To Be Or Not To Be...Present

By: Mary Knight | Relationships | Action Resources

When your man is telling a joke, a story or doing something you’ve told him you don’t like, often he will do it again and again because he’s in a different mode than you - he’s not being present. This lack of presence can cause many a man to not take you seriously until you become upset and yell, cry or storm out of the room.

Expressing yourself through yelling, screaming or crying is the only way some men “get it.” It stinks, but for many couples, this is a reality. When you nicely say,

“Can you please stop doing that,”?

“I’d prefer it if you wouldn’t…”

“I’ve asked you not to do that,”

and you’re chided or ignored – here are the reasons men have given for their behavior:

1. They thought if they kept doing it, you’d think it was funny.

2. The last time they did it you were just in a “bad mood.”

3. They knew it was upsetting you, but they got caught up in a spiral of shame and embarrassment and didn’t know how to back down.

Whatever the reason, my Romance Coaching clients shared they were only able to handle this behavior for so long before feeling shut down emotionally and turned off sexually. It wasn’t even a conscious choice to pull away; they simply reached a point of feeling defeated and withdrawn. All they knew was they had lost that lovin’ feelin’ and wanted it back!

At first this was a sneaky problem to solve because for many women they couldn’t see that anything was “wrong” in their relationships, they just felt “over it.” In coaching sessions we were able to uncover that this type of unconscious conduct by men was a root cause of a woman’s overall dissatisfaction. This was a surprise to many because how could something so senseless have such a big influence on an intelligent adult woman? Many of my clients asked,

“Aren’t I more evolved than that?”

I don’t think this is an issue of being evolved or emotionally mature as much as being aware and present to your feelings and THE WILLINGNESS TO STAND UP FOR YOURSELF. Often in the heat of the moment we’ll feel angry and upset and maybe say nothing or something unproductive. Later when we’re no longer mad, we’ll think, “Maybe I was being too hard on him…” and make excuses for why you’re wrong and examining the heck out of why you feel the way you do. Then get into feeling bad for thinking ugly thoughts or fussing at him. It’s so easy to fall into a cycle of feeling bitchy and making yourself wrong because you’re not sure why you’re so offended by such a stupid thing!

It is important to address this with your man no matter how unsure you are. You are allowed to be upset, irritated, offended and angry even if it’s about something that in retrospect seems silly. At the time of the incident, if you can, it’s helpful to consider, “He’s not trying to aggravate me, he’s just not aware of how this is effecting me.”

This causes an immediate feeling of relaxation and allows you to release some of the negative energy. Then take a breath or two into your belly and become aware of how you feel in your body about what he just said or did. You may or may not be able to identify and label the feeling. That’s not important. What is important is you are aware that you have a feeling about the situation. Consciously, maybe even lovingly you can say to him, “I don’t like the way I feel when you do x,y,z.”

Keep it about you, this will allow him to know:

1. You don’t think it’s funny.

2. Whether or not you’re in a bad mood is irrelevant.

3. He’s not being attacked, so he can back down with dignity.

You’re not accusing, you’re just stating how you feel. Instead of focusing on ourselves and how we feel, we tend to demonize the other person and make up stories to explain why we feel the way we do about their behavior:

“If he loved me he wouldn’t….”

“If he cared about me he would see….”

“If he ever freakin’ listened to me he’d know…”

You feel mad or sad or angry or offended and you don’t want to feel that way. That’s the true issue here in the present. Even when you’re present, you won’t know or understand what’s behind your feelings and that doesn’t matter, but you can know you don’t like the way you feel and address that with your man.

If you don’t think you can pull off a calm cool conversation in the heat of the moment, then wait. One way to address touchy issues is to bring them up when you’re not mad and be willing to see the conversation through. That means not backing out or rationalizing his behavior. Go to your man at a relaxed time and say, “I don’t know why I get so upset, I really don’t but I’m asking you to please help me, to work with me and just stop doing xyz.” You don’t need to have all the answers or even any answers about why, this isn’t a debate. We are talking about feelings, so trying to apply logic doesn’t always provide answers.

Any normal healthy man will respond positively to your openly and directly sharing feelings. Going forward, throughout your day, asking yourself, “How do I feel right now?” brings awareness to yourself and how you respond the world around you. This is a wonderful practice to develop the habit of feeling instead of always creating stories – negative or positive - or looking for ways to be right. It gets you into the routine of being present. This is a huge step towards ease and relaxation in your relationship with your man and yourself.