Excuse me while I rant a little bit.
I just need to say that men are really misunderstood. That’s right. They’re misunderstood in our society, in our culture, and in our marriages. I’m a marriage coach, so I want to offer a new perspective on this subject that maybe you haven’t heard lately. It might be a little unpopular, but I’m telling you… it’s true!
I want to start with a story. I went on a business trip this past weekend. On my way there, I sat next to females, and we had had these great chats. On the way back, my first plane – another woman – great chat. The second plane coming home, I was sitting next to a guy. He had his arms crossed. I’m a chatty person (have you noticed?), so I made a little comment…
*insert crickets chirping*
That was it! So I started to judge this guy. I started to think, “He doesn’t want to talk… he’s not interested in connection”. I started to wonder about his life. “He’s probably kind of lonely”, etc. etc.
I study the male brain for a living. That is my job, and I love men (well, I love a man – my husband – but just in general, I love men). I think they are good, and I think they are very misunderstood by by our culture, and by their wives, and even sometimes by themselves.
So I started to think, “Well okay, let’s look at this scenario here. Here I am sitting next to him. I want to have connection with him for my benefit. Essentially, I’m using this man for getting my own needs met, which is kind of a normal thing we do in life. Right? Here he is sitting, doing nothing wrong, and I’m judging him. Does he need connection? Is it important for him to have connection? I think yes, but in a different way. Not in the way that I want to have connection with him.”
Another judgment that I’m better than him – that women are better than men because we look for connection by wanting to talk a lot.
This got me thinking about what this man’s needs might be. I know just from my work as a marriage coach and my study of men (and it will always be a study because hello, I don’t have a male brain, and I have biases), that he would really do well to be respected by me and to be admired by me. Also, perhaps, for him to be able to teach me something – to show some expertise. I started thinking, “Okay, how could I do that? How could I give him something that he might need? Maybe I could ask him a question, get him to start talking about his work, or maybe I could ask him about a hobby or something”… but still getting my needs met, because my needs are for connection.
He ended up closing his eyes, so I just started writing about this experience and thinking about writing this blog. Then later down the road, I realized that he was actually connected to the wife and child in the next aisle over.
Bam, another judgment about him. His eyes were closed that whole time, and there his wife was, worrying and stewing and dealing with this unhappy child.
Then I noticed she would drop a few things, and he would pick them up and put them back on her tray; but they weren’t really having a lot of conversation (this isn’t a judgment about their marriage at all, I promise I don’t go around psychoanalyzing everybody’s marriage, much to other people’s surprises. But that’s a whole other tangent). Then I noticed he offered to help. He offered maybe three times to help, and every single time he was denied.
Here’s the thing ladies… men really want to be of service! That is one of my favourite qualities about men, they want to actually give and be of service and help. So they offer, and offer. They get shut down, and shut down. And guess what happens? No big surprise, they shut down for good.
Now, I’m like a hardcore feminist here, so you might be surprised that even though I am very strong and very passionate about women’s rights and women’s needs and women’s empowerment and all that stuff, I’m also really passionate about men… and and their needs, and how they are completely misunderstood by our culture.
So, let me expand a little bit more on where I think they’re misunderstood. Again, men want to be of service, and women (especially in marriages) don’t give them that opportunity to win. We don’t give them an opportunity to serve with us. We either say, “No, I’m good, I don’t need help.” Or, we have a very particular way that we want them to help, and they end up failing to do it up to our standards.
Here’s another thing you need to know about men. They feel like they’re in this constant job interview, and they’re prone to feeling like they’re failing. Sometimes they won’t admit that to me in their coaching sessions, but I see it over and over again. They just get crushed and crushed by women around them who misunderstand them and don’t let them help.
You know that whole “mansplaining” thing, where men kind of take over a conversation and explain? Well, maybe they’re going a little too far and being know-it-all’s, but can we just acknowledge that they want to provide a service? They actually want to be helpful and contribute to our well-being. Men are actually very concerned about women’s happiness.
Listen, I’m talking about good men here. There are men out there who are so lost in their false idea of masculinity and probably deserve the term, “mansplaining”. But, again, can we look at this compassionately? Can we look at this and see that they’ve been trained since childhood to act this way? “Don’t be a pussy,” is what they hear on the playground. They’re touched way less by their parents… starting at age four. So even when I look at men who are just chauvinistic pigs really, I see hurt. I see a culture that has consistently taught them the wrong way to show up in the world as a man. The misunderstanding is that men want to be experts all the time and take over because women don’t know anything. I think that’s really misinterpreted from their true desire to be of service and to help.
Men also take their role as providers very seriously. A really common way that they’re misinterpreted in this area is that they work too much. Well, truthfully, men are really good at coming to the realization of what is the most important thing, so they look at their wives who say, “Come home. Come home. Be home with me more.” And they look at their role as providers and protectors (this is a biological urge), and they think, “Okay, I know my wife says she wants to be home with me more, but what she really wants, maybe what she’s not really saying, but what will really make her happy, is if I provide for her.”
This is just one of countless examples. My point here is… men are good. Men are good!
When I tell men that I study the male brain, they kind of look at me like I’m crazy and just say, “Well, we’re not that hard. We’re actually pretty simple, and there’s nothing really to figure out.” But, I think that we assume everyone else in the world thinks the same way we do. So when I tell men, for example, that I ask women to use the three A’s of communication with their husbands; appreciate, abbreviate, and articulate, they just say, “Well yeah of course. That is obviously the best way to communicate.”
But in fact, we don’t do that. As women, we’ll go to men and tell the whole backstory and all the associated feelings, and blah, blah, blah. And guess what happens? It triggers them, and they become defensive, because they start to feel like a failure. They haven’t passed the job interview, so to speak.
What I would really encourage you to do about this (and really what my whole point here is), is to assume good intentions of your husband. And to all the men who are reading this (good for you, if you’ve gotten this far), I think you’re misunderstood. I think you’re misunderstood by the world, and I think you’re misunderstood by our culture, and I think you’re misunderstood by your wife. And I have your back. I’m on your team, and even though I am a feminist, I love men too.
I think we can be both. There’s so much more than meets the eye. We can go on women’s marches, and we can also, at the same time, love men and think they’re fantastic.
I hope the takeaway here is that we’ve been totally lied to by our culture about the motivations that men have. This website is for married couples, so I hope that you kind of dig a little deeper in your marriage, and you see some really good intentions in your husband.
Here’s an idea; call him your hero. Just do it. I know it sounds cheesy, but try it. Tell him that you believe in him. Show respect as much as you possibly can. Respect isn’t just about submissiveness at all. It’s truly admiring your husband for what he brings to the table, the qualities that you see in him that are good, the actions that he does for you and for your family every day, the way he shows up at work, the accomplishments he’s had in life. Tell him that you’re proud to be next to him on this journey.
If you really want to take your marriage to that level, it’s very hard to do alone. I’m a marriage coach, but I have had so much help in getting to the point where I wake up in the morning, and I feel like I am just on the same team with my husband. If you want support, if you want to know how to do this, if you want to master your marriage this year, I have created kind of a group 101 mish-mash program that is for couples who are in that average, kind of like, “we’re doing okay”, space. Listen – there’s so much more. The level of connection and intimacy that you can get is unreal, and so intense and so incredible.
I am not so “in the clouds” to say that I’ve gotten there, because I want to participate in a group like this. You will get one-on-one coaching from me. You will get support for the female brain, and the male brain. You’ll get to hear from other couples who are in the real world like you who are not throwing the D word around (that’s divorce, in case you have a dirty mind), but who are ready for the next step. You want to be past putting out fires and solving the little problems, and you really want to get to that point where you ditch the patterns that you’re in, and you feel so insanely on the same team and supported by your spouse.
And the men who are reading; you want to feel wanted, to feel desired, to feel like your wife has your back. Men and women want different things out of marriage, and that’s totally fine.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you just feel like you want to get more information before we chat, but the best thing you can do is hop on a free call with me, 15 minutes, no pressure at all. I’ll tell you all the details, and I’ll be able to kind of tailor-make your experience.
This is new. This is revolutionary. This is the beta group. You get to be in the elite 10% of marriages out there, so I hope that I get to meet you, and your husband.
I’ll talk to you guys soon!