Young men get the most angry when they are dishonored in front of their peers. Or worse, when they’re treated like girls. Getting in touch with their feelings isn’t going to solve that.
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We employ boundaries to maintain our own ethical conduct, saying, “I won’t do x, because it’s not right.” Boundaries enable both you and the other party to choose a healthy option. Boundaries are about being good to ourselves.
Making threats is unhealthy. Threats are not self-empowering, because they rely on how you make others feel, not on how you feel yourself. Threats are about power, establishing and exercising power over others, power to force them to do what you want, power to destroy their self-determination. When you cause a person to act out of fear—the fear of retribution—you turn that person into a slave.
Here’s his bottom line, and an easy way to remember the difference:
- A threat is when you say, “if you do this, I will hurt you.”
- A boundary is when you say, “if you do this, you will hurt me.”
Resources: Henry Cloud on boundaries. He lays out the spiritual piece at the link.
When Your Partner Stops Giving: The Silent Pain of Emotional Withholding.
There’s only one way to deal effectively with a partner who withholds from you, and it’s this: You must make it clear that the relationship is OVER, FOREVER, if your partner does not start acknowledging you and communicating. This is the only tactic that has a chance of working, because the withholding partner doesn’t actually want the relationship to end. Your tormentor is deriving too much satisfaction out of dispensing punishment and seeing you suffer. Why you might want to remain with a sadist is your own business, but if you do want to try to save it, you have to threaten to leave and be willing to make good on your word if things don’t improve quickly. And if they do improve, you have to insist that you will be out the door if it ever, ever happens again.
Right up front, this dynamic is going to apply to kids as well as spouses. Swap out “child” or “teen” for “partner” above – think it will still work?
Unless you’re doing this the right way, demanding that your partner/child opens up to you will backfire badly. First, it puts the ball in their court to either concede or not, giving them all your power. That only makes it worse.
More importantly, BOTH you and the other person are probably withholding. I have always liked Gary Smalley‘s powerful analogy on a closed spirit:
The single most prevalent cause of disharmony within a home is what I have labeled a closed spirit.
What do I mean by a closed spirit? What causes it? Let’s begin by saying that every person is born with a spirit, soul, and body, and all three are interrelated. I will define spirit as a person’s innermost being, similar to one’s conscience. It’s the area in which people can have fellowship with one another and enjoy each other’s presence without a word being spoken. Our deepest relationships are built on the spirit level. The soul would include our mind, will, and emotions. The body is, of course, our physical makeup. Together, we’ll say the three comprise a total person. But the soul and the body are within the spirit.
Very Sensitive Tentacles
To help us understand how the spirit, soul, and body operate together, let’s look at an example from nature. When I was a child, I enjoyed observing sea anemones on the California coast. They were often found in tidal pools among the rocks. About four or five inches in diameter, they look like colorful flowers with soft, wavy tentacles. But I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Sometimes I’d take a stick and poke one of them. Immediately the sea anemone would withdraw its sensitive tentacles and close up until it became a shell. It was similar to a beautiful flower closing. Now it was protected from further injury.
What happens with the sea anemone illustrates what happens to a person when he is offended. The tentacles of that sea anemone are similar to the spirit of a person. The sea anemone is completely open and vulnerable. But when the stick pokes him, he closes up. In a similar way, when a person is offended, he closes up. When his spirit closes, it in turn closes his soul and body. If the spirit is open, so are the soul and body. In other words, when the spirits of two people are open, they enjoy talking (soul) and touching (body). If the spirit closes, the soul and body close to the same degree. A person with a closed spirit will usually avoid communication.
And then, soon after, the relationship death-spirals.
Be assertive with love and honor. Only fools demand what their loved one is afraid to give.
My Journey to a Genesis: Why I Created a Mobile Tool That Helps All Dads With Custody
It was a day after court when I decided to build something. This something would help me keep better visitation records so if I ever needed them, I had them. The concept was born after seeing that another system cost $100 per year per parent, designed for desktop computers. I needed something that was simple, practical, and mobile-focused. I wanted a system that kept my notes, and auto-communicated certain activities, like a transfer in custody. Most of all, I wanted a system that was free-to-use, and universally available to as many people as possible, while being in the best interest of the child. The system was not to be designed around parents. Even in my own experience, there are many people who are raising children at times that are not mom and dad. I wanted something for everyone, not just me.
This is going to help a lot of folks.
Jon Vaughn’s got a F/B blog too – drop by and say howdy, won’t you?
