A Safe Place

Yesterday I posted A Safe Place over on The Generous Husband. Everything I said there applies here as well, but I want to focus a bit on what “my home is a safe place” means to men.

Hands over toy house © viktoriagavil | stock.adobe.com

If your husband was a warrior, going off to battle and risking his life for country, family, glory, or whatever, he would want his home to be a place of quiet and safety. A place where he can relax and let down his guard. A place where he knows he won’t have to defend himself. 

While most men today are not warriors, we none-the-less feel as if we are on some level. We do battle at work with our employer, our competition, customers, or the job itself. We do battle with traffic both ways. When we get home we want the safe place every warrior desires. 

There are potentially dangerous side-effects of this. Some give in to the tendency to go along to get along, making them unwilling to confront things they should confront. Others react with anger if they don’t feel their home is a place of safety. Still others sacrifice things in a sort of land-for-peace attempt to make their home a safe place. If you see any of these in your husband, understanding what’s behind them may help you navigate them.

One thing that will help virtually all men is a bit of space when he gets home. He needs time to turn off the warrior and turn on the husband, lover, father and friend – because we don’t multi-task well we don’t switch roles as easily as women do. Giving him space doesn’t necessarily mean letting him go hide in his man cave. It certainly does mean not dumping problems on him as he walks in the door. If you throw problems at a warrior, you get a warrior’s response. Give him time to get out of warrior mode so he can deal with family problems appropriately.

By the Way: What I said about multitasking is a big deal here. A man’s single focus has some benefits, but it also has disadvantages. If you both work full-time out of the house you make the change from job to home differently and faster than he does. Don’t let “I work as many hours as he does” blind you to the fact he transitions differently than you do.

~ I’m XY, and I fight work from home, which is a whole ‘nother issue.

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22 Comments on “A Safe Place

  1. Interesting. I read your post on TGH yesterday, but I have trouble commenting over there (I’m not so good with techie stuff). Anyhow, I don’t think my marriage would be considered a safe place by your definitions. My husband yells. ALL. THE. TIME. And has the nerve to then say “IM NOT YELLING!” It’s so obnoxious. His mom does this, as do his siblings, so I guess they feel it’s okay. But to me, yelling shows the exact opposite of love. It is pure, intense hatred, and that’s how my husband feels towards me most of the time. Then he acts all shocked when he says “I love you” and I don’t believe him.

    He gets annoyed at work every day. He’s upset that he has a sick relative, understandably. And who gets screamed at? Me. Even if he’s just screaming about whatever he’s upset about, he’s screaming at me. Like one of your readers commented yesterday, if he gets really upset while driving he will drive very recklessly with me in the car, even though he knows it frightens me. It is what it is. I’ve been yelled at since I can remember, so I have a fairly thick skin, but it’s getting tiresome. I have no more dreams. They’ve all been backburnered so he can do what he wants to do. My dreams of knowing what it’s like to be loved and desired by the man I love are fading a little more each day. I’m tired.

    I used to wonder what it would be like to be sexually desired by my husband, for him to find ME attractive. I wonder what it would be like to be cherished instead of rejected. Oh well. I think we are running out of time for such childish desires. Time for me to grow up and get over it. Dreams and desires are the stuff of fairy tales. My life is what it is.

    Thank God I have Christ to cling to, or I don’t think I could do it anymore.

    • Kind of sounds like my husband. I keep asking him to be calm and gentle, I want to feel safe in my home to and protected by my husband but I rarely feel that. And no he doesn’t hit me, it’s just the yelling all the time and the his needs always have to come before mine. I totally get where you are coming from.

      I would love something written about what it’s like worming from home. My husband also works from home to I get this treatment at various points throughout the day. And then there’s all the other challenges it beings too.

    • My hubby is a yeller, too. I used to take it personally and cower and feel unloved. Then, I noticed he didn’t just do it with me. I realized that he is just a yeller, like some people are mumblers, others are cryers. So, I started listening to him calmly, instead.

      We have spoken that he is not to take out work related frustrations on his family. I will listen to him vent (yelling about), but not be yelled at. (What would you like for dinner, dear. I DONT CARE WHAT THE H*** YOU MAKE.) That is not acceptable.

      A soft answer turns away wrath. Validating his heavy emotion helps.

