...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Friday, November 02, 2007

i need a hero. who talks. and sometimes cries.

I used to date a man who, when we were together, wrote me poems and referred to me by a nickname that, when spoken, sounded like he was singing. Every night, when we were apart, we'd speak for hours on the telephone and whisper words of love and encouragement. When together, we'd do the same thing, only it was deeper and more thoughtful.

Kind of like something out of a Wham! video.

In short, the time we were together felt connected. He knew how I was feeling. I knew how he was feeling. We spoke about those feelings. I never doubted his manliness, and I believe I kept a pretty even keel on the whole woman thing.

So earlier this week, I was speaking to this man when he said, "You want a man who "feels" things as deeply as you do, and he doesn't, or at least doesn't seem to, and can't communicate it if he did. Men are simply not wired that way. Other men call guys like that names on the playground. Men are ruled by appearances. Emotions are an outward sign of vulnerability, and therefore are open to exploitation. Men are supposed to be the rock, dear. We are the ones who are supposed to care for and provide the necessities of life for women, not become them ourselves."

Our conversation came after I shared with my friend that the personal matter I've been dealing with for such a very long time has been (finally) resolved favorably and that I'd wished my husband would've been as outwardly happy and relieved for me as I was with him when I shared the news. For a very long time, my husband has stood by me in this issue, but he has remained stoic and silent. Rather than talking to me about it, he'd let me fret and cry to him, and he'd show his support as he best knew, which was by being silent, but the silence only made me feel more alone. He never showed me or told me how he was impacted by it so I could feel less alone (and intrinsically I know he was impacted for he's not devoid of feeling - and because my friends who pulled me from my home to help me a couple weeks ago told me he was so frustrated and upset by the matter that he cried to them. Hearing that made me cry harder because it was everything I had wanted from him for so long).

Before you ask, yes, I've had this conversation with my husband, too. We've had the "show me your feelings" conversation many times during our marriage. After all he had to say about the resolution of this recent matter was "good," I told him I'd have felt like this was truly resolved had he given me even a hug and offered up a word of thanks. It was a matter that, when completed, really deserved some type of emotional response. God knows, I was happily a wreck for a change; however, part of me felt inappropriate in my personal response.

I know I married a man who is, truly, very silent. He can talk surface topics for so long I sometimes wish there was a contest that offered a huge cash prize for such a skill. But he doesn't like to find himself in the middle of conversations that might test him. Abhors confrontation. Not one to make a fast decision. So his response doesn't come as a huge surprise to me. And, on the flip side, perhaps I'm too quick to get emotional sometimes, though I don't think I am a person who cries needlessly over silly things, or bursts into rages should the slightest thing go array. I stew about things rather than spill sometimes, much to my chagrin. In this respect, I suppose the case could be made that my husband and I are perfectly suited this way. But we're also committed to each other, and committing to someone means sharing with them. Sharing everything.

So it comes down to this for me - do men seriously think that today, as relationships have evolved and grown, they can't show any type of emotion to their wives or girlfriends or, hell, anyone, for fear of appearing weak and vulnerable? Is it really that emasculating to cry? The gender roles have evolved greatly since the days when knights in shining armour were slaying dragons to rescue damsels in distress, and yet no matter how often or to how many men I argue this whole "show your emotions" case to, I tend to hear responses in line with what my friend said above. Some have even told me they'd rather take a beating then cry about something "because that's just what a man does." This kind of response leaves me questioning whether I am actually hyper sensitive, or do I just expect too much from a man who has chosen to share his life and all facets of it with a woman.

I could go on and on about this subject. Clearly, you can tell by the fact that I barely ever manage to write a short post (or, as you've no doubt figured out and, if not, will soon see that I also can't write a short sentence), that I'm one of those who likes to talk about an issue or an emotion until all parties are satisfied and perhaps singing happy songs together while sharing an uncomfortably long embrace. However, I'm interested in hearing what you all think. If you're a female reader, does your partner share their feelings with you? Do they dare show their emotions, or do they fear it a sign of weakness? How does that make you then feel if they can't share that side of themselves with you? Do you feel as though you must tamp down your emotions for them? Men, if you're among the apparently large army of "strong and silent" types, why are you that way? Was it a matter of nature versus nurture? Is there really a fear in shedding a tear? Would your really rather take a beating then be vulnerable to the person you loved? If you're not part of that army, what is it allows you to feel comfortable sharing or shedding?

