Ok this is the one most men shy away from. The dreaded word that seems to try to swallow us whole or can feel like quick sand if our spouses get us to dip a toe into this pond for just a second.
It’s really not that bad. But in a guys mind…. This is the place we are on the shakiest of ground. We are outside of our comfort zone here. We do not feel like we are good here and defiantly will be on the losing end of any argument if its based around emotions. So what do most guys do to deal with this area? We toss a rock into the other room and go “ What was that?”… and take off to never return.” But why? This is the question most women have when it comes to men. Why does he never want to engage when emotions are on the table? Well to us, if we are talking to the women in our lives, emotions are always on the table. So we are a little hesitant right from the start. Ok Ok I might be exaggerating a little, but I’m not too far off. So whats the problem…. Why do most men shy away from expressing their emotions… its amazingly simple.
We don’t know we have them. Ok that’s not entirely accurate. We don’t understand them. They will come across as something we can’t make heads or tails from… an example is… hurt. Say his wife does something that hurts him deeply, what is his usually response… anger. We usually, if given to normal reactions, tend to lash out or strike back. That’s how most of us are raised. Now a woman’s response to that is one of shock usually. “ Why would he lash out at me!!. That means he doesn’t love me or hates me.” Ladies we as men have learned from an early age that the best defense is a good offense. Unfortunately it comes out in many areas of our lives even when that response isn’t the best. We can get past this, but it takes some effort from both parties.
I am sure most women have had this conversation at one time or another…
Wife to her husband.“ what are you thinking?”
Husband. “Nothing.” Or “I don’t know.”
In a woman’s eye that’s impossible, but for a man it can be totally true. I will tell you why. Men are linear thinkers for the most part. We deal in logic and cold hard facts. You give us a problem and BAM!!! We are on it. We accept the challenge and put our minds to figuring the best way to go about it. Our minds are on what is right in front of us. (This includes all hobbies.. things we can “zone out on”) Our best work is not in multi tasking, but a laser focus on a specific subject matter. No distractions, laser focus. Ladies if you think, I’m sure you will remember, times when you dumped 4 or 5 things on his lap all at once…what was his response? Overwhelmed, frustration, anger maybe. We don’t function well in this area as a whole. We need one thing at a time. To get back to our original subject matter of emotions and why men usually suck at them. So, to a man, emotions are like trying to hold tight to a hand full of sand. The tighter you grab the more leaks out. Nothing is constant and nothing is solid, its ever changing like the flow or a river. When it comes to emotions we as men rarely give it much thought and this is where our problem comes in. When you press us for what we are feeling, we feel pressured, because honestly most of the time we have no idea. It’s not that we are clueless it’s that we just don’t think along those lines, but here is the saving grace if we both understand each other and allow grace and compassion to enter into the relationship.
I have learned through trial and error, mostly error, I think. That we as men can sit down and discuss our emotions with out fear if… IF!!!!!! We feel its safe to do so. Give us time to dig deep into our emotions, give us time to roll it around a little and learn that we can go deeper than the surface when it comes to feelings. We need to feel safe ladies. We need to know none of this will come back to haunt us later. We need to feel safe and supported in this effort. Encourage us, be that help mate and not a critic. When a man finally understands that him revealing his biggest weakness to you is not actually making him look weak to you. You have then made it over a big hurdle. Ladies you can be his biggest supporter or if not handled right he will retreat into a cave never to come out again.
That is the biggest thing to help get a man into the realm of emotions. Making him feel like now matter what, he is safe there. Then you can start to dig deeper…. “Why did this make you angry?” What emotion was actually behind it? Ladies be ready you may hear things your not ready for. He may reveal ways you have hurt him that you didn’t know about, or ways that he felt disrespected by you. Ways you might not have ever realized. Don’t be critical, don’t try to explain why you did them. These are his emotions just like you have yours, no matter how crazy they may seem they are still his to feel. He maybe slow to find what his true emotions are, it can be hard to explore this area of himself so please give him some grace and time, don’t rush him.
I’ll sum up this part by saying this. Men are not simple, we just shut off that emotional side of us and deal only in the surface most of the time. We are task oriented. We usually love a challenge, we love doing what we are good at. We love succeeding in front of you and we love doing well at things when it comes to our relationships. So if you can somehow challenge your man to get into the emotional pond with you, go slow and praise him, tell him how proud you are of him for taking these steps. I know a lot of women are thinking…. Oh great I have to stroke his ego now too? I’ll tell you know, stop it.That attitude will destroy any chance you have of getting him out of his man cave. Ladies you like it when your man expresses how much he loves you right? You love the little gifts or helping around the house or the time he sets aside just for you right? These are all expressions of love from him to you. You need to know every day that he loves you. Well he needs your respect. His main thing is respect from you. When you say things about stroking his ego you are disrespecting him… it’s the same as if he did something that made you feel like he didn’t love you anymore. Yes its that serious.
If he is willing to take these steps with you, be thankful. Many men wont even make the effort. So remember he is WAY outside of his comfort zone and needs your support. We love a challenge and if we can view loving our wives better as a challenge, then we look at this whole subject area a little differently. They always say to never keep score in your marriage, but according to Shant`e Feldhan a well known author of “The secret to highly happy marriages.” Every highly happy couple keeps score. But of the good things, not the bad. They constantly try to out do each other with tokens of love and affection. I think that’s a great idea to emulate.
Be looking for part 2 of this series, Into the mind of a man.
His fear of failure.