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.

Why Would My Marriage Counselor Tell Us To Call It Quits?

Thank youKaty showed up in my office in tears. She had been trying to get her husband to go to marriage counseling for months.  He finally agreed and they went to see someone locally who was referred to them by a friend. In their first meeting, her husband told the counselor he was only staying in a miserable marriage because of their kids.  The counselor told him kids were never a good reason to stay in a marriage.  Her husband moved out the next week.

Unfortunately, I hear stories like this frequently.  And it makes me angry.  It should make you angry too.  You finally get the courage to show up and spill your guts to a “professional” only to be told your marriage can’t be saved or even worse, shouldn’t  be saved.

No one can or should tell you if your marriage is worth saving.  No expert is an expert on YOU.  But oftentimes clients will ask a counselor to weigh in on this and sadly, many will.

I get emails every week asking me if I know of any counselors in someone’s local area who have our same approach to relationships.  A vast majority of the time, I cannot help them this way.  And while we do offer long distance coaching and face-to-face intensives, counseling is sometimes what is needed most. So to help you choose the right counselor, I’ve listed a few tips you can follow.

  1. Make sure you choose a marriage counselor who is truly a “relationship” expert. There are a lot of therapists out there who call themselves “marriage counselors” or “couples counselors” but have a very limited set of skills to deal with couples who have complicated issues or a high level of conflict. You wouldn’t see a podiatrist if you had a brain tumor.  No one can specialize in everything.  If your counselor lists several areas of expertise, it could be a sign they haven’t really mastered any of them.  Before selecting a counselor, do your research. Ask them what their success rate is for couples counseling.  If it is below 75%, go somewhere else.
  2. The marriage counselor is really an individual therapist.  The fastest route to divorce is to see an individual therapist for marriage/couple issues.  Ask them how much of their practice is based on couples counseling.  If that number is lower than 75%, go somewhere else.  An individual therapist is likely to focus on the one who is in the most distress and will often sacrifice the relationship for personal growth and happiness.  It is easier to suggest divorce than to fix the problems especially if you don’t have the experience.
  3. The marriage counselor is not PRO marriage.  In other words, they are marriage neutral.  Maybe they have been divorced themselves and see it as “no big deal”. Before scheduling, check out their website and any blogs/articles they’ve written.  If you still can’t tell where they stand on the institute of marriage, interview them and find out.  If you aren’t completely satisfied that you are putting your marriage in good hands, walk away.
  4. The marriage counselor is simply a bad counselor.  Yep…it happens.  Having the credentials doesn’t mean you know what you are doing.  I’ve heard stories that make my skin crawl.  If you are in counseling and something doesn’t feel right, consider getting a second opinion.
  5. The marriage counselor takes sides.  I hesitated on this one because this can be tricky.  You want a counselor who can stand in the truth even if that means one or both of you gets upset or gets your feelings hurt.  Occasionally, I will see a couple where one is overtly acting out in inappropriate ways and I have to call that person out on his/her behavior.  But you and your partner should feel confident your counselor is fighting for your marriage. If one of you is feeling ganged up on, try to ascertain whether or not the counselor is legitimately challenging unhealthy behaviors or if this could be a sign it is time for a second opinion.
  6. All too often clients get upset about something a counselor said or did and they simply stop coming to sessions.  No counselor is perfectly on their game for every session every single day of the week.  If you are upset with your counselor or feeling as if you aren’t getting good results, talk to your therapist.  Hopefully, your therapist is checking in on a regular basis and asking how you feel things are going. Give him/her the opportunity to make adjustments and address your concerns.  If you still feel things aren’t going well, don’t hesitate to leave and find another counselor.  If you aren’t feeling good about the service you are paying for, it is likely your counselor isn’t feeling good about it either.  You may be doing everyone a favor.

I can’t express enough how important it is to find a pro marriage counselor who has the training and experience to give you the help you need.  Your marriage is one of the most important relationships you will have, so do your research and be willing to invest the money and time to get things back on track.  It could be the best investment you will ever make.

Oh!  And remember Katy whose husband moved out because their counselor said no one should stay married because of the kids?  We worked with Katy and Mark for just a couple of months and they are thriving.  And so are the kids, btw!    😉