What Men Say About Opening Up And WW Linkup!

Creating Safety in MarriageToday we are diving into the first of the responses from the “Men and Openness” survey. The first question I posed to men was: What makes opening up and disclosing your feelings to your wife difficult?

Here are the results …
65.52% – I am afraid my wife will become upset by my disclosures.
53.45% – I don’t know how to articulate my feelings.
20.69% – I’m afraid that if I talk about my feelings, it will open up old wounds and overwhelm me.
18.97% – I don’t know what my feelings are.
5.17% – I’d rather stick to the facts because my feelings don’t really matter.

Below is a sampling from some of the men who offered specific responses to this question …
“She stores them up and uses them against me”
“She doesn’t understand my feelings”
“She doesn’t respond in a way that makes me feel comfortable when I share …”
“I’m afraid I will hurt my wife if I disclose my feelings.”

It was clear to me from the men’s responses that many of them have been “burned” one too many times in the past by their wives whenever they’ve tried to open up and talk about their feelings. 🙁

That makes me say, …

I think that we, women (myself included), need to use this as a huge challenge to improve the way we LISTEN to our spouses.

I don’t think this is just a problem that wives have, to be sure. However, God does throw down the gauntlet to each one of us in Proverbs 20:5,

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.

So I challenge each wife out there to join with me to …

Now, based upon the fact that the first and most popular answer was “I am afraid my wife will become upset by my disclosures,” I’d like to explore what it would take to avoid and change this for wives.

What I hear from that statement is that as a wife I need to …

Work on being mentally and emotionally prepared to hear my husband’s truthful feelings.
This means I probably need some advanced warning before my husband shares frankly. In fact, I think if he is sharing in the “heat of the moment,” then his feelings are probably heightened too and could use a bit of cool down time as well before sharing. Also praying together before my husband opens up can bring some much-needed calmness and respect to the situation. #mustpray!

Work on empathizing with my husband’s feelings on any sticky issues that keep cropping up for him.
That means I must first let him share his feelings without interrupting him. I need to reflect back what I hear him say, so that I am mentally “holding” the exact words he’s just said in my mind. It’s one thing to hear something my spouse has said and another to repeat back what he’s said. My husband’s words are processed and absorbed more deeply when I reflect back to him. This also increases my understanding of what he may be saying, which is another pathway to empathizing with him.

I’d like to deal with the other responses to this particular question slowly and thoroughly, so I’ll be continuing to unpack this and the corresponding responses next Wedded Wednesday. I hope you’ll come back around to learn more about how to break down these barriers between men and women—especially in marriage.

I also hope you’ll join “us” this coming Sunday, Nov. 15th when my hubby and I will be sharing our first video as a couple that I’m affectionately calling, “Picking Hubby’s Brain!” During the video, I’ll be interviewing Gary on the many sticky issues that he has with being open with “moi.” If it’s not helpful, it should at least be pretty entertaining, even if I do say so myself! 😉

 

What do you think about the responses from the men on this question?

 

Is there an insight you’d like to add to the discussion on this issue?

 


Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday.

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  • Beth, I’m not surprised by #1. I’ve witnessed this in marriage counseling. My husband, who is a marriage counselor, suggests to his clients that they ask themselves, “Will this be cathartic or constructive to share?” His point is we all have stuff that will pass, and we don’t need to vomit everything on each other. I know you are talking about men who are reluctant to share. But sometimes we women share too much. Listening can be harder for us than talking. But not interrupting and reflecting back what we’ve heard, to be sure we’ve understood before we react, is essential. I think you are addressing an issue that affects many couples. Thanks for wading into these waters!

    • Yes, I’ve seen it coming from both the wife and the husband right in front of me, Debbie. It is never a pleasant experience and often indicates that the couple has waited far too long to seek counseling or coaching, in my opinion. We all need reminders of guidelines like you’ve shared above. My husband and I even keep written reminders of these kinds of questions handy so that we can regain our balance and perspective more quickly.

      And yes, I do agree that we women tend to share too much, but we also expect too much in these kinds of interchanges. I think if we understood and accepted that communication is a process and doesn’t mean we must get to the bottom of everything right there in that moment, we will get much farther faster. In other words, taking small bites that we can process at a time might actually encourage our husband’s out of their protective shells. Thanks so much for your encouragement and added insight, my friend!

