“I wish I had come earlier…” Often these men had been told that their wives were “unhappy.” They often believe that divorce will never happen to them. Often their wives had asked that they go to marriage counseling and after the husband refused, the wife went on her own. The wife is ready for change and the husband still feels things are “fine” ~ that is until she asks for a separation.
Here are the top reasons men report they initially turned down marriage counseling:
– I don’t understand how some stranger will help us solve this.
– We’re two adults, we don’t need a referee.
– I’m more than fair – I just give in to whatever she wants.
– We’re two smart adults, we can figure this out together.
– Once ____ happens, we’ll be fine.
– If she wants to _____ I don’t know why she doesn’t just do it.
Men are focused on being fair, logical, safe, and productive. These are skills that men are strongly reinforced for having in the workforce; they are good at them. The problem is that very skills they are good at in the workplace can actually backfire in the home environment. Men seem perplexed by this until I ask them how they won the heart of the love of their life. The stories are far from being fair, logical, safe, and active. The stories are full of passion, dreams, rebellion, risk and long hours whiled away with their loves.
Men tend to prioritize getting things done over relationships in the workplace. They don’t realize it, but they use the tools of being fair, logical, safe (don’t take risks) and productive (look at what I got done) to remove the personal from their work relationships. By removing personal feelings, ego, wants, and needs they reduce intimacy that can interfere with team goals and objectives. When men tackle marital issues in the same way they to at work, they actually create more of a problem. The very thing their wives want, intimacy, is the very thing men are reducing when they try to be fair, logical, safe and productive!!
So what can men do to work on marriage issues? Intimacy skills are one part of marriage counseling. Getting back the passion isn’t going to happen with a 5 point plan to have dates on the third friday of the month and once a week sex. Getting intimacy back means sharing wants and needs with good self-advocacy. It means being vulnerable by asking for help and nurturing, and risking rejection. Intimacy is fun, fighting, messy, playful, risky, illogical, and interdependent.
If your wife has invited you to marriage counseling and you’ve refused ~ call today.