How To Get Your Man To Share His Feelings (According To Biology)

the strong silent type
Love, Self

Ladies, if your man won't open up to you, it may be engrained in his DNA.

Want to shut your male partner down quicker than a door slam? Just say, "Why don't you ever share your feelings with me?"

This question guarantees to elicit either a Mount Rushmore-like stoney stare or a look of total panic, as if you've caught him paying too much attention to a pretty woman at a cocktail party.

You may think that sharing feelings is just what "best friends" do. You have no trouble sharing your thoughts in deep conversations with your girlfriends. So,when your lover shares an observation that points toward a feeling, you may find yourself rubbing your hands in anticipation.

You assume that when he says he's worried about the future, that's a prelude to a deep heart-to-heart exchange. Suddenly, you realize that he was only talking about the economy and your hopes of a searching connection slip away.

So, you've probably concluded that your husband is withdrawing to punish you. Or, you may see him surfing the Internet as a way of staying locked behind his wall. His reserve may leave you feeling that he never wants closeness.

Sarah, a vivacious extrovert, laughed when her husband said she was his best friend. She felt that if he shared with her no more feelings than she got, she could not possibly be his best friend. She knew far more about the vicissitudes of her best friends than she did about what was going on in her partner's head.

But, the important thing to understand is that many guys do not share feelings with their best friends. This tends to fall under the category of having a problem. In the hierarchical relationship of men, having a problem and telling someone about it seems to give the other man a "one up" position. Guys tend to do that reluctantly.

According to Myers Briggs, 65% of men make decisions based on a logical frame of reference, while 65% of women make decisions relying more on feelings. Some studies tend to assume that men are just more naturally left-brained and that accounts for their lack of sharing feelings.

A study summarized in the book What Could He Be Thinking, by Michael Gurian, suggests that men are just wired differently. Scientists are using scans that show which part of the brain is used during specific activities. When men try to discern what a person is feeling, they simply do not have that many brain areas that light up. On the other hand, when researchers present their brains with a problem in math, much more of their brain will light up than in a woman's brain.

So, what are the questions that tend to invite your male partner into exploring with you, without that look of panic when you ask him about feelings? Since men feel incompetent when women demand feelings, don't attempt to do "can opener therapy."

When you are both relaxed, simply ask him questions like, "what was that like for you?" When he speaks of a colleague at work getting a promotion, you might say, "You mentioned that you felt some pressure when your boss moved up that deadline." Then, simply pause.

Since men's brains may make connections a little more slowly in the feeling area, your patience might be rewarded with a reflective insight about the nature of the pressure and what's upsetting about it.

Silences invite him to go further, without seeming to confront him about his lack of feeling dialogue. Using the question, "oh?" when he starts to tell you about a moving moment with your kid, invite him to say a little more about what touched him.

One thing not to do is to say, "Oh wow, that was a real feeling, you never share those feelings with me." This statement will touch off inadequacy that men feel when they perceive a woman coming after them about feelings.

What works is a simply noting that you loved hearing about that moment with your son. Men can do feelings if they are given room, and trust that you will receive their efforts in that direction, without labeling them as inadequate. Best of luck as your conversations become more inviting.

As a marriage counselor and partner to his wife for over 40 years, Dr. Jim Walkup helps couples build their relationship to last a lifetime. Visit his website for a copy of his eBook "A Marriage Counselor’s Secrets To Making Your Marriage Sizzle". Or, if you're in the state of New York, to schedule a Skype appointment or an in-person office appointment, call 914-548-8645 or drop Dr. Walkup an email at jimwalkup@gmail.com

This article was originally published at Mid-Manhattan Marriage Counseling. Reprinted with permission from the author.