For a woman who has done even a minimal amount of emotional growth work, i.e. reading books, going to workshops, listening to talks, being in a relationship with a man who hasn’t, is exhausting and frustrating. I frequently hear from women around the country who are fed up with their men because of the lack of emotional dialogue in their relationships.
I suppose that the hundredth time a woman asks a man how he feels about her and has him tell her what he thinks about her, is about all any human being should ever have to endure. Women have been carrying the emotional dialogue football for so long that men have been relegated to tackling dummies. Have men fallen that far, or was their sense of importance simply inflated in the first place? I suggest both are correct.
I tell guys that the silent, tough guy thing isn’t working for them, and in truth, it never did. It’s past time for men to wake-up to their emotional shortcomings. There’s nothing macho or manly about a guy who’s behavior is that of an emotionally brain dead tackling dummy. Worse, men aren’t even getting their needs met because they’re too lazy to learn a minimal amount of emotional vocabulary. Saying I feel, is different from saying I think, and its inexplicable why men still don’t get that, because it’s an apples/oranges difference.
Statements beginning with I feel, aren’t debatable, which should be a welcome change for men weary from being second-guessed and criticized by women. If a man describes how he’s feeling to a woman, she can’t offer up any judgment, opinion, or advice about what he shares with her. It’s likely the only scenario in a man’s entire life with a woman that doesn’t allow for any snappy comebacks, criticism, or opinions.
If a man tells a woman what he thinks about her, that’s his opinion, and therefore debatable. Telling a woman what he thinks about her isn’t going to help their relationship grow, and like it or not, a relationship that’s stagnant eventually dies from a lack of oxygen, or in this case, dialogue,
“I don’t think we screw often enough,” isn’t likely to get most women into bed. “I miss the warm feeling I get when we make love”, is a more successful way for a man to ask for and get what he needs from a woman. The first statement says what he thinks. Maybe his partner disagrees. Maybe she thinks they make love often enough already, so there’s a difference of opinion that isn’t likely to get settled amicably. The second statement says how a man is feeling. There’s no argument associated with that statement. .
If a woman tells her husband, “I don’t think that you don’t spend enough time with the kids”, he would probably see that as an attack on his character as a father. If instead she said, “I love to watch you play with the kids and see how much they adore you,” he would be hard-pressed to find anything angry or judgmental in that.
Women are now a larger percentage than men in the graduate schools of business, medicine, dentistry, and law, which is ample proof that they have enormous abilities, are driven to succeed, and aren’t waiting around for men to save them. If men hope to ever exert any influence in relationships, they’re going to have to wake up to the fact that their dysfunctional behavior is making them expendable.
The pre-women’s movement attitudes about women are beginning to apply to men who are increasingly being seen as only valuable as sex objects. Women need men for sex, but they no longer need men to have children. Men don’t seem to be getting any of this, perhaps because they are choosing to ignore it. That’s a mistake, because the problem isn’t going away.
Women haven’t yet equaled men in terms of pay and advancement in the workplace, but they’re closing in. I’ve worked with women, and what I’ve noticed is that they’re less ego-driven and are more driven just to get the job done right. Men can learn how to behave in the workplace from women who seem to want to get the job done with a minimum amount of nonsense or bravado.
The age of the muscle aspect of work is over. With few exceptions, women are more than strong enough to compete with men in any arena. In terms of emotional awareness, they are giants compared with men. I have been working with men for two decades, just to get them to understand what it is they need to focus on, and why. For the most part, the men I’ve worked with, all got it. The problem isn’t whether or not men are capable of emotional growth. It’s whether or not they are willing to work to catch up to women who are emotionally superior and in desperate need of men willing to meet them on a level relationship playing field.
I’m hopeful and optimistic, but I also realize that men are going to have to leave the starting gate if they hope to compete in the race. Women have been carrying the heavy load in relationships for as long as I can remember. If men are in fact stronger, they can demonstrate their strength by showing up emotionally. It’s time.