First, my disclaimers, which will be in bold so no one misses them.
YES, I harp on women on this blog. YES, it might not look fair. Here’s the thing. I *am* a woman. So I talk to women. It makes no sense if I sit here and lecture men on everything they’re doing wrong. It would just make me look bitter and arrogant. I really don’t feel qualified to lecture men. I write about things I’ve learned the hard way or things that motivate me into action. I write to women. Men have responsibilities in relationships too, but I’m not going to talk about those in this article. That being said, MEN, if you want to send this post to the women in your life, feel free to do so. I hope that I represent the issue well, and that this helps in your relationships. WOMEN, if you want articles that talk about how men fail in relationships or life, the Internet is full of those. You’re just probably not going to find those on this blog, because I have enough failures of my own without having to point fingers at the men. If this helps any of you dear women, then God will have already used my mistakes. ❤
You’ve heard it, over and over again: don’t treat your guy like your girlfriends. Wait. You haven’t heard that? Okay, back up. It’s true. Your husband or boyfriend or father or brother is not “one of the girls,” ladies. It doesn’t mean that he can’t go clothes shopping with you or appreciate how you do your hair. It just means that he’s not a girl and should not be expected to fill that role in your life.
HOWEVER, I think we’ve taken this to some extremes.
We’ve decided “not a girl” means “not a human.” And we think they’re impervious to the emotions and hurts and needs we women feel every day.
Let me explain.
How many of your homes look like mine? Husband walks in the door after a long day, and is met with a wife that hugs him, kisses him, and then begins animatedly talking about her day. She starts out trying to be positive, but soon it’s all about “Bertha, the neighbor, who said something stupid and hurt my feelings” and “Sally and Susie, the toddlers, got into this and that,” and “Great nephew Sammy is a mess and it breaks my heart!”
Weeping goes on against his shoulder, and the wife’s needs are met, her heart strengthened and relaxed. He has been her rock yet again.
Then he turns to her and says, “This blasted technology is acting up again, and it makes me so mad. Can you tell Sally to please be quiet for fifteen minutes so I can think?”
“Honey, honey!” Wifey scolds. “How dare you be frustrated? Sally is two. She needs your reassurance and compassion. She won’t understand. You’ve hurt her feelings. And how silly to be so angry over technology! What’s wrong with you? You’re usually so patient.”
And, if the husband is anything like mine, he bravely shuts his mouth, sucks in his negative feelings, and lets the wife’s hypocrisy burn right through him.
Because it isn’t fair.
Studies have shown that men feel guilt, embarrassment, shame, pride, depression, and stress just as much as women. They simply don’t always feel the need to show it so obviously, or feel safe and secure enough with another human being to want to. (Warning, this link has adult comments on sexual things) http://www.yourtango.com/experts/galtime-com/men-have-feelings-too#.VCh_qhYaxM0
This stigma about expressing oneself may contribute to the fact that, across the
world, suicide rates for males are anywhere from two to SIX times higher than it is for females.
We are losing our men.
Our husbands are not to be our punching bags, to suck it up and take our emotional tidal waves every time they’re with us. They are humans with full emotional capabilities, needs, and fears as well. Because they may not always want to or feel safe enough to volunteer their vulnerabilities does not give us the right, as women, to assume they have none and to walk all over them with our own problems.
In a culture of easy sex, breakups, and too many sequels of James Bond, men have this assumption that they’re supposed to be tough, emotionless, and unattached. Because they don’t feel the need to express their emotions the way women do, that they simply don’t exist. That they are super-human or different from women in so many core ways, instead of fallen, emotional beings, who have needs to be loved and respected and cherished – something God does for all of us, and what we’re commanded to give our husbands.
Here’s a good test: Something has upset you and you’re crying about it. Can you go a full twenty-four hours without sharing it with your husband? Can you pray about it first? Can you spend a full day just talking to God about it, or do you feel like you’re about to explode unless you get yourself some manly arms and a listening ear?
