New commenter ayatollah1988 asked how much a husband should turn to his wife for emotional support:
Dalrock, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this. I’ve heard it talked about in the Manosphere a lot about how men cannot rely on women, even their wives, for emotional support, especially if it involves the men demonstrating any sort of weakness. Basically, the idea that you are her shoulder to cry on and she is NEVER your shoulder to cry on. Redpill guys chalk it up to female solipsism and the idea that they are the most responsible teenager in the house.
It is true that a husband shouldn’t just dump his feelings on his wife, but the concern here can also be overstated. The first thing I would suggest is changing the way you view the situation from one of frustration/disappointment towards women to one of empathy towards them. Imagine working for a small firm and having the boss/owner tell you all of his fears for the business. If you are relying on that job to support your family this could very quickly become unsettling. The same is true if your surgeon, dentist, or airline pilot doesn’t communicate confidence and a command of the situation.
Your wife (and even your girlfriend) wants you to be her rock, especially if her own emotions are storming over her. This is a profound gift a husband can give his wife, and should not be seen as something negative. A wife also relies on her husband for protection and financial support of the family. For these reasons there is a limit as to what kinds of things and more importantly how, how much, and how often you talk about these things with your wife. This isn’t because there is something wrong with women, it is due to the difference between men and women, and more importantly the nature of the roles of husband and wife.
However, this doesn’t mean you should shut her out when something is troubling you, it just means there is a balance. Especially after you are married for a number of years, your wife will know when something is troubling you. If you pretend that nothing is bothering you, or refuse to discuss it at all, this could be even more unsettling to her. Just like with all communication the key is to understand how what you are communicating is impacting your audience (her). What you don’t want is for the received message to be “you are in danger because I’m not fit to be your husband”. This is true even in cases where there is real danger that she needs to understand. In those cases you want to communicate clearly about the threat, but not push her into hopelessness. The message should be, “problem X exists, and we’re going to solve it” (or if a solution isn’t possible, replace solve with manage). The way to manage this is to communicate not just through well chosen words, but with your tone of voice and body language.
I embedded a clip from the movie Unbreakable in a post I did on vulnerability Game. In the clip he communicates strength and protectiveness, while also communicating that something troubled him, as well as “I need you”. She knows that she is safe and loved, and she also feels connected to her husband. You don’t have to physically pick her up, but pulling her toward you and letting her feel protected in your strength is something which should become natural to you when you sense that she may need this.
If you keep these things in mind, and pay attention more to what she does than what she says, you will get a gut feel of how much and what types of things you should be communicating to her. As a man looking to marry you can also keep this in mind when choosing a wife. Some women are going to be a better fit for you than others in this regard. If she needs more alpha aloofness than is natural and comfortable for you, you either need to change your own comfort zone or (more likely) find a better fit for both of your sakes.
It also sort of goes along with the idea of “Man Flu,” where women seem to be unable to show empathy for their husbands when they are sick, and the idea that women seem incapable of showing empathy towards men in any context.
There is some feminist ugliness here, and it is something else to consider when choosing a wife. You don’t want her to baby you, but you do want a woman who can feel empathy. A wife should also avoid indulging in the feminist urge to strip her husband of his manhood. A wise and well adjusted wife should instead feel protective of your masculinity, just as you should feel protective of her femininity.
I’m asking because I go to a church that is real big on being “vulnerable” and that if you are not constantly talking to your friends and especially your wife about all your struggles and weaknesses, then you are being sinfully self-protective and “un-spiritual.” I’m not married yet, but this is something that really bothers me because in relationships past when girlfriends would beg me to “open up” and “express my emotions more,” I would do so. I thought I was doing the “spiritual” thing but in retrospect it may have been a bad idea to be vulnerable. I wonder if it caused them to lose respect for me.
This kind of teaching comes from the same place as the push in parts of Europe to get men to sit down to pee. The idea that men and women are the same isn’t biblical, and of course it isn’t true. I can understand your frustration at having gone through this, but I would encourage you to see your new understanding of this not as something to be bitter about, but something freeing. As Cane Caldo points out, you aren’t losing pretty lies (lies are inherently ugly), you are gaining a beautiful truth. Feminists inside and outside the church had to sell this false message for decades because what they are asking men to do doesn’t feel natural, because it isn’t natural. It took generations of deception. Healthy well adjusted men aren’t emotive like women, and we aren’t chatty. Men tend to communicate much of our message non-verbally. When we do speak, we tend to use fewer words*. There is nothing wrong with this, and if you do this well as I noted above you will be lovingly meeting her needs.
And all I was opening up about was depression, it’s not like I was opening up about thoughts of pedophilia or something really deviant and pathetic like that. One of them in particular was very critical and neurotic and our relationship was usually her criticizing me for every little thing until I apologized (back when I was on the blue pill). She often wanted me to open up, but looking back on it I think she was just probing for weakness. So I guess my question is, can your wife really be your friend in addition to her being your first mate? And to what extent can you be emotionally vulnerable in a marriage without it compromising the headship/submission dynamic?
I think I’ve addressed everything here except the specific issue of depression. I would say the same basic advice I suggested above would apply, in that you probably want to let her know if you are struggling with something and give a bit of detail, but you don’t want to overdo it. This doesn’t mean you won’t be emotionally close with her. In fact, doing this right makes you closer. As you experienced, doing it according to modern conventional wisdom will destroy your closeness. If you need help you should get it, but that should probably be mainly from a male friend, a counselor, etc.
*One thing I would suggest is to practice using the tone of your voice to lead others. If you are in a position of leadership this is easiest, but you can even practice this with ordinary interactions. You will find that if you speak with a deeper (but still natural) voice you will tend to get people’s attention better than speaking louder. My father has a great trick where he speaks more softly when he really wants to get your attention. A deep voice spoken calmly will tend to calm people (if they are fearful of something this only works if you demonstrate that you understand their concern), and just as most people’s fathers demonstrate it is possible to also use inflection with a deeper voice to communicate volumes with a single word. This is an ability men have been taught is inappropriate for us to use because it is seen as “unfair” to women to capitalize on our natural strengths as men. However, women have their own methods of communicating which are different than men, and either way it makes no sense to abandon our masculinity because feminists are envious of it.
See Also: Headship Game