A Husband’s Job Is To Create Emotional Safety


Life coach Steve Horsmon reveals a secret: guys, your wife expects you to know what emotional safety means to her.

Emotional safety is important to both men and women. Without it we feel unsure about opening up and sharing sensitive emotions and thoughts.  Fear of being judged, criticized, or ignored will shut down any hope of communicating at a deeper level on just about any topic.  This absolutely affects the ability of two people to connect on an intimate level.

Now, show me a man who has neglected his job in the emotional safety department and I’ll show you a man who has an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfying sex life.

Men always ask me:

Your words can convey either respect or disdain. Your tone can make her feel loving appreciation or disappointment.
  • Why is this MY job?
  • Why do I have to go first?
  • Why doesn’t SHE have a role in making ME feel safe?

The answers have to do with the way we are biologically wired. They have nothing to do with who is stronger, smarter, or more rational. Men and women are absolutely equal, but we are not the same.


Your wife or girlfriend is naturally gifted with the ability and intuition to sense your intentions. This means that she will consciously or subconsciously react to your energy and intention. This is her programming and secret power. As a man, you do not have this gift. This is why it is your job to behave in ways that create feelings of emotional safety. This is your special gift and secret power.

As your relationship has developed, she has internally cataloged hundreds of emotional data points from you. She can immediately sense what your intentions are when you speak to her or about her, touch her, walk past her, and even when you close a door. It is up to you to understand this and choose to be intentional with your words, tone, and behaviors.

Your words can convey either respect or disdain. Your tone can make her feel loving appreciation or disappointment. Your actions will communicate either resentment/anger or calmness/self-assuredness. She feels these from you, although she will not usually tell you this directly. But you must understand the enormous impact that your negativity has on her ability to trust you, respect you, and be attracted to you. It is entirely up to you to choose the messages you want to send her.

Even if they buy into this, many men will say, “Well, I can’t be responsible for how she processes her stuff. It’s not my fault if she is reacting to me.”

Horse hockey.  This is like saying you’re not responsible for understanding the emotional needs of your child. Or, you’re not responsible for understanding the mission of your company. Or, you’re not responsible for the consistency of your golf swing.

If you want to improve your marriage and your intimate life, you have the responsibility for learning what is required. You do not resent the basic fact that she needs you to provide emotional safety. In fact, when you become aware of and committed to your masculine role, you find something else is true. The process of becoming that man is extremely rewarding and fulfilling in itself. It feels like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders when you understand and accept what is needed from you to create emotional safety for her.

This process also opens up lines of communication and sharing that you didn’t have before. She is able to reciprocate with words and actions that make you feel safer. You have finally allowed her to feel comfortable in communicating her intimate needs and desires. And, you have created an environment in which her confident feminine nature will emerge to understand and meet yours.


This article originally appeared, in slightly different format, at Goodguys2greatmen.

Photo Public Domain Photos

About Steve Horsmon

Steve Horsmon is a Certified Professional Life Coach and owner of Goodguys2Greatmen Relationship Coaching in Livermore, Colorado. He has appeared on local television, blog radio, telesummits, and podcasts all related to maintaining healthy relationships. Steve provides intensely personal, action oriented coaching services for men. He provides 1-on-1 coaching, private retreats and workshops designed to give men new knowledge, skills and mindset to achieve their relationship goals. He is a committed, lifelong mentor who teaches his clients to discover their masculine power, take bold action and create the life they want. He has written articles and guest blogs for numerous relationship and expert websites including his own blog. You can connect with him via  Facebook too.
and on his YouTube channel via YouTube


  1. Thank you Steve.

  2. ogwriter says:

    Being responsible for understanding and reading the emotional needs of a child is necessary to raise them since they lack the experience and brain development to properly articulate their needs. I have little desire to be with a woman who is a child in this regard. A closed mouth doesn’t often get fed. There is an inherent assumption in your thesis that unless a man creates a safe emotional space then such a place one doesn’t exist in the relationship already. It takes a certain amount of bravery and the ability to take risks to be in the world and one cannot provide that for another person.

    • Hi ogwriter,

      “There is an inherent assumption in your thesis that unless a man creates a safe emotional space then such a place one doesn’t exist in the relationship already.”

      This is correct. And I would agree that if you’re in the process of choosing a mate, one should should be wary of partners who demonstrate a childlike neediness for coddling, approval, and safety.

      As you know, my context is a strained marriage relationship or LTR in which those unhealthy feelings have grown as a RESULT of the relationship. Thousands of men and women enter marriage with pre-existing fears and baggage they hope to fix inside their marriages. These people are not always the brave souls who have it all figured out. They hope their partners are a source of support and encouragement – not criticism and judgment. Maybe they can grow together?

      Countless relationships get in trouble because men do not understand the incredible ability they have to slowly erode feelings of emotional safety in their partners. It’s not just negative words and actions that cause the erosion, it is also a lack of awareness of HOW positive words and actions can cause emotional safety to grow. He cannot be a man who chooses to give her those gifts when he is blinded by his own resentment and sense of entitlement. If he wants the relationship to grow stronger and braver, he must accept his role in that.

      If a man refuses to accept his part in eroding emotional safety for his partner, he is choosing to let the relationship die. Yes, it may die anyway. He can’t control her choices and shouldn’t try. But, that’s never a reason for a man to stop being the best man he can be.

      The only way he can attract and sustain a relationship with the brave, high quality person you mentioned is by holding himself accountable to a higher standard. That’s the core message of all of my writings and coaching work.

  3. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    About the mindreading cited by several people above. I have a special issue with women who have expected me to read their mind. Even if I have a good notion of something a woman I’m with wants from me, she needs to tell me. I once dated a lady scientist (from the Midwest and I think that this is relevant) who expected absolute mindreading. When I tried to get her to vocalize her wishes, she accused me of being a touchy-feely West Coast person, which of course I am. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last long.

