Recently several of my male clients have been accused by their wives of being unemotional. This is a common problem among couples. But, it goes further than just wanting him to open up. Because these men are unemotional, they have been unable to be compassionate when their wives were in crisis. This can cause a serious problem in a relationship that can sabotage the relationship for the future. What a woman needs in this type of situation is for her husband to actually be able to relate to the emotion of sadness or trauma or whatever it is. If he hides his emotions from her (and maybe even himself), it isn’t possible for him to truly be compassionate or understand how she feels. Below are several excerpts from my book Bring Back the Man You Fell in Love With that may help.
Men Have Emotions, but They’re Afraid to Show Them
When I accuse male clients of being unemotional, they always say tome, “But I do have emotions!” And of course, it’s true. Men have and feel emotions just like we do. But they, of course, have difficulty expressing them because of their childhood training. As I said before, fathers teach men that it’s weak and unmanly to show any emotion but anger. Then mothers teach them that it’s wrong to show anger. Then we—their wives and girlfriends—teach them that if they are emotional with us, we’ll lose respect for them. Society has programmed us to expect men to “handle” their emotions, and often by “handle,” we mean not have any weak or insecure feelings. So they pretend that they don’t—because we want them to.
Are You Ready to Hear What He Has to Say?
Often our own secret dependencies keep us wanting a man to be stronger and more fearless than we are so we can lean on him if we need to. To have him be emotionally open with you, you have to be ready to let him off the pedestal. You have to honestly want an equal relationship—want him to be your best friend. Usually, when we say we want him to be more emotional than he is, we mean just in a loving way. And of course, that’s not possible. If your mate becomes more emotionally available, he will need to share all of his emotions—even the ones you don’t want to hear.
How to Get Him to Share Emotionally
- Make it safe for him to share by listening and accepting his feelings.
- Teach him what you know about sharing emotionally, but don’t shove it at him or make him think he has to be as emotional as you are.
- Stop enabling his unemotional behavior.
- Don’t excuse his bad behavior with others.
- Share your feelings with him.
- Don’t share more than he does.
- Withdraw when he is cold and rejecting.
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