Men Dump Their Anger Into Women
Emma Lindsay
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Thanks for this. It’s a fascinating article, I think you’re right on many fronts, and this is worth exploring more.

One of the differences in the sexes I’ve noticed (be it innate or learned) is that when women talk to their partner about a problem they’re having, usually they’re hoping to receive emotional support. Men’s first instinct OTOH is often to try and solve the problem. I think it adds credence to your claim that the formula flips the longer a relationship goes on. It takes male partners a few years to figure out that their wives/girlfriends want a hug instead of a proposed solution. Once they figure it out, the relationship’s emotional tone changes.

I also think our social mores about emotion in marriage perpetuate men’s difficulty expressing their feelings. When my wife and I got married, I heard from many people that old sexist line, “happy wife, happy life.” That is, ‘just give your wife whatever she wants to be happy and you’ll be happy, rather than whatever it is that usually makes you happy, because you don’t want a naggy or otherwise miserable wife.’

Personally, I’ve found that the most exhausting and frustrating part of my marriage is the emotional support my anger-and-depression-prone wife demands. Her reactions are usually worse than whatever annoyance created the problem in the first place. She’s not abusive but a 10 minute problem can turn into 3 hours of misery, during which it’s my responsibility to suck it up, hold her, tell her it’s going to be ok, and not show any hint of how miserable her reaction is making me.

Anyway, this is all to say that we’d probably all be happier with a fairer balance of emotional support, and that although I’m sure you’re right about the general rate of female-to-male support, sometimes it’s the other way around.

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