  4. The problem I see with the advise in this article is it takes two people who are supposedly at odds and each with possibly a long list of grievances and puts one of them in a very vulnerable position to be exploited and emotionally abused out of the others “righteous anger”.

    I spent nine months “bailing the water” in a relationship. My partner used that effort (and her intuition) to manipulate and emotionally abuse me while she “got even”. Two adolescent children are what kept me engaged because otherwise I would have absolutely walked out. It wasn’t until I was looking up lawyers and apartments (for my own mental health) that she decided to put in any mutual effort.

    I would advise no man to put himself in that situation but when kids are involved you do everything you can for as long as you can. We made it through but I personally will never do that again (and she’s aware of that). This article was a huge trigger for me.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Rick. I feel for you and your experience as I know the emotions well. You are the guy I write for. Battling for your marriage AND your own self-respect is a balancing act. Your values matter. Just because you admit you haven’t been perfect is no reason to accept crap from anyone. “Righteous anger” in their problem, not yours.

      In the situation you describe , it’s critically important for the man who has admitted some fault and who has chosen to “bail the water” to make some commitments to himself first, then to her. They might sound something like this:
      1. I WILL be a man who accepts MY role in how we got here.
      2. I WILL explain to my wife my commitment to change ONCE, and then I will prove it continually with my actions.
      3. I am doing this for ME, not to change her. This is the man I choose to be no matter what she chooses to do. I will not take my current behavior to another relationship.
      4. I WILL have a woman in my life who treats me with the love, respect, and passion I deserve.
      5. I WILL be a model for the environment and values I expect to live in
      6. I WILL stand up for my values and will NOT accept disrespectful language or behavior that is destructive to our marriage.
      7. I will NOT allow her “shit tests” to rattle my resolve to change myself
      8. I will respond to issues that arise instead of REACTING.
      9. I will give her a choice to stay and grow with me or not. I will be fine either way. I will not live in guilt.
      10. My intention toward her will always be from a place of love and respect.

      • With the addition of the boundaries you listed I think the advice is really spot on. I believe the chance of successfully resolving these sorts of conflicts goes way up if the guy is the first to step up and show he’s actively working to make the relationship work.

        A person can only try their best. Even if mistakes were made in the past, putting forth an honest, total effort is all one person can do. Unfortunately, many guys don’t have the experience or knowledge to know where to even start. I was flying by the seat of my pants for over a year with my situation and I wasn’t talking to anyone about it. Thanks for putting a few more tools and recommendations into guys hands to try and work out situations like this.

  5. Gint Aras says:
  6. What exactly is a “life coach”?
    Is this the same as the dudes I see in their Starbucks office telling people to make lists?

  7. Bay Area Guy says:

    So I guess gender essentialism is all fine and dandy, so long as it makes women look better?

  8. Mark A. says:

    The problem I’m seeing with this article is that it smacks of gender essentialism: “Men are this way; women are that way; they’re both alien creatures to one another, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.”

    How would you even begin to apply this advice to a homosexual relationship? What are lesbians supposed to do, just sit around “intuiting” each others’ feelings without ever speaking and waiting hopelessly for the other woman in the relationship to “make her feel emotionally safe” whilst never thinking of extending the same courtesy to her girlfriend because “that’s just what women do”?

    • wellokaythen says:

      And gay men must be completely unable to communicate with each other at all. They would have to sit around each waiting for the other to tell him how he feels and it never happens….

  9. I think if people read this less in terms of absolutes and more in terms of general tendency they’d pick up some pretty insightful stuff. Yes, highly intuitive men do exist but at a far lower frequency than highly intuitive women. No one is offended if people say men TEND to be more physically able than women…

    This is pretty good marriage advice in my opinion. This author works with men looking to improve their marriages. Of course his advice is going to be about what actions the husband can take to make things better.

    • Well said!

    • wellokaythen says:

      Let’s say for the sake of argument that women are in general better at reading emotional signals than men are.

      If so, I agree that we should look at this as a general tendency not an absolute truth.

      However, that also means that some women may be overestimating their perceptiveness. (Or underestimating, for that matter.) We should all be cautious about how perceptive we think we are. I have known quite a few women who assumed that they were intuitive, perceptive, sensitive, and good listeners just because they were women. And, by extension, they thought they could tell me how I was feeling even better than I could. In my experience, the people most loudly proclaiming how intuitive they are tend to be people who don’t really listen well at all. Intuition can be amazingly inaccurate and amazingly stubborn in its inaccuracy.

      Predictions based on intuition are not all that different from predictions based on “psychic abilities.” There’s a massive confirmation bias. In the cases where you could actually test your intuition, you immediately forget any time that you guessed wrong and commit to memory any time that you guessed correctly.

  10. As a woman and as a medical scientist, I find this article very accurate and compelling.

    Reading the other comments, I was shocked to see how many people seemed opposed to the idea of a “woman’s intuition” as if it were some outdated philosophical trope. When I read this article, I found myself interpreting this sensitivity as a very real evolutionary manifestation of my gender. Having just completed my thesis on the response differences to danger in males and females, I found overwhelmingly that women have a more sensitive trigger to things like body language and tone of voice. This makes sense when you think about the greater risk females face in situations of interpersonal violence. A woman’s intuition is not some silly idea about us reading minds, but instead a way of describing an important way women have survived through time.

    This article is important because it highlights a fact that is just now coming to light scientifically. Women are more sensitive to aggressive cues from men, and even when we consciously know our partner would never hurt us, we have instincts that lead us to slowly withdraw from a situation where we subtly sense judgement or criticism.

