Suffering In Silence

Last night I was getting my weekly fix of the new Australian drama ‘Wonderland‘ on Channel Ten. Usually I can watch this show, sip my tea and let my brain take a little break from its overactive nature … however last night it got me thinking.

You see, one of the female characters cheated on her husband and then confessed her dirty deed to him.

Colette's confession

Colette’s confession

After the confession, she immediately told a friend and lent on her for support. Her husband, on the other hand, didn’t tell a soul and tried to deal with his feelings alone.

Why don’t men talk about their feelings? Why do they suffer in silence?

I understand that men often react differently to stressful situations than women and I realise they need to go into their ‘man caves’ to figure stuff out. However, I don’t see how this is an effective strategy and I believe that it would be better if they could find a way to share their worries and burdens rather than keeping them bottled up.

man in cave
photo credit: Nhoj Leunamme == Jhon Emmanuel via photopin cc

There are certain notions in our society about how men are supposed to behave: They are supposed to be successful, in control at all times and keep their feelings in check. However ideas such as these can be extremely detrimental to the male psyche and may lead to depression, then, if the depression is left unchecked, it can be fatal. In fact, “In Australia, men account for 80 per cent of deaths by suicide” (Better Health Channel).

I try to allow my husband space to sort things out in his own mind before probing him too much about his emotions. However, sometimes it is hard to understand what is going on with him if he doesn’t share this information with me.

I also try to allow my son room to express his feelings and am conscious of not invalidating his comments about his emotions. However, I do worry that as he gets older he will learn that, as a male, he is supposed to ‘toughen up’, not be a ‘wuss’ and just ‘get over it’.

As I am neither a male nor a psychologist, I don’t have all the answers here; but maybe some of you out there have some ideas?

Why do men suffer in silence?

Do you think this is changing and the men of today are getting better at talking about their emotions?

How do we teach our sons to talk about their feelings and not be too proud to ask for help?


4 thoughts on “Suffering In Silence

  1. I think men do have it a LOT harder, in this respect. You don’t see men talking about problems with each other, much at all. They really are taught to stuff their feelings, which isn’t good at all, and can lead to a number of self-destructive things.

  2. Thanks for writing this post, Kathryn. It’s needed.

    I must be the odd one out, because I don’t have much trouble opening up about my feelings. I know a lot of guys do, though, and it probably has a lot to do with their childhood and what they were taught about boys and men as they grew up.

    I think we need to do just what you’ve said, and teach our boys that it’s OK—and good—to share their feelings, and that they must NEVER put anyone else down for doing so.

    • Thanks for your comment Chris. I think maybe young boys take cues from their father or the father figure in their lifes, so it is great if that person can lead by example and also share with the boys that is ok to talk about their emotions. I am glad that you can express yourself this way 🙂

  3. Historically we girls are more comfortable leaning on our “girl” friends and talking about anything and everything – men have not been doing this in the same space – but there is a slow tide of change.

    Men’s groups are growing in numbers and boy’s week-ends whilst happening regularly are more commonly accepted by women as something men should do more often. As much as it pains me to say this – shows like Big Brother – where a few “manly Aussie type males” are opening up and showing a supportive side towards other males in the house – has to set an example for other males to follow.

    As a mother raising three young men – it is at the back of my mind constantly how to get them to open up, be respectful of their feelings and others, yet function in this day and age where they communicate via social media and on-line games. (easy to hide behind a keyboard or phone.)

    To try and remind them there is no need to call their brother fat/stupid/ dumb is a start I guess. Yes I agree with Chris – it starts at home. A good male role model and encouragement to be themselves.

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