Caring is sharing

For the discussion of relationship issues between engaged couples.
LadyLoveBug
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Caring is sharing

Postby LadyLoveBug » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:13 am

My fiance is wonderful in so many ways, and I can't wait to marry him. I love him for all that God has made him and accept his weaknesses. However, I do believe that I can also want him to improve and grow as a person at the same time. (Max Lucado did say something along the lines with God that even though He loves us, He doesn't want to leave us the same :wink: ) We both should be doing that with each other, especially when working through each other's weaknesses. It could bring us closer or make our relationship stronger. With that being said, one of my FH biggest weaknesses is communicating feelings/showing emotions. I know he's a man and all, and the vast majority of guys don't communicate and show their feelings like their wife does. We were created different. My FH though, is one of the worst communicators, especially with emotions even on a male spectrum. I have been with him for nearly half a decade - this isn't really nothing new to me, but it frustrating to me that he has hardly improved in this area after so long. He definitely understands my emotions better, but other than that, it's been a slowww climb ::arg I know I can't force my FH to be different, and it's not like I want to forcefully make him different. I'll love him no matter what, but I am wondering is if there is anyway I can facilitate change in this area for him without it being obvious. We have had conversations about this before, and for the most part he doesn't see any reason to try share his feelings more. If I bring it up again to him, I'll be nagging at this point. So I'm looking for help more on things that I can do, rather than things I can say to him. Perhaps that's unrealistic. ANY advice is appreciated. :)

Another note: We are beginning counseling soon, so I do plan on bringing this issue up in one way or another during our sessions when the time is right.

Last note: When I mean communicating feelings/showing emotion, I am truly being that broad because he really is that way about a lot of things: telling him is feelings for me (I miss you, I love you, You look beautiful), offering me support or comfort when something happens (I'm sorry to hear that, I'll pray for you), talking about his feelings in different situations (job interview- are you nervous? family situation- are you angry?) All of these things do not come easy...at all! :lol: Sometimes he says some of those things in his own way, but he's usually beating around the bush or toning down how he really feels!

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby mamame » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:49 am

I kept thinking that dh was holding back on communicating his emotions but turns out he wasn't.

Asking him if he was nervous about an interview was like asking him there was oxygen in the air.

Unless there was an action that needed to be taken it just didn't register in his conscious mind. I on the other hand would have a huge internal dialog about how nervous I was, what was causing it, did it show etc.

DH would just ask "am I sweating through this shirt?"

To him that was the only relevant part.

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby jokerman » Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:22 am

Do you want him to be more expressive for his sake, or for yours? I think this is important for you to resolve within yourself. He may never be the tender/chatty type, but he can learn that some responses come off as cold, and others as nice. Although many men (as mamame said) don't have the desire or need to share everything they are thinking, they do understand the principle of being kind and having good manners. One time my wife said to me, in a very pointed way, "You know, when your wife is crying and pouring out her heart, it's nice to hug her." I totally understood that one, and felt really bad that I failed, because that's an actual action. "Why don't you talk about your day, or your feelings about your Dad" is waaay too vague, and kind of putting me on the spot and asking me to dredge up things because YOU want to hear them, not because I felt like sharing.

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby Deelmo » Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:10 am

Suggest he be tested for Asperger's. If for no other reason, to make sure it's not that.
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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby Arogen » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:09 pm

What's his background? Did he experience a lot of judgement or rejection? Was he a target abuse (emotional, verbal, physical or sexual). This shell could just be that he has a very introverted personality, or it could be a defense mechanism he put in place a long time ago that he doesn't feel safe getting rid of.

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby txtwindad » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:34 pm

You should not marry your FH expecting him to change. It may well be that he will change and become a better communicator. But you cannot change him. To marry him hoping for change is a recipe for dissatisfaction and misery. If you cannot be happy with his current level of communication, then do not marry him. You must accept him as is, where is. There is no return policy. If he does change by God's grace and his own growth, let it be a pleasant surprise.

It is certainly up to you to tell him what you need from him. But you cannot make him change.
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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby jokerman » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:49 pm

txtwindad wrote:You should not marry your FH expecting him to change. It may well be that he will change and become a better communicator. But you cannot change him. To marry him hoping for change is a recipe for dissatisfaction and misery. If you cannot be happy with his current level of communication, then do not marry him. You must accept him as is, where is. There is no return policy. If he does change by God's grace and his own growth, let it be a pleasant surprise.