If it helps, I'll hum "Careless Whisper" while you all ponder these questions and we share together openly in the comments.



Blogger 1blueshi1 said...

how do you manage to crack me up while sharing about such a deep issue? Wham!, indeed, I can still picture their poster on my wall and of course now have Careless Whisper going as an earworm (will try to replace with "I Want Your Sex", of course)
I've been with my husband off & on (mostly on) for eleven years this year and I've seen the man cry twice. He is willing to talk about his feelings (and listen) but pretty only much while I'm packing my bags and trying to figure out if we still have the original box to pack Zac's Xbox in as my parents' home lacks the all-singing, all-dancing electronica my offspring are accustomed to.

Don't know if that helps you much, but when it comes to MY life, there may be a sad lack of help. Bad examples by the shitload, black humor, those I've got, but actual help? Doesn't this James Joyce length comment count?

Friday, November 02, 2007 4:10:00 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

By nature, bloggers are more of the "sharing" type, obviously, so you are going to get fairly skewed results from both women AND men here.

That being said, while we've discussed before how in this respect, apparently I'm the woman in my marriage and Autumn is the man (and this part resonates with me a lot: ...can talk surface topics for so long I sometimes wish there was a contest that offered a huge cash prize for such a skill. But he doesn't like to find himself in the middle of conversations that might test him. Abhors confrontation. Apply that to my wife.)... (uh, where was I) (oh yeah) All that being said, I'm not exactly the type to get all weepy over stuff. In fact, while I may be the more confrontational, talk-about-feelings person in my marriage, I'm still fairly laid back and rarely get worked up to the point of tears.

That doesn't mean I'm holding them in. It just means I don't get that emotional about 98% of subjects. What struck me and surprised me about your post is that you say your husband cried to your friends rather than to you. That just strikes me as very odd. It's one thing to be strong and supportive, it's another thing to do that. Especially when you've had conversations before about how much it upsets you.

I've cried in my wife's presence, and no one else's, probably a handful of times in the last 6-7 years (I won't mention the topic that has brought on most of those tears). And probably not at all in the last one or two years. I don't know if that's because I'm happier with my "situation," or just because I've grown more... uh... numb.

My apologies for the long comment. Blame Creepy Anonymous BOOBS! Guy, he got me all riled up.

Friday, November 02, 2007 7:55:00 AM  
Blogger Phyllis Renée said...

Are you secretly married to my husband? Maybe he's out of town "working." but actually playing hubby to you.

Really, I quit trying to figure out the why behind RL's silence, because I would tend to take it personally. I realized that's just how he is and if he has anything he wants to share he will. It's a lot easier for me to just accept that instead of trying to figure it out. Less painful.

Friday, November 02, 2007 8:49:00 AM  
Blogger Nature Girl said...

wow...in our house, I'm kinda the "guy" in that I don't share my true emotions, rarely cry if ever, and can talk surface all day long, but don't embroil me in a confrontational conversation..nosireebob!

My husband? I've seen him cry exactly 2 times in 19 years of marriage so when he's upset about something, I know it's serious. anger or frustration we show easily, but sadness? nope...neither one of us give that one up. I can say simply the words "you made me sad when you said" blah blah blah, and he'll say he's sorry adn that's that, but crying? somebody better be dead or damn near it before we shed tears....
Probably not the healthy way to go about it, but that's the way we're built I guess and so by the same token, if he see's tears in my eyes, he knows something is seriously wrong or I'm thinking about Steve Irwin again.

Friday, November 02, 2007 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Zeno said...

I just opened up to my Love about my fears and my weaknesses. Her conclusion: I don't love her. A phone flaw kept her from hearing me say "I love you" right after her. Did she give me the chance to explain, even though we've been dealing with problems not hearing me on this phone for weeks? No. And she is exceptional among women most of the time in her being understanding and even-tempered...not like the average emotion-driven banshee out there.

