Understanding Men, Part 1

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Women have been lied to for decades when it comes to men. In Part 1 of Understanding Men, we talk about methods couples try to help them upgrade a relationship, the pros and cons of each. Then we dive into one of the Biggest Secrets women need to know about men.

Episode Summary

Understanding men and improving relationships.

  • Explain how to help men become better men by understanding their emotions and behaviors.
  • Share my personal journey of overcoming challenges as a single mom and becoming a clinical psychologist, with a focus on understanding men and their perspective in relationships.
  • Offer a guide to help others gain wisdom and confidence in their marriages, with a focus on understanding the man's side of the story and making a difference in couples' relationships.

Marriage and communication.

  • Share my personal struggles with marriage and offer insights on how to avoid common pitfalls.
  • Highlight the lack of balance in media representation of gender differences, often resulting in demeaning humor that doesn't address the issue respectfully.
  • Discuss the limitations of couples counseling, including high costs and the expectation of venting rather than learning and growing.

Improving relationships through self-awareness and learning.

  • Emphasize the importance of understanding one's partner and responding differently to improve communication.
  • Advocate for the "way of wisdom" in relationships, which involves simple yet counterintuitive changes that can lead to quick results.
  • Emphasize the importance of consistency in improving relationships, suggesting that learning something new about one's partner every day can lead to positive outcomes.
  • Encourage women to take an active role in changing their own behaviors and attitudes in their relationships, rather than relying on external factors or waiting for their partners to make changes.

Men's emotional struggles and societal expectations.

  • Men often hide their insecurities and low confidence, even from themselves.
  • Men are taught to suppress emotions from a young age, leading to a lonely life of hidden feelings.

Men's emotional needs and relationships.

  • Men are sensitive to different things than women, and their emotional vulnerability is tied to their identity as men.
  • Men need a deep connection with women to fulfill their emotional needs, citing Genesis 2:18 and II Corinthians 11:9.
  • Woman was created for man to provide this connection, as no animal or other being in the garden could meet this need.

Begin Transcript

Because we've been misled about men for decades, I'm going do my very best to teach you what if anything, a man is feeling, why he does what he does, and not other things, though you know those things that you wish he would do sometimes, and how you can help him become a better man, just by being a better you.

Hello, I'm Dr. Debi. And I've been helping men, women and couples grow together for more than 25 years. Now it's your turn to learn what I learned and taught as a couples counselor in university professor, you are the wise woman. And this is your personal development podcast, packed with instant encouragement and practical tips. And men can learn about women too, because this is a safe place where women are valued and men are respected. We talk about biology, socialization, behavior, emotions, communication and connection. Because men and women are different, always have been, always will be. And that's a very good thing.

As we begin, please, know this information is not magic, nor is it therapy.

It's not going to help you deal with anger, whether you're the one that's angry with him, or he has an anger problem, this is not really the best place to start the information is valuable. But if there's too much anger, it's really hard to hear new information. Also, it's not going to help if there's abuse in the relationship. Or even if there's been abuse in your past or his past. Those things are going to require some healing before you can move in to this next phase of growth, which is really what this is all about. It's not going to help if you're dealing with adultery, or addiction, or abandonment. None of those issues are going to be fully solved by what we talk about here. What you do with what you learn will be up to you. I'm not saying don't watch, if you have any of those issues, I'm simply saying is going to be insufficient for your needs. At this point in time. You still can learn some things, but it's not a magic pill. It's not going to fix everything. Okay.

Why am I qualified to be your guide in this process?

Well, first of all, I understand where you are, my life has not been easy. My parents separated when I wasn't even three years old. And I didn't see my dad for 37 years, got married at 18 had three kids supported my husband while he was doing college. Then I found myself alone, a single mom with a high school diploma who hadn't worked in a long time. I was a stay at home mom, so it was really super hard.

And some ladies at my church encouraged me to go to college.

So I did, I went to college, graduate school, got a bachelor's, master's, and a doctorate in clinical psychology. And all along the way. I studied men because I had three boys to raise. Remember, I didn't have a lot of experience with men. So I really dove in to how I could be a better mom for them.

