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I want to participate in his life, but he rejects me. Why?

My husband works long hard hours. He usually comes home very late at night. I don't always manage to wait up for him, but sometimes I do. When I do, I try to be a good wife: I warmly receive him at the door and take an interest in him. I ask him how he's feeling, how was work, and so on.


Usually his answer is, "I'm tired, give me a few minutes," or "It's hard for me to talk now. I need a few minutes of silence." His response hurts me. I want to participate in his life, but he rejects me. What can I do?


Answer:


This is a common question, and I'm sure many of the readers here already know the answer, as we've touched on this issue before. However, it is worth revisiting since the issue commonly reappears.


We should examine one of the differences between a man and a woman. Typically speaking, she shares, while he turns inward.


A woman may return from a long day at work. Her day may have been hard and arduous, and of course she's tired, but the first thing she does is to tell someone, whoever is interested, what happened to her. The day's experiences churn within her until she can "get it out" by sharing them.


She's tired, isn't she? Why doesn't she go straight to bed? She may indeed be very tired, but before she will rest, she must share, empty out. Thus she can relax and rest. This is how her soul is designed. According to the Maharal, the woman is connected to speech much more than the man. Her nature is to reveal what she feels (see Netivot Olam, Netiv Hatzniyut, ch. 1). If her husband really wants to act like a husband, he will be the one to ask her to open up and share her experiences. He will encourage her to unload her burden on him and share her day with him.


Even after a hard and arduous day of work, a man must first process his experiences within himself. He needs to digest the events of the day. It is also possible that he will immediately want to rest without sharing at all, even after the "few minutes" he needs for himself. That's how he is designed.


Another difference is that the man must feel himself strong, heroic, and successful. A woman has less of a problem allowing herself to feel weak. She accepts it, and buoys herself up. The very feeling of vulnerability is challenging for everyone, of course, but it's easier for a woman to come to terms with it than a man.


You can see this playing out, for example, in a time of danger. It's easy to imagine a woman's natural reaction, "I'm afraid!" While you might typically hear from a man, "What's the problem?" — convincing himself that he'll get over the fear or shock in a minute.


Again, if the husband is a dedicated husband, then he will be the one listening to her, giving her attentive support, and being her sounding board. When the man feels weak, he folds into himself and pulls from within encouragement and strength. What he presents to the world, in this case to his wife, is the strong part of himself. Especially when he's in front of his wife, he'll feel that he must be strong and powerful, not to appear weak in her eyes. That's how men behave instinctually; however, there are exceptions, especially in this generation.


Typically speaking, when your husband comes home, tired and beaten down, he cannot present to his wife the "man" he is. So he wants to be alone, at least a few minutes until he recovers, so to speak. For you, it's hard to understand and accept because, when you feel the same way, you appreciate having someone to whom you can unload. In fact, sharing your experiences is an important part of the relationship.


You have to understand that he remains very attached to you even if he asks you for a few minutes of silence. Give him something you know he likes, and be there for him. That's all. You can ask him how his day went, but in your case, the best thing is to talk to him about it at another time. You can also ask him what he prefers you do when he returns, what works best for him.


There is also a very important message here for the man: your wife likes to share her experiences and express herself. It's hard for her to understand when you don't; it makes her feel distant from you. So if your wife doesn't read this response, explain it to her. Tell her that what you need when just returning home after a long day's work is quiet, and that your preference doesn't say anything about your relationship. After all, you need to be alone for a bit just because that's the nature of a man. That's all.


After you've rested, make sure to tell her how your day went. Be specific. Even if you're a student, it's not enough to come home and tell your wife "I studied." That's really not enough, and she will remain hungry for details. Tell her exactly what you learned, specifically, so she will feel that she was there with you.

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