The largest percentage of adult men? Married men. And until now they've had no voice, contends Rhode Island psychiatrist Scott Haltzman, M.D.
It could be argued that men don't need another voice; their voice in the culture is loud enough for most women. But Haltzman argues that married men are different and need a voice because they are at a distinct disadvantage in relationships, verbally and emotionally.
The average woman uses 7,000 words a day and five tones of speech, he points out. The average man uses 2,000 words and three tones. "Men are talk-impaired, relatively speaking," he says.
Men are also impaired at experiencing emotion. They need help figuring out what to do. Some things are not intuitive. Talking about feelings, for example, increases men's stress levels.
Sometimes marriage is flawless. But most often it is not. Men who stay married have somehow learned techniques to preserve their relationships. He notes that "most men have learned these techniques on their own and don't do it in obvious ways."
Haltzman contends that marriage is as much a health issue as a quality of life issue issue. Married men make more money, have more peace of mind, and have more and better sex. Marriage also lowers men's health risk, while divorce raises the risk of death by 200 percent for men.
So Haltzman is busy researching ways to help understand the relationship patterns of husbands and wives. He has set up an internet community for married men to share their experiences and wisdom about marriage. It's called www.SecretsofMarriedMen.com. And it's terrific.
Here are tidbits of his own wisdom:
- Working on a relationship is a man's job as much as a woman's. Often it is the man's behavior that predicts whether a couple stays together. Men need to accept the influence of their wives.
- Once men decide to marry, they are more committed to the relationship than women are.
- Guys look at relationships differently from women, but the most commonly discussed ways of fixing relationships are geared to feminine styles.
- "Men really do feel incredible passion for their wives, but they don't recognize it sometimes."
- "Most affairs don't happen by chance meetings. Infidelity occurs in up to 40 percent of marriages. By age 45, two out of every five men and one out of every five women has had at least one affair."
- "For an overwhelming majority of spouses who cheat—80 percent—the reason is not sexual. Most simply seek validation, warmth, understanding or love."
- "In general, extramarital sex is not as good as marital sex. On average, married couples have more sex than any other group. The bottom line is affairs can be prevented. It's all in the choices you make."
And here's his single wisest piece of advice: "Marriages improve when a spouse learns to shift away from his or her own personal desires and listen to the needs of the husband or wife."