Fear of Emotional Intimacy: How To Approach Your Disconnected Man In A Non-Threatening Way

Last post we talked about preparing yourself for the next time you try to draw close to your disconnected man. This time we’ll talk about the actual approach. If you missed the last post, you can find it here. You’ll benefit by reading it first.

Let’s start by reminding ourselves that,

  • You are not the problem.
  • He has something going on inside him you will find hard to understand.
  • He loves you, even though he struggles to show it.
  • You are the solution.

That something going on inside him, we found out last week, was fear. Not fear of you, but fear of an emotional volcano that he keeps dormant. If you dig too deeply, he won’t be able to control the eruption. And that eruption will undo him – he is deathly afraid of that undoing.

Knowing that, how can you approach him without setting off the alarms? If you’ve meditated on the things we said last week and taken them to heart as true, you should be in a better place to create a game plan for approaching your disconnected man.

While I can’t make a game plan for you, I can help you understand what elements to have in it. Every marriage, every man, every woman, every relationship is unique. You may not have a disconnected spouse. You may be reading this in order to connect with your dad, or brother, or son. Approach will depend on the relationship and the disconnected man himself.

The elements I’m going to suggest are those that came to me while I was discovering what was going on inside me. They were best practiced at the time by my oldest daughter who has a special ability to connect with nearly anyone. I don’t think she knew she had a ‘game plan’ but she was very effective at getting my attention in a non-threatening way. I learned these important points from her and added my own touches as time has gone on.

Here are the elements you need in your game plan,

  • A gentle approach
  • A refusal to react negatively (even though this may take all your internal energy)
  • An explanation of exactly what you need in language he can understand
  • A willingness to encourage him for simply having the conversation
  • A complete focus on helping him without regard to his response
  • The willingness to gracefully end the conversation if you sense it getting too close to his triggers
  • Confidence that it’s not about you – you are fighting against the unseen enemy of fear
  • A way to leave him feeling like he met your need or has a chance of meeting your need

Let’s break these down:

The gentle approach is obvious. You may be angry and feel like you can’t be gentle with him. You may also feel like gentleness doesn’t work because he will just run over you. Whatever your reasons for thinking gentleness won’t work, please fight against them. If you couple gentleness with the rest of these points, you’ll find it’s the best approach.

Refusing to react negatively may shock him. Maybe you’ll gone negative in the past and he expects you to go there again. When you don’t – he’ll take notice. Wait him out if he reacts and stay gentle. It will throw him off his game in a good way. Then, when he’s ready, tell him in simple terms exactly what you need in this instance. Be clear, keep it short, and then be quiet. Let him make the next move.

Encourage, encourage, encourage. Pick anything. Say, ‘thank you for talking to me when I know you’ve worked hard today and are tired’, remark on how well he phrased something, thank him for asking a question, say, ‘I love the way you responded  just then’, anything to encourage him. Anything, really. Don’t leave this out – men need to hear encouraging words from their wives.

Focus on helping him – not yourself. If you will invest in him and help him understand that you are not a threat, your rewards will come! Keep focused regardless how he reacts. You are helping a fearful man – would you give up on your child if fear was the problem? If things get out of control, be prepared to end the conversation gracefully. If he’s the kind who has to have the last word, let him. If he needs to lecture, even when it’s hurtful, let him. Remember, it’s the FEAR talking. He really does love you and he’s just trying to protect himself. Bow out gracefully at the first moment you can and try to leave the door open for a peaceful evening doing something else. Always keep in mind that it’s not about you – there’s an unseen enemy in the room.

If possible, plan to leave him with a feeling that he’s done something right. Encourage again, give him a simple step toward your need, or just say thanks for listening, you did great. Again, encourage, encourage, encourage, and give him simple, winnable, reachable possibilities.

As with all new approaches, don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work the first, second, or third times. Keep trying. Make changes as necessary but be persistent in gentleness and encouragement. You will eventually make a difference and your disconnected man will start to come along. One final word – if you are walking in the Spirit and constantly praying this approach will eventually bear fruit. God wants your disconnected man to connect with you even more than you do. Trust Him with the outcome while keeping yourself on spiritual track and you will see your Heavenly Father do amazing things.