Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

What Is The One Question You Should NEVER Ask Your Man?

Is ignorance bliss?

The television talk shows were abuzz this weekend with the "10 questions you should never ask your man" list.http://thestir.cafemom.com/love_sex/172527/10_questions_you_should_never

It was a tongue -in-cheek  jab at self-help articles in women's magazines  like Redbook, Glamour, Marie Claire and even Cosmo. The usual article discusses how a girlfriend or wife can somehow gingerly guide or control her brooding, emotionally frozen man and stave off  divorce or cheating.  Consider the byline in an issue of Ladies Home Journal:

IT HAPPENS EVERYDAY: THOUSANDS OF SEEMINGLY HAPPILY-MARRIED MEN DECIDE TO HAVE AN AFFAIR. WHY THEY DO IT AND HOW CAN YOU FIGHT BACK? HERE,WHAT EVERY WIFE MUST KNOW

Many men are poor communicators with their wives because they fear the consequences if they answer one of those ten questions honesty and reveal their true selves. These men feel it is less threatening to hide behind a wall of silence and enjoy a low level of happiness than reveal their true feelings  and risk losing the romance, cohabitation or marriage immediately.

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Psychology Professor  Timothy Jay says  that "a man is afraid that if he says what is on his mind, he'll open himself up to a more global discussion. The woman will not want to talk about how insensitive he was on vacation, but how insensitive he is all the time."  So men opt to live their entire married years in a safe emotional cocoon, even if it eventually destroys the relationship. 

Consider the legendary singer/\actor/comedian Dean Martin. He was an icon of masculine cool to generations of young males from the 1950s to the 1980s. Dean was  a member of the original Rat Pack (which included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop) starring in the original Oceans Eleven that was recently successfully remade by George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Dean was the host of a top rated muscial variety show  on television featuring the beautiful "Golddiggers" dance troupe. Fans were assured that "Dino" was a wonder with the opposite sex. But his second wife, Jeanne, revealed in a 1978 interview that "when I met Dean Martin, it was love at first sight...I married him, knowing nothing about him. I divorced him twenty-three years later, and I still know nothing about him."

Many men think they have fulfilled their part of the bargain by doing things and being things. Therapist and author Marvin Allen says that "the real surprise for me was that my wife wanted more from me than money and sex...she wanted something more from me, something that I found impossible to give: intimacy.I was keeping such a tight rein on my feelings that there was no way I could let her get close to me." With such fear lurking behind those blue eyes, it is no wonder writer Lesley Dorman observed that "What are you thinking?", not those other ten questions,  are the four most terrifying words you can say to a man.

 

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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