In this article I am going to look at how men handle emotions and the impact this has on their relationships. The popularity of John Grays’ book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus speaks of the differences between the sexes when it comes to romance. While men and women do approach love and relationships in different ways, I believe that these differences are over-played and that at their core men and women have the same needs and insecurities – we just play them out differently. For this article I have drawn on the inspiring relationship principles created by Chuck Spezzano Phd., founder of the Psychology of Vision – an organisation that specialises in helping people to improve their relationships.
One of the most common complaints I hear from women about men during my work as a relationship coach, is the way than men are not in touch with their emotions. This can drive women to distraction because they tend to be more emotionally aware and expressive. Men generally prefer to solve problems using their thinking brain rather than their emotional brain. By understanding why this happens women can help their men become more emotionally aware, and dramatically improve the quality of their relationships.
Why Men Need to Be the Hero
Men strive to be successful in life and become the hero in any situation, either at work or at home. We want to save people, fix people and make things better. Many women fall in love with us when we act like this – we appear to be strong and in control of our emotions. The problem is, that this show of strength is often a way of avoiding our deeper, negative feelings. Society brings us up to be big, strong and powerful, but deep inside a great many of us feel weak and lacking in confidence. We often try to act like a hero because we are afraid to show our weak, vulnerable side. Just because we are men, does not make us immune from the fears and insecurities that all human beings face. A sense of failure and inadequacy lurks in most people. This usually stems from broken bonding in our original families that can easily end in feelings of guilt and shame for having let people down and failed to help our parents and siblings. Rather than feel this guilt and failure, most men will subdue their feelings and pretend that they don’t have them!
It is therefore a real mistake to assume that men are lacking in emotions. A recent survey of male film-goers confirms that men feel their emotions as much, if not more than women when they watch tear-jerking films. The furtive swallowing and battle to hold back the tears is usually successful, but next time you are at a weepy film, notice those hidden clues. I know from my experiences of working with men and attending relationship workshops that once the tears start flowing, it is like opening the flood gates. Big boys really do cry!
The sad thing about all these heroic attempts to avoid our emotions is that they bring about the very feelings of failure that they are designed to avoid because they ultimately damage relationships. While in the early stages of romance, male stoicism is very attractive, it eventually becomes an Achilles Heel. If we do not feel and express our emotions, one of two things will happen. We will either gradually withdraw from our partner and perhaps bury ourselves in our work (another place we can become heroes) or something will crop up that forces us to feel our feelings – often a crisis like divorce or a wake-up call through tragedy or illness. Relationships do not fail because of what is said, they fail because of what is not said. As men choose to suppress their emotions, they jeopordise the most important relationships of their lives. So, how can women help their men feel their emotions and in doing so enhance the quality of their relationships?
Tips for turning your man into a true hero and improving your relationship
To form and maintain a strong relationship with a man it is important to understand that much of his behaviour is designed to avoid him feeling and looking like a failure. Unfortunately your man is very unlikely to be aware of any of this. Their sense of failure is so well hidden that they will probably strenuously or even angrily deny that it exists. This in itself is a protective mechanism to keep the feelings hidden.
You will therefore need to slowly and gently encourage him to feel his feelings and become more emotionally aware – this is best achieved by feeling your own emotions and becoming as authentic as you can. Men fall in love with women who behave like women! We love you to be tender, kind, empathic, vulnerable, honest and feminine. These are the natural characteristics of women and we cannot resist them because they touch our own feminine aspects. Although many men find this threatening, it is a fact that we have both masculine and feminine sides to our personality. A woman can help her man to discover this more emotionally expressive part of himself.
The trick is allow your man to be your hero. Not in the conventional macho way, but in an emotionally authentic way. The word courage is derived from the French word coeur, meaning heart. Real courage for a man is to allow himself to let go of his control and to open his heart. Let him know that you find him attractive and brave when he is in touch with his emotions – when he can show them without attack or withdrawal. Make it OK for him to cry and be supported by you if that is what he needs in order to release the pent-up emotions. Appreciate his openness and find the courage yourself to communicate about your own fears and insecurities. With time you will become more and more emotionally honest with each other and as your hearts open, your love for each other will grow or be re-kindled. This is a real aphrodisiac so the new-found honesty will enhance your fun in the bedroom!
Many of the problems we see in the world today are the result of men not allowing themselves to feel their emotions and let go of their fears. The emotional dissociation creates competition, power-struggle, greed and war. Women are already experts in the area of emotional intelligence and have a crucial role to help their men unearth and heal their fears. It is only then that we will become real men and start living the more emotionally authentic and fulfilled lives that we secretly crave.