When Men Hurt
For many women, it is *weird* to hear a man express his pain, disappointment, or vulnerability.


Let’s look at the social constructs for a quick moment. Men are valued for their financial prowess, aggression, and strength. If you take one look at “the Don,” whether or not you connect with any of his political or social ideology, he is a great example of how men identify with this social construct. 

So what happens when he’s fumbling financially?

When he’s passive?

When he appears to be weak?

What is at risk for him is the loss of respect. And so, for that reason, many men who I interface with in my work simply keep a lid on their pain. 
I remember in a distant land, long ago, when I was convinced my husband had NO feelings. In my mind, I was the only person who felt pain in our equation. The fact that he simply showed up in our conflict with a recital of the facts (rather than his feelings) only confirmed my bias. 

This man does not understand . . . 

But I had it all wrong. 

And now, when I’m working on the male side of a family situation, I'm a lot more informed. There is a lot of pain there for men. And so many of these men really love their wives. For some of them, they express that love through gifts and physical provision. For others, they take for granted “she knows I love her,” never seeing the signs that she has emotionally checked out on him. A long time ago . . .

But men are hurting, too. 

I am directing this post to both men and women. To the men, I am letting you know that you are not alone. I know that society is not accepting of you just breaking down and crying. You have been taught to “suck it up,” and “be a man.” And as a sister of three brothers, mother of three sons, and wife of an incredibly strong man, I want you to know that your feelings matter to us. The pickle is that we as your female counterpart are not always tuned into your feelings. We often rely on your strength. And so, unfortunately, we have imposed some unrealistic expectations on you simply because you are a man. 

And for the ladies. . . 

He wants to be heard, just like we do. And often he is doubly frustrated when he is not heard because he’s not supposed to show *weakness* by saying, “hey, that hurt when you said that.” And if he has hurt you by not listening to you, therein lies a huge opportunity.

Hear him.

Listen for the clues that are telling you about his pain, his frustration, his disappointment. And believe it or not, hearing him first will open up the bandwidth in your relationship for you to be heard. And please don’t mistake this for an expectation that he is going to show up for you right away.  I’m not even suggesting that he is going to get it right. I’m only advocating for men today because, well, they hurt just as much as we do when they have lost connection and meaning. That does not make women responsible for “his stuff.” Rather, it evens the emotional playing field to make allowances for the side who has too often been socially silenced from sharing his feelings. 



Leave a Comment