At this point in time, I've had 25 years of not only training but experience working with men and women and couples. And I have heard both sides of the story. I've heard what it's like for women. And I know that personally because like I said, I've been there. But I also have heard it from the man's point of view.

And that's the part that I think we miss a lot.

Whether we're helping somebody because we're a pastor or a lay counselor, for even a mental health professional, we really don't often understand the man side of the story. That's what this is all about. It's a guide to understanding men, not that I don't understand women, we know the pain that we have, we know the frustration that we have, we know the fear, the part that I'm bringing to you today is the other side of the story. I am totally dedicated at this point in my life to help you gain the wisdom and confidence that you need to make your marriage work.

Am I right or wrong about all this?

Well, you decide. Experiment. Take what I teach you and put it into practice in your own relationship and see what happens. Because if it doesn't work in your relationship, then move on to something else. But I have to tell you, with most of the couples that I've worked with over the years, this has made a huge difference for them.

The choice is yours. What you do with this information is up to you.

But I have to tell you, there is a hard way to do it. And I've done that. I did it by trial and error, with no example to follow and no real direction from even my church on how to do marriage. It was simply a matter of trial and error. With my own fears because of my past of being abandoned by my father made me really nervous about the potential for being abandoned by my husband.

So that was the driving force behind everything that I did.

It was about not losing him. And the strange thing is that I actually ended up losing him, he actually left. So that wasn't a good guiding force for me at all.

Some women use manipulation and drama. And through manipulation and drama, they are able to manipulate their husbands into doing what they want them to do. I've seen that happens over and over again, not only with clients, but I've seen it happen, probably mostly in my personal life with members of my family and people that I've known. I've watched how these women do these really crazy things, and the man doesn't leave, it totally blows my mind when that happens.

But I don't want to live that way, and I don't think you do either.

The next thing that people often do is start collecting information as much as they can. You can search YouTube or Google things to figure out, to get someone’s advice? You're going get a lot of conflicting information, and trying to figure out which one to follow is not really going to help.

One of the things that that bothers me a lot is that there are a lot of amazing Christian authors who have written books, trying to help people with their marriages. But their advice doesn't fit the situation. Or the bigger thing? It never includes the man side of the story. It doesn't give a balance of what's going on between them in a way that's respectful to both the man and the woman. I never want to put one down, and the other one up in either direction.

But that happens a lot.

And even those that do address the gender differences in a marriage, they do it with, shall we say humor of some sort? And in that humor, they're actually very demeaning to the opposite sex. I've attended presentations and workshops by people who were supposed to be talking about those very things, the differences between a man and a woman what he needs and what she needs. And they actually spend a lot of time just poking fun at one another, which gets us absolutely nowhere.

There are very good reasons why men and women are different.
I think we need to respect that rather than make fun of it.

And then there's always counseling.

Counseling is really expensive. I know, I used to be a therapist. And in that, I realized it was so difficult for my clients to do the kind of work they needed to do with a model that we had for counseling.

For one, a lot of insurance companies won't even pay for couples counseling, so that means that you're paying out of pocket. And if you're paying out of pocket to someone who doesn't really know how to work with couples, or who doesn't understand the importance of gender differences, then you're just basically pouring time and money down the drain. So that's why I really got early on and to educating couples about one another and helping them see not just the woman see the man side, but the man also see the woman's side.

Sometimes people were ready for that. Sometimes they weren't.

There seems to be an expectation when you're going to professional counseling that you'll go forever. Or it feels like you're going go forever. At some level, you want something to change, but at another level, you just want to go and vent.

Unfortunately, that's often what happens when a couple goes to a therapist.

They spend 45 minutes to an hour arguing, venting to the therapist about how awful their partner is. When they leave the office, nothing has changed. There's been no intervention that teaches them, hey, here's what's going on. And here's what I think your partner is trying to say to you. So how would you respond differently? If you understood that was her question or you understood that was what he was trying to say?

There's not really enough of that going on.

And counseling tends to be incredibly expensive, in large part because it doesn't get you anywhere. Okay, and I have to say I did some good work as a counselor. And there are a lot of good counselors out there. But you have to be very careful about whom you choose.

