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Male Bonding

Seth - May 3, 2009

Sometimes I think we overdo this “family” thing.

In Elders Quorum today the First Counselor stood up and announced to a room full of young thirty-something fathers that he had been assigned to head up an Elders Quorum activity (I think it’s been a year since our last one, though I’m not sure).

“The first question brethren, is whether we want to do an activity with or without our families.”

“Are we allowed to do anything without our families?” I asked.

There was general laughter. I saw the Elders Quorum President (a guy with five kids – two in high school) chuckling in wry agreement. Someone made a joke about “manrichment.”

In the end it was put to a vote. Results:

Families = 4
Guys = 7

Good. I work at home and frankly, I see a lot more of my own wife and kids than I probably need to. It would be nice if they let me out at nights occasionally.


  1. Scouts is what malebonding is for.

    Comment by JA Benson — May 3, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

  2. EQ parties should never have families. One with wives, one just the guys. You get enough of family activities elsewhere. EQ parties should be the one place where testosterone rules and you can beat your chest and howl at the moon.

    Comment by MCQ — May 3, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

  3. Good for your EQ. As much as I may advocate for breaking down gender barriers, I think there is definitely something exhausting about being around the opposite sex all the time, and there are things you can say and do in the presence of your own gender that you won’t do with the opposite sex in the room. It’s good to take a break and let loose.

    Katie Langston is coming to Seattle next month and we’re planning on some evangelical babes bonding time. Just the thought of it makes me want to do a happy dance.

    Of course, the whole thing makes me wonder… do we get to take breaks from our families in heaven, especially in the LDS eternal family paradigm? Or are you just so perfect there that your family is always tolerable?

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — May 4, 2009 @ 3:00 am

  4. Our EQ holds quarterly “Menrichment” meetings where they learn new skills (barbecuing, tuning up cars, etc.).

    I am not joking. They think it is outrageous that only women get to have such meetings.

    Comment by Naismith — May 4, 2009 @ 4:04 am

  5. Elders + their families = ward party

    I’m shocked there was even a vote. Then again, some probably wanted to check with their wives before they had a firm opinion on the matter.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — May 4, 2009 @ 7:07 am

  6. I totally agree with Naismith’s ward members (#4)! I have thought that for years and wondered why wards didn’t have enrichment meetings for men. They need to learn life skills just as much as the women. Also, I have noticed it is always easier and quicker for me to get acquainted in a new ward than my husband. He finds it hard to make friends because there is just too little opportunity for the men to spend enough time together to form bonds.

    Comment by AJ — May 4, 2009 @ 7:19 am

  7. We also hold manrichment activities. A couple of times a year we have official activities like extreme pinewood derby. About once a month we have unofficial activities like paintball or kung fu theater. The unofficial activities are for things that don’t jive with church liability standards or that aren’t as inclusive as an EQ activity should be. In those cases we’re just a bunch of guys who happen to know each other from church. We have an EQ Google Group that we use for organizing both official and unofficial activities. We also use it as a mini freecycle.

    We’ve recently started to worry about RS backlash since the women haven’t been having nearly as much fun as the men.

    Comment by Owen — May 4, 2009 @ 7:54 am

  8. I served in four EQ presidencies, and I always found strong opposition to any “EQ only” activities. One or two men would invariably act indignant at the idea, demonstrating their profound righteousness by rejecting such ideas as “anti-family.” The rest were simply terrified of the reaction they would receive from their wives. I managed to see one “EQ only” barbecue make it to fruition, and most of the limited number of attendees stayed just long enough to eat, “needing to get home” before “being away too long.”

    I always believed that a “menrichment” (love that term!) night was badly needed. There seems to be an assumption that every male is raised (or is it “born that way?”) with competence in auto and household repairs, but it simply isn’t true. Sadly, every time it was suggested as a monthly activity in one of my quorums, the men shot it down, expressing the belief that their wives would “never let them” do such a thing.

