I Know A Man Who Changed

I tend to doubt people who say they’ve changed. I counsel men to refrain from talking about change to their wives. When men tell their wives they will change or they have changed it usually doesn’t set well.

I talk to a lot of men and women who are in crises and need to change but they have a hard time seeing it. They usually have their eyes focused on the ‘other’ person who needs to change. So it keeps them from looking at themselves and their need.

But I know a man who has changed.

Actually several men, but this one is unusual. From all outward appearances you wouldn’t think he needed to change. He seemed kind, hardworking, fun loving, faithful, and happy. At least he looked that way to anyone who saw him at a distance. If you knew him up close, like his wife does, you would see him as gruff, selfish, a loner, judgmental, unemotional, and demanding.

I Do Know A Man Who Changed…

Mark (not his real name) is a real man. He lives in a city in a northeastern state and runs a successful business. He’s an achiever. If you met him at church before he changed you would probably have admired him because he seemed to be a godly, accomplished man. The man, outwardly, everyone would love to be.

But his marriage was in crises and his wife was living a life of deep hurt. She felt unloved, unneeded, and unimportant to him. She had fought over and over for his attention with no response. At least not a response that told her she was loved. She had shut down and was ready to give up.

Once she got the nerve to tell him how finished she was, he launched into crises mode.

Crises mode is a very dangerous place and men do stupid things when in it.

I wrote a short book called, ‘When Your Wife Says, ‘I’m Done’: The wise man’s way to love to the end…or the new beginning’ as a result of talking to men like Mark.

Mark was desperate. He found himself searching for any help in his local bookstore and somehow fell upon my book, ‘The Disconnected Man’, and devoured it. He would later tell me that it described him exactly and further, precisely described the pain his wife felt.

His heart was wrecked. And he was still desperate for more help. So he wrote to me and asked if we could talk. From the first moment I heard his voice I knew I was talking to a man who wasn’t as he used to be. He told me his story.

Past Pain

It went something like this. His father left when he was a young teen and his mother struggled with alcohol. Mark pushed the pain down and worked hard to help support his mom and siblings. He learned to endure pain and keep working and keep his head down. He didn’t connect with others because he had too much to do to keep the family afloat.

Without telling you more I’m guessing you can see the recipe for brokenness and emotional distance in these circumstances. His life went on this way into college and into his young career. Always working, always achieving, pushed by the inner fears of failing his dysfunctional mom and family.

He didn’t know how to have a proper relationship nor how to get in touch with emotions that he continually had to bury.

And then he met the love of his life.

Their early relationship was full of promise. He was handsome, strong, and successful. He talked a lot and shared what was on his mind and seemed to be giving of his heart and life. Men like him can do that to a point. They can share what seems to be a healthy emotional life, but it only goes so deep. If anything starts to go too deep, they react. And that reaction usually hurts the person who tried to go deeper. Mark was like this. But that didn’t show in their early relationship.

The qualities she admired in Mark when the relationship was new began to wear on her as time went by. The successful businessman became the workaholic. The strong, silent type became the distant, uncaring man. The fun, happy-go-lucky young man became the inattentive, irresponsible middle aged man. The more he guarded his emotions, the more he refused to let her in, the more she tried. When she failed to get in, she reacted negatively. As she reacted, he reacted. And the spiral down began. 

Next post follows the spiral to the bottom and what happens when a couple gets there.