Men and Emotional Intimacy

Written by Dr. Gary Smalley

sexlove_menintimacyA man who can cry is a man who has learned some secrets about intimacy. But sadly, for many men it takes something tragic or life-changing before they understand this truth.

Here are a few ways you can tell if the man you love has trouble with intimacy or struggles to open up:

  • He’s unable to discuss his feelings.
  • He’s determined to avoid his feelings.
  • He’s unable to express love, sorrow, or pain.
  • He’s unable or unwilling to cry.
  • He’s determined to make all situations into a joke.
  • He’s determined to lighten the mood or change the topic when emotional issues are discussed.
  • He physically leaves the room when emotional issues are discussed.
  • He’s insensitive to the emotions of those around him.

Most men–unfortunately–do not undergo such traumatic experiences as the one described above. Yet many boys emerge from adolescence with a strong sense that being strong and unfeeling is the “masculine” thing to do. When a male brain is saturated in testosterone, it doesn’t take much, even from well-meaning family members, to give a boy the message that emotions and feelings are only for girls.

Here are some things your husband may have heard when growing up–things that may have shaped him into a seemingly uncaring person:

  • “Don’t cry unless you’re hurt.”
  • “Tough it out.”
  • “Boys don’t cry.”
  • “Only sissies get hurt feelings.”
  • “It’s a sign of weakness to let people know you’re hurting.”

If you love a man who doesn’t seem to be able to express his feelings, you might want to consider using word pictures to help him identify what’s going on inside. A word picture uses a story or object to simultaneously activate the emotions and intellect of the hearer. As a result, he experiences your words rather than just hearing them.

It’s important to realize that helping your husband learn to express his feelings will take time. You might have to use several examples or try for several days, weeks, or even months before he is able to feel and share with you what’s in his heart. And until he reaches that point, he won’t be able to connect with you on an emotional intimate level.

Based on what I’ve learned in my many years of counseling, I’ve found that a woman’s definition of intimacy is very different from a man’s. Consider the following lists:

What women mean by intimacy

  • Deep emotional connection
  • Daily time sharing your heart
  • Daily time hearing the heart of the one you love
  • Ability to cry easily and together at emotional moments
  • A sensitivity to know immediately when feelings are hurt
  • Understanding each other’s dreams and goals
  • Closeness of the heart and soul

What men mean by intimacy

  • Deep physical connection
  • Foreplay
  • Hand-holding, hugging, kissing
  • Understanding each other’s physical needs
  • An ability to communicate physical needs
  • Physical time alone together
  • A sensitivity to know when physical needs are present

One of the reasons men may be more focused on physical closeness is that men aren’t as sensitive to physical touch as women are. In other words, it takes more physical touch to meet a man’s physical needs. In the same way that a woman has twice the daily word count, a man has twice the need for physical stimulation.

The point is this: Women often feel unloved because their emotional needs aren’t being met, and in the same way, men often feel ignored because their physical needs aren’t being met.

I think the problem is clear at this point: Guys have trouble with true emotional intimacy.

Read Gary Smalley’s book, Connecting With Your Husband, to learn more about your relationship.

© Copyright 2003 Smalley Relationship Center

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146 Responses to “Men and Emotional Intimacy”

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Rasheed, That must be a terribly difficult position to be in. When you do not have the same goals and dreams as your spouse it can really tear you apart. This is where strong communication skills are so important; not only to be able to clearly present why your career is so important to you but to also hear why your husband’s parents are so important to him. Talking these things though can often lead to the discovery of a middle ground that both of you had not thought of before.

    Isis may be right that your husband is being abusive towards you; I don’t know your situation well enough to make that determination. I don’t think that just because a person feels responsible for their parents means that they are not committed as well to their marriage. If you are willing to put in the effort to really try o understand one another and explore creatively different solutions, there is often a way to work these things out. And in that process your marriage becomes stronger and your love for one another grows.

    In my marriage I have found Jesus helps us work through the differences between us. We have confidence that He has a plan for our lives and part of our communication is talking about what He is directing us towards. I don’t know if you and your husband have a relationship with Jesus, but if you are interested I would love to tell you about how He can make a difference.

  • Isis says:

    To: Rasheed
    Your situation is unfortunate. But your marriage is not fixed if he thinks his parents are more important than your relationship. There is no way you can change his unnatural attachment to his parents because they probably brainwashed him to believe what he believes today: that something bad will happen to them if he is focusing more on his own life and he will feel responsible for the rest of his life. His parents probably manipulate him emotionally and they’ve been doing it all his life.

    You only see it now because YOU have changed, YOU have progressed, but he remained behind. I have this issue with my parents but luckily I’m able to see it and ignore my manipulative family.

    Go see a therapist alone. But before you go search into your past and your family for signs that could explain your attachment to this type of man. How was your mom? Was she loving, caring, was she cold and tough on you? Was your dad emotionally distant? Then, evaluate what are your priorities in life and you might have to take a decision to be happier.

    Trying to change people is never a good thing because you really have no control over it. Trying to change yourself is more effective. Reduce your expectations and find emotional support within friends, family, religion/spirituality, counselling, or in other activities. Reduce the amount of effort you put in the relationship if it makes you bitter in the end. Bitterness feeling is an alarm system that basically tells you that you give a lot more that you can.

    The stories of abusive spouse and victim are not out of nowhere and there are many abusive women too. Abuse doesn’t necessary mean only yelling and hitting. Ignoring emotional needs, passive aggressiveness, belittling, emotional manipulation are also forms of abuse. Both the victim and the abuser were trained to become the role they play in their marriage from infancy.

    Many victims need their abusers to feel better about themselves, to feel like the better person. Twisted, I know. My mom is like that. She needs my dad to be bad so she can say she is the good one, the faultless one, the poor victim, and I am a terrible child because I want to live my own life without her intrusiveness. I can’t change them, and I can’t exclude them from my life entirely, but I am aware of their manipulative strategies so I know how to defend myself when they attack. But I went through a year of therapy after I suffered a nervous breakdown because my mother was harassing me to the point I had stopped eating and sleeping.

