Reading through some comments over at Must Be This Tall to Ride, I’m really struck by what a powerful trigger emotional abandonment is for many women. To not listen, to not hear, to not respect your wife’s feelings, is such a huge betrayal. The process seems to go, “he’s not here for me, so why is he here at all?”
Judging from some of the criticism coming Matt’s way, there seems to be people in the world that still don’t get this. It’s huge! Women tend to carry too much emotional weight and to just dismiss her as irrational, crazy, not worth listening to, is either going to cause her to suffer complete emotional collapse….. or her need for self preservation will kick in and she’ll offload you. It’s that simple and it’s that harsh.
Studies suggest that contempt is the leading cause of divorce. Contempt is the opposite of respect. To not perceive your wife as an actual person worthy of being heard, is dismissive, demeaning, and contemptuous. I cannot even imagine…
I can however, imagine what emotional abandonment feels like. That is a pretty common and familiar trigger. I do know some tricks for managing expectations, for compensating and coping. Men, as awesome as some of them are, simply cannot meet all of our emotional needs. We have to be aware of what a powerful desire that is, how important it is to not feel as if we were shouldering all of the weight, all of the responsibility, all alone. We have to practice self care, not over burden ourselves, and find other ways to get some of our needs met.
If you feel as if you are all alone, you might as well be all alone. It’s that simple. Relationship, connection, intimacy is vitally important to many women. When I sense distance, tension in my hubby, the first thing I do is ask, are we okay? That is instinctual, powerful, innate. Is our connection, relationship, being threatened here?
Life being what it is, it is seldom about me, however. There are numerous things going on that have nothing to do with our relationship, our connection, but the feelings of being disconnected in times of stress are powerful. There is a bond there that women need to feel. To much not feeling it, and there simply is no relationship.
I have a rather happy and contented marriage, but hubby is really a traditional guy, as in he’ll enthusiastically show up for a proper brawl in the front yard, but if things get too touchy-feely, emotional, spiritual, he’s slipping out the back door. He bails on me, so I understand what it is like to be left holding the bag, alone, abandoned. It takes a lot of forgiveness on my part and recognition and acceptance that we are simply different.
Sometimes I think of oak trees and willow trees. I am a willow, I bend in the wind and therefore do not break. Hubby is an oak tree, he does not bend, he stands there resolute in the midst of a storm. The problem being, when the storm gets too big, he’s out of there to avoid losing any branches.
It’s a trade off, there’s some real value in being married to an oak tree, but I do have to manage my emotions, so I don’t become resentful, contemptuous, angry when this happens. Those feelings of being emotionally abandoned are powerful. Simply acknowledging and recognizing what is going on is a huge part of the battle. I also lean into the Lord, I embrace the idea that in Him I am never truly alone, and I try to meet some of those emotional needs in other ways.
That is kind of how you make marriage work, with a lot of forgiveness, accommodating each others needs, and practicing self care. Although there is a sacrificial nature to love and being self absorbed is not a good thing, taking care of yourself is absolutely vital.
I sometimes insist on saying that greatest commandment is really in three parts, Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
as thyself….. If you do not love yourself, care for yourself, nurture yourself, you cannot love anyone else.