Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Relationship Problems and How to Solve Them

Elizabeth Bernstein welcomes the New Year with a list of four common relationship problems. For each problem she consults with a so-called expert.

Being something of an expert ourselves, we are happy to offer some alternative solutions to three of them.

The first problem is very modern:

My loved one won’t put down his or her phone (or tablet or laptop) and it is ruining our relationship. What can I do?

The experts recommend a conversation. For some reason, experts always recommend a conversation. They think that conversation will solve everything.

How should you conduct said conversation? The experts say that if your significant other is suffering from this addiction, you should address him or her sympathetically and with understanding.

You should never point out that the behavior is rude, disrespectful, inconsiderate or offensive.

For those who do not know the code, this means that you should not shame your partner into turning off the iPad.

And yet, when you show sympathy and understanding toward someone who is being rude to you, you are giving him license to abuse you. You are allowing him to ignore you in favor of an electronic gadget. After all, what does it cost him... beyond having to submit to a warm shower of understanding.

In this case the experts got it ass-backwards.

How should you react to such rude behavior? You should state, politely, that the behavior is rude. When someone us shunning you, you should not be sympathetic and understanding.

Depending on the circumstances and the venue, if someone consistently ignores you in favor of a gadget, you should get up and leave. Expert therapists notwithstanding, showing is better than telling.

In the most extreme case you should start thinking about walking out of the relationship altogether.

Next time, choose your relationship partners better.

Now, for the second relationship question:

How can I get my wife to have more sex with me?

Naturally, the experts recommend that you have a conversation about sex. Not in the bedroom, not before going to sleep… but at a more appropriate moment.

The experts are suggesting that you should, for example, have a chat about anal sex over brunch. Surely, that will spice things up!

Or perhaps, you can discuss your partner’s sexual inadequacies over cocktails. Think of how stimulating that will be!

For reasons that escape me, these experts seem to believe that, when it comes to sex, American couples are suffering from a conversational deficiency.

More likely, the opposite is closer to the truth. If anything we talk about sex too much. We think about it too much. We watch it too much.

If you did not think that this would dampen everyone’s libido you don’t know very much about sex.

Even those of you who are not experts know well that women do not like to talk about sex. And you probably also know that women are turned off by explicit and graphic references to sex.

If you think that women are turned on by discussions of fellatio, fetishes and lube… you do not know very many women.

That might be the reason why she no longer wants to give it up for you.

As for a more sensible solution to the problem, try this: be more considerate, caring, respectful, trustworthy, kind and considerate. Stop measuring your relationship in terms of how much pegging you received last month and try being a decent, honorable and loving spouse… outside of the boudoir.

If she does not trust you, she is not going to want to have sex with you.

Doesn’t everyone know by now that for a woman sex is never just sex and that foreplay involves a myriad of activities that appear to have little to do with sex?

The third relationship problem is:

How can I get my husband to go to therapy?

Why do women believe that their marital problems derive from the fact that their husbands lack self-awareness? Why do they still believe that therapy will solve these problems?

By now most men understand that if they go to therapy they will invariably encounter a female therapist who will ally herself with the wife, find fault with them and will try to make them into something that he is not.

Here, expert Howard Markman understands the problem well.

Most men, he says, believe that when they go to therapy they are going to be blamed. They are going to be induced to feel guilty about their bad behavior. A therapist might pay lip service to a wife's responsibility, but she will invariably blame the husband. It's the feministically correct position.

Markman is too tactful to say it, but most therapists see human relationships and especially marriages from a feminist perspective. They are practicing according to their ideology, not according to science.

A man who finds himself in couples therapy will learn that he is failing to be the kind of man that feminists want him to be.

Why would any man tolerate such an insult?

If they do not know it consciously, most men understand that if they managed to be the caring loving househusbands that their wives say they want them to be, they will be treated with contempt by their wives and disdain by their male friends.

So, three cheers for men who refuse to go to couples’ counseling. The real problem is wives who have unrealistic expectations about marriages and who believe that therapists can trick their husbands into playing a role in their feminist psychodrama.


Sam L. said...

My thought on more sex is this: the woman comes first (&2nd&3rd&4th, etc., if she can).

A: She knows I want her to enjoy it.
B: It's not all about ME.
C: This is rational self-interest. It's good for me because it's good for her. A Win-Win game.

Ares Olympus said...

Fun advice on all accounts.

First on rudeness, you call for calling out rude behavior, and I'm sure this is right, although obviously it needs to be somewhat strategic, focusing on one issue at a time, but WITHOUT a predefined outcome that you require in perfect form to comply to your sense of order.

