You may not know it as such but the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is that odd sensation when you start to notice the same thing turning up wherever you look and everywhere you are. In Christian circles it’s often 2.22, either as a verse or a time of day…
I mention this because the subject of men’s emotional capacity is one that has cropped up a number of times recently and it’s a topic that is both much misunderstood and a source of considerable friction in marriage, so let’s look at it.
Here’s a statistic to consider. 70% of those who apply for a Bethel Sozo are female. At the same time 80% of suicides are men. What that clearly says to me is that women are more able and willing to face their ‘stuff’ and deal with it than men. Men, on the other hand would appear to bottle things up to the point where they can’t cope any longer and then take the ultimate exit. Why should that be?
Here’s a suggestion.
From the moment a baby boy is born a whole set of expectations in thrust upon him. The same is true for girls, in that expectations are placed on them too but it’s the boys we’ll deal with here, because it’s those expectations that go on to impact men’s emotional capacity and their marriages in particular. Boys, you see, are told they have to be strong, that they don’t cry, they play tough games and have to be brave if they get hurt. In a word, they’re taught to control and bury their emotions. And they do. And here’s the important bit, this is not a natural process. Boys, men, are meant to be every bit as emotionally engaged as girls/women, but, in the main, they’re not allowed to be. On the contrary any sign of emotion is usually condemned as being sissy or girly, with all the social nuances that contains.
And then, one day boy meets girl and at some point in their relationship boy is expected to show some sort of emotion … and he can’t, and he can’t because, unless he’s very ‘lucky’, emotions have been so suppressed that they’re almost impossible to find.
What can so easily happen then is that her need to elicit an emotional response from her man will cause her to push for it, and his inability to meet that need will cause him deep frustration and, quite likely, ultimately anger. More often than not he’ll know how he feels, he’s just not able to articulate and communicate it, it’s hidden deep down. It’s this inability to articulate, to reach out, to ask for help, that can lead to the loneliness of suicide.
I say ‘lucky’ because it’s those men who have been fortunate in their upbringing and have been able to remain in touch with their emotions who are better equipped to deal with life and marriage. Jesus, of course, was the ultimate man. He could laugh and cry, He could show strong love and righteous anger, He was truly in touch with His emotions. He is the model that men should aspire to! So, here’s a challenge to the ladies reading this: how can you help your partner/husband to walk into the fullness of his identity as a child of God? How can you help him to bring all those squashed emotions to the surface in a way that feels safe and honouring? You’ll see a huge difference in your relationship if you can!