The Problems Men Face Today - part 1
If I believe what I see in my office, men are a mess. They're jumping off of buildings, dropping dead of heart attacks. They're depressed, emotionally numb, spiritually unhappy, confused about what's expected of them, and their women are tossing them out at a rate of knots.
What's going on?
My women clients are an average age of 35. They’re going our there in the world and earning significant money, they’re CEOs of companies. They own the company. And they’re saying that if they can make it in a man’s world out there, I want him to be able to be my equal partner in the emotional world of our home. And he’s not.
They’re complaining that their men are emotionally too dependant, that they can’t be intimate, that they aren’t committed to them or to themselves.
The most popular female exit lines are "I already have two children. I don’t need a third." Or "If you aren’t part of my solution, you’re part of my problem. Get out!"
What’s the problem with these men? Is there anything I can find that they have in common?
Seven things come to mind.
A bouncing baby boy gets born. He goes from being his mother’s son, to his girlfriend’s hero, to his wife’s husband, to his children’s father. There is always someone’s pedestal he’s on. Men always seem to get to see themselves reflected in the mirror of someone else’s approval. He always seems attached to an emotional unbiblical cord. Therefore separation from that input can be spooky, fear of emptiness abhorrent, autonomy unknown.
1.They need to be able to stand on their own two feet emotionally.
2. They need to de-bogeyman feelings of emptiness.
5. They need to fake it till they make it.
I ask my clients the ultimate neediness test question. You adore your wife. She’s fallen out of love with you and wants out the relationship. Are you emotionally strong enough to handle the devastation you’re going to feel and wish her God’s speed? Worse. Not only has she fallen out of love with you, but she’s fallen in love with your best friend. Same question. Are you emotionally strong enough to handle the devastation you’re going to feel and wish her God’s speed?
What makes it so hard for them?
How can a person lose himself? I was there a minute ago. I can look in a mirror. I can see a familiar face. I can pinch myself and I feel something. But somehow I don’t feel connected to what’s inside.
Here’s how a person can go missing:
He’s 7,8,9 years old, kicking a football around the back yard. Unknown to him his father is watching from the veranda. He yells down to him, "Hey dummy. What’s the matter with you? Are you clumsy or stupid or both? You kick like a girl. (Oh God not that!)"
Or his teacher humiliates him "Jones, you might want to think about taking up woodcraft." or his first girlfriend dumps him. He’s hurt or humiliated. What does he say to himself? "Oh oh who I am is not ok. I better become someone else." They make a decision. They devise an act.
1. "I’m never going to trust anyone with my feelings ever again." And he becomes ‘Mr. Loner’.
2. "I’m always going to pretend that what people think of me doesn’t matter to me then they won’t get the better of me." Mr. cool hand luke.
3. "What a silly idiot I am." I’ll always send myself up first then I can be in control of people laughing at me." Mr. clown
"I’ll hurt you before you hurt me." Mr. bully
Or "I’ll just put on this limp or stutter to demonstrate what effect they’re painful action has had on me and then everyone will know what a bad person they are." Mr. victim.
They hide, they pretend, devise masks or acts to hide emotional pain and vulnerability. All solutions or defenses to "Who I really am is not enough."
How do they get back their real selves?
Who would they be if they weren’t avoiding rejection, conflict or afraid of meeting someone else’s expectations?
How do they get back their real selves? We have two voices the voice of ‘should do-should be’. I should do this. I shouldn’t do that. They should do this. They shouldn’t do that. Constantly judging and assessing, judging and assessing. Then there’s the voice of ‘The truth for me’. The voice of the gut or the heart.
You go to the restaurant and the waiter says tonight’s specials are macaroni and cheese or Duck l’orange. Where do you go to find the answer? Usually you go to the truth for you. "Hmm what do I feel like? Macaroni and cheese, you beauty." But on this particular night you’re entertaining the M.D. from New York. You think, "Bing. You shouldn’t order the macaroni and cheese. He’ll think you’re an unsophisticated, country bumpkin. "I’ll be the Duck l’orange. Thank you." Mr. Smart Gourmet.
1. They need to listen to which voice they’re listening to.
3. They may need time out to stop vibrating off other’s expectations.
4. Who would they be if they weren’t wearing their acts?
5. They need to get to a place of what you see is what you get. ‘Who I am is good enough.’
A handy skill for this is knowing the difference between compromise and prostitution. Compromise is when she asks him to come with her to visit her deaf aunt Moira. It’s an afternoon of mind numbing boredom in stereophonic sound. It’s an exhausting, frustrating, guaranteed dud afternoon of missed sport, soggy lemmingtons, and luke warm tea, with a case of laryngitis thrown in. And as much as he hates it, he’s agreed to it. But, by doing it, he doesn’t lose any of his real self. He’s still him.
In prostitution, she says she thinks their sex life is a bit flat and what about inviting in the chap down the hall for a menage trios. This isn’t up his ally at all. It’s just not what he’s into. But he says yes.
Why? He’s mad about her. If he says no, she may reject him, start a fight, worse, leave him, Now he’s agreed to something where he does lose himself. After the event he is no longer his real self. Out of fear of rejection or conflict, he pretends that something that is not ok with him, is ok.
Commitment to themselves is what keeps them safe if the price of losing a person they adore is themselves.
Herein lies the greatest gender complication there is. Men get feelings. Women have feelings. When a man gets a feeling, it’s a call to action. Oh Oh I feel something. Something must be wrong. Something must be done so I can stop feeling and get back to normal, which is when I’m not feeling anything.
On the other hand women spend most of their lives feeling and are in no hurry to stop feeling. As a matter of fact, a lot of women define themselves by what they’re feeling.
Given, men find feelings something that needs to be fixed and got rid of.
Given, women find feelings a part of life and just fine to stay.
Given, men’s greatest relationship-need is to be adored.
Given, women’s greatest relationship-need is different. She needs to be understood.
Given, who a woman is how she feels and on top of that she wants to be understood for who she is.
Given all this, how on earth do any of us make it work?!
He needs to be able to be still with her feelings and do nothing. Which seems to fly in the face of every instinct a man has.
Linda and Gary. Linda’s complaint was that although Gary didn’t get up and walk away when she was communicating with him, she often wondered if what she was talking about was getting through. She would ask, "Are you interested in what I’m saying? Would you rather I talk to you about this later?" Then Gary would get angry and snap, ‘What more do you want me to do? I’m listening."