    Comment by Nick Literski — May 4, 2009 @ 8:16 am

  9. I forgot to conclude–I’m REALLY glad to see some of the comments above, suggesting that the attitudes I always came up against are changing! Good for you all!!

    Comment by Nick Literski — May 4, 2009 @ 8:17 am

  10. I think some people might be of the opinion that if we don’t involve the wives, the husbands might blow it off or forget about it.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 4, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  11. Going to activities with your wife gives you someone to talk to when everyone else is discussing the evils of Barack Obama.

    Comment by jjohnsen — May 4, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  12. Seth,
    I am of that opinion. Without my wife to drag me to ward social activities, I would never go. Sad but true. I’ll usually go willingly to service activities, though.

    Comment by Tom — May 4, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  13. If families aren’t invited, I don’t attend. I have better things to do with my time than participate in a LAN party.

    In contrast with the OP, I work outside of the home, and I see my family for maybe 2 hours each weekday (not including sleeping time). Why would I not want to be them?

    I never go out with “the guys”, so I don’t see why that would change just because it’s church.

    Comment by Kim Siever — May 4, 2009 @ 10:36 am

  14. Kim, that’s kinda sad.

    Comment by MCQ — May 4, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  15. Humph. I couldn’t even tell you who the EQP is in our ward (same as Seth’s). Seth’s ward has got a huge HPG, so EQ+Family would not be the same as a ward activity by a very long shot. Have to laugh though at the priesthood leaders’ forgetfulness to pass information to Primary, where we have a full handful of brethren serving. Rumor has it that there’s a HP picnic (yes, with families) coming up. But at least our HT told us.

    Comment by Coffinberry — May 4, 2009 @ 10:46 am

  16. OK. How many of you GUYS are like me? I know I’m older than most of you. My wife and I are empty nesters (with qualifications too numerous to mention). This past weekend my wife went with a group of ladies from church (they call themselves The Pod) to a beach house in Delaware. One of the ladies (I guess I should call them sisters) owns the townhouse near the beach and every year about this time they make the four-hour trek for the weekend. It’s really too cold for the beach but they really go for the outlet stores. Anyway, this same group gets together for dinner once a month too celebrate each other’s birthdays. My wife has another group of close friends from work that used to get together once a month but now it’s less often. They have a great time.

    My best friends are husbands of my wife’s friends. I guess my best, best friend would be friend without being married to my wife’s friend but the reality is I NEVER do anything with just guys. My best friend and I went to a lecture together maybe 4 years ago – maybe longer. But when my wife is gone I just hang out with myself – sometimes with my son (who is the qualification mention above.) But I like it that way. I like doing things with my wife, with my family, or with other couples. But I equally like hanging out by myself. Is that wierd?

    Comment by lamonte — May 4, 2009 @ 11:00 am

  17. I am also reminded of one of the other problems with EQ+Family activities… what about when the sisters don’t match up? I mean, suppose you have a group of sisters who like doing stuff together, but some of their husbands are in EQ and others are HP? The one whose husband is in the wrong group is left out. Or what about the young couple, whose husband was at some point in a bishopric, but they’re ever so much younger than the near-empty-nesters in HPG. Awkward! And worse, the women who aren’t married, or whose husbands are not members, are perpetually left out.

    EQ and HP activities Really Really should be guys only. Oughtta be a rule. Avoids all those problems.

    Comment by Coffinberry — May 4, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  18. MCQ, from where I stand, it’s the other way around that’s sad. I could never imagine seeing my wife and children more than I need to.

    Comment by Kim Siever — May 4, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  19. To be clear, if there’s a quorum service project, I’m there (sadly, one of only ever a handful). That, I believe, at least builds quorum brotherhood and helps develop love for one another.

