Why your man avoids talking about feelings

My previous article about relationships had a lot of surprising feedback. I was especially surprised because I have no clue how it was shared from my blog to Facebook in the first place. Maybe I hit something while working on the draft at 3am? Who knows. All I know is the level of feedback was amazing.

What’s not surprising is the majority demographic that shared, liked or commented on the writing. Look at the below pictures and let me know if you see a pattern.

men-and-emotion

 whats-wrong-with-men men-and-relationships become-a-better-man

How many men do you see within those comments? Sure I had a few men like the article. Eight to be exact. That’s nothing compared to the 80+ women that shared it. What does this tell me? It further reinforces the fact that only a small percentage of men want to become a better partner.

This is a problem.

Us men we want to be stronger, faster and make more money All of these aspects are good. Yet we often fail look at our relationships in whole. Of course we all want to be better at sex. Cosmo for men… I mean Maxim routinely lists something about sex on the cover. New techniques, new positions, yada yada yada. Don’t get me wrong. Wanting to make more money, have amazing sex and be physically stronger are all good things, but it’s not enough

The bigger problem is the large percentage of men that suffer from “Peter Pan Syndrome”. There’s a good chance that you know someone like this. They invest minimal  (no zero) effort into themselves. They’ve stopped learning. They usually pass the time by playing video games, or living in a complete fantasy world. The gym is non existent. Basically they never matured past the age of 15.

So what’s the deal?

Why is it so difficult for men to work on themselves? Women seem to flock towards self improvement. I can’t walk into a coffee shop without overhearing someone talk about their Chakras being out of alignment. Look, I don’t fully understand what a “Chakra” is, but good for them. I know it originates from various Indian religions and is common in Yoga and various self improvement methods.

Guys on the other hand, what do we talk about when they get together? Sports stuff. Car stuff. Gun Stuff. Boobs. Money Stuff. Truck Stuff. Hey.. did you see that chick’s butt? Work stuff. Boobs. Rinse and repeat. We avoid conversations about relationships, emotions, and trauma like it’s the plague. We’ve been social conditioned to believe that conversations about these subjects will make us weak.

That’s where we run into this giant disconnect.

While women are conversing with their friends about deep topics, us guys are drinking beer and yelling at the TV because a ball was intercepted. Naturally when the male gets home from work, or his “male bonding time” his partner wants to “talk”. Our minds are so disconnected from the concept of talking about anything other than the aforementioned “Stuff”, we don’t know what to say. Instead we often go silent not having a clue what the f#ck to say. Next thing you know, our partners are frustrated over the level of silence that they become angry. Then people are raising their voices, door get slammed and occasionally things break as collateral damage to the fight.

A fight that wouldn’t have happened had us men talked about REAL ISSUES with each other.

We are afraid to “open up” to each other. We are afraid to tell our brethren our fears about life, our relationship issues, and ask them if they have dealt with a similar situation. Now ladies, if we can’t talk to our best friends about these issues, how do you expect us to communicate them with you? You’re probably thinking “Well I am MORE than his best friend, I am his partner”. Yes, that’s 100% true. Which is why it makes it exponentially harder to show you signs of “weakness”.

Women get practice talking about issues with each other. Hell, they often come up with strategies of how to address a problem when they are speaking to their friends. When you come at us wanting to “talk” it often makes us feel under attack. We feel like we have done something wrong, go into a defensive mind frame, and then move to the offense once your guard is down. The voices get raised in an attempt to shift the power in the conversation back toward us. It’s what we do.

So how do you get your man to start working on himself?

The bad news is, you can’t. There is no direct way to get him to start the discovery process. You will have better luck asking a lion to stop slaughtering gazelles.  For a man to start working on himself, it is something that he must desire. You can leave hints that make him wonder why you see the world as you do. The curiosity may entice him to start the process, but it cannot be forced.

The other indirect route is to change his circle of influence. This can be difficult. Especially if your male partner is full on Peter Pan Syndrome. You may have people that you want him to learn from, but if they don’t know all the cheat codes to Call of Duty, your man doesn’t want to budge from his pillow throne where he is Sofa King Amazing! Again, it’s difficult, but not impossible.

So what happened to Me?

When I started to “wake up” and work on myself it was because I started to recognize the complacency that was starting to form. I was lucky enough to work with someone that I saw as “a step ahead of me”. He started to work on a plan to get to the next level in his life. I wanted to do the same. He tried his hand at real estate. We attempted multi-level marketing together.  He  eventually moved to Denver to further advance his career. I came to the conclusion that every man needs a mentor to light a fire under their backside. Somehow this caused me to end up at a Toastmasters group.

Joining Toastmasters was a completely different experience than I would have imaged. I honestly thought we would sit around at a table, raising glasses and give a 30 second “toast” at each meeting.

