First Instructional Marriage Soap Season, Spring 2009, Psychology 409b, G29, University of Hawaii
Dr. Leon James, Instructor
See also: Instructions and Class Schedule
See also: The Unity Model of Marriage Online Lecture Notes: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy28/409b-g28-lecture-notes-p1.htm
Table of Contents
This part of the course involves the study, analysis, and construction of dialog streams that accompany the interactions in a romantic couple. In other words, what they are talking about and saying to each other.
The unity model of marriage involves the idea that romantic couples develop organically and grow together through three main phases of mental conjunction, namely, male dominance, equity, and unity. The overt dialog that the partners perform for each other is produced through the external sensorimotor system (S) by their feelings or intentions in the affective system (A) with the collaboration of thoughts or ideas in the cognitive system (C). In other words, schematically: AŕCŕS (see the anatomical diagrams of mental anatomy).
Dialog is a collaborative effort of co-construction by the two partners jointly and reciprocally. The alternating interactions create the vehicle or venue for the expression (S) of their feelings (A) through their ideas (C). To produce a physical talking turn in a dialog (i.e., to take one’s turn at talk), is an overt behavior that others can notice or observe. Silence, or not responding, is part of the visible behavior that counts as a reaction.
Dialoging produces dyadic intersubjectivity. In other words, the two partners are constructing a cumulative joint virtual world composed of mental states in which can be synchronously co-present. This exclusive dyadic intersubjectivity gradually creates their eternal conjoint self.
Verbal exchanges encapsulate the couple’s struggles, conflicts, successes, and relationship failures. What the partners say to each other is an index of what they are feeling towards one another. Partners use verbal interactions to transact the mental exchanges they need to produce and grow their conjoint self.
Make sure you consult and study the following background information on the analysis of dialog, also called “transcript analysis.” Take notes as you proceed. You will need these when you write up your written report. This information and understanding can help you focus on the many noticeable features of dialog exchanges as you are constructing dialog for the three couples:
You are to write dialog for a Scene. A Scene consists of a presentation by three teams composed of three students each. Each team in the Scene receives a role type to perform:
· Man Centered Couple
· Equity Couple
· Woman Centered Couple
Each team meets to discuss their share of the presentation for the Scene.
All three students are to contribute to the dialog for the Scene. The dialog is between the two partners in each couple while they are doing a designated task together and talking to each other. The dialog you write should reflect the style and mentality of each type of couple.
Besides dialoguing between the man and the woman, you can optionally also add dialog between women friends in order to bring out the woman’s ideas into the open, so the audience can hear it. Sometimes this can be done directly by talking to the man, but sometimes she needs to talk to a girl friend also, to clarify the situation she is in and to feel better about it. Similarly, you can add dialog of the man with a friend of his, in order to better bring out how he feels or thinks about his situation.
The dialog that a team writes for each Scene must be typed with numbered talking turns, and included in the joint written team report due later in the semester. The dialog should also contain stage directions to tell readers or the audience what is going on. There should also be narrative paragraphs at appropriate places that tell readers background information as a context for the dialog. During the oral presentation in class, stage directions and narrative paragraphs must also be presented.
Students are allowed to read the dialog during the presentation, but it is desirable to practice reading it together in a realistic way. Do this during your team meetings at the end of each class. When you type out the dialog be sure to number each talking turn. This is needed to allow analysis so that the line in question can be identified.
The Man Centered Couple reflects dialog characteristics such as male dominance and female submissiveness.
The woman almost never expresses overt disagreement. The man automatically takes precedence and expects her to adjust to him. She feels pressured to be submissive and to go along with whatever he decides or announces. He has the financial power by earning more than she does. Others in the family on both sides go along with the “This is a man’s world” attitude, and tacitly support the man centered perspective. But when women are dialoguing with women friends they share with each other their frustration about their man’s lack of consideration in many situations.
When a woman in a man centered couple wants something she has to always phrase it indirectly. She hardly ever makes a direct request. She never directly challenges the man’s authority. The man decides what he wants to talk about and what topics he wants her to stop talking about.
