The Men-richment Program

Saturday, August 16, 2008

[Editor's Note: The whole "men don't socialize" theme that emerged in my last post deserves a follow-up. With the help of some of the comments from my previous post, I thought of a way for LDS men to get together a few times each year. Guys, after you read this, please submit some comments with potential activities/topics that you would find interesting. Ladies, please also comment on both the "skills" and "skillz" that would be helpful for your hubbies to learn. You'll understand the differentiation between the two in just a bit.]

The Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment program (a.k.a. "Don't You Dare Call It Homemaking") of the LDS church is outstanding. It provides the adult female members of the church an opportunity to get together four times a year to learn important skills, grow as individuals, apply the gospel, and strengthen their friendships. While one of the four annual activities is traditionally centered on celebrating the birthday of the Relief Society, the other three meetings look something like this:

February: Appreciating the Creation
Activity: Build a bird feeder

May: Fostering Self-Reliance
Activity: Plant a garden

August: Protecting Your Family
Activity: Make a scarecrow to frighten away the magpies that were attracted by the bird feeder you made in February and are now eating the garden you planted in May.

While the activities and lessons are truly beneficial, the social aspect of Enrichment is also one of the more important functions of the program. But do LDS women really need another formal opportunity to socialize with each other? In my last post I commented about the abundance of women-only book clubs, candle parties, girls nights out, scrap-a-thons, walking groups, etc. Women are very social creatures and would undoubtedly make the opportunities to get together happen, with or without structured church programs. Developing formal programs to encourage women to become better acquainted is like Ned Flanders offering C. Montgomery Burns a $10 bill. Does Mr. Burns really need it? Of course not. But will Mr. Burns take the money? Absitively posolutely, neighborino!

When you really think about it, maybe there should be more Enrichment-type activities for the men of the church. It could even have a really catchy name:


The differences in the way some men and some women approach home and visiting illustrates why socially-focused male programs might be needed. When it comes to visiting teaching, The Normal Mormon Wife has told me on more than one occasion, "We went visiting teaching today and after the lesson ended we just ended up talking with Marsha for two hours! I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock. But then we just kept talking for another half an hour! We had such a blast getting to know each other better. I can't wait to go back next month!"

While visiting teaching visits can can last longer than William Hung's singing career, some men ask questions like, "If I go home teaching at 11:45 p.m. on July 31st and the lesson lasts until 12:15 a.m. on August 1st, could that count as my visit for both July and August?"

The Menrichment program would teach fewer Martha Stewart "skills" and more Napoleon Dynamite "skillz". It sounds like some wards have these types of programs, as explained by Jon-Michael in his comment to my last post: "In my old stake, they put on a Super Saturday for guys every March. Classes included, plumbing, drywall repair, (and) computer repair...among other things. It would end outside in the parking lot with a massive barbecue of hot dogs, hamburgers and male bonding." Cool. Very, very cool. Sure, you could go to a Home Depot Saturday instructional course or watch "This Old House" to learn some of this stuff, but it is the male-bonding-with-church-members facet that makes Menrichment so intriguing.

While bonding with my fellow male church members would be fan-diddily-tastic, I would still want to learn some practical, useful, cool stuff. If I designed the program just for me, it would offer insights into these confusing life lessons that I have not yet learned:

-How to unclog a drain after Liquid Drano fails to do its job.

-On a weed whacker, how to thread the stupid replacement string through the stupid "bump feeder" so that the stupid thing stupid works. Stupid!

-Effective techniques to prevent your heart from stopping and your head from exploding when the A/C repairman says, "Your entire air conditioning unit is shot. You need a new one. They cost between $5,000 and $10,000". (I'm still throwing up in my mouth right now and having night tremors after hearing that exact phrase earlier this summer.)

-How to balance a sleeping infant in your arms while freeing up your hands to type on the computer or hold a PS2 controller.

