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Marriages

How marriages are affected by DMD

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Comment by Kurt Harzke on April 8, 2009 at 11:14am
I am new to the group and wanted to provide a Father's perspective.

It is right to say that men process difficult emotions at times differently than women. It is not a detachment, but a difference in how men and women are traditionally taught to deal with grief, love or other strong emotions. It is true that some men will hide form painful emotions. It is also true that many men express their feeling through their productive or destructive actions.

It has been my observation that women are taught differently. They are encouraged to "open up" and "share." Women seem to bond with other women in this way because men often appear so bad at it.

If you observe men, they can also "share" with each other and are capable at times of being just as open as women. However, watch two men talking and observe the differences. Men usually talk as part of some other activity (i.e. bowling, fishing, cards, etc...). Women face each other, make eye contact, look for visual cues. Men do not typically do these things. Their feelings are express by (or during) an activity.

Why do I bring this up? To illustrate the point that Men and Women simply communicate in radically different ways. It is almost as if they are speaking separate languages at times.

Does it mean that men don't avoid painful situations? No. Anyone male or female is capable of denial.

In my own marriage, my wife and I slowly became aware of this difference in communication styles. It sounds elementary, but I think many relationships struggle because each person assumes the other knows what their needs are (i.e. validation, to be heard, to be understood, to be comforted, to be supported, etc) and more importantly HOW to do this.

What happens sometimes with husbands is that we are trying to express an emotion through an action (for example: running a fund raiser) and that is good, but it doesn't directly address the needs of our wives. The wife feels hurt because she did not get what she was looking for. Rather than explain that to the husband she may assume something like he doesn't care or doesn't feel because and may even tell him so. Now it is the husband's turn to be hurt because in his mind he is doing something because he cares. Now it is his turn to make the mistake of not expressing his needs... and the cycle continues pushing couples farther apart.

My wife and I have to work at this everyday and even with the understanding of our differences in communication styles, we still have disagreements and hurt feelings for time-to-time. As a man, I have to work at communicating in the way that my wife needs which may be talking openly. As a woman, she has had to work at understanding that she may be misinterpreting my actions. we have both had to work at expressing our needs clearly, openly, and honestly with each other so there is no guess work and no misinterpretation.

My son is 6 now. I cannot possibly know the struggles that upcoming years will bring. But I do know that for today even though she and I experience and process our griefs differently, we are still a team.

It is also true that your husbands may be adjusting to dashed expectations as you are. I have been a martial artist for many years and have always dreamed of teaching my son someday. The realization that this will likely never happen has been painful to bear. It has forced me to have to discover new ways to relate to my son, but to this day it still stings that there is a part of my life that I cannot include my son in.

When I was a child my father's hobby/passion was fixing up old sports cars. He would always show me the latest car he was working on. We'd spend hours in the garage talking (bonding) while he worked. He took me to auto shows. He taught me everything he know about each car on display. He rarely gave hugs. He almost never said 'I Love You' and I had very little interest in cars at that age. I did, however, look forward to those talks in the garage and even the auto shows. It was his way of sharing something that was important to him with me. In doing so it was his way of showing me that I was important to him.

Tell your husbands what you need and how you need it. Encourage them to do the same. It will take time. You will need patience. Understand that you are both going through this together and to assume that he is not feeling something is an excuse.

There is my 20-cents. For what it is worth - I hope you find the perspective helpful.
 

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