The man’s blood family relations and personal friends always take precedence over the wife or the girlfriend. She can feel isolated and alone, powerless. She feels constricted by expectations and tradition. When she tries to rebel against this male domination she gets punished by the man, and often by society. For example, the man can talk to her with a severe voice, a stern face, and cold words. He can threaten her with the idea of bad consequences if she doesn’t comply. She is afraid to deviate. Sometimes she even adopts this male dominance view as her own, passing it on to her children. In that case, the woman will also be man-centered in her perspective, and she will see this as normal.
Many marriage counselors and health professionals, both male and female, provide support for the man-centered perspective, and this shows how they talk to the man versus how they talk to the woman during counseling sessions. Traditional psychological practice tends to be man-centered. Most likely, if you review in your mind the way your parents talked to each other, and interacted with each other, you will recognize the man-centered practices in your sub-culture. They don’t argue about sex, finances, politics, or religion. The man’s perspective automatically prevails in all these areas. Women are considered less intelligent than men in terms of making decisions in the affairs of society or in the family business. In the male centered perspective, a woman’s role is to be domestic, to take care of the home, the husband, and the children. Our text by Dr. Laura Schlesinger illustrates the practices of the Man Centered couple. “Dr. Laura” counsels people who call her radio talk show that is carried nationally on many stations daily. She has an audience of millions and her several books are best sellers, including our text on Marriage.
The style of the verbal dialog between husband and wife follows specific social and cultural practices. Couples that follow the Man Centered interaction practices give man the central role, and give woman a supportive role. When they disagree on something, the man is given the final authority. It is accepted that a man has the right (or privilege, or prerogative) to impose his will on her through his authority and higher status. When a woman resists a man’s authority and expectations, because she finds the situation unfair and oppressive, she is considered to be a rebel or worse. Much disapproval and pressure is heaped on her to make her tow the line. This is done by the man, the family, family advisors, official counselors, other women, the literature and drama, in short, everything around her heaps guilt and disapproval on her when she tries to express her feelings of being oppressed by these Man Centered practices.
Women who accept the Man Centered practices, or who feel compelled to obey them, submit to sexual intimacies that they do not welcome. The woman feels compelled to have sex with her husband or partner when he pressures her to submit to it, even when she herself does not feel like having sex with him. She feels resentful and used, thus, abused. I call this kind of pressure by the husband or boyfriend: sexual blackmail (use control-click to go see what it says there).
Popular song culture today includes a genre of singing about romance and sex that is strongly Man Centered in attitude and language. You will see this if you write down and analyze the meaning of some of the popular songs you listen to, or even hum to yourself. It is shocking for most women to discover this. Women are treated as “sluts” and “bitches” and they are referred to by their body parts, especially sexual organs. The songs include details about the sexual activity the man wants the woman to engage in. This strongly disrespectful and dehumanizing philosophy towards women is practiced in the language and attitude of teenagers and young adults. Many women have accepted to go along with this denigration of their femininity and innocence. Once they do this they can no longer recognize that the bad language about them used by men is denigrating to their femininity and humanity.
See generational student reports on gender and conversational style, including media couples and song lyrics:
The dialog of the Equity Couple reflects the interaction struggles between the partners about how to define equality and fairness.
They frequently negotiate or argue about who needs to do what. Their negotiation dialog shows a kind of political battle for who will get to do less.
They have verbal fights in which they hurt each other. The man is defensive when the woman tries to have him do something he doesn’t want to do, or continues doing something she wants him to stop doing. He gets mad, he yells, he criticizes, he acts defensive, he is not fully honest trying to weasel out of his guilt.
The woman often feels conflictual, not knowing how far to go in these fights. Among their women friends they admit that sometimes they feel guilty, but mostly they complain to each other about how the man won’t learn to be honest and not be defensive. Today, many popular TV sit-coms and “chick flicks” portray the equity couple perspective. Romantic involvement is portrayed as conflictual. The man and the woman talk to each other and interact with each other in a competitive manner. They are always struggling to get out of the relationship as much as they put into it. This is called “equity.”
This “equity” balance sheet is what each sees as fair and just. Their talk reflects this struggle for equality, for equal rights, for fairness. As a result of this underlying motivation their talk is competitive or contentious.
