Emotionally Detached Men
by Stephen Cervantes
Every seasoned therapist has a specialty. If you ask you might hear, “I love working with depressed, middle-aged women.” “I enjoy helping troubled teens.” Or, “Addicts are my specialty.” As one who specializes in marriage relationships, I also have a specialty. It is working with emotionally detached men.
Everyone knows an emotionally detached husband. Initially, they are not easy to spot. This article will provide insights about emotionally detached men. One easy way to spot one of these men is to listen to his wife. Here are a few comments a wife may express, “I am married and feel so alone.” “We never talk.” “He is good in social settings but he rarely engages me at home.” “He gets more excited about the dog than he does about me.”
Why is this article important? You can’t fix a problem if you can’t accurately define a problem. Wives suffer in confusion and loneliness. She says to herself, “He asked me to marry him but he doesn’t want to know me.”
Husbands need to be aware of their own emotional underdevelopment. If you peek into the mind of an emotionally detached male, you will find several defined areas. Those areas include woundedness, beliefs, rules and coping strategies.
Woundedness often starts with a very difficult upbringing. A wound is defined as a traumatic event in the life of a young child. Those events can include parents divorcing, excessive relocations, violent fighting between parents, loss of a parent etc. The end result of the trauma is the child quietly develops a survival strategy-- “Don’t let anyone inside! You can’t trust anyone! People will hurt you.”
So, what does a wife experience when she marries this type of emotional woundedness?
Emotionally Detached Husband - His rules of engagement
- Say few words.
- Live guarded and defensive.
- Don’t get involved personally or emotionally.
- Never ask any personal or intimate questions.
- If she is in emotional distress remember it will pass.
- Repeat - Never ask personal or emotional questions.
Emotionally Detached Husband - His beliefs
- I believe a person will tell me what they want me to know.
- I don’t like emotionally talking about myself.
- And, I would rather you not talk about yourself.
- If I ask you questions you will think I am prying.
- I don’t pry. So, I won’t ask you any questions.
- If I avoid emotions I will avoid emotional pain.
- The safest place to be is alone in my own thoughts. There I have full control.
Emotionally Detached Husband - Emotional coping strategies
- I try to get lost in movies, sports or the computer.
- I will let you talk about yourself and frustrations but I won’t ask any questions.
- The more you try to get me to open up, the more I will resist you.
- My life strategy is don’t look back. Only look forward.
- In stressful emotional moments, just try to look and act normal.
- Acceptable emotions are anger and irritability with some sarcasm, criticism, and demeaning thrown in.
Emotionally disconnected men in marriage are often a mystery. You never really know them in a close and intimate way. The reason is they don’t really know themselves. Remember, their belief, emotions are dangerous. Emotions lead to pain and hurt.
What can be done?
- Learn more about the topic of emotional detachment.
- Remember Jesus is all about healing minds and hearts.
- Pray for wisdom.
- Seek help if needed.
One author said, “Marriage is where we finish growing up.” God bless you on your growth mission.
A Primer Dialogue
by Stephen Cervantes
This writer is on a mission to explain confusing relationship dynamics. It is hoped this article will make obvious what you already know but have never seen written or outlined. It strives to answer this question. How does one make an emotional connection in a conversation?
People who easily make emotional connections just do it. They were taught from birth and practiced all their lives. Now, they do it automatically. However, if you were never taught how to make an emotional connection in a dialogue, you may not know how.
Here are comments emotionally connected individuals frequently make to their disconnected spouse:
“Don’t try to fix it.”
“Just listen to me.”
“When I start to talk, you take over the conversation.”
“You tell me what to do when I was not even asking for your help.”
“Why can’t you just let me talk?”
“You don’t even know me.”
This is written from the perspective that the wife is more emotional and the husband is less emotional. Remember the 80-20 rule. Twenty percent of the time the roles are reversed and the husband is the more emotional spouse.
So here goes.......
“Work was really rough today. They worked us to the bone!”
Inner question: He must decide. Does he talk about the workplace as a bad place or does he listen to his wife’s mood--down, tired, struggling.
Correct answer: He listens to his wife’s mood. In order to hold the emotional connection and let the conversation continue he agrees with her mood.
“Wow. That sounds bad.”
