Connected men may not always know your needs. They are not always available to meet them. But they know how to emotionally and relationally connect with you most of the time. You might even say that since you feel connected with your man most of the time, the times he misses your needs are not that worrying. Those times don’t really affect your overall feeling of emotional and relational support.
Disconnected men, on the other hand, think they are connected. You know they are not. Not only are they not meeting your emotional and relational needs, they really don’t know how. They think that because they are providing for you and the family, working hard, fixing things, going to church and social functions with you, taking you on the occasional date – that they are doing everything you need. They aren’t aware that you are craving deeper, more intimate connection or that such connection is possible.
Disconnected men need to learn many things. They need to learn there is more to connection than they are now experiencing. They need to learn to want to connect. They need to learn how you connect. They need to learn what it feels like to connect. And you are potentially the best teacher.
I say potentially. It depends. Are you in a place where you can remain gentle and patient with a man who should know, but doesn’t? Or, are you too brittle and angry from years of suffering under his disconnection? If you can control your own reactions while walking this long, difficult road, you can powerfully impact your man and bring him to connection. Even if he doesn’t know what’s happening!
I realize that’s a bold claim. You are probably saying there’s nothing I can suggest that you haven’t already tried. And you may be right. But, I used to be disconnected, and I can help you understand how to reboot those things you’ve tried over the years and make them stick. It will take some purposeful attention and prolonged sacrifice on your part. But if you can, you will reap the reward.[clickToTweet tweet=”Small affirmations, oft repeated, make the roughest man a great lover.” quote=”Small affirmations, oft repeated, make the roughest man a great lover.”]
Yes, I know. You’ve already sacrificed, for years. Asking you to be purposeful and sacrificial for yet more time sounds unsympathetic and even hurtful. I’m sorry for your suffering and I’m sorry for your disconnected man, because he’s missed you and your beauty all these years. But staying that way shouldn’t be an option. It’s time to change things. If you will start and continue, you will see progress. I won’t promise a timeline but I will promise improvement and connection if you will be consistent.
Here are some simple starters. The key to each of them is to be consistent with them over a long period of time while refraining from the negative, angry, sarcastic, and hurtful responses he may be accustomed to hearing.
Gush Over His Determination To Do The Things He Does For You And Your Family.
I’m assuming your man tries. I’m assuming he works hard to provide and does the things he thinks are right. If he isn’t doing the basics. If he is a lazy, self-centered slob. If he only uses or abuses you for his own interests. If he does nothing to invest in you or your family, disconnection is not his primary issue. And this won’t help him.
If he is truly a good man. Meaning, he does his duty. He is generally trustworthy, honest, hard working, faithful, and dependable. You know, the guy everyone else sees as a good guy. This otherwise good man is still disconnected. And that is a constant source of pain for you. Even though he’s what we would consider a ‘good man’, you don’t feel loved, let alone cherished by him.
Assuming this type of man, you can deeply affect him with your words. When I use the word ‘gush’ I don’t mean some sappy, insincere, pseudo-sarcastic comment. I mean a robust, thankful, and genuine admiration for what he does. This is a sacrificial recognition of who he is as a man – even though he’s not all you want at the moment.
Think back to when you were dating and truly impressed by him. What did you say that made him light up? What kinds of comments made him ‘show off’ a bit more? What did he do to make you feel special? He still needs to hear these things. His heart (as much as he has access to) craves your attention. He thrives on your response.
Do Your Favorite Things Together And Then TELL Him How Special It Was.
It doesn’t matter what your favorite things are. Going out to eat. Watching a favorite show. Taking a walk. Changing the oil in the car. Knitting, or cleaning the attic. Whatever. When you do it, TELL him it was special.
Don’t stop with a single comment. Say things like, ‘You know, when we do that (your favorite things) together, I feel closer to you’, ‘I love the way we do that together, it makes me feel loved.’
The important thing is that you have to TELL him. He’s thick as a brick emotionally and relationally. He doesn’t pick up on emotional/relational cues like you do. Telling him is the only way he will ever know. If you catch yourself thinking, ‘how can he not know what I’m getting at’ when you think he should’ve picked up on your emotional cue. Stop yourself. Remind yourself of this – HE DOESN’T GET IT UNLESS YOU TELL HIM. I’m not yelling at you here. I’m emphasizing that it is essential that you spell it out for him. I know it sounds silly. But it’s true.
When He Does Something That Feels To You Like Connecting, TELL Him.
Here’s a little secret. If he knew he wasn’t meeting your needs in some way, he would be shocked. He thinks he is. The one thing that helps him is to tell him what he does that makes you feel special. It’s probably completely different than what he suspects.
I realize that I emphasized this in the first point. But it’s worth repeating. When you feel special because of something he’s done or said, you must tell him. He won’t know from your emotional/relational reactions.
If you feel closer to him, more connected, you have to tell him how, why, when, what , and where. Go into detail. Say, ‘I really felt close to you when. You made me feel loved by… I was hoping you’d say that because it makes me feel special’, and similar things.
Go back to them often concerning the same event. If he made you feel special yesterday, remind him today. And then mention it again tomorrow. If you can become skilled at complementing his qualities or actions that make you feel loved, he will do them more. And, over time, he will start to feel them himself.
Invite Him To Do Something He Really Loves To Do.
What? ‘He already does the things he loves to do, he needs no invitation’, you may be saying. But let me challenge you to think differently. When I say invite him, I mean, invite him to do those things he loves to do, but with you rather than without you.
Does he love to hunt? Maybe you don’t want to hunt with him, but how about inviting him to go scouting with you. Get your gear on and get out into the woods with him. Let him tell you how he does it. Be intrigued with it. Ask him lots of questions about his hobby, his skill, his enjoyment. Be a part of it and be a part of him. Wouldn’t you be thrilled if he did that for you? He will be thrilled if you do it for him.
Now, before you get to thinking, ‘yeah, if I do that for him, he will do it for me too’. Don’t get your expectations up. He’s not there yet. You are teaching him. Teachers don’t expect students to get it right from the start. Give him lots of time. You keep reaching out, doing things, loving him by loving who he is. Commit yourself to take whatever time it takes.
These are simple starters. There is much more to it than we can share in a short post. Another thing to mix in with these items are healthy doses of confirmation, admiration, and affirmation. Tell him what you admire, that you are confident in his abilities, how thankful you are for what he does, and what you believe he is capable of. You must fight the urge to go negative when he fails. One negative comment or reaction from you can crush him and set back any progress he makes.
I know this requires you to be the strong one. To be the one who keeps herself in check. To change the responses that have become automatic over the years. But I believe you have the source for the strength you will need. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ is a promise from God Himself. Claim it for yourself and your future connection with the man you love.
You can learn more about all of these and more in my book The Disconnected Man: Breaking Down Walls and Restoring Intimacy With Him. I go in depth and give step by step advice for connecting with the disconnected man. Even when he doesn’t know you are trying. Find it here.