It is certainly up to you to tell him what you need from him. But you cannot make him change.


I have to agree with this. If a quiet, reserved husband is going to be a real problem now, its going to be a worse problem decades later.

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby heisenberg » Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:52 pm

You say that he is reserved about talking about feelings -- even for a male -- but I wonder if you really appreciate how great the differences can be normally.

For instance, you gave an example of him not really giving much of a response to the question about whether he was nervous before an interview. I wouldn't want to sit around chatting about that either -- and in fact I would be annoyed if my wife even asked.

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby NaiveHusband » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:22 am

Warning: The following post contains generalizations that are not true for all people. :)

How is he at communicating on a logical or factual level? In other words, is he a bad communicator all around, or do you just think he's a bad communicator when it comes to emotions?

You may be having the same difficulty that many women seem to have; namely, not understanding how it's possible to simply not have an emotion at a given time. But most men I know will tell you that it's very possible -- in fact, that it's the normal state of things for them.

My wife regularly asks how I feel about things, and frankly, I'm not feeling anything. My dad used to tell my mom the same thing, and she'd tell him that he *had* to be feeling *something,* only he really, truly, wasn't. Putting it in terms of a painting, it seems women go around with their "feelings canvas" a constantly-changing sea of wild and varied colors, whereas men typically have a nice, clean, empty canvas with an occasional, short-lived speck or two somewhere on it.

I forget where I read it (I think it was right here at TMB), but it seems that most men have about one-sixteenth of the emotion-causing hormones that women have. Thus we simply don't have the capacity to feel as much. Asking your FH to share his feelings could well be like asking him to describe everything he sees between his eyes and the nearest object (which, if anyone is counting, would be nothing).

This doesn't mean emotion-deficient men don't feel love and affection - in fact, if I read your post correctly, you say he does (awkwardly) communicate those things to you. In which case, he's probably sharing just about every feeling he has. And, his love for you is probably the most intense feeling he's had since childhood. But when it comes to other parts of life, he is very likely an emotional blank.

If that is the case, then it may be time for you to see how that can work in your favor as a couple. For starters, someone unencumbered with emotions can make more objective decisions, can do hard or gross things without minding them too much, and is less likely to be swayed by negative peer pressure. There are other advantages too, but I'll leave them for you two to figure out over time. ;)

His job, on the other hand, is to understand that your emotions are relevant and also bring value to your relationship. He should remember to ask how you feel about things, and you need to understand that he will most likely feel your emotions by proxy -- in other words, you'll probably get to set the emotional climate of the home.

Finally, remember that even a near-emotionless man will typically still feel strong emotions toward his wife. In fact, a man's emotion hormones spike dramatically for about half an hour after sexual release (although still not up to a woman's baseline). So once you're married, if he seems to have a strong sex drive, remember that it is probably an emotional hunger to feel more strongly in love with you! :)

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby jokerman » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:26 am

The War on Monosyllabic Men Must End!

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby LadyLoveBug » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:26 pm

Man everyone, I just had a long reply to everyone that I lost :(

So I'm going to summarize. I think my FH is really more the typical man, especially after some comments. He doesn't have any bad history that would effect him emotionally; I am certain of it. As already stated in my OP, I am perfectly fine marrying him how he is. He is wonderful! But my thing is, if you see an area where your spouse needs to improve, in my case with my FH, emotions/communication, where do you draw that line in being an influence? Taking about it without being overbearing? Etc. Obviously looking at the plank in your own eye is far more important, and you should always love unconditionally, but I'm talking about after/while you're doing those things. What can I do otherwise?