    I had my share of bad boyfriends but I never made a commitment to a kind of guy who showed no empathy, no compassion, and puts his crazy mom first. Lol… Wife and children come first. I am still single because men like that are rare, but I’m happier than when I was with any of my boyfriends and I enjoy my life. I’d rather spend the rest of my life alone than with a narcissist who fails to meet my needs.

    I recommend this great book that helped me understand more about how people basically fall in love based on wrong beliefs and unresolved childhood emotional traumas; and then how they fall out of love when the illusion is ended. Love is not blind! We choose to be blind by idealizing the subject of our love. When we realize that the object is actually human and all his faults are part of who they are, depression, exasperation and separation take place. Take a look. It may change your philosophies about this subject:

    “The Eden Project. In the Search for the Magical Other” by James Hollis

  • Celeste65 says:

    @ Devon
    People change.
    You may think you know the person you
    marry, but I found that I didn’t really
    know my husband.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Devon, I don’t think it is quite as simple as you make it out to be. There are a lot of factors that have contributed to the situation where most of the women on this site now find themselves. It is not as simple as ‘like him or leave him’.

  • devon says:

    all rubbish, woman stop trying to change the man your with, you can leave, or didnt u no what he is like from the start dahhh

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Dear Father God.

    Lord I lift up men who have trouble in this area and also the spouse. I pray that they will seek Your grace and help, as You love them and want there relationship to stay secure. In Jesus Mighty name Amen

  • Rasheed says:

    Hi ,

    I am in relationship with a guy for 10 years. I always has different dream than him. Like i always wanted to go abroad and do something good to my career. Our marriage was fixed , but then i moved abroad to pursue my job. NOW if i say to him that try to come abroad he says that his family is more impportant to him and he cannot come abroad as his parents need him. What can i do , i m going mad about this.

  • Celeste65 says:

    My husband didn’t show emotion until I filed
    for divorce.
    It was about 10 years too late.
    He was verbally and emotionally abusive.
    He was manipulative, controlling and even forced himsemf on me once.
    I learned to push my thoughts and emotions aside because my husband would mock me and scoff at me.
    He wouldn’t change and I couldn’t continue to live that way without losing my mind .

  • Kate Kate says:

    Michele,

    You are welcome. (And tell me more….!) :)

    You are loved by the King, and that makes my heart want to sing.

    Blessings in Jesus’ name,

    Kate

  • Michele says:

    @ Kate. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Deborah says:

    Kate,
    Thank you for your response. And yes, totally clear. I think we are “in the same boat”. Christ boat!! There are no brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, male, or female in Christ. We are all equal and have equal responsibilities to each other being of the same body. God is the head (kephale in greek meaning source or source of life) Kephale cannot be interperated to mean authority, that word would be exousia. Technically, God does not have authority over us because he gave us free will. The same as Satan does not have authority over us. With free will it is our choice to love and serve. And to me, that’s what is so beautiful about Christ. Freedom in His love, to love others. Yes, you may be “a foot” and I may be a “hand” but I need you and you need me. We function together – as equals. There may be physical differences, but we were ALL created in God’s image. And yes, render unto Cesear what is Cesear’s – Christ was talking about taxes and money. Money is of no value, Christ told us to give it away to others. If we have no money – then Cesear has no authority over us either (LOL).

    Stay in the Word. Be strong. Love one another.

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi Deborah,

    I guess what I want to be careful of is not collapsing ‘equal’ into identical. Yes, we are equal in value and worth. However, we are not identical. God is creative and has creatively designed us to have differences, male from female, and one from another, for example, me from you.

    I totally agree that men need to love women and women need to love men, as well as that men need to respect women and women need to respect men — and I guess this where we didn’t quite get the same message from Emerson Eggerichs’ book, because I definitely think he agrees too! — but I also think that that unfolds in zillions of different ways, and my Christ-likeness will not ever look exactly like your Christ-likeness, even though we are both being conformed to His likeness, praise God! Similarly, my husband’s Christ-likeness will never look exactly like mine, nor should it…

    And so, I think that we agree – neither of us wants to endorse different definitions of Christ-likeness depending on gender.

    Does that make sense?

    Grace and peace,

    Kate

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Deborah, I love the way you emphasize service to others in relationships. That is really a crucial component of the character of a follower of Jesus. It is the example that Jesus gave for us and the writers of the New Testament re-emphasize that.

    But it is also important to apply to our lives what the Bible has to say about authority. We are told that those in authority over us are placed there by God (Romans 13:1) and that rebellion against those authorities is a rebellion against God. We are warned against entertaining accusations against those who are in authority over the church without 2 or 3 witnesses. That doesn’t mean that we never question the decisions of those in leadership but we need to have solid evidence before we pursue that. It is also clear that the different roles within the Trinity (God the Father being the head who delegates authority to the Son who submits to the will of the Father and together they send the Holy Spirit whose role is to bring honour to the Father and the Son) are roles that are then reflected in every sphere of society, most poignantly in the family; “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” (1Corinthians 11:3)

    You are right that Jesus’ message about the value of women was counter-cultural as was His message about leadership; “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45) But that doesn’t mean that those who are under the leadership of others should only follow when their leaders do the right thing. Everyone can agree that Caesar’s taxation of the Jewish people was crushing and immoral, yet still Jesus instructed people to pay their taxes.

    So the message of Jesus is two-fold: to those in leadership He instructs them to serve the needs of those they are over, and to those who are under authority respect and honour your leaders.

  • Deborah says:

    Kate,
    Thanks so much for the link and info. And for me, inclusion is the only way to go. God created us (male and female) in his image. God punished both for their sins. God provides for both. Through Christ, there is redemption for both. It really has nothing to do with male/female. It has every thing to do with the person we are. The being, the soul, the heart, whatever you want to call it. Integrity come to my mind. You cannot treat any person (female or male) as having less value or worth or not your equal if you are to remain in the integrity of God’s Word. We are all equals. You ask how I feel about my femininity? Femininity and Masculinity are cultural taught notions. Again, there is no male/female in Christ-likeness. Until we learn to accept other human beings as just that – human beings – with no regard to gender, I think we’re missing the boat on becoming servants of Christ. Christ called us to forget mother, father, spouse, sister and brother and be ONE. One spiritually. We need to recognize each others strengths and weaknesses and know that each of us is a part of the body of Christ, dependent on others, not independant. We need to quit trying to assign “roles” or jobs based on gender but to simply obey Christ commandment of “love your neighbor”. Who’s your closest neighbor – why your spouse of course. Regardless of your spouses gender. Men need to love women and women need to love men. Love as defined in Corinthians chapter 13.

