Angry Women and Withdrawn Men. What is really going on between angry women and withdrawn men? As a Marriage Counselor, this is a typical dynamic seen in my private practice. Women come into Marriage Counseling with their reluctant husbands for various reasons. Lack of communication is one of them. These women are angry and frustrated because their husbands tend to shut down rather than express themselves. Men typically stay away from touchy subjects because they are intentionally avoiding conflict. Why do they avoid conflict? It’s a means to self-protect. Because we as women, have given them negative reinforcement in our past conversations with them during touchy subjects, they tend to avoid talking to us all together. They would rather stay quiet and through the process are creating another problem for themselves. Their wives then, see them as distant and disengaged, thereby feeling alone. This alone feeling manifests itself through hostility toward them and the behavior is acted out with expressions of anger, withholding of sex, and other hurtful behavior. When in essence, all they want is to be loved and have some engaging conversation with them. The payoff for men in withdrawing is to gain space, avoidance from any drama and find their sense of self again. The anger from some women is the protest in justifying their feeling disconnected from their husbands.
Men want to protect us and be able to “fix” our problems. Women want to talk and just have men listen and not automatically think they need to do anything behaviorally. When we talk and they offer their opinion and we don’t agree, they can feel fearful, apprehensive, and sometimes angry with themselves. They don’t want to have negative feelings toward us, so they would rather not have a heated conversation with us. When we don’t allow them to do anything for us they feel inept and useless. Often times men feel they can’t win one way or the other when talking with us because they can never make us happy. This comical youtube video illustrates this point: https://youtu.be/-4EDhdAHrOg
What can be very helpful when a wife is talking to her husband would be for her husband to exercise reflective listen, acknowledge what he heard and repeat what he heard her say. Show empathy for her feelings, and validate her perspective. After which, commenting on how he enjoyed talking during that period of time. If he chooses, add something to the conversation that interests him and hopefully, she will do the same. This is called interacting and building an emotional connection.
If you would like to know more about how to keep your wife less angry and your relationship more connected give me a call at (858) 735-1139.