This email is bound to tick off idealists who believe “it
shouldn’t be like that”.
Sorry. But for scads of married men it is like that.
The cold, hard truth is millions of “openly vulnerable husbands” (OVH) face cold, distant and disrespectful wives every day. Even in our “highly evolved” age, the year 2017 has brought more questions than answers to the modern marriage and the husbands I help.
Shouldn’t This Be a Two-Way Street?
The typical email complaint I get from husbands sounds like this:
“My wife and I are really having trouble and her anger seems to be driving it. She has been calling me needy and hates me talking about my feelings and our relationship. She pulls away when I try to get closer to her and she has been super disconnected. She says she feels smothered
by me and my feelings. I thought we were supposed to show vulnerability to women. I thought we were supposed to be open with them and also accept their vulnerability. But she doesn’t share anything with me. Shouldn’t this be a two-way street?”
It’s not a two-way street. Let go of what is “supposed to be” and choose to deal with what “is”. Your expectation that it should be a two-way street will only create more cold and more distance. Wouldn’t it be nice if being vulnerable with your wife was easy? Sure, it would. So would financial freedom, effortless sex and world peace and, like those, it’s a lot more complicated than you would like.
The Two-Way Street Myth about Vulnerability
Men and women are perfectly equal –
but we’re not the same. If sameness is your desire, you will need to come back in another life and give it another shot.
“Sameness” is not going to evolve in your lifetime so “them’s the cards you’re dealt”.
You can choose to play or fold.
The two-way street vulnerability myth has a few
misconceptions which can leave the OVH quite confused.
1. Men and women should and must display equal amounts of vulnerability in order to create true intimacy, love and sexual desire.
Expecting to achieve equal amounts of anything is a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to manage equity for domestic stuff like housework and bills. But intimacy, love and desire are not subject to the rules of domestic equality. Trying to manipulate equal effort and equal vulnerability is a set up for conflict and disappointment. Pursuing her to
join you at a level of vulnerability you desire will cause her to distance herself from you.
2. All women want a man who is willing to show his sensitivity, fears and tears for her to feel closeness, trust and sexual attraction.
Even the research by vulnerability expert Brene Brown confirms the current social conditioning of women to be disappointed and disgusted (her words) by male vulnerability. Check out her famous video. Many wives perceive their husband’s fear and uncertainty as weakness and it can scare them, piss them off and turn them off. An informal poll of any 25 honest wives will confirm this. One woman explained it to me like this, “I don’t mind him being vulnerable as long as
he has a handle on how he is going to fix the problem.”
3. It’s selfish, unfair, immature and unevolved for a woman to be turned off by an OVH. She should be the safest place to vent his emotions.
Judging what feels attractive to her is a waste of your time. It’s not a conscious choice for her. It’s simply a programmed reaction. It’s no more selfish, unfair, immature and un-evolved than your reaction to a woman you find extremely unappealing (insert your image here). You could try to rationalize with her that she should be
the best, safest place for you to emotionally vomit anytime you feel like it. Or you could try to debate the science of attraction with her to find a resolution. Good luck with that.
Can you be Both Masculine and Vulnerable at
the Same Time?
Of course. Men have equal rights and access to their fears, tears, uncertainty, insecurity and unbridled emotional expression. And exercising those rights does not make a man less “masculine”. Masculinity always contains the full range of
human emotion. That’s not remotely debatable in my book.
My question is “Can a husband reasonably expect to sustain his masculine attractiveness to his wife if his emotional vulnerability is unchecked, uncontrolled and unregulated?”
In most cases, I believe the answer is no.
I know some will
point out relationships where it works and is welcome and is warm and wonderful. Those may be the rare and truly evolved spiritual partnerships with fully realized mutuality in every respect.
But it takes two extremely conscious, intentional and willing partners to
achieve that. Often these are second marriages. If this is you, don’t bother with the rest of this email. If this this isn’t you…keep reading.
Let’s talk more about how to look at your own vulnerability and why regulating it can be a powerful choice that you make