the milk goes bad, it’s not my daughter who says “Can I smell it?” The ones most thrilled with the science experiments and asking all the questions of “What’s going to happen?” are male. (My daughter is the one figuring out who should do which tasks in the science experiment so that it runs more smoothly and so that everyone is happy. Which would never, ever occur to my boys because they just want to do the whole thing themselves so they don’t miss out on any part of the experience.)

I think my son may have hit this on the head yesterday. He was staring out the window and suddenly asked me, “Mom, do you think I will ever be great? I mean, go places, do things, build something really useful?” The guy’s here know best, but I think real risk-taking not foolhardiness is about putting your limits, knowing your limits and having a little bit of greatness, a confirmation that underneath your suit and tie, responsible, 9 to 5 exterior, a superhero of sorts lives.

I learned this lesson when married for a year. I had a panhandler begin to harass me aggressively. I was growing afraid. He was well over 300 pounds and certainly over 6′ feet tall. My mild mannered, relaxed, usually goofy husband jumped in front of me, straight-armed the guy and kept pushing him backwards while uttering all kinds of threats about how he was going to kill him. He was terrifying. The other guy actually ran off. My husband reverted to his normal self, laughed about him being a big coward, and made another one of his stupid jokes that only he finds funny. I never saw him the same again. When he told me, “Stop babying the boys and let learn to hold their own. Let them feel the pain of their own stupidity before they are teens and want to do truly dangerous stuff.”, I did much to their happiness – and pain. I never let them do anything really dangerous stuff like jump off the roof but I did into the deep end when he couldn’t swim – and he didn’t drown, he learned how to swim and swaggered around all day. Greatness confirmed.

Anyway. I’m done soapboxing. :)


Paul Byerly July 10, 2016 at 2:42 pm

@IntimacySeeker – Where I live #10 would be no big deal. In fact, some men would be more upset she’d not done this! (For the record neither Lori nor I have a carry permit). Beyond that, I agree with Sarah, these are something far more than taking risks. Certainly not what I think of when I say “adventure”.
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IntimacySeeker July 15, 2016 at 7:19 am

I hear you. If one spouses wishes to purchase and carry a firearm, said spouse should TELL the other spouse, not go about it secretly. I feel I have a right to know if someone I live with or work with carries a firearm. I may decide to live or work elsewhere. To me, it’s a matter of respect.


Paul Byerly July 15, 2016 at 11:45 am

@IntimacySeeker – I don’t disagree iwth you, I was making a joke about where I am currently living. Rural eastern Washington is a different place!
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K July 10, 2016 at 2:49 pm

We’re the opposite of this. I’m much more adventurous than my husband when it comes to danger. His profession and a phobia contribute his cautiousness while I have an aversion to living in fear. Probably because someone close to me lives their life in fear of everything. I’ve seen how fear can limit your life so I avoid it at all costs. He seeks out adventure, but does it much tamer ways. That’s probably why we’ve moved so many times!

Recently, I found myself saying “My husband let me do this.”. I hated the way that sounded the second I said it. It sounded like he’s controlling and I needed his permission to do the activity. That’s not the case at all. It’s mutual respect. I knew he’d be hesitant about what I wanted to do because it is risky, so I asked him first. He’d rather me not do the activity, but said yes anyway. He didn’t want to hold me back from doing something he knew I would enjoy just because there was some risk involved. We’ve both learned we have to somewhat temper ourselves so each of us can live freely without fear.


Paul Byerly July 11, 2016 at 11:41 am

@K – Lori “lets” me do certain things because she knows I enjoy them. It’s not that I can’t do them without her “permission”, rather I wouldn’t do some of it if it worried her too much. But I also know I would only hold back so much if she were far more worried. Aside from being bad for me, it would cause me to feel bad about her. Fortunately this is not an issue for us.
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