“She’s a woman, you’re a dude. You’re not supposed to understand her. That’s not what she’s after…. She doesn’t want you to understand her. She knows that’s impossible. She just wants you to understand yourself. Everything else is negotiable.” Neal Stephenson
Each day, I speak with women who ask me, “Why is connecting with my husband so damn difficult?” More and more women are waking-up and wanting to feel a deeper connection with their husbands, but they don’t know how to get that or how to tell their husbands they want that…
Women have been oppressed in a myriad of ways since the beginning of time. I think we can agree on that.
And although I wouldn’t describe men as being oppressed, I think there’s a fair case for men being locked-into one way of being…
- Having the answers…
- Not needing help…
- The role of the provider…
They’re allowed to express emotions of anger or even rage, but not permitted to express uncertainty or vulnerability.
They’re allowed to feel deep frustration, but not unbridled hopefulness.
We’ve taught men that if they meet their role as the provider of the family, they’re not only successful by society’s definition, but that’s supposed to be enough for them, for their goals, for their lives.
But what about when it’s not enough?
What about when a man wants to connect with his wife, but he doesn’t know how because no one’s ever told him that: (1) he can be vulnerable without it taking away any of his strength or power and that (2) vulnerability is the only path to true connection with another human being?
What about when a man loves his wife and children to the ends of the earth, but still wants more…still has desires for himself that have nothing to do with providing for or helping the family? Is that allowed? That’s certainly breaking the cultural structure and rules…and sometimes makes us angry when he wants to golf or fish or travel.
What about when a man truly doesn’t have all the answers and doesn’t know how to move forward, but can’t go get someone to help him through that challenge because there’s an underlying belief that a man is somehow weak if he has to ask for help or admit that he doesn’t know the answers? This is why men don’t often readily engage with a therapist, counselor, or even a coach.
My coach and mentor, Martha Beck, calls this being locked in The Man Cave.
And if we’re going to change the structure of our marriages and our most important relationships, men need to be free, just as women need to be free. And the only way to do that is to dive into the stories and beliefs that caused the bars to be created for that cage and then one-by-one question, challenge and disbelieve each and every one of them; because they’re not actually true. They’re just stories we’ve told over time and thoughts we came to accept and believe as cultural truths.
Here’s how you do it:
- Identify what it is that you want to do that you either haven’t done yet or feel like you can’t do, for whatever reason.
- Identify what’s holding you back: who won’t understand, who will get mad, how guilty will you feel, etc?
- Challenge that thinking, that story, even that deeply held belief by asking yourself, Is that really true:
- Is it really true that I should feel guilty about wanting to do things that feed my soul that have nothing to do with all the things that have to be done for the family?
- Is it really true that if I pursue my longings and dreams it will be to the detriment of the family?
- Is it really true that if I share my heart with my wife, it means I will no longer be the strong, confident man I know myself to be?
Although it might feel true, the answer is always no, because anything that keeps you from connecting, anything that keeps you from growing, anything that makes your longings go unfulfilled IS NOT TRUE.
My hope for this article is simple:
- Maybe it can provide a slightly different perspective to the women I serve of the challenges our men face and why you’re not connecting with our husbands in the way we truly desire.
- To get all of us questioning the beliefs we carry about what constitutes a strong and confident and successful man.
- To let men know that there is a key to release them from this prison, but it requires them to look in their own pocket.
And from this place, with this awareness, we can begin to create incredibly healthy, loving relationships that feel simultaneously both connected and free.
If you are struggling with connecting to your husband, but would like to be able to do so, I can help. And here’s your next step…