This Week in Marriage – On the Inevitability of Emotions

Before getting married, I thought I was an emotional fellow. I thought because I wore cardigans and was accused of being feminine more than once in high school (and as an adult) that I was a sensitive guy. Really, it was just because I’m not normal and people don’t know where to categorize me.

I say that to share that, when April moved in, I had no idea how wide the emotional spectrum could possibly be. Now there are even imes I consider myself a-motional.
My perception is that in most marriages, the woman is expected to be emotional and the man is expected to be stoic and have fewer opinions about things that aren’t sports or money. Emotions in our society are also usually expressed through physical expression and not words. This is a bit troublesome for me–I don’t have the capacity to cry. Sure, I’ll shed a solitary tear when the University of Mississippi’s documentary team really tugs at my heart strings, and I wept at my grandfather’s and uncle’s passing but that’s really it. In fact, my range of emotions is generally happy, happy, happy, content, fairly excited, debilitatingly anxious, annoyed.
April, on the other hand, displays her emotions freely and has a healthy range of physically displayed feelings and emotions.
I find that when she gets upset about something, she cries and I respond by hugging her and then talking through the issue that made her cry. It’s also important to note that she has an overwhelmed response and an offended response but the crying response is usually when she perceives she has fallen short of an expectation. That is normal and healthy.
The trouble is, when I am upset about something I will tell her and, since she has very high expectations of herself, she will perceive that as a shortcoming on her part and this often leads her to tears. At this point, I –as a human and a husband– have to hug her and comfort her and get back to what made her upset. The problem is, since I didn’t have a physical emotional response, the thing I’m upset about seems to have been not that big of a deal and is overshadowed by her feelings, since she is able to show them physically.
It’s a vicious cycle, but one we’re actively working on understanding and fixing, to help us both acknowledge emotions and feelings.
I know this isn’t just a “marriage” issue, and also think this is a problem with our society as a whole. Look at the news cycle. If there is an emotional response, the logical problem that was presented has the potential to be overlooked.
I usually try to offer up solutions at this point when I’m writing a news story or essay but I have no idea how to overcome this problem with a solution… though there may not be one. I guess I just want to put this idea out there: Sometimes people get upset and emotional about very serious issues and those people and issues should be addressed in a caring and timely manner. Sometimes people get upset and don’t have a physical way to show that and I wish it could be dealt with in a sensitive and timely manner as well. Whether it be budgeting in government (we can’t pay the freaking bills without having to get emotional about it anymore) or a conversation between two friends, the correct answer doesn’t have to come out of an emotional response. At the same time, the calm head doesn’t have to be overlooked.
Disclaimer: Please know I’m not saying I’m always cool headed and April is always emotional, therefore I’m always right. Often-times the emotional response is a physical and visceral response for a reason, because our human nature is saying, “Something is wrong here and I don’t like it.”
What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you have trouble showing your feelings and emotions?
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