But they also have times when their talk is supportive and conjunctive, pulling together in the same direction. They argue about sex, spending, children, politics. They argue about friends they had before they got together. She gets upset when he communicates with an ex-girl friend. He practices “sexual blackmail” by holding back his affectionate behavior towards her when she is not acting like she wants to have sex when he wants. Her saying “No.” upsets him and he wants to retaliate by acting cold or mad. He uses this oppressive technique (“blackmail”) whenever she doesn’t react the way he wants her to.
Our text by Dr. Deborah Tannen illustrates the philosophy and attitude of the Equity Couple. Her research on the socio-linguistics of every day dialog between men and women maintains a politically correct, self-consciously “neutral” attitude towards the genders. Her purpose is to describe how men and women, and boys and girls, talk and relate through dialog. She is committed to the “neutrality” idea, always insisting that the way men and women talk is neither “good” nor “bad.” This is the equity philosophy by which men and women are “just” different. According to this outlook, it’s not fair to judge one kind of interaction as worse than another kind. Accordingly, men are not worse than women in what they do, and women are not worse in what they do. It’s just the way they interact due to culture, gender, biology, temperament, socialization.
The equity attitude opposes the woman-centered focus of the unity model. From the perspective of the equity philosophy, a “woman-centered” approach is biased against men. The equity perspective does not acknowledge that unity is possible, and that it requires reciprocity to achieve it, not equality. If you examine equity marriages you can see that it does not lead to the fulfillment of what women want, and nor does it really fulfill men. The equity model is a kind of compromise that satisfies neither partner fully.
TV sitcoms and chick flicks also illustrate the Equity Couple philosophy. Tweens, teens, and adolescents grow up with a pop culture that portrays verbal interactions between men and women that make it normal for them to fight and then to make up – most of the time. A woman learns that in order to become happy with a man she needs to accommodate to him, to accept him the way he is, to accept his friends, to think of “prenups” as OK, and to avoid being “too demanding” lest she “drive him away” and lose him. The Equity Couple attitude discourages a woman from demanding to be treated with respect and given special privileges as a woman. There is strong social pressure on the woman to limit her demands and her needs. She is made to feel guilty about insisting on man’s chivalry and being treated special as a woman.
In their dialog, the Equity Couple alternates between peace and war, friendship and hostility, feeling good toward one another and feeling upset. This oscillation pattern can often be noticed even within a single conversation. When the woman makes a request of the man, or states a demand, or expresses a need, the man resists, opposes, attacks, becomes sarcastic, becomes insulting, becomes unfriendly, remains silent, avoids the topic, or simply walks out on her. All this negative, punishing, and retaliatory behavior by the man is designed to shake her confidence in insisting that he treat her right, with chivalry and respect.
A woman is always hoping that the man will become rational and spiritually enlightened, and will learn to love the feminine, and move into the practice of the unity model.
The Woman Centered Couple’s dialog reflects the way in which the man constantly tries to adjust his thinking and behavior in order to be more agreeable to the woman.
The man frequently lapses in his attempts to change his thinking to be in line with the woman’s thinking and expectation, and then falls back on the man centered practices. He gets mad, he yells, he criticizes, he acts defensive, he is not fully honest. But he quickly catches himself, feels guilty or distraught, and then gives in to her by doing what she wants. All the couple’s verbal interactions display the woman-centric outlook of the man.
Be careful not to misinterpret the woman-centered perspective. It is completely different from the idea of “female dominant,” which refers to a man being dominated by a woman against his will. In that case he has no power and no input. Similarly, in the male-dominance model, the woman has no input or power. Both “male-dominant” and “female dominant” outlooks are coercive, forcing or compelling the other to obey and go along. The expression “man-centered” means “male dominant,” but the expression “woman-centered” means the man’s voluntary cooperation in going along with the woman, instead of opposing her. IN the man-centered or male-dominant approach, the woman does not go along voluntarily. In the “woman-centered” couple, the man goes along voluntarily. Always keep this distinction in mind.
The woman-centered attitude is the man’s voluntary focus. No one can make him have a woman-centered attitude because it involves his emotional reactions, his feelings and intentions, his thoughts and his reasoning process. These things are mental, and no one can make you do anything mental if you don’t want to. A man becomes enlightened spiritually when his thinking changes from material to rational. He can see from this rational understanding and spiritual enlightenment that God is leading him to conjugial love and eternal happiness. This becomes the logic of his mind. Everything he does departs from this logic. He adopts the woman-centered attitude out of love for her, out of love for uniting with her in eternity, forever together.