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi Deborah,

    Your two cents are always welcome here! Thank you for your thoughts.

    So, in saying there is no male or female in Christ, how does that make you feel about your femininity?

    There was a great sermon preached at McMaster Divinity College, maybe you can find it online. Dr. Elinor Irwin, former Vice-Principal of the University of Toronto’s Scarborough College and a first-rate Classicist, takes on Romans 16. By the time she is done, you should wonder “How on earth did we stop having women in church leadership?” There is a strong argument, based on work like that of Dr. Irwin, that the “human traditions” against which the Apostle Paul warns us (Colossians 2:22) include the rejection of female leadership (a human tradition), rather than its acceptance.

    Here is something else that may be of interest:

    http://andrewgabriel.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/updating-the-paoc-statement-of-faith-gender-and-language/

    Many blessings in Christ,

    Kate

  • Deborah says:

    Kate,
    Yes, I have read “love and respect”. As a matter of fact, my husband bought it, read it, I read it, and then we read it together. We almost laughed out loud at most all of what he said. Sure, Eggerich got most of the emotions right, but he failed miserably in the respect aspect. Women need respect. Eggerich also displayed an outragious sense of male entitlement. He needs to go back and study his scripture. No where in the Gospels of the true apostles (matthew, mark, luke and john) did Jesus ever belittle women. Our Lord Jesus uplifted women. Our Lord Jesus put women back on equal footing with the men that had so long been treating them as “servants and slaves”. Jesus come to show us the way. Marriage DOES NOT make you less than your husband. You can “tell” a man all day long how much you respect them, but unless they are truly listening with both their brain and their HEART, it doesn’t matter. And pardon me for being so general. I know not all men “pigs”, just like not all women are “nags”. I know you can’t change another person. All they can change themselves and only by lying down their own selfish and prideful life and allowing God into their hearts. That’s the whole thing. Men must follow Jesus. Men must strive to be Christ-like. Christ showed a full range of emotions. Christ WEPT. Christ grieved. Christ was compassionate towards women. Christ COMMANDED “love one another”!! Until men figure out what LOVE is instead of thinking sex is love, then they are not walking with Christ. Per Eggerich C-conquest – men need to let Christ have conquest over them; H-hierarchy – men need to learn they have NO heirarchy, only God does, we are to submit to each other AS TO THE LORD – and remember the Lord never ask anyone to submit to a selfish need of his; A – authority, again NO ONE has authority over anyone else, only the Lord has authority, follow only the Lord, serve others; I – insight, all answers are in the Bible, quit thinking you know better than God, quit trying to make yourself a god; R – relationship, we were created for relationship, we were created in His image, not physically, but spiritually, female and male, we were created to love God and love each other. God loves us first no matter what, we in turn should love others, no matter about self; S – sexuality, Sex is a GIFT from God to be GIVEN to your spouse, your SPOUSES pleasure should come first, not your selfishness, sex is NOT about self, but the other.

    There is no male or female in Christ. No mother, brother, sister, or father. We are all equal and equally loved by God.

    Just my two cents worth.

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi Deborah,

    Have you read the book “Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs” by Emerson Eggerichs?

    I have found it to be so, so insightful and helpful, and it definitely sheds light on some of the points you raised!

    Many blessings!

    Kate

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi Mary, Hi Lynne,

    God is not into religion either, and He isn’t pleased by it. God desires relationship………………. exactly like we all desire relationship! And what kind of relationship do we desire, one with perfect intimacy, to know and be known, to share everything, to be loved unfailingly, one where we grow, are never bored, are never ashamed, are never ready to ‘move on’…. and that is precisely the relationship that God wants to have with us.

    God so deeply desires this relationship with us that He sent His only Son to make a way for us. It is because God so deeply loves you that He is willing to give up every privilege, to suffer every sorrow, to be burdened with every sin, to die and be taken down to the grave, to be punished…. for you. What more demonstration do we need? But Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He rose on the third day and that says that God has power to fix what can’t be fixed, to heal what can’t be healed, to give life where there is death, to OVERCOME…… and that is precisely what He bestows on us as we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

    Because of this… my marriage which is in the pits… is my source of greatest joy. I am not crazy, but I am out of my mind for the love of God. I DELIGHT in seeing what God is doing, in being a part of loving those who deem themselves or are deemed by others ‘unlovable’, in being FILLED to overflowing with God’s love that never waxes or wanes, it is JOY. Circumstances don’t have to change, they may even get worse, but I see that God is at work, He has a plan, His plan is good, perfect and pleasing… and I am part of it as I delight in my relationship with Him. It is joy beyond expression.

    Do you see what I am saying at all? I am not saying ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ although I do have my opinions too, and solid theological foundations for the sanctity of marriage. I am saying, what is God saying? Lynn, you mentioned if He spoke to you, you’d listen… well He is speaking and saying exactly the words you’d want a perfect husband to say…. tune into Him, turn to look at Him, see the look in His eyes, the expression on His face and be CHANGED, be TRANSFORMED, gone is the old nature as the Spirit of the living God RENEWS.

    Do you want to keep going over and over the same logic, the same input, the same responses or do you want something new, something fresh, something LIVING? The WORD of God is living, and it is a two-edged sword, it cuts through all the crap and gets right to your heart. Don’t miss out!!!

    God never fails. I can’t say it more clearly. You cannot cannot cannot be led astray if you follow Him. He is righteous and He loves you more than you can comprehend. Let Him love you, receive His love and be changed.

    Blessings in the name of the Lord Jesus!

