Increasingly since the start of the 20th century it seems to have become the norm in the UK and USA for men to have little to no meaningful interaction with social groups and to look to their partners for their only emotional interaction.
The excellent Hidden Brain podcast recently devoted a whole episode to exploring this phenomenon “Boys get the message at a young age: don't show your feelings. Don't rely on anyone.” This leads to high levels of stress and when a partner becomes unable to provide the support needed, perhaps because of a new child or bereavement the relationship can really suffer.
I specialise in working with men and find they often tell me they were dreading coming to counselling, seeing it as ‘soft’ or a sign of weakness and are surprised how challenging it can be to identify and process emotions, as well as how quickly they see results.
I often recommend the Good Men Project website for men who have little support outside their relationship, a place where men are writing honestly for their peers about things like sex and relationships, dads and families, marriage and ethics.
Armele Philpotts is a relationship and family therapist, and a member of BACP and the Association for Family Therapy. She works for Relate, and also offers confidential individual, couple and family counselling.