He is not being dominated by the woman. He chooses to keep his perspective on the woman as the center instead of himself at the center. He retains the power to be disjunctive with her because he has never given up his power. But he chooses not to use the power he has because he wants to be united to her. His motive in every interaction is their ultimate conjunction, so that he works hard to avoid remaining in a disagreement, or walking away from something she is concerned about.
In the male dominance and equity interactions the man plays out the hostile card. He takes on the role of “being mad” and judges the woman in this “madness” state of mind, treating her badly, insulting her, disrespecting her, calling her names, raising his voice, embarrassing her, intimidating her, even threatening her, and eventually refusing to talk, or staying away, thereby punishing her. But in the woman-centered perspective the man does not allow himself such disjunctive, hostile, and harmful displays of anger, disagreement, and disrespect.
The woman-centered husband or boyfriend practices “sweetheart rituals” on a daily basis, such as offering to drive her, or to go shopping with her, or to give her a massage. He learns how to talk to her so that she can relax in the relationship, and enjoy his presence, relying on him to protect her feelings, to look after her and her emotional needs for intimacy and full confidence in him.
The woman centered man has a conscious perception or awareness that his masculinity tends to dislike and disrespect femininity.
For instance, when the wives or girl friends are not around, men talk about them in tones of disrespect and derision, making derogatory comments about women, about their intelligence, their driving, their emotionality, their body parts, etc. They avoid doing this in front of women because they know and realize that these are disrespectful and hostile. This hostility and disrespect towards women is an anti-feminine attitude that young boys already show practice on the playground in school and in public places where they congregate. This continues, extends, and deepens as the man becomes an adult. It results in disrespect, hostility, discrimination, and prejudice shown against women by men, as well as much abuse against women, mental, emotional, and physical.
Derogatory and hostile attitudes against women is prominently portrayed in rap songs, video games, pornography, and movies. All this shows that the masculine in a man hates the feminine in a woman – until he becomes spiritually enlightened and is able to become aware of this inner antipathy. He can then change his attitude by means of his rational thinking through which he obtains rational loves. He then becomes woman-centered in his relationship and learns that deep down, all along he loved femininity. This is a wonderful self-discovery! Happy is the man who allows himself to discover this.
The man’s rational thinking gives him this awareness and allows him to choose to not continue his natural dislike of femininity, and to take the big step towards his eternity, and to start learning to like femininity. This is a man’s “salvation” because if he remains in his inborn tendency to dislike femininity, he cannot enter the happiness, joy, and bliss of conjugial love in his celestial consciousness.
The woman centered man teaches himself to stop reacting to femininity as if wanting to squash it.
When a man’s wife says to him: “Honey, I want you to phone me before you leave work. I might have something for you to pick up for me. OK?” he reacts in his mind by feeling annoyed, put upon. He hates being restricted by her. He rebels against it. He wants to tell her off. He speaks in a harsh tone to her. His face looks stern and cold. She feels this instantly. She feels the coldness, the disjunction. He acts like he is trying to kill her femininity. He hates her femininity. She is shocked, hurt.
A man’s dislike of femininity comes out in his verbal interactions. When he decides he’s going to let go and get mad he immediately attacks her femininity by using derogatory terms and making degrading references to her body parts. When he says that she is “nagging” him, he is saying that she is being a “nag,” and whatever that is, it is not complementary to her femininity. It is derogatory to her femininity.
So a man attacks a woman’s femininity when he gets angry or mad at her, and this shows that men actually hate femininity. Men will try to control and manage women so the women would act like the man’s definition of how a woman should be and act. This again shows that men basically do not like the woman’s femininity, such as it is in its authenticity and purity. And yet to the woman, this is what she feels herself to be in herself, and according to own true herself. A woman longs to be with a man who loves femininity. This allows her to be herself. She does not feel that she has to suppress herself. She can feel totally free and accepted, and enjoyed and loved. For this to happen the man has to learn to love femininity, and for this to happen he has to become spiritually enlightened, which means to understand rationally that their eternal unity and endless evolution together requires that he adopt the woman-centered perspective, and for this to happen he must first agree to give up the man-centered and equity perspectives.
