I tell wives all of the time, “Your husband is a grown ass man and can take care of his own feelings.”
This after the wife has said that she cannot possibly tell him the truth, the whole truth because he cannot handle it.
This, ladies, is a TERRIBLE strategy that results in you infantilizing your husband, protecting him from his emotions, and behaving (often) like his mommy and not his equal. This is a problem, big time, and will result in contempt, belittling, resentment, and power struggles in your relationship. [Note: women need to learn how to grow up often as well! Next month's post is about How to Be A Grown Ass Woman.]
Please realize, women, that this does not mean criticizing, being a jerk, nagging, railing on, or emasculating your partners is okay. This does mean sharing vulnerably, honestly, and clearly your experiences in a productive manner.
And men, your job is then to BE a grown ass man. That means, learning how to feel your feelings — not stuffing your feelings and letting them come out crooked as anger, not drinking or drugging your feelings away, not bullying your wife or the kids with your feelings — be feeling your feelings, talking to a trusted friend, rabbi or therapist, journaling, taking a bike ride to gain clarity, handling your feelings in a productive manner.
How to Feel Your Feelings
- naming the feelings
- writing the feelings down in a journal
- breathing and noticing how you feel the feelings in your body
- practicing hanging in with your feelings even when it is uncomfortable or painful
- coming back to your partner and sharing with her or him a bit about your process and what you learned about yourself
Grown ass men have emotional intelligence. They understand that feelings are not ‘extra’ parts that can be ignored or that feelings are just for girls. Grown ass men understand that having a healthy relationship with their feelings helps them be better fathers, husbands, friends, and lovers (yes, men, your partner will want to have sex with you more when you have emotional intelligence).
Grown ass men understand that if they have an agreement to be in a monogamous relationship with their partner that finding healthy, mutually pleasurable, and healthy ways to navigate sex and get their needs met is important. They know how to express their sexual desires in non-demanding, honest, and clear ways.
Grown ass men also know how to take accountability and get things done. They know that they don’t need to be perfect but they can strive to be competent especially if they are sharing a life with other human beings who depend on them.
Grown ass men can take hearing feedback from those in their life and rather than deflect those words as nagging they will look at where some of that feedback may be true and see if the person has a point (hint: often they do but you can get so defensive that you cannot really hear it, much less address the issue).
Grown ass men set boundaries and do not invite or allow themselves to be ridiculed, bullied, or criticized by their partner. Similarly, grown ass men know how to communicate their complaints, hurt, and requests to their partner and others with clarity and kindness.
Most all of us have parts of ourselves (kind of like parts of your personality) that need to *grow up*. These parts regress into behaviors, attitudes, and actions that are more akin to a 16-year-old than to a 48-year-old. If you are not sure if you have parts of yourself that behave in a regressed manner, ask your partner. Or if you find that you are getting defensive reading this, then probably you have a part or two that needs to be unleveled (don’t take it personally…all of us have our own work to do in this department).
And P.S. women need to learn how to grow up too! Next month's post, How to Be A Grown Ass Woman. ;-)
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