Men who have been through a divorce or who have had their share of problems dealing with their wives, know how easy it is to catch a case of anger. This anger can be directed at your partner, your kids, even yourself. Some men may react to this anger by trying to alleviate the tension by looking for ways to get even more upset, which can be problematic. Isn’t that what anger is all about?
In my professional life as a marriage and family therapist, I’ve learned a lot about men’s issues. And what I’ve learned has helped me to understand the many struggles that a man in a relationship can experience. In no particular order, I’ve discovered that…
Male Attachment Disorder (MAD) is a term used to describe men who have a distorted image of their role in a relationship, often thinking they are entitled to something from their partner. Men with MAD tend to become resentful and angry when they don’t get what they want. They believe they deserve to be treated poorly, so they lash out when their partner rejects them, as a result of their anger.
It’s been stated that we teach what we want to learn, and for many years, I’ve been teaching and learning about men’s anger and how it affects our relationships. I’ve been in the business of assisting guys for 50 years (although my wife believes I should say 40 plus years since 50 years may make people think I’m too old to help).
True, there is a tendency in our society that many see our elderly as “over the hill, out to lunch, unimportant, and out of touch.” However, I continue to think that elder knowledge has worth. To be quite honest, I’ll be 75 in December. Carlin and I have five children, seventeen grandkids, and one on the way great-grandchild. So, if you believe I’m too old to learn from, now is a good moment to put the book down.
I recently wrote about The One Problem That Underpins Male Anger and Destroys Relationships in a blog article. When I was five years old, I started to study on a personal level. Because he couldn’t find employment to support his family, my father grew more irritated, resentful, and sad. In an effort to alleviate the emotional agony, he took an overdose of sleeping pills and was sent to Camarillo State Mental Hospital, north of Los Angeles.
His death was devastating for me as an only child, and my mother grew even more nervous and worried after he died. She went out to work to support us, and I was often left alone. Being able to go anywhere I wanted and do anything I wanted when I was a child seemed like a wonderful gift of liberty. I also learnt how to look after people early on, such as visiting my father in the hospital, listening to my mother’s concerns, and being the “man of the house.”
Growing up with an absent father and an anxious and busy mother had the unintended consequence of making me fearful of and confused by relationships. I convinced myself that I’m a self-starter. I need my personal space. But the reality was that I was terrified of getting too near. When I did fall in love and marry, I fluctuated between being clinging and possessive and being irritated, furious, and pushing my spouse away because I was so desperate for connection and nurture.
We broke up after 10 years together. I became a part-time father to my two children while continuing to battle with my ex-wife over…well, pretty much everything. And I quickly fell in love… Let’s be honest for a moment. I was seduced. During a wild and chaotic summer, we met in the baths at Harbin Hot Springs.
She was attractive in both good and terrible ways. She had grown up with a disapproving father and yearned for masculine attention and father love, something no guy could ever provide. We battled like crazy until we realized how insane we were, and I was afraid that one of us was about to murder the other. We were fortunate in that we were able to split ways before something really terrible happened.
It was at that time that I became aware of the ACEs research. ACEs stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences, and studies have shown that early childhood abuse, neglect, and abandonment may lead to physical, emotional, and relational difficulties later in life. I also discovered that ACEs are extremely frequent and that apparently ordinary life events like divorce, growing up in a household with a lot of hostility, or growing up in a home where emotions were seldom expressed, may lead to difficulties later in life.
My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound is a book I just published. Growing up with a father who was distant, then absent, then rejecting, and ultimately dysfunctional was an ACE for me. I also discussed how the death of a parent affects women. I spoke about how early disturbances in our closest connections may make it harder for us to maintain healthy relationships as adults.
I outline eight features of what I refer to as Male Attachment Disorder (MAD):
- Anger and agitation. I was constantly nervous and quickly provoked, like a cat on a hot tin roof.
- Depression among men. Women are prone to internalizing their sorrow. My focus shifted outward, and I became more forceful. I was weeping on the inside, but I gave my wife a cold stare and would erupt if I felt neglected or my self-esteem was challenged.
- Risk-taking and impulsiveness I was a successful businesswoman who authored books and gave talks all over the globe. Risk-taking may be beneficial at business, but it kept everyone on edge at home. You had no idea what I was about to do next.
- Control is required. I was always attempting to manage my environment, which was becoming more out of control, since I was so scared of desertion yet so ashamed to acknowledge it. I attempted to manage my life since it wasn’t working for me.
- Love and instruction are met with resistance. Carlin attempted many times to persuade me that I needed assistance, but I flatly refused. I had a hard time trusting people who loved me afterwards since I couldn’t trust my caretakers as a child.
- Denial and scapegoating. I refused to acknowledge and admit that I had a problem for years. I put it down to everything except my life and what was actually creating the issue—stress, job, politics, my kids, my wife—anything but my life and what was really causing the problem.
- Personality and conduct that are addictive. I was constantly dieting and exercising because I ate too much. I dreamed about sex and grew obsessed with persuading my wife to perform it more often and in more varied ways.
- Confusion and helplessness are two words that come to mind while thinking about this situation. The more I attempted to control things, the more they got out of control. Life became more perplexing, and I felt like a drowning man struggling to stay afloat. Everything I tried to improve matters just made them worse.
Fortunately, there is assistance available, and the following are the steps I took:
- I decided to look at the link between my childhood traumas and disconnections and my adult relationship issues.
- I sought out and worked with a therapist who specialized in childhood trauma and adult relationship problems.
- Even when I found excuses to stop going to treatment, I persisted.
- Bit by little, I recovered.
- I joined a men’s group, and we’ve been meeting for almost four decades.
- Carlin was the love of my life when I met him. We’d been together for 39 years and were both ready to work on our wounds.
I’ll keep sharing what I’ve learned with anybody who wants to learn from an elder who is still growing and changing. As usual, your feedback is welcomed and valued. That’s how much I get paid for writing an article every week and posting it for free.
In the world of technology, we tend to create our own apps, but for some, they are not meant to be used in that way.. Read more about attachment disorder symptoms in adults and let us know what you think.There are two types of reactive attachment disorder. One is a type of anxiety disorder that causes children to be fearful and avoid social situations, while the other is an attachment disorder in which the child does not have a healthy bond with their caregiver.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the signs of reactive attachment disorder?
Reactive attachment disorder is a condition in which children do not form healthy attachments to their parents or caregivers. It is characterized by extreme distress when separation occurs, and the child may show signs of clinging, temper tantrums, and aggression.
How does attachment disorder affect relationships?
Attachment disorder is a condition that occurs when the child does not feel safe or secure in their relationships. This can cause them to be more distant from their parents and other family members, which can lead to further problems with relationships.
What are the two types of reactive attachment disorder?
There are two types of reactive attachment disorder. One is a type of anxiety disorder that causes children to be fearful and avoid social situations, while the other is an attachment disorder in which the child does not have a healthy bond with their caregiver.