    Comment by Kim Siever — May 4, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

  20. Once we were the odd young couple (no kids yet) in a very elderly ward. It ended up being one of our best wards. The EQ wasn’t much use, so we just went to the HP group type activities (HP temple night, dinners at church). The oldsters were a hoot. Very welcoming, really interesting to talk to. Ageism sucks.

    I get the perspective of some who don’t get much time with their families. I spend most of my free time with my wife and kids too. And when we have manrichment, especially the unofficial activities, it isn’t like everyone is coming every time. But those of us who do want to make friends and do activities that wouldn’t really work with our kids or wives around have the opportunity. I think the idea that every activity needs to be inclusive of all interests and time availability is death for an active Elders’ Quorum. Lots of small activities (“hey, let’s go hiking on Saturday morning”, “anybody up for paintball?”, “I just got this killer new game for the WII, how ’bout you guys come over”) and an occasional big activity (sometimes with families, sometimes without) are much better than the always-planning/never-acting scenario that usually happens.

    And for the commenters above who were talking about how they don’t have much interest/time for “hanging out with the guys”: remember that there are probably other guys in your quorums who are in great need of male camaraderie (and the gentle guidance that comes from it) and who are probably going to end up leaving the church, getting divorced, etc. if they don’t get it.

    An anecdote from this week’s unofficial manrichment: we started at about 7:30 watching a deliciously atrocious Hong Kong kung fu movie and eating hot wings made by the EQP. The party really started hopping at 9 when the bishop showed up, who apparently is a connoisseur of cinema crapite. I left at about 10 during the middle of the second movie, which was turning out to be pretty dull hand-to-hand stuff after the sword-wielding, flying ninja first flick. My intent was to get home in time to spend a little time with my wife before sacking out to be able to get up in time for bishopric meetings the next morning (I’m the clerk). When I get home my wife says, “What are you doing home? You’re going to have to find something else to do, because I’m not done with girl’s night” (it was just her…so not girls’ night…). So I went and worked in my office for a while until she was done with her movie, which put her in a very good mood.

    Comment by Owen — May 4, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  21. I’m all for Manrichment. For all us post baby-boomers especially need the education in home/auto repair as well as landscaping and gardening/orcharding.

    Ofttimes I see EQ in YSA wards neglected (though other times very much not) seeing as it’s not helping us get married (the only reason anything is done, of course) so why bother?:)

    Comment by Bret — May 4, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  22. I’m all for EQ-only social activities, and RS girls’ nights, and adults-only ward parties, as well as the usual all-ward parties. Activities that always have to be planned for the entertainment or capacity of toddlers aren’t much fun for anybody, including the toddlers.

    (And yes, I mean YOU, the mother in my ward who brought a toy telephone with sound effects for your toddler to play with during my lesson.)

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — May 4, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  23. Kim, I could certainly imagine seeing wife and kids more than I need to. I do it regularly.

    Coffinberry, I’m confused. Are you in my ward?

    Comment by Seth R. — May 4, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  24. Yup. I used to sit directly behind your wife in Primary. But now I have a Sr. Primary Class. I am one of the three attorneys in our ward.

    I had to look up who the EQP was. Duh!

    Comment by Coffinberry — May 4, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

  25. Kim, has your wife magically become interested in all of the guy things you liked before you married her? Or have you dropped all of those interests since you got married? I’m confused.

    Comment by Rusty — May 4, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

  26. Lamonte, are your wife’s friends her friends from before she knew you or are they friends you met together? If the former, then I think you should be getting together with your friends too and she should be friends with their wives/girlfriends. If it’s the latter, then I guess at least it’s even.

    I don’t think you’re weird, but I think you’re missing out on something if you don’t have guy friends. I get together with my college friends once a month for lunch and we have a guys-only weekend activity once a year. We also get together in smaller groups more often. We watch sports together, we go running, we go bowling, it doesn’t matter as long as we get together.

    Getting together with the guys is a sacred thing. You need it to bring balance and harmony to your life. If you don’t have this in your life, run, don’t walk, go immediately and see I Love You Man, then go and do likewise.