In the man-centered and equity interactions, this inborn masculine dislike of femininity by men continues, and gets worse over the years into the relationship. They actually start hating each other. But men who decide to change can do so with persistent daily efforts. Our text by Barbara DeAngelis describes the woman-centered practices of men who choose to love femininity instead of hating it.
You should understand that every Scene contains dialog from the three couples, and you will be assigned to one of the three teams of students preparing dialog for that Scene. Each Scene is specified in the Instructions for Weekly Schedule for that week. It gives the topic and the events to happen in that Scene. Study the topic and the events prior to meeting in class and discussing it with your team mates.
The dialog must be in numbered talking turns and must include stage directions and explanations. Each dialog for a Scene must have the following structure:
Beginning: In this phase their talk builds towards the topic or issue. It needs three things: a context, a mood, and a progression.
Middle: This is the phase where they are transacting their conflict about the specified issue or topic. It is more intense in emotion, faster in pace, and makes it more obvious which of the three couple types they are.
Ending: In this phase you need to direct their dialog either to a resolution or to a breakdown. They can resolve the issue by having one partner give in, or by forging a new consensus solution that both are willing to accept for the moment. They reach the breakdown point when one of the partners is not willing to accept the other’s solution or a consensus solution.
Before writing a dialog each team needs to discuss the specific Instructional Purpose of the Scene. The general purpose of all the dialogs is to illustrate and demonstrate the social practices of coupled partners. The specific purpose within this general purpose, will vary for each Topic as specified in the instructions. The Topics are explained in the Lecture Notes for G28 (Fall 2008). Read the relevant Sections prior to each team meeting so you can be prepared for your discussions. You can explore the Topics in the Lecture Notes on your own.
Reminder: Be sure that each student keeps a typed copy of the final version. It should indicate the names of the student authors, the generation, and the date. This copy will be part of your written report due towards the end of the semester and posted in the G29 class generational folder.
At first it may seem surprising (or doubtful) that men in general don’t like femininity and have a built in desire to dislike it, to hate it, to change it, to squash it. Why? Where does this come from? Are they aware of it? But as you think about it some more, calling to memory what you already know about men and women, you can see a distinct pattern in this respect, starting with boys and girls on the school yard and in public places. There is a biological and psychological competition in evidence, with boys grouping together against girls, and they also group together for protection and companionship. When the boys catch a girl in a vulnerable situation, as when she is alone, they abuse her in various ways, verbally denigrating and insulting her, physically scaring her and worse. Why? Where does this come from?
Then later, as girls begin to date, they experience all sorts of abuse from their boyfriends who make the girls cry and feel humiliated whenever the boys feel like abusing them, which is pretty often. They also subject the girls to sexual blackmail, which refers to making the girl feel bad for saying no to sex, or else, putting pressure on the girl to do things that make her feel degraded and used. Why? Where does this come from?
Still later, when they get married, women are subjected to various degrees of mental torture and physical abuse by their husbands. Husbands and long time exclusive boyfriends, regularly (sometimes: frequently), become abusive towards their wife or girlfriend. Why?
You have the observations of your own experiences and of the couples you have known, including your parents and extended family. You also have your socialization values, the movies you watched, the books you’ve read, and the personal friends you’ve had. All this has created a large database of knowledge in your mind and consciousness. This personal knowledge is what you can tap into when writing the dialog for a Scene. What do you know about the interactions between men and women who are couples? In this case there is an additional requirement, namely that you tease apart and organize your personal knowledge into three categories of interaction practices, as defined here.
Finally, you need an effective presentation mode that includes narration, stage directions, and developmental sequencing by sub-scene units of presentation (each Scene will have several sub-scenes). Stage directions are important as a context to the dialog. They are very brief, but contain crucial information for the understanding of the dialog. These include the character’s emotions, mood, feeling, intention, and appearance. Often there is a discrepancy between what the character thinks and feels, and what is shown in the words of the dialog. Tone of voice is an important stage direction. Physical action can be important in some situations, e.g., (walking away), or (raising his voice, menacingly, getting red in the face), (with a sweet smile and expression, kissing her on the lips), etc.
Development is an important dramatic element in the dialog. Note in the following dialog snippet how there is an escalation in the intensity of the interaction sequence:
She: I can’t stand these ants. I’m walking all over them. They should not be inside the house.