The whole sex-drive/his sex-drive things makes me curious, because I think he really might show his emotions in this way. Of course I wouldn't know for sure seeing as we haven't had sex or ever come close to it! The reason I think this though, is that when we have gone to far physically and had to have taken a step back (nothing serious, but still needed to be addressed seriously if you want to not let it happen again), he has gotten personally offended by me wanting to take a step back. I even pointed out to him once before that maybe he has had a harder time with it because he is like the typical guy that feels loved through sex. All he said was hmmm, but in FH language, that means I hit the bullseye :wink: . Still, that won't be figured out until we're married, make love, and I can't count on that "fixing" anything (fixing strongly in quotes- because I want to emphasize I am ok marrying him as he is!). That would be a disaster to expect that going into marriage. However, it could end up being helpful to add that to the recipe of our relationship in the communication/relationship area. I am looking forward to being married very much 8)

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby Leah » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:38 pm

You are not engaged to be his mom. You are engaged to be his wife. If you really think "improvement" is what you're after, then examine why *you* feel the way *you* do, instead of what he's feeling and why.
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“I have learned now that while those who speak about one's miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.”--C.S. Lewis


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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby LadyLoveBug » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:50 pm

Leah wrote:You are not engaged to be his mom. You are engaged to be his wife. If you really think "improvement" is what you're after, then examine why *you* feel the way *you* do, instead of what he's feeling and why.


I think if you knew me in real life, you'd get it. I'm not trying to be his mom, at all. This is honestly how I approach all friendships/relationships, which I know can sounds like a bad thing in theory, because people could take my intentions the wrong way or think I have high expectations of them. When it comes to anyone but my FH, it's super super subtle. They have no clue that I'm praying for them in ____ aspect of their life, etc.

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby txtwindad » Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:52 pm

I have been with him for nearly half a decade - this isn't really nothing new to me, but it frustrating to me that he has hardly improved in this area after so long.


And what makes you think he'll change when he hasn't in 5 years. Take him as he is. Trying to "grow" him is the essence of mothering.

I'll love him no matter what, but I am wondering is if there is anyway I can facilitate change in this area for him without it being obvious.


Read what you wrote there. Wow, that is manipulative. Something like a mother would do for a child that doesn't know any better. I know you don't mean it to be manipulative and mothering, but it is. It's not your job to "grow" him. Step back and read your post.

You love him, but are frustrated wishing he was different. You've been trying to change him for 5 years with little success. Now you're wanting advice on how to change him without him knowing your doing it. Women do this all the time, you aren't alone. But, it is really a recipe for disaster. Love him for who he is and accept his weaknesses. Pray for them, sure. But changing him is God's job not yours. If you can step back and look at the situation, I think that Leah nailed it.
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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby Leah » Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:17 am

I notice that when I work on growing myself, the behavior of others does not bother me nearly as much.
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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby InGodsGrace » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:36 am

YOU can't change anyone. You can't walk into marriage thinking you can change this. It won't happen. You have to accept that unless HE decides to change

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Caring is sharing

Postby Dgenerous » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:42 am

Leah wrote:I notice that when I work on growing myself, the behavior of others does not bother me nearly as much.


+1

I would suggest that you read Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. And maybe Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, by Tripp. People are not in our lives so that we can improve them. What you are describing is a recipe for disappointment.

If you see an actual sin issue in someone's life, the Christlike thing to do is to confront it gently and with much examination of your own heart and motives, first. This, as you've described it, doesn't sound like a sin issue. Unless the sin is your attempt at manipulation and control.
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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby NaiveHusband » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:48 am

LadyLoveBug wrote:But my thing is, if you see an area where your spouse needs to improve, in my case with my FH, emotions/communication, where do you draw that line in being an influence?

Why do you insist this is an area where he needs to improve? It sounds to me like you're taking one of his assets and trying to turn it into a liability, or, at best, trying to make him more like you instead of learning to appreciate his personality in something that does not involve clearly sinful behavior.

Truthfully, some of your comments in this thread are troubling and do not speak well for a happy marriage. It sounds like you regularly notice "areas for improvement" in other people and "know" exactly how they need to change. This tendency is rarely appreciated by others and is likely to be particularly vexing to your husband. In fact, I want to say this gently, but if I were your fiancé and I saw this thread, I would have serious misgivings about marrying you.

Might I suggest your efforts would be better spent adjusting your own attitudes and responses in relation to other people? For instance, when you see something in someone else that you think needs to be fixed, how about asking God to show you something in your own life that needs to be changed? This tends to give all of us humans plenty to work on. ;)

I think you'll find that if you work on changing your own expectations and attitudes to be more accepting of other peoples' differences, you'll find your relationships and entire outlook on life will improve and grow.

Long and short of it is, you can't change anyone - you can only change yourself. Trying to work on other people will only result in frustration all around.