    I’ve had this happen to me in relationships, and I was at a loss to explain why I no longer felt warmth and intimacy with someone I loved very much, and telling him “you slam doors and yell when we fight and I don’t like it” seemed inadequate. I know now that what I needed was more emotional safety and I now know how to communicate that.

    Thank you so much for this article.

    • yes, women have intuition, but men have too. Its not women traits at all.

      And all the things you described, I have experienced it, AS A MALE.


      • Absolutely. I never described these things as exclusively female. What I was illuminating is something that males, especially close-minded ones, have trouble understanding. I was saying that we are currently finding scientific evidence that women experience some things more acutely due to an evolutionary survival mechanism. Women are more responsive to emotional cues as a way of protection. This has developed over time. While men can understand this, it is only a periphery empathy, or surface understanding. What you’re trying to say sounds similar to you claiming to understand you know what it’s like to have a menstrual cycle because you’ve had a cut that bled profusely.

        John, It’s funny how you seem to think your experience is so vast that it encompasses every emotional nuance. Perhaps, as a male, you can tell me what’s it’s like to be afraid of rape on a first date?

        • trey1963 says:

          ” Perhaps, as a male, you can tell me what’s it’s like to be afraid of rape on a first date?”

          Really? It happens…… Women are not unique in that. Trans,Gay,Bi or straight men are coerced in having sex quite regularly. Statements like that are really un-needed.

          • It’s unneeded? Is that why you didn’t answer?

            This article is, presumably, about a straight man and a woman in a relationship. Let me rephrase my question so that you can try to understand my point: as a man, how often are you afraid a woman is going to physically hurt you? How often does a woman “give you the creeps” so to speak?

            This article spoke in generalities, which can be helpful, but by no means are set in stone. I was simply offering justification as to why (some) women are more sensitive to certain behaviors. The fact that people accept men *in general* to be physically larger than women, and yet cry “sexism!” when emotional differences are revealed, does not make sense to me as a scientist. As the article so eloquently put “we are equal, but not the same.” Everyone has differences. Whether you are a man or a woman, and of any sexual orientation or distinction. It is only when we reveal these differences and understand them that we can really support and care for one another in a relationship. Good luck in yours, John.

            • “fact that people accept men *in general* to be physically larger than women, and yet cry “sexism!” when emotional differences are revealed, does not make sense to me as a scientist.”

              perhaps we can talk another differences between men are physically larger than women. How about many believe men have more intelligence in math and science? Do you think its sexism? I DO

              I believe men and women both have same emotional and intelligent capabilities. Yes we are all different, in one case women are more emotional and in another case men can be more emotional. Those differences are not based on gender, but how we live trough our life.

              And Amy, as an attractive guy, I have been sexually harassed by female. Its fact

              • You can believe it’s sexism, that’s your prerogative.
                Men (again, in general) do show greater abilities in spatial reasoning. Why this is so, is another argument. But as a neurologist I can exhaustively detail brain differences between males and females. I don’t understand why this makes people uncomfortable. Of course our capabilities are equal, I never argued that, but we are not the same. It’s an insult to both our genders, and every other physiologically unique individual, that people keep insisting this. It wasn’t until we discovered feminization and masculinization of the brain in utero that we realized homosexuality and other gender-identity disorders were not a choice but a biological fact. I apologize that I’ve become so heated, but throughout my research I have encountered many people resistant to the idea of gender differences. I fear that having a culture that does not acknowledge some of our now beautifully mapped biological variations will become as intellectually mired as we were when we told homosexuals they had a choice.

                • Just Spatial reasoning? How about those believes that men are just smarter than women. Back then in the old days people wouldn’t believe if you said you are a neurologist and you are a woman, because back then people believe its men traits to be intellect, while women traits to be emotional.

                  And I don’t understand why you feel you are insulted just because I said men have same emotional intelligence as women. I don’t feel insulted when I hear people said women are as smart as men in science, math, engineering, and arts. I’m an engineering student, I don’t feel insulted admitting many of my female friends are smarter than me in math , physics, and many study that need spatial reasoning. Why it is insulting? Men and women are same, we have differences like you said. But those differences are not based on our gender. Its just because every HUMAN is different. Because they are human, not because they are women, or men.

                  If your husband crying because you have hurt his feelings without you know it, Would you feel hes insulting you as a woman? Because he, as a man cannot have more emotional sensitivity more than you, a woman, especially if the man never been sexually abused as a child ?( a tiny number minority of emotional men like you said right ? a sexually abused men? )

                  I do get a feeling many people take this whole gender identity too personally. Men should behave like men, masculine. Women should behave like women, feminine. If not, its insulting and offensive. Why many people have to be that real hard on their gender identity? I really don’t understand it. I’m a man, and I’m a human, just like women. Its not hard at all for me to accept that. I don’t feel insulted at all.

                  And about homosexuality, many people believe it men traits to sexually attracted to women and women traits to sexually attracted to men. Many people don’t accept homosexuality because they don’t accept men and women who behave outside their gender norms , their traits. Sexually attracted to women is masculine and sexually attracted to men is feminine. That’s why many people have this stereotype about gay men as “effeminate men who act, look, and dress like a woman, etc” and lesbians as ” ugly butch women who look and act like a man and have penis envy, etc” . So my believe that men and women are same actually supporting homosexuality, not denied it like you said.

                  • It is hard to understand you when your posts are so full of grammatical errors, and I am very much trying to understand you, so please be careful.

                    I did not say I was insulted, I said it is an insult to any gender, or perhaps I should say “sex” to be more genetically based and accurate, to say there is no difference. You and I are not talking about the same thing here. I conceded emotional capability is the same, and I believe, unique to each person. What I speak of are genetic predispositions to emotional states based on brain structure and function due to sex differences. Emotion is not just philosophical, it is biologically based. This is called Biopsychology.