This is all about finding a better way.

And that better way is the way of wisdom. It's simple, and it's proven. Now when I say simple, I do not mean easy. The answers are always simple, but they're very difficult to implement for multiple reasons. And one of those reasons is because of our current beliefs.

We believe certain things about the opposite sex.

And we have our mind so stuck there that it's difficult to move beyond that to think about it a different way. There's an old saying that, it's not what you don't know, that's the problem. It's what you think you know, that just ain't so.

That's pretty powerful.

I understood that to be true in my own life in so many ways. We learn a lot growing up, and everybody has advice for us. But for some reason, we latch on to a few things, and we hold on to them with a death grip. We live our lives as though that was the absolute truth, when in fact, it might not be. So be open, look for the simple solutions look for something that seems almost counter intuitive. And give it a try.

The other thing about the way of wisdom is that oftentimes, you'll get pretty quick results. It's not like exercise when you go to the gym for months and months and months before you begin to see a difference in how you feel or how you look or how your clothes fit.

But with these very simple changes that we're talking about, I'm going to give you a few of those today. But with those changes, you will see an immediate result. And that's exciting.

But it's also a little dangerous.

Because it can give you the impression that you've got it figured out. And that's your one tool, the one that was missing the only thing you need to change. And that's not true. Because over time, things do evolve. And you're going to encounter different situations. And those different situations are going to mess with how you think about things. And you've got to go back and revisit the new information again and ask yourself:

Am I still doing it that way? Is there something that I missed? Or are my feelings hurt? Is that why I don't want to do this anymore? Am I resentful because I'm the only one who’s changing?

Among all couples I've worked with, I've never seen a couple where the woman had a fixed mindset and have it actually be the man who needed to change.

Both people need to change.

And the sad part is nobody's telling us women what we could do differently, that we could try differently. Nobody tells us that, and I want to change that for you. I want you to know you've got power. You've got tools before you that can make a real difference. But you're going to have to keep adding to those tools over time.

Is it possible to have a better relationship?

Yes, it's absolutely possible. And that's possible only with consistency. And that consistency has three parts.

  1. Keep learning. Learn something new about your husband every day, learn something new about men in general, and then learn what it means for your husband.
  2. And then apply what you learn.
  3. Look at the results. When it works, repeat it. If it doesn't work, then back up and ask yourself: What is the reason this might not have worked so well? Why did it backfire? There's lots of reasons for that. We don't have time to go into them today.

But basically just know, be consistent. Keep learning. Keep applying what you learn, see what the results are and repeat those things that bring you and your husband a positive outcome.

Let's dive right into what he won't say about his hopes, fears and feelings.

The first secret I want to share with you is about his confidence. The number one rule of being male is don't appear weak. Now, every guy knows that he is weak, but he has to act like he's not weak. And so he carries around this secret that he knows he's not everything that he's putting himself out to be.

In fact, he's incredibly unsure of himself.

This is on a guy's mind 90% of the time, but I have to tell you something else. There are two kinds of men, one who feels insecure and one who's really good at hiding his insecurity. The one who's really good at hiding his insecurity sometimes is so good at it that he's convinced himself that he's not insecure,

But he's human. He is absolutely human.

And we set such high standards for men. The belief that they have the ability to be tough, indestructible, impenetrable, like a knight in a suit of armor. We have these standards, and every guy knows he doesn't meet that. So his lack of confidence is a big secret he tries to keep from everybody, including himself.

Not every guy can pull that off.

Now you don't want to go around and say, “Hey, I know you're not confident.” Instead, you want to listen very carefully for indications that he's not confident and make sure that you don't push those buttons to make him feel worse about himself. I’m not talking about flattery or building him up by constantly telling him he's a wonderful man.

Because that won't work either. But just know that beneath that confident façade, the appearance that he's got it all together, is a dude who knows he doesn't.

The second secret is about a man's emotional life.

I used to think that guys didn't feel anything. I used to think that they literally did not experience emotions. As a mom, I knew my boys experienced emotions. They were in front of me every single day. But it wasn't until I got into studying psychology that I realized that men experience every emotion that a woman does. They just don't have the freedom to express it like a woman does.

