Truth is, I don’t always know how to break my silence [Men]
Silence is not golden
James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Truth is, I don’t always know how to break my silence. Nor do I want to “open up,” or “share my feelings”… with anybody. I want to be in a cave, alone, with my thoughts echoing off its walls. I want the darkness, the stillness. I want them all to myself, without question or judgment. I want time, time to self-reflect, self-correct, self-loathe. I want to beat myself up; not have anyone else to do that for me. I want to carry my own weight, rearrange my own baggage. Hands off; it’s all mine.
It’s thoughts like these that keep me from talking, or opening up to others, whether to my wife, trusted friend, or counselor.
When in conflict or distress, I can feel at war with myself, and I imagine I am not alone. Yet, the rewards of “talking” far out weigh the risks.
Below are a few reasons I believe every man should cultivate vulnerability in his life.
Men often are not in touch with their feelings. I’m not certain as to all the reasons, but part of it seems to be cultural expectations. Generations of men have been encouraged to keep to themselves or “be strong,” strong usually meaning a form of stoicism, or absence of emotion. Men have learned to bottle things up (until they can’t any longer), while women have been expected to talk more.
Being married for 17 years I have learned this isn’t healthy for anyone, especially myself.
Rather than neglecting how I feel, or sweeping it under the rug, I am beginning to work towards being vulnerable, which usually shows itself in talking to someone, especially my wife.
There is truth to getting things off your chest. Men need to unload.
This is why Paul writes, “Be anxious about nothing, but in all things pray.”(Philippians 4:6)
Anxiety, fear, anger, or weakness are burdens our shoulders aren’t meant to carry, but God is prepared to carry our loads. We cannot know freedom, unless we unload the burdens we carry. If we don’t unload the burdens, they tend to crush us and negatively impact the people we love the most.
Go ahead you have permission to freely unload, to God most certainly, but also a trusted friend or counselor.
When we aren’t working towards vulnerability, then odds are we aren’t moving towards understanding. Openly wrestling with how you feel gets to the source, which sometimes has little to do with your wife, kids, or work. Understanding how you feel can go a long way in understanding yourself, opening the door for actual healing and resolution.
Much more, your wife has greater understanding, and with understanding comes grace and help. Your spouse deserves to know you fully, she can’t know you fully, unless you know yourself fully.
Talking goes a long way toward improving personal health, freedom from burdens we carry, and mutual understanding, all of which lead to an equally great benefit…conflict resolution.
Silence never moves towards healthy conflict resolution. Silence assumes the issue will go away, but it only covers the genuine hurt, frustration, or anxiety you feel.
Learning to talk brings things into the open. Addressing emotions allows for the possibility for authentic connections, forgiveness, and resolution. Vulnerability leaves us susceptible to judgment or scrutiny from others, but it is well worth the risk. You may be surprised by the appreciation and affirmation you receive.
You might be thinking, “what if I have nothing to say?”. That’s okay.
I have learned, I often need to write out my thoughts before I speak them. Not like writing a script, but free-flow writing to capture some of what I may be feeling. If you don’t know what you feel or what to say, try writing with an open ended objective.
These habits have been very helpful and I hope they are for you as well. As a husband I have every obligation to work on important things, like being vulnerable, for my wife’s sake, and my kid’s too.
Get talking. -Danny
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