Marital, Family or Individual Therapist serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana



Fellas, You Can't Have A Good Marriage Without Being Emotional
Written By: Mark Smith


Healing Toxic Shame Through Recovery
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Managing Abandonment  Issues Through Recovery
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I don't know how many manly men read my humble relationship column, but if they don't they should. I'll tell you what ladies : grab your scissors, start cutting and make sure that your guy gets a good look at this week's column. Slip it into the sports section or better yet strategically leave it by the toilet; there's never anything to read in there.

Let me describe for you the bread and butter of the marital counseling business. I get a call from an early 40'ish woman who says that her marriage has gotten really stale. She says that her husband is a workaholic, that they never talk on a deep level and that they make love maybe about once every six weeks or so. Since she is talking about a separation he has grudgingly agreed to darken my door. He would rather take a beating then come talk about his many failures and his lackluster sex life with a complete stranger, but there he is in a waiting room looking much like a puppy that just had a few whacks with a newspaper.

We'll call the hero of our story Dave. Dave grew up with a tough, alcoholic factory worker father and three equally tough and very competitive older brothers. Success in life meant being stronger than the next guy. He took many a beating from his father and his brothers. As a kid, emotional weakness would attract trouble for Dave like blood in the water attracts sharks. His female role model was his depressed, extremely passive mother. Dave's football scholarship was his ticket out of blue-collar poverty.

In college, Dave met pretty young Melissa. They spent countless hours talking during their 3-year courtship. Dave spoke about his abusive childhood with tears in his eyes and Melissa was blown away by his openness, vulnerability and strength. When they professed a life long love at the altar both of them were 100% sure that their love would never waver.

That was then, this is now; the honeymoon has long been over. Desperately lonely Melissa wonders where her deep, tenderhearted lover went. All she can get out of Dave these days is a grunt, an occasional burp and lots of bitter complaining about her disinterest in meeting his sexual needs. That cute plumber guy on Desperate Housewives is looking mighty good to her right now. She actually is vulnerable to any real life cute plumber guy who might come along. Dave is starting to visit strip clubs while he is on the road, looking for a cure to his boredom. You see where this is going.

So, when I tell Dave that he is going to have to learn how to open up emotionally, that the wounds from his horribly abusive childhood are blocking his ability to be connected to himself and to his wife, he looks at me like I'm nuts. With the sincerity of a sweet child, he informs me that he actually had a great childhood, that he learned to work hard and play hard and that if he could do it all over again he wouldn't change a single thing! Have you heard this story before, ladies? At this point I sigh deeply and ponder the prospect of doubling my fee - gonna be a tough one. Dave has been number one in everything that he has ever done. He was All-State in football, he married the prettiest girl at his college and he has been his company's top sales guy for 10 years running. He drives a Mercedes and he wears a Rolex. He doesn't know how to lose. If you are in second that isn't good enough : discipline yourself and push harder. He is truly confused. How could he be dysfunctional? He's a winner. Why isn't his pretty wife impressed with him the way she used to be? Why isn't being #1 good enough anymore?

Fast forward to twelve months later. Amazingly, Dave finally got it. It was either unwrap that deeply buried emotional ball of childhood crap or lose his wife. He was shocked that there were still a lot of tears in there. He found out that the whole therapy thing was actually pretty cool stuff. Dave also learned to talk about his current emotional needs and feelings. He learned to understand and meet his wife's emotional needs. He learned how to be intimate. He learned that being emotionally vulnerable is actually a sign of strength, not weakness. And he's thrilled with the effects of all that intimacy on his now robust and invigorated sex life. Sometimes you can teach an old dog some new tricks.




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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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