Mens Issues 

mens issuesI make the assumption here, that if you are reading this, you have spent a considerable amount of time around your complementary gender.  So, you don’t need to be a psychologist to have noticed that the psychology of men and of women can be very different, to be sure.  Neither may be judged as better or worse: each has it’s gifts; each it’s drawbacks.  It is often against the backdrop of any emotionally committed relationship though, straight or gay, that questions about the definition of being a “man” emerge, often confusing and difficult, and even painful.

 Although not exclusive to men and benefits notwithstanding, the tendency to be more linear and concrete in thinking and communicating, oriented more toward solitary problem-solving and decision-making, having a lower frustration tolerance, difficulty with managing anger, are just a few manifestations of issues associated with men, that have led to significant misunderstandings and conflict between intimate partners, often leading to the suggeston of couple's counseling.

 Cultural norms and expectations, program a host of other unfortunate consequences.  Consider the injunctions against men expressing fear or sadness.  How does the inaccessibility and denial of these deeper feelings really affect you?  How about your relationship?

Transmitted mainly through our fathers (who learned from their own fathers), both expressed and implied messages about not being “good enough”, being a “baby ~ grow up!”,“be strong”, and so on, lead to ‘one-up/one down’ competitions, where the ‘one-down’ means somehow “broken or damaged goods”; Shamed! Rejected!  (Incidentally, this kind of competition turns up all to often between fathers and sons themselves, at the unfortunate expense of an intimate relationship with each other)  Can you relate?  These issues have caused deep wounds and great pain among our men and in turn, to our life partners.

 Most men and women are unaware that these wounds even exist, much less understand, or have compassion for them.  Sadly, they have in large part remained unconscious and hidden throughout the life of men.  Unconscious but nonetheless operating, you may be able to relate to some of the experiences below.  Misunderstood and unattended, they will inevitably contribute to relationship difficulty in your home, often at work, and socially as well:

    • The inability to see yourself as exploited, oppressed and suffering, and therefore:
    • Resistant to asking for, and accepting help
    • Anxiety and anger at ‘male role’ expectations
    • The inability to acknowledge all of your feelings, as well as those of others
    • The difficulty or inability to express sensitivity and empathy for other’s feelings
    • Feelings of shame, or isolation and loneliness

Here’s the paradox: how can we as men, expect our life partners to deeply ‘know’ us, if we don’t even know ourselves?  How can they know, much less understand us if are not willing, or able to show them who we really are? Most men are “too busy” to spend any time in self reflection.  In those brief moments of “stillness” though, we may catch a glimpse of our shadow.  It may show up in depression, it may show up in anxiety, but so often it does eventually show itself.  Unemployment, boredom, guilt and sorrow following a ‘blowup’ with a loved-one, can drive a man to introspection, and that awakening glimpse.  Most men don’t realize that, unconscious though they may be, painful unresolved issues directly affect those we love.  The therapeutic relationship can provide a safe forum in which to explore and get to know our authentic Self.  I offer an opportunity here, to challenge cultural assumptions, dictates and programming that perpetuate shallow, painful myths about being a “man,” so that we can get ‘real’ with ourselves and the world!

Please feel free to email or call me with any questions or comments at the address below.

Peter Roseman Psy.S.
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