There is more to life than increasing its speed.

~ Mohandas Gandhi ~

Marriage? I’ll Drink to That!

November 18th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 44 secs

Is it marriage that drives men to drink?

When women become despairing in marriage they cry. Men drink.

That’s a generalization, isn’t it? But the patterns are there.

And they are nowhere more obvious than in a marriage.

Unwittingly, we bring hidden explosives into marriage; never thinking that later, under pressure, they’re liable to detonate. When we reach for resentments, ultimatums, and manipulation, these weapons of marriage destruction do the dirty work.

Though we know hard times come, we barely expect them in our marriage. Nor are we equipped for major challenges. Yet, how often do marriages implode under the weight of indifference, exhaustion, and misunderstanding?

Despite the predictability of these pressures on marriage, we are often unprepared. No wonder a third to half of all marriages derail (unless you live in Belarus where a whopping 68% of all marriages end in divorce). In the carnage of marriages disintegrating, the killing of compassion leaves a terrible legacy that kids end up knowing as well.

When husbands can’t face things they often drink alcohol. Yes, it is a social mixer and a kind of recreational activity. But it quickly becomes a tranquilizer with side-effects. Some men become violent with a few under their belt. Whilst others pass out, pretending all is well. They don’t want to talk about it their feelings. But even if they could there’s another obstacle: it’s incredibly hard.

Many (but by no means all) men that I’ve met find it extremely difficult to express their feelings. It’s as if they are unable do it. Like asking the tone deaf to sing, it’s beyond their ability. Almost.

The moment husbands start drinking heavily, a marriage is quickly put under huge pressure. Yet, unless they just happen to have discovered alcohol and suddenly developed an addiction, it’s likely the causes have long been boiling over.

How do you protect your marriage when you see such trouble looming. Talk! I am a big believer in talking; whether it comes naturally or not. Even in marriage, many men don’t talk much; particularly about how they feel. That’s good for you to know because rather than holding out on you, they’re more likely locked up inside.

Give a man the means to express his feelings more easily and you immediately strengthen your marriage.  How? Talk simply about whatever makes life happy and sad. Many men like plain talk “that is what it is” and contains no hidden meanings because it feels safer.

Another step in helping your man “come out” about his feelings is to accept them. Criticize him for expressing his feelings and he might never risk vulnerability again. In this way, men are incredibly sensitive.

Talking plainly, and without judgement sets the scene.  But what else can you do to uncork bottled up emotions in marriage? Try honest praise for your partner’s attempts at expressing his feelings. Given men are rarely confident about sharing emotionally, your greater strength in this vital area can lead the way. It also helps insulate your marriage from the risk of affairs.

Believe me, even the toughest men have a soft side. I’ve worked with great hulking bikies, high achieving businessmen, and tough farmers who all presented with flinty self-assurance. But talk to them and it becomes clear they all have “no go areas” of hurt, and deep vulnerability. If your marriage partner is like that, then you have your work cut out for you.

Beneath their exterior, men’s feelings are real, intense, and often bound up. Sensing them so strongly many would rather drown themselves in drink than face feelings they have no way of dealing with.

That’s why, in my book Happy: How to Have a Beautiful Life Now, I talk about men’s emotional inabilities. It’s a major issue. So if your marriage has been affected by poor communication, your insights could be a great help to others. Why not share what you know and help others in the process?


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