He’s unconscious and his wife has had it!
I am writing to you because it has been pointed out to me, many times, that I have a problem. It has not felt like a problem to me. But now that my wife wants a divorce, I guess, if I want to save my marriage, I will need to address this problem. I suppose that I am not very introspective. If asked about my opinion, either I have to think about it for a long time, or I just do not have an opinion. That has frustrated my wife. Can you help me get started on fixing this problem?
Dear What Problem,
It must have been pretty frustrating for your wife all these years. I’m assuming you’ve been together for a while. I would guess she’s tried everything in her power to figure out what you wanted, how you felt, and what you needed through the years. That’s what a good woman will do in her attempts to properly manage the relationships in her family.
And what did you do to cooperate with her, to make it easy for her? Sounds like, not much. Your wife’s problem is that she’s married to a man who is emotionally shut down. Your problem is that you’ll lose what’s most valuable to you if you don’t wake up.
Unfortunately, men like you are often so unconscious, you don’t even realize what you’re about to lose. And it’s only in experiencing the enormous pain of the loss that the reality begins to set in. But by then, it’s too late, at least for that relationship.
So the question is, how does a man begin to become aware, to become conscious, to learn how to be present in his own life? You start by making a commitment, by having the intention.
You need to practice feeling your feelings. May sound a bit soft, but it’s what a lot of men need to do. They’re out of touch with themselves. What they have felt over the years—for any number of reasons—has become unacceptable. As a result, they stopped paying attention to how they felt. Eventually, they stopped feeling, or so they think.
If you don’t know how you feel, you’re not likely to make very good decisions for yourself and for those you care about. But when you stop being aware of how you feel, you don’t stop having those feelings, but you do start acting out inappropriately instead.
If you’re angry and you have no healthy way to express it or to understand it, you may start to drink, to numb out, to lash out, or to disconnect with your feelings. Sounds like this is where you find yourself today.
It’s time to get to work. The best place I know is in the company of other men. Find a men’s group. This is a place where you can practice expressing what’s real for you without having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings, like your wife. It’s a place where you can develop a vision of the man you want to be, and perhaps even become that man. Then you can go back home and let her know how you feel, about her, the kids, and life. You can begin to have a real marriage.
As to whether this new commitment will change the course of your current relationship, I can’t predict. But either way, it’s work you need to do for you and your kids. You may not have been a stellar man to date, but there’s still an opportunity to turn things around, to discover the man you want to be, and to be an example for your children.
And maybe, just maybe, your wife will learn to trust your commitment to change, and stick around to enjoy the results. Get to work!