Day 47 of 100 Days of advice on how to treat men right in relationship and daily interactions with men.
Trust how men process, do not expect it to look how women process.
We women LOVE to talk when we are upset. We will talk until we sort things out. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general this is true. Men, do not necessarily want to talk every process out with you, they just don’t. This does not mean men are not capable of emotional process or they are lacking or that they don’t do it at all, but in general, men process differently than women.
Men often process deep pain with action and creation. They work on projects or they may retreat or they may need to spend time with their fellow brothers.
What creates much friction is women pushing men to process things like women which is just not what men do.
John Boradbent in his book ‘Man Unplugged: Exploring the Inner Man’ shares:
“…men simply want to know the truth and be allowed to process it in their own way and in their own time, and open, honest communication forms the basis of all good relationships…
Don’t have expectations to be involved in this process and you won’t be disappointed. If you can see the man is struggling, invite a good male friend over, put a 6-pack in the fridge and go do something for yourself. Let them sort it. When he’s ready to surface, you’ll know and you might even get some form of dialogue and explanation, but don’t push for it, insist on it, or look for explanations as this might simply make a difficult situation even worse.”
The key point I see in this is trusting men to their own process. To push men to process on your time and how you feel it should look is disrespectful to him as a capable adult. That his process does not look like yours as a woman, does not mean that it is ‘wrong’ or lacking in emotion. It is that it is unique to him as a man, as a person. To nag him-and I have talked about nagging in prior days of advice-is to consistently say ‘I don’t trust you’. To consistently show him you don’t trust him, is to create breakdown in relationship.
If you start to feel frantic or your own stories and issues come present as he is processing, best to take some time out and go do something that nurtures you and soothes you. Take time to recognize that your interpretation of his process is what is creating the pain and discourse. His way of processing is not an affront to you, it is what he needs. If you cannot give your partner space for what he needs, perhaps it’s best to evaluate what exactly is going on for you and what you can do to learn how to give him space for his authentic process.
Men are more prone towards being in action to process their emotions where women tend to be more verbal. Yes, there are exceptions. Also, depending on level of grief anyone can fall into a deep level of inaction and nonverbal state. What I’m sharing here is, of course, in general.
Men are more prone to process privately or without discussion. For instance men may decide to play a sport, go for a run, document their experience. Thomas R. Golden author of ‘The Way Men Heal’ also shares how many men also choose a pilgrimage [and he shares other ways men heal] during times of grief:
“The act of taking a journey in honor of something of someone i s a practical masculine mode of grief. This can easily act as a masculine ritual. It is an action that is done in honor of the loss and helps resonate the story and the pain of the loss.”
So, if your boyfriend/husband, needs to get away for a bit, do not personalize it, this is his way of processing. Or if he is silent he is in deep process, do not personalize it. Give him space for his process instead of placing yourself as ‘victim’ of his needs. He’s not doing this to ‘hurt’ you, he is simply and naturally processing. To take this on as if he does not care about your thoughts is unjust and makes him wrong for his process. Trust your relationship and trust him that of course he knows what he needs.
I also recommend for reading, the two books I have cited:
Man Unplugged: Exploring the Inner Man by John Broadbent
The Way Men Heal by Thomas R. Golden