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is emotional abuse of children, says Psychology Today. This debate has been out there since Gardner’s research in the 80’s, falling along the lines of father’s vs mother’s rights advocates.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s your kids that are at greatest risk. Get help.
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.
Go read the whole thing. Then consider where we’re at, and what Good Men should do about it.
News you can use? How to talk to women without pissing them off. “Express your opinions and give advice, but do it respectfully,” says Dr. Christie Hartman.
Meh. Ladies are fundamentally better debaters than men. They think faster on their feet, and “pissed off” is simply one technique of managing the discussion.
So, honor her for sure, especially because we’re called to do that. But rather than walk on eggshells, bring mutual respect to the table by acknowledging two things:
- Your right to communicate the issue with her as you see it; and
- Her right to disagree.
Dr. David Schnarch would say that conflict is normal and healthy in every good relationship. The bigger issue for guys when it comes to communicating is not disrespect, but fear of conflict.
Related: Owning up to your end of it.
Dalrock: Repackaging feminism as Christian wisdom. For ALL have sinned…etc.
Research: How Teenage Fathers Matter for Children. The biggest finding is we aren’t paying enough attention to them.
Science: How becoming a father changes your brain. Explains a lot…
Erin Pizzey’s powerful talk on radical feminism at the recent men’s issues conference:
In America – I came to America in the early Seventies, and I could see what was happening: exactly the same thing. The women were scribbling Title-whatever-it-was [editorial note: Title IX. –DE], to get the money to create the Empire, on the backs of very fragile women and children. And this is going on 40 years, it’s going on and it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And I stood back, then, and I was begging: I was saying to people, “This is a fraudulent movement, listen to what I’m saying!” And nobody would say anything; because for a long time, the media, the courts, the agencies, certainly the universities, were preaching this doctrine which was in essence a feminist-Marxist doctrine that eviscerated men off the scene.
But the same thing was going to happen; women would be putting their children, one of the demands was 24-hour nurseries; women would become the earners, men would become dispensable. And it sounded so laughable 40 years ago, nobody would believe me! Now I sit here, and I don’t think there’s anybody in this room who doesn’t believe me.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: More here from Karen Straughan.
But Ms Tannen says “the reason is not—as it seems to many women—that men are bums who seek to deny women authority.” Instead, she says, “the inequality of the treatment results not simply from the men’s behavior alone but from the differences in men’s and women’s styles.” (In everything that follows, “men do X” and “women do Y” should be read as on average, men tend somewhat more towards X and women towards Y, with great variation within both sexes.) In Ms Tannen’s schema, men talk to determine and achieve status. Women talk to determine and achieve connection. To use metaphors, for men life is a ladder and the better spots are up high. For women, life is a network, and the better spots have greater connections.
…which is why this makes so much sense.
WSJ: The best way to make up:
“The biggest thing in making up is to understand that conflict is normal in a relationship,” says Hal Shorey, a clinical psychologist and associate professor for the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology at Widener University in Chester, Pa. Dr. Shorey studies personality and works with couples in private practice as well as people in conflict at work. “You don’t want to avoid it. You want to manage it.”
Admittedly, some people are comfortable with tension. They want to talk out problems.
Others avoid conflict at all costs. Some want it over immediately and need reassurance that all is fine (even when it’s not). Others refuse to address the situation at all and finish every disagreement with the same response: total silence.
Research shows that these approaches typically break down along gender lines. A 2003 study in the journal “Personal Relationships”—one of the largest on the topic to date—found that, across 62 cultural regions world-wide, men reported higher levels of attachment avoidance relative to women. There are always exceptions, of course. But, in general, men seek to avoid negative emotions and conflict more than women. Women like to talk through problems. Men want to move on.
Yep. Guys react to the “talk” like it’s a lecture. Even if she isn’t trying to give one, she’s pressing his “dishonor” button big time. On the flip side, he thinks moving on is a loving thing to do, which she interprets as “he doesn’t love me enough to want to understand me.”
If you’re wrestling with this, Passionate Marriage by Dr. David Schnarch was a game-changer for me and my wife.
You don’t want to be anti-science do you? Growing evidence on the importance of fathers in understanding children’s early communication and language development.
Vicki Larson: Why is no one paying attention to [suicide rates in] divorced dads? There’s no government money in it.
Maslow knew (and we have been taught) that love and honor are precursors to a man’s ability to lead creatively and effectively. Despite this, we have made honor a by-product of such behavior, not a contributing factor to it. By doing so we have also made honor optional.
Making honor conditional on a man’s performance is why so many men struggle with being honorable at all.