                    I’m not sure what you meant in your last paragraph, but I believe that I have caused a misunderstanding. I shouldn’t have assumed my scientific babble came across, as we are in very different fields, I’m sorry. When I speak of “masculinization” and “feminization” of the brain in utero, I am talking about hormones. Hormones are incredibly potent biological factors that effect everything from how we eat and grow to how we react to one another. There is copious research on how hormone differences between men and women affect structure and function of our bodies, look up sex androgen differences if you are curious. It’s some very interesting stuff and I think you will see my point much better. There are differences between men and women, starting at XX vs. XY and they are beautiful because they help us look at the world in different and complementary ways. But please, let’s acknowledge that we are different in some ways.

                    • yeah I never live in English speaking country in my whole life, sorry for my bad english

                    • Its your believe, but its my believe that although men and women have differences, like hormones and genitals, we have far more similarities.

                      And the emotional intelligence is one of our similarities.

                      And believe me, although my major is petroleum engineering, I do know what are you talking about, about hormones, chromosomes, etc. My English is not so good so its hard for me to talk long about science in english like you did. ( My name is John but actually I’m Asian and I live my entire life in Asia )

                    • You are writing quite well for having English as a second language, thank you for explaining that to me.

                      Indeed, we do have more similarities than differences, John. Genetically, we also have more similarities than differences with chimpanzees. I have a feeling, though, that the differences would be a bigger deal to you if you were in a relationship with a chimpanzee.

                      Differences will always be present in relationships, due to gender, upbringing, taste, temperament… The list goes on. It’s how we choose to deal with these differences that effects the health of our relationships. I felt that this article highlighted one possible difference that men may not be aware of, but in recognizing, could make them a better partner to someone who they already share mutual love and respect with. I never meant to imply that women are more emotionally intelligent than men. I will reiterate: I have found that *some* women are more sensitive to seemingly benign behaviors in their partners and a man could make her more comfortable by realizing this and avoiding those behaviors. I think this article is important because I’m not sure that some women are even clearly aware that they contain these triggers, and “gut feelings” and “instincts” are the only way we have of explaining, if we are able to even verbalize it at all.

                      I also think this article addresses the fact that sometimes a relationship can spiral into a negative zone even when two people do really care about one another. One way to disengage in this unhealthy trend is for a man, a vey good one, to subtly change his behavior so that a woman feels more respected. If she is a good woman, she will meet your respect and change with more kindness and understanding. While communication is always the best approach in a relationship, no one is a mind reader. But sometimes I think bodies need to speak to one another and two people need their actions to show how important that other person is to them. This is just one way to do it if you’re with the right person.

            • Jameseq says:

              Let me rephrase my question so that you can try to understand my point: as a man, how often are you afraid a woman is going to physically hurt you? How often does a woman “give you the creeps” so to speak?

              amy, funny you that you should ask trey that. however as he hasnt replied to it, i guess he doesnt want to talk about it again.

              women can use implements to strike a man (and if a man thinks about defending himself, he has to worry that his attacker will concoct a story to the law, saying he was attacking her), and there certainly are plenty women with sinister auras out there.

              • trey1963 says:

                No, I don’t like retelling that incident with my downstairs neighbor yet again, being told it can’t really happen to a guy gets old. instead I’ve related a couple of other incidents that were more creepy than anything else……. and I know it can’t just be me……I’m far from pretty/handsome/tall/thin/rich, if short broad-chunky guys like me have had to deal with this shit then it’s far from uncommon.

            • trey1963 says:

              ” Let me rephrase my question so that you can try to understand my point: as a man, how often are you afraid a woman is going to physically hurt you? How often does a woman “give you the creeps” so to speak?”

              I’ve had both happen, Please remember that violence can be done by proxy…. or weapons, or economic means, or the same way a 50lb police dog subdues a 250 lb suspect….by all out attack . I’m far from pretty or tall or rich yet it’s happen quite a few times in my 50 or so years. The “nice” older systems trainer that literally pushed her bust into my face while leaning over me to “show me a basic keystroke shortcut……when there was 10 feet of room to the side. I was given her “personal” # and suggest I come by for a private tutorial session…….that creeped me the freak out…….especially after the tenth time or so.
              Getting chased into the men’s room stall, at my sister’s wedding, by a friend of hers that had a crush on my for 20 years……with my visibly pregnant wife waiting for me in the reception hall. My other sister pulled her out of the bathroom after hearing the commotion. creeped me out….. and as I’d be the one charged/arrested if I used my full strength to defend my self ….quite a bit shaken.

              • I’m sorry to hear you went through that Trey. You bring up a good point, men are helpless in another way, and women absolutely need to be cognizant of this.
                I should have clarified that what I speak of is a constant, pervasive fear that women carry at all times, presumably due to their size and their far more frequent victimization (especially due to interpersonal violence.) This has led *some* women to develop a heightened social sense, which can be called intuition, and which can be misapplied to innocuous situations, such as when a partner shouts or criticizes.
                I didn’t think that *most* men could understand how it feels to be always unconsciously sensitive to dangerous social cues, but in some cases, such as men who were sexually abused as children, this is a very real defense mechanism that they understand all too well. I hope that you don’t have these feelings, Trey. It sounds like you had a few, albeit awful, experiences with women victimizing you. For your sake and for the sake of my peace of mind, I truly hope these were isolated incidences in which you felt fear, and did not lead you to develop the instincts I describe.
                I appreciate you sharing this with me, though it makes me sad that a good guy, as you appear to be, was subjected to that. Thank you.

            • wellokaythen says:

              I’m not familiar with this research, so I’ll have to respond out of curiosity as an outsider.

