Candid Answers to Women’s Questions on Men’s Mental Health – A conversation with Obehi Eguakhide
So, last year, I set out to gather views from women and understand their burning questions about men’s mental health. Guess what? We gathered 10 questions! Now, the exciting news is, I’ve got the male perspective on all 10 of them.
Obehi and myself had a conversation ahead of this publication which I will share with you. You must first of all understand that there is no general formula to addressing these mental health issues. The attitude and understanding of the person offering to assist another with a mental health issue is extremely important. Selfishness has sadly overridden the selfless desire to serve others.
What we both agreed on was this: when it comes to mental health, there shouldn’t be any distinction between men and women. It’s about wanting to be there for a fellow human being, plain and simple.
“To support a husband dealing with depression, a compassionate and understanding approach is essential. Actively listen to his feelings and concerns without passing judgment, fostering open communication and a safe space for him to express himself.”— Obehi Eguakhide
And now Dear women, here are the responses to the 10 questions
1. How do men cope with women?
Men often find it challenging to discuss their problems with women due to the fear of it turning into a self-centered conversation or being misunderstood. As a result, they may become distant from their partners, leading to feelings of depression and demoralization from lacking a reliable support system.
2. How can we help a man who has depression?
Women often pose this question but can struggle with becoming too self-absorbed rather than genuinely caring. There are frequent feelings of insecurity, wondering if the issue is somehow about them, or trying to decipher the underlying meaning behind his words, possibly feeling attacked indirectly.
To support a husband dealing with depression, a compassionate and understanding approach is essential. Actively listen to his feelings and concerns without passing judgment, fostering open communication and a safe space for him to express himself. Educate yourself about depression to better understand his struggles and needs, encouraging him to seek professional help and offering to accompany him to therapy sessions if he’s comfortable.
Engage in well-being-promoting activities together and maintain a positive and encouraging atmosphere at home. Remember, patience and empathy play crucial roles in assisting a spouse through depression.
3. Why don’t they like to be vulnerable and to seek help?
The reasons why some men may not like to be vulnerable before their wives and seek help can vary based on individual experiences, societal expectations, and cultural influences. Here are some common factors:
- Traditional Gender Norms: In many cultures, men are taught to be strong, self-reliant, and stoic. Showing vulnerability is often seen as a sign of weakness, contradicting traditional ideas of masculinity.
- Fear of Judgment: Men might fear that opening up about their feelings or seeking help will make them appear inadequate or less capable, leading to judgment from their wives or others.
- Pressure to Provide and Protect: Men may feel pressured to be the primary provider and protector in the relationship, leading them to internalize their struggles to avoid burdening their wives.
- Communication Differences: Men and women often communicate differently, and some men might find it challenging to express their emotions in a way that feels comfortable or understood by their wives.
- Previous Negative Experiences: If men have had negative experiences in the past, where they were vulnerable and felt rejected, abused, betrayed or misunderstood, they may become hesitant to open up again.
- Fear of Emasculating Response: Men may worry that their wives’ responses could be dismissive or emasculating, reinforcing their reluctance to be vulnerable.
- Self-Reliance: Some men might be used to handling their emotions internally and believe they can manage their struggles without seeking external help.
It’s essential to recognize that not all men feel this way, and attitudes towards vulnerability and seeking help can vary widely among individuals.
Encouraging open communication, empathy, and understanding in a relationship can help create a supportive environment where both partners feel comfortable expressing their emotions and seeking help when needed. Breaking free from rigid gender stereotypes and promoting emotional openness benefits the well-being of both spouses.
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4. How would they want women to treat them in their low moments?
Men’s preferences regarding support during challenging times can differ significantly. While some may prefer solitude without being bombarded with questions, others would appreciate their partner acknowledging their emotional state and expressing willingness to listen or talk when the man feels ready. During such moments, it’s important for the woman not to request personal matters or nag around the house. It’s not an appropriate time to discuss unresolved personal or social issues. Instead, it should be a moment of allowing the man to absorb and reenergize without any added pressure.
Men may fear being overwhelmed by emotional issues and downplay women’s problems as a defense mechanism.
5. What signs should a woman look out for and offer help? Since they won’t talk 🤔
A man’s change in behavior can be indicative that something is amiss. These changes may include getting lost in thought, pacing frequently, spending more time alone, sleeping excessively, appearing worried during phone conversations, being quieter than usual, displaying increased aggression, and lashing out quickly. These shifts in behavior can serve as important clues to understand that he may be going through a difficult time.
6. Why do they feel women problems are complaints?
The perception that men view women’s problems as complaints can be influenced by societal norms, communication differences, and personal experiences. Gender stereotypes and traditional roles may lead men to dismiss women’s issues as trivial. Men and women communicate differently, with women expressing emotions more openly, while men tend to focus on problem-solving. Men may fear being overwhelmed by emotional issues and downplay women’s problems as a defense mechanism. Lack of understanding about women’s experiences, past negative experiences, cultural upbringing, and misunderstanding emotional needs can also contribute to this perception. However, it’s essential to avoid generalizations, practice healthy communication, and show empathy to bridge the gap and address concerns with care and understanding in relationships.
