When problems happen in otherwise good relationships and marriages, what I often hear from men is that they don’t feel supported by their wives or their girlfriends. Many check out after several attempts to get the support that they need, and just as many more simply don’t know how to get that support directly from the one they love.
Are you one of those guys who feels disconnected and unsupported from your relationship partner? How do you experience this lack of support?
The problem is, on the surface, a lack of support or validation from your wife or girlfriend. Underneath that lies another, more subtle layer.Men have a really difficult time recognizing their own needs, and have an even harder time actually connecting to those needs and communicating it (in language she can understand) directly to her. Instead, guys withdraw and stop interacting with women. they’ll tell themselves, “Why try? It’s just too difficult. Of course I want support, but she should know this. I do a lot for her, why do I need to be the one to tell her?”. Reactions happen across the range: some guys do the withdrawal-and-hide-the-anger thing, or some guys just check out of the relationship in general. Some guys get critical, or exercise their frustration through trying to control things or people in their environment. And some other guys just stew in their heads forever trying to figure out “how to fix it.”
Here’s some bullet points to help you. It’s unfortunate to see otherwise good guys in otherwise healthy relationships struggle to simply get validated.
- Ask yourself: “Does she validate me enough? Do I need more from her sometimes?”
- Ask yourself: “How does she show me support now? Could I actually name the ways that she communicates her support to me right now?”
- Talk with your wife or girlfriend, and express your appreciation for the support that she does give you; this will reinforce her behavior, and let her know exactly how you want the support. A lot of times women are clueless about how the support/validation is actually absorbed by their guy.
- Write down (on paper) what you would like validation or support for. Are there certain things that you’re contributing to her life, the kids’ lives, or to the household in general? Make a list of those things, to develop your own awareness about what those things actually are.
- Admit there’s a problem, both to yourself and to her. Make some time to communicate with her (hopefully, not during or after a fight). Say: “You know, I’m needing something from you and our relationship, and sometimes I don’t quite know how to ask you. I need to hear more supportive things from you around (x) and (y), and it would make me feel much closer to you.”
- If you sense you’re starting to withdraw or get angry, ask yourself “What am I needing in this moment?”. There’s usually an emotional reaction when we’re not getting a certain need me. This is an extremely powerful statement, so use this liberally when you get upset.
Hopefully, you can employ some of these helpful tips to get the support and validation you need and deserve in your intimate relationship. We’ll be talking about how to give the support and validation back to her in the next blog post. Stay tuned.