-Three semi-intelligent phrases that I could utter while looking under the hood of a broken down car. You know, something like, "It looks like it could have been the overhead gasket...wait...nope the gasket still looks sealed. It was probably just vapor lock." I don't care if I even know what I'm talking about. I am just tired of looking under a hood and only being able to say, "Hmmph!" (On a side note, I took Auto Mechanics 101 at Ricks College my freshman year to at least learn some basic, useful auto information. On the very first day of class my teacher showed up and said, "I've been teaching kids how to fix cars for thirty-seven years. I'm retiring at the end of the semester and this is the last class I'm ever teaching. So you know what? I'm teaching you guys the gospel instead!" I guess he really wanted to be in the Religious Ed. department, but could never shake his "grease monkey" reputation. To this day I don't know what the catalytic converter does. I want my $312 plus "garage fees" back!)

Now I'm not attempting to start some underground movement here to try to get Menrichment into the Handbook of Instructions, but some of these things could definitely be done at an Elder's Quorum or High Priests level. So, ladies and gentlemen, if Menrichment were to exist, what topics would you have it cover?

Please share your comments. It would be fan-diddily-tastic to here them.


Megan said...

* Proper spotting techniques/buddy system for working out

* God gave you two ears. How to use the headphones in one ear to listen to the sound effects of your OMPRPG and the other ear to actually be a part of the family

* How to do your Honey-Do list without being too efficient so as to have more items added

* Home Teaching: make appointments before the 10th of the month and complete the visit by the 15th. (Remember that one from our Provo Stake, Drew??? AKA, the law of Moses...but I digress)

* How to talk to your wife about cars, computers, sports, and your job without being boring or treating her like a moron (as well as asking about her day with true interest once you get home).

* Scouting: It's not just your wife's job to get the boy(s) through.

* Chewing gum 101

* Leaving phone messages and writing simple emails.

* Writing a true love letter

* The art of thoughtful gift giving

* The art of pleasant massage

* Singing hymns

* How to persuade the kids from getting a(nother) pet

* How to enjoy the food you want to without being a saboteur to your wife and family's healthy eating habits.

* The guilt-free way to enjoy time alone.

* Ways to play with the kids outside that don't hurt your back.

* Cheap dates your wife will love

* Theater and fine arts etiquette and appreciation

* Bedtime storytelling

* Anger management techniques for sporting events and/or coaching

* Oh My Potato! And other euphemisms for bad words

* Meeting Doodles: windows to a bored mind or fine art?

* Smart vs. Wise. Which are you? Which is your wife? When one outweighs the other.

* Chick Flicks: Enjoying them without trying; ways to hide the tears; persuasion techniques so as to avoid them

* Understanding Stephenie Meyer novels and the hype behind them. How to be the man/vampire your wife secretly desires.

* Garanimals for Grown Guys. How to organize your closet (blacks/browns/blues) with complimentary colors esp. socks and shoes.

* Bringing home flowers: Will she dry them upside down forever or is it wasted money on floral sex organs (Bio 101 with Bro. Pope at BYU anyone?)

* Smiling nicely for family pictures.

* Mirror tricks for getting the perfect shave without missing a patch (or whole area)--including nose and ears.

11:08 PM
Jill L said...

your ideas are pretty funny, and I think I'd like my husband to go to a few of them, but our ward tried guys only EQ parties (so the single brothers would want to come) and the wives (me included) got a little grouchy so they're not allowed anymore.

My favorites are from Megans list

* Cheap dates your wife will love
* Smiling nicely for family pictures.
* How to talk to your wife about cars, computers, sports, and your job without being boring or treating her like a moron (as well as asking about her day with true interest once you get home).
* Smart vs. Wise. Which are you? Which is your wife? When one outweighs the other.

8:21 AM
Jessica said...

Well, seeing as women really only want men who have "great skills", I say you stick to the basics to start with. You know, like nunchuck, bow hunting and computer hacking....... ;)

9:08 AM
Olivia said...

Yeah, It would be nice if this menrichment idea actually took hold. I don't know of any wards where either the men would be motivated enough to do this on their own with all of the planning and what not that would have to go into it before hand, or the wives wouldn't feel like this is just another meeting their husbands have to go to. I personally, would love it four times a year. It sounds like a great idea! I know my dh would love to do something like this.

Here are my ideas:
A class on how women like to be validated and listnened to, not have their problems fixed. Men would practive listening to eachother gripe about stuff without offering solutions unless asked ofr. It would be kind of like therapy. ;)

How to fix minor plumming or car or house problems, and when to know to call a pro instead of doing-it-yourself.

A book or movie club for men that meets once or twice a year.

A class on tips of how to take initiative to be the spiritual head of the household.

1:06 PM
Lindsey said...

I don't believe the men in my ward/neighborhod would be too thrilled about actually learning anything when they get together, but some of those topics for classes would be great for them!

Our EQ and HP groups have "game nights" a few times a year which consists of everyone bringing their XBOX, PS2 or Wii to the church and hook them up the projection unit and play well as a few card/board games, plus some strange "shock" game. They also tend to beg their wives to make "treats" to share (usually notice for these treats is given about an hour before the event starts).

Our stake has also added "touch" football for Saturday mornings in the fall (it's really funny to see how beaten up and sore all the men are on Sunday morning after just playing "touch"), and also basketball for what seems like the entire year....

I think the men in our area are pretty well covered.

1:54 PM
Mandi said...

I ditto all of the above.
I want to initiate (ie make the men do it) more Fathers and Sons outings. Maybe even fathers and children. If a woman had invented Fathers and Sons it would be Fathers and Children. It would be at least one to two days.
Love your blog. I even showed the MLM post to my husband, and he laughed out loud (a feat indescribable).

1:59 PM
Col.Smeag said...

OK Wait are all the guys on fantasy football or have the wives changed the AOL passwords? So here's some real things that should be featured in the Menrichment (Good name BTW) taechers manual:
* Chick flicks how to get lost after hitting the snack bar and end up in the comedy/action/adventure flick that she swore she would never see.
* How to supercharge a garbage disposal so the you can also shred tree limbs.
* Gourmet food night: How to realize what you are eating really would be killed by your exterminator (in this country) and how to appriciate a Char Broiled Braut with honey mustard and onions.
* Demolition night: Two words Sledge hammer.
* Style night: What to say when your wife asks whether the 16th dress she has tried on at the department store makes her look like Delta Burke or Angelina Jolie.
* Electrical Engineering night : The 220 amp line is your friend.
* Bathroom etiquitte: Why do the go in pairs and what they talk about when they are in there.
* Cars 1001: Faster is Better
*Honey-Do-Lists: Is Burning it in the BBQ wrong if you are trying to rake leafs at the same time?
*Birthday gifts for her that really are for you.
* Christmas gifts for her that really are for you.
* Motorcycle Safety: Where to hide it so whe won't see you bought it
*Babysitting : What movies will keep them entertains long enough to watch the game.

Just a few ideas for "MEN-richment" night.

6:08 PM
IamLoW said...

How to make homemade truffles.

6:39 PM
alyssa said...

This is awesome. IF hubby were EQP I'd totally "suggest" that he do some of these activities. The super-saturday things really sounds like a great idea.

And Megan hit the nails on the head. Ditto to everyone one of her suggestions.

6:59 PM
Sandy said...

I'm loving the idea for a men's Super Saturday. We had like 10 guys from our ward come help us at our new house (before we moved in) for most of a day. Their tasks included: building the front deck, patching some drywall in the house, and moving some lumber into the basement. The lumber was moved without incident, exactly 2 of the men could do drywall (a third guy's wife came over to watch him use a cordless drill for the first time in his life), and about 3 worked on the deck (which Jake and I had to rip up and redo that night, since they used the wrong wood)...and the rest stood around holding tools talking about politics and telling stories about people who shot their dogs, trying to talk enough that no one noticed that they had no man skills.

