Saturday, March 12, 2011

Manly Emotions

Over the past couple of months, I (Jake) have been doing a considerable amount of work dealing with and understanding my emotions. Due to circumstances in my past, I now realize that I have pretty much turned my emotions to "off" and tried to bury them. Thus, unconsciously protecting myself from further hurt. Needless to say, going through a miscarriage and continued fertility issues has left it's mark and challenged me to open up and get in touch with buried feelings.

This past weekend, I attended a ministry conference in Chicago. When our plane landed in Chicago on Friday, Melissa texted me that this current round of treatment did not result in a pregnancy. Normally I just shake off disappointment, but as I have now been allowing myself to be in touch with my emotions, this news hit me pretty hard.

Have you ever bought a car and as soon as you start driving it, you see the exact same car everywhere? That's exactly what I felt like happened to me this weekend...just with babies. As many young families walked by with their little ones, I had to fight back tears. The hardest part of the weekend came when I ran into a classmate from college and he immediately pulled out his phone and showed me pictures of his two kids. (I don't mean any offense to him at all...I'm glad he shared what's going on in his life!)

The question that has continually run through my mind is, "Why? Why can't we have kids now?"

Unfortunately, this is a question we don't have the answer to. Even so, I have to learn that emotions are ok and figure out a healthy way to express them. Here is a little bit of what I have been learning:

1) Beware the warning signs of anger. Most psychologists would agree that anger is a masking emotion.  In other words, when hurt begins to build up and it isn't expressed in a heathy way, it tends to express itself by anger.

If you are the one in your relationship who is expressing anger, try to really understand why. Why are you yelling? Why are you so angry you want to punch a wall? There is a reason well beyond "because I'm angry." Don't stay in your anger but figure out what's going on at a deeper level.

If you are the one dealing with anger from someone else, I would challenge you to try to take a step back as well. The person is not really "angry" at you, they are hurt, disappointed, feeling disrespected or unloved. This is by no means an excuse towards angry behavior. If someone is out of control, remove yourself from the situation. Prior to that point, do everything you can by asking questions to help the angry person understand the deeper things that are going on. Also, I'd challenge you to have an attitude of humility (which is really hard to do when someone is mad at you!) but anger really needs to be met by a gentle spirit to help move beyond it.

2) It's ok to have emotions. In many ways, this is for the men out there. Most women don't have problem with showing their emotions. ;) For guys though, we're taught by culture that "real men don't cry" and I think we also deal with the idea of needing to be strong for the women in our lives, which we inappropriately interpret as meaning unemotional. That is not the case!

It's a fact of life that we have emotions and they are given to us by God. What Melissa consistently tries to get me to understand, is that expressing emotions actually makes her feel more secure and together on an issue. Think about it: If you are dealing with a difficult situation and the person closest to you is constantly just like, "It'll be ok" and "Ahh, just don't worry about it", how do you think that makes the other person feel? Sure, you are being "strong" and guiding in a good direction but it just ends up making the other person feel like they are alone in doubt and worry. It's a much more powerful experience when someone expresses worry, doubt, fear, or hurt and you can take a moment to empathize and then say everything will be ok. It then becomes we will be ok instead of just you.

3) Talking about your emotions makes them SOOOOO much easier to deal with. As I mentioned above, this past weekend at the conference I was at was difficult at times and my good friend Nich knew exactly what was going on. After I connected with the old buddy from college, as we walked away Nich told me he wanted to take the guys phone out of his hand and throw it! (Which would have been pretty funny....) The fact that I had talked to Nich about everything I was feeling, helped him support me and lighten the mood. It also helped me to feel not alone.

Jake

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. Thank you so much for posting this.

    My beloved and I are going through a rough patch right now. Well, he broke up with me, but in such a hurried way that the decision was made by him solely, and he did not give me enough time to explain or to reason.

    Sigh. I am hoping that he will come talk to me, as I am praying he would reconsider. We both love each other very much, that I really don't want to lose him.

    He isn't very emotional, and would try as much as possible, to get out of the way of emotions.

    I know my own relationship problems isn't the same as what you're going through with your wife, but I'm glad you posted this.

    -Carmel

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The goal is to provide three things:
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2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
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