By Karen van der Berg
If there is one thing women want the most, it is for their husbands to talk about their emotions. Most men struggle to talk about their emotions or “deeper” stuff such as relationships.
The good news is, you can teach your husband to do so.
This is according to Raymond Fourie, a marriage counsellor in Bellville.
Most people possess an amazing ability to grow and change. Your husband does not find it as easy as you do to talk about matters of the heart, because as a child he received messages to suppress his experiences or not to express his emotions.
You cannot force your husband to share his emotions, but you can explain to him why you find it important.
Raymond gives the following tips:
- Tell him you would like to get to know and understand his innermost thoughts, as this is part of your marriage vision.
- Also explain to your husband that hidden emotions place a heavy burden on any relationship: His relationship with you, your children and his colleagues. Men react better to a logical, insight-oriented appeal, than an emotional one.
- Don’t criticise or judge one another. Respect one another, do not put the handling of your emotions above his. He will be hurt and you will alienate him.
- You also have to realise that he might find it strange to feel and listen without wanting to try and fix the problem.
- Speak with compassion, empathy and love and grant him space to grow and develop. He will start to shut down if it sounds as if you want to complain.
Raymond warns that there are certain things which you should rather avoid when talking to your husband. He says these apply to any relationship.
- Do not manipulate him emotionally.
- Don’t make unreasonable demands. Always start simply and be clear and realistic.
- Never humiliate him. It is wonderful if he can also show emotion.
- Don’t try to change him. Encourage him to act within the boundaries of his personality.
When talking to your husband, also try to:
- Describe clearly what you want to say so that you don’t leave room for misunderstandings.
- Take responsibility for your actions. Don’t rehash old problems, talk about what concerns you now. Focus on the problem, not on your husband.
- Acknowledge his feelings and points of view.
- Do not defend yourself by saying, for example, “No, I did not!” or “Yes, but …” And don’t whine or cut yourself off by just keeping quiet.
- If you cannot succeed in convincing your husband to really community with you, you could set out your feelings in a letter.