              Being sensitive and being perceptive are not the same thing. “Sensitive” doesn’t necessarily mean that a person can accurately interpret someone else’s feelings. It could just mean that she reacts easily to what she detects as an emotional signal. When you say women are more sensitive to the emotions of others, how much of that could be explained by a more sensitive fight or flight mechanism? Someone who is very easily alarmed by someone else’s behavior could be completely inaccurate in her assessment, but running away has a survival benefit anyway. A tendency to be “better safe than sorry” would be a great survival trait, but that doesn’t mean that there’s accurate intuition going on.

              I’m also wondering how this hypothesis explains all the women who one day discover that the men they married are not actually who they thought they were. There are lots of people who never see that first punch coming. Whatever emotional intuition is going on is far from reliable, obviously.

              I’m also curious how one goes about separating modern-day cultural and social conditioning from long-term evolutionary physiological developments. As with most natural selection hypotheses about the human brain, there’s no way to do any sort of double-blind lab tests on millenia of human societies. So, how would one test this hypothesis?

              I’d like to look up your published articles. What journals are they in?

              • @wellokaythen
                Excellent post! You seem to have discovered my leap in logic from the sympathetic nervous system response to intuition. Very perceptive of you! Indeed sensitivity and intuition are not the same. My paper was actually about the sympathetic nervous system response differences due to gender and as I completed it last month, it is not yet published, but I would love to send it to you! It could be available through the medical school I attend in Boston, but I will only share that information privately. I referenced about seventy sources, each one fascinating in the gender differences they illuminate or debunk. I am very passionate about this field and excited by your curiosity. I feel that you understood what I was getting at and bring up some good criticisms. I wish that perhaps I had detailed things more closely to what you just said, as I could have been better understood. Though I was almost disheartened at how intense my first (and perhaps last) posting on an article is becoming, your post made me feel a bit better. Please feel free to E-mail me for further information.

        • FlyingKal says:

          ” While men can understand this, it is only a periphery empathy, or surface understanding. What you’re trying to say sounds similar to you claiming to understand you know what it’s like to have a menstrual cycle because you’ve had a cut that bled profusely. ”

          Newsflash: Power hierarchy in society is not a gender-binary thing. There are hierarchies within male populations too, as well as in female ones, I guess. I don’t know a single man who doesn’t have quite a sensitive trigger for risk and danger from the people around.
          Contrary, I think there’s quite a lot of women who will recognize when a man will adhere to “not beating a woman”, and then will pull out all stops in mocking him in a way that a man never could.

          ” I found overwhelmingly that women have a more sensitive trigger to things like body language and tone of voice. This makes sense when you think about the greater risk females face in situations of interpersonal violence.”

          Overall, are there really more female than male victims of interpersonal violence?

          • @FlyingKal
            You are absolutely right that these hierarchies exist for men, in a way that I can’t completely understand and it is a field that fascinates me. I believe the sensitive trigger you speak of is based on salivary cortisol- stress hormone- levels (which men have in slightly higher levels) and what I am talking about is a more subtle and constant trigger which correlates to baseline plasma cortisol levels (which are higher in women.) So similar, and certainly understandable, but different. And these differences really matter in a relationship.

            For you to ask if there are really more female victims of interpersonal violence than males is insensitive and quite frankly, ignorant. In my study on gender differences and interpersonal violence I focused on sexual assault. I assumed I would find enough data on men, because I made the same mistake you are making now. This was not the case. Not just in America, but worldwide, women are victims in appallingly greater numbers. Rape is used as a method of torture and punishment for women so commonly it is nauseating.
            Please, for your own sake, read this: http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet%28National%29.pdf
            and that is just America.

            One final point I want to make is that I didn’t start this thread as some feminist crusader. I was so upset by the lack of male data in my study, that on completion, I have now begun applying for grants to study assaults and sexual abuse of men. Most of the studies I find on childhood sexual abuse did not even consider using male participants and people balked at me when I inquired as to where I could find statistics on male rape. While I am upset at how high the numbers of female victims are, I am even more concerned now with how we can identify and help male victims, as they appear largely unacknowledged and unheard. That is why I appreciated Trey sharing so much.

    • PursuitAce says:

      There you have it. Scientific evidence supporting the existence of women’s intuition. For me personally I need to figure out what cues I’m giving off that make me seem a threat. Because I really have no idea.

    • Amy,
      It is often difficult for those who do not have the level of training you do to put explanations of the sort you gave into context. Even though you put many of the things you explained into lay terms, there is a level of understanding required to apprehend the message you are conveying. Having taken a basic Biopsychology class myself, while I do not have nearly your acumen or training, I do feel I understand your basic message here and I completely and totally agree.

      The masculine vs feminine brain is also a difficult subject to understand because (from what I understand) these lines are not exclusive to biological gender differences – that is, an outwardly male (i.e. primary sex characteristics) person may have less masculine secondary sex characteristics and have a more feminine brain. An outwardly female person (i.e. primary sex characteristics) may also have a masculine brain. Many in the lay population do not understand this and are likely to conclude that there is no such thing as a masculine or feminine brain on the basis of a few exceptions. Like you, I don’t feel this is logical and it doesn’t make sense to me. Exceptions are exceptions. The fact that they exist doesn’t mean that in most cases the rule doesn’t still apply.

      Of course we take things on a case by case basis – that’s common sense. But while I note that there are exceptions, I still agree very much with what you said over all, and am thankful for your scientific perspective on the matter. As a woman who has been shamed and blamed for her need for emotional safety all too often, it is refreshing to hear from a medical/scientific perspective that there are valid reasons for my reactions to certain behaviours and that I am not merely ‘crazy’ or ‘sensitive’ or ‘demanding’ in asking for accommodation.

      • “As a woman who has been shamed and blamed for her need for emotional safety all too often”

        The reason why my previous relationship fail is because my ex only care about her emotional needs, but she didnt think that I have emotional needs too, she only care about her feelings but doesnt care about my feelings . That’s why I hate this whole women more emotional thing. Yeah you can be emotional but please think that men have feelings and emotions too. When a woman get into that phase, only care about herself, I call them crazy and demanding.

