I was thinking this morning about the men I have been working with who are getting it right. These are very brave and dedicated men who are willing to discover their own shortcomings. If you are a man like me, the last thing you want is for someone to point out what you are doing wrong. So, I hope that by describing typical characteristics of a man who wants to fix a marriage that he has damaged, if you need it, you can find value in my writing without offense. With that said, here are a few basic pieces you are going to need…
1- These men are patient with how long it takes for their women to recover from the pain that has been caused. The male brain is designed to “move on” and forget the past much better than a woman’s mind. Many men think that women WANT to hold on to the past. The men who handle this correctly stop thinking they comprehend the mind of their women. They learn to be patient and have trust that the woman will heal and leave behind the past as fast as she can. Please note that there is no joy for her to remember painful events in the past. In fact, it hurts her more than it hurts you. Compassion is a much more useful response than frustration. It is selfish to make it all about YOUR pain when the past is discussed, when it is time for HER pain to be discussed and resolved.
2- These men read and ponder. They understand that seeing a therapist once or twice a week is insufficient. A well used brain is like a well used pencil, it needs to be sharpened every day. Also, repairing a broken marriage is a complicated process. It can’t be done without a great deal of learning. A good therapist should be aware of many books that are fitting for you to read between visits. I recommend at least an hour a day when you are first getting started. Also, this is a good way to demonstrate your loyalty to your spouse. Resist the temptation to explain to her everything you are learning. She will know you are getting it based on how you treat her.
3- These men learn to behave well, whether she does or not. I hope that every woman who is recovering from different forms of abuse can maintain her dignity as she works to heal and recover, but sometimes, if you hold her head under water long enough, she will start to lash out. The men who fix their marriages do not use her response to pain as an excuse to misbehave again.
4- These men stop expecting his wife to meet his needs. If he wants her to recover as quickly as possible, she will need maximum energy. If she has to spend time thinking about what the man needs, or dealing with his disappointment or frustration when she doesn’t meet his “needs” (and yes, men, this does include bedroom activities), then it will take longer and could derail her healing. Gentlemen, remember how it feels when she asks you to fix the sink, then before you are done she asks you to change the baby’s diaper, then to take out the garbage…. What would you say to her, “Back off and give me some space please.”? It is a great deal of work to recover from what you have done to her. Give her time and space. She will let you know when she is done.
5- These men are anxiously engaged in being of service to their wives. He works to improve his ability to predict her needs. A man is usually abusive in part because he has unfulfilled unhealthy expectations of his woman and his marriage. In a healthy marriage, the man is more interested in how he can be of service to his woman than he is with what he is going to get in return. A healthy man becomes independently healthy on an emotional and psychological level before he meets and marries his woman, so he can find joy in spending the rest of his life working to meet her needs, instead of getting emotionally spun when she doesn’t meet his needs. “What needs am I planning for my wife to meet for me when we get married?” This backward paradigm has invaded our culture and is destroying marriage. I believe it was JFK who said, “Ask not what your country (wife) can do for you, but what can you do for your country (wife).”
I could go on, but for the sake of time, just send me your questions and comments on this topic and I will continue if there is sufficient interest.