Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Men Avoiding Therapy

Now that the profession of psychotherapy has largely been feminized, men are refusing therapy. Even when their wives ask them to go for couples counseling.

By feminized, I do not mean that all talk therapists are women, but so many of them now are that male therapists are just as likely to ask their male patients to talk about their feelings, to bare their souls as are their female counterparts.

Apparently, this is more evident when wives ask their husbands to go to couples counseling. The men know it’s a trap. They know that their wives will have home field advantage. They know that they will be at a distinct disadvantage. They know that they are going to be manipulated. They know that they will be held accountable for whatever is going wrong in their marriages. They know, for certain that they will not be respected as men.

In that they are right. They should refuse to go.

And yet, in some cases they are browbeaten and threatened into going anyway. In itself this is a sign of disrespect. They are right to refuse, but they may have to go anyway.

Besides, most of the research suggests that couples counseling does not work very well anyway, so why waste family resources?

Of course, one needs to ask whether the attitudes of feminized therapists derive from science or from ideology. Are therapists trying to teach men to be better husbands or to get in touch with their feminine sides? It’s not the same. You can’t do both at once.

If feminism, through Gloria Steinem taught women to become the men they wanted to marry, doesn’t that imply—as the night follows the day—that their husbands should become the women their wives do not want to be.

Or else, as Gloria Steinem famously said:

We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.

Even when therapists--at least the ones Elizabeth Bernstein talks to-- try to make therapy more male-friendly, they still fall back on the old habit of asking men to open up and to talk about their feelings.

It’s never about reality or practicality… it’s always about your soul.

She discusses the approach favored by Dr. Gary Brooks:

During the couples sessions, Dr. Brooks explains to the wife that his job as a therapist is to help the man articulate his feelings. He encourages the man to tell his wife what has been bothering him. He makes sure the couple talks about things that the man is doing right in the relationship, to make sure the woman recognizes these things.

Most men understand that this little mind game is an attempt to manipulate them. It is not about making them more fulfilled emotionally. The real issues lie elsewhere. They are so obscure that Bernstein does not even mention them.

Look at it from the Steinem angle: if wives want their husbands to be more like the women they do not want to be, that is, like homemakers, they know that they should not be straightforward and direct about it. They cannot force their husbands to do more housework, to come home early from work to bathe the baby, to share all household responsibilities equally… as feminism demands.

So, they use a more roundabout approach. They ask the man to express his feelings. Then they express their feelings. At some point, the hapless husband will learn how to feel empathy for a woman’s condition, for her miserable life as a housewife, for the pain she feels when she has to care for her children.

Once he gets in touch with her feelings, he will work less, spend more time at home, miss job promotions and bonuses. In all he will sacrifice his career path to her ideology.

In other words, men are right to refuse to go to couples counseling. Perhaps wives should go to counseling themselves to learn about why they want to make their husbands into something they themselves do not want to be. 


Ares Olympus said...

This narrative does seem to be a bit stereotypical. So men apparently gain their self esteem by their ability to provide maximal material comfort for their family, and no one will be happy if men are diverted from their instinctual course.

But even if that was true, is it always true, through out a man's full life? Carl Jung would say that we have a "shadow" and the parts of ourselves that we suppress to keep our social standings eventually tries to get out, like the hypothetical midlife crisis.

So if a couple is in marriage counseling in their 40's or 50's, with kids leaving home, and traditional roles less vital, may have different qualities.

The feminist story is that women stop wanting to be receptive and accommodating and instead find callings for ambition, and more selfish focus, to find themselves, and all that, and if the husband who was fortunate enough to find a woman who played her roles well, will find his wife isn't who she used to be, and not know how to "handle" her rebellion.

And perhaps the husband will find his evolutionary strengths of provider, and allowing others like his wife to mediate all familial social relationships. So whether through his own inspiration, or feeling of need for connection, he might try taking on tasks his wife once did, and no longer wants to do, so doing work that "fills his own soul" rather than being passive and needing his wife to do it.

But back to therapy, perhaps it does become corrupted by a feminine perspective, and its primary clients, and so men are in danger of being manipulated, OR you could say men going to therapy have to learn some assertiveness skills, some skills of "sales resistance", when it "feels" like a slippery slope is being approached that he's not ready to navigate.

Recently I saw Robert Bly's Men Conference is having a 30th anniversary weekend this September. and they added a number of videos from previous meeting speakers online:

It does make sense that individually men are in trouble, if we depend on women to tell us what's acceptable masculine behavior, and so if men want to "compete" on a level playing field with women, in marriage or in therapy, they may need to do some practicing on their own.

On the other hand, it is more fun to whine and say therapy culture is feminized and men are too weak to handle themselves on a hostile landscape.

I've never been married, but seeing 35-50yo friends separating and divorcing is hard. I think the DANGER for men isn't therapy, but the LIE women can say, like "If you cooperate, I'll cooperate" while in fact, she's just as lost in her own shadow and willing to LEAVE a man because he expressed himself honestly, and the women decided she doesn't love him any more.

So that dishonesty of modern no-fault marriage seems most horrendous. So if I was a husband who was being prodded into therapy, my condition would be "You are not allowed to divorce me for 10 years if I go to therapy with you." That might make me secure enough to be vulnerable. I wonder if a wife would accept that "cage"?

Jeff Dorsai said...

went to couples therapy in my first marriage (my idea too) ... by the third session I'd had enough of being the whipping post and said "If we aren't going to address my concerns this isn't going to work".

His take on it later on was "I asked for your feelings and you made it clear you felt I was'nt doing my job".

He changed the tone going forward and the therapy did help to make the eventual breakup less acrimonious ...

Anonymous said...

The Atlantic has become a major locus of Elite female discontent.

Every other cover story recounts another tale of wronged women. The most recent was 2 high status high pay NY newsreaders. I passed.

But I've read all the others. I tried to empathize best I could (not all the women were affluent. Sandra Tsing Lo (sp) lived in her car for awhile)

Compliant men are wusses. Confident men are jerks. Many are schlubs. The Patriarchy!!!

Somebody asked, "What do women want???" Beats me. -- Rich Lara

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