      • trey1963 says:

        “As a woman who has been shamed and blamed for her need for emotional safety all too often, it is refreshing to hear from a medical/scientific perspective that there are valid reasons for my reactions to certain behaviors and that I am not merely ‘crazy’ or ‘sensitive’ or ‘demanding’ in asking for accommodation.”

        All that is OK “if” you also you accommodate your partner on a equivalent basis. To often women pick and choose from both the traditional and progressive relationship styles what would be in their favor, leaving their partner not only with their incompatible requirements but also little compensation for their efforts by way her accommodation of his “needs”

      • @Becca
        Thank you so much for your post. It’s heartening to know my point came across and was understood, and your elaboration on the masculinization and feminization of the brain was spot on. I did saturate my posts with a bit too much science, but it became incredibly frustrating when John kept insisting there was “no difference between males and females” like some crusader for the Borg, when I really think we should acknowledge and work with our differences instead of denying them. And to hear you speak of exceptions was an exceptional relief! I tried to emphasize the generality of my ideas and of this article, but to no avail. Until your post.
        Thank you for sharing your experience. The reason I posted in the first place was because I just ended a relationship where I was blamed for my sensitivity and even felt ashamed I “couldn’t handle” being in a relationship with a passionate person because I refuse to participate in screaming matches and door slamming. And all the love I felt was not enough to sustain intimacy in an environment where I was frequently being criticized and derided. This relationship shaped my research which then bolstered my resolve to only be treated with respect in the future.
        You seem like an incredibly intelligent and eloquent woman. I hope very much you get the respect and kindness you deserve in a relationship.

  11. “Your wife or girlfriend is naturally gifted with the ability and intuition to sense your intentions. This means that she will consciously or subconsciously react to your energy and intention. This is her programming and secret power. As a man, you do not have this gift. This is why it is your job to behave in ways that create feelings of emotional safety. This is your special gift and secret power.”

    Are you kidding me? Seriously, I’m asking if you’re joking. Because when I read this, I tried very hard to figure out if you were trying to write a parody piece a la The Onion. But if you’re serious, this is one of the biggest loads of crap I have EVER heard. No need to read beyond that — it was clear nothing useful would come out of it.

    • wellokaythen says:

      This makes a lot more sense to me if I think of the article as something written to make the author more popular with women. Or, it makes sense if I picture this article as a business advertisement designed to convince wives to send their husbands to the author’s life coach practice. I never assume that an article written to men actually has men as the intended audience.

      I can’t say one way or the other that this is really the author’s motivation. All I can say is that this interpretation makes some sense to me.

  12. This article is full of gender stereotype and myth. Hmm, as a men who support feminism and believe equality, I really want to know the opinion of women and feminists here on GMP. HeatherN, Julie, Joanna, what are your opinion about this article? Because really, I wanna know this from feminist point of view.

    Although I do acknowledge the good intention of Steve for writing this article , about how men should understand his wife (EXACTLY like women should understand men in my opinion ), but I cannot agree with whole this major differences between men and women Steve wrote. I dont think its true at all and I think thats all are just myth and stereotype.

    But Steve, I agree with your point that men should make her wife feel safe emotionally, I just dont agree with most of points you wrote on this article

  13. Not buying it says:

    I am not her emotional tampons.

    • Not buying it eather says:

      Its all made up, I would never be a ‘tampon’ or a suppository,
      but as coaching goes, there is some truth here worth looking at.
      Who can we be for our intimate partners that make them happy?

    • Christina says:

      Giving and receiving emotional support is one of the most fundamental things about having relationships (either romantic or platonic).

      A person who throws around the phrase “emotional tampons” sounds like someone who is too lazy to work on their relationships.

  14. FlyingKal says:

    If women want (and expect) us men to lead the way and magically know which way to go without asking(although they are the ones possessing this magic intuition stuff), then how come we always get criticized when we’re going somewhere and won’t stop and ask for directions…?

  15. Not buying it says:

    My special gift & secret power is to behave in ways that creates emotional safety for her, hmm, generosity in goodwill, being proactive & less selfishness is one thing, but being subservient to her happiness with no reciprocity on her part because I am the man!!!, talk about defined gender roles according to the politically correct, Oprah Winfrey in the 80’s style of relationships , as a matter if fact your article if it had been published back then would had made guests or experts on her show.

    The sad reality is I believe you are giving the wrong assumptions & expectations to many naive & romantically helpless females a phony picture of what a half decent man should be if any.

  16. Not buying it says:

    I got one thing to say and that is ” a wife’s job is to create emotional safety “, it might be hard to understand for guys who so chivalrous, that they treat even strange women as damsel’s in distress at the slightest indication of discomfort on her part.

  17. “She will consciously or subconsciously react to your energy and intentions…”

    During this past rollercoaster year of health crises and various medical procedures, I have had to lean on my family members and friends….I couldn’t always depend on my husband for support…sometimes he was distracted or just not listening….sometimes I think if I just texted him he would pay more attention than if I was speaking to him face to face….lately, he is trying to be more supportive, but I get the feeling he would rather be talking about something else or be somewhere else….we drove past his ex-friend walking with some people and I could see my husband glancing his way…as if he preferred to see what his old friend was up to instead of participating in our conversation….

  18. As a woman, I’m just going to say, it is totally a woman’s job to make her man feel safe. Make him feel safe talking to her. A safe, non judgmental place where a man can make mistakes without feeling like he’s talking to someone’s mother. A safe place to express himself, without being made fun of for being who he is. And a safe place that doesn’t expect him to do brave things just cuz he’s a man.

    • Kat, you made me sniffle. What did he do to deserve you? That was beautiful.
      How do you feel about a man who also wants to do the same for you – the way YOU like it?