    Kate

  • Kate Kate says:

    Hi Michele,

    I have read through several of your comments and other responses. Forgive me if I seem to be interrupting! One thing I note is that you are a tenacious, well-spoken and thoughtful woman… and maybe you’ll consider hearing me out?

    You ask ‘where are these men?’ and the answer that comes to my mind is: All you have to do is look at the man you are married to.

    WAIT! Don’t jump on me, I read your list, concerns and conclusion: “I still rarely get either from my husband and have given up hope that I ever will.” BUT EVEN SO, I am confident that the man you are married to is the one. You need look no further!

    What I would do, if I were in your shoes, is throw myself at the Lord’s feet. My prayer would go like this:

    “Dear Heavenly Father, I am sick of being married to this man. I am tired, frustrated, lonely, angry and a whole host of other negative feelings! I don’t have patience, I don’t have strength, I don’t want to work at it, I don’t want to wait and see… I want a fix, a solution. Can You show me something, anything, that I can cling to? Please forgive me for giving up on my husband, for giving up hope, and please give me some hope?? If it doesn’t come from You, it’s worthless. A thousand million people could tell me ‘stick it out’ but I have to hear from YOU – what do You say, what way forward do You want to show me? I ask for an outpouring of Your mercy upon us, teach me to be the wife I want to be – which doesn’t just mean my behaviour, but the wife who is the apple of her husband’s eye!!! Please, I pray in Jesus’ name.”

    You see, I know that God is FAITHFUL. That means He never, never, never removes His love from us, no matter how unworthy, unresponsive, uncooperative, moody, selfish, thoughtless or cold we are. He never puts conditions on His love, He never says “You’d better improve or I’m done.” He never says, “This might be our last anniversary.” He waits, He hopes, He pursues, He endears Himself to us, He is gentle, compassionate, affectionate……without fail! And when you start to see the way God loves you, you will start to see how God expects you to love your husband, and then – this is truly miraculous – you will start to see exactly why God put you in relationship with this man and no other.

    Your husband is the ONE for you, I promise you that, just let God show you. Remember, it is God’s nature to respond to 1. repentance and 2. intercessory prayer……. so whenever you feel like screaming, “GOD DO SOMETHING!” scream and then let Him examine your heart, and find out if He is asking for repentance (for your benefit!!!) or for you to pray and intercede, and then let Him bring about the results. He is the vine, we are the branches, be consumed by Him and His ways, let all the chaff burn away, and you will see the fruit… and it will feed every single person He brings into your life. He is that wonderful, our God!

    Blessings in Christ,

    Kate

  • Michele says:

    @Andrew, I wish that were so. Where do we find these Christian men you speak of? I’ve dated many men in my life (believers and non believers) and tbh there is little to no difference. I’ve never encountered a man like you speak of.

  • Lynne says:

    I also have to agree with Michele’s comment that men and women are raised to act in certain socially acceptable ways and those that go outside that norm are shunned or worse. My daughter is a very strong independent woman who wanted a job welding at a boat company. She was very capable, but the owner said the men will be swearing and it’s not an appropriate place for a female. She was so offended because she thinks she should be able to decide what she can handle and swearing is the least of her worries. So she had to take a lower paying job in a nice safe retail store making a lot less money. Again stereotyping which is very limiting…men can’t control their swearing and women are too delicate to deal with those words. When I was a teenager, I was told by a teacher that I shouldn’t wear shorts because the boys could get aroused. I told him that it was not my problem if they couldn’t control themselves because I was athletic and active and shorts were the most comfortable thing for me. Again, making excuses for boys’ inability to be in control of themselves and trying to make women feel responsible for it….why do you think most rape victims fear coming forward? They don’t want to have to suffer again by being accused of asking for it by the way they dressed. Sorry for getting a bit off topic haha.

    I also agree with the fact that people are afraid of someone who stands outside the “norm”. I’m a very independent, fun, happy and yes, sexual, woman. The men I have been in relationships with, while they enjoyed my sexuality, also were afraid and tended to be more jealous and insecure over time, no matter how much I tried to make sure they knew that I was exclusive with them and loved them. I feel like they would’ve felt safer with the Madonna type and I was not going to change who I am to make them feel safer. The men on that welding job site didn’t have to change their swearing to make my daughter feel safer, she wouldn’t have asked for it. She doesn’t need to play the helpless, damsel in distress act. BTW, she is a petite, pretty,intelligent, heterosexual female for all of you stereotyping her as some big, tough, woman.

    I guess fear has made us stereotype and made us stick to our “assigned roles” but I think society would be a lot better off if we could just stop the stereotyping and realize that there is more than one way to live our lives and be ourselves and let others do the same!

    Finally, I think we should stop giving biological excuses for bad behavior. My hormones make me crave sugar, but my rational mind says that is not good for me, so I control my behavior. Testosterone might make men more aggressive, but are they not capable of controlling that behavior. To say they can’t is to say that we are just like animals without rational thought and I personally don’t buy that. Stereotyping is another way to excuse things.

  • Lynne says:

    Hi Mary,

    I think there is a difference between healthy selfishness and unhealthy and what you are looking for is not unhealthy, IMHO! If you look at what marriage was intended for originally it was just a business contract and there was none of the flowery, unrealistic language that was added by religions. I really don’t believe it is very realistic to expect people to stay together for life when we all grow and change. Some do that together and some do not and we should not be held back or hold others back because we aren’t on the same path or track. I believe it is probably best if parents can raise children together so they have a greater sense of security, but it is also possible to raise healthy kids alone or separately. I just don’t believe there is one right way to live our lives and to have it narrowed down so drastically because someone thinks God said it should be so seems pretty foolish to me. People, religions, groups, etc. all have their own agendas for promoting their ideals and to use the words that it is God’s plan is a huge cop out for not thinking for yourself. I will listen if God speaks to me directly, but I will not believe what some other “flawed” human is going to tell me that God told him. That would be the height of naivete. We all must find our own path and looking inside yourself and not to others seems like the most logical way to go about it. I’m not intending to offend anyone with my comments, but to merely explain where I’m coming from and that I hope we can all look inside ourselves to find our own personal truth and not blindly follow the dictates of society or religion or whatever! I guess I’m tired of the guilt and judgement that is subtly (and not so subtly!) imposed on us all by those proclaiming to know what God wants us to do.

