Do you trust your wife?
I’m not talking about the pervasive “I don’t believe her experience or feelings unless someone more rational or male says the same thing” kind of trust. (That’s been written about in other places and its damage to relationships addressed.) I also don’t mean in the “I think she might cheat on me” sense, but in the “she really has my back and loves me unconditionally” way. If you don’t, you’re not alone.
In a recent survey I did with men, the top three things they wanted in their marriages were: 1) to have more intimacy and connection; 2) to feel heard and appreciated; and 3) to be able to freely share their thoughts and feelings. All of which are functions of trust. And trust requires open and honest communication. These stated desires can’t be achieved without that and it’s here where men often struggle.
Let’s take them one at a time.
More Intimacy and Connection
More intimacy and connection doesn’t necessarily mean more sex. Yes, men frequently have higher libidos and sex is an easy way for you to release oxytocin, the bonding hormone. But men also want affection and conversation. You want to know your wife wants to be with you. That she finds you attractive and interesting and desirable. The way she did when you first got together. When she never initiates physical contact with you or makes other things a priority over being together, you start to question if she really wants to be with you.
Feeling Heard and Appreciated
Which leads to the second thing men shared with me, the desire to feel heard and appreciated. Being seen as capable and competent is very important for a man’s feeling of well-being. But men often feel like what they do is never quite good enough. If they do 9 out of 10 things on the “Honey Do” list, all they hear about is the one that didn’t get done. The same is true for the commonly heard view that men are just large children. Women have to do everything or else it won’t get done.
I was guilty of this myself at one time. Early in my marriage when asked when I would have a child, my oh-so-clever response would be, “You mean another one?” My husband has never acted like a child and the implication that he did was incredibly disrespectful. I’m not sure what made me stop but I never should have been doing it in the first place. Being belittled like that wouldn’t sit well with me but it’s amazing the push back I get when I call women on their use of that descriptor. One thing I do know is that it doesn’t make their husbands feel loved and accepted unconditionally. If your wife does this, it limits how much you trust her.
Freely Sharing Thoughts and Feelings
This lack of trust shows up when those same wives want their guys to open up and share their thoughts and feelings. Like, that’s not happening, ever.
Brene Brown shares a story about a man who challenged her for not mentioning men when she talked about shame. He was talking about his wife and daughters who were with him and told Brene that, “They’d rather see me die on top of my white horse than watch me fall down. When we reach out and be vulnerable, we get the shit beat out of us. And don’t tell me it’s from the guys and the coaches and the dads. Because the women in my life are harder on me than anyone else.”
The Biggest Reason
And this is the biggest reason you struggle with trusting your wife. When she tries to change you. When you try to make her happy and you can’t quite get it right. When you’re still reminded of the times you let her down, no matter how much time has passed and how differently you do it now. When you try to share your worries about something.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. It goes back to the whole “open and honest” communication thing; letting her know, calmly and gently, that these things aren’t okay with you. While you are open to hearing her perspective about things, you are claiming your appropriate position to do the same. The two of you are equals in this venture and your trust in her depends on that becoming reality.
Reach out if you need to
Is there something your wife does that affects your trust in her? Email me with your question and I will respond to you personally.
Previously published on foundationscoachingnc
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