Welcome to Man Code 101!
I feel compelled to reveal some of the man code behind how to get your husband, boyfriend, significant other, etc. to open up (besides the woman putting them in a headlock and not releasing until they do! Just kidding!).
Society has really done a disservice to men. They are told to stuff their feelings inside at a young age and not to cry. Later in life this can hinder their relationships when their wives expect them to express their feelings – and for good reason. By the time they get older and are supposed to be mature men, some guys just don’t have any skills developed to handle these types of emotions because of earlier influences to “suck it up.”
If you say, “Can we talk about our feelings, dear?” don’t be surprised if they first look at you with a blank stare – the deer in the headlights look. Their eyes may get as big as saucers, too. They may even run like a cheetah into their emotional man cave.
Warning! Warning! Don’t go into the emotional man cave with a stick! It’s worse than a mama bear’s cave with her cub. If he retreats, just let him be. It probably won’t last very long.
Also, if you didn’t know it by now, men do have times of the month when they are moody as well. It isn’t just women that go through PMS. Men do as well. Yes, I am a man admitting this!
What can you do to get your man to open up?
*Realize that men struggle with insecurity and self esteem as well. It is not just something that women struggle with. Men are affected, too, and therefore need their wives to offer words of praise to stroke their ego. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. From a man, I do need this as it makes up for the insecurities that I am feeling inside when I am battling low self esteem, too. It helps when Shirley offers words of praise even over the smallest of things. It is huge to me.
*All men love to be encouraged in things they like to do. Just come up with something sincere to let him know that you support him. You will see him kind of turn and light up. THAT is when it’s working! For my wife and I, Shirley supported me in my interest to restore my 1969 Camaro. She encouraged me to get back into a hobby that I used to love, and now she goes with me to car shows. OR, she will drive the 69 around. Can you imagine my smile from the passenger seat? (This car is special to us both as I had it back in high school and made my first trip to see Shirley in that very car!)
*This is similar for women, but in order for a man to have any chance of opening up or peeking his head out of his emotional man cave, he has to feel safe with sharing his feelings without being blamed or feeling threatened. Even if everything is his fault, it is just better to have him see or discover that it is without you pointing it out. I know it sounds like handling a grown man with kid gloves, but men are just like that. There. It’s out now. A man has to trust the woman to handle his emotional side with care and not fault finding and the blame game.
*If he opens his mouth the least little bit, let him finish. Obviously this is a two way street. It shows each other that you truly care what the other has to say and you care about their feelings on both sides.
*Be careful with how you ask questions. Be specific but not harsh, especially if he’s pondering or thinking on something at the moment.
*Laugh at his jokes, yes – even if they are dry. Or get him to laugh at your jokes to lighten things up a little.
*This is similar to what I spoke of earlier on encouraging your spouse in something they enjoy. It is so important to share a hobby together. Men just like doing things together with you, and it is especially important when you share an interest together. That makes it a hundred times better! He is much more likely to talk while working on or doing something you both like and enjoy. For Shirley and I, we enjoy horseback riding together. Just recently, something was bothering me in the middle of a trail ride. We stopped and sat on our horses and just talked it out with Shirley encouraging me about what was troubling me. Pretty soon, I felt better, and we could continue to enjoy our ride. (She even said, “Don’t let this ruin your ride.” If you recall from previous posts, I said something similar in a post I wrote not too long ago. Her reflecting my words back let me know that she was paying attention. I felt validated.)
*Be careful NOT to say things such as, “You never … ” or “You always …” Yes, this is hard on both sides. I acknowledge that.
*Be happy with any progress in him expressing his feelings. Don’t expect too much at once. Once men have suppressed their feelings for so long and finally get to open up, they may feel an emotional overload.
*Find out his love language. This goes back to the very first one that started us off on this list. Words of Affirmation are high on my list, and Shirley knows it.
Don’t be discouraged if your man hasn’t opened up just yet. Give him time, practice the above, and in time, he will begin to open up to you.
Good luck, and best wishes!