  • Mary says:

    Thank you Lynne! I appreciate all of your comments…and the Biblical views of marriage. I also believe God put us here for a reason and each and every one of our lives are important. I am searching for true happiness as everyone is. I am grateful…very grateful for all I have been given, but can’t help but feel there is more. Emotionally I don’t feel I have been fulfilled. I haven’t found that person that understands me and the things I have been through in my life. I know my husband loves me, which is more then a lot of married people can say I’m sure. But there has to be more in life and I feel like I need to search for it. I am important and I have always put everyone else first. Is it wrong to be selfish at some point in your life and decide you need to find what truly makes you happy in your life. Like Lynne says…I could be gone tomorrow.

  • Deborah says:

    I agree very much with DF

    “quote
    I think that if you pick a guy for what you think he could be with your help and only wishing he was more loving or more caring or more attentive than he is, you’re no better than a guy who dates a girl thinking he can convince her to get fake boobs, lose more weight of go blonde. I think I have to love a guy the way he is already. I should not need to feel that I have to change something fundamental about him, such as romance and relationship philosophy, ambitions, the way he shows emotion, etcetera, and obviously he would feel the same about me.

    Besides, we all know men go on and on about not liking when women try to change them. Why would you even want to change a guy anyway? Shouldn’t you accept him the way he is? Or if you can’t accept him the way he is, let him go so he can find someone who does instead? I think this is a better philosophy. Men get frustrated when women keep trying to change the way they are, women cry cuz men don’t want ot change and it’s a never ending cycle. Don’t try to change a guy. Take him as he is, find the one who fits you perfectly, don’t settle. Choosing a partner is a big deal. YOu need to be a little bit picky. unquote”

    BUT – for the most part – it’s NOT the women who are trying to change the man. It’s the man who changed. Women are just trying to change him BACK into the man he pretended to be when they were dating. After they marry – then HIS true colors come out. His laziness, his selfishness, his entitlement attitude, his immaturity. Women find out that they really married a little boy who was pretending to be a man. Thus starts the vicious cycle. Women don’t want to be a mother to a full grown little boy. Men just want all their little wants and needs met with minimal work input on their part. They want their cake and be able to eat it too. Women just want a real man. Not a pretender.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Mary, it is possible for husbands and wives to connect on an emotionally intimate level. It does not come easily because there are differences between the way that men and women are wired emotionally. But when both spouses are committed students of each other, exploring the nuances of each other’s characteristics, values, needs and thoughts there can be a wonderful intimacy that is shared. It’s that ‘oneness’ that God describes when He said, “A man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife; and the two will become one.”

    But there are differences that make it a challenge. Some men are unaware of the joy that comes through emotional intimacy and they don’t ever embark on that journey of exploration. It’s like my friend used to say to his wife, “I told you I loved you on our wedding day and if that ever changes I’ll let you know.” (this is also the same guy who proposed to her by saying “There’s something for you there on the dash of the truck” pointing to the ring box. He is such a Casanova!) I think some guys are unfamiliar with their own emotions (beyond the emotion of sports) and so they avoid getting into those situations.

    At the same time, I think there are some women who want their husband to be like their girlfriends rather than understanding their husbands as they truly are. I think part of the reason that God made us this way is so that we have to work at love together. Men need to allow their wives to take them into unfamiliar territory to become more aware of the importance of emotions. Wives need to discover the value of their husband’s emotional make-up and learn to admire the way he looks at life. This kind of mutual awareness comes from a desire to know each other–to be a student of each other.

    In your situation Mary you need to study your husband to understand why he is the man he is. Learn the ways that you can help him be aware of the emotions he has. Develop an appreciation for how he views the world around him and discover how that helps you be a better person.

    But also, you have to help him know your needs—being able to communicate your desire to connect on a deeper emotional level. Avoid the temptation to lay down ultimatums or be critical. Become an expert at communicating your needs in a positive, informative way that will maximize his understanding and desire to meet that need. It sounds like you have a good man. You don’t want to squelch the healthiness that is there in your relationship. But you also have a responsibility to help him uncover the joy of emotional oneness.

    Does that make sense?

  • Mary says:

    Is anyone on this blog actually married to their soulmate? I have been with my husband for 27 years. He is a very kind man, and we are sexually active and genuinely love each other. Yet I am unhappy. He doesn’t understand my emotional issues and provides no emotional intimacy to me. I find it hard to believe a straight man can understand female emotional issues and I have yet to find that in my life. Am I being selfish? I don’t think I can be happy without this in my life. Any help you can offer me?

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    @Michel, I tend to disagree with you in your assessment of what men are like and woman are like. If your talking about secular male and secular female yes some of them tend to be this way or even Christian. Ultimately if you read scripture Christ showed emotions in his life. He was sensitive, compassionate,kind, loving, patient and he did show emotion. When a man allows the Holy Spirit to guide his life then he will become more Christ like and show a loving character. What you are describing are men who do not allow Christ to control there lives as for me personally I show emotion, compassion, cry when I am sad and love others. When a person seeks someone with Godly qualities then life is much easier with both sexes. God Bless

  • Michele says:

    Where is the proof for that Jamie? Women are trained from childhood to be a certain way that is socially acceptable. Likewise, men are trained in such a way from childhood that is socially acceptable. We raise boys to believe it’s not acceptable for them to be too sensitive, kind, sweet, compassionate, empathetic, nurturing, or loving. They are trained to yell, hit, and throw things instead of cry. They are trained their sexual prowess makes them manly. They are trained to conquer, dominate, and succeed at all they do. A real man is always number one, owns the most toys, has had the most women, and of course cares nothing for women other than the sexual gratification they can bring them. Then when they fall in love we expect them to unlearn their whole lives training on how to be a man and be out sensitive, caring, giving, understanding husband? This is not likely. Their whole sense of ego and worth as a human being has been dictated to them by a society based upon worldly principles and not Godly ones,

