John Thurman, Counselor, Speaker
Saturday, May 18, 2013
professional Christian counselor, overcoming depression, Crisis Response Specialist, anxiety, infidelity recovery, affair proof marriages, men's issues,sexual addictions, infidelity,
Eight Ways to Win Your WIfe's Heart PART 3
Eight Ways to Win Your Wife’s Heart: Part #3
John Thurman, M.DIV., M.A., LCMHC
Be Home Now
Sally sat in my office, crying. “I don’t know what is going on with Tom, he is never home! He seems to either be at the office, or off playing with the boys. The good news is he plays soccer and softball with the church league and is involved in a ministry to help out poor people, the bad news is, he is rarely home with me and the kids. Maybe things would be like this in our early days, but we have been together fifteen years! What is going on?"
All to often I hear this complaint from married women of all ages, “He’s never home!"
Guys, to win her heart and build a marriage that makes it for the long haul, you have to learn to be there, in person, day by day. Ladies, you have to have a home he feels he can come home to.
There are several reasons why guys do this. The first being that in many ways this is what our culture promotes this.
Researchers know that when moms place their thirteen month-old babies in an unfamiliar room filled with toys to play with, the girls spent most of their time near their mom, came back to her frequently if they strayed away and maintained continuous contact through touching, glancing and talking. The little boys were quite different: they were more likely to go all the way to the far side of the room, to spend less time close to the women who cared for them, and to check in with her less frequently.1 Hum, sound familiar?
So guys, since we are hard-wired and culturally encouraged to wander why should our wives expect us to spend time with them at the cave? Because they need us there and because it is the right thing to do.
Why do we sometime avoid time at home? Here are a few possible reasons.
Reason # 1 - To Avoid Conflict
Research consistently shows that men avoid conflict with their wives because when their brains get flooded with emotions, they are less competent problem solvers than women.
Sounds a little surprising? Since men have higher levels of testosterone pulsing through their bodies that fuels aggression and competitive urges, most men are very competent at handling conflict. Yet, they’ll avoid going home just to hide from confrontation with their wives. Puzzling, but quite easy to understand.
At the job, most of us know what to do when we get there. And we have a road map that will guide us through the tough parts. Believe it or not ladies, we know our destination at the workplace, and we know where the exits and alternate routes are if we hit a roadblock or a traffic jam at the workplace. But at home, we don’t always know what to expect as we pull into the driveway, and we don’t feel confident that we know how to achieve our goal, or even what it is once we arrive home.
Let me just say here, that men need three things to fell good about themselves. First, they need to feel needed, then competent, and finally respected.
I was working with a couple about three years ago who could have been the poster couple for this type of conflict avoidance. The young man was an engineer for the national labs here in New Mexico, I asked, “Do you have to spend so much time in your at-home office on the web?” He immediately answered, “I’d be open to more family time, but when I try to get involved, my wife and I end up arguing before I can even sit down about something I did or didn’t do with our kids. So it is just easier to stay away.
No man likes to go home when he knows that he might be walking on land mines.
Number # 2 - To Avoid Loss of Control
Guys, have you ever come home from work and suddenly feel like the outsider? Or worse, like a hired hand or a benefits provider? If so, it is probably because your honey has taken charge and left you with no important or well-defined household role to play. This usually happens in marriages where the wife spends more time in the home and therefore establishes the rhythm and pacing of the home. She decides when you eat, what you eat, and where you eat and may even decide where all the money goes. All of this together can be a bit unnerving as a guy who is used to feeling powerful and in charge. In this type of living arrangement, it isn’t long before the guy will be spending more time at work or with this buddies than at home with his wife. Incidentally, this has been going on since Adam and Eve blew it, but we can make some changes here.
Number # 3 - To Avoid the Stress of Parenting or Household Work
News Flash! The job of parenting or of maintaining a home can be dangerous to your health, time consuming, stressful, and strenuous, and is rarely what I’d call fun. If you are fortunate enough to live near family and friends, they will usually help out from time to time. But far too many couples life apart from their parents or other family members. In this type of scenario there is no relief, so the inescapable stress of family life becomes a reason to avoid going home.
