“I’m no advice columnist, but my first inclination is to tell you that a man needs to be able to receive your honest words, he needs to be able to deal with your anger. If he can’t, what’s he gonna do? He needs to be able to receive it, and use it as a growing experience, and you need to feel comfortable telling him. An ideal fairy tale? Maybe.
Anger can be very irrational. It can be childish, mine is sometimes. My anger is not always justified and rational. Does that make it something I should cover up, or can I express it? It depends who I am with.
If your man can deal with it, and he’s strong, then it’s great to tell him. Not for every little thing of course… little things are important because they can represent bigger principles, though they don’t always.
Him becoming comfortable with your anger may be a good start. I’d recommend he read Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton. That book is a rough roadmap for how to communicate honestly in a relationship, and I think is helpful for all men to read, maybe women too. It was written with more of a man’s hand though, so probably why I liked it, and it’s written a bit unorthodoxly.
Maybe Rori can jump in here, cause I’m no expert, and maybe there is a better book to read, or maybe it’s better not to engage him at all. But I recommend he do something because it’s clear you are working on communicating, you are working on something that will grow the relationship. What’s he doing?
Matt, thanks again – and I’ll jump in here. First “Radical Honesty” is a fabulous book, I recommend it to everyone.
The bottom line issue here is – we women are always trying to make something happen – to make a man want to do something, or inspire him to want to do something, or just to GET him to do something.
And so we’re back to the How-To.
If you’re struggling with how to express yourself to a man, and how to handle your feelings when you don’t know if you should “talk to” him about them, or just “let-er-rip” or stuff everything down until you’re able to figure out what to “do” about them. Here’s my process:
1. STOP doing what you were doing before that wasn’t working.
If the way you’ve been talking to him about your feelings is NOT making YOU feel GOOD and closer to him – Stop. Stop cold.
That looks like; Stop telling him what He’s doing wrong. Stop telling him he’s making you unhappy. Stop SAYING you’re unhappy. If you say nearly ANYTHING (and Matt, correct me if I’m wrong) that suggests any kind of improvement – a man will conclude that you are “unhappy” – and that you consider him to be the cause. He will either take that on, believe he is the cause, and feel bad and resentful, or he will believe there’s something wrong with you.
A man who goes blank at the word “emotion” cannot even find his own.
However – if YOU can…
2. Be at peace with YOUR emotions, and express them in a simple, straightforward way – he feels YOUR emotions, and that feels safe to him.
Sounds subtle, and it is – but then, that’s what we’re about here – subtle baby-steps that change the air between you and a man.
What does it mean, to be at peace with your emotions?
It means to feel the fear you feel when you’re about to feel some deep emotion that your body and heart have been trained to feel frightened of, to feel judging of, to not like – and not let that fear run you.
It means learning to experience your feelings and be okay with them.
From there, you practice speaking them – “I feel….”
From there, you get used to the messiness of it, and how sometimes it doesn’t get the reaction you want (but most of the time it will be a terrifically PLEASANT reaction)…and how it triggers even MORE feelings inside you you didn’t know you had and certainly aren’t in the mood to feel.
You practice giving up “pleasantness” in the moment so that you can feel the THRILL of FEELING what you feel – and it really is a thrill.
I’ve gotten used to my own unique sequence – as I feel tension in my body, I know I’m resisting a feeling.
So then I instantly start using Tools – grounding, object-touching, breathing, looking at what’s in front of me, getting present, saying a mantra, or just “I love you” to myself – and I can almost instantaneously feel the resistance dropping away. My shoulders relax.
And in that first moment – I feel sad.
I can’t ever quite put my finger on what it is that I’m sad about – so now I’ve given up even looking for it.
I say that that instant of sadness is me being moved.
It’s me just letting go of my mask, my tension, my resistance, my pushing away.
So – I say to myself that the “moved” feeling is like a door opening…a breath of fresh air clearing out the cobwebs – and that there’s a sensation attached to it.
Now I’ve come to embrace that feeling as the first step that then quickly moves into a bright, free feeling of absolute presence in the here-and-now.
I cherish and enjoy that moment until…I move on to the next and whatever that feels like!
We women are amazing!
Now – the expressing part of all this – if I’m standing with someone and the feeling that comes up after my “moved” feeling is anger – then I’m going to stop what I’m doing, sink down, get present, and say – “you know – I feel awkward talking about this, but I’m feeling angry and disappointed, and I don’t want to pretend I don’t feel that way. Can we talk about what’s going on with us?”
I’ve learned to do this with girlfriends, with my daughter, with my husband, and even with people I barely know.
And every single time – it opens up a whole new level of the relationship.
It deepens superficial friendships into living and breathing relationships I actually CARE about.
It creates EASE between us.
It releases the JUICE with my husband and I.
So – Matt, thank you for a man’s point of view. And what I take from that is – a man can hear you when you’re mad. Just learn to share it with him in this new, feeling, simple, non-accusing, non-making-him-wrong, owning your feelings and loving-yourself-and-respecting-him kind of way.