Men are often deceptively fragile. We don’t tend to show it in ways you can readily see. In fact, we often mask our fragility with aggressiveness or avoidance. If we can shut the person or situation down or avoid them/it altogether, we protect ourselves. We can maintain our posture of strength. And maintaining that strength (whether real or imagined) becomes more important than whatever might be gained from being vulnerable.
I’m not defending men here, just explaining something common with them. If your man is disconnected, it’s partly because he’s made a habit of aggression or avoidance in order to protect himself when he feels fragile. Many men do it for so long that their defenses are almost impenetrable. They don’t appear to be fragile or emotional, ever, so they also don’t appear to be intimate or caring.
When men create protective habits of aggression or avoidance, they disconnect. Your man may have done this long before you met him. Or, in response to something that has nothing to do with you. Regardless when it happened, you’ve come to realize it and it’s hurting you. Beyond that, you see that it’s hurting your kids, your extended family, and your friends. Relationships all around you are suffering. And you want to do something about it.
This is where our title comes in – When your desire to do something about his disconnection meets with his desire to remain invulnerable. He doesn’t like feeling fragile but you need him to show that he can be. In your frustration with his stubborn protectionism, you can develop some bad habits. The book of Proverbs has something to say about women who become frustrated. Wise women will listen and seek to adjust away from the behavior described. Consider these proverbs.
A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping. Proverb 19:13
It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. Proverb 21:19
It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house. Proverb 25:24
A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike. Proverb 27:15
The word contentious is used four times in four verses (brawling in 25:24 is the same Hebrew word as contentious). It’s a word we don’t use often and the meaning might be a little cloudy. The word is describing a woman who is always picking a fight. Proverb 21:19 adds the word angry which at its root means easily provoked. She’s always on edge about something and doesn’t mind ‘poking the bear’ (so to speak) to get a reaction.
Remember that Proverbs was written by Solomon in order to give wise counsel to his son. He is warning his son with these proverbs that contentious women probably aren’t the best choice for partners. He uses word pictures to help his son remember the lesson. He’s saying, ‘Son, you know what it’s like trying to concentrate and enjoy what you are doing when there’s a constant dripping sound? Drip, Drip, Drip, Drip? Well, that’s what it’s like to live with a woman who is frustrated and easily provoked. You want that drip banging on your brain and jangling your nerves all day, every day?’ And then further, ‘Son, remember that trip we took to the desert (wilderness in 21:19), how hot and miserable it was, and how thirsty and exhausted you were? That’s better than living with a nagging, fight-picking woman.’ Oh, and one more thing, ‘Remember when I had you go all the way up to the farthest corner of that funky, smelly attic to clean it out? It would be better to live there with all the dust, dirt, and musty heat than with a woman who can’t control her impulse to set you straight.’
Personally, I think the same should be said for men who become nit-picky and contentious, but they are not our concern for this post. We will have plenty to say to them at the appropriate time.
I realize that even quoting these proverbs can come across as harsh and judgmental. I have no desire to do so. I know you are frustrated and angry and fed up and wounded and exhausted. And you should be – living with a disconnected man can do that to you. I’m not implying that you should be punished for how you feel. Your feelings are normal. It’s what you do with them that comes into play here.
Even though the instruction was given by a father to a son, a woman can learn a lot from it. I guess the question to ask yourself is,
‘Do I want to be the woman Solomon is talking about?’ or
‘Has my frustration with my disconnected man caused me to become this woman?’
IF the answer to that second question hits too close to home, you may be prolonging your man’s disconnection. You see, your heart is aching for some kind of connection. You are desperate for it. Desperation unfulfilled leads to frustration. Frustration unanswered leads to anger. Continual provocation of anger by a man who doesn’t react can lead to bitterness. And bitterness looks exactly like a contentious woman. The slightest provocation can set you off.
How do you think your disconnected man is going to react to your constant dripping? How would any man, or for that matter, woman, react? They will get as far away from that kind of behavior as possible – to the corner of the attic, or the desert, wherever they can find peace. So to you, it looks like he’s determined to stay disconnected when in reality he may just be trying to survive.
You are a good woman, the kind of woman who will sacrifice, serve, and love anyone. And you do, except for that man who continually provokes you with his disconnection. Make no mistake, he has an issue to deal with and has no excuse for his continuing disobedience. BUT, you can’t let his disobedience cause you to become a contentious woman, with him or anyone else. Regardless of his choices, you can find a way to rise above your temptations.
If the Spirit of God is pointing out to you that you’ve slipped into contentious woman territory, will you consider repenting? Will you ask Him to forgive you and come apply His ointment to your pain. He knows why you are tempted. He knows your heart is breaking. He knows your man has some stuff to deal with. Try starting with this prayer,
“Dear Heavenly Father, my Abba, my Protector and Lover, I’m hurting so much, I’m so done, so spent, so frustrated. I’m sorry I’ve let my pain and exhaustion and disappointment lead me to behavior that breaks your heart. I don’t want to be bitter and angry and easily provoked, but I’ve allowed myself to become just that. Will you forgive me? Will you then give me wisdom to overcome my temptations and will you replace my anger with something beautiful – whatever is most reflective of You. Thank you Lord that you hear and answer my prayer. I may have to come back to you with this same prayer but I’m trusting in you to make me a different woman. Amen”
Once you submit yourself to God this way, He has promised to give you wisdom. You will find ways to deal with your emotions and you will develop reactions that reflect the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. Be patient with yourself. It’s a process to overcome anger and bitterness. But stay determined to allow God to change you. This could be the first step to helping your man instead of pushing him farther away.
For a different approach and more steps to help your disconnected man, we encourage you to request our free ebook: 7 POPCORN Steps for Connecting with Your Disconnected Man. Just go to the Contact Me page, fill out the form, and in the comments section ask for The POPCORN Steps. We will email them to you quickly.