Why Men Feel Trapped

feeling trapped

Every day, providers (husbands) can feel a strange tension between wanting to be depended on and feeling trapped by that responsibility. The vast majority of men who put in long hours do so not just because they want to get ahead, but because they believe, “there is no other option.” And they get frustrated when we don’t understand that—particularly when they feel we are the source of some of the pressure.

One very direct survey response made me wince. This man wished he could tell his wife, “I feel confused. You want me home more, yet you want a new house, nice things, substantial income, etc. Please understand the catch-22 I am in. I feel like I am pushing two big rocks up a hill.” So how do wives respond?

Reconsider existing areas of conflict:

We must face the fact that our mate feels caught, with few options, on provider issues. And he probably also feels deeply misunderstood by us. Some women might suddenly realize the pressure they have inadvertently been putting on their husbands by coming home with shopping bags every day, while others may grasp just how painful it is for their husbands to earn less than they do. Others may understand “the stress of feeling that you are asking him to choose between one huge need (to provide financial security) and another (to show you he really does care about family time).”

Help relieve the pressure:

Many of us have faced difficult financial seasons, and obviously that’s hard for us as women too. It is easy to get nervous and blame our husband or pressure him to “do something.” But most men don’t need more pressure. Instead, they need our steadfast belief that they will solve this problem and our steadfast offer to help them do what it takes to stay afloat. That may mean showing our willingness to bring in more income ourselves or expressing excitement about staying at the beach in the off-season instead of going on that romantic Caribbean vacation. (I say excitement rather than willingness because a man will internalize your disappointment as a personal failure to provide.)

Several men have told me that, most of all, the best thing their mate can do is to show that she realizes how tight things are by refusing to spend money unnecessarily. That, combined with our emotional support, does wonders for the man’s feeling that “we can get through this.”

Encourage and appreciate him:

One man gave a great summation of what a man needs most, whether a couple is “in plenty or in want.” “Thank him regularly for providing. He forgets quickly.”


Tell us! What do you think men need most?


  • Stephanie Davis

    I started reading this, nodding my head with understanding. But the more I read, the more I thought: why is this feeling reserved for men? Now granted, I did not search the site to see if there was a similar article “for women”, but I am a bit resentful that this article calls out the male gender only. I am a 41 year old mother of 2 very spirited girls: 6&8. I work 45-60 hours per week at a major brokerage firm. I commute at least 80 minutes a day. I make everyone’s lunches, & usually dinner, daily. I coach basketball for 1 kid, tumbling for the other. I take care of the shopping, bills, vacations, overnights, birthdays, & holidays! This life resume may seem absolutely crazy to some, but I know A LOT of women, single & married, who have the same type of life agenda. And men feel “trapped” as providers? I know a lot of men who do their fair share too, and I am not taking anything away from my husband, but come on. Women have become a major “provider” in the household, coming in at 42% being the sole or primary breadwinner in 2015. But men need our reassurances and steadfastness? This sounds like excuses to me.

    • Sarai Clayton

      I believe this article was meant to inspire women to encourage their husbands more. However, fewer women are privileged to stay at home because our culture has become 2 income based. I’ve been on both sides of the coin, and have been a single parent for many years now. It’s all about perspective. If the family has chosen for both parents to work, then both husband and wife will have to make sacrifices in taking care of the home as well as careers. If the wife is able to stay at home, both need to understand roles are going to have to depend on who takes care of what, yet both are equally important. Marriage is giving and taking, but mostly giving by both parties. I don’t think it’s fair to say men feel trapped, when statistically 50% of marriages end in divorce. If he feels “trapped,” his perspective needs to focus on the commitment and vow he made before God. No one can base his or her decisions on feelings, especially in marriage. He made the decision to marry, so he’s going to have to realize that many feelings will come and go, yet pressing towards the mark of sanctification and becoming more Christ like is the goal. Overall, I am sick of giving men more excuses within their marriages, which is how this article appeared to me. Personally, I do 100% for my children, physically, spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially. Do I have a personal cheerleader? No. Would it be helpful? Absolutely! But at the end of the day, God is who I rely on for all of my feelings, which include feeling trapped since I am solely responsible for my children. I think Western Christianity is soft; we have it so easy in comparison. Marriage is tough, but a glorious example to our children.

    • Stephanie–we do have lots of articles for men on allprodad.com! All of our writers sit on the same team and posts for both men and woman are compared. Your husband can subscribe here http://www.allprodad.com/subscribe/ and here is an example of an article that asks husbands to work harder in their marriage… http://www.allprodad.com/simple-behaviors-that-lead-to-divorce/

  • Jennifer Daniels-Witham

    Stephanie, I don’t know if you have a spouse or not. I’m sorry you are taking on so much. If you are married I want to encourage you to open the lines of communication with your partner regarding how you feel and discuss how things can be changed to improve your home life for the betterment of your marriage as you may begin to feel some resentment for carrying such a load or is there a way even things can be cut back or switched back and forth between your spouse. This would allow each of you to share in the chores. Also I know from my own experience when I let my husband know how he can help me is is very willing, it may mean I have to realize things are not going to get done the same way I do them and maybe not up to my perfect expectations which I am having to let go of anyways.
    As a Financial Coach how much money a man makes is his scorecard in life. Money for women is a security issue. I currently make more than my husband and this bothers him although we combine our incomes and it all belongs to God first and God has blessed both of us and our family. It bothers my husband we don’t take vacations but we have no debt and that doesn’t bother him. When we had Debt he worried about how to make more so we could eat and pay the bills now his worry is how can I do better to put our girls, ages 9 and 11 through college. We have recovered from financial infidelity, I was so depressed I was buying on credit cards and hiding the debt from him. This is the same as having an affair, I hid credit cards bills from him. The damage I caused our family and seeing how long it took us to get out of the hole is somewhere we never want to go again. We now share openly about money and depression and living on a written plan for our money has put our family on a different trajectory. We both know what is available for entertainment and we stick to it. This has saved many arguments and we are empowered because we are living by biblical truths. I’m honoring my husband, we owe no man any debt but love, we are wise and storing up savings.
    Check out a Financial Peace University class near you.

  • Stacy Hunt

    Every time any article focuses on what we as women, wives, or mothers can do to improve ourselves there’s these kinds of negative “what about me” responses. No one is saying it’s just you. But if there’s a problem to correct, we can only adjust ourselves. We can’t make “him” do anything different. Many times our change in heart, our altered mindset about a thing (with this being understanding of his side) can precipitate change for you both. I love these iMom articles because it is a reminder when we often times get stuck looking internally and thinking only about ME. It helps to bring me out and consider another view. And it’s a safe place to do that. Not an argument that brought it to light. Consider taking these article in that way. And remember many situations are different and no, not every article will be valid for you, but take from it what you will as self-improvement. That’s how I view these. My husband and I will often time discuss them. It’s nice to be able to bring up topics like this in a non-confrontational setting.

    • Stacy! Such a good point. Leo Tolstoy said it like this: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” I find most often that it is my attitude or misunderstanding of a situation that must change. Sometimes it is a season where because of a difficulty I must give/change more. My husband hurt his back and it is my turn to give. I have had a dozen heart surgeries in our marriage and he gave to me. Mark always says love is really spelled g.i.v.e.

  • Stephanie Davis

    Thanks Ladies! I do value everyone’s honesty & opinion. I think it is very interesting how a short article can churn such diverse results. As always, and in everything we do, perception is in the eye (or experiences) of the beholder! I too love the iMom articles & this one had a different spin for me. Thanks again for your valued opinions & life insight!