Men I Dare You to Learn the Truth about Yourself
Written By: Mark Smith
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I have a face I cannot show
I make the rules up as I go
Its try and love me if you can
Are you strong enough to be my man? - Sheryl Crow
I have decided that I don’t believe in marriage counseling. What passes for marriage counseling generally is ‘let’s brain storm together about how we can saved your marriage at all costs’. While that sounds like a reasonable approach it just isn’t very effective. What I have found to be effective is simply gathering enough facts and truth about a couple and then sharing those truths with the couple in as directive and cutting manner as is needed to get those truths seen and heard by both parties. I am thinking of changing my business cards to read ‘Teller of Scorching Truth’. I’m not suggesting that I or any other human being has a corner on the truth market. I am able to see more truth in a coupleship then the two biased members though. It is amazing to me that we can be in marriages for decades without really knowing each other very well at all. We project who we think that person is onto them. Then they are free to actually be seen and heard for who they actually are. That is a wonderful gift.
I like the VISA commercial where they say something along the lines as ‘dinner out with your kids - $75.00, ice cream at Coldstone’s - $25.00, an actual emotional connection with your teenagers - priceless.’ Be it friend, pastor, fortune teller, boss, spouse or therapist, if a third party can skillfully put their finger on the truth of you as a man their intervention in your life is truly priceless if you are strong enough to take that truth in. I once had a client bring me a pumice stone (a coarse rock used to scrape calluses off one’s feet). She said that it reminded her of my personality. I took it as some sort of great compliment but I’m fairly sure that she didn’t mean it as one. People want to hear the truth about them and they don’t want to hear the truth about themselves.
Here is a sampling of observations from this week in my work with men. The stories have been altered to protect the identities and confidentiality of the clients.
· An older gentleman was completely trying to hide his real self and he had for his entire marriage due to combat related post traumatic stress syndrome. I told him that I could not tell him one true thing about him because he spent two full hours with me without telling me one true thing. Within the hour he was pouring out more emotion then his wife had ever seen and all three of us were near tears. I paced the room as my words cut deeply into decade old emotional wounds. Honestly, it felt as if I almost got into a wrestling match with this fellow. It was one of the most powerful sessions that I have ever had the pleasure of participating in.
· A clever, smart, charming young executive came to grips with the truth that he was in fact not at all a good husband. He is one of these guys who everybody loves and who thinks his own ‘issues’ don’t stink like the rest of ours do. He is begging me for a map of what exactly is to come. When I tell him that there is no map he becomes very sad. His wife has been confronting him for years but he is just now seeing her and himself in the friendly confines of my office.
· A very distinguished president of his company has to face the fact that his childhood abandonment from his father did actually impact him. He has been hiding from the wounded boy deep inside himself his whole life. The problem now is that he is about to lose a marriage that he really cares about due to his inability to be intimate with himself or his wife. He hates coming to therapy. Showing emotion equals showing weakness to this man. I am trying to sell him on the idea that showing emotion is actually a sign of strength. Women want and need real strength in man not just outward stoic defenses.
· An overbearing but interesting entrepreneur begged me for a plan, a book, and a way in which he could excel at the work we were doing. I refused him. I told him to just be. I told him to listen to his wife. He almost cussed me. If he is going to heal he damned well wants to control the process.
Men are people too. They experience just as much wounding as children as women do. The stronger you are the more vulnerable you can become. Are you strong enough to know the truth about yourself? The first thing you need to so then is to ask your wife who you really are. If she has enough courage she will tell you what might be the ugly truth. See you next week.
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