I remember the first time I walked into this Toastmasters group. I knew absolutely no one in the room. Then some smiling, overly tan man with bright white teeth walked over and started talking to me. My first thought was “Ohh great.. I am in the wrong place, where are the younger people?”. 

I sat down and watched the meeting. Everything was done according to an agenda that they did not deviate from. I was rather impressed by the whole process. I watched every member of the club walk to the front of the room and improvise a 30-60 second speech. I then watched two people speak to the entire room for about seven minutes. Then the third speaker of the day walked toward the stage. 

Within 30 seconds she had me drawn into her speech. She showed emotion to the entire group, and within that emotion was strength. I was mesmerized. I wanted to learn to do that. I made the decision at that moment to join this club. If you are curious, this person’s name is Deborah Edwards.

Now remember the overly tan older gentleman with bright white teeth? At the end of the meeting he walked toward the front of the group. I looked around the room as he approach. I noticed that everyone in the room stopped to pay attention. The first syllable  that emitted from this man’s vocal chords captured the entire room. I was blown away by this man’s ability to capture the room. I went home and googled his name. Turns out that Mr. Joel Weldon is a well known professional speaker, sales trainer and executive speaking coach.

Over the next few months I met more incredible individuals within this group. Everyone at a different stage in their careers, life and their process of self discovery. This became my weekly “group therapy” session. If it wasn’t for a few months of this, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the next major event in my life.

My wife and I had a blow up fight.

There are fights, then there are fights that make you want to walk away from a long term relationship. This was one of those. I was ready to walk away from eight years of marriage, take my daughters and tell my wife to have a nice life. I won’t get into the details of this fight, but it boiled down to me not seeing her point of view.

I let myself calm down over the following few days. Instead of walking out the door, I started learning. I tried to see her point of view. It took over a year of working on it, but finally I could understand the lens that she sees the world through.

Over the past three years I’ve become a completely different person. I used to spend hours watching pointless televisions shows. Now I read, I write, and I learn.  I  don’t have issue talking about ANYTHING to other men. Sometimes people want me to shut up because I embarrass them. Good! Get over yourself!

I’m also better at communicating my thoughts and feelings to my wife. There are times where I revert to silence. I never said that I am perfect, but I’m better than I used to be.

That’s what you need your partner to be.

Don’t aim for them to be perfect. That isn’t about to happen. Help them to be better than they were yesterday. Eventually these small changes will add up. If your partner is willing, and able to embrace the unknown, you will soon see a completely different person.

7 tips to make your relationship rock.

Relationships are not easy. Anyone that has been in a longterm relationship can vouch for that. Over time you will experience many joys and sorrows. It’s part of human nature and the way that we relate to one and another.

Many people like to state that “they married their best friend”. If I said that it would be absolute lie. When I met my wife she wasn’t my best friend. When I proposed… nope, still not my best friend. This year marks 10 years of marriage and 11 years of being together. I’m proud to say that I am still not married to my best friend.

I’m married to an amazing yet somewhat crazy partner that I have decided to share my life with. This is far beyond friendship in my book.

Over the course of these 11 years we have laughed, we have cried, and we have wanted to kick each other where the sun doesn’t shine. We have created life, and we have seen life end. From the many experiences we have learned a lot.

Learning is one of the most important elements of a relationship. When we stop learning we fail to grow. Learning pushes our boundaries and allows us to discover new paths that we may take in life. While I am not $100k in debt due to a graduate program in the psychology of relationships, I do fancy myself an expert in many ways. I’d like to share seven lessons that I’ve learned over the years as I know that they will be beneficial to you.

 

Figure out your Love Languages

In 1995 Gary Chapman wrote a book titled “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”. Since then there have been a gazillion articles, online quizzes and other authors that have piggybacked off of this books success. To summarize,  people have a primary and secondary love language. These primary and secondary languages reside in the realms of “quality time”, “gifts”, “words of affirmation”, “acts of service” and “physical touch”.

Chapman states that people generally give love in the way they expect to receive it. He also states that the love languages of people do not change over time. They do however,  develop and need to be nurtured in different ways.

About two years ago my wife and I discovered what our love languages are. Since then we have developed many of our daily interactions around these concepts. It wasn’t difficult at all to incorporate these into our daily lives. Everything just happened naturally.

I suggest that you and your partner  take 15 minutes to take this test( http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/). I also advise that you do this away from each other. You don’t need the other party influencing your answers.

Guys  – I know what you are thinking.  I was hesitant to take this “girly” test as well. Just trust me on this one.  When you understand how to show your partner love you it makes a world of difference.

Don’t Stop Dating

This is of utmost importance. Especially when you have careers and children (or needy pets)  that consume the majority of your time. We often become so enthralled in everything other than our partner.

There was a time where I felt like my marriage was nothing more than a business arrangement. My duty was to to work, provided shelter and food. Her job was to manage things at home. It was cut and dry just like that.

During this time, life sucked.

