Welcome brother! If this is your first time reading Woodshop Wisdom, this is a place where, every Monday, we answer a specific question from the men’s community. We give straight-forward answers to a variety of relationship problems and the challenges men face everyday as a provider, father and husband. And often we will challenge you to go much deeper in your understanding of the problem and how to think about it more effectively.
Let’s get started.
Even though my wife and I are currently moving toward a separation (she moves out in a week) we have been getting along better than ever and the conversations lead toward reconciling in the future. It has been okay despite the circumstances. Now on top of all this our beloved dog needed some emergency medical attention and the outlook doesn’t look good. I really could have used some comforting and companionship from her as we go through this together, so I asked to lay by her. I mean, we had been loving and affectionate lately. I got nothing but the cold shoulder as I lay there alone. She rolled over and ignored me. I don’t understand why she isn’t able to be there for me in a moment where we are both facing the loss of our cherished pet. Is there ever a time in which I can count on her for love and support?
I am very sorry for the health of your pet. I had a cat that was like a family member. It was a big, grey-striped beast that killed every bird, squirrel, mouse, and occasional mole that tried to live on the surrounding 20 acres. He even jumped into delivery trucks to steal unguarded sandwiches that the drivers packed for lunch. Very much like a small brother with claws he would chase us down, jump on our leg, and tackle us. I really felt a great deal of grief the day we lost him. It was like a piece of our family was suddenly missing. I feel you man. It must hurt right now.
Is there ever a time in which she can display the empathy, care, and companionship that you desire? Short answer – YES! It just happened to be not at the exact moment in time you were looking for it. When is that time? Who knows!?! Probably when you don’t need it anymore. 😉
There was absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to connect with her last night and asking for time together. Nothing.
I know that you probably feel hurt and rejected, even if her intention wasn’t to hurt you. The question you may have now is, “What do I do now?”
It is in that feeling of rejection where your next answer can be found. This is actually a good thing!
!Avoid this! My own Recipe for Making Things Worse:
- Create a reason in your head why she is cold, distant, unloving, and emotionally unavailable.
- Complain to her about how you aren’t getting what you want and blame her for being cold hearted and uncaring.
- Tell her that “If only she would _______ (fill in the blank) your life would be perfect.
- Create more emotional distance and allow your resentment to boil slowly like an ugly monster inside you.
Try this! Slow down, take a good look at what really is happening, and breath deep. Can you really see her? Can you see that she might be feeling the same overwhelm, sadness, and loss you might be feeling too? She might be tired and have no idea how to handle this situation you face together.
This is an opportunity to GIVE rather than try to GET.
What if instead of needing the attention, support, and affection from her, you change that into sourcing those gifts from inside yourself and bringing it into the relationship.
Think of it like an empty bucket between you. You walked up to the bucket and said, “I’m thirsty, this bucket could really use some water.” She says to you “Actually, I’m thirsty too, I don’t have any water to put in there right now.” Your only option would be going to your well and finding water for it. Getting upset with her would be counterproductive to quenching your thirst. Remember, she doesn’t have any water to give, for now her well is empty.
You might ask – Yeah but, I still desire support here!
!Avoid this! My own personal mistake – The dreaded “oneitus”. I lived in a world of scarcity created by yours truly. I heaped all of my needs onto one person and was left wondering why I felt so alone and so afraid when that one person exited my life. She was my only source of friendship, support, affection, love, connection, and companionship. Just writing that out feels like an intense amount of pressure.
Try this! Dig a deeper well. The phrase “take it to the men” is often used in our community. What this means for me is that when I need the support and connection required for me to grow, heal, and move into a better version of myself – I ask other men who understand how I think and have traveled this path to support me. (Like you did by emailing me your question!) It means not all of my challenges are being shared with just one person. Note, it doesn’t mean I hide things or keep secrets. It means that when someone I love doesn’t currently have the capacity to help me I can turn towards others who do!
If I have a foundation of love and support built around me, I tend not to feel a great sense of abandonment when one person isn’t currently in a space to help.
If you knew that, for right now, she wasn’t able to give you that affection, but you had another support system in place, would these feelings of emptiness still be present? My guess is that you would go to your well and move onto another form of support, for both of you.
Go easy on her. She has her own personal battle of inadequacy, anxiety and overwhelm running through her mind. When a person is feeling empty, the last thing they need is the pressure to give more than they have.
Where to go from here?
I see you man. I see that you are ready to engage, you are ready to create something new. I see that you are ready to pick up the tools we have available and get back to building something in your life that is beautiful, impactful, and meaningful. I look forward to seeing it.
It all starts with a question – what do you want to build?
Most of us men spend a lot of time in our heads. We have conversations with ourselves but never show that thinking and feeling side to anyone else. The question and answer example above is exactly like the wise conversations we have every day ALL day in the Mentoring Men Community. This is the smartest, strongest, most caring and courageous group of men I’ve ever known.
We meet weekly for group coaching calls and have deep conversations with men around the world 24/7. This online men’s group is like none other out there. This is what we hear.
“Thank you, Thank You, Thank You for reminding me of who I really am and helping me kill that annoying hummingbird. My wife has seen an immediate change in my attitude and outlook while she has struggled to make progress of her own. She has even made the statement that “I want to be where you are and want to find something that I can connect with and that will make me a better person.”
Join us and start changing your life faster than you ever thought possible.