Why Do Some Men Shut Down?


“He just won’t talk to me!!!”  If I have heard it once I have heard it a thousand times.  It’s the frustration and challenge for women in relationships the world over.  Whether that relationship is with a brother, a son,  a father, significant other, or spouse the work of getting  a man to talk can be a daunting task.  For many women just normal conversation or getting a man to express himself even in normal settings can be a feat in and of itself.  But it can be especially difficult to get a man to talk and express his feelings in the heat of an argument.  Many times in the heat of an argument many men just shut down.  Causing more frustration, more anger, and leading to no resolution.

But consider a few reasons why he may be shutting down.  Though by no means is this an exhaustive list, or an excuse for men to keep their code of silence.  And of course men have a responsibility as well.  But here are just some things to ponder as we try to strengthen our communication skills within our relationships.

He may shut down if he:

1.  Feels like you are using his words as a weapon or evidence against him –  In the heat of an argument reminding him what he said, what he didn’t  do,  what he should have done, “I told you so, but you didn’t listen to me” etc. and using it against him.  At worse this can cause distrust, and he may withhold information from you fearing that you will use this information against him.

2.  Feels like his masculinity is being attacked – Ever hear a man say  “Imma Man!”  Our manhood is important to us.  Being perceived as men (strong, brave, leaders, providers, etc.) is at the very core of who we are.  Especially in front of women we try very hard to be “the man.”  For anyone, but especially a  woman,  to challenge our manhood either causes him to show you he is not what you say, may cause him to be angry,  or just completely shut down.

3.  Feels pressured to respond without having the time to process – “Don’t you have anything to say?”  Believe it or not sometimes he really doesn’t have anything to say at the moment.  Sometimes men need time to process.  When there is a problem men automatically are seeking a solution.  So he is putting things together, taking things apart, analyzing, and weighing things out.  Making the right decision or solution is important to him. Sometimes he just needs some time.

4.  Feels like he is being talked down to or scolded by his mother – He needs and desires someone who will talk with him not at him or down to him. Especially when he has done something wrong .  Condescending tones and  comments may make the communication gap even wider.

5.  Feels like you are saying the same thing over and over – I think this one speaks for itself . . .  He heard you the first and second time (smile).

Even the first couple Adam and Eve may have had some communication challenges.  For there is no record of Adam and Eve ever speaking to one another.  He speaks about her but never to her (bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh).  So there is always room to improve communication on both sides.  So lets start talking!

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