He: (unsympathetic, somewhat annoyed but trying not to show it) Honey, would you stop obsessing about these stupid ants? You started complaining about them several times a day.
She: (feeling alone in her fight against the ants) Doesn’t it bother you that there all these dead ants around? Look there is a trail of them on the floor, here. Look. See? Look it goes all the way over here. And here. Ugh. It’s awful.
He: Look, the instructions on the bait said not to disturb the path of the ants for best results. So just leave it alone. Anyway, come here I want to show you something.
She: (walking over to him. Her face remains pained, annoyed, disturbed)
He: See this guy (pointing the TV screen). I’ve seen him in another movie. Do you remember him?
She: And you’re very rude! You just don’t care that I’m so disturbed about the ants. This name of this stupid character is more important to you than my feelings. You act like you don’t care. Have you stopped loving me?
He: (sitting up, suddenly paying attention) What? Come on honey. You know that I love you. It’s just that sometimes you can get so damn …..Well, anyway. Can’t you just put up with the ants for another few days?
She: (getting gradually more and more emotional and upset as she says this) You want me to put up with the ants. OK. You want me to put up with your smelly clothes lying around all over the place. Fine. It’s disgusting. But fine. OK. You want me to put with your pack of drunk friends every other Saturday night who settle down in my living room playing cards and talking dirty and insulting women. Sure. I’m, putting up with that. You want me to put up with cleaning your clothes and picking up your things here and there, all over the place. What am I then, just your sex slave?
He: (now with a stern look on his face, standing up and facing her) You gotta be kidding. I’ve got the job to keep this whole thing going, don’t I? I work my head and my ass off every day to keep this household going. I am the one who has to face the competition out there, the nice fellow salesmen who are itching to cut me out of the best deals so they can have it for their household. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, honey. Here you are protected from all that. All you have to do is to be more appreciative and thankful. That’s all. When is the last time that I touched you and you responded by taking me to bed? Huh? Can you even remember such a thing?
She: (hurt, reeling with emotions, having difficulty breathing, filled with anger and fear, filled with a sense of injustice and shame, and guilt. Begins to cry.) I can’t believe that you can hear yourself speak this way. You are not the man I thought I married. The man I married was nice to me, loved me, didn’t say nasty things to me, didn’t hurt me and make me feel bad and desperate. You do all these terrible things. Who are you? What do you want from me? (crying)
He: (unsympathetic to her crying, feeling hot and mad) There you go again. Blah blah blah. I am who I am. I thought that you YOU loved me when you said Yes, I do. I thought that you promised me to take care of me to the best of your ability. Now every time I approach you and want to make love to you, it’s like you’re not the same woman I had hot sex with when we met and fell in love. What is now, I’m no longer exciting to you? I no longer deserve your favors? Do you have another secret lover? What is it? Face it. Face it now. Tell me the truth.
She: I can’t believe what an idiot you are. You have learned nothing about women in all these years we’ve been together. You used to treat me like a woman in those days. That’s what you felt when we had “hot sex” or whatever you want to call it. You felt my femininity as hot and exciting. You were delighted with me, my voice, my facial expressions, my hair, my feet, everything. You said I had the prettiest eyes and the sexiest buns you ever saw. You took me to fun places. You talked to me sweet. You made me laugh. I enjoyed listening to your ideas. I fell in love with you. I wanted to be with you always and forever, exclusively yours.
He: Great. So then what happened, honey?
She: You changed.
He: How? What do you mean? Can you be more specific?
Scene: Husband and wife at home the day before Christmas. They just finished lunch and he was washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. The wife then makes a request. The following contrasts the Equity and Woman Centered verbal interaction.
She: I’m so nervous about tomorrow. I want to make a good impression for your family. There is still so much to do.
He: (looking up from his computer) Be sure to have the house real clean and tidy. My mother is pretty fussy about dusty shelves and books. Especially the books. She runs her fingers on them to see how much dust there is. You should see her house. Always clean and neat.
She: (sounding anxious) Well I will certainly try. I want to shampoo the carpet but I have to pick things up and dust everywhere before I do it. Would you mind vacuuming the carpet so we can save some time?
