Note: This article was excerpted from Brian Goin's new book Playing Hurt: A Guy's Strategy for a Winning Marriage (Kregel, 2011).

For years, I never shared my battle with jealousy, insecurity and comparison. Then I heard an older man, very successful in his field, who was honest enough to say, “I’ve come to realize I’m insecure. No, I’m desperately insecure.” It was the first time I’d heard a man say ouch.

Ever since the garden of Eden, men have mastered the art of covering their shame and pain with fig leaves. The same is true in marriage. Rather than cry for help, we run for cover. I’m not suggesting we walk around flashing bracelets etched with our ailments: “Doubts Self-Worth,” or “Addicted to Porn,” or “Physically Abused.” But somehow we need to start airing out our wounds. Every fifteen-year-old in a first-aid class will tell you that unless you clean the wound, you never heal. As I said in the previous chapter, every injury in marriage affects a man’s eyesight. He’s blinded to his real adversary and his allies fade from view. God has given every man a couple of medics ready to rush to his side if he would just cry out: men in his life that are within earshot.

Some wounds require expert surgeons, but I think the bulk of the wounds inflicted on men can and should be treated in the company of other men. When a man goes down on the football field or the battlefield, other men rush to his aid. But when a man develops the habit of hiding his emotional wounds, no one knows when he’s down. That’s one reason I like being around guys in recovery. Whether it’s alcoholics or sex addicts, they’ve learned through their own brokenness the need to cry, “Medic!” Just as a scratch can eventually turn into gangrene, minor emotional cuts can turn into major infections. Many marriages are ruined on nothing more than years of festering bitterness caused by minor irritations over things long forgotten. Instead of saying “ouch,” we stubbornly proclaim, “Nah, it’s just a flesh wound. I’m fine.”


What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Write it down in the margin. I bet it was dangerous. There’s a good chance it involved the police. And I’d wager my son’s college education it involved other guys. Chances are, someone acted as your accomplice or as your audience. Living in Charlotte, home of NASCAR, where people spend five hours watching left-hand turns, I’ve heard a few redneck jokes—like this one: What are a redneck’s famous last words?

“Guys, hold my beer and watch this.”

Men do crazy things when other men are around. But they also achieve the impossible. First guys to conquer Mount Everest: Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary. First Americans to find a passage from the Mississippi to the Northwest: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. First guys to fly a plane: Wilburand

Orville Wright. First guys to land on the moon: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

What’s the common element between all those firsts? The word and. Crazy only requires spectators. But great missions, whether conquering a mountain or the moon, requires camaraderie. When you open the New Testament, you discover men (plural) on a mission. Even Jesus didn’t venture out alone. First thing he did after he started his public ministry? Surrounded himself with other guys (Mark 1:16–20). First time Jesus sent out the disciples? They went out like Noah’s animals—two by two (see Mark 6:7–13).

When the first churches were established, they were founded by pairs of men: Peter and John (Acts 3–5); Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13–15); Paul and Silas (Acts 16–18). And is a powerful word.