Breaking generations of men don’t cry stigma
Hello , 12 years together and 4 beautiful children my partner finally broke down. I’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer and am undergoing treatment. He has had to juggle home life, work and family and the pressures have finally broken him. Not a man for talking about feelings and emotions, he spiralled out on the weekend while I was out with friends and started sending a hurling of abuse via text. I put on my best poker face with the girls and made up an excuse to leave because I told him I’m coming home, we are sorting this out. It all felt to have come out of no where as I had just been with him a few hours prior. With all the children at sleepovers we had planned a take away and tv binge but when I got home he was gone, the panic set in and I checked his location he was at a local reservation. When I pulled up I blocked his car and got into it with him, he had a 4 pack of vodkas and was on can 1 and didn’t say a word or look at me. All I could think was something really bad must have happened as in all our years we have never been disloyal or honest to one another, we exchanged some conversations as I held his hand , he wouldn’t look at me as I sat in the passenger seat. As I told him somethings not right and we need to fix it tears started, i jumped across the middle console and wrapped my arms around him, he completely broke down sobbing and telling me all his fears and angers of how much he hates himself and what he truly feels calling himself a horrible person, partner and father. I held him and we cried together,‘this was all such a powerful and life changing moment. In all our years he had never let it all out like in this moment, but now my next fears seeped in - suicide. Over the next few hours we spoke, walked and I told him say it all without thinking even if it’s hurtful to me - he told me he knew what he was texting me would hurt me and that I was with friends and he didn’t care. These are not the words I would’ve ever expected to hear, he would deliberately hurt me - but i know there’s something so much more deeper and this may just be top level conversation so I told him I forgive him. Since then I have asked him to see the doctor and get some help for his mental well being. He’s not ready and I’m not going to push him but I want to help him because this whole experience has proven to me he needs more in us, does anyone have advice on supporting a male partner who has just discovered it’s ok to feel and share emotions unconditionally?
I'm going to do my best to try and explain this for people who may have never given it much thought before...
The problem with bottling up emotions for far too long is when that dam finally breaks... EVERYTHING starts tumbling out.
The good, the bad, the ludicrous, the silly little things you never bothered to give a voice to, the deepest darkest thoughts that you purposely ignored all your life... EVERYTHING.
... and because the sheer amount of emotion hits you all at once. You struggle to filter it into individual components. To separate it into cohesive thoughts. It's just all crushed together all at the same time into a uninterpretable monster that doesn't make any real sense... even to yourself.
And for people who have embraced their emotional and sensitive side all their lives, they don't understand that for people that haven't done that. Their emotional side is painfully immature. It has to be. It was never given the time to grow and mature naturally. So when it is finally brought out into the light after years of being in the dark... it's like a child screaming for attention. It FEELS it all but it doesn't know how to explain it, it put it into words, it doesn't even really know what it is saying... it is just screaming out everything all at once.
It's a lot to process. "Overwhelming" is not nearly a sufficient enough word to describe it.
But like everything, given enough time to process everything. Enough breathing space to process it all in its individual components one at a time and see which ones are related to each other and which ones aren't. It stops being a "monster" and then can be dealt with in bite sized chunks. Which when his mind calms down a bit, you can certainly help him with.
... and when he feels less overwhelmed and open to the idea, potentially a professional as well.
In the emotional realm, the first step is by far the most important. But the direct aftermath of finally letting it out is the most difficult stage... because you don't feel like yourself, you don't know how to behave or what to do. You don't know what you are saying half the time or comprehend the consequences of your actions. The emotional state which you are continually struggling to process and that is dominating your thought keeps coming and going in waves. Over and over again. It's debilitating and confusing.
But after that initial confusion stage it does slowly day by day become easier. It just takes a time and a lot of effort.
I'm a 64yo male, married happily with a grown up daughter.
Other than bipolar I suffered from dysthymia which frankly is a typ of depression that made me cry a lot up to medication which was 2009. So,I lived many years being emotional even while working in a prison and security work.
So I'm not your run of the mill guy in terms of emotion and it baffles me also how men can bottle it up.
In your case though there is some tell tale signals I can put to you. I think going out with your friends might have been the trigger (not necessarily the core issue). In future you might need to confirm with him if its all ok for you to socialise with your friends before you leave and ring him half time to check on him.
You might be wise to review your lives. EG are you both getting enough time with each other? do you have hobbies, sports or recreation like caravanning? Life might have just become mundane.
