Psychology 409b May 1, 2006

ŇDefining HusbandsÓ

By Skip Saito


Joshua Coleman, The Lazy Husband, St. MartinŐs Press, New York, 2005, Pages 150-181

Instructions for this Activity are found at:

Instructor: Dr. Leon James



I.                      Status Seekers

a.        Most people define a manŐs success in economic and social terms more than their abilities as a husband or father

                                                                               i.       A mediocre dad and husband whoŐs a millionaire will command a lot more respect from other men than a great father and husband who doesnŐt earn very much

                                                                                 ii.       Very few employers are sympathetic to menŐs desires to put their families first

                                                                                   iii.       In the same way that career women are taken off the fast track when they reduce their workload in order to spend more time with their children, men are also penalized when they prioritize their families

b.       In companies with over one hundred workers, only 1 percent are offered paid paternity leave and only 18 percent receive unpaid paternity leaves

                                                                               i.       In those cases where men are offered these benefits, few take advantage of them for fear of being stigmatized, and because of the potential long-term consequences for their careers and finances

                                                                                 ii.       The double bind of these realities cause many men to feel resentful and confused when their wives complain about how preoccupied they are with work

c.        Men also worry that spending time at home instead of work decreases their status with other men who are busy earning and enlarging their income or careers

                                                                               i.       They worry that theyŐre less admirable as men if they donŐt have the spoils of status that a career or income can bring

                                                                                 ii.       Men can feel unworthy and inadequate if they donŐt have the big-game prizes that other men use to demonstrate their worth

II.                   Empathy

a.        Empathy is the ability to sense or feel what others are thinking and feeling, and men may come by it a little less easily than women

                                                                               i.       This causes men to look self-centered from a womanŐs perspective

                                                                                 ii.       Studies show that young girls show superiority over boys in their ability to read facial expressions, read tone of voice, judge a personŐs character, and understand anotherŐs thoughts and intentions by the age of three

b.       Some of these gender differences may stem from socialization

                                                                               i.       Parents use the language of emotion far more frequently with their daughters than their sons

                                                                                 ii.       Fathers are more likely to issue commands to children, and more commands to their sons than their daughters

                                                                                   iii.       Moms tend to use more emotion words with their toddler daughters than their sons, and also to use more words of positive emotion

c.        WomenŐs traditional financial dependence on men may have also made them better at being able to read anotherŐs feelings because it was in their best interest to do so.  It pays for those with less power to be more responsive and sensitive to those with more power.

III.                Communicating in marriage

a.        Listening

                                                                               i.       Men can sometimes appear more self-involved than women because of the way that they listen

                                                                                 ii.       Women use much more eye contact when theyŐre in conversation, ask more questions, and offer more encouragement such as smiling, laughing, and agreeing

                                                                                   iii.       Men donŐt tend to ask as many questions or make as many soothing or reassuring sounds when theyŐre engaged in conversation

1.       TheyŐre also more likely to give advice, make statements, and challenge rather than ask questions or agree

2.       Women commonly will greet another with a compliment whereas this behavior is rare with men

b.       Asking for help

                                                                               i.       Men are far less likely to disclose emotions for fear that theyŐll be shamed or humiliated in the process

1.       Asking for help creates vulnerability to othersŐ feeling superior or behaving in a superior way

2.       The classic example of men refusing to ask for directions is evidence of this dynamic

                                                                                 ii.       One of the common times that men and women misunderstand each other is when a woman wants to be understood and a man responds with advice

1.       From the manŐs perspective, he believes that he can most effectively demonstrate his concern and talents through problem solving

2.       For his wife, his solving the problem may suggest that she was too stupid to figure it out herself

c.        Rank, housework, and parenting

                                                                               i.       A concern about looking weak is sometimes at the heart of menŐs resistance to parenting or housework

                                                                                 ii.       From this perspective, your husband may stonewall, make excuses, avoid, and evade family work in order to prove to you that he has status as a man, because he really believes that you have no right to ask

d.       Ask, donŐt tell

                                                                               i.       Because men are sensitive to any suggestion that they are of lower status, you will probably get more cooperation if you state your requests as requests and not demands

                                                                                 ii.       When women ŇnagÓ they do so assuming that if their husbands really heard and understood their concerns, they would do what they requested

IV.                Lazy husband excuses

a.        ŇI earn more than you and therefore shouldnŐt have to do anything when I get home.Ó

b.       ŇIŐm too tired to help.Ó

c.        ŇI donŐt know how.Ó

d.       ŇI contribute in other ways.  I shouldnŐt have to do both.Ó

V.                   Sex

a.        Strategies around sex

                                                                               i.       Since women may need more ideal conditions to be in the mood, deciding to have sex regardless of your mood may be key to increasing or maintaining marital harmony and cooperation with your husband

                                                                                 ii.       Many women find that while they many not be in the mood in the beginning, they can become interested in sex once they get going

b.       Make sure youŐre getting enough rest and support

                                                                               i.       ItŐs a good reason to consider relaxing some of your standards with housework, and getting your husband to do more around the house

                                                                                 ii.       ItŐs possible that if your husband sees the connection between your exhaustion and your lack of sexual desire he may become more motivated to do some of the things youŐve been wanting him to do

c.        Worry about the kids

                                                                               i.       Many moms canŐt relax enough to be interested in sex because theyŐre too worried about the children coming in the room or overhearing the lovemaking

                                                                                 ii.       As children get older they can be instructed that mom and dad want Ňprivate timeÓ

d.       Depression

                                                                               i.       Postpartum depression occurs in some 10 to 15 percent of women and can last for several years after an infantŐs birth

                                                                                 ii.       Depression from any cause is a sex killer

e.        Work on the romance

                                                                               i.       Since women often need romance to get going sexually, make sure you and your husband have opportunities to be close and intimate

                                                                                 ii.       Schedule a weekly or biweekly date for just the two of you

1.       Agree not to talk about problems for the whole night of your date

2.       Agree to do something that both of you find pleasurable


Related Links:

1. : This website started off very funny because it evaluated the marriage life of Jennifer Lopez.  It stated how she is in her FIFTH marriage.  She definitely has no idea what the unity marriage is and doesnŐt intend to become a part of endless eternity.  What was also interesting was that it showed how culture has influenced marriages over the years.  They spoke of how the sexual revolution has changed the views towards marriage and sex.  Another interesting thing that was talked about was that there was a study done that resulted in women prefers to have sex with their husbands.


2. : This website was pretty interesting because it was kind of a review of what we learned in class.  The only thing that was different was that this was a view of the equity model of marriage.  This gave advise for both the wife and husband to change their communication styles to better benefit their relationships.  The unity model of marriage asks the husband to change his communication styles and to pay close attention to your wife.  Otherwise, this website is a starting point for a marriage to look at before going on to the unity model of marriage.


3. : This website is very helpful for couples that have problems communicating or empathizing with each other.  They define empathy as understanding another person so well that you identify with him/her, you feel like he/she does.  This gives a couple steps to increase their empathy for one another and to communicate better.  It also gives levels of empathy responding.  This supports the equity model of marriage because it tells couples how to better understand each other and change to benefit their marriage.  



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