Red – The Blood of Angry Men – Part 3

Well, screw calm.keep calm screw calm books

That threw me back when I found my notes from the original “Blood of Angry Men” concept, which is not quite what the previous posts were about (The Blood of Angry Men Part 1 and The Blood of Angry Men Part 2). They’ve both touched on the core of whether anger can be justified (The Blood of Angry Men Part 1) and why it’s more common in men.

This is intended more as useful advice to women, because most men I know get it. There are two types of angry; now and stress.

First off is the plain and simple angry right now, over something that has just happened. Not last week, not whether there is some underlying problem. Just right now; the idiot that can’t drive; the nail that won’t go in straight or your favorite team playing like a bunch of lemons. Sometimes the best way to explain the difference is in a joke; as they say, “Oft a true word spoke in jest”.

A Man and Woman’s Diary for the Same Day

Woman’s Diary
Saturday evening and I meet my boyfriend for dinner. He was very quiet and reserved all evening. Nothing I did seemed to cheer him up. We went back to my place and I massaged him. He barely responded so I escalated it to heavy petting and then we had intercourse. Afterwards he just rolled over and went to sleep, no hugging, no kisses. I’m afraid our relationship is in deep trouble. I cried myself to sleep not knowing what do.

Man’s Diary
Saturday, my team lost but at least I had sex.

—————————–

That joke typifies short term anger. It is not personalised at the other person, but poor communication results in needless angst for the other (usually female) party. Continued failed communication leads to more stress and a reduction in each person’s resilience to life’s frustrations and with each other. It is curious how we can demand compassion for the Third World, but have little for our partners. If we all searched for our own effective communication strategy then we would all weather the short term stress better.

But what about long term stress? If you feel under less short term stress long term stress is easier to cope with than before. There are many issues about long term stress and I’ll return to that in some future post.  However, there is a danger that men are under a new form of long term stress because many of their coping mechanisms, often played out in increased intimacy (or with sexual overtones), are frowned upon by the “new world order” of the post feminist era. This is because there has not been a fight for equality, rather a replacement of the old system with a new one. This creates new stresses on men and women, which is best reflected in the thinking of Rothbard, “Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing ‘the new elite’ at the top of a new hierarchy of power.” M. N. Rothbard

These new stress only require more effective communication between partners. The pressure to have it all, parent, good jobs, look good, life the great life, etc., etc., etc. This equality has not led to the reduction in stress for either side and we probably need to look at what we mean by equality in our personal relationships as well as our culture.

Maybe we’re all angry in this “me generation” because we know our rights, especially to equality. I’ll close on a thought about how we approach conflict and our need for “equality” in all our relationships by, probably, misquoting Henry Kissinger when he was asked about women’s fight for equal rights:

“No one ever fights for equality”. Henry Kissinger circa 1975

You’ll be the Death of Me

relationship death

relationship death

Reaching the crunch point in a relationship can have unexpected consequences. Sometimes one side rolls up and makes the decision to divorce/separate without talking to the other person. This can be like ripping a bandage off, pulling all the emotional hairs that come with it. It is hard but sudden and typically leaves both parties with their personal emotional model intact (see id, ego, superego).

Going to any form of relationship counseling can be an all together different matter. By no means does it assure repaired and whole relationship and even if it does the journey can be a somewhat less comforting one than you might think.

To succeed at relationship counseling the ego and superego of both parties needs to be deconstructed and a new means of dealing with the conflict between the ids and egos resolved. It is not a simple or indeed painless process. In many cases we have to confront the forming influences of the id, which can spurn rejection in our partner as well as self-loathing. Even harder can be the challenge we face in imposing a revised behaviour on the ego.

It all sounds very academic when spoken about like that. The reality is that even if the relationship seemed on sturdy ground there are chances of depression, suicidal thoughts, certainly anger, resentment even disillusionment. These will be primal emotions; an attack on our id, the seeker of feeling good by or superego, the sense of greater good.

Be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster. Be prepared to feel suicidal. The sense of despair and hopelessness can be overwhelming at the early stages. Personally I think counseling services should have a hotline number for people that get hit by these feelings. Not a telephone counseling service, rather somewhere where those feelings can be expressed and soothed, or at the very least make people aware that these things are coming.

There is no need for a rescue attempt on a relationship to be the death of you.

Red – The Blood of Angry Men – Part 2

Red - Angry Men

Angry Man

The post feminist era has it that only men get needlessly angry. The inference is almost that women don’t get angry. And as with all great lies it holds a grain of truth. Anger, when it rises to rage, can lead to destructive actions, but here I’m just talking about plain old anger.

What we need to ask is why someone becomes angry in the first place, and whether or not it can be justified. The answers to these questions may give us an insight in to managing our relationships a little better.
So, what drives someone to anger? The answer is simple; a feeling that something is wrong. Now your sense of whether or not what they believe is wrong is wrong in your opinion is not the point. The person that is angry feels something is wrong. [See here ].

When someone you know is angry your reaction should be to find out why they are angry. Frequently our problem is to personalise someone else’s anger, which blocks our ability to see past what we think is directed at us, but might not be. Search for the real source then you and they can make progress.

Can anger ever be justified? Knowing that we get angry when something is wrong tells us that it must be there as a response to trigger us in to action. Simply it is the human reaction need to stimulate us to correct what is wrong; it is linked to the primordial “fight or flight” reaction. Anger is the response when we choose to fight the wrong. The choice to flee is a topic for another day (see Running Away from Our Problems; unpublished)

Justifying whether the perceived wrong is truly a wrong or not is a philosophical discussion beyond the realms of this blog.