8. Why does their ego get in the way?
Men’s ego can sometimes get in the way of open communication and emotional expression due to a combination of societal conditioning, cultural influences, and individual personality traits. Here are some reasons why ego might play a role:
- Social Expectations: Societal norms often associate masculinity with traits like strength, control, and self-assurance. Men may feel pressure to uphold this image and may view expressing vulnerability or emotions as a threat to their perceived masculinity.
- Fear of Vulnerability: Sharing emotions or personal struggles can make individuals feel exposed and vulnerable. Men, like anyone else, may have a natural inclination to protect themselves from potential emotional harm.
- Self-Preservation: The ego acts as a defense mechanism to protect one’s self-esteem and identity. Men might fear that opening up about their feelings or issues could lead to judgment, rejection, or loss of respect from others.
- Competitive Nature: Men may tend to engage in social comparisons and competition, leading them to avoid displaying perceived weaknesses, including emotional vulnerability.
- Coping Strategy: For some men, maintaining a strong ego can be a coping strategy to deal with stress or difficult situations. They might see emotional expression as a sign of weakness that could hinder their ability to cope effectively.
- Emotional Intelligence Development: Some men might not have been encouraged to develop emotional intelligence or communication skills, leading to difficulties in expressing emotions or recognizing the importance of vulnerability.
- Lack of Role Models: Limited exposure to positive male role models who demonstrate emotional openness and vulnerability can contribute to the reinforcement of traditional masculine stereotypes.
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9. Why is crying so hard?
Contrary to general believes, men do cry. Men may avoid crying in front of their spouses due to a combination of societal expectations, cultural norms, and individual factors. Here are some reasons why men may be hesitant to cry in front of their partners:
- Societal Expectations of Masculinity: Many societies reinforce traditional gender roles, associating masculinity with emotional stoicism and strength. Men may fear that crying could be perceived as a sign of weakness or vulnerability, which goes against societal expectations of how a “strong man” should behave.
- Fear of Judgement: Men might worry about how their partners will react to seeing them cry. They may fear being judged, or they might feel self-conscious about displaying their emotions openly.
- Protecting the Partner: Some men may avoid crying in front of their spouses to shield them from emotional distress or to maintain a sense of emotional stability in the relationship.
- Coping Mechanisms: Men may have developed coping mechanisms, such as emotional suppression or finding other ways to deal with their emotions, which can lead to avoiding crying.
- Previous Negative Experiences: Past experiences of being ridiculed or dismissed for showing vulnerability may make men reluctant to cry in front of their spouses.
- Lack of Emotional Language and Expression: Men might not have been encouraged to develop emotional intelligence or communication skills, leading to difficulties in expressing emotions, including crying.
- Maintaining Composure: Some men might feel a sense of responsibility to remain composed and strong, especially during challenging times, to provide support and stability for their partners.
10. How do men think not picking their end of the house chores is helping the woman?
The perception that men picking their end of the house chores is helping the woman, rather than doing their fair share to keep the home, can be influenced by various factors, including societal norms, traditional gender roles, and communication patterns. Here are some reasons why this perception might arise:
- Traditional Gender Roles: In many cultures, traditional gender roles dictate that women are primarily responsible for household chores and caregiving. Men might see their involvement in specific tasks as a “helping hand” rather than an equal division of responsibilities.
- Unequal Distribution of Household Duties: Even in modern societies, there can still be an unequal distribution of housework, with women often shouldering a disproportionate burden. Men might feel that they are “helping” because they are taking on tasks that were traditionally seen as women’s responsibility.
- Communication and Expectations: Men and women may have different communication styles and expectations regarding household chores. Men might assume that doing specific tasks is sufficient without recognizing the overall inequity in the division of labor.
- Lack of Awareness: Some men may not be fully aware of the extent of household work and its impact on their partner’s well-being. They might not realize the physical and mental load that comes with managing a home.
- Cultural Conditioning: Cultural conditioning and upbringing may lead men to prioritize other aspects of their lives, such as work or personal hobbies, over household responsibilities.
- Avoidance of Emotional Labor: Emotional labor involves tasks like planning, organizing, and remembering household responsibilities. Men may be less inclined to take on these responsibilities, resulting in a perception that they are “helping” when they do specific tasks.
- Resisting Change: Challenging traditional gender roles and adjusting to a more equitable division of household chores can be difficult for some men who are resistant to change or unaware of the benefits of doing so.
To address this issue, open communication is crucial. Couples need to discuss and negotiate their expectations about household responsibilities and work together to create a fair and balanced division of labor. Recognizing the importance of shared responsibility in maintaining a home and acknowledging the value of emotional labor can lead to a more equal and fulfilling partnership. Breaking away from gender stereotypes and fostering mutual respect and understanding can contribute to a more equitable distribution of household duties.
What are your thoughts? Share with us in the comments or connect with Obehi on LinkedIn. The conversation just started!
Lots of love,
Join OMT’s Telegram channel or connect via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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