On a recent full moon I was in a grumpy mood, sleeping in my home office, unable to connect with my wife. I’m sometimes like that around the full moon, either slightly off and not as outgoing and engaging or sometimes fully disengaged and needing time apart. Whoever says it’s just women that are affected by the pull of that great, beautiful orb should talk with my wife. She’ll give them an ear full.
It’s often the time that the wife and I have our biggest rows too. Not that we have any knock-down drag-outs or anything, but heated words have been exchanged by the light of the moon. Usually, they’re followed by repairing apologies and a warm embrace after things cool off. She’s become a bit wary of the full moon; maybe I’m a beware-wolf.
During this most recent full-moon episode things she would do really agitated me and I found myself pretty annoyed by her. What really drove me crazy though was that I couldn’t figure out what it was that was bothering me. I knew it wasn’t the small things she was doing, they were just the symptom of something bigger. But I couldn’t figure out what that bigger thing was.
Tip 1: Sometimes a guy just needs some time in the cave …
So that’s where I went, for four nights, to my man cave. Getting away is an important way to get clarity, and it doesn’t have to be out of the house or out of state. Just sleeping in another room can break some of the bedroom patterns that distract you from focusing on what’s going on inside yourself. You know the old patterns … Are we going to have sex tonight or will she want to be held? Can I sleep any farther away from her without falling out of bed? Does the silence between us feel like it weighs 16 tons to her too?
Sleeping alone can help to get clear of these distracting patterns. It can also help you get a good night’s sleep, which improves one’s mental clarity and mood.
Tip 2: Give the head a break … try out another center of intelligence.
To be clear I’m talking about giving both of your heads a break. The other centers of intelligence I’m referring to are your heart and your gut. Science is confirming what eastern cultures have known for millennia, our guts and our heart are separate centers of intelligence. Both have their own neural networks and are capable of processing information apart from the brain.
And as men, we’ve been given no end of erroneous social conditioning that what makes us men is our logic and a tight reign on our emotions. We’ve been cut off from two important sources of corporeal information. For emotional intelligence, the heart can’t be beat (that’s not really intended to be a pun.)
I couldn’t really think about what was bothering me because it wasn’t something in my head. In fact, thinking about it just made it worse because thoughts would swirl around and the same old internal playbacks about our relationship challenges would come up, play back, rewind, replay. That wasn’t helpful at all.
So I just tried to breath. I focused on where in my body my angst or broodiness was hanging out. And I found it in my heart. (And this is where I might lose a bunch of men, but hang on with me, it will be so worth it for you.)
So I asked my heart, “Okay, so, what’s this about?” The information I got back was a surprise … I was frustrated by not being “seen” by my wife.
Whoa, dude, did you just share that in an article on the web? WTF?! You’re supposed to be a man … men don’t do that …
Yeah, actually men do talk about what’s in their heart, especially with the people that they love. You can look to spiritual sages like Christ or Buddha as guides for how to be a heartfelt warrior.
If men don’t share what’s going on it’s because they haven’t yet developed the tools or because they’re too chicken sh*t to get real. I know, because I used to be one of those men. One that didn’t have all the tools to recognize or name my feelings and one that used to be too afraid to share them because of my fear of judgment, abandonment, or shame.
Yeah, and so I was having this conversation with myself about what my heart was feeling about not being seen by my wife. It was like this, I had been doing all of this work around my transition full-time to men’s work, processing realizations from a kick ass men’s retreat I went to a couple of months ago, working out regularly and getting into better shape than I’ve been in for over a decade, doing research for my blog, yadda yadda. Massive change was going on with me. But my wife was totally caught up in her stuff: being in grad school, volunteering, working … and she had stopped asking about what was going on over here, with me. (She’d only read one of my blog posts … ouch.)
Tip 3: Just tell her how you feel damn it! (This is where the better sex comes in.)
Well, I am a guy, and it felt pretty awkward to try and have this conversation with her. It sounded a little weird to tell my wife that I wasn’t feeling seen, or that I didn’t feel like she was interested in what I was doing. And that lack of interest and attention was creating distance in our relationship and (ironically) causing me to withdraw. Whoa. How was sharing that going to come across?
I needed to get over my resistance to sharing and push through to a conversation. I had to get over my entanglement with the perceived social stigma of being a heartfelt man (no, I’m not a wuss) … I had to stop listening to my internal saboteurs that were ridiculing me for wanting to be seen and appreciated by my wife (nope, I wasn’t being egotistical or a wuss) … and I had to push through the ridiculous mind trap that “men don’t need,” and that we just have to buck up and go it alone (seriously, I wasn’t being needy or egotistical or a wuss). And after all that, I realized what I was wanting was connection, not isolation.
So with all of that personal heavy lifting done and having thrown off the shackles of isolation, I sat down with her and we talked about what had been going on with me. She listened as I worked my way through what I had been reflecting on over the past four days in my man cave. We both apologized and we laughed about how busy we both were, but realized together how important it is for each to feel seen and appreciated.
In the end, we came away with a better understanding of each other, a closer connection, and a commitment to greater awareness of each other’s needs. And yes, totally intimate and awesome sex came about as a result of that conversation and stronger connection. Hey guys, this stuff really works!
Have you had an experience where you were unable to communicate a need? Ever felt trapped in your head over something that was going on in your heart? Share it out in the comment section below!
Previously published on Midlife and Thriving
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