He’s Too Emotional

Dear Courage,

I’ve been married for 14 years. It’s been good, mostly, but lately he’s driving me nuts. He’s so emotional! He wants to talk and talk about his feelings and situations and problems. I’d rather just move on. I mean, we talked about it, it’s in the past. Get over it. It’s like beating a dead horse. Enough already! He wasn’t always like this. I wonder if he’s going through something. Maybe he needs to talk to a professional counselor, instead of his wife? What can I do?

Signed, Weary.

Dear Weary,

He could be going through something, as you suggest. Men don’t usually talk about their feelings. Many women have the opposite complaint, that their man is sullen and silent, and until he opens up, they haven’t a clue what’s wrong. So while you’re tired of his complaining now, you don’t really want to discourage his ability to communicate with you.

But it is time to learn how to communicate effectively. It’s a two-way street, too. It’s called “Fair Fighting.” We should all learn how to tell someone how we feel, without making them feel like it’s somehow their fault. We have a right to our feelings, but no one is responsible for making us feel that way. We are in control of our feelings. So, when you and your husband talk, be sure to make “I” statements, and avoid “you” statements. For example, “I feel inadequate. I don’t know how to help you. I avoid talking to you, because I don’t feel like we are getting anywhere.”

Or change my statements to fit how you really feel. But stick to how YOU feel, and not what you think he feels or what you think he’s going through. Then stop talking. It’s his turn. You might have to tell him how to fight fair, that he needs to think about what he’s going to say, and put it into an “I” statement, avoiding blame or pointing fingers. Then maybe he’ll say something you can work with. Maybe not. It takes time to learn how to communicate like this, but it can save marriages.

You’ve managed to express to him exactly how you feel. Maybe he’ll ignore it. Maybe he’ll think about it. But at least he’ll know where you’re coming from. Give it a try – what have you got to lose? Ultimately, though, it does sound like he may need to speak to a professional. Some health insurance policies will cover that now, because emotional health can affect physical health. You might look into that.

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