A few weeks ago, my wife and I sat on the couch after we got our kids to bed and discussed what a discouraging start to the year it had been. Through tears, she began sharing her feelings about situations she was navigating and how they had been stressful for her. So, I took a chance. I began to share how I had some of the same feelings recently and how frustrating that was. I admit I was a little choked up too. Usually, I hold it all in and just “man up.” I wasn’t looking for pity from my wife, but something weird happened. She responded, “I like it when you share your feelings with me.”
Several times in my marriage, I’ve been completely vulnerable with my wife. I don’t mean just being honest but sharing how I’m feeling and what I’m going through. I’ve found those times extremely challenging. Many men do. As I step back and think about this, there are several reasons why I hate showing my wife my feelings. Here are 5 of them.
1. I’ve witnessed how risky it is to share feelings.
Growing up, whenever I saw a boy share his feelings, he was mercilessly bullied. I learned to equate self-preservation with not allowing others to see my true feelings. If you wanted to survive, you had to bury it all and only show others what wouldn’t get you ridiculed. My guess would be that’s what a lot of us men learned growing up. Unfortunately, this mentality doesn’t serve us very well in marriage. What I’ve found is sharing my true feelings with my wife has consistently brought us closer together.
2. I believe showing my feelings means I’m failing.
I hate showing others my failures, much less my wife. As a man, I’ve always believed I have to have the answers, have it together, and be a good leader for my wife. This is one of the main reasons I hate showing my wife my feelings. When I admit to her that I’m struggling or unsure of what to do, I think it means I’m failing—which isn’t true. As men, we should lead our families confidently, but admitting our struggles and feelings to our wives allows them to come alongside us more intimately and substantially. What better way to let your wife bless you than to ask for her help when you need it?When we don’t ask our wives for help, it conveys that we don’t need their help or that we don’t trust them.
3. I think I should focus on her problems instead.
I’m hesitant to show my wife my feelings sometimes because I don’t want to burden her more. I want to be able to help and support her, and I feel like her having to hear from me sometimes takes that away. But what she has expressed to me is that it is a gift to be able to support me as well. When we don’t ask our wives for help, it conveys that we don’t need their help or that we don’t trust them.
4. I fear she’s going to think I’m weak.
Sadly, I’m sure some men reading this find themselves in a situation where those closest to them (possibly their wives) have taken advantage of them and used their vulnerabilities against them. Though my wife has never done this or made fun of me for sharing my feelings, the fear is still there that after I share, she’ll think I’m weak. We need to be able to trust our wives, or at least find someone with whom we can share what’s going on inside. Many men are hesitant to seek counseling, but that is much wiser than bottling up emotions.
5. I don’t always know exactly how to articulate what I’m feeling.
Lastly, I hate trying to show my wife my feelings because sometimes, I don’t know what I’m feeling. Figuring it out feels like a lot of work. However, when I have shared this with my wife, she has helped draw out of me what I’m thinking and feeling. This has allowed her to be more patient with me and listen while I process aloud. I still can’t understand it, but this brings greater intimacy to our marriage.
Sound off: What have you discovered from your wife when you’ve opened up and shared your true feelings?
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What do you think when I’m truly open and vulnerable with you and share my feelings?”