A Husband Answers My Questions about Emotions

Posted on April 13, 2013 by

half man's face

I believe that this husband articulates the feelings of the vast majority of men – Christian and non-Christian.  It is easy for us to assume that our men don’t have feelings because they often don’t verbalize them.  Sometimes, they can be deeply wounded for many years and NEVER verbalize their pain.  That is what my husband did.  He just shut down – and I was completely clueless about how damaging my words had been.  I thought if he was hurt he would tell me.  I sure told him when I was hurting!  

We often expect our men to think, feel, process and talk like we do – but this is not reality!  Men have a VERY different way of thinking and processing ideas and emotions than women.  But our men DO have feelings and we have the power to crush and destroy them or to breathe life and inspiration into their souls.  Thank you SO much to this husband for his willingness to share his perspective. 

1. How affected are you by your wife’s emotions (good and bad)?

I am extremely affected by my wife’s emotions.  An example this week.  We had a disagreement and she really did not talk to me or acknowledge me for about 4 days.  I got sick and had to leave work.  I felt like I caught the flu.  I believe the stress from us not being connected stressed me out and lowered my immune system, causing me to get physically sick.
In the past I have an unable to perform at my job if we our in a terrible disagreement or the relationship is not going well.  I have had to miss work because of this.  So I would say that I am very much affected by my wife’s emotions.
She also had the power to support and encourage me and make to excel higher than I probably could on my own.

2. If your wife has been disrespectful for a long time, how does her disrespect alter how much her emotions affect you?

With long term disrespect comes an sort of shut down or unplugging by me.  I disconnect and her emotions or how she feels become less important to me.  It is very hard to keep doing the right things and still be disrespected and eventually it is easy to become worn down and just disconnect.

3. How important is your wife’s happiness is to you when you feel respected vs. disrespected?

  • When I feel disrespected her happiness is much less important to me.
  • When I feel respected I will do anything in my power to make her happy.

4.  If you have a serious disagreement and your wife verbally attacks you and accuses you of things like being unloving, hating her, being a horrible husband, never listening, etc… what do you have to do in your mind to process that kind of negative emotion?

It is easy to become angry and say something terrible back, but the anger is just a shield for the true emotions which is deep hurt.  It usually takes a minimum of a day and sometimes longer before I can organize my thoughts on this and be able to verbally communicate them.

5. Do you think with words when you are working through how you feel or what your emotions are about a conflict with your wife?

I don’t think I ever think in words.  I think in pictures or just thoughts.  I never see words in my mind when thinking through a problem.  

6. How difficult is it to put your emotions in words?  Do you need time to be able to do this, or can you talk about emotions immediately during the conflict?

It is very difficult and can take a day or more usually.

7. How safe is it for you to be genuinely honest with your wife about your emotions?  What makes you feel emotionally safe or unsafe with her?

I feel fortunate that from the beginning I have been myself and very honest with my emotions.  The difference between safe versus unsafe is the reaction.  If you try and discuss something and get an hysterical response or some horrible fight, then you are less likely to be so open and honest about that subject in the future.  It is a shame, because if a spouse would just listen and try to communicate without hurtful words or explosive emotions then it is much more likely to foster more open, honest discussions in the future.

8. How would it affect your communication with your wife if you knew that your wife would be on your team and support you even if you were honest about your negative emotions and feelings?

If a spouse would just listen and try to communicate without hurtful words or explosive emotions then it is much more likely to foster more open, honest discussions in the future.
Did you catch the fact that this man does not think in words – ever?
Some men do think in words sometimes.  But others don’t.  Imagine thinking through problems and emotions without words.  That concept just blows my mind.   I only think in words – sometimes with “video.”  And I use words to process my emotions – to the point that I have no idea how I could possibly process emotions without words.
But do you see what a problem this could be in a relationship between a man and a woman?  Who would ever think to ask a man, “Do you think with words?”  What woman would realize on her own how very differently men process feelings and ideas than women do?
So when we immediately begin a 1 hour or 2 hour monologue about our hurt feelings and our negative emotions – we can totally overwhelm our men with an ocean of negative emotions and words.  It takes TIME to process all of that.  It is almost like they have to translate their emotions from another language to be able to verbalize them.
This is why I recommend several principles when we as women are talking about emotional subjects with our men:
  • Be brief.  Think bullet points, not thesis!
  • Use a calm, pleasant, friendly tone of voice and have a friendly facial expression whenever possible.
  • Allow him to have a day or more to process his emotions and ideas – especially about really big decisions.  It is a gift you can give to your man to allow him the time his brain needs to hash everything out.
  • Assume the best about your man, not the worst.   His need for time to himself is not a sign that he doesn’t love you.  It is a sign he DOES care and he wants to thoroughly figure out what he thinks and feels and decide the best way to put words to his ideas in order to not hurt you.
  •  Do not try to pressure or force your man into a deep discussion on the spot about something very important.  Give him a few days notice if possible so he can be prepared.


Do you have anything you would like to add?


Any questions for me or the guys?