I want to praise you for your support of him. Having had an attempt myself such support would have been wonderful for me at the time. Well done.
Repost anytime, I'm here daily
l don't really believe in some men don't cry stigma tbh l think that's just some women's interpretation of how men as they think or see it " act" And most women really don't understand all that much about how men are and what really makes us tick.
Bob Hawk use to cry all the time and how long ago was that , but for any man l've ever known it's most of us simply just don't cry every 5minutes like women do . Almost anytime my gf cries for example and it doesn't have to be over much are usually things that would hardly even faze me let alone cry over it or l'd feel maybe an ok lets just get on with it type thought or whatever but l sure wouldn't feel like crying over it. l am an very emotional person myself actually but it would very very rarely come out in a crying form, l just wouldn't feel it in that way. My dad passed away 86 so he was way old school at that vintage , but growing up never the less never , ever , did he ever say one thing against men crying or being emotional, nor did any of his mates and l never ever heard it anywhere else either. l actually like emotional men myself and never had l heard anything from anyone if someone was upset , care actually if anything.
One of my brothers and l have 4 brothers too, was very very emotional but that was just him we all knew him for the way he was and never did l ever hear one thing against it.
Maybe back in my grandfathers day or something l dunno but men have been way way past any of that thinking as long as l can ever remember and most def' in this day and age. Your husband was deeply deeply emotionally upset to the core, that's why he broke down , probably deeper than you could imagine .
Hello User, and I am so terribly sorry to know that you are suffering from cancer, a disease that nobody would ever wish for and certainly no one close to them they love so much.
With all the children planned for sleepovers, this was the time when he could actually breakdown, he didn't have to justify to anybody why he was crying, so texts were sent to you, not because he meant them, only because at last he could release his emotions.
Years and years ago boys were always told 'big boys don’t cry' and 'be a man' are thrown at them, damaging their self-worth and belittling their self-image because men were seen as being weak or unmanly in some way if they expressed themselves through crying and were often teased by older siblings and friends at school if a tear dropped from our eyes.
I have and still are able to cry and proud that I don't care what other people think, my emotions have to be let out, whereas my brothers are different, I hardly or perhaps never have seen them cry, they may at home but in public it's a different situation.
He has had to juggle home life, work and family and all the other pressure, and certainly including what you have to cope with and one can of vodka was enough to make him show his emotions.
If he doesn't want to see his doctor may go along the same theory as 'boys don't cry', men are strong enough to handle situations like this by themselves and don't need help, well these days it's all changed, we're unable to know how to cope in situations like this and do need to visit the doctor.
Hope to hear back from you when you're available.
My heart goes out to you and your family during this deeply challenging time in your lives. While there can be many simple challenges to navigate in life, it can be the overwhelming ones that reform us in so many ways.
Unbeliever offers you an incredibly powerful perspective which I can relate to. From my own experience I can also relate to what may sound a little strange to some and that is having a 'constructive breakdown'. While most mental/emotional breakdowns don't appear constructive, they can appear constructive under greater analysis. Your husband is so blessed to have you try and break down all the things that have come to overwhelm him. With him revealing his desire to emotionally hurt you, I can't help but wonder. Myself, I felt this way toward my husband during my years in depression. Having a clearer perspective now, outside of depression, I believe the desire to wound him came from him not trying harder to 'rescue me'. I'd come to expect the most from him, above anyone else. You showing up in your car was an incredibly powerful moment in your husband's life. You being open minded in encouraging his vent, no matter how hurtful, led him to a moment of great courage and a sense of freedom in self expression. You are an incredibly powerful person in his life.
An effective mental health professional would definitely be able to help him break things down further, to make sense of it all and create a more positive strategic path ahead. Until he recognises this as being a constructive path, you beginning to break things down for him might in fact naturally lead him to that path. May sound strange but encouraging more sensitivity can have a positive impact. There can definitely be subtle hints as to when we're becoming more sensitive to something. For example, when someone sighs (vents) this can indicate a building up of stress, hence the vent. When someone rubs at their neck/shoulder area, this can hint at the tension associated with feeling like you're 'carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders'. A shoulder massage from a partner can not only offer physical relief from muscle tension but it can also impact the mentally related chemistry that comes with stress. And naturally, it says 'I'm here for you'.
Sounds like your husband has a lot to break down, perhaps including some old destructive conditioned beliefs such as maybe 'Please others at all costs' and 'Real men don't cry'.
You're a powerful guide in his life.