As promised in my previous post we will continue to address communication and focus on what culture has done to inhibit male communication as well as how transparency can cause communication to blossom.
For men, expressing how we feel about things can be a foreign concept. Uncomfortable to say the least. Some men are raised to conceal their true feelings. In fact, our society seems to recognize only one acceptable male emotion: anger. Look at the movies we watch; you rarely see the men in films express emotions other than anger. It’s hard to imagine Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, or any of the males represented in movies say, “Please pass me a tissue.” Guys, take a deep breath; it’s just you and me here. Guy to guy, can you honestly say that you have no other emotions? You’ve never experienced fear, frustration, anxiety, or any number of other feelings? Of course not!
Men experience the same range of emotions that women do. The problem is that they tend to filter and display their emotional responses through anger, and that way nobody will think they are weak. How weak is that? Let’s understand that men are not women, nor should they behave like them. However, many men need to step out of the fear of what other men think and learn a lesson in transparency, most definitely in your marital relationships.
Few men would consider David of the Old Testament a weak example of manhood. From his youth, David’s journey exemplified masculinity—giant killer, anointed king, strong leader and motivator, a man after God’s own heart. He was courageous yet benevolent, definitely a man’s man. David was not perfect; he had many setbacks as well. David was a man of passion who had no problem expressing himself emotionally.
I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
David was able to lay it all out before God with honesty and transparency. This is what our wives want from us, honesty and transparency. They want to be let into our world, and they want us to be part of their world. Showing love to your partner involves taking the time to listen to them and hear what they have to say.
Trust is only built from a level of transparency. Having said that, we need to understand that both spouses must be a safe haven for communication and honesty. Communication is a two-way street. The sender of a message has to feel safe in being assertive, or stating what they want and need in their relationship. You may not always get what you want, but you should have no fear of expressing those wants and needs to your loved one. An example of an assertive statement might go like this: “I realize that you would like to get a hamburger for dinner, but we always go for burgers. I was hoping we could do something a little more fancy, something we seldom do. Would you be okay with going for sushi?”
©2018 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design
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