New couples are fantastic! So much promise, so much hope, so many possibilites.
The multiplying power of two is amazing. Except when it is not. When the hope dims and possibilities appear absent, we wonder if our hope was only fantasy. To some extent, it was.
Most have learned how to relate in and as a couple from our folks first, friends parents, and media parents. And as we live with our once idealized and perhaps, idolized, partners, we learn that they don’t really conform to our idea of how they should be, while we are perfectly fine. And we don’t know how to talk about our concerns.
Many men don't talk about it for a number of reasons. A few in mind are:
1. They are taught not to have emotions, or especially, not to recognize them and not express them, such as in “get a grip!” or “only girls are emotional, Girly”. 2. They were taught that men just don’t need to look at a map, to ask for help, to read the instructions, often learned through the message, “A good man can figure it out himself.” 3. Most lasting messages were taught by negative reinforcement, IE a punch, a slap, a put down when not performing as Dad or Mom might have expected. 4. She should know what I’m thinking!
Women too have been taught. In one large gathering, when asked if their husbands talk about anything important, I think I could have powered my laptop from the wind energy of the audience shaking their heads in unison.
1. They reported that they can not penetrate their mans shell to see what they know is going on with them. 2. They learned that if they wanted their partner to leave them alone, they just had to ask about something from their past. 3. Their questions and concerns are met with “Hey! I go to work! I do my job. When will you start doing yours?!” Or, “I didn’t say that, you’re remembering it wrong.” Or, “That’s it. I’m outta here.” and you learn not to probe. For the good of the kids maybe. To keep the peace. To not get dismissed, berated, or hit.
What about now?
Once today’s couples unlearn the lessons of the past, what is there for them in society today? First we have to learn basic relational skills. Then we need to learn how to use them today.