Jack’s post on men’s fantasy of emotional intimacy seems to have resonated with a bunch of men.
I wrote on this a while ago in The fallacy of teaching men to be emotionally honest, but let’s go back into some of the details.
Men and women tend to express emotions differently. Surprise surprise. We are different.
1. Men tend to process emotions internally and solitary.
2. Women tend to process emotions outwardly in a social manner, especially with friends and family.
3. When women tell men to be more outwardly emotionally expressive, what they really mean is to be more positively emotionally expressive.
4. A necessary feature of leadership is the ability to process emotions internally and solitary. That is a leader must be able to filter out their negative emotional displays in order to lead by example and build confidence and trust in the relationship. Negative emotional displays often lead to threats, fear, and distrust.
5. Women generally want to share in the joys of your successes, be shielded from the sorrows of your failures, and be her anchor in the storms of life.
As I’ve learned more about this in marriage, I think there are some more caveats from this.
A. First, I still agree with my prior assessment that most successful outward emotions should be positive. Since women tend to be more empathetic, that means they tend to be influenced and actually feel the emotions that you are expressing. Hence, if you get into a negative mood it tends to influence her into a negative mood as well. That’s not what you want.
B. Negative displays of emotions or weakness should generally only be typically expressed through story or “after the fact” type of scenarios where you overcame that difficulty. For example, the oft used bodybuilder wins competition after coming back from injury (?) example below. He’s crying and emotionally vulnerable, but it’s attractive because he just won a competition and he’s hot.
Just as a skinny frail body triggers feelings of revulsion in women, so does weakness expressed in any other way. I haven’t had any of the harrowing scenarios in the other comments, but my wife has commented that even me expressing “owww” when something unexpected hits me and causes me pain can bring out feelings of “ickiness” or “mild revulsion” within her. That’s just hypergamy. Since men are supposed to be protectors of women by God’s design, anything that shows weakness in a man will start to trigger her hypergamy in a negative way. Obviously, this can go haywire just like gold diggers are a twisted expression of providership, but understanding that things like this can be a normal reaction will help you be more aware of it and build habits that eliminate behavior like that.
C. Within that particular context, attractive men (e.g. PSALMs, masculinity, etc.) have more leeway than unattractive men. As some have stated, the rules are different. This also applies to perception because you may be objectively attractive as some celebrities are, but their wives may still divorce them. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes if they are just feminist and/or rebellious, but I’ve counseled some situations where a husband is objectively attractive physically but he doesn’t have other components of PSALM such a strong masculine leadership and is a pushover in his decision making. That turn off overcomes his objectively attractive appearance.
For those in situations with inverted roles or rebellious wives, it is imperative to minimize displays of weakness because that only breeds contempt and disrespect. Standard “RP” advice is to not emote around women at all, and the reason for this is because the general RP population to which this advice is given is unattractive men looking to be more successful with women. Thus, the playbook is to eliminate any potential things that may be turning off women which emoting includes.
E. Turning back to my assertion that negative emotional sharing should be generally be done through story or “after the fact” scenarios means you can show or tell how you overcame a specific scenario in the past with negative emotions. For the woman or wife it brings them through the negative experience but it ends with a positive or happy ending which uplifts rather than drags them down. If you’re just worrying all the time like with your job or money or stuff like that then it’s first of all disobeying Christ (e.g. Matthew 6), but it’s also dragging down the atmosphere on the relationship or marriage.
F. I would also compare this scenario to something I’ve seen in Christian Churches before which is always being transparent and always being truthful. This can especially be emphasized in marriage by counselors and pastors. This is something that is easily taken the wrong way because you start to lack wisdom and discernment. For instance, if I’m walking through the store or the Church, it’s true that many people are overweight or obese but am I going to just share anything and everything that’s on my mind about those particular things? No, it’s obviously not going to be helpful for building up at all.
Therefore, we have established the fact that being completely honest and transparent with everything we think or feel does not always have to be said. I think this is one of the ways that the perhaps both the culture as well as Christian culture has seeped into our minds as a false reality that we need have our spouse know everything about it us and that it will bring us closer. No, it won’t. Sharing every particular thing is simply just dumb from any perspective, except one where you have some type of fantasy that it’s a good thing.
I’m not sure where this is rooted from but it might be a type of expression from chivalry or perhaps an influence of a relationship with a mother and son. A mother generally accepts her children unconditionally no matter what they say or do, but this is different than a headship-submission relationship. One should not act in a way with your wife as you did with your mother as that would lead to an inverted role relationship.
I personally have never felt the need to share all things and everything with my wife especially in regard to negative emotions like fears or worries, so I was a bit confused as to why many men on the other post felt like they needed to. Maybe that is one of the more insidious features of churchianity where the church has unknowingly fallen to culture and we can’t discern that it’s a bad idea to talk about everything with our wives.