Often, women are shocked when they come to us for marriage-couple’s-or relationship counseling and their men open up, start talking freely, and begin sharing their very deep thoughts and concerns—things they have not communicated before. Women find it nearly impossible to believe.
For the first time, in a long time, their man has opened up and women are surprised to discover that he has a lot to say. But if you asked them why their man has remained “closed mouth” when they attempt to talk at home, most women couldn’t answer that question. I’m going to attempt to provide some insight in this brief article. I’ll begin with just one word of caution. That is, I cannot speak for all men; however, much of what I want to share applies to a great many men and has been learned from our over 30 years of marriage counseling experience.
The first point I’d like to make is throughout a man’s life—from birth, childhood, his schooling, dating, marriage, and even into old age men have a lot of women telling them what to do. Many, if not most women feel the need to make suggestions, “share their ideas,” or “advise” the boy/man because they know what’s best for him.” Maybe you’ve heard the old adage that “men wouldn’t know how to come out of the rain unless a woman told them how to.” That’s really an insult. It diminishes his dignity and self worth.
It explains, in part, one of the reasons why some men have the tendency to shut down and don’t talk especially if he doesn’t feel heard. It also explains one of the reasons why some women have trouble attracting and keeping a man. Just as women want someone to talk to and be heard, validated, and understood so do men. But many men believe that they can’t “get a word in edge wise.”
If the man feels that he’s not going to be heard, he may find someone else to talk to who will hear what he has to say. And we know that there are always females who’ll give him time, attention, and conversation, or whatever. It has been reported, for example, that some men are so desperate to be heard that they will pay a prostitute just to listen to them. Also, if a man believes that he’s going to be told what to do, he’s likely to shut down and/or exit the relationship emotionally or physically.
If you are in a relationship with a man, and you believe that you have figured out a solution to whatever any given situation is, then all you have to do is to convince your man that you are right. If he raises an objection or has other ideas or alternatives to suggest, they are often not heard and/or discarded by the woman. So, when he is asked to offer an opinion, most men have decided that it isn’t going to be heard anyway so why bother saying anything. Rather than being angry or frustrated, many men decide that they don’t want to have an argument like so many others they’ve had with their woman that just wasn’t very pleasant. So, they just shut down and don’t talk.
In case women who’re reading this article wonder about how accurate my description and explanation is, let me respond by saying that this is precisely the kind of thing that men talk to each other about when they’re together at the local “watering hole.” Men simply complain that often they don’t feel heard by their woman. They don’t want to go home and argue. So, their solution is to keep quiet. Is it a solution? Absolutely not! People have to talk together to solve and resolve mutual problems—especially if you’re a couple. But many men just don’t know how to get their woman to listen, in all earnest, to what they have to say.
I also want to note that recent brain research seems to suggest that women, physiologically, may have some advantage in their ability to process a broader range of factors in considering alternative courses of action in problem identification and problem solving. Certainly, women do tend to take into account specific factors that most men just don’t think about. And while that may be true, it is also important to point out that whatever a woman may think about, it is only one point of view. Men also have a point of view too. When both points of view are offered and considered, the couple is likely to make better decisions together because considerably more perspectives are being taken into account.
To Your Relationship Success,