Luckily my husband has a lot of man skills, but I totally agree that just as many women no longer no how to do any of the basic homemakery skills, many men can't do much more than write a check when it comes to fending for yourself. I'd go for stuff like car repair, home repair skills, a few nice meals to cook for your wife, etc. Heck, I'd like to see those types of things for Enrichment, too - our ward spends 80% of its Enrichment time working on quilts for our booming baby population and various community fundraisers.

How about a Couples Enrichment night - we could all learn how to unplug a toilet and cook a gourmet meal together:)

8:01 PM
Sherry said...

My ward does Menrichment. It varies from shotgun shooting (just incase your family is ever starving and you need to take down a clay pigeon)to welding ( how else are you gonna fix that leak in the toilet?) My husband is in the EQ presidancy, and he LOVES the program. I keep trying to get him to have a first aid class...

6:01 AM
Pappy Yokum said...

ok, too few guys commenting here and my head is about to explode. Here are my suggestions, taken from all the good citizens of Dogpatch:

How to make the most efficient use of barbequer space.

How to answer all those wife questions like "Does this dress make me look fat?" without lying and without getting "The Look".

How to get your wife to buy you all the tools (especially power ones) to make you be more manly.

How to grunt like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor.

How to get your kids more interested in watching BYU (or whatever your favorite team is) football than in watching SpongeBob. (So that you can watch without constant interruption wanting to know when they can have the remote back.)

11:46 AM
Anonymous said...

Hey, my ward has "Kidrichment," so I see no reason that you can't have Manrichment!

Topics to cover:

1. The correct answer to "Does this make me look fat?" is NEVER "Let me see it from a different angle."

2. Bathroom etiquette: The correct position of the toilet paper on the roll is ON THE ROLL. No more left in puddles of water on the counter.

Towels do not go on the floor in a pile...towel racks are not just decorative objects.

Tubes of toothpaste have caps for a reason.

3. How to dress a child while simultaneously taking a phone call, making a fabulous dessert, and running after the postman with a bill that you forgot to put in the mailbox.

2:22 PM
Amylouwho said...

Is there really anything else to add?

5:33 PM
Jared said...

One thing guys could do at Menrichment is make movies. I think wards could create all sorts of awesomeness - like "The Award" quality. Maybe this is just something I'd enjoy but I think it would create all sorts of good male-bonding, especially if there was a large light-saber duel in it. Nothing says "I love you" to another guy like beating on him with a light-saber.

Another Menrichment could be a grown-up pinewood derby to let us relive our glory days (it was the dads who did most of the work anyway, so let them do their own cars, separate from the scouts).

5:58 PM
normal mormon wife said...

LOVED your examples of Enrichment activities, babe. Dang magpies.

I wish I had more great ideas to add to the list, but the rest of you rock! My favorite was Megan's suggestion for a massage class. Not that you don't already give great back rubs, but maybe I would have to say "Not so hard!" as often.

5:32 AM

More Menrichment ideas:

1. The proper use of a laundry hamper (clothes go IN IT, not on the floor around it).

2. A class to help develop skills to find anything that may be perceived as being lost and thus eliminating the need to ask the wife "Have you seen my _____ (fill in the blank)? The development of these skills will also avoid having the man look like a ninny when the wife finds said item in two minutes flat - right where the man left it.

11:39 AM
Jewels said...

I'd be interested to hear what the guys think we girls should be learning at enrichment...

1:37 PM
Jared said...

Many of these are great suggestions but after re-reading many of the suggestions (especially taken in the light of Jewels' comment) it appears that many of the women basically think that men are just big kids who need to learn how to have better [insert room here] manners and be more mature and responsible and well, more like women.

As I said, these suggestions are all great but I think the point of menrichment would be for men to get together and have some sort of social interaction. That means things like sports, video games, movies, and maybe a little bit of occasional practical learning. Guys don't want to get together to learn skills; they want to get together to practice skillz. That might defeat the whole "richment" part of menrichment but I don't think guys would organize anything else with much regularity.

