The relationship load
DOES YOUR MAN STRUGGLE TO OPEN UP ABOUT HIS FEELINGS? HERE’S WHY HE MAY NOT BE TALKING
Can you imagine how fun this series is, attempting to walk in the shoes of a bloke for a month? It sure is mindboggling when you can’t see as many shades of colour, talk half as much, struggle to put feelings into words and often feel incredibly frustrated when your woman doesn’t seem to want to put out as much as you’d like her to.
I do hope however, you’ve benefited from this series in realising our uniqueness. These stereotypical behaviours do not apply to everyone — you are you. Some women display more masculine behaviours than others and vice versa.
Meanwhile in the counselling room and as put forward on my social media, there certainly are some recurrent themes. Today, I contemplate, “Why do women always interpret the worst of what men are trying to say and not just assume the best?”
“Trying to say” is the important phrase here. I can’t count the number of times brave blokes have turned up for counselling rather ill-equipped to reveal what’s really going on for them and even worse, attempt to talk about the “f” word — feelings.
I do wonder how much socialisation has created this stoicism and repression of feelings that contribute to men leaving the “relationship stuff” to the women. Men are not the “feelingless” gender. If many Australian
blokes haven’t traditionally been encouraged to speak about matters of the heart that tends to internalise, why would they expressively reveal their emotions to openly communicate the way women want and create that connection we long for in our relationships?
We absolutely need to appreciate the differences in the emotional centre of our brains. Women have a stronger left amygdala that facilitates recall of emotional experiences in more detail. Men are stronger on the right side, providing them to focus on the big picture in a more practical and orderly way versus the emotional memories. Guys are fortunate to have a slightly smaller prefrontal cortex, which allows them to get to the point a lot quicker with reason and logic.
A woman’s amygdala is more easily activated by emotions compared to their man’s action-orientated and practical approach more alert to danger and wired for protecting. You threaten them and then they’ll exhibit more emotion. This practical, external focus explains why he always wants to fix it without the need for long talks into the night as we may go in circles with no apparent point. Simply put, his brain circuits aren’t wired to retain information in the detailed and emotional way that a woman’s is. How on earth are they then expected to communicate in the same way we do?
It’s also worth noting if based on previous experience, some women could already have labelled their man with certain traits that then filter in the worst-case scenario? Do we also incorporate “catastrophic” thinking into our relationships that then translates to lack of trust and looking for the negative in all situations? Does comparison steal the joy from hearing the positives in your man’s communication as compared to what you hear other men say to their partner? Maybe you assume all other men say all the right things and forget the positive traits and words he does get right in a different way?
I whole-heartedly agree that many men could share the “relationship load” in facilitating emotional attentiveness. Could some ladies, however remove any high expectations and the “shoulds”. Could we shift the blame to a more collaborative approach in enjoying your incredible differences in how we communicate and play the catch them doing it well game for a change?
Tune in each Friday morning to my cohost of the radio Salt106.5 breakfast show or head to my website to download my “Spouse it up” handy relationship tips. In the meantime, keep contributing your challenges on this topic to [email protected]confidantecounselling.com or visit theconfidantecounselling.com.
WORDS: JOANNE WILSON