Respect the Man Cave

man cave

An understanding of men necessarily includes a healthy respect for the Man Cave. But as women we typically have a really hard time with it. We have nothing to compare it to, so it simply doesn’t make sense to us. But it makes a lot of sense to men.

That’s why I love to listen to men – especially older men. Because they always have something of value to say. And since I’ve never been a man, it really helps to listen carefully – if I want to learn, that is.

Pop Quiz

Your man doesn’t tell you what he needs from you when he’s struggling with something because:

a) he’s flooded (emotionally)
b) he doesn’t know what he needs from you
c) all of the above

Correct Answer: c) all of the above

When women are worried about something, we usually want someone to walk and to talk though it with us. For the most part, our American culture has trained us to do just that.

However, that same culture taught him to do the opposite! Remember the story of what happens to the toddler boy on the playground? His early experiences were the beginning of his education in The Boy Code. He learned that a man has to appear tough – a Sturdy Oak – in order to be loved and respected. And he learned that a man must figure out his own problems and deal with any vulnerable emotions – anger, sadness, fear, hurt, grief, shame, guilt, and doubt – on his own.

So that’s what he does. Automatically.
And he does it in the Man Cave.

But being shut out makes a woman more anxious … worried about him … and about herself. It feels like the Beginning of the End to her, and she doesn’t understand why.

So she tries to fix it. But first she has to get through the wall. Drastic times call for drastic measures. So she hauls out the Wrecking Ball. I mean, after all, doesn’t the Bible say it’s not good for the man to be alone?

[callout]“So what do I do? I suppose you expect me to sit down on the curb outside the Man Cave and just wait for him to come out?” you ask in your frustration. “If I do that,” you reason, “he’ll never come out!”[/callout]

Nope. There’s so much more you can do to help him! Yes, you’re right about it not being good for him to be alone. But how you choose to partner with him in times like these will make all the difference in the world for you both!

  1. Let him know you notice that something’s up with him. And keep your remarks simple. You might say, “I feel like you’re disappearing, and suspect that something’s troubling you. Life is so hard on men. I don’t know how you do it.”
  2. Then shut up. Yes, I know I shouldn’t tell you to “shut up” because my grandson told me those are “bad words.” But it’s essential that we learn this Important Fact:
    When it comes to his emotions, something said in fewer words holds more meaning for a man. He listens in sentences, remember? So don’t worry if he doesn’t respond or offer more. Your empathy did register with him. And it made a difference. It made an immediate, significant difference. And by not probing him with a lot of questions or pounding him with further verbiage, you’re demonstrating your respect for the Man Cave.
  3. And if he does share his struggle, simply listen. He’s testing the water to see if you’re safe. You are. Your goal is to learn about him. No advice. No suggestions. Let your words be few and empathic (e.g., “sounds hard”). And, most importantly … keep what he does share between you and the Lord.

There is One More – Even More Important Thing you can do.
But I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post!

The Lord … makes me lie down in green pastures,
    He leads me beside quiet waters,
    He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23-1-3)

Why Won’t He Talk to Me?

why men stonewall

A lifetime of experience impacts the way a man communicates. But we women often don’t understand a man’s silence. So the Man Cave feels like stonewalling at best – and abandonment at worst. But the Man Cave isn’t stonewalling at all. Unless a woman tries to force her way though. Then she’s got Double Trouble.

Simply knowing that her man is struggling is not enough, because that only serves to trigger a woman’s natural desire to reach out and encourage him … to get him to talk to her … to try to convince him that she is his Safe Haven.

But a lifetime of experience has taught him otherwise.

Her efforts to connect will feel like an invasion to him … and/or add to his sense of guilt and shame that he hasn’t got a solution. Both of which will result in an immediate increase in his defensiveness – usually by strengthening his wall.

And being shut out makes her more anxious … worried about him … and about herself. It feels like the Beginning of the End to her, and she often doesn’t understand why.

Do you know why men stonewall?

Believe it or not, the initial purpose of the stonewall has nothing to do with hurting you. That’s not the purpose of the Man Cave either. Most women find it helpful to know the difference. Because it helps them know what to do – and find a better way to pray.