      Think of it this way. A wife is a cryer. She cries every time they discuss something important or difficult. The husband feels like she is trying to manipulate him or that he isn’t doing a good enough job being loving. But no matter his logical calmness, she turns on the water works. It is to the point he doesn’t even bring up anything anymore.

      Her crying has nothing to do with him. She just emotes that way. Now, if she is sobbing and accusing him of stuff or really is trying to manipulate him, then there’s a problem.

      • @B @T @libl – Yelling is a tough one. Some families yell all the time about everything, and in those families yelling means nothing. But for most from other family backgrounds, it’s difficult to get past the yelling.
        I like the counter example of a woman who cries easily – gives good perspective.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Forgiveness vs PermissionMy Profile

  2. Paul, ThkQ U so much for Ur thoughts on having / finding a “safe place” in which a person can be real. I grew up hiding. Secrets, hurts, shame. I always thought I was keeping myself safe, but I was slowly being destroyed from the inside out. I finally discovered that in the process of hiding the “trash” I also buried the treasures.

    It was more than 7 years ago I finally made my way to a program that had started at our church – “Celebrate Recovery”. It was there I finally discovered The Real Me. It was there I finally began to like being me. It was there I found people with whom I could process my pain. As I sifted through and disposed of the dirt, I rediscovered the buried treasures. A very valuable part of the processing (for me) has been journaling and writing. And blogging. By blogging, I “tell the world” about my “used-to-be-hidden” stuff. It also helps me to share the joy of the re-discovered treasures. And I find more freedom. What astounds me is how much others can relate and connect with the things I share.

    THIS post describes part of the process:


  3. This post and others like it have helped me understand my husband’s perspective, and I thank you. I’ve always done well at keeping our home orderly and inspiring our children to behave respectfully, that those elements help create a peaceful atmosphere.

    Some thoughts on transitioning and the general tendencies for men versus women:
    I’m inclined to say my husband transitions more effectively than I because of his ability to compartmentalize. I feel I tend to inhabit all my roles all the time. This may be somewhat overstated, but I mean that while I may somewhat transition from one role to another more quickly, I am also not as fully engaged in the latter because I haven’t completely left the former. He goes from the north pole to the south pole whereas I keep one foot in Michigan and set the other in Indiana. Inhabiting all the roles all the time can be exhausting and limit our enjoyment and fulfillment. Different benefits and different disadvantages.

  4. This absolutely resonates with me. Because I work a slightly later shift and have a long commute*, by the time I get home I have to immediately switch to “dad” mode… sit down for dinner, help clean up, get the kids ready for bed, read a book, tuck them in, etc. So there’s zero down time until 8:30 at the earliest. So rather than enjoying the time with my family, I find myself resenting them because I haven’t had any time shift gears. Not sure what the solution is; may need to simply wait until the kids are older and can stay up later.

    (*and make no mistake… commuting is full on warrior mode – it’s not relaxing by any stretch of the imagination)

  5. I need that transition time when I come home from work and like you said, I don’t want to be hit with tasks or problems to deal with at the door. When I come in from out of town part of the transition is unpacking my suitcase, putting things away, taking the dirty laundry down, and putting the suitcase away. I don’t even sit down or converse much until that is done. I want it out of the way and not hanging over my head or find myself kicking into the suitcase. I don’t even want to eat immediately without unwinding a bit first.

    She wants to see me and spend time right away. I want to see her too, but I need to “close up shop” before I can relax into that.
    Dan recently posted…Owning Her Sexuality Part 1—Whoreman? Me?My Profile

    • Hi Dan. I relate to the putting things away / putting things in order as an important part of the transition. For a few years now, we have had family come for extended stays, and when they go, putting the house back to “normal” is part of my routine. And I don’t want anyone else to do it. I NEED to do it as part of my process. My version of “closing up shop” I guess.

    • I am the wife that wants her hubby before he even walks in the door. Broke my heart when he became distant, ignored me, and curled up with the dog, instead. Then, I realized he needed to be greeted at the door, not attacked.

      It was hard because I would be starving for him, especially when he worked away from home. And finally, my man is here!

      It’s like being denied food for a week or two and then your promise gourmet dinner arrives, but you have to wait until the table is set, the prayers prayed….you just want to EAT!

      Come to a compromise. You come home and can give your wife a big hug and kiss and let her tell you ONE THING that’s on her mind. Then, she lets you go decompress.