And I see a negotiation is a two way street, and while you're looking to change someone else's possibly long bad habitual behavior, you'd also best be willing to consider what your partner finds rude in yours. So honesty can promost honesty, but it won't see that way if you're feeling defensive.

And I can also see there seems to be three cases at any given time - two people ignoring problems, one person on the warpath and the other trying to placate, and both people on the warpath, and all three of them are trouble in their own way, and all perhaps different degenerate stages of the same passive aggressive behavior?

And on the last question, "...most therapists see human relationships and especially marriages from a feminist perspective. They are practicing according to their ideology, not according to science."

I won't doubt that generalization, but it can't be always true, that is sometimes it is the husband who is expressive and concerned, and his wife withdrawn and moody and defensive, and it can easily turn the other way, with the therapist's instincts taking the side of the man who is calmly expressing his caring observations, and the wife in defensive denial, feeling tag-teamed attacked without any sympathy for her problems.

It also reminds me, a while back I heard some speeches by Warren Farrell, and he explained how popular he was with women when he expressed sympathy for their problems, and only later discovered his side-taking was flawed, and once he started challenging the women on their assumptions, his popularity fell down significantly, but he felt he had more integrity in his relationship advice.

So we all have our blind-spots, and perhaps every therapist has a moment of truth, when they realize their ideology they started with wasn't working, and then they either fall into chaos and despair, or open their minds to removing predetermined interpreation, whether that framing is feminist or something else.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"... most men understand that if they managed to be the caring loving househusbands that their wives say they want them to be, they will be treated with contempt by their wives and disdain by their male friends."

Nothing truer said. Mist women, driven by the feminist narrative/context alive today, are insatiable. It's hard enough to try to understand what women want (they themselves don't know), but then you have to legitimize/dignify these childish yearnings by sitting in an environment where you're supposed to "communicate" about whatever dalliances come up in that hour. When people aren't required to prepare for a therapy session, this is what happens: you spend an hour talking about the latest bright, shiny objects that are whizzing through her head, while the man just stares into space, trying to beat the clock. Then the woman walks out with righteous edification, saying "I tried." Tried what?

That said, I have had extraordinarily positive experiences with my wife in the years we have been going to therapy. This therapy is unconventional, because it's a husband-wife team, and they are serious. It's creative, demanding work. My wife and I know exactly what we're getting into when we walk in for each session, and it's a workout... certainly not for the faint of heart. We are both constantly called out on the thoughts and behaviors that separate us. Separate us from what, you may ask? What we both say we want. We make the declarationsabout what we each will take on, and then our therapists hold us to them. We walk out of each session with mutual understanding that reflects our mutual commitment(s), and an action plan about where we're going. It's a very demanding, adult conversation. No drama. The therapists work brilliantly as a team. It has a religious foundation in terms of principles, and my wife and I love it, because it provides a platform of ground rules (and please keep in mind that my wife is not religious). There are no surprises.

Sounds great, eh? Well, let me be clear: we kissed a lot of frog therapists on the road to find this pair of remarkable professionals. And it's difficult for us to refer our friends that may be in need of such help, because most couples are still so committed to their personal stories/crap, and that's a non-starter in this environment, because this is serious work. Drama thrives on conflict; and our therapists take the charge out of the conflict, leaving us to work out a clear choice. We choose what's important instead of getting seduced into the bullshit idea that everything is important. It's brilliant stuff.

And to Ares' point, in this therapy approach it doesn't matter what the gender roles in the relationship are... it's about what you uniquely want to create as a couple, and how you both align with going about doing it. I take on some of the traditionally "feminine" roles in our relationship, and my wife takes on some of the traditionally "masculine" roles. And it's all okay, because that's OUR plan that we talked out and worked out. It's perfect for us and our individual strengths, and yields enormous power for our marriage. Everything is fundamentally a stand for the marriage, but the functional roles and choices need to be distinguished. This therapy is our space to work all this out. The culture doesn't tell us what to do, we each do what we're best at, which produces superior results. A marriage isn't a Cinderella fantasy that's supposed to go a certain way -- it's work. We communicate with a purpose. I'm not talked to like one of her girlfriends (we've established that she has girlfriends for that), and I don't stonewall her as a strategy to get what I want. So we're both happy. Very little drama. Imagine that!

Stuart, I encourage you to put together a list of women's "unrealistic expectations about marriage." That'd be a hoot. And I ssupect it would be helpful to a lot of people.