It‘s no secret that men and women have tried to understand the inner workings of each other’s minds for centuries. Unfortunately, this often results in us running in circles chasing our tails. Several years ago, a book by John Gray entitled Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus clearly supported the idea that trying to understand the opposite sex can be difficult, but we can at least be open minded to the differences.
I’ve been privileged enough to befriend some great males over the years that have helped me in my quest to better understand men. The past three years has been an exploratory dig to find out how they REALLY think. By reading and staying in communication with well educated, balanced males I posed many questions about behaviors I never understood. These behaviors, though illogical to me, are very clear to them. They do not pretend that all of these behaviors are healthy, yet they are able to understand the meanings behind them right away.
One such case was that of a friend who divorced after 10 years of marriage. The relationship was not without problems but after a minor disagreement, she came home from work and one day and her husband had moved out! There was no discussion and simply no closure. She had to figure out how to deal with the household responsibilities and their children all on her own. She never talked to him again until they went to court for divorce and custody. It was later revealed he’d moved with his parents for a few weeks and then got his own an apartment. She almost lost her home and was left to explain his disappearance to her children with no real answers herself. Fortunately family & friends helped but she was devastated emotionally.
Some of the thoughts she shared were:
- How can someone walk away from a 10 year marriage without as much as a” good bye” or “it’s over?”
- How could a person leave things abruptly and never look back to at least tie up loose ends?
- How do you leave your family and not put things in order for your children?
- Why didn’t I notice this person was ill equipped to maturely end a relationship?
During this time I was very confused for her. How do we explain behaviors like this without condoning them? Do women do the same things yet we don’t hear about it as much? Some of the rationales whether acceptable or not are:
- When people can’t handle the relationship pain they perceive they are or will cause to another, they feel caged.
- A person who feels caged will try to engineer an escape which is sometimes as healthy as a workout at the gym or destructive like emotional detachments & disappearing acts.
- For some men, when they don’t know what to do they simply do nothing and appear as invisible – hoping the issue will resolve itself in time.
- Faced with the reality of our own pain due ineffective coping skills, we sometimes simply refuse to face THE PAIN that OUR PAIN causes others and turn away.
There is no one size fits all hand book of life and not all people are equipped with the right tools at the right time. People give what they have and when they don’t have it, they can’t give it! To function effectively, we need a host of skills and they’re not always present. Many times it leaves another person left in the cold to figure it all out. Our mind can become a playground for irrational thoughts and confusion. Unlike death where there is a definitive end, this feels completely foreign and causes intense anger.
For those who are in this situation, I offer the following tips:
- Accept there may never be a final conversation, answer you can handle or a response to your questions.
- YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE even if you can’t handle this crisis on your own – help is available.
- Blaming your self WILL NOT fix this.
- Continually reliving (ruminating) every moment over and over is a self-esteem killer.
- Focus on the evolution of your life NOT the ending of this relationship – where are you now?
- Forgive them, yourself and KEEP IT MOVING!
- Slowly start to chip away at your tasks by dealing with the most important things first.
We know not all relationships will end this way. Relationship endings that lack closure are not ideal but in the long run you may have just been saved from a lifetime of hurt & drama. The time now is to work on your for you and let the past stay where it is – behind you!