He: (sounding a little annoyed) Well, I’m pretty busy right now. Trying to get my email done. (turns back to the computer)
She: (emotionally upset, voice shaking, trying to contain herself) I know. But honey, can’t you please do this for me right now? I need your help right now.
He: (impatient, with angry tone) Cut it out you lazy bitch. Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me to do your job for you. I am doing my job, so you can do yours. All right? I’ve got to work now. (turns back to the computer)
She (crying, walks away) (picks up her phone and calls her sister) etc. etc.
She: Can you vacuum the kitchen floor and the front room floor. I feel like I’m stepping on dust and dead ants on the floor. I want to shampoo the carpet.
He: (nonchalantly, slightly irritated) I’m washing the dishes now. Can I do it later?
She: (with a tone of some urgency) I need to shampoo the carpet now but I’m still putting things away. Could you vacuum the carpet?
He: (raising his voice and talking rapidly, with some irritation) You said you want me to do the kitchen and front room floors.
She: (softening her voice but with determination) The carpet needs to be vacuumed before I can shampoo it.
He: (lowering his voice but still sounding displeased, put upon) Well, all right, I’ll vacuum the carpet. I need to get back to my computer. A bunch of things are waiting for me.
She: (matter of factly) The shampooing leaves dry crystals on the carpet so it has to be vacuumed after I finish. Could you do that please?
He: (feeling angry that she has manipulated him into doing more than he thought he should do) Why didn’t you tell me this before. You want me to do the entire house. And the carpet twice! Isn’t that it? Couldn’t you just come out and say that in the first place?
She: (feeling hurt and unloved) I’m sorry. I’ve got a lot on my mind preparing for the guests tomorrow. You have to pitch in more. There is still a lot to do. A lot, believe me.
He: (impatient and resentful) The point is, why can’t you be honest about it. Why do you have to sneak around and first tell me the kitchen, then the carpet, the carpet again. You know. I feel like you’re not being honest. Like you’re manipulating me. You’re often doing that, you know. I hate it, to tell you the truth.
She: (hurt, feeling defeated and abused) I’m not manipulating you. Stop saying that. It’s not true. You are hurting me. You promised me you’re going to share the preparation for tomorrow. Now you’re trying to weasel out of it, as usual.
He: (enraged, on the attack) Stop insulting me like that, big mouth. Whenever we have guests over you get bitchy. It’s always my fault if something goes wrong. I don’t have to listen to this again. I’ve got other things to worry about right now. (walks to the computer room)
She: (running after him, with concern, and with resolve) No, you’re not going to do this to me. You’re not going to leave everything hanging for me to take care of. Please. Do the carpets now so I can start shampooing.
He: OK, but you owe me one. I’m saving your butt here.
She: (outraged) My butt? How can you say that! They are mostly your family, you know.
He: (combative) What, you’re complaining about my family now? Are you trying to start a huge fight right now?
She: (alarmed) Never mind. Would you please do the carpet now?
He: (not wanting a showdown at this point) Well, fine.
She: Can you vacuum the kitchen floor and the front room floor. I feel like I’m stepping on dust and dead ants on the floor. I want to shampoo the carpet.
He: Oh, OK. I’ll do it sometime this afternoon.
She: Honey, I want to shampoo the carpet now. It needs to be vacuumed before I can do that.
He: OK, I’ll do it as soon as I clean up the kitchen and call Dani about fixing the back gate.
She: (talking firmly, looking straight at him) I need you to vacuum now. Could you just go ahead and do it while I’m picking up things and tidying up. (continuing to move as she talks)
He: (Following her around. Talking in a conciliatory voice) All right, sweet baby. I’m dropping everything and coming to your rescue. It will be my pleasure to rescue a sexy damsel in distress.
She: (sounding fatigued, anxious) Yes, I am in distress from having too much to do for tomorrow’s family gathering. I need you to pick up the pace and do things on your own. Don’t wait for me to have to tell you to do everything.
He: (in a soothing tone) OK, sweetheart, I’m on it.
She: After I am finished with the shampooing the carpet needs to be vacuumed to pick up the crystals.
He: (a little alarmed, a little annoyed) You mean you want me to vacuum the carpet again?
She: The crystals can’t stay on the carpet after it is shampooed.
