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"It's none of your business" — ouch!

We've been married for about a year. There is good communication between us, but I miss one thing very much: my husband doesn't like to share his feelings with me.


Sometimes I ask for it: "Tell me what's bothering you." And his answer is, "It's none of your business." He doesn't say it defiantly but rather matter-of-factly, and it hurts me a lot.


I feel that, from his perspective, I don't deserve to be his full partner, for better or for worse. This feeling is eating away at me. What can I do?


Answer:


Great question — and a very common

problem. I will begin as follows: the differences between men and women are many and significant. What is obvious to you is not obvious to him at all, and vice versa. Many times, the lack of understanding of these differences creates a very difficult feeling.


You are talking about partnership and your feeling that it's missing here. If we ask a woman what partnership is, her answer will probably be long and include the following sentence, among other things: "to partner with each other in everything we go through. Living together, where I share in his life, and he shares in mine."


If we ask a man the same question, most likely the sentence above will not be included. If he hears his wife's answer, he won't understand her. He'll think, "Why should I share what I'm going through? What difference does it make? I can deal with it myself. Just wait a little; give me some time, and then I'll be back with you."


When a woman is dealing with an issue, she needs to unpack it, to share, to feel that someone is carrying the burden with her. When a man is dealing with an issue, what he usually needs is silence, to be alone a little, to gather himself. This doesn't mean he isn't his wife's partner. It does mean that this behavior is an expression of his character and what he needs. Give it to him.


You can say the following to him: "I would like to hear what you're going through, but only if you want to tell me and when you want to tell me." That's it! Don't press him anymore. When he feels free not to share, then it will be much easier for him to share. That's how it works.


You can also explain to him (when you're both available, not necessarily in the moment) the aforementioned differences between men and women. If he understands how you feel naturally, it may encourage him to share more.


Regarding your participation in a vulnerable conversation, first of all, avoid criticizing him. "Well, why did you get into this problem? If you had listened to me in the beginning, then..." This is the worst type of criticism! It also definitively eliminates the chance of him sharing again.


Also, don't "fix" his problem. You don't want to say, "Then do it like this, what's the problem?" Even if it's hard not to make such a statement, stop yourself from doing so. It may hurt him, create an unpleasant feeling, and result in his reluctance to share in the future.


A woman shares things that happen to her. If she feels frustrated, she wants her husband to feel her frustration, to participate in her feeling. When the man goes through something, he may also feel frustrated, but in addition, he experiences a contradiction to his masculinity, his power. The weakness — the vulnerability — hurts him no less than the problem itself.


If the woman expresses participation only in terms of sharing his frustration, she may connect with his sense of weakness, which increases it — even though she means well. It might humiliate him, maybe even upset him. He wants to feel, "I'm not weak. I'll be fine; don't worry about me," in particular toward his wife. He feels that he is supposed to be his wife's support, to be strong for her. He may feel like a failure in his role, that he failed to be my wife's "man," and this is a very difficult feeling.


For a woman, it is natural to feel weak around her husband, to receive strength and support from him. A man's nature is exactly the opposite. He wants to be strong, powerful, and supportive to her.


So when he shares his issues, don't emphasize his weakness. Don't make the "poor you!" face. Just be there and listen until the end. Then try to express your confidence in him, that you know he will ultimately succeed, that he will overcome all difficulties. "You've got this. I know you do." And of course, only express that after first listening fully.


It is difficult to suggest precise words that express this confidence. You have to understand the idea and try to express it somehow. The truth is that you don't have to say anything. Just listen, and try to feel him, feel the pain. You can share his issues through feeling, not words. That's the main thing.


In general, affirm your confidence in him on other occasions. He needs to live with the feeling that you believe in him and trust him. This is very important!


A few lines for the husband: you must try to share your burdens with your wife. It is good for both your soul and your relationship. For a woman, the experience of connection is much stronger than for a man, and she needs to "be with you" even when she is not physically with you. Therefore, we men need to share as much as possible. You don't need to broadcast dangers and hardship, just state the facts. When you're right in the middle of the pain, it's hard to share. So wait, relax, and then try to share. You should also explain yourself to your wife, something like, "It's hard for me right now. I'll be with you soon." At a later occasion, explain to her "how it works" with a man.


In conclusion:

  • Many men have a natural difficulty sharing their pain with their wives. You have to accept that this is part of his character. It's not that he doesn't want to be your partner.

  • Do not pressure him to share. You can only be there for him: "If you want and when you want, I'm here, listening to you with love."

  • When you listen, just listen. Try to experience his pain without words.

  • Beware of offering criticism and "fixes"!

  • If you find words that convey to him that you are with him, on one hand, and that he is strong and will overcome, on the other hand, say them. At a later time, after a while, you can also ask him if you said the right thing.

  • Also look for other opportunities to express your confidence in him so that he will live with a feeling that his wife trusts him. Fostering this feeling will benefit both him and you. Such confidence greatly enhances the man's abilities to succeed.

Good luck!

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