    Likewise, women are trained to cry, be sensitive, nurturing, loving, giving, kind, self sacrificing, submissive, humble, meek, and mild. They are not allowed to show anger. Are disgraced for “trying to be a man” if they dare have the “strength” to be like one. Are discouraged from independence, ambition, or anything larger than a meek submissive wife. They are made to feel less than in every area of life; whether personal or professional. They are made to feel like sex is dirty and if you dare like it too much you must be a nasty whore. So, men and women very much are trained on how to be, think, and believe if they want social acceptance from their peers, and who doesn’t want acceptance? Only the truly courageous step outside that box. Men want a “good” woman, meaning virginal and then wonder why that woman can’t flip a switch to “slut” after marriage and don’t put out? They shun women who actually have a sex driv and aren’t ashamed of it and marry the women who could likely go without sex forever as long as you hold them because in their minds to want sex makes them scum.

    These “differences” between the sexes have much more to do with wanting not to be rejected than they have to do with some brain or hormonal difference. You can see how this is true as each new generation rejects the traditional roles of gender and makes their own. From this come more sensitive men and more assertive and confident women. Both of which are a plus in my book. Contrary to church traditions and teachings, God did not set this gender limitations in place, the fallen sin nature of man did, and our trying to cling to “biblical” gender roles is laughable because they aren’t biblical at all.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    And yet Michele there are differences between the sexes. It is easy to see the physiological differences, equally obvious the differences in creating offspring, which often leads to fairly obvious role differences in raising those children. There are also emotional differences. Now within those differences there is a range and sometimes the lines are less distinct but to deny the differences does not help the inevitable misunderstandings that arise because of the differences.

    I agree that people need to the freedom to express their uniqueness and be honest about who they are. It is also true that forcing people to be something that they are not is unhealthy. But we also need to be aware that we all have weaknesses that hinder our ability to relate to others and to ourselves. Those weaknesses should be strengthened to facilitate healthier relationships. Your husband could argue that he has no need for intimacy but we all know that a life lived in isolation is not healthy and everyone needs intimacy to some level. There is something flawed in your husband and unless it is addressed it is going to negatively impact your relationship with him as well as all of his other family relationships, friendships and even to some degree his vocational relationships. So just because he naturally avoids intimacy does not mean that it is in his best interest to leave that as it is.

    So it is valuable to have the discussion, to explore where we are on the continuum of differences, to evaluate where our unhealthy tendencies are and seek help from outside and within that can transform those into patterns that maximize love in our lives. That is what I love about Jesus. He is the one who has made me and knows me better than I know myself. He not only knows who I am today but He also knows who I can/should be. And He promises that when I focus my attention on knowing Him, cultivating my relationship with Him, He transforms me to what He originally intended me to be. And there is no healthier way to love those around me than to allow Him to do that. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.” (2Corinthians 5:17-19)

  • Michele says:

    I have to tell you I have no use for all the theoretical non sense like:

    Men are mars, women are from Venus

    Men need respect, women need love.

    Add nausium.

    We are all human beings, not different species of life. We all have the same needs and desire. the variation, in my opinion, has much more to do with what’s socially acceptable for each gender more than anything else. Unfortunately, too many stereotypes and gender inequalities get in the way of healthy relationships. Everyone assumes every man is a sex driven heman and every woman the unwilling victim of that “dirty” thing called sex. Or at least needs much romancing and coercion to get them there. In truth, there are a very high number of sex starved wives, and likely many men who want more emotionally sensitive wives. But who can admit to these things when women who like sex are still wanton whores and men who don’t like sex are, well they just aren’t even men according to society now are they?

    Until people can feel the freedom to be genuine and real without being judged, quite frankly the discussions to fix it are a waste of time.

  • Rejected says:

    Great description Michele, I agree that each gender has within it each gender(male/female) even if it’s just the same as right/left brain. I don’t know but I think the Native Americans have it right on this one and the Bible when Jesus said we are neither male OR female… we’re just human beings trying to figure out what that means…

    I still wonder/think that the food we are eating or something has too much estrogen and men are just shut down. They’ve also been “testosterone challenged” in other ways – not needing them to be providers and protectors and if they act like men they are called abusers and told they are being intimidating or chauvinists. I don’t know. I’m just wondering… that men may be suffering from some real identity crises themselves and they need men to help them. Unfortunately, men don’t come on here and talk about it – but I think men need a place like this where women stay separate so men can talk openly about what is going on with them. I have no clue, because I am not a man and I can’t even imagine what they think and feel, but it’s so prevalent one has to call it an epidemic. I also don’t believe that men are shut down from a free-will choice, something is amiss. All is able to be healed and transformed. Our pain as women can escape as tears; where does a man’s pain escape? One thing is true and equal – when one suffers, so does the other.

  • Michele says:

    Sorry, meant to say, apparently he has no need for either form of intimacy. We are merely roommates and it’s not enough for me. This may be our last anniversay.

  • Michele says:

    What women mean by intimacy

    Deep emotional connection
    Daily time sharing your heart
    Daily time hearing the heart of the one you love
    Ability to cry easily and together at emotional moments
    A sensitivity to know immediately when feelings are hurt
    Understanding each other’s dreams and goals
    Closeness of the heart and soul
    What men mean by intimacy

    Deep physical connection
    Foreplay
    Hand-holding, hugging, kissing
    Understanding each other’s physical needs
    An ability to communicate physical needs
    Physical time alone together
    A sensitivity to know when physical needs are present
    One of the reasons men may be more focused on physical closeness is that men aren’t as sensitive to physical touch as women are. In other words, it takes more physical touch to meet a man’s physical needs. In the same way that a woman has twice the daily word count, a man has twice the need for physical stimulation.