  6. I think that’s an excellent compromise libl. But, isn’t there always a but, she has to be aware that he is exercising a compromise. By that I mean this can’t be done unilaterally by him but with her awareness and involvement. If she is unaware of his compromising, she may see that “one thing” as opening a door and begin serious or extensive relating with him before he is has decompressed. I’ll be giving that idea a try.
    Dan recently posted…Owning Her Sexuality Part 1—Whoreman? Me?My Profile

  7. For some reason, the comment system over on TGH seems to have changed. Used to be able to comment on that easily, now I can’t. Anyway, last year when my husband battled cancer, we both learned the importance of giving each other safe space. We sometimes had to handle things very differently both because of our genders, and because of our roles as patient and caregiver in that specific circumstance. But the overall lesson (among many) that we learned was that so often it’s more important to be supportive than to prove our point or be right. Also the importance of sometimes shutting up and listening, even when we didn’t understand how/why the other person thought or felt as they did.

    • @Alicia – Difficult situations often teach us valuable lessons.

      Sorry for the trouble on TGH – the comment system hasn’t changed in a couple of years. You do need a login via social media or make one for Livefyre.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Should We Accept an Unhappy Marriage?My Profile

  8. My husband is alone most of the day in his line of work. When I arrive home from the office, his transition process is to tell me about his day and tell me what I need to do in terms of administrative support to finalize what he started and/or prepare for what lies ahead. I would prefer to wait until the following morning to hear these details, but I have learned that listening when he needs to talk makes him feel validated and important. Doing so also opens the door for him to share more deeply. If I want him to share his joys and sorrows, I can pave the way by listening to the facts and opinions.

  9. This is definitely one of the things I struggled most with in our marriage when we had young kids. Here was my thought process:

    Seriously, he wants home to be all peaceful and to have transition time when he gets home? Must be nice! I want a break too, so maybe he should transition on his way home and be ready to take over and give me a few minutes of mental peace when he walks through the door. I’ve been working at least as hard as he has, so I need his help too.

    Looking back, I know I was struggling with post-partum depression issues and I should have gotten a break from other sources, not just plopped it all on my husband. We should have been in one another’s corner. But I dare say what I just described is how some wives truly feel. So I wondering how you would address those issues.
    J. Parker recently posted…Should You Get a Sex Pillow?My Profile

    • @J. Parker – Your desire was valid, your timing was poor.
      I just saw my son going by with our grandson in the wagon, making the big look and doing all the speeding up, slowing down, and side to side that makes him squeal. This was about two hours after he got home from a 10 hour day of physically hard work. He had a shower, had dinner, and relaxed a bit. Then he took the kid and gave mom a break. Everyone got what they needed – including the grandparents!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Should We Accept an Unhappy Marriage?My Profile

      • My husband didn’t fit this description when our children were young. He couldn’t wait to get his hands on them when he walked in the door. He came home during lunch whenever possible and once a week came home in the afternoon so I could keep a weekly appointment for something that nurtured me. I was/am blessed!

  10. Some husbands don’t have the luxury of taking down time. Mine walks through the door and immediately starts taking care of me because that’s what he does now.,

  11. While I can see how this is helpful, I think this is not exactly a universal truth with all men. Even when our kids were young, hubby loved walking in the door and being bombarded by toddler hugs and infant snuggles and shifting right into caring for them. For about a year during those times he worked 3 very long shifts a week instead of 5 days a week. On those days, I’d have the kids all tucked into bed and dinner leftovers waiting in the kitchen for him usually. Even though he knew he’d have the whole next day to spend with us all and it meant a little bit of alone time together (with me which we both loved), he was always bummed to walk in the door to a quiet house. He’s extremely extroverted and would love to have a dozen more kids if my poor body would have been up for it. He loves to invite all the neighbor kids over and set up all kinds of activities and games or set up a movie night for all of them. He literally does this all without my help because my introverted self is doing well just to survive all the hubbub. He loves it. When there have been times he’s walked in the door to a small crisis of some sort, I feel like he hasn’t even registered it as a crisis. It’s just never been an issue for him to shift gears to being home with his family. I’ve talked with him about it and tried to provide space for him to shift and he rarely if ever seems to want/need it. I realize his personality is not that of most typical guys I know, but I’m willing to bet there are others like him out there.

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