6:38 PM
Anonymous said...

The perfect Menrichment class would be:
*How to make the three A's top priority in your relationship - (the three A's being Attention, Affection, and Appriciation.)

-if guys learned the true art of the three A's there would be many, many, many extremely happy women! :)

I love all the other ideas too. I don't really see the men planning anything and actually following through....I guess stranger things have happened! lol :)


10:09 PM
Amanda said...

My former ward had Menrichment--they basically got together, grilled steak, and bonded. It's definitely a great idea!

As for your questions...when Drano doesn't work--use a hanger. You never know what will materialize!(

And, as for the gaming/computer while holding a sleeping baby--use a Boppy. Just make sure you're not playing an intense driving game. (i.e. My kid would be on the floor if I played Super Mario Kart because I use my controller like a steering wheel.)

11:33 AM
JohnB said...

I've been in several BYU wards during the last few years that have had what we called "manrichment."

Most of the manrichment activities I've been to have been about barbecuing and socializing, but one time we learned how to do extraction and another time we planted an "elders quorum garden." The garden produced everything we needed to make a great salsa :)

1:00 PM
baerman said...

We had a counselor in our ward who was good with cars, so one Saturday he showed us how to change brake pads, and how to determine if you needed new rotors or if they just had to be machined. I've changed the brake pads on both my cars since then, and don't plan on taking them in for that minor repair again.

7:57 AM
Susie J. said...

I just have to confess that our ward already HAS "menrichment" activities for our guys. They even call it Menrichment. I kid you not. I honestly have no idea what happens at these activities, because on the rare occasion that my husband is in town to attend, he doesn't bother telling me anything when he gets home. I think at one point they had a gaming night, where they all sat around and played video games.

9:44 AM
Julie said...

Menrichment ideas:

*Basic auto mechanics. It can save a lot of money.

*Job networking -upgrading your job. Lots of speakers, lots of ideas and brainstorming to help men earn a living that will support their families. Extra speakers from different lines of work.

*Quick, easy, nutricious meals when they have to cook for the family or when they become widowers. They won't have to rely on fast food that makes everybody fat.

*Baseball, football, basketball, golfing, bowling, boating, jet skiing, volleyball, ping pong tournament, etc.

*Service projects: Yard work for people in need, construction work

*Tutoring night. Emphasis on math and science tutoring. Let the ward youth know in advance that they can come to the church that night and have all the left brained analytical types tutor them in their difficult subjects.

*Landscaping classes

*Vegetable gardening classes

*Use the home teaching phone tree once a year to call and remind every husband the day before mother's day that the next day is, indeed, mother's day and suggest they go to the 24 hr. grocery store and get their wife a card. Maybe even a candy bar or a cake or some other food item. At least that.

Go, Andrew.

11:56 PM
Sharonelaine said...

UGG don't give my husband anymore ideas. He is the EQ president in our ward and he would LOVE to have another reason the HAVE to be at church.they play basketball every Wed. all year long

1:27 PM
atchafalaya said...

We have man-richment! This weekend they are chopping logs and cooking meat. Typical.

5:56 PM
Michelle said...

I am so TOTALLY with Jared on this topic. I'm a new reader and this post made me laugh so hard; I even shared it with my husband.

Then I made the fatal mistake of reading the comments. I'm going out on a limb to say this, but, "Shame on the ladies who would feminize our men! And wake up you ladies that still think it's all about you instead of him."

As to NMH, keep up the awesome work. Not all women are going to take your funny ideas and trash 'em!

2:03 PM
George said...

Guys don't like to go to classes like gals do. Makes us too vulnerable (like asking for directions) We get satisfaction for figuring out the weed whacker on our own. And can take credit for cleaning out the drain without going to a class (even if we did seek some help from Wiki-How now and then). So I don't think the Menrichment is a very good idea.

Basketball night, however will continue to be a hit.

4:27 AM