I’ll post more on this topic tomorrow. But as a first step toward better understanding, I invite you – if you haven’t already done so – to enroll in my free 15-day e-course now. Learn more here.

To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13)

My Boldest Prayer

Just over a year ago, I prayed the boldest prayer I’ve ever prayed. And I’ve prayed a lot of prayers. But this one was life-changing in ways I could never have imagined. And I did ask for it.

I’d just boarded a plane headed east to meet my youngest grandson for the first time. Exhausted, I opted for a silent flight. No music. No internet. Not even a book or magazine. Just my earplugs … and 4+ hours of quiet time with the Lord.

What should we talk about?

Prayer changes things. And people.

As you know from reading My Story, my life has been one challenge after another. Many of my lifelong dreams have remained just out of reach. Even now, I consider only a few of my endeavors to have been successful ones.

  • My three amazing sons (grown with their own families)
  • My three psychology degrees (BA, MA, PsyD)

It was July by now, and for several months the Lord had been talking to me about establishing a Christian Couples Retreat Center. [You can read the back story here.] The ideas flooded in as fast as I could write them down. “No one is doing anything like this,” I quickly realized. “The concept is totally unique, Lord! Very romantic and exciting!”

There were just a few problems, however.

Although I certainly have the training for it, I couldn’t help but wonder. Why on earth would the Lord give such An Amazing Vision – such a unique and brilliant concept –

  • to a woman who has been divorced twice,
  • a woman who is clearly no longer a Spring Chick,
  • and who has very little in terms of material resources?

Seriously. No one has that kind of money these days.

But if God wants it, He certainly can make it happen. Right? But why me, Lord? What have I ever done? Yet who am I to question God’s choices for leadership in His Kingdom?

He’s picked a lot of unlikely candidates to advance the Kingdom throughout history.

  • Abraham (an old dude with no kids … at first)
  • Jacob (second-born son who’d been a liar and a cheat)
  • Joseph (a bragger who lived the life of a slave and prisoner)
  • Moses (another old dude … this one with a stick and a stutter)
  • Esther (an orphaned Jewish girl who became Queen of Persia)
  • David (a scrawny shepherd boy who failed to fit the armor, but became King)
  • and Paul (who persecuted Christians … then wrote most of the New Testament)

… just to name just a random few.

So why NOT Dr. Debi (an old dudette)? “Ok, Lord,” I prayed on the plane that day. “I’ve been reminding You of how old I am, and You keep ignoring me.

“Your idea for this Christian Couples Retreat Center is so far beyond anything I’ve ever done. So – assuming You really want me to do this – You’re going to have to put me on The Fast Track.”

“I know I’ve played it safe all my life. But from here on out, you call the shots, Papa. All of them. Let’s make the Second Half of My Life a Real Adventure! You write the script. I’ll follow Your direction and do whatever You ask of me. Whatever You ask.”

At the time, “The Fast Track” I had in mind meant He’d have to start teaching me a ton-at-a-time about how to run the multi-dimensional business that He’d shown me.

Nope. Not even close.

What He’s done is put me on His Fast Track. He’s challenging me like I’d never imagined possible. And refining me in ways I didn’t know I needed to be refined. Here are just a few things I’m learning at a deeper level … so far.

  • Submit to His Lordship. If He’s in charge, then He’s in charge. Follow Him always.
  • Trust in His Goodness. For everything. I mean literally. Everything. Anxious for nothing. I mean literally. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
  • Stand on His Promises. I’m learning to hear His voice best and to take Him at His Word. Always. Because He never lies. Never. And nothing is too hard for Him.

Is this a new thing? I suspect it’s something He’s had planned all along.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference. And that was my goal when I began college as a single mom [and later, graduate school]. I wanted to help at least one person live a better life. But was that a new thought for me at age 40?

No, indeed. I recently recalled a time in junior high school. Yes, that’s when it was. Though I don’t remember the specific context, I’m sure it was during my Youth Group. The passion of it all – still fresh on my mind today – as I eagerly responded – even as Isaiah did – to the voice of the Lord. And I don’t think He’s ever forgotten it either.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

QUESTIONS: What Passionate Pursuit have you had on hold? How long has Your Dream been waiting for you? And what would it take to get you going again?