Do you know how sensitive your man is? Chances are you don’t. Everyday in our office we see men who feel “hurt” by the women they love. Of course, they may not show it like women do. They may withdraw, shut down or get defensive; but when asked directly they say, yes, they feel hurt.

Bob has taught me this lesson about men over our 25 years, yet I forget from time to time, like most partners. He wanted to share our most recent story with you, so here it is:

My long time friend, Ted Zeff, Ph.D., authored a book entitled “The Strong Sensitive Boy,” which speaks to the underlying sensitive side of male children who too often feel hurt and rejected. Thanks to Ted I’ve realized a parallel here – that men too, can be strong and sensitive.

This morning, most innocently, I asked Lori (“usually” my most adorable wife) a question about a new billing program we are considering. What seemed like quite a relevant and legitimate question to me incited a tsunami of emotions and verbiage from Lori that swept over me like a flood of biblical proportions! From my chair, her reaction was just a bit over the top. Where did these feelings come from – maybe from Lori’s chronic complaint that I regularly ask questions about things I could figure out, but would rather opt for Lori to give me the answer? Guilty as charged.

Observing my reaction, I became aware of what many men experience. Underneath my defensive shield, there was a much deeper, more sensitive response of hurt and pain. My defensiveness was a cover for feeling wounded and vulnerable, as if I’d asked a dumb question.

It’s at these times that Lori forgets that her guy is quite sensitive, that her words and tone can hurt me, though I may not admit it at the time.  Maybe next time I will.

Practicing what we preach, we talked about what happened and I shared more of my feelings. She apologized for reacting so strongly and I acknowledged I was letting her do the learning for the two of us. Being genuine and owning our part without blame allowed us to come back together. Author Anais Nin makes the point beautifully… “There is a resemblance between men and women, not a contrast. When a man begins to recognize his feeling, the two unite. When men accept the sensitive side of themselves, they come alive.”

We would love to hear your thoughts about “strong and sensitive men.”