I opened up about things personal. She freaked.

Lesson learned.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Men don't open up to women because women won't control their emotions and are likely to rip a man's heart out under the influence of those emotions.

You may want to see your hubby cry once. Great. How about seeing him cry once a month? Once a week How about when he tells you all about how he's feeling? Will he be your manly stud then? I don't know you personally, but the average woman will label him: wimp.

Most men have tried once or twice to open up to women. They learned the hard way that they will lose that aura of manhood in her eyes.

We're smart enough not to do it again.

It may have been your "sistah's" fault, not yours, that we've learned these lessons, but have we've learned them.

And we're smart enough not to "sign up" for those lessons again.

Friday, November 02, 2007 1:15:00 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Renée said...

Just read D's comment and while I agree that could be true for some men, I don't think it's true for all men. I think there's just some guys that don't show their feelings, that's just how they are. And I know there's woman the same way. Those of us who are "feelers" like me and you, Dkog, like to feel everything, talk about everything, and talk about it some more. Then talk about how we feel about it.

Friday, November 02, 2007 3:38:00 PM  
Blogger 2amsomewhere said...

In my own experiences with my wife, I've found that her definition of "being emotionally present in a relationship" means expressing only that subset of my feelings which does not cause her discomfort. I was allowed to be happy, but not allowed to be sad or angry, especially with her.

I'm glad I'm getting out of that scene.


Friday, November 02, 2007 3:41:00 PM  
Blogger Nanette said...

It is unfortunate on so many issues, not just this one, that society dictates how individuals should be/act.

I've seen Shawn cry numerous times and he shares his feelings with me on a regular basis. Does this make him less manly to me? No, the thing that makes him less manly is his, for lack of a better term his metrosexuality. ;) (Seriously, dude spends far too much time in front of the mirror and worrying about fashion.)

That said, it would be nice if you could get what you wanted from your husband, but, I think you are definitely in a place where you realize that his emotional reactions, or lack thereof are just part of him. For better or worse, right? :)


Friday, November 02, 2007 4:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mandy Lou said...

Sadly, mine is like yours, and so many others it seems. He clams up whenever the conversation gets emotional. He prefers the Mr. Fix-It approach to my/our problems, instead of just listening and talking it out - he goes for an instant quick fix ("I'm feeling kind of depresed", answer "Go to the Dr. they can get you a pill").

It gets a bit old, but after 16 years I've learned to live with it and work around it.

Friday, November 02, 2007 6:47:00 PM  
Blogger Summer Rose said...

I'm sending you great big {{{HUGS}}}, you need these more than I do.

Friday, November 02, 2007 9:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how he gets to spend so much time watching football, considering it seems you, me, and Phyllis Renee all seem to be married to the same man!

I've seen my husband cry 3x's in our 9 years together. He chalks it up to being a guy and not being "allowed" to express emotion. I wish he understood that sometimes by his "being strong", he makes me feel alone in my fear or sadness, even if he might be feeling the same way.

And D, that goes both ways. I've bared my soul only to get chastised, humiliated, and scorned. Generalizations, as a rule, are unhealthy.

Friday, November 02, 2007 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger kimmyk said...

Jamie doesn't share anything. Emotions, the remote, the bag of chips...nothin. He's selfish. I'm the one whose all let's talk about our feelings and although I don't want to share the remote or chips I would y'know if it got him to open up. Then there will be days when he's all girly and wants to talk to me and I'm like dude, I can't hear this right now....So it's give and take I guess.

Men are fickle. This I know.

Can you whisper any Roxette in my ear? I really wanna hear some Roxette this morning.

Saturday, November 03, 2007 9:12:00 AM  
Blogger Sailor said...

Very much a balancing act, for me anyway- to try to allow my emotions to exist, and make myself vulnerable.

We grow up, like it or not, with the whole "don't cry, be strong, fix the problem" attitude.

Un-learning that, has been taking me a lifetime, and i'm not very good at it yet; but, I'm trying, for a lot of the same reasons that you want your hero to be able to cry.

