One Man’s Marriage Advice to Women

mans marriage advice to women EWL

Ladies, I write to you as a man with the hope of helping you to understand how many men function in relationships, on behalf of men everywhere.  We need your patience.  We weren’t taught these relationship skills, and most likely, we have not witnessed them in action. This is new to us, but we are willing to learn.  So please, if you can, give us a chance to catch up.

My Identity as a Man

First and foremost, our identity as a man comes from how we were raised in our culture, and from our childhood. My identity as a man is core to my existence.

To us, a man is competent, competitive and independent.

Our role models are self-sufficient, performance based, providers and fixers. And of course, we all know that “real men don’t cry.”

 

How men typically manage relationships

There’s a strong possibility that we learned to manage relationships with anger, threats to leave, or by being logical and therefore (always) “right.” Our ability to function in the realm of emotions is very stunted. (Think John Wayne or Brad Pitt.)

We are not making excuses–these are facts.  As men, we must work on personal insight and personal responsibility to move towards relational maturity, and you need to know where our limitations lie.

Why men respond the way they do

If you come to us with intense emotions, if you attack our identity and self-respect as a man, we will not respond well. We will flee into our defense mechanisms: anger, logic, withdrawal or retaliation. This will obviously only push us further apart.  And while we need to take responsibility for our own defense mechanisms, we ask that you also take responsibility when you make it difficult to communicate with you and show up for you.

If you come to us with intense emotions, if you attack our identity and self-respect as a man, we will not respond well. We will flee into our defense mechanisms: anger, logic, withdrawal or retaliation. This will obviously only push us further apart.

How women can communicate their needs with men

We need you to come to us with an explanation of your needs without accusation.  We need you to come to us assertively, and help us understand the fact that we are failing to listen and to “get it” in terms of what you need.

We need you to tell us what you need in a very firm manner, but without telling us we’re failures. We need you to come to us with your feelings of frustration, rather that stuffing them into an accumulating resentment that you hide from us, and then stun us with your statements of “I don’t love you anymore.”  We need you to move beyond the myths like “if he loved me; he would know what I need,” or “it has no value if I had to tell you to do this for me.”  We have no mind reading skills, and we are not skilled in successfully interpreting your moods or body language.

We need you to tell us what you need in a very firm manner, but without telling us we’re failures.

We need you to come to us with your feelings of frustration, rather that stuffing them into an accumulating resentment that you hide from us, and then stun us with your statements of “I don’t love you anymore.”

We need you to move beyond the myths like “if he loved me; he would know what I need,” or “it has no value if I had to tell you to do this for me.” We have no mind reading skills, and we are not skilled in successfully interpreting your moods or body language.

If we come to understand our relational failures late in our relationship, we ask your grace to allow us to grow to be the men we can be and the husbands you need us to be.  Just give us a chance.

If we don’t listen to you, put the relationship at risk BEFORE you walk out.

Let us know exactly what will happen before both of us are so beaten down and exhausted that we feel hopeless and the relationship is truly doomed.  Move out of the bedroom, go see a therapist, throw down the gauntlet.  But do these things respectfully and with compassion so your message gets past our defenses.

Truly, we want to be better husbands. We want to love you and be loved by you.  We just have a lot more relational maturing to do.

**A note from Kim Bowen to women: Ladies, are you going all emotional on your man?  Stop and think if you are really approaching him in a way that undermines his manhood.  If you are, you will most likely never get from him what you need and want most.  What you are doing isn’t working for you.  It never will.  We can help EMPOWER you by teaching you how to be heard.  Really heard.  Not tolerated. Not minimized.  Not brushed aside as a “nut job” because your emotions got the best of you.  You do not have to go BIG to be heard.

About Dan Umphress:

Dan understands the feelings of helplessness and fear that come when your spouse wants out of the marriage, and he can relate to your struggle on a deeply personal level. He knows the pain of going through an unwanted divorce, but he also knows how to recover from the experience and has now been happily married for 14 years.

Dan believes in the importance of saving a marriage whenever possible, and building a happy life upon the renewed marriage, or the life that can be found on the other side of a marriage that could not be saved.  He has many years of experience working as a marriage and family counselor in the Dallas area.

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