    Comment by MCQ — May 5, 2009 @ 1:26 am

  27. I am currently an EQP in a really small ward (there is six of us in the EQ) and we get together all the time for men only activities. Dodgeball, the movies, Halo, and the younger four get together for D&D or Rock Band (I am to old for that stuff). One of our less active guys has a $8,000 entertainment system and a wife who works at a video store. So we go over there every six weeks or so for new video release (a week before they are officially out). We have another la that is having baby number two and we are going to do a man shower and bring practical gifts like diapers and such (they are having a hard time financially). We are looking for paintball this summer. Anotherwords we get together and try to bond as guys – it is important in a small ward like ours.

    Comment by TStevens — May 5, 2009 @ 9:30 am

  28. You’re never too old for Rock Band. But everyone is too old for D&D.

    Comment by MCQ — May 5, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  29. My husband’s in the EQ presidency and in our ward they were having potluck dinners every Fast Sunday, but then the EQ president got busy with a new baby or whatever and they started sliding on it.

    #6: Who said enrichment was about learning life skills? Mostly it’s about crafts. Have fun making Christmas ornaments, guys.

    Comment by Susan M — May 5, 2009 @ 11:10 am

  30. TStevens ~ men only activities … Halo

    Why does Halo have to be a men-only activity?


    I need more girlfriends who play video games.

    MCQ ~ But everyone is too old for D&D.

    MCQ, you sir are a false prophet.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — May 5, 2009 @ 11:49 am

  31. Kim, I assume you don’t golf?

    Jack, I’m sorry you don’t have more friends to play video games with, and if you want to jump in some of our games of Call of Duty let me know, but MCQ couldn’t be more correct about D&D…or the 21st century version, WoW.

    Comment by Rusty — May 5, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  32. I just started a thread on “The Terminology of ‘Manrichment’ ” if anyone is interested:


    Comment by Tod Robbins — May 5, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  33. I most definitely beg to differ on the D&D thing. We’ve got a Sunday-night game going involving ages 11 to 60-something all around the table. You’re never too old for D&D. Why, a week ago Sunday, our characters even caught a non-player character with guile, and got him to sign a binding contract. We made three copies, too. One went into the bag of holding, in case the npc decides to renege later.

    Comment by Coffinberry — May 5, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

  34. @Coffinberry:

    Word. My friend’s ward won’t let me in on their quest. Too many participants already… I guess.

    Comment by Tod Robbins — May 5, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

  35. Why, a week ago Sunday, our characters even caught a non-player character with guile, and got him to sign a binding contract. We made three copies, too. One went into the bag of holding, in case the npc decides to renege later.

    I rest my case.

    Comment by MCQ — May 5, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

  36. Rusty,

    I have sacrificed no “guy things” since I got married compared to what I did before I got married.

    No, I don’t golf. Unless you count mini golf, but we do that as a family. I’ve golfed four times in my life: once as a teenager and three times on my mission.

    Comment by Kim Siever — May 5, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

  37. #35 MCQ ~ I rest my case.

    And I rest mine.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — May 5, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

  38. as a working mother who lives an hour from the chapel and married to a non-member, I miss out all round – RS enrichment activities are either held during the day (when I am working) or on week nights (2 hours travelling required), and EQ/HPG are irrelavent (non-member husband) – lol, guess that just leaves me with family activities I organise on my own with the kids ♪

    Comment by me — May 5, 2009 @ 9:07 pm

  39. However…

    YOU my friend have the strange power of putting a music note icon in your posts.

    How do you do that?

    Comment by Misty — May 5, 2009 @ 10:06 pm

  40. Sorry, that post by “Misty” above was mine.

    I was using my wife’s settings.

    Comment by Seth R. — May 5, 2009 @ 10:13 pm

  41. Our EQ thankfully gets around all the fuss about not including the wives/kids, etc., by having plenty of unofficial get-togethers: Sunday Night Football, basketball at the church, movies, and flag football are the most common. Notices are sent by email via a Yahoo group.

