Everyone has insecurities of some sort. Most of the time, they stem from something that happened in childhood. Perhaps they even come from a traumatic event that occurred later in life. These insecurities can present themselves in many ways, both emotionally and physically. Let’s look at some common ways that insecurity in men can manifest in marriage.
What Is Insecurity?
The American Psychological Association reports that insecurity is multifaceted. It pertains to an overall sense of uncertainty or anxiety about your worth, abilities, skills, and value as a person, conveying the message that you’re at risk or in danger of losing something or someone. It has a negative impact on your physical, mental, and emotional state. And without that security you’re looking for, it makes you feel like you can’t live up to your fullest potential.
Some of the symptoms of insecurity include an overriding feeling of inadequacy, a lack of feeling self-confidence, self-esteem, or self-worth. You feel like you’re unable or ill-equipped to cope with stressors, generally uncertain about the world, or anxious about your relationships with others. Insecurity can present itself in behaviors that are either others-focused or others-avoidant.
Others-Focused And Others-Avoidant Insecurities
Insecurity in men can present itself in many ways. One is by trying to please people to avoid conflict or saying yes to anything. It’s one thing to want to serve others in this way and have the motivation of service and knowing when to stop, versus doing it to get approval or love. Another way is pining for other people’s attention or approval. For example, asking either explicitly or implicitly, what do you think of me, or talking down about yourself in order for others to build them back up.
It also looks like consistently looking for validation in words or actions from others. For example, someone may send multiple text messages to people telling them how much they mean to them in hopes of getting a positive response back. Making excessive phone calls or over-sharing information with friends could also be a way that someone is trying to gain security from others. Or even touting your success so others will feel intimidated or impressed by you is still that effort of looking to another person to validate your emotions.
These actions represent others-focused insecurity. At its most unhealthy, others-focused insecurity can look like multiple affairs, multiple sexual partners, and consistently flirting with other women. So, those are some ways that insecurity behaviors can be others-focused.
Others-avoidant insecurities can look like a wall of protection you want to build around yourself. You might constantly disagree with other people, feel a strong need to be right in everything you say, or disconnect eye contact. It might also be removing yourself from physical touch. Maybe you’re always being defensive or distrusting, constantly checking other people’s phones or social media, or even becoming closed off sexually or intimately.
Try To Understand And Empathize With Their Insecurities
At its core, insecurity is built on a negative self-belief that you are not good enough. So, either the person will turn outward to seek feeling good enough or turn inward to protect themselves from not feeling good enough. So, what can you do when your husband is feeling insecure?
Don’t point out their insecurities to them. This is not to say that you should act like nothing is happening. You should show them empathy and not psychoanalyze everything they do. Take what you are learning here and realize there’s something deeper going on, which is probably why your husband is acting the way he is.
You always shouldn’t use his insecurities to hurt or manipulate him. It can be tempting to realize that your husband may be sexually insecure, for example, and in the heat of an argument, throw that back in his face. Or to realize that your husband is a people-pleaser and want to milk that to your advantage. Don’t do that. This is an opportunity for you, as his wife, to lean in and support him.
This doesn’t mean your husband gets a free pass for his insecurities. You must deal with the core issue, but you can’t fix your husband. You cannot make him feel secure, but there are things you can do to help.
Don’t Try To Fix Their Problems For Them
The first part is to respond with empathy. Your goal should be to get your husband to open up about his feelings. Realize that his insecurities are likely not about you. Talk to your husband and tell him you’re sorry for what he’s going through. Then, see if there is a way you can help.
If you have an overly anxious and others-focused husband, you may notice that he seems to be running himself crazy trying to do things for others. Offer opportunities for your spouse to open up to you and get to the bottom of their insecurities. You can do this by being a safe place. And over time, your spouse should hopefully begin to trust you and open up to you about what is happening. And when they do, that’s when you get to respond with care. Listen to them and don’t try to fix things. Don’t try to correct them or tell them what they need to do. This builds trust because the most important thing is that your husband realizes that you will be there for him, no matter what.
This is just scratching the surface of the entire process of how to have a strong and healthy marriage. You can learn more in our free mini-course, “How To Get Your Spouse Back.” In this mini-course, you will learn the process of falling in love and what you can start doing today to have a better marriage. No matter how long you’ve been married or how in love you are, falling in love is a daily process. And Marriage Helper is here to help keep you on the LovePath.