“I have been struggling for a while. I am losing my joy at work."
Inner question: Is she thinking about quitting? Should he tell her about all the bills? Or, should he complain about how much he hates his job?
Correct answer: Instead of reacting out of fear, he goes for more information. His mission is to keep her talking and working through her own issue.
“Keep talking about how you are struggling. Say more dear.”
“I feel stuck! Trapped. My work life is at a dead end. My zest is gone. I am drooping.”
Inner question: Does he rescue his wife? Is she desperate? Shouldn’t he tell her what to do? Shouldn’t he do something?
Correct answer: Steady as she goes. Hold the course. Don’t panic. Your wife is going deep into her own emotional/spiritual struggle. Quietly pray for wisdom. Your mission is to keep her talking. So, you make a calm statement of compassion.
“Oh my, I’m glad you are sharing this with me. I am sorry you’re going through this struggle!
Thanks for listening. I don’t want to talk about this any more. We can talk more about it tomorrow. Let’s go watch a movie and snuggle on the couch.
Okay, I hear what you’re saying. This is a simple conversation and it ends hokey. Yes, I agree but it is still the right primer material for a discussion between a husband and wife who struggle to make an emotional connection.
Your homework: Use this article to try and help each other to make small improvements in daily dialogue.
Remember, the message of the Kingdom is oneness. Emotional dialogue is a pathway to greater oneness. Serve each other well.
It's Not Okay
By Stephen Cervantes
There are three big beliefs in life that are not okay.
It’s not okay to “Not” know God.
Knowing God provides understanding and insight. There are big questions that one must answer on this journey called life. What gives my life meaning? What is the significant work I was designed to do? What satisfies at a soul level?
Here are the truths one must live by.
There is a Creator. And, you are the creation. You were designed with a specific gender- male or female. Men and women have missions that reflect different aspects of God. God’s story is a love story. Your mission is to live a love story. In fact, you are called to be great at love and represent your Heavenly Father. That is your design. You are a great lover. Drawing near to God helps you understand your design and mission.
Older believers understand the value of living a love story. Within your love story, they say things like, “Do what you do best. Follow your passion. Or, embrace your obsession and make it a calling.” Remember to show love in whatever you do. The happiest souls are those that understand their design, mission and call. They live love.
It’s not okay to “Not” know yourself.
Allow me to focus this statement. It is not okay to “emotionally” not know yourself. Let me tighten it up a little more. Do you know the theme of the emotional weakness in your system? Strong actions and behaviors have an emotional root.
Here’s an example of a common emotional system: The anger cycle. Say, I fear failure. When you tell me I did something wrong, my emotional system jumps into protection mode. My body gets tense. I feel anxious and irritated. Then, I yell at you. I must make you stop telling me I am a failure. (I act this way because I have a failure wound that started in youth.)
You simply made a comment and expressed your disappointment. However, my body reacts as if it is under siege. Energy is released. Muscles get tense. It is fight, flight or freeze time. And if my bent is towards arguing, then my mouth immediately opens. Out pours ugliness designed to shut you down.
Be aware of your emotional system. Everyone close to you already knows it. They wonder, “Why does he get so mad all the time?” Knowing your emotional weakness can make life a lot easier for you and others.
It’s not okay to “Not” know your spouse.
It’s important to know your wife and her emotional system. I want to challenge the notion that, “you can’t know a woman.” After 27 years of relationship counseling this is what I know.
Here are three universal people truths. (Knowing these help us understand others)
First, people are predictable. They often respond the same way. They find emotional comfort in being repetitive.
Second, stress can easily trigger emotional woundedness. There are three fears that fire a core emotional response. They are fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of abandonment.
Third, we all want to be loved. We want to be pursued and enjoyed. We want someone to celebrate our victories and nurse us through difficult times. Mostly, we want to be loved as Jesus loves us, unconditionally.
One day a woman sat in my office and cried, “Before I die I want to be loved. I want to be special to just one person. I want to feel loved.” She spoke a universal truth about all of us.
In closing, remember God is love. Learn everything you can about Him. You were made to love and be loved. God says his gift is unconditional love. Practice your design--Love. Know your own emotional system so it does not hinder your love story. Love at least one person very, very well. Now go and love like Jesus.