Many women come into my sessions with this message “My husband has no empathy”.
What she has experienced from her perspective is a lack of emotional connection from him and little understanding of what she is saying or going through.
For her, he has little desire to share his feelings with her or to make any changes that help her connect with him. This will naturally affect her trust in him and her desire to trust he will be there for her.
Historically she is likely to have tried to get through to him. This leaves her with the impression she has to look after herself emotionally, and she can start to struggle to see the point of him…
It’s likely she will have felt that she has been crystal clear in her communication with him. In some cases, she can feel temporarily comforted that he has understood, BUT only to be flabbergasted when his actions then prove he hasn’t heard her at all, or worse, he’s choosing not to hear her.
She usually feels alone, and emotionally abandoned, she is likely to feel exhausted and resentful and if it goes on for too long detached from him.
Clearly, this is a terrible place for her to land, but is her translation correct? Does her husband really have no ability to be emotionally empathetic or is there something else at play?
What I discover for many couples is that her interpretation makes total sense from her perspective but isn’t always true in fact.
So have I worked with individuals who genuinely have no emotional availability? Yes, of course, one gentleman was involved in an explosion that put him in a coma for 6 weeks.
He had to relearn empathy due to this trauma. Before he came to see me he actually lived for years copying the emotions of others, just so he could fit in – but feeling very little himself.
What I do see with so many couples is the man is NOT suffering from the inability to be empathetic; he is suffering from not being able to understand her emotions and her emotional needs.
The main reason he struggles is because he isn’t FEMALE! – The way he experiences the world is totally different to her.
Many women feel the way they experience the world is “normal” and is the way it should be, so they set their expectations of others at her normal.
To balance this out, many men feel this too, to be fair.
What the women in this context are not seeing is their inability to understand his world and what he is going through, and why.
My point here is empathy is rooted in the other person’s ability to connect with the experience of the other person and men and women are light years apart in terms of their emotional operational systems.
Many men show little emotion outwardly – anger and frustration are most commonly visible, but the softer, more subtle skills that females use are not how many men express themselves naturally.
Many women will feel this is a sign he feels nothing for them. This could help her to feel he doesn’t care, love her or worse; she’s not enough for him.
For men, women are hugely confusing, and so many are simply afraid to engage and be honest with them because when they do, it never works out well.
Men are taught by women that talking to them or opening up is going to end badly, so he usually stops.
To men, a problem shared is a problem doubled when they speak with her. So he stays away from the minefield of emotions and lives happily in a practical world, which will never work for her.
To a man (I’m generalising here, of course), she twists his words, he doesn’t know what to do or say when she’s upset, or when she’s angry.
He can also assume when she is quiet, she is always happy!
So his mission is usually to keep things calm, and he can’t understand why she keeps spoiling the calm with negativity and problems. Frustratingly from his perspective, she seemingly has no desire to solve them just make them worse.
To many men, women are never looking for solutions (I’m still generalising).
In today’s post, I’m highlighting the hidden challenges that the opposite sex has with understanding each other and the assumptions that can put a perfectly good marriage in a tailspin.
Now of course, differences between the sexes are not the only issue a couple will face, but it’s such a big area that creates confusion on both sides and is critical to understand.
The moment you understand the operational system, and its limitations on both sides, then learning how to communicate becomes so much easier.
One gentleman, CEO of his company, was shocked at what he learnt about his wife’s operational system.
“Why didn’t I know this…” were his words after just four meetings with me where I went through what happens to her in an intimate relationship and how he can make easy changes to be a powerfully effective partner for her.
She was equally shocked at what he was naturally unaware of about her and what she was saying and wanted.
I have been helping couples in crisis for a very long time, and all couples struggle to really hear each other. It’s natural to assume the way you see the world is the only way it works, but if you do that, you could make a life-changing mistake.
All couples have problems, and all couples fall in and out of love. If you know your problems are normal; your next step is to….
- Learn how to reconnect and make your relationship bulletproof.
I have helped so many couples go from finding each other totally unattractive to getting that sexual attraction and connection back. It’s a very simple process, but powerful in helping couples who either want to make their relationship much better or simply save it from divorce.