Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I have been married to my husband for 12 years and he does not attempt to meet my emotional needs. Whenever I express my unhappiness with his lack of sensitivity and emotional coldness, he accuses me of being too emotional and dramatic. When we first met, he was not very attentive to my emotional needs, but I brushed it off. Now, I am tired of brushing it off. I love my husband with all my heart, but I am not sure if we will make it, if he does not show compassion and acknowledge my emotions. He rationalizes everything and I feel like we are on a battlefield. Can you please help me understand why he acts like this? Why Do Men Struggle with being Sensitive?
Sad in Love
Dear Sad in Love,
Unfortunately, you are experiencing what many women both single and married are experiencing, which is dealing with men who are emotionally challenged, but are psychologically skilled. You have probably noticed that some of the things that come out of your husband’s mouth makes good sense from an intellectual standpoint, but as you mentioned lacks emotional sensitivity. Men struggle with being sensitive because from the time we are little boys; we receive extensive psychological warfare training, but no emotional warfare training. Let me clarify what I mean.
The average little boy is instructed to “use his head to think” on an average of forty times a week. When little boys injure themselves, behave inappropriately or make bad decisions, they are quickly reminded of what they should have done differently. They are encouraged to think, but are rarely given any guidance about how they should feel. And unfortunately, this one-sided instructional process that focuses on nurturing the intellect continues as little boys transition into teens and men.
Some men hear the words, “Do you ever think?” on an average of sixty times a week. After years of being instructed to think, little boys become men who have crafted the ability to successfully engage in psychological warfare. And before we present something to you, believe me, we have thought about it. We might not always come up with the best solution or sound intelligent, but we often think before we respond. The problem that most women have with men is centered on the fact that we often lack emotional sensitivity, not intellectual aptitude. Simply stated: Learning how to identify and address emotions is challenging for most men because we operate in different reasoning spheres from you.
Men are often driven by intellect and believe that facts are as equally important or more important than emotions. Objectivity or impartiality plays a vital role in how we act in our relationships. Men typically do not express sensitive or nurturing emotions without apprehension and pre-calculating the risk. Women are the other hand, are often driven by emotions and believe that feelings are equally important or more important than facts. Subjectivity or emotionality plays a vital role in how many of you make decisions in relationships.
The difference in intellectual and emotional aptitude between women and men is what leads to all-out warfare. Men typically display very high intellectual aptitudes in relationships. In comparison, women typically display very high emotional aptitudes. Our desire to rationalize everything typically prevents us from feeling wholeheartedly and subjectively.
Through socialization, men have learned to rationalize inappropriate behavior, suppress our emotions and engage in tactical warfare in our relationships. We are groomed to be conquerors and unfortunately some of us take pride in being able to avoid and/or express sensitive emotions.
If you desire to save your marriage and to further understand your husband, I highly recommend that you seek marital counseling. Your husband like many other husbands could benefit from receiving some sensitivity coaching. Please visit my website and contact me if you interested in relationship coaching.
BMWK, is the man in your life emotionally detached? How do you deal with it?
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.