It must be so frustrating. You see your boyfriend or husband, and you can immediately tell that he's going through something. You ask what's wrong and the answer you almost always get is... "Nothing." You know it's a lie, but that's all he says. Some of you might have even reached the point of screaming "Why won't you just talk to me?!" all to no avail. Sometimes if you press harder for the real answer, you just end up in a huge fight. Sadly, I cannot speak for all men, but hopefully what I share with you will give you some insight on how to deal with the man in your life.
Here are some of my reasons why I didn't like to open up about my problems, and how my wife was able to make a difference:
From childhood, I was bombarded with images of what a man is all about from television shows, books, advertisements and much more. A man cannot be weak. A man cannot show fear. A man cannot cry. If you cried, or showed fear, your friends would laugh at you. And if the incident was bad enough, you would never hear the end of it. You would be called horrible nicknames, and be the butt of at least one joke every single day.
When I got stung by jellyfish years ago, I asked a friend what I should do about it, since I had never been stung by them before. He told me a story about when he got stung by jellyfish, and he asked an old zen master type of person what he should do about the stings. The answer he got was, "Nothing. You are a man."
Bottom line: Be tough, otherwise you're not "acting like a real man."
Here lies a challenging conundrum. When I was younger, I always thought that if I shared my problems with my girlfriend, she would think less of me. In my experience, men never got together and talked about their problems. Usually there would even be that one guy who would say, "Lalaki ka diba, ba't mo prinoproblema 'yan." So there is that looming fear of rejection and ridicule if problems were discussed with others.
We had to carefully pick the friends we would confide in. If we told the wrong person, and suddenly our problem became public knowledge, the embarrassment could possibly push us further into silence.
Bottom line: I would rather keep my problems to myself, rather than have my significant other think less of me.
When you share a problem with someone, it usually means you haven't solved it yet, and you are getting advice from whoever you are taking to. This is where ego comes in. It's in my DNA to solve problems. That's how I'm built. For example, if a light is busted in my house, it will keep annoying me, and be at the forefront of my thoughts until it's fixed.
To admit there is a problem that I cannot solve is embarrassing. I'm supposed to have it all together, I'm supposed to be able to solve problems on my own without help from anyone.
Bottom line: If I can't do it on my own, then I'm "failing" as a man.
I used to keep all my problems bottled up inside. Thankfully now, my wife has been able to show me that my secrets are safe with her. It wasn't an easy journey. With time and patience, she was able to tear down the walls I had put up, and show me that we are stronger together. I had to learn to trust someone other than myself.
Bottom line: 99 percent of the time, the reasons behind not sharing my problems were with me, not with my partner. With love and understanding, she showed me that putting my trust in her was not just a good thing, but a great thing.