Does your husband listen to your ideas?

In marriage, we have always this tug of war: which idea of marriage will we follow? If it happens that the husband is convinced of the merits of the traditional, hierarchical marriage, she then knows that her role has been designed for her. Submission and acceptance of her fate are already prescribed by society, religion and now her husband. It follows that, whatever ideas she can come up with, they will be dismissed because they are coming from “the inferior one.”

How could there be any value on being treated as an inferior child? It smacks of emotional abuse, this lack of recognition as an equal partner.

Here is a personal memory:
I do remember being excited with my own thinking, because I was going to school, receiving new ideas and I would be anxious to get home to share them with him. He would dismiss my conversation as: “you and your stupid opinions” off hand. Several days later, I could hear him explaining the same ideas to his friends, as if they were of his own creation!

This episode would be funny or cute, or pathetic according to your own perspective…for me, it is a sample of husbands’ constant effort to NOT ACCEPT INPUT OR INFLUENCE from their wives. (In the rare opportunity where he does listen, please don’t tell his friends…)

IS this a stupid maneuver to keep their own self respect and reassure themselves they are not going to be influenced by the female they live with? Of course it is! Let’s go beyond this level and look at the consequences, right?

In their book: Interpersonal Conflict, Wilmot & Hocker focus on what happens when negative emotions lead to the kind of conflict that destroys relationships.

Looking at what happens when men refused to accept influence from their women partners, they observed that the relationship went downhill. This is not saying that men should obey wives and always do what they want, but clearly, it says that being marriage a cooperative relationship, her voice has to be included.

This is the sequence:

a) Couple is talking about some project;
b) wife expresses her opinion;
c) he reacts rejecting whatever idea she presents, good or bad;
d) she objects and tries to express herself more clearly;
c) husband reacts with strong negativity, anger and shuts her down.

This is one-way power struggle gone wild, escalating into a spiral of negativity which can include insults, verbal denigration and even physical violence.

Because research shows that escalating negativity on the part of men can lead to violent interactions and domestic violence, the focus is on men refusing to be influenced by anything their wives had to say. Even small requests or complaints were “batted back” regardless of their merit, only because she proposed them.

Of course, once women see that they are trapped in a non-egalitarian marriage where they have no voice, they feel badly disappointed and think of leaving. Why to stay, if they are such a non-important or devalued part of the marriage?

The end results of this unequal, humiliating marriage where he has to keep control and she gets silenced? It’s the sheer failure brought by the authoritarian marriage:

Wilmot & Hocker end up saying: “In a companion study of 130 nonviolent couples, 80% of the men who did not accept any influence from their wives ended up divorced!”

Interpersonal Conflict (Wilmot & Hocker, 7th edition, pp 25)

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

I’m the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion. You don’t have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today.

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