      • Steve, how is your opinion about Kate comment? Because in Kate comment, she take a role as a man in your article.

        My opinion is, we men and women actually are not really different. Many men can sense something from their spouse. Many women cant. Its not really women or men ability.

        Your article saying men are like this, women are like this, bla bla bla. But its really the truth?

        I think if men and women both think they have a job, same job, to make him/her safe emotionally, the divorce rate would be low, because clearly, men and women are both human. Basically, we are not different.

        And Kate, what a lovely woman you are. And I think your husband have the same job as you, to make you feel safe to express what you are and what you feel. Women and Men have NO different job at all.

        • Hi John,
          Kate doesn’t take the role of a man. She has clearly accepted her “job” as an incredibly important feminine force in her relationship to “lead” him to emotional safety he way HE needs her to. Women SHOULD want to do this for their men. Women share a leadership role in the relationship. It is a learned skill. It is given differently to him than he gives it to her.

          My message is consistently informing men that if they expect that kind of treatment from a woman, they need to go first. If they refuse to, they don’t deserve her. Especially in a troubled relationship as I’m discussing here.

          • There are no rule men should go first or not. Its created by society, not biologically, NOT. If they love each other, both would not have wait for his/him partner to go first.

            If I read your article and Kat comment, clearly her point is the opposite of yours. She didnt wrote anything about whether men should go first creating this emotional safety. She only thinking about her partner emotional safety. She taking charge. She think creating emotional safety is her job, she doesn’t wait her man to create it first. THAT’S REAL LOVE. In love you dont expecting anything, you give. Men give, Women give. There is no side who is waiting and one said who should go first. There are no gender in real love. Men and women dont have anything different in love.

    • Aren’t these things (“make me feel safe”, “creating a space with no judgement”, “creating emotional safety” etc) what we all want from out partners? Why the gendering? I don’t see how that accomplishes anything,

      • Yes, clearly. Remember the context. In the huge majority of troubled marriages I work with, the cause is the erosion of emotional safety for many reasons . The history of negative behaviors between both partners is to blame. It’s not “gendering” to say that most women in these cases need the man to initiate the reverse spiral. She must respond…but she needs him to go first. There is way too much hurt and resentment and fear. Why does she need him to go first? Who cares. “Step up quit your whining” is the message I think men need to grasp.

        This is reality. It’s worrying about how things SHOULD be that doesn’t accomplish anything.

        • Well, see – I’m not so much worried about fixing a broken relationship – I’d much rather not get in that situation in the first place. I understand your advice was given in the context of troubled relationships, but that subtext did not make it into the post on GMP. Instead, in the above post, it is morphed into a general advice that “guys, your wife expects you to know what emotional safety means to her”. And to me, that is awful advice. It’s the kind of advice that could destroy the relationship. For both men and women, being told you should have some magic ability to know without being told will only make you constant feel that you’re not good enough, and from there turn into resentment.

          I actually think that your recommendation to “go first, show that you want things to work, show that you’re there for your partner” is great advice. The advice to not worry about “who goes first” is good.

          And, no – none of this is about “whining”.

        • I’m going to assume that this originally appeared for a predominantly male audience, or roughly as male as this audience. In that sense, since you are talking to men for the most part, the focus is naturally on what a man can do if something needs to be done to save or improve a relationship. I get that, and as such, the action suggested, minus the justification for the action, is pretty sound advice. But you lose me with the justification.

          It feels like you’re selling a brand when you describe men and women in those non sequiternew age/1950s terms. And selling a brand may be appropriate for the audience who received this first, but clearly this audience is less attuned to your vision of gender. You’re not just suggesting that a person who in this case is likely to be male ought to take control of what he can control in his relationship. You’re saying that this is the natural order of things. And I can respect that perspective and disagree with it, but it is simply a perspective and it does push a SHOULD as much as any other perspective.

  19. In the context of a sinking ship, sure, someone has to start bailing water. I think it’s decent advice in the sense of, “hey, if you’re the guy in this couple and want to do something, here’s a place to start.”

    But the title is pure crap. And putting the onus on men and gifting women with superpowers of perception and men with superpowers of making women happy… is not far behind. If the editors bent your words… my condolences. Their efforts make it harder to appreciate the valid points.

    • They did not bend my words….the core message is mine.

      I don’t understand why a man would consider it a burden to choose to make a woman happy if he knew she really enjoyed it in specific, subtle ways. If you had the power to cause good feelings in someone else, what reasons would you have for not using it? Same goes for women, of course.

      • If you had the power to cause good feelings in someone else, what reasons would you have for not using it?

        I don’t see anyone saying they would not. Do you?

        However, I see several people questioning your assertion that women have an innate ability to sense a mans intentions. I see people comparing the ability to “just know” to superpowers and magic. And I see people saying they don’t want tio be told they should be able to “just know”, without being told. Because that sets you up for failure. I think that creating the expectation in couples that their partner should be able to “just know what I need” or “just understand my intentions” is toxic; it will lead to resentment when it turns out that the partner cannot meet those expectation.

  20. Ha, you too? ;^) Let’s compare how badly we each got cleaned out. How big was your “50%”?

    Rhetorical question, there. I understand your point. A guy needs to know where to draw the line. In this case, they both would like to find a way to stay together and be happier. If she doesn’t step up as I mentioned in another comment, it’s time for him to consider his options.

    It was the 30 yr. experience I had that led me to my conclusions and my efforts to help men in the same boat. If a guy thinks he is as good a husband as he can possibly be and has no room for improvement, his wife will adopt the same low expectations for him.