One other thought: What you're trying to do to your fiancé is essentially trying to feminize him. I suggest you think long and hard about that, because even if your efforts to change him are somehow successful, you might not like the results. He is most likely completely willing to hear about your feelings and emotions. I seriously suggest you learn to appreciate him for that, instead of insisting on finding a fault where he likely sees a strength.

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby TilWeHaveFaces » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:49 am

Dgenerous wrote:
Leah wrote:I notice that when I work on growing myself, the behavior of others does not bother me nearly as much.


+1

I would suggest that you read Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. And maybe Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, by Tripp. People are not in our lives so that we can improve them. What you are describing is a recipe for disappointment.

If you see an actual sin issue in someone's life, the Christlike thing to do is to confront it gently and with much examination of your own heart and motives, first. This, as you've described it, doesn't sound like a sin issue. Unless the sin is your attempt at manipulation and control.


The universe must be in sync because these are topics I'm thinking and praying deeply upon right now. In fact, I had lunch with my pastor last week and he handed me his copy of the Tripp book to put some more tools in my hands. (He's given me the "Love/Know/Speak/Do" talk a few times now, so only makes sense to go direct to the source. :mrgreen: )

One of the reason I'm camping out here is that I want to be sure that what I do as the spiritual leader of my home is truly calling my bride toward sanctification, away from sin, and more fully into God's best -- not so that I can change her so I'll like her more and we'll get along better. You know?

I do that mindful of the fact that she has been a goad toward sanctification in me, though her God-given role is different. She has confronted me in the places where I have been mired in selfishness and as a consequence not loving her well. Honestly I do not think that has always come from the most spiritual place -- and I think she'd agree -- but I have nonetheless chosen to be teachable... or, at least, teachability and humility is where I ended up! (There was certainly a season of misguided resistance before I "got it.")

It requires discernment, because pursuing sanctification together with your spouse not just for their sake but for the Lord's sake is different from trying to change your spouse from a pattern of behavior which may not actually be sinful. That kind of discernment is what I'm seeking and what the OP should seek as well.

I will say that it's always good advice to understand and accept that the behaviors that exist in an engagement are the ones you will likely find yourself living with the rest of your life, and maybe even to a greater degree. If you search your heart and find that this is truly unacceptable to you, that you only want a "new and improved" version of the guy to whom you're now engaged (even if it's just "10%" improvement and you think the other 90% is great), it might be best to explore whether you ought to continue on the present course.

My measly two bits. Do with them what you will.


*(Still need to get to that Bridges book. Sounds good, but I have "Navigator PTSD" from some time in a "hardcore" Navigator men's group immediately post-college and Jerry is about as Nav as they come. It's not him; it's me. :lol: )

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Re: Caring is sharing

Postby Txtwinmom » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:00 pm

About 33 years ago I could have written your post. (Of course since that was in the dark ages the only post I knew about was a fence post! :wink: ) My DH and I were very young when we met and married. My then FH was not good at sharing emotions at all. It drove me crazy. Oh, once in a blue moon he would share some emotion but as a general rule he did not share. I remember once early in our marriage I said "All emotions look the same on your face. I don't know if you are happy, mad,...". At the time I would have given just about anything for him to share his inner most thoughts, dreams, feelings...just like I did with my college roommates (all female). I never had an "aha!" moment but I gradually learned to "read" him. Sometimes I would get it right and sometimes I would get it wrong.
Fast forward 30 years and I no longer feel the way I did in the beginning. Communication was not always easy and I was not always a good observer of my DH. I remember sometime after being married 10 years I finally realized that he would not be in a good mood while paying bills :shock: . Does he really share more of his feelings now? Maybe, but it was not because I tried to change him. Mostly I learned to love the steadfastness of him, his ability to be calm in any situation, and knowing he was/is my safe haven in a crazy world. All of those things are also tied to how much emotion he shows in most situations. (Daughters' weddings were a bit tough for him.) I see much more emotions on his face than the rest of the world. A lot of people that just know him casually think he is tough and rather gruff.
So take a long hard look at what it really is that you want out of your FH. Do you really want him to "share" with you just like you do with your female friends? That's just not how a guy works. Or, like I said earlier, do you want him to be a safe haven from a crazy world, and steadfast and calm in a wicked world. That guy probably isn't the type to share many emotions and feelings. In my case he is much too busy protecting and caring for our family.
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