What happens when a guy gets tired?
What happens when a guy loses someone important to him?
What happens when a guy gets betrayed, disappointed, loses out, gets shafted, is ambushed, has one thing after another not go his way?
He experiences life as hard, that’s what.
And while we might let him cuss, yell, kick the dirt, clench his fist…will we allow him to tear up, put his head in his hands, let his shoulders slump, and sag into a nearby loving shoulder?
Chances are, he might want to…but he won’t.
Cuz life has taught him not too “look weak”, which (I happen to think) is actually a strength when one is willing to let down their guard and be truly authentic to the inner sadness/grief/devastation/depression that longs to be expressed.
Michael Quiring, one of our therapists, has been doing a lot of thinking on this lately. One of his special interests is working with men on their own, or with their partners, to help them figure out ways of expressing themselves more authentically. And if you think that’s easy…it’s probably because you’re a woman, who has no idea what it’s like to be a guy. He had this to say recently:
A lot of guys that come see us, want to connect closer with their girlfriends/wives/significant others…but they don’t have a foggy clue how…they simply have never developed the skill set of vulnerability because of the level of ridicule/danger they anticipated would occur.
As women (Carolyn writing here), we need to make sure that we don’t participate in the work of expecting men to be strong, capable “knights in shining armour” all the time…that is part of who a guy is, sure…but he’s also someone who has parts that struggle, get hurt, and long for tender connection. Do we allow guys to expose the softest parts of themselves in ways that are validating and encouraging?