    Quoting from above article. Intimacy is both to me. Both are natural extentions of the other. I still rarely get either from my husband and have given up hope that I ever will. Apparently he has need of emotional or physical closeness/intimacy. Been married 15 years next month. May bec

  • Rejected says:

    Dear Amy,

    I am so sorry to hear about what you have gone through for 45 years! God bless you! I don’t know how you have handled it. Unfortunately, you have and now you have set up a pattern that he probably wouldn’t understand your unhappiness. Some people (men and women) believe that marriage is just setting up home together and no real communication and connection. If it wasn’t making you so depressed and it was acceptable you would have met your perfect match. But, since your needs are NOT being met and a pattern/groove has been set that would take a lot to change – you are the only one you can change. You have to take care of yourself and do what makes you happy. I know it’s hard when you’re so heart-broken, but you have to love yourself enough to not rely on others or accept unhappy situations. I think you would benefit from getting a mentor through this site who will talk with you in private and help you get through the darkness of the rejection and get to a place of realizing your own value. As you well know, nothing is going to change with your “basement” husband, but I do believe you can be a happy person who loves to wake up in the morning regardless. This is your short life and you have the right to pursue your own happiness and freedom. God created us to be cherished. First we had to learn that from our parents and environment or else how can we find it “out there”. God is still teaching me to love myself as my neighbor – I always put others before myself. That felt more natural. Yet I always failed. It just doesn’t work in that direction. I have many friends your age that have found love for the first (and the last) time in their lives, so don’t think your life is over and love will always be a vacuum in your life. First, find the Love of God for He is Love and He will show you how to love yourself. And, if your heart desires, He will also bring someone for you to share that love with since your husband is not your husband, but a room-mate, sort-of??? Has he provided? Has he been kind and respectful? There are still some good things about him to value and appreciate and set him free from your expectations so you can both be free. I know that freedom is even more scary than the pain that is familiar, but get your own heart healed by the Healer and the rest will unfold not only with power and wisdom, but with love and beauty. Hang in there. Get some help through a mentor here or a women’s group in your community. You are not alone. You are loved and lovable. Learn what God has for you as the heart of a family and home and then don’t take anything less. I’ll be praying for you and I know other women who read this will be as well. I ask that you feel that love embracing you and holding you up and that you are divinely inspired to move forward to understand and enjoy the rest of your short life on this beautiful planet. Hugs!

  • Amy says:

    What men and women mean by intimacy as mentoned above is great. But the person I married 45 years ago has no feelings to any of those things. We only had sex and any real kind of intimacy once in our 45 years. From the day after our wedding night he has eaten and slept in the baement, there is no communication, in fact we may see each other once every couple of months.Also he worked the midnight shift so he could be away from me. He has no friends, TV, phone , computer and has nothing to do with the ouside world, goes no where. Always cooped up in the basement with his shop. He enjoys building furniture and completely furnished his basement apartmment. As for myself I’ve given up on him and feel hate toward him. I’m still confused as to what happened, he is so selfish and self centered. Depression and hurt is what I wake up to every day. My doctors have really helped me out its awful living on pills, but thats how days go. I’m in my mid 60s and keep hoping that I won’t wake up some morning.

  • Kate Kate says:

    Dear miriamspia,

    You are right, God has designed a married man and woman to be interdependent! Indeed, God has designed us for relationship: first of all with Him, and secondly with others. Getting our needs met by other people will always result in some kind of disappointment, because people simply are not perfect. On the other hand, trusting God to meet our needs will never disappoint! Receiving and growing in Jesus’ love and affection for us, as well as His tender care and attention to every need, is the key to all other healthy relationships. Once we are confident, as we should be, that God will take care of every detail that concerns us, we will be free to care selflessly for others and therein find fulfillment!

    God bless,

    Kate

  • miriamspia says:

    I read someone asked about women compromising about men’s physical needs. Well, personally, I’m a woman who has a lot of physical needs. I have had relationships where these were well met and others where they were not. I have never been in a relationship where only one of us had emotional or physical needs. So, I don’t really know.

  • B. Miller Brenda says:

    Dana, I am sorry your experiences with men have been so negative. There are wonderful, caring men out there; and men who do not have the ability at this point to share their hearts can change with the help of God and others who are willing to reach out in love to them. I pray that you can find a way to seek help for the deep heart wounds that have led to the seeming bitterness in your heart toward the male sex. If you would like to talk to someone confidentially about your pain, please click on the link below:

    http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/

    God bless you, Dana.

  • Dana says:

    Isn’t marriage and bed-sharing enough of a compromise for women hoping to meet the physical needs of men? I don’t see the same compromises from men in their attempt to meet the emotional needs of women.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi DF, I did a little bit of searching and found a study that confirms what you said about women and men basically using the same amount of words in a day (http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/Faculty/Pennebaker/Reprints/NewmanSexDif2007.pdf) However, that study also did confirm that while the numbers of words used may be quite similar there are some differences in the way that men and women communicate (e.g. women speak more about relational issues where as men’s conversations consist more of information exchange). The study does not hypothesize why there are these differences (i.e. nature vs. nurture) but it does acknowledge that in their study there were differences that followed gender lines.

    So I think Dr Smalley is quite safe in his assessment that there are differences in the ways that men and women deal with emotions generally. Being aware of those differences helps us to better understand one another and to interact with one another.

  • Jo says:

    Male and female hormones are different. Male and female brains develop differently and are physiologically different. It is not society that makes us different; males and females develop differently from conception. That is not to say that men can’t do this or women can’t do that, but there are generalizations that we ignore to our peril. People of the opposite sex have different needs (generally), and partners have different needs (individually). And not everyone is capable of changing or coping. Sad but true.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article

  • DF says:

    Sorry, re-iterated text:

    ‘And I have plenty of examples of other refuted believes such as the belief of a quite far past that women may not have a soul for instance, or that they have a smaller brain. They actually did have smaller brains compared to those of men and to today’s female brains, but after current research it was found that the reason why their brains weighed less it was because they were malnourished. Women were being generally fed less because of cultural believes that they were not important. These believes are still practiced today in some parts of the world.’