I want to be Lynn's hero, so if that's what it takes, that's what I'll do.

Sending you hugs,

Saturday, November 03, 2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Bee said...

Just when I think I'm the only one...! ;o)
My husband is exactly the same way. I joke to everyone that he is the Ice to my Fire because I'm always the one to react first. He takes things in stride no matter what's going on, unless it's something that to me is so insignificant like why his PC Mag hasn't gotten here.
I've felt alone sometimes when we've had tough things to deal with, as I'm losing sleep and he's snoring softly I've resented him thinking he just didn't care.
When I would bring it up he would just say "everything will be fine" when what I really wanted was empathy.
He on the other hand, always accuses me of over-reacting!
No matter how many times we've talked about it he always responds that he can't fake what he's feeling.
I guess we should all form a Wives of Stoic Husbands Support Group. ;o)

Saturday, November 03, 2007 3:48:00 PM  
Blogger Recovering Soul said...

Therese and I joke about how she is the guy and I'm the woman in our relationship.

In my experience, men don't open up a lot... but I'm not one of those guys.

But really, I would think most blogger guys are already out here sharing their thoughts and feelings, so we are already a different breed of guy and are skewing your results.

I don't know how to drive men to open up more. Only Therese could say if this has gotten better over time or if it was always okay.

But, off of that subject for a moment, is your situation fully resolved or are still working through it? I was a bit confused on that point from your post.

Here's to hoping you get through things quickly!

Saturday, November 03, 2007 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger The Savage said...

I am nowhere near being the 50's arch-type male as described in this post. okay... okay.. I do like a martini now and then when I get home from work but my GF and I share feelings and emotions as well as body jewelry. I am also nowhere near being that new species os male known as a metrosexual. I guess I'm a hybrid....

Monday, November 05, 2007 5:42:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

Sorry I'm so late to the party, DKG, but this post actually catches me at a weirdly 'pertinent' point.

First, I'll say that, I'm probably more emotional than the average guy. I get choked up, and even tear up, quite a bit easier than most of my guy-friends. And, for the most part, that's been more of a blessing than a curse. Helpful in building 'connection' w/ Molly, for sure (altho I'm less successful in pulling that off w/ my kids; I probably feel more of a need to 'be in charge' w/ them than I do w/ Molly)

The 'John Wayne' stereotype has its place, to be sure; 'A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do', and all that. But, in the course of forming a life-partnership, it's helpful, as the Beatles once sang, to 'let her into your heart'. (And, just for the sake of saying so, I'm sure that you are well-ensconced in your hubby's heart; it's just a matter of him letting you in on that fact. . .)

All that said, I spent the weekend on a 'men's retreat', and the general tone was hyper-emotionalistic to the point of revulsion. One thing for a man to allow himself to cry, when the situation calls for it, but some of these guys seemed to take it as a kind of 'Badge of Authenticity', and to go out of their way to prod themselves to tears and choking-up, and 'excuse-me-I-need-a minute-here'. And, after a couple of these, I just wanted to say, "get a grip, guys". It sorta made you want to look away in embarrassment.

My dad was most definitely the 'strong silent type', at least in my experience of him. 'A Man's Gotta Do What a Man's Gotta Do', and all that. And, like I said, that has its place, and it served him pretty well. When all hell is breaking loose, you still have to be able to think clearly and figure out a way thru the craziness, and stopping for a couple hours to cry and wet your pants doesn't really help you 'do what you gotta do'. And, 'emotional connection' aside, I don't think it fosters confidence in those you're supposed to be 'leading', that they can follow your lead and be OK. There's a sense of responsibility, that I've got a job to do here, and stopping to, um, wallow in my own emotions only sidetracks me from the job I've got to do.

I don't know if I did quite as good a job articulating what I mean, but - it's a start. . .

Monday, November 05, 2007 8:20:00 AM  
Blogger Therese in Heaven said...

RS is better about sharing his feelings than it sounds like many men are. While we got the "sharing feelings thing" down to a science during affair recovery (weekly therapy and daily letter writing to each other will do that!), he has always been a bit better than most, I think. It might have helped that when we were dating and engaged, we read a lot of books together: relationship books, religion books, etc. that gave us plenty of material to communicate about.

