Everyone Wins Mediation: Are You the Strong, Silent Type?
Mental Health: Men Need to Learn to Talk to Improve Intimacy in Marriage
Women complain they can’t get men to talk. When time comes for intimate conversation, guys clam up, offer a few, indecipherable grunts and expect women to magically understand what’s going on. The number one complaint women have in relationships is: “I don’t know what he’s thinking. He never tells me what is going on with him. How can I get him to open up?”
Women feel shut out, and men feel misunderstood. While the strong, silent type might be fascinating in the beginning, as the relationship goes on, he falls short. The woman finds herself unable to work through the differences and even in the best relationships, many women feel a sense of loneliness and turn to their girlfriends for intimate conversation.
However, there is something women don’t realize. Men want to talk. Under the right conditions, they’ll talk all night long. Most men desperately need to unburden themselves and let others know what’s going on.
Men are silenced by different factors:
- The roles they are forced to play.
- Lessons they’ve learned from their own families.
- Hurt from past relationships.
They also are silenced by prevalent myths of manhood which often contradict the reality of the lives they are living and who they really are. A common myth is that it is unmanly to talk, to open up and tell all. Men speak in code and believe that if they have to actually ask for what they want there is something wrong. Some believe that to be magically understood without saying a word represents being loved.
Another myth is that men must present an invincible image to the world. As children, boys are told, “Boys don’t cry. That stuff’s for girls.” Of course implicit in the idea is that expressing feelings means weakness, something for girls, not boys. This mentality is harmful to both young men and women, and can negatively impact relationships far into adulthood.
In addition, withholding communication can also represent power and control. It is as if they say, “I’m powerful, I need nothing from you.” Therefore for many men, communication represents vulnerability and triggers the fear that they may be acting like girls.
A request for intimacy places them in a double bind. Part of him wants to talk, another part wants to be seen as strong. They may fear losing themselves. However, men must understand that strength comes with communication, that it takes courage to communicate their inner needs and feelings, to ask for what they want, and to be empathic and listen to what a woman wants as well.