  21. trey1963 says:

    Sorry but this seems support the cherry picking of interpersonal benefits from both the traditional and progressive styles of marriage. Women have just as much agency and culpability as men do in a marriage. Reaching a happy/reasonable compromise is the equal responsibility of both partners, be they man / man, woman / woman, woman / man, cis, gender queer, trans or A

  22. “Your wife or girlfriend is naturally gifted with the ability and intuition to sense your intentions” and that is where i stopped reading. is this satire? if it’s satire, i’ll give it another chance, but you have GOT to be kidding me. no, she is not. no one is a mind reader. you have to TALK TO EACH OTHER.

    • To keep things in context, see this sentence which was edited from the original blog.

      “If he is trying to improve or save his marriage and intimate life, he must embrace this reality and own it!”

      The context is a marriage between a man and woman where he has realized that he needs to do something to improve it or save it. The marriage is in trouble and HE is just now figuring that out. She is NOT communicating due to all the negative feelings she has (judged, criticized, ignored). She typically wants to see changes in his actions…not his words. She’s tired of talking, arguing, explaining, and debating.

      No, women are not “mind readers”. But the wife I describe above absolutely FEELS whether his energy, words, tone, actions are supportive and loving or, once again, judgmental and critical. The imagery of a woman’s intuition is helpful for men who are trying to change their negative behavior that impacts her and any other person for that matter. Most men in this situation have little understanding about how their behaviors affect her and how sensitive she is to everything he says and does. His history isn’t much help.

      Talking is one of the worst things a guy can do in cases like this. You can’t talk your way out of a problem that you behaved yourself into. Any wife who is in the boat I describe knows exactly what that means.

      What about her? Sure, she has returned the nastiness. She’s been awful. She has rejected him and criticized him too. She has made him feel undesired and unappreciated. She needs to shape up her own act. She needs to try with him and accept his efforts as genuine. If he starts turning himself around first, with time, he has every right to expect her to join him in healing the relationship. Healing this relationship can not be done simultaneously…somebody has to start the ball rolling. My view is that he needs to go first.

      If BOTH of them do not step up, this marriage will likely end.

      This is the context of the article.

      • Learned the hard way says:

        Yeah, take it from me…this sounds like a load of crap, and maybe rationally it is, but it is a fact. After 16 years of marriage I found out my wife was in love with another man, one who it seems learned this emotional safety stuff from his failed marriage…and he used this knowledge to create a relationship with my unhappy wife. I had no clue, I thought we were happy, but come to find out we did not have an emotional connection, and she didn’t feel that she could communicate this to me. We (or maybe just I?) have tried to salvage our marriage for almost two years now, but she hasn’t let him go, and she still feels I’m not able to give her what she needs. My marriage is certainly over and I wish I would have understood this long ago. What I WON”T do, is use my new found knowledge to ruin anyone else’s marriage.

        • just a thought says:

          Have you ever checked out marriedmansexlife.com? Whether you still want to try and save the marriage or you just want some perspective on moving on, I think you will find a lot of good information. I’m sorry for what you have been going through. Good luck with whatever comes next.

      • Well, I agree that as a way out of the situation you mention, “show me” is far more important than “tell me”. But to extrapolate from there to general advice (as GMP has done here) turns it into terrible advice. Assuming that you partner can somehow by tell what you need / want / think w/o you saying it is such a common mistake, and it’s recipe for disaster.

        Talking is not sufficient, I agree. Your actions have to be there with your words. But “Your wife or girlfriend is naturally gifted with the ability and intuition to sense your intentions” is just, no. That way lies years of disappointment and resentment.

      • FlyingKal says:

        @Steve Horsmon:
        Mr Horsmon, it seems to me that this remark about “context” seems to surface in the comments in most every article or thread where you are offering your input.
        With all due respect, I think we could avoid a lot of confusion and frustration among the readers here if you could, already from the beginning, actually supply a little more of the context in which the text is supposed to be read?
        After all, it is mostly you the author and not us the readers, who is taking the text out of context, if you know what I mean?


      • I understand this very well, and it was one of the things wrong in my own relationship before my divorce. I think it might be helpful to clarify intention this way; your wife can feel your “energy.” Good energy feels differently than bad energy. It sounds woo woo to many people probably, but I believe all animals have this sense in some capacity. It’s why you can immediately sense if you like someone or not upon meeting them and not know why. It’s only later that your intuition turns out to be true.

        That said, I don’t even think it’s a matter of expecting a guy to read a woman’s mind. I certainly don’t. Here’s the thing…I told my ex-husband what I needed. Repeatedly. He let me know through his words and actions that he wasn’t interested in meeting me halfway. I’m not here to air my dirty laundry, but rather to make a point. When he did start “working” on things, I could feel that it wasn’t sincere. And my feelings were even validated when he admitted in counseling that had he known that I was getting ready to file for divorce, he would have stepped up. This implies that he didn’t want to since he didn’t do it before that despite my pleas. Trying to keep a marriage together shouldn’t have to come to that. Both husbands and wives have an obligation in my mind not to hurt each other and when the person you’re with tells you that you’re hurting them, it’s time to change if you care about the relationship and your spouse. Or get out so that person can find happiness.

        I agree with this article, because I understand its intent. When I meet the man who can do this, he is the guy that I will spend my time with and maybe even marry. As to the men who have attracted less than sensitive women, it seems to me that knowing that probably did you a favor. Your life is now open so that you can attract someone who can appreciate that you’re open emotionally. We do exist; you’re just attracting the wrong type. They don’t deserve you anymore than my ex-husband deserved me. I hope you go on to find your own happiness.

        Thank you for an insightful article.

    • Kirsten (in MT) says:

      Thank you. Women are not magical creatures. Nobody is a mind reader.

    • That same line got me, Karen. I copied it too. If it were quoting research, I’d be skeptical; as an opinion its bogus and discredits what is a thoughtful approach to marital relations, but how is that sensitivity to how you regard each other different based on gender?


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