Marriage counseling for men has become one of my specialties. Many times men can be reluctant to enter into therapy but it can be helpful to have a counselor how is a man that has been in a successful relationship for over 25 years as I can be someone with whom they can relate.
Counseling, in any form, is intimidating for a person. In many societies, getting counseling is looked upon as a sign of weakness. The social stigma attached to it makes it difficult for men to get therapy while it is often considered acceptable for women to get therapy as they are seen to be more emotionally expressive than men. Men, have a stereotype, which they must live up to and they often tend to be more oriented on staying strong, being tough, hiding their emotions, being independent and focusing on being the pillar everyone else leans on.
Unfortunately this is not always possible and men do feel the pressure often, particularly when they are made to live up to the expectations people place on them. Now, all men do not react to their problems in the same manner, but they do tend to face the same amount of opposition when they reach out for counseling.
For some, opting to get counseling privately is more feasible. The reluctance, inability or simple unwillingness exhibited by men in seeking therapy makes it difficult to deal with their problems and issues properly. Luckily, the situation can be remedied by raising awareness about the need for counseling. Research conducted by the University of Missouri, shed more light on this factor. The data concluded that while men are not always afraid to or reluctant to seek counseling, they are often taught to seek help less often.
Out of Touch With Ourselves
Many men are often so emotionally numb that they will not seek help for their problems. They often do not realize the extent of their emotions. After all, if you don’t pay attention to something for years and years – you lose touch with it. Depression may just feel like stress or it may feel like they are too tired to get up. When taught from an early age that emotions are to be bottled up – it can be challenging to talk about them in an open way. It’s just not what we do.
Even among friends, guys who are emotionally open, who tend to express their emotions more, can find themselves jeered and mocked by their peers. Expressing themselves is felt to be more feminine and living up to the masculine stereotype has become more important for them now. Among societal images for men like the Marlboro man, men in Old Spice advertisements and others, masculinity is represented by men who are expressly strong, quite, sullen and moody, with facial expressions that reveal little about the person’s mindset or emotions.
By the time a guy has the chance to focus on themselves; it becomes harder for them to state or understand just what is going on inside them. Even when in therapy, patients continue to worry about the perception others will have about them if word should get out regarding their treatment. Even men who are in their 50’s feel embarrassed about sharing details they have never told anyone about before. They quickly realize, however, that it can be quite easy once things get started and are often greeted with a sense of relief and validation. We are not alone – it’s hard for all of us, but it feels so good to get some of this out. Many times, men who have been reluctant to go to therapy become the biggest talkers in my sessions. It’s almost as if they can’t stop once they get started!
The key to making counseling easier for men lies in raising awareness for their issues. Whether the condition one suffers from is mental or physical, men are taught to either hide the issue or find another man to talk to. This often turns out to be a best friend who is a trusted confidante and who will not tell others about their problem as well. But sometimes that person is not able to provide the needed skills to assist with actual change. A friend is a friend. But a therapist can actually assist with growth and getting better. It’s also helpful to realize that all information in a counseling session is kept strictly confidential – so there is a greater since of trust. In such an environment, men begin to consider it cathartic to get their feelings and emotions out in the open and addressed in the right manner as well.
Where To Start?
* Realize that you are not alone. Many men are in counseling and learning the benefits of it.
* Think of this as more coaching than ‘therapy’. In a couples counseling situation I work with people on logistics and focus on the ‘how’ of making things better.
* What have you got to lose? If things are not good now, despite your best efforts, maybe this is a chance to make things better.
* Don’t worry that this is going to be a chance for people to gang up on you and blame you for all the bad things in the relationship. That doesn’t happen. I’m here to give a balanced approach to improvement.
When your relationship is not going well – nothing in your life seems to be going well. It’s a huge stress and I’ve heard over and over from men about how helpless they feel to make it better. By going through the couples counseling process, you have a chance to make fundamental change in your relationship and your life in general. Have questions? Give me a call today.