Then one day we started to date and rediscover each other. The rediscovery process is so important. Why is that? Oh just because You will realize that the person you are with is no longer the person you married.  Think about it. Are you the same person that you were ten years ago? I highly doubt it. Everyone changes over time. Get over it. 

Over this time you may have discovered a new taste in music or maybe started to eat crazy ethnic food. When I met my wife I wouldn’t allow wet food and dry food to even touch. Don’t even get me started about soup. I was mortified by it. Maybe you dislike your career and want to go in a completely different direction. No matter how small the changes, they add up to form a new and hopefully better version of you. When you realize the changes you have made, you will have exciting things to discuss with your partner over date nights.

Sex should be fun

Uh oh, taboo subject time. How dare I discuss something that is a major aspect of every relationship.  

To be honest, our sex life was never boring. It’s always been good. On the other hand we have had a number of friends over the years that complain about their sex life. Sometimes one partner isn’t getting enough. Other times a partner is afraid to mention sexual fantasies. As someone who used to be guilty of this I understand some reasons why. Often we fear what our partners will think and worry that the idea will be rejected. We think that we will be shamed for such a thought. In an unhealthy relationship that will happen, I can guarantee it. In a healthy, or mostly healthy relationship talking about sex can greatly improve what you already have.

Here’s some advice for you men out there. Ready? Get over yourself. When I finally started to talk about sex with my wife, our sex life went from good to amazing. It went from once per week to nearly every night. We also discovered concepts like Tantric Sex, the intimacy of massage and many other things that are none of your damned business.

Just remember talk to your partner about sex. You might be amazed at what sexy thoughts they have in their own mind.

Challenge Each Other

While the world consists of over 7.6 billion people you are a unique creature. You aren’t designed to simply exist and survive. We are meant to thrive. To thrive we must challenge each other due to our competitive nature.

The challenges that you put each other through can be simple or overly complex. You could challenge each other on who can clean a bathroom the quickest, and the loser makes dinner (after they wash their hands of course!). Or you can challenge each other to excel in something new. You can challenge your partner to finish college, or complete a certification that will give them an advance in their career path. Or even challenging them to workout twice per week.

You don’t need to pull any “Keeping up with the Jones” business to challenge your partner. It’s not all about material things. It’s not about who makes the most money. Hell, it’s not about the result but the journey there.

Allow each other to be Human.

I didn’t want to lump this into the “sex” section because it relates to so much more beyond that. By “allowing each other to be human” I mean don’t sweat it when you catch your partner checking someone out. Don’t give me that crap that “I only have eyes for him/her”. I call bullshit. Humans are an advanced life form, yet we have primal instincts. One of these is to look at objects that catch our eye. 

Imagine your partner watching the sunset from a beach. If they stated “This is beautiful” you probably wouldn’t have any bout of jealousy. Yet the moment most people “catch” their partner checking out another human, it’s the end of the fucking world.

My wife has caught me eye balling someone before. Guess what she said? Come on, take a guess! She said “Wow, she’s hot!”. I agreed then we went on with our day. That was it. I didn’t instantly fall head over heals for  this other person. I didn’t lust for them. Nope, I found them aesthetically pleasing to look at. 

Yes I have caught her checking out other guys before. Did I call her out on it? Absolutely!  I’ve said phrases along the lines of “Woah that dude is ripped. What do you think his diet consists of?”.  Again we went on with our lives. If you catch your partner eyeballing someone, don’t get pissed. Make fun of them because you caught them doing it, then forget about it. 

Bad times will soon pass.

During the bad times, it’s important to stick next to each other and put your heads together. It’s critical to support each other during the lowest of lows. It could be a time of financial turmoil, death of a loved one or another life changing event. I’ve been through all of them and i know they will occur again.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.

No matter how wealthy you may be, or which deity you pray to bad things will happen. Just remember to support each other.

You need alone time

There’s a reason why this one is last on the list. Of anything I could say it all pales in comparison to this. To have a successful relationship you need time to think. You need time to breath. You need to time to simply exist as you.

We all have busy schedules but do they really matter? You give so much of your time to your work, your commute and your family. What happens when you fail to show up? What happens when you cannot be at your peak performance?

 Everything suffers.

You need alone time. It doesn’t matter if your alone time is hitting the gym at 4:30am while the world is sleeping, or a midnight drive through a twisty canyon. I can’t tell you what you need, only you know where your happy place is.

I strive to provide alone time for my wife as well. There are times where I kick her out and “force her” to go to the salon. She is hesitant to go and worries about the cost, yet thanks me when she returns.

You know your partner better than I ever will. Watch for signs of stress, such as leaking eyes, drinking wine in a dark closet or rapidly shedding hair. When you see these signs, be sure to give them the opportunity to escape the house and be alone. Even fifteen minutes can make a world of difference when someone is overwhelmed.

…and there you are

A basic outline of how to not suck at having a relationship.