A Study in Self-Esteem – Men & Woman Really ARE Different

Men’s self esteem depends upon their ability to stand apart. They need to appear to the world like they are in control of situations, even if they aren’t. Not wanting d to show their confusion or vulnerability to the outside world, they distance themselves from others, stand independently and shut down.

The distance they create scares women, whose self esteem rests on their ability to stay connected with others. A wife knows that she is doing her job and is good at it when her husband talks to her and is vulnerable with her. The opposing self-esteem dynamics-he shuts down because he needs to hold onto his self-esteem/she needs him to talk to her so she feels competent-can make it very difficult for them to communicate.

Men recognize that there is a difference between how the two genders communicate. Women, however, often ascribe the dissimilarity to a man’s lack of sensitivity. They don’t realize that when a man distances himself, he’s self-soothing in some way, attempting to build his masculinity and his confidence about his competency in the world.

Bear in mind, then, that when your husband is reluctant to tell you about his day, it’s possible that he doesn’t want  you to know about a particular problem-a business crisis, a cash flow issue, or the loss of a major customer. He is not yet sure how he is going to deal with it and until he is, he doesn’t want you to worry about it or give him advice. He would rather tell you about it once he has dealt with it.

Think of it as a performance issue for him. If he has to solve a problem, he doesn’t want to spend any energy talking about it or trying to explain what’s going on-that’s a distraction which will get in the way of his feeling like he can take it on and solve it.

You can help him by letting him know that you understand that he is grappling with something, that his distance or preoccupation has nothing to do with you or your relationship. If you say something like, “You know what? It’s okay. I’ll give you space.” The support that he will feel from your recognizing where he is, that  he’s not trying to be elusive or move away from you, will help him solve it. Then he will be able to come back to you and discuss the problem and how he solved it without feeling like he also has to fix the damage that was done between the two of you.

While your husband has his independent focus-“I’ve got to make sure I can keep performing, and that I’m good at what I do,”-you have your own performance issue: You keep the universe spinning. You have to take care of everything-your family, your husband, the family business, perhaps your own career as well. You may be thinking, “I’ve got to make sure that everybody else is taken care of and I’ve got to make sure that I’m doing what he is doing in my own career.” Adding to your stress is that while you are feeling all of that, perhaps hyper magnified, your husband is doing his independent thing at a distance from you.

Patricia Annino is a nationally recognized authority on women and estate planning.  She educates and empowers women to value themselves and their contributions in order to ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS in the world – and in so doing PROTECT THEMSELVES, those they love, and the organizations they care about.  For more visit:  www.patriciaannino.com

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