That's a big difference.

When you have a lot of emotions that you can't show to everybody – because you'll be shamed, you'll be made fun of, you will be seen as weak – it builds up over time. That ends up being a very, very lonely life when you can't share your feelings with anybody.

We think sometimes it's just that they won't, but they actually have been taught not to cry. You've heard that saying big boys don't cry, don't be a mama's boy, you're such a baby. All of those things are very, very shaming. A man will do anything to avoid that shame.

You know, we do that, too.

As women, we don't want to be shamed. Who does? No one wants to have that happen. The difference I think, between men and women, when it comes to shame is that shaming is such a major part of the process of turning a boy into a man.

And the major area he gets shamed for is his feelings, expressing his feelings, they don't go away, they still feel things very, very deeply. They just learned not to show it on their face. And they learn certainly not to say it in words. And this transformation actually takes place by the time he enters kindergarten, because the research shows that baby boys are actually way more sensitive than baby girls. They cry more, they are harder to soothe. They're more reactive to their mom and her stress level. But they also coo laugh more than a baby girl. But by the time they get to kindergarten, it's been shamed out of them.

So when you want him to talk about his feelings, and he won't do it, he's got really good reasons not to. One of the ways that you can actually encourage him to talk is by becoming a better listener.

That means when he starts sharing, you listen.

And when he pauses, you keep listening. And give him the impression that you care deeply about what he's saying. But don't say a word, because men are still sensitive.

The other thing that I think is really puzzling about a man's emotional life is that they're sensitive to different things than women are. So what would make us cry doesn't faze him at all. We have different biology, we have different chemistry, and we have different ways of tuning into our environment. And in that process, those things that make a girl cry, don't make a boy cry.

But the thing that will get to a boy or a man every time is something that attacks his identity as a man and when that happens. He's hypersensitive to that. So keep that in mind when you're thinking about his emotions and his emotional life. Why he won’t tell you things. Why you ask him what he's feeling, and he won't say anything. Or he'll mumble one word or two words.

Being involved in a joint activity that puts you side by side will help you learn to listen. He will tell you a lot about what's going on.

And your job is to you hold it in your heart.

You might touch his arm or smile or give a very short word or two like, “It must be really hard.” And then stop. If you do more than that it begins to feel emasculating, which is a huge factor for men -- to not feel like he's less of a man because he has emotions. Really important to remember that.

The final secret is about his deep need for you.

It's deeper than even he realizes, or I should say, it's deeper than he's willing to admit. I've talked to men who've said, “I'd rather hang out with my buddies. They get who I am. I get my need for connection through pals I hang out with. The guys I go through life with.

Yes, they need other men. But that is not the kind of emotional need I'm talking about. I'm talking about the deep connection that every man needs from a woman. Now that sounds really profound. And I think it is. And the reason I think it's true, is because when Adam was alone in the garden, God didn't say it's not good for the man to be alone and make a bunch of other men.

He didn't do that.

He said, I'm going to make someone who is so close to Adam, and yet so different, that he can't resist her. And she's going to enrich his life in ways he can't even imagine.

He needs you. That's a fact.

It was actually in Genesis 2:18. When God said it's not good for man to be alone. And then farther on in the Bible, when Paul talks about it in Second Corinthians 11:9, he says woman was created for a man because he needed her.

Yeah, it wasn't the other way around that the man was not created for the woman because she needed him. She wasn't the first one to be created man was and he needed her. He needed what she could bring to his life that no animal and all of the garden could meet. Not even God himself. He needed a companion he needed a someone just for himself, someone outside of himself that he could relate to that he could fulfill His purposes for. That's why we have Eve.

Thank you for listening to this episode of a wise Woman's Guide to Men and marriage. What did you think? Did the information raise more questions? Do you want to learn more? Head over to wise woman's guide.com For show notes and links to the resources mentioned in this episode, and if you're looking for otherwise, women to bounce around ideas and ask questions, be sure to join my exclusive community for women on Facebook. The link is waiting for you at a wise woman's guide.com