Men have more of an opportunity to avoid home life than women, because society lets them. Despite the advancements that have come about as the result of the feminist movement, if there is no one else to watch the kids, it’s the woman who’s expected to be at home when she’s not required to work. But a man gets a break and can easily use work as an excuse to stay away from home and many do.
Number # 4 - To Avoid Intimacy
Some guys avoid being home to hide from their fear of intimate situations. Now to be clear, this is not fear of having sex. Instead, it’s about being afraid of marital situations that would push them to show the vulnerable side that is in every man.
Two things come to mind here. First, by sharing in another person’s emotional universe, we risk exposing our own emotional world-something that’s very tough for many guys to do, especially for those raised by dads who taught them to bury their feelings.
Second, making this more challenging is the fact that some guys have shown those emotional crack to their wives have learned that they are not as sympathetic or supportive as they’d hoped. Although many women say they want to see the more “feminine” side of their man, true vulnerability more often than not scares a woman.
To manage this, many times men will spend more time at work or with friends, where they do not have to deal with their intimacy issues.
Number # 5 - To Avoid Growing Up
A lack of maturity is at the top of the list for new marriages and one of the things that can put a marriage on shaky ground right out of the gate.
In 2001 a group of researchers studied 645 marriages over a five year period, after the study they noted that 23 percent of them had divorced. The remarkable part of the study was that of the couples that stayed together, the vast majority felt much better about their marriage and described themselves as “happy” or “very Happy” in their marriages. Very few of these marriages improved because of a minister or a therapist. In fact, most couples reported that they just kept going. But when the researchers talked to fifty-five of these couples to find out what had tripped them up earlier, according to one report, one of the most common complaints was “men behaving badly.” The researchers commented that many of the wives described great levels of unhappiness, because their men were staying out at night, acting reckless, hanging out with their buddies, or using drugs or alcohol.2
In men’s popular culture the underlying message can be summed up into two words: freedom and adventure. So it is no wonder that men resist the need to Be Home.
Instead of freedom and adventure maybe we, as guys should re-examine the phrase to have and to hold.
Only two more reasons guys avoid.
Number # 6 - To Avoid Getting Caught
Some guys, who in my opinion, have some major issues, think they have the right to fool around. This is the best way to destroy a marriage, but it does happen. No excuse. No rationale. If you think this way you are dead wrong. It has to end. In other words, repent, get help or forget it.
Number # 7 - To Avoid Feeling Like a Bad Provider
Some guys think that they have to sacrifice their own need for love and intimacy precisely for their wives and family. They risk their mental, physical, and even spiritual health to work overtime or maybe even two or three jobs to give their family everything they think they need. Although this may seem noble, in many cases it is another socially condoned way of avoiding being at home.
If you are one of these guys, you might need to take a look at how this is contributing to or taking away from your state of happiness. It’s possible that your wife might actually prefer living in a smaller house, taking fewer vacations, or remodeling less often, if it meant you could be home more to work on being a better dad and having a better marriage.
There are a ton of reasons why a man might choose to stay away from home, but there is no way to dodge the truth: the only way to build a lasting relationship based on loyalty, devotion, and commitment is to be at home, spending time with your wife and kids.
So, how do we begin to Be Home?
To Do List
Ask yourself why you’re not spending more time at home.
Unlearn bad habits, move into being more mature. Doing this isn’t easy or automatic, but you must.
Don’t foster close friendships away from home that exclude your wife, particularly if they are with other women. Your wife should feel that she is your best friend.
Evaluate the quality of your at-home time and make changes if you find yourself falling short.
If you are holding on to old resentments or old patterns let them go. In due time the permanent rewards of being home will far exceed what you gave up.
Put together a list of all of the benefits your personally receive by staying at home more often: emotional stability, intimacy, a sense of loyal support and devotion, commitment, fun, partnership, sexual satisfaction-and if you are not there yet, consider these to be worthy goals for your marriage and your life.
(C) 2011 JOHN THURMAN