      • I absolutely agree with you, Beth, about this indicating they may have waited too long to seek help and they may be expecting too much from one exchange. Whenever we forget the goal is love we lose.

  • bluecottonmemory

    Not interrupting – that’s a hard one for me. #1 made me think of the husband’s responsibilities and how they want to protect us, not worry us. As supportive wives, we need to be strong enough to help them carry that responsibility. That means trusting God, too. Thank you, Beth, for always encouraging to better love and support our husbands!

    • Oh yes, especially when feelings are heightened or the “rules of engagement” are not spelled out. We tend to think that we must get our foot in the door before that door closes, Maryleigh! Been there, done that, but it’s never very productive! And yes, I think your insight about men is spot on. Very often they are thinking of how to protect us. I think it’s part of their role/identity as our husbands. I like the way you say we need to be “strong enough” to let them carry that responsibility. Very wise and important to recognize that key in this dynamic, my friend! Thanks for coming by and sharing your wisdom as well as encouragement with me!

  • Beth, great conversation here about conversation! 😉 I’ve got one of the hubbies who is just so matter of fact and not connected with feelings. I’ve often wondered what is possibly underneath that, but he’s too matter of fact to think he’d like to delve into it! I love the work you are doing here! Thanks!

    • Thanks so much, Lori! I hope that this survey helps all of us gain some much-needed perspective on the way men think and feel about opening up. I hope that it brings some insight for you and your matter of fact guy. I hope you’ll keep on engaging with this topic and telling me how it might be helping the two of you to connect better. I’m not sure, but I think you are new this week or recently to the linkup. Thanks so much for joining us! I’m so glad to have you around!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, and the responses are interesting…though I think there maybe one more reason for not sharing feelings.

    For me…I’m too tired. I’m dealing with the awful feelings of not wanting to die, and at the end of the day I simply don’t want to talk about them. Practicing the Long Goodbye is too much, already (not to mention writing about it)…it’s the last thing I want to discuss.

    And in that, I am wrong, wrong, wrong.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2015/11/your-dying-spouse-80-preserving-dignity.html

    • Oh yes, Andrew. There’s much more. I’m sure I’m only scraping the surface, especially with this one post. I hope to unpack much more as we go along. I want to be as thorough as I can to evaluate every nugget of truth that we can mine.

      I think you put most of your energy into writing about how you feel, Andrew. I think that’s also been cathartic for you and perhaps leaves you less motivated to rehash it all with your wife who may be too close to it to appreciate it all. I hear ya about this dark road being much too long, but I’m so glad you are still walking with us. Thanks for taking the effort to respond to my post, my friend. But if you are feeling too ill, just know that I understand if you don’t comment each time. I will worry about you, but as long as you’re writing at your place, I’ll know you are still in the land of the living. And for that I will thank God!

  • stasia08

    Goodness… the men’s responses are so telling. Sometimes I think I need to just listen just like I want my husband to just listen to me. My husband needs to come and feel safe! I am going to ask him today and see what his response is!!!

    • Thanks for joining the conversation, Stasia. Yes, I’ve been convicted each time I’ve read over the responses. It truly does come down to wanting to heard, listened to and understood. No one feels safe when there’s an agenda to get someone to come around to our way of thinking without hearing that person’s way of thinking. I do hope you talk with your hubby about this and get his feedback and please let me know if there are any insights along the way in this series that bring you and your hubby closer together.

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  • I agr e with them Beth. Sometimes we expose them and the secrets they have shared we use against them. We need to make it safe for them.
    Thanks for sharing their hearts with us, have a super blessed day!
    Love

    • Yes, that would be the worst possible thing we could do–use their words against them, Ugochi. But often that’s what we try to do out of fear or desperation. Finding ways to make our hubbies feel safe is not going to be easy but nothing worthwhile in marriage ever is!

  • Looking forward to that video, Beth!

    Meanwhile, thanks for the wisdom in praying before he / we talk. And let’s hear it for not interrupting his every word. Or trying to fix him. Or acting like we’re some kind of expert whenever he opens his mouth.