    It would be nice to have a formal “menrichment” activity sometime. But, I’m not complaining; we’ve got it pretty good.

    Comment by Hunter — May 5, 2009 @ 11:47 pm

  42. Kim, I’m glad to hear that, despite appearances, you haven’t sacrificed your guy things. Protect that junk at all costs.

    Seth, quit bragging about using your wife’s settings. This is a family blog.

    Comment by MCQ — May 5, 2009 @ 11:48 pm

  43. We have had good luck in getting nonmember husbad participation. Everyone likes movies or throwing dodgeballs.
    I try to use a three part system/ladder for activities.

    Bonding the group requires a lot of social activities first, especially a fractured one. Then we add some service events and so on.

    It wouldn’t be menrichment if we had girls at Halo, would it. But they play enough that there are plenty of other opportunities. With the D&D – they let anyone in anytime. If you are near Minnesota they meet up in their basements once a week.

    Comment by TStevens — May 6, 2009 @ 6:10 am

  44. #38 me ~ I hear non-member spouses are the pits.

    #39 Misty-Seth ~ It’s HTML symbol code. Only true nerds know it off the top of their heads.

    ♪ = ♪
    ♫ = ♫
    ♬ = ♬

    In case we needed more proof of what I really am… ♥

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — May 6, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

  45. Nuts. The code to show code doesn’t work at 9M.

    Oh well. Guess it will forever be a mystery to you.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — May 6, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

  46. I’d rather go to no activities, period. I really don’t want to see anyone other than my family, or maybe friends that I knew from long ago who now live far away. But really, I hate being around people, save for my wife and kids. It annoys me. I am embarrassed by the way people are and embarrassed to know that I am that way as well. So just leave me alone. Don’t call, don’t visit.

    Comment by sam — May 7, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

  47. I have never thought that marriage meant you had no need for outside friendships. I would love for my husband to have more friendships at church and don’t mind him spending time with the guys at all.
    Being raised on a farm, he knows how to fix just about anything and is handy with simple car repairs as well. I remember years ago, he was shocked when a neighbor came to him asking how to change a doorknob. I know he would be more than willing to share his knowledge at a “manrichment” if we had them. He has a lot of other practicial skills he could share but is never given the opportunity. On the other hand, he joined the church in his thirties therefore missing out on a mission and other experiences that teach men how to use their priesthood, lead their families etc. He could really benefit from some mentoring from others who have had more of those experiences that prepare men for their role in the church.

    He is in his fifies, still in EQ and honestly that program has done nothing to help further his progress.

    Comment by AJ — May 8, 2009 @ 8:09 am

  48. Sam, you should probably seek professional help. You have a problem.

    AJ, if I were the EQ Pres. I would really appreciate hearing those concerns.

    Comment by MCQ — May 8, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  49. MCQ – Sorry for the delayed answer. I’ve been out of town. The friends my wife spends time with were all aquired since our marriage. We moved across the country 21 years ago but we were married 35 years ago. We still maintain friendships from our former place of residence but once again, those are our mutual friends, not specific to one of the other.

    I think my issue stems back to high school. Without getting into the details I had a major blowout with my two best friends when we were seniors. I was dating my wife at the time and so I spent that last semester of high school mainly with her or by myself. Maybe I’ve just been afraid to foster close friendships since that happened. I had friends in college – before I got married. Two of my classmates live in disparate parts of the country but we maintain contact at Christmas or on other occasions with an occasional phone call.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I like my current situation. You’re probably right that I’m missing out. I travel on a regular basis with work associates and I would call these folks friends. We have an enjoyable time as we travel and I’m glad they are with me but we don’t get together otherwise. But I’m OK with that.

    Comment by lamonte — May 11, 2009 @ 10:15 am

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