Posted in Intimacy

He has emotions too

Whether we can credit nature or nurture (or more likely, both), your husband may have difficulty expressing what he feels or perhaps he doesn’t express emotion the way you, as his wife, express yourself emotionally. That doesn’t mean, however, that  he’s emotionally hollow nor does it suggest that he’s an emotional cripple. He too experiences sadness, anger, embarrassment, joy and a host of other emotions. You did marry a human being, after all.

I have seen strong nods of approval from wives when I challenge their husbands to simply say, “that must be hard” or “I can only imagine how difficult that would be” in response to an emotional outpouring to their husbands. That type of response is validating and helps wives feel they’re being heard; however, wives aren’t the only ones who should hear words of validation from their partner. If men feel “safe” in exposing their hearts, they’re more likely to do so, but even if they feel they can trust the person who is listening to them to handle their emotions with care, they will use far fewer words that are more fact-based and less emotionally loaded than will their female counterparts. Here’s an example of a man expressing himself after being asked about his day: “My boss yelled at me.” That’s it. Nothing more. That may be the only information a wife receives, but there are unexpressed feelings behind that statement that could be inquired about and validated. By contrast, women tend to move beyond merely presenting facts and add emotional content to their stories, making it appear that women feel things and men don’t. Let’s not fall into the trap of believing this is the case.

Ongoing validation will more than likely cause a man to open up more readily with every time he is asked how he feels. Realize that your husband has feelings that need to be handled with care.  If he can safely share his feelings, you’ll know him better and when you know him better, your connection will grow stronger and your emotional intimacy will increase…which should ALWAYS be your goal.

 

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About Lori Mitton

Lori Mitton is a licensed clinical psychotherapist (MA, LLP) specializing in marriage and family therapy. She is co-founder of Permanent Passionate Partnership.