    I think faster than I type…

  • DF says:

    Dear Rejected,

    Stop talking like a politician. It does nobody no good. :)

    I got lost in your text and I gave up in reading it. I actually went down and read your original post and those of women in your situation. Again I come back to saying that we live in a stereotyped world. Every human is born with equal potential to become the perfect human, however our minds are being brainwashed as soon as we start learning about morals and philosophies, and all our minds are corupted. There is no such thing as masculine brain or feminine brain or othr varaitions of this concept. These concepts are not even compatible with Christianity at all. The reason why you don’t get nobody to give you advice in your situation is because of stereotyoing. If one professional like thsi one would cut the gender out of the picture and say: a man or a woman who has difficulties with emotional intimacy, and such you would identify yourself with the audience that you do now. The truth is that the masculinity and its causes has been so much discussed, debated and over emphasized in our culture, that the mass of people don’t expect simple sound advice that would actually help individuals with real problems, but they expect a best seller or an article that will appeal to the masses instead. So the author will produce it to make money and become famous, or maybe not, maybe he is wrong and he doesn`t knw it but he might genuwinely wish to help people like the physicians from the past.

    I don’t think you can find advice online, or on TV or Oprah, or Dr Oz. Look if you believe in God, you will most likely also believe that the best answers are achieved only through prayer. Prayer in most faith is considered as the only answer to our troubles and also wishes. And maybe some counselling may help, not online or TV, actual therapy.

  • DF says:

    Hi Claire,

    Didn’t mean to upset you or insult your website. It just happens that I strongly disagree with this article and I chose to challenge it. I have read others like this and also different opinions, and I also have mine and my family’s experience with this problem.

    Just because a guy has a number of best sellers, his career’s experience, and has been on Oprah, doesn’t really ring my bells into believing his philosophy.

    So did the doctors 100 years ago believed that they could treat psychosis with freezing baths and other torturous activities, depression in women with total hysterectomy thinking that the sexual organs are the culprit to a woman’s maddness thus they had to be removed, and treating all kind of diseases by bleeding the patients to death. And all these practices were at the time based on the professional experience of many generations of physicians, not just one, yet they were recently proven to be wrong practices, only after hundreds of years!

    And I have plenty of other refuted believes such as the belief of a quite far past that women may not have a soul for instance, or that they have a smaller brain. They actually did have smaller brains compared to those of men and to today’s female brains, but after current research it was found that the reason why their brains weighed less it was because they were malnourished. Women were being generally fed less because of cultural believes that they were not important. These believes are still practiced today in some parts of the world.

    I do not beleive in the ridiculuous cult of Men are from MArs and Women from venous and all their followers. This kind of philosophy is not meant to bring the sexes together but instead to pull them more apart from eachother by creating stereotypes and reinforcing double standards. This man does not emphasize equality between sexes at all, instead he characterize men as children in need for nurturing from the women who seem to be held responsable for everything that goes wrong in this world.

    We are all capable of the same emotions and we should all be able to express them equally. It has nothing to do with hormones or genetic makeup.

    Each couple that is happy copes in some way with the differences between the two parties, however no relationship is perfect, you may sometimes feel unhappy, but you should feel happiness almost everyday of your couple life and feel that the person you are with is unique and there is nothing you would change about him/her and that you love this person the way he/she is.

    I think that if you pick a guy for what you think he could be with your help and only wishing he was more loving or more caring or more attentive than he is, you’re no better than a guy who dates a girl thinking he can convince her to get fake boobs, lose more weight of go blonde. I think I have to love a guy the way he is already. I should not need to feel that I have to change something fundamental about him, such as romance and relationship philosophy, ambitions, the way he shows emotion, etcetera, and obviously he would feel the same about me.

    Besides, we all know men go on and on about not liking when women try to change them. Why would you even want to change a guy anyway? Shouldn’t you accept him the way he is? Or if you can’t accept him the way he is, let him go so he can find someone who does instead? I think this is a better philosophy. Men get frustrated when women keep trying to change the way they are, women cry cuz men don’t want ot change and it’s a never ending cycle. Don’t try to change a guy. Take him as he is, find the one who fits you perfectly, don’t settle. Choosing a partner is a big deal. YOu need to be a little bit picky.

    Yet again, hit me in the head but I’m a kind feminist with quite strong Christian beliefs, so, nor feminists or the church are big fans of Oprah anyways. So nobody who shows up on that show really impress me much…

  • Lynne says:

    I have to say I agree with DF on some points, especially about the fact that the more society throws around all the stereotypes that are typical for men and women the harder it is to see the forest for the trees. We are all human with the ability to feel all the same emotions. I don’t agree with stereotyping people, it only keeps them from being all they can be and feeling somewhat justified for their bad behavior. Thank God that now it’s acceptable for women to not want to get married or have children (for the most part) and that people can express their sexuality the way they want, whether homosexual or otherwise. Also it’s nice that men are now feeling less pressure to be so tough and women feel less pressure to be so soft! But by reiterating the old stereotypes we are making it harder for real change to occur.

    I was married for 20 years and had all the empathy in the world for my husband, but we seem to forget that love is also discipline. Sometimes people only learn the hard way and that would be by losing you. If you want to stick around waiting for someone to become emotionally expressive or do any of the other things that will make you feel more fulfilled in that relationship, then by all means, do it, but did God give us a life to sacrifice it? I can’t believe that. Our own life is just as important as someone else’s. Call me selfish.

    I think if we all focused on meeting our own needs first there would be no need to try to change the one you’re in a relationship with..just change yourself. Either accept things the way they are and do your own thing or decide you want something different for yourself and move on. No anger, no bad feelings. There is really nothing in this world or life that is going to last so it’s all not that important in the big scheme of things. Sometimes getting out of the situation you’re in for a while will give you the perspective you need and the ability to focus on yourself and figuring out your own needs and make the appropriate changes. We are all capable of changing and coping…try not to always take the easiest way out or the way society says is best….think for yourself! Society and religious rules are there to control us….do you not think you’re capable of being a good or decent person without someone else telling you how to do it? Do you think you wouldn’t have your own set of values or morals if no one else told you what to have? We are born and die alone…we need to rely on our own selves first and foremost and then integrate others. Just my two cents worth! Peace.

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