Guy's Guide to Guys for Brides: All About (Most) Fiancés
Guys can be a bit of
a mystery--not only to women, but also, sometimes, to themselves.
What's going on in there at those important moments when it can
be hard to fathom what guys are thinking and feeling? Do they have
feelings? Well, with some guys you've got to wonder. Then again,
sometimes it's clear that they do. (Like when you step between him
and a crucial Super Bowl play on TV.) But what about the times when
they seem so opaque? Just because they don't show their feelings
doesn't mean they don't have them.
Okay. Obviously we're
talking about some gender stereotypes here. Not everyone is the
same, but research tells us that on average men and women have some
different bonding and communication characteristics that are important.
But if your gender roles are not typical, some of what we're saying
here may still be important to your relationship.
In most relationships
there is one partner who is more tolerant and desirous of more intimate
communication. Usually it's the woman, but not always. Usually,
there is one partner who is more prone to emotional overload. Usually
it's the guy, but not always. When we say 'guy' here, think 'partner
who is more prone to emotional overload'.
To state the obvious,
guys are not like women. (And vive la difference!) But 'la difference'
can also be puzzling and at times troubling. Once you understand
more about the workings of guys, the difference should be a bit
less disconcerting. We've also got some suggestions for you on how
to relate to them more effectively-before the wedding and after.
The first thing to
know (if you haven't already figured this out) is that guys themselves
often don't know their own feelings. Although gender roles have
changed, men still tend strongly toward expressing themselves through
activities, rather than talking, especially about their feelings.
(Women, on the other hand, express themselves-and form bonds- predominantly
through emotionally significant talking.) Men tend to build relationships
and intimacy through doing things together with the other person.
So, when you're sitting
together on the sofa watching TV, he's thinking: Isn't this great,
we're really enjoying time together. Meanwhile, you may be wondering
why he still hasn't mentioned the tiff you had before dinner.
And just what is it with
guys and TV sports, anyway? Partly it's this male bonding thing:
Even if the other guys aren't there in the room watching, they're
watching somewhere, and they'll be talking about the big play all
week long. Watching sports is also a way to escape stress, although
it may not seem so when the shouting starts about the bad call by
the umpire. Sports drives worries such as work problems right out
of the male mind (at least for a few hours).
For women, all this can
seem like an alien approach to life and intimacy. Our advice is
to give each other's style a try. Think of doing things together
with your partner as a way to bring you closer. Or at least realize
that that's probably how he sees it. Think of your different styles
as an opportunity for each of you to learn from the other and to
expand your experience of closeness. Talk about your different styles
of building intimacy with him. Then, ask him to accommodate your
style occasionally and, of course, promise to do the same for him.
Of course, when it comes
to weddings, the genders are usually worlds apart. Sure the wedding
will be a special time for both of you. You can agree on that. But
guys, unlike women, generally haven't spent a lifetime dreaming
about the specifics (or even the generalities) of their wedding.
Very likely, he never gave it that much thought before the wedding
planning started. Hey, a wedding is a wedding, right?
This isn't his fault.
The culture has different expectations for guys. You may have known
the color of the bridesmaids' dresses since you were six, but he
can still tell you the batting average of every player on the hometown
team that won the World Series when he was a kid.
So if he doesn't seem
quite as fascinated by decisions about the flowers and the invitations
as you might wish, don't take it personally. It doesn't mean he
doesn't care about the wedding or marrying you. He may have some
ideas and preferences about the wedding, but sometimes guys hold
back because they think or know that you have strong preconceived
notions of how you want the wedding to be. Or, because they haven't
been fantasizing about their wedding forever, it may take them some
catch-up time to figure out what they really want from their wedding.
Meanwhile, if you're, understandably, racing ahead under the wedding
schedule deadlines, he may end up feeling that his input isn't needed.
Speaking of wedding planning,
this brings up another gender difference that makes a difference.
Planning is full of decision-making that can involve sensitive issues.
(You just have to know that with money, relatives, religion and
friends all involved, it's never going to be all that uncomplicated.)
Guys have a real different way of responding to touchy issues. (Maybe
Ever wonder exactly why
he seems to disappear emotionally sometimes when the going gets
rough? While women tend predominantly toward a style of engagement
when it comes to handling sensitive issues, and are more tolerant
of confrontation and conflict, this is not how most guys deal with
these situations. Men tend predominantly toward a style of withdrawal
and conflict avoidance. Research shows that the basis for these
differences may be physiological differences in tolerance for and
response to stress: Men become more easily and more quickly overloaded
by feelings of distress. This also helps to explain why although
some guys can dish it (criticism, anger, etc.) out, they can't necessarily
Understanding these gender
differences can help explain why he may grow silent just at the
moment that you want and need a feeling response from him. He's
not ignoring you and your feelings or emotionally unavailable. He's
just temporarily unavailable while he struggles with the confusion
that accompanies emotional flooding. We suggest taking a short break.
Don't put your important concerns aside indefinitely, but just long
enough to let him recover his composure. About twenty minutes is
usually enough--if he can really relax during the break. It also
helps to be sure to bring up sensitive issues gently, so you don't
send him into emotional outer orbit (beyond Neptune) right at the
beginning of a difficult discussion. Men generally handle communication
better when there are some rules to make it more managable. For
example, it may help to make an appointment for a mutually agreeable
time to discuss an issue.
A final thought: Don't
read his mind. Contrary to popular belief, women are not born with
telepathic abilities. They just seem to have an almost genetic predisposition
to try to read male minds. Actually, it's social conditioning that
makes women especially sensitive to trying to read their emotional
environment. When he's quiet, it's not an invitation to guess what's
on his mind. Wait until he figures it out for himself and can explain
it to you. When you assume that you know what he's thinking, it
just puts more pressure on him and adds to the confusion.
And don't expect him
to read yours either. He can't. If you really want that special
birthday gift that you have set your heart on, you'd better say
something about it. Many guys just aren't attuned to those little
hints that women are so skilled at detecting. Things that seem obvious
to women usually aren't to men.
So, there you have it:
Our brief guide to fiancés and husbands. The best guide,
though, is your partner. Talk with him about gender styles and agree
on some strategies to compensate for and benefit from them.
here for related reading and references list.
your relationship growing throughout your marriage, consider attending
a Marriage Success Training seminar with your partner. MST helps
couples handle the increased stress of the pre-wedding period in
a much more healthy way, so that they can use the pre-wedding experience
to deepen their intimacy--not stress their relationship--during
this special time. Click here to learn about the benefits of MST.
2003, Patricia S. & Gregory A. Kuhlman. You may copy this article
for non-commercial use provided that no changes are made and this
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