The call to action induced by anger probably explains why men are more prone to it that women. Men are more inclined to want to solve a problem than talk about how to make people feel better. That is the case because, by and large, for the man solving the problem will make them feel better, by both removing the problem and the sense of achievement from solving the problem. (see here)

With women tending to want and sit down to discuss things and feel better about themselves is a key difference between the genders. Research has indicated this difference in the value of a relationship and with the dominance of women at a cultural level in western society it devalues men’s feelings . It also explains the very unsurprising revelation by the UK’s largest marriage guidance service Relate about how men and women treat counseling and my look at that [My Car is Broken – Let’s Talk]

Red – The Blood of Angry Men

Blood redLes Miserables; men that is, for the most part. Women, certainly middle aged married women, seem to think that most middle aged men are miserable. The question that begs is whether or not women perceive men as miserable because that’s what they are looking for, so that is what they find or if they really are. It is a horrible reality of humanity in that we tend to see what we want to see and not see what we don’t.

The unfortunate side effect is that men often become the miserable creatures that women seek. And women seem to be so surprised. Why should this be? Women are almost unanimous at the start of their relationships that the man they have just acquired is pretty good if only they can change him a bit. So you change them and then you don’t like what you get, because you change, too, but don’t want to own up to that.

Women, like men, have priorities that change with time, or simply as we get older. The need for fun and procreation dominate our youth, security our mid-life and self actualisation (fancy way of saying what’s the best we could be, or following our dreams) comes to the fore as we see that life in not eternal. This bears a marked look like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; something I touch on in two other posts (Maslow Need for Love and Maslow Changing with Time).

The title comes more in to the response the sexes have to this situation; for men largely triggered by their no longer being a need to be capable of reproduction. Men have long been the butt of the mid-life crisis jokes, which is probably in part motivated by not wanting to change from the “younger situation”. Simple straightforward denial of the facts in front of you by the virtue of total defiance. Most men grit their teeth and work through it.

Women appear to be finding their own ‘late life crisis’. It is not just the miserable men they’ve helped create, it is the loss of the need to be the mother and carer. The empty nest pushes the emphasis up the Hierarchy of Needs and women appear to now take the simple way out and head for divorce; an issue I look at deeper in the Silver Separators

So where’s the red? It’s that other option, and often precursor to becoming miserable, men come to when women have redefined how love is expressed in the relationship (see The Love Triangle). That attack on men’s sense of fulfillment of the Need for Love generates anger when they can see no clear way to resolve the issue. A lack of understanding, and the social redefinition of how sex is a horrible thing; except when you’re younger and the social stigma of old age sex has kicked in, discussed here.

Yes, in the end it comes back to sex. Men find that pinnacle of intimacy key to a relationship and its dismissal can lead to the breakdown of a relationship, as much as it can be a sign of trouble in other parts of a relationship.

So come one women; make love, not red.

My car is broken – let’s talk

girl with broken down car

Imagine this; you are travelling down the road when your car breakdowns. You have no idea what is wrong, or if you’re lucky you might, like a flat tyre. Either way you can’t fix it. So, you call an auto-mechanic to come and fix it. There is a subtle air of tension as you wait for them to arrive.

Now imagine this scene playing out: The truck pulls up behind your broken down car. A person that exudes an air of confidence and competence steps out of the vehicle. An air of relief descends over you. This person then starts to ask you about the problem, your sense of assurance grows as you feel they are diagnosing the problem. Soon they are asking questions that seem less relevant to your breakdown, like where you live and even start telling you about what they had for lunch. After half an hour the car has barely been touched, great you have a better understanding of the mechanics and the fundamental physics behind what has broken, but you are no closer to getting on your way…

It is hardly stretching your imagination to believe that all but the most patient of people would by now be ready to shout and making great protestations about the lack of progress being made to helping you get on your way. What has been lost is that this sense of frustration is what men feel when they attend marriage counselling. It is another sweeping generalisation about the sexes, but there is research to support it.

Relate (##www##) published a report, reproduced in most national UK paper, that states when women go to counselling they want to talk about the troubles within the relationship and men want to fix the relationship; with the subtext of getting more sex! The failure to fix things can lead to frustration for men, however, I can hardly sense that any women would be pleased with the mechanic in our story.

Yes, it is another one where both people (sexes!) are right and one cannot come without the other. You need to talk to find out what needs fixing. The difference is more that women seem to think that the talking is a solution in itself, whereas men want to see a roadmap to a solution. This may stem from the Love Triangle and the Perceived Benefits of a Relationship. The question is how to balance the two.

Couselling tends to focus on the more Freudian approach and this finds favour with women because it involves a lot of talking. The thinking seems to be to allow new habits, or old ones to be rekindled, by the couple involved. This gives the slow self-discovery organic growth to the relationship and this is a closer reflection of the evolution of a typical new relationship.

One school of psychology occasionally tapped in to is that of Cognitive Behaviour Theory (CBT). This approach appeals more to men, as the focus is to agree to an action and let it set the new behavioural norm. It is about making the desired reality a conscious decision and by repeating the acts over and over again the subconscious brain adapts to the new norm.

CBT can be very attractive for the stereotypical male. What it does ignore is the need to resolve underlying issues that the subconscious mind will push to the fore. It is these issues that the talking can reveal and permit a deep rooted repair to be made, rather than a quick fix. These can be found using tools like the genogram (or Love Map).

As great as it can be to decide to have more sex, there is a need to keep talking before and after. Talking during is an optional extra!!