Some men just don’t know the language of emotions to talk about their feelings
This is what women often complain to one another: “He never talks about his feelings!”
Well, perhaps he can’t. Perhaps he doesn’t know the words to describe his feelings.
And if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to even think about his feelings, let alone talk to you about them.
Think about when you are waiting to have a blood test and you feel a bit NERVOUS – that is a feeling.
Or if you arrive late for a meeting and someone makes a sarcastic comment to you about you always being late, you feel EMBARRASSED – that is a feeling.
But if I ask you to describe those feelings in Spanish, you may not be able to, because you don’t speak the language.
Well for some men, it’s the same when talking about emotional topics. They don’t know the language.
Usually as a child, through experience, we learn to describe our feelings, both good and bad feelings. Our mum tells us how exciting it is to have a birthday or to celebrate Christmas. She also tells us we must be feeling sad when our pet rabbit dies, or annoyed when our baby brother interferes with our game.
As you get older, particularly in teenage years, you learn new feelings – of feeling loved, or controlled, envious or jealous, anxious, curious, betrayed, left out and so on.
So whether you feel let down or criticised, guilty or taken for granted, irritated or frustrated or confused or bored, or any other negative feeling, you are putting words to a sensation that your body feels when it is aroused with adrenalin, at that particular time.
We experience different intensities in our feelings – and in English, we use a different words to describe them! Some other languages use repetition to describe intensity, but English uses a different word as the feeling escalates, for example, feeling annoyed, then mad, then furious. In Thai, this would be described as feeling annoyed, then very annoyed, then very, very annoyed!
Couples from different cultural backgrounds often struggle to speak with one another about their feelings because of the language differences. If one has English as a mother tongue, and the other speaks English as a second language, the language of emotion may be minimal between them.
When one learns a second language, often the nuances and meanings of many emotional words cannot be taught. We are able to ponder more about our feelings in our mother tongue, if we do so at all.
In some languages, tone or inflection plays a significant part in imparting a feeling, rather than a word itself. Therefore when a translation to English takes place, and the inflection is lost, the emotion word, whilst a direct translation, takes on a different meaning. This can also cause confusion and hurt.
Luckily, no bad feeling lasts forever. The intensity of a negative emotion diminishes over time, and so the negative emotion or hurt “feels” different as the hours or days pass. “Time heals all wounds” is an expression that some will use and allow time to pass, without trying to analyse the range of feelings they experience along the way.
So if your partner doesn’t talk to you about his feelings, think about the issue of language as a possible reason why he doesn’t. He may definitely have feelings, but perhaps doesn’t know the words to articulate them. He may have grown up in a family where feelings were never discussed. If emotion words are not used, they will not be learned. Conversely, if emotion words are not learned, they cannot be used.