    Sigh. No wonder they are reluctant to share …

    • Pray for us in the video department, Linda. Gary’s a bit camera shy and unnerved about being on the “hot seat!” So pray for us as we record it tomorrow evening (Thurs. 13th).

      And I’m always so grateful for the way you approach these subjects I talk about here–with your own humility and insightfulness. I do hope that Tim sees that in you, girlfriend. You are one spectacular “catch!” Love ya!

  • Anastasia Safee

    Very interesting! It doesn’t matter if my husband is sharing his feelings or just telling me something random about his day, and at some point he says “you aren’t letting me finish.” Oops! I definitely need to work on this interrupting problem!

    • Ha! Yes, interrupting seems to be a theme here among us women commenters! It truly is a boundary violation that erodes trust and respect in those very vulnerable conversations, Ana. I’m so glad you are willing to admit it. So many wives don’t see it at all. Thank you for your encouragement, my friend!

  • Wonderful conversation to share as we all need to learn. “Letting him share without interruption …”. That is a big one. Can I just listen without trying to defend myself or explain something for him? Just let him talk & share. Something to work on this week 🙂

    • Yes, we need to go at those kinds of conversations with no other agenda than to hear and understand, Joanne. Gary and I have been married 28 years and over our vacation we had a disagreement over something very small but when we sat down to talk about it, we used reflective listening. We both felt heard and I learned something new about the guy I’ve known for so many years. I’m just sorry that it took me that long to listen to it and receive it. Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!

  • Mary Flaherty

    Well…when I read the first and most popular response, I didn’t realize it was one of five options. I thought it was an actual statement from a man–more specifically, my man! He did the survey, and it sounds just like something he would say. Which made me think…if I immediately thought that would be his response, then I’m not surprised. So why am I not surprised? What am I doing that makes him feel that way? The truth is, I don’t think I do get upset when he discloses his feelings (even though he usually doesn’t). He just thinks I will. No, it’s more that I come off as independent in my actions and thinking. Don’t tell ME what to do…so I kind of don’t listen, so maybe he thinks, “Why bother?” Ew and yuck. Gee, thanks Beth for giving me something to ponder today.

    • Yes, it does sound like something the men in our lives might say, doesn’t it, Mary?! And you bring up a good point, my friend. We are not surprised by these results and yet we let this linger in our interactions. And you bring up another great point about how we come across as wives–too independent of our husbands. I know I’m guilty of that more times than not. We must approach this sticky issue with an attitude of being for each other–on the same side, because that is what we are! Thanks so much for your continued friendship and support here, girlfriend!

  • Mary

    I just know this is going to be thorough and you will examine every part of having conversations as husband and wife. I love how you spoke about praying first before the conversation begins and then you dig into reflecting back what he said. The second strategy was a very good coaching tool I learned when working with other teachers.

    Hope your time off was restful and renewing. Love having you back!

    • Oh yes, I want it to be thorough because I know there are many “gems” of insight that we can mine if we do not rush past them.

      And thank you for the kind words about my thoughts on prayer. That’s been such a HUGE (insert Donald Trump voice) part of our marriage and taking it from being messy to much less messy and more Christ-centered, Mary. I’m glad to hear that you’ve used that tool with your teachers. It’s amazing what prayer can add to our conversations with others.

      Yes! It was restful and just what I needed, my friend! Thanks for helping me out while I was away. You blessed my readers, I’m sure! Hugs to you!

  • Susan Burfoot Mead

    Thanks for the work it took to help educate us to be better wives. Hugs. Susan

    • Thank you, Susan! It’s great to have you in the linkup and I appreciate your encouragement of what I hope to offer readers as well. It’s my privilege to mine these truths out for all of us!

      • Susan Burfoot Mead

        So glad you are!

  • Lexie Robinson

    I’m new to your blog, thanks for having me!

    • It’s great to have you, Lexie! I hope that you enjoy your new blogging adventure!

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  • Lot’s to think about, Beth. Love the challenge! I find many of the same things to be true in my counseling. Blessings!

    • Thanks, Donna! I’m glad you find it thought-provoking. I’m excited to add more of the male perspective to the conversations I have around here. Thanks for your friendship and encouragement!