All that said, our communication isn't always perfect and every now and then I wonder what he's really thinking. At such times as those, though, I try to remember what Seinfeld had to say on the topic:

You wonder what men are really thinking? We're not thinking anything.

Monday, November 05, 2007 9:08:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

Everyone - You all shared some truly wonderful comments here and I appreciate them all. Having gotten even a minor bead on many of you from your writings, I wasn't surprised to see how the comments fell between the male and female respondants. I intended to respond to each of them individually, but midway through, I realized I was pretty much saying the same thing in each one. And I'm hungry, so really, some of what this comes down to is a raging desire for an english muffin with peanut butter on it.

I think most of us have some deeper understanding of our spouses or significant others and that's how we gauge our reactions to life with them. My husband and I have come to realize that we are who we are. He may have realized it from day one with me and it's taken me 13 years to just accept the fact that he's not going to be one to spill his deepest concerns and thoughts with me because, at the core, I don't think he wishes to burden me with things he knows are probably already scaring me. I know he's not going to know how to react to me if and when I go all unhinged. Is it perfect? Probably not. But it's gotten us this far.

Monday, November 05, 2007 9:27:00 AM  
Blogger Crazy Computer Dad said...

"Hiding the tears in my eyes,
'Cause Boys Don't Cry".

Hey, I was the singer of that song for Halloween this year, but it doesn't really give me any insight I can share. Clearly I wasn't that deep into the character, I just know all the songs. Meaning is a whole other issue. :-)

I went to see "Bridge to Teribitha" in the spring this year. I wouldn't have if I had known the story. I expected the boy to have to deal with some jealousy, etc when he got back from the trip to the museum. What happened took me by surprise just as much as it had character on screen, and my reaction was exactly the same. Part of me wanted to shout out in the theater "No fucking way!" Part of me just wanted to bawl, not sob, not cry, just really bawl. I identified very deeply with the movie in many ways. A lot of what they did in the forest with their imaginations mimicked what my childhood was like. I had also just been totally betrayed by someone I thought was the love of my life. So being in the middle of a deep depressive period didn't help. I didn't cry, but only just barely. Why? Partly nature, partly nurture. Crying is perceived as being weak on the playground, and the weak get picked on more as do those that are different. You learn to control you weaknesses, hide them. You are less of a target that way. That would be the nature part. The nurture is that I was always being told to get control of myself, girls and women cry, etc. So in order to impress and get the approval of my dad, I struggled to get control of and hide my emotions.

I had a lurker leaving comments on my blog in the spring. At one point the person said "Be a man." It was a woman, a close personal friend of the woman that totally betrayed my son and I. She of course only has half a story, half the truth, etc. I have to assume that by her statement, she believes men should be totally stoic, steadfast, and unfeeling. That they shouldn't depend on anyone, and be able to walk away from anything unscathed, unemotional, unhurt. It is apparently one of the stereotypes of men that pervade society. However, I have seen every gender stereotype present in both sexes, some are just more readily apparent than others.

Another line from a song by the Cure....
"I turned to look at you
To read my thoughts upon your face
And gazed so deep into your eyes
So beautiful and strange
Until you spoke
And showed me understanding is a dream"

I won't go so far as to agree with the last line of the song that no one ever knows or loves another, but as much as we would like to really fully know and understand someone, I doubt we ever will. I think even couples that appear on the outside to be so closely matched have their own moments "what the hell are you thinking?" There are moments when I have told people, especially my son, that I wish they could see themselves through my eyes and truly see and understand what I see in them. Words are used so often to lie and betray that we don't trust them. Often, it is the actions of a person over time that shows how they really think and feel, far more than words can really express. While it would be nice to have both actions and words....we have what we have.

Monday, November 05, 2007 1:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot I could say on this subject but that'll have to wait until our current drama runs its course and I have time to compose something. It may even be intelligible, bu no promises .....

Thursday, November 08, 2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

Xi - I shall await the exhausted running of your drama to see what you compose...

Friday, November 09, 2007 12:12:00 AM  

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