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When the tears flow or the sparks fly!

Your husband most likely knows you as an emotional being that he loves so much, but also struggles to understand. Everyone knows that a woman’s emotions can go up and down like a see-saw, but how does hubby really experience it?
The baby cries all day, breastfeeding is not working, and Suzanne’s body is starting to look like what she can’t get enough of – a quarter-pounder deluxe! She is past breaking point, and when Danie came home, he gave her one look and turned around and walked out the door! Inconsiderate bull, thinks Suzanne – now in tears over her man who has no sympathy. In the meantime Danie sits in his car and hyperventilates because he doesn’t know what to do with Suzanne’s tears (that he knows has now turned to anger) . . .

How he experiences your emotions
Emotions make men feel uncomfortable. It isn’t really their fault because society has taught us that men aren’t allowed to cry or to show too many emotions. Men are taught to be tough, to suppress their emotions and to constantly keep their eye on the bigger picture. God planned that they should keep their eye on the end-result by reasoning logically. And God planned that the woman must make the journey more pleasurable because she feels with her heart. The danger is when a man ignores his emotions and a woman believes her emotions too much.

Say one thing and mean another
I can remember when my wife and I were just married, there were several times when I misunderstood her emotions. The one time, just after we had fantastic sex, she started to cry. I got a huge fright and wondered what I did wrong. Did I hurt her? Does she regret marrying me? Does she miss her parents? I tried to make sense of it in my head because of her illogical, emotional outburst. And the more I tried to understand and fix it, the more emotional she became and started to irritate me more and more. So a wonderfully romantic evening developed into a huge misunderstanding.

Cancel out misunderstandings
This misunderstanding of emotions is something every new couple must work through. This is where the work in a marriage comes from. A couple must work to get to know each other intimately. Genesis 2:25 says: “. . . man and woman stood in front of each other naked with no shame”. My wife and I worked on the emotional Grand Canyon between us by communicating our feelings, how we each see things, what distracts us and what we really mean by it. We worked on becoming each other’s best friends.

Be best friends
Ed Wheat wrote in his book “Love Life” that through all his years of marriage counselling he noticed a lack of friendship-love between couples. The result of not having friendship-love is that the man doesn’t understand or respect his wife’s emotions. This concept is visible in a long relationship. In the beginning of a relationship nothing bothers a woman’s husband – not even her emotions. He is crazy about everything she does. Why? A certain level of friendship-love exists between them. The friendship-love exists because the man is patient and listens to his wife, and he is really interested in who she is. After a few years of married life we don’t devote as much time to listening to each other. We lose that friendship connection that we had in the beginning.

You now have two options. Get yourself a new man every year or so, who can then get to know you from the beginning, or ensure that you and your man remain best friends.

Your man wants to understand you
The reason why most men find emotions aimless and irritating is because they struggle to understand them. A man with his logical brain wants to understand everything. If you don’t explain why you feel the way you do, he will never understand it on his own. Once again it’s not his fault, because it’s your feelings and your emotions and many times you don’t even understand why you feel the way you do! Remember every time he doesn’t understand you, there’s a voice in his head that says: “You are not a good husband for your wife.”

After the first few misunderstandings that become fights, he will throw in the towel and give up trying to understand you. No man wants to continue feeling like a failure – he then withdraws emotionally and accepts you and your random emotions just as you are. He makes sense of your emotions by blaming PMS or hormones. It’s easier for him to understand these than to have the alternative running around in his head: “You don’t understand your wife. You are not good enough for her. You can’t protect her. You are a failure in your manhood.” It’s this insecurity that men fear. The feeling that we can’t care for or help our women makes us feel uncomfortable, not the emotions themselves.

Help him to feel his own emotions
Before your husband will get comfortable with your emotions, he must first get comfortable with his own emotions. He definitely has his own feelings! What you can do to help him to communicate his emotions better, is to keep your emotions under control more. Ask him how he’s feeling. Give him a chance to check his emotions.
Men often feel completely overwhelmed by women’s emotions. What happens in many relationships is that the woman shows her emotions first, and she normally has so many and such strong emotions about an issue that the man feels intimidated because his emotions are so few and so weak when compared to hers.
It’s like what we see on Animal Planet. The bull with the biggest horns is the boss and no one will dare to take him on. When it comes to relationships, the woman’s emotions are the most visible and the most developed. No man with any sense will dare to grab that bull by the horns!

Your man wants to be Mr Fix It
Men want to fix everything. Maybe not everything around the house, but if he sees that his wife is emotional, he assumes that something is wrong and he tries to fix it. Sometimes it feels to you like he is trying to fix everything with a blowtorch and pliers! You must understand that he is not trying to fix your emotional problems so that you will be quiet and he can continue to watch the sport on television. He wants to fix it because he loves you and he doesn’t want to see you upset. The more comfortable he gets with his own emotions, the less he will think there’s something wrong with showing emotions.

The good, the bad and the ugly emotions

It’s not the emotion itself that is good or bad, but how it’s received in the relationship.
The good emotions are the emotions that build intimacy in the relationship. If intimacy in a relationship could be measured, we could show it by putting an empty bucket between us. Everything that is put into the bucket reflects the level of intimacy. The fuller the bucket gets, the more intimacy there is between the couple.
Intimacy is the level of closeness that has already happened between couples. The art is to have a 50/50 share in the intimacy of the relationship. With this I don’t mean that a man must have an equal amount of emotions as a woman, because that is very difficult. But if both are comfortable to share their emotions with each other, then the intimacy in the relationship is strong.

What is unfortunately the case in many relationships is that the woman lets all her emotions simmer and the man (for reasons already mentioned) withdraws and shows as little of his emotions as he can.

Bad emotions are simply emotions that are not understood, not by your man and sometimes not even by yourself. Emotions are your inner feelings that are trying to communicate to you and the people around you how you truly feel. Bad emotions are bad communication. If a man doesn’t understand his wife’s emotions or respect them, it’s the first sign of bad communication. As soon as the communication between a man and a woman improves, the man will be able to understand her emotions better and respect her more.

Ugly emotions are when we use our emotions to hurt each other. One of the most common ways in which emotions get ugly is through manipulation.

Gary Chapman writes in his book “The five love languages”’ about our love tank, and when it gets empty, our emotions towards each other start to get ugly. He compares an empty love tank with a car running without oil, and he believes that these constant, emotional misunderstandings can be a marriage’s downfall.

A very few people are aware of the fact that they use their emotions to manipulate those around them. The reason for this is that they don’t mean to hurt those around them. It’s a desperate attempt to get their love tank full again. This way to get your love tank full is a very unproductive way to give your husband hints that your love tank is empty.

It’s only the trigger
If you wonder about my wife and my story, when she suddenly burst into tears and I didn’t have any idea why or what to do, I have good news. After a long conversation where we communicated as best friends, I started to understand. She burst into tears because she was so happy and satisfied with her life, and I realized that a woman’s emotions aren’t always linked with what is said to her or what happens to her. A woman’s emotions sometimes need a trigger to get the dam wall to break. And when the emotional dam wall breaks, make sure that your husband knows that the flood of emotions now washing over him is not all his fault.

If you are responsible with your emotions and do not use them to manipulate your man, or to bully him out of his own, you will create space for him to invest more emotionally into the relationship. When you both invest emotionally into your relationship, you get closer to Genesis 2:25 which say: “. . . man and woman stood in front of each other naked and with no shame”. To stand in front of each other naked is to be 100% honest and vulnerable in the relationship.