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(Forgive me if I’m making it too personal…I just wanted to eat my food.) For men, managing romantic relationships is often tied to perceptions of masculinity and expectations for how men should operate in relationships.When a healthy understanding of masculinity is coupled with rewarding relationships it can substantially enhance a man’s mental health.Recent findings from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University studying 163 married couples found that professional success was partially contingent on the support of partners at important decision points such as deciding to pursue a professional goal or persisting through professional challenges.Part of achieving interdependence involves becoming more aware of one’s needs and developing a self-image that balances a sense of independence with a willingness to rely on one’s partner.To identify key aspects of healthy masculinity that men can develop in relationships to bolster their mental health, I connected with Kimberly Blackshear, a couple’s therapist and trauma expert.We explore three questions and give practical tips for men to use their relationships to become men’s men (read: men who are emotionally self-aware and able to express their needs…in case you were confused).While having the integrity to stand behind your words is important, the pressure of having your emotions and thoughts completely sorted before discussing stressful issues can take its toll emotionally.
“Saying what you mean and meaning what you say” is an unwritten creed of manhood—implying that lack of definitiveness in words or actions reflects a little less masculinity.
Creating a routine for resetting oneself before engaging in an escalating conflict and reconnecting with your partner to debrief after the conflict provides a foundation for mental stability regardless of the chaos surrounding a situation.
As Kimberly notes, “After you are calm, process and address your feelings internally.
This does not immediately need to occur with friends or family—this is a conflict between two partners and does not necessarily need to include others.
When you are ready to address the situation calmly, speak to your partner with respect and express openly how actions and words have affected you.