He: Well maybe I can vacuum the second time later this afternoon after I take care of some things on my email.
She: Why are you continuing to torture me? I am trying to get the house ready for your family tomorrow. Your family. Don’t’ you care?
He: (walking up to her, putting his arm around her, kissing her on the lips, looking her in the eyes) OK, honey, I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s the matter with me today. I’ll do what it takes don’t worry.
She: (with relief in the voice and a smile on the face) Thanks.
They are eating lunch and talking about the neighbor’s cat who comes on their lawn to eliminate.
He: I feel like collecting that stuff in a bag and putting it in their mailbox. (gestures broadly in the air)
She: Donald! That wouldn’t be cool. Really. (she smiles to pacify him)
He: (raising his voice, tense) Why not? We’ve talked to them about their new cat. Several times now. They haven’t done anything about it. (his face is stern, menacing)
She: (with sympathy in her soothing voice) I know. It’s frustrating. But the thing is, I don’t know what they can do. What would WE do? It takes time to change a cat’s natural habits. You know. Right? (she looks at him meaningfully, expectantly)
He: (getting into it with passion) Ever since they moved in they’ve been a pack of trouble. They’ve changed the quality of the neighborhood. It used to be nice and quiet. Peaceful. You know. We loved it.
She: (sighing) Yes, I know. It will take time for us to get readjusted. Maybe it will get better. We’ll see. (stands up) Honey, we need to go over the taxes today and make them ready for the accountant.
He: (protesting) No, not today. (stands up) Got some things to finish.
She: (showing concern in her voice) We’re already a week late from the date we were supposed to get it to the accountant. (facing him, looking at him intently)
He: (continues walking) Big deal. It will sit on his desk in a huge pile for several weeks before he even looks at it.
She: (following him) Honey, wait a minute. Let’s talk about this. I like to be in time. You know how important that is. We can’t keep postponing. I’ve been mentioning this to you all week. Remember?
He: (stops and turns around facing her) Stop being so unreasonable. Are you anal or something? Don’t obsess. We’ll do it later. We’ll do it. OK? (his face looks displeased)
She: (with tears in her eyes, voice full of emotions) Why are you yelling at me?
He: (loud voice full of tension) I’m not yelling at you. (face showing annoyance)
She: Yes you are.
He: (impatient, contained anger) I hate when you do this. You are crazed. Out of your mind.
She: (a little louder than usual for her) Stop it, Donald. Right now I want you stop acting like an ass. You promised that you will respect me. Do it. It’s your job. (face very determined, body tall and tight)
He: (looking at her silently, his mind furiously thinking, his body tight and rigid)
She: (facing him, holding her own, waiting, determined)
He: (suddenly letting go of his rigidity, a smile forming on his face, stepping over to her, putting his arms around her shoulder) Honey, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.
She: (determined, still rigid) What are you sorry about?
He: Umm, mmm (looking for the right words) I should be fully cooperative with you. I was a jerk. I was still thinking about the cat and all. I’m so frustrated with them. (looks over towards the neighbor’s house)
She: (stands up straight, pushing him gently away with both hands on his chest) That’s not an excuse for yelling at me. (looks him in the eyes with a pained look on her face)
He: (with a sheepish voice) I’m sorry, baby. That’s totally my fault. I’m such a jerk. (puts his arms around her again)
She: (leans over, puts her head on his chest) What about the taxes?
He: OK, let’s do it right now and get it over with. (smiling with effort)
She: (stands her ground) Are you going to be in a bad mood? Are you going to just sit around and let me do all the work?
He: I promise I will do my share. (puts his hand on her shoulder and smiles)
She: (her face mollifies, her body relaxes into him) (speaking softly) Get the box in the closet and the accountant’s envelope on the desk.
(end of Scene)
Study that portion of the Lecture Notes. It will be helpful.
Here is a made-up dialog that illustrates the wife's strategy.
She says: I'm upset. I the garbage truck came and our garbage was not put out. I hate how it's going to smell for the next few days. I'm very annoyed and frustrated.
He says: Oh, yeah. I'm sorry. I forgot again.
He says: I'm so upset because this happens regularly. I have to keep thinking "Will he remember to put out the garbage this time, like he promised. I hate the idea that my husband promises something then doesn't keep it. I'm wