Men can, and should, be emotional.
And in today’s podcast aimed more at guys (though women can listen, too), we’re summarizing a lot of what we’ve said about emotional maturity and men in the last month.
So listen in!
Timestamp for Podcast:
1:40 Interview with Andrew J Bauman on Emotional Maturity in Men
27:40 Keith and Sheila discuss a RQ on a seemingly selfish husband
32:20 What Your Spouse Wants SHOULD Matter
35:30 Pay Attention To What Your Spouse is Saying
37:40 Can you connect helpful gestures with sex?
42:15 MEN! We need your help on this survey!
Main Segment: Why do Christian resources assume men won’t be emotional? With Andrew J. Bauman
First, my apologies that the sound in this segment isn’t the greatest. Zoom didn’t record well, and I’m looking into getting new software to record interviews, so I may hold off on interviews for a while again. I like doing them, but it’s always the sound that has bothered me.
Anyway, Andrew is an awesome author, talking about emotional health and focusing on men’s emotionally healthy sexuality. I love his blog posts at his site, but what he does during most of his time is run some counseling centers. His wife Christy is also the author of a book I’ve been raving about lately, Theology of the Womb.
In this segment, I was reading Andrew some of the quotes about men and emotions from our post on Monday, and asking him to respond. He then commented on a sermon from Emerson Eggerichs about how it’s honorable that men use stonewalling to avoid talking about issues. And finally, we talked about what to do if your spouse really needs counseling but refuses to go.
Reader Question: My Husband Doesn’t Help When I Ask Him
Keith jumped on for our reader question segment when we tackled this:
My husband has this thing where, if he feels that he wouldn’t ask for help in a certain situation, he refuses to help someone else.
For example – he’d rearranged the fridge to put some milk in and the turkey that was in there started leaking blood onto the lower shelf after he’d closed the door. When I opened the fridge later while making dinner, I found it in a big puddle, soaking into the egg cartons and generally making a disgusting mess.
I started to clean and, as he walked by, asked him to help. He popped the turkey into a bag and started to walk away. I asked if he’d stay and help with the rest of the cleanup and he said no and kept walking.
Then came the fight. Once I’d sopped up the worst of it, I came and asked him why he wouldn’t help. “It’s not a two-person job” was his main reason. He said he’d rather do it himself than help – and he eventually did.
I tried to get him to understand that it’s about being a team. About knowing he’ll be there if I ask for help. “You didn’t NEED help” was his reply. When I say that it makes it easier and faster, he just says the same thing. If I say he’s being selfish, he says “you’re being selfish to ask me to stop what I’m doing and help.”
This has come up in other areas. If I ask for help making the bed (it’s even larger than a king-size so I find it a struggle to get the too-small bottom sheet on) he’ll say no if he’s not in a good mood and, if I persist, will huffily go do it by himself to prove it’s not a two-person job.
It’s not that he thinks I don’t do enough around here. He says I’m too driven. But sometimes I Just. Want. Help. I find it so hurtful when I ask and he assesses the situation and decides that it’s not worth his time. That I shouldn’t even bother him with these things. That I’m… I’m not even sure? Being selfish? “Just wanting emotional support” as he says?
It seems so obvious to me that, if your spouse asks for help with something like that, you chip in. His attitude feels so alienating and I never know if I can trust that his response won’t be dismissive or hurtful.
Generally, he’s a good man, but he has these small things that leave me feeling bruised and distant. We’re struggling with our sex life and he doesn’t get it when I say that I need to feel connected to him in all the other ways to want to connect with him sexually. He gets it in theory, but he’ll point out some things he’s done right and that it hasn’t magically made me want sex more. Sometimes he’ll even try to be a little more helpful when he wants sex. But then something like this will pop up and sour the flavour. And that sourness doesn’t all wash away with the next sweet thing he does. Using the making-the-bed example, sometimes he’ll quietly go and do it all by himself as a nice gesture since he knows I hate doing it. It’s very sweet.
Am I crazy to still feel guarded and unsure, knowing how he might react if I ask for help with it another night? There are other small areas too where I feel he’s being selfish and that, as a result, I can’t trust him. It’s very hard to want sex with someone you don’t
feel you can trust in the little things.
The big thing we talked about here is that if your spouse says something is an issue, it’s an issue.
It doesn’t mean you have to agree on your spouse’s solution. But when your spouse repeatedly brings up the same thing, and you repeatedly shut them down, you’re not winning anything. They have an issue and they need to feel heard. Your spouse will never feel close to you and feel like a team if you constantly dismiss them when they say they feel hurt. What matters to your spouse should matter to you, as I talked about in our post about what it’s okay to expect of your spouse.
And sex can’t be transactional, either! Keith and I talked about how if you do things for your spouse in order to get sex, you end up changing the very nature of sex, and it can end up being a total turn off. Do things because you’re on the same team and you’re a decent person. Sex flows out of a culmination of a loving relationship, and if that foundation isn’t there, sex isn’t going to be something that’s an exciting proposition.
What Does Research Say?
We’re also starting a segment on what research says, but rather than sharing a study with you this week, we wanted to ask you to participate in one! We’re conducting a survey of men’s marital and sexual satisfaction. It takes about 10 minutes to complete, and we would love to have any married guy take it! You can find it right here.
We need your voice in our men's survey!
Other Things Mentioned in this Podcast
- Andrew’s great site, with all of his amazing blog posts
- Take Andrew’s survey to see if you’re a sexually healthy man–or if your husband is a sexually healthy man
- Our emotional maturity series
- How Christian resources make it sound like men can’t be emotionally healthy
What do you think? Have you ever wanted to go to counseling but your spouse won’t go? Have you ever had an issue that your spouse just won’t engage with? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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