What really happens when men don’t talk?
I suggest that one overlooked reason that men find themselves in the midst of an extramarital affair is that men don’t talk!
* Thanks to their biology, neurophysiology, culture and psychology most men rarely express worries, emotions, sexual issues or physical concerns about themselves, to friends, family, or colleagues, much less to their partners.
* As the show, “ Married Men Don’t Talk” suggests, men will talk about everything from kids to sports but they don’t discuss marital issues.
* In their research on men who stopped seeking sex from their partners, Bob and Susan Berkowitz, report that 44% said they were furious, felt criticized and insignificant in their marriage; but would not or could not talk about it with their partners.
* M.Gary Neuman found that 48% of the men he interviewed reported emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason for cheating. The men reported feeling unappreciated and wished that their partners could recognize when they were trying. They did not talk to their partners about this.
The rationale I have heard from men and found corroborated in the research is that:
* They fear talking will only cause more anger and rejection
* They anticipate that if they start talking about issues in the marriage, their wives won’t stop talking–a reality that may simply reflect the clash of gender differences in handling stress.
* They fear to hurt their partner with their honest feelings.
* They feel self-conscious about performance issues and unwittingly send a message of avoidance, disinterest or rejection.
* They silently blame their partner for boring sex but don’t consider verbalizing ways of enlivening the love life.
* They don’t read the non-verbal cues or consider the cues they are sending.
* They see the defensive posture their partner takes—not as a cover for her feelings of rejection; but as anger and accusation.
* Paradoxically, they see themselves as protecting themselves, their partner, and their marriage with silence.
As such, many married men are emotionally alone. Unlike women who turn to other women to vent, garner support, and hear other perspectives and feelings— men too often “ suck it up”, remain locked in their perspective and can’t find a way to speak about what they need. This leaves them vulnerable to the attention, affirmation and complication of an affair.
Ok, firstly, there are some glitches in this author’s research/basic statistics and she could have done a lot more work on grasping the difference between Infidelity and an Affair…
That being said, it’s most definitely worth the read. There’s nothing about this list that it is in any exclusive to either gender — and it’s right on target.
But, the key piece this author gets — and what differentiates her from so many others who seem to just be venting their own unprocessed anger — is seen in how focused she is upon BOTH partners needing healing rather than punishment, how both created the marital norms, how both need support to alter those patterns and how an affair does NOT need to end the marriage.
If both partners want their marriage, however, a marriage can survive an affair. Many partners have journeyed through the guilt and pain to mutually repair and renew their marriage.
If a man can find the feelings and words to engage with his partner in a process of apology and forgiveness, if he can speak and listen, reconsider the mutual rejection and anger, clarify the sexual needs and trust the love — he may well have a marriage he can speak about.
Simply – truth.