Why do men change after being married? Why does it seem like they go from being the caring and affectionate people that meet your emotional needs to people that seem pretty distant? I think that what women experience from men is VERY real. Men do get distant, and men do pull away, but let’s look at the why.
I think men and women underestimate the miracle that happened the day they met. Think about it this way. We rarely hear the romance stories of living on the streets and eating from garbage cans when she walked by, and she was suddenly in love. It doesn’t happen like that. Usually we are in college, we are learning, at the top of our game, good friends, have dreams, goals and a direction to shoot for. We feel like the world is our oyster. Is it really any wonder that the flower that is our personality is probably in full bloom? It’s here we usually meet our other half. If not in college, at least in similar situations where our circumstances are playing a very important roll of fulfilling some of our fundamental needs. You meet, you hook up, you get married and then suddenly life changes.
Life starts to throwing things at you. You change jobs and it screws with your head, stresses your confidence and makes you feel unstable. You get fired or downsized and your sense of wellbeing is gone. A new baby absorbs every waking moment, and you lose all the time you had to spend together. When your wellbeing goes down the drain, your marriage usually follows close behind.
Time after time I sit across the table from people who look back and wonder what the freak happened to their relationship. The answer is that LIFE happened. Life changed what tied you two together. It changed and a relationship that used to feed your sense of adventure, fun, courage, self confidence and a million other things is suddenly gone. We don’t just wake up to a different spouse, we wake up to a slow change that cuts away at our bond in small ways we don’t even see at first.
So what does this look like for men? For men, we get married (IMHO) because we find someone who make us feel good about being who we are. We think we are good guys, and suddenly a really attractive women likes being around us. Our goal in life is to be good men, and we somehow find someone who seems to be giving us every indicator that it’s true and believes in us in those areas we don’t feel so great about. Our confidence empowers us to do things that make her feel romanced, cared for, and really important despite those things being unnatural for us in a lot of ways.
As life changes the wife who was our biggest supporter and encourager slowly starts to change because LIFE is also happening to her, too. She requests more conversations, more connection and he starts to feel the stress of this not being so easy under the current conditions. Maybe it’s work, money, kids, family. Stress mounts and he redoubles his effort on providing, protecting and being a good man. He doesn’t think he is pulling away, he thinks he is buckling down and working hard to do the things a good man does when times get tough. Yet his effort to be a good man, leaves her feeling alone, avoided and like she is living with a roommate. Usually it’s the wife who will make the strong charge for reconnection, and her husband usually attempts to comply. She asks for communication and connection, yet when his attempts don’t succeed to a level that help her, she has no real recourse but to ask for more. He is left to wonder if he can ever make her happy again. He redoubles his effort to provide, protect and be a good man. Wash, rinse, repeat, and ultimately sweep it all under the rug. Eventually people sweep and sweep until they wonder who the other person is.
But life cuts everyone off at the knees. We wake up and feel the pressure or disconnection and don’t understand whats missing because we never fully understood what was present in the beginning. Relationships may be things we luck out way into, but they sure as snot aren’t things we luck our way through.
We have put together a texting challenge for couples to help them push the reset button on their marriage. It’s fun, doesn’t take tons work on your part, and it’s designed to give you a little push in the right direction. Take the challenge and feel how it is to get what you need, and see how that affects your relationships over the week!
Or, for the husbands in the audience: