Monday, June 17, 2013

When Troubles are Upon Us

I commented on a post by Susie over at Her Mischief Managed and after some additional thoughts, I decided to opine a bit more about how men and women process emotional issues and how to help each other when troubles are upon us. 
When I say troubled, I do not mean when the car won’t start or our team just lost the big game (although that is trouble…...LOL).  It’s those emotional times when we feel helpless and alone.  The catalyst may have been not getting a long awaited job, or thinking the love of your life has grown distant and daily communication has become more of a mis-communication.  Maybe you believe you let either yourself or someone else down because you failed to be all you promised to be. Or perhaps it is just one of those days when life is getting the better of you and you are feeling blue.         

Men and women have physically different brains. Women benefit from estrogen in their brain development. Estrogen builds synaptic connections, which allow the logically oriented left hemisphere to work in unison with the more visually oriented right hemisphere. This is a feature omitted for the male. Males must generally learn to function with their dominant hemisphere in contrast to womens' brains, which utilize both hemispheres simultaneously in their thought processes.

Since men only use half their brain at a time  they focus on issues one at a time, then formulate a plan. After doing so, they are ready to act (no comments needed here thank you).

Seriously though, for me (and I think most men) when we are emotionally troubled we retreat to "the cave" to be alone with our thoughts. I know that is opposite of what most women want because the women we love try to help by wanting us to “talk about it”. However, that only causes us to go deeper into the cave, because talking is a distraction to men in this condition. We need to be alone in the cave in order to focus 100%. After our thoughts are processed, we exit with a plan of action.

As difficult as it is for a women, the best thing you can do for a man in his cave, is let him be. After he emerges, he will be ready to discuss things, but not before. When he does, listen to his plan, join his team, and be encouraging. Give it a few days before you suggest any improvements or modifications, because he has worked everything out in his head and adding additional ideas will only make him retreat into the cave again. More importantly, by initially accepting his plan, you provide validation, and that will energize him more than you can imagine!  However, if/when the plan needs refinement, after a few days, offer your ideas and he will listen. 
Women, on the other hand, are excellent mental multi-taskers using both halves of their brains simultaneously.

With multiple thoughts swirling around, verbalizing their thoughts is the technique that allows them to organize and prioritize all their ideas into an order that makes sense. It is as though each thought is an individual piece of a puzzle and verbalizing those thoughts is the way to bring the big picture into focus.

The best thing a man can do for a woman is to just listen and not try to fix anything, which is just as difficult for a man to do, as it is for a woman to not talk to him about his thoughts.  So while he is in his cave, talk to other girlfriends about your situation. They will totally understand and have the patience to provide the support you need to process your own thoughts and ideas.
TWD creates intimacy and oneness, but during times of emotional distress, men and women have to heal before they can resume a semblance of normalcy. Depending upon the situation, that can take varying lengths of time. However, the old cliché “Time Heals All Wounds” really is true.

No matter who you are or where you live, life will occasionally throw us a curve. However, the good news is that in any relationship with a strong foundation, after life’s trials and tribulations are suffered and conquered together, the bonds that bind us only grow stronger.  


Blessings to all,



  1. All too true George. For many years, I didn't understand why my husband would retreat when something was wrong. I became offended and hurt and so I would in turn retreat from him. In my view, it was a very bad sign that he wasn't *talking it out* with me. Talking was the very first thing I wanted to do. I've finally learned to just sit back and wait for him. As you said, he'll talk about it when he's good and ready. I might need to work on the not jumping in right away to point out any flaws in his logic though :) Even if done with tact respect, I see now how that could be misunderstood by him. Thanks for sharing the male POV George! Blessings to you also!

    1. Hi Queenie, amazing how things work better if we understand a little about how the "other half" thinks. We never will get it all, but then how interesting and would that be!

      If you are interested I always recommened Barbara and Alan Peace books. They are really wonderful and explain a lot about us....and they are also very funny. Just google their name and you will find all their stuff.

      Have a great day and thanks for commenting.


  2. Hi George, this is such a great post and well stated.

    Thank you for sharing this. It's difficult when we in it to remember that we process differently and to just let him retreat into his cave to process. You're right, that natural inclination is to try and get him to talk it out.


    1. Roz, yes it is as natural for a woman to want to talk as it is for a man to want to be left alone. Perhaps the Lord Almighty was just wanting to make things interesting for us down here!

      Same recommendation for reading if you are interested as I suggested for Queenie.

      Hugs back


  3. Hrmph. It maybe true, but we don't have to *LIKE* it!

    Great, well written post. Another Dd wife and I were just talking on the phone about this last night. How we 'see' all and juggle everything, but then also get frazzled somewhat by it all. Well frazzled might not be the right word, but anxious. What further complicates the issue when we 'see the big picture' and get anxious about it, our husbands appear calm( or clueless) to us. "Why are they not stressed about this? Can they not see the severity of the situation?". We came to the conclusion that while we can't stand this 'feature' that it is most likely a good thing, because we BOTH can't be anxious and stressed to that degree.

    Might I also add this further proves my theory that estrogen is the root of all evil! Not that I am willing to give up my estrogen card carrying membership just yet!

    love, willie

    1. Wilie, I was going to use a seafaring metaphor, but then remembered how you are afraid of going on the water, so I will change to a airplane trip through the skys.

      I think the reason that women are stressed is beause they are looking at not only the big picture, but also all the potential things that might go wrong. Men have analyzed the situation and formulated a plan to take care of the situation and our plan surely will work, so why worry....

      Now for the metaphor....traveling along on beautiful clear skys we look ahead and see nasty weather...we decide we will circumnavigate said nasty weather...problem solved, no worries. That is kind of how we chart our course through all of lifes nasty weather.

      I can also see why you worry about us, because sometimes even the best plans can go awry, so thanks for being our conservative co-pilots. You not only see to it that we arrive safely, but also that the trip is interesting! Ha! Ha!

      Now about the estrogen card????? I think you might be on to something....LOL

      love, george

  4. Wow George -

    You put this so well (although I had to go look up the definition of "opine" lol!). I really appreciate what you said and it's SO helpful to remember how the other half is thinking/processing since we are wired totally differently!

    I'm so glad you are here!

    :) Cali

    1. Thanks for the comments Cali.

      I must say that I love words! Using just the right word can make all the difference in geting thoughts across because in most normal situations 55% of communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken. I sometimes think that when we are talking to our spouse it is more like 5% body language, 2% words and 93% tone! LOL

      I am glad that I am here also, becasue in my short time I have found this to be the most loving and caring community of folks anywhere. I have said it before, but will say it again, too bad the world is not more like this. It would be a much better place!

      Blessing to you,


  5. Hi George!
    I am continually astounded at how my husband and I can be in the same situation and see completely different things. Often enough I have the big picture in mind and am messily jumping in all of it strategically, methodically and very emotionally. He will go into his cave, return and "fix" one tiny piece of it and then act as though all is well. He know is isn't, but he hasn't processed all of that just yet. He needs more time in his cave. It is wonderful and maddening to have two people who function so differently. I appreciated all you had to say here. Now the trick is how to remember it in those moments when I need to without being unduly reminded. It's sort of like when us ladies tell each other to "communicate" with our husbands. There are times when if one more person tells us to "go talk to him" we will wring their necks. You are right--the women out here can really pull each other through a lot of junk, keep each other talking and then when our hubbies are ready to work through some of the big stuff, we can be right there to do it with them.

    Thank you George!

  6. Hi Susie, I am glad you liked the post.

    I have lived with Nina for 35 years and we have two daughters, so I've had a lot of opportunity to observe the "other half".

    You seeing the big picture first is very normal since you use both halves of your brain and multi task. Since guys are limited to only 1/2 of our brain at a time, we focus on things singularly and solve one problem at a time.

    Certainly has all the makings of lots of misunderstandings and hurt feelings! I know, been there and done that! Women say "go talk to him" because that is as natural as breathing to them. It just is not a good idea when men are in their cave contemplating.

    Men act calm because 1) we are confident we have things under control, so why worry and 2) the last thing we want is to appear we don't have things under control lol!

    Women see the big picture sooner and that is why they have concerns. However, men interpret that as women trying to solve problems that havn't happened. Ever hear your husband say something like "well we can just deal with that if and when it happens"?

    The answer to good communication and harmony in this situation is all in the timing. The trick is to wait a bit before offering any suggestions. If asked, just say something like, sounds good, I feel better now. Suggest something that will modify the plan and it comes across as critical. He will immediately go into "defense of the plan" mode and disagree with any idea you suggest regardless of its merit. But if you wait and then say "I have given a lot of thought to your ideas and I have a few ideas of my own I would like to share with you". You should find a much more receptive audience because you, as the number one most important person in his life, the one he wants to take care of and impress, having given thoughtful consideration to his plan, have now validated not only the plan, but his efforts in creating it.

    I know it takes a lot of patience and maturity to pull off, but after multiple times listening to good suggestions from you, he will start to seek out your opinion before you offer it up! I promise!