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH TALKING THROUGH PROBLEMS WITH YOUR SPOUSE. There is nothing wrong with leaning on the emotional support a husband can bring. But is it all about us?
Have our husbands simply become disaster hotlines?
Is there a give and take between listening, comforting, and sharing God’s truth between both of you? Or has your marriage become a husband-counselor/wife-counselee scenario only?
Do any of you have distant husbands? Husbands who seem apathetic or uncaring? Husbands who seem closed off and changed?
Have you ever, ever considered it might have something to do with you? Have we, as women, ever shut up long enough to listen to our husband’s heart? And waited, maybe months, if need be, to gain his trust back so that he thinks we care again to hear his heart?
Can we purpose to go to God first and approach our husbands with our problems second? Can we choose to go last during “talking time” and ask the right questions to get our men to be able to share their own concerns with us? Or have hours gone by with only the wives having shot their mouths off about Friend X and Student Y, leaving your spouse weary and ready for bed?
Do you have your husband’s heart? If not, is it because it’s been about you for so long?
Listen to your conversations between your husband and yourself. Is it mostly you talking? Does he only open his mouth one third or one fourth of the time? Having a quiet husband is no excuse. I have one of the world’s most introverted spouses, but, when I ask a few questions, give him eye contact, and just listen – because I’ve already gone to the Lord about the irritating situation that came up Blanche’s birthday party, I find that it’s just not more important than hearing how my husband made the work basketball team, and that he’s as excited as a little boy at Christmas.
Once again, I am NOT advocating that you tell your husband less. I am advocating PERSPECTIVE. Selflessness. Wait on the Blanche’s birthday party conversation until your husband has talked first. Make sure you’re in a better, unemotional state. Don’t let all your pent-up anger out on him. Don’t always be looking for Hubby to pat you on the back and raise your ego. Wait a day or two until he’s talked his 50% of the time. There can be majorly important things from his soul that you’re missing because you’re busy whining about someone you’ll never see again who happened to be at your friend’s party.
Grab your man back gently by being mature, by letting him know he’s not God in your life, and he’s not required to solve all of your problems within the hour they happen.
“Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12
Would you want a man who walks in the door every day and goes, “Peter was so nasty to me! Wait until you hear about our entire two hour conversation word for word! Just a minute. I can’t talk while I’m sobbing! What a mean man! Will you speak to him for me and make him stop! Oh, I’ve just had it. I need chocolate. Wait here. This is going to be a looooooong night!”
I don’t think so. Yet we’ve made these same men put up with this, day after day, from us.
Instead, I’ve started asking, “How do you feel about what happened at work today?”
Like any normal man, he snorts, and goes, “Feel? Me?”
And I look him straight in the eyes and say, “Yes. You. You’re no alien. I acknowledge that you have valid feelings too.”
And you know what? He does. Turns out he was pretty disappointed about something, that he would’ve stuffed down if I looked right past him and babbled on about how Sally and Susie dumped salt all over the living room.
Have we snubbed their emotions in the past? Do we laugh at them when they tear up at a girly movie? Do we get irritated at the goofy teenage-boyish ways they show love? Do we snort at the way they define “romance”? Do we make them feel humiliated when they admit a fear? Do they just not even feel like trying any more?
Later, maybe the next morning, he asks, “Why is there salt on my coffee table?”
And, with a fresh new attitude and a good night’s sleep, I can laugh and go, “You’ll never guess what the girls did!” And he’s laughing too. There are fewer tears. Everything is viewed in its proper perspective when there’s a little bit of time, prayer, and sleep under my belt.
“But enough about salt spillage, which is (mostly!) cleaned up now,” I say. “How did you sleep? Did you dream?”
And, what do you know? He did. And it was such a sweet dream that I’m glad I got to hear about it.
For further study, an excellent article on INTPs, that probably applies to many men, which describes the emotional circles frustrated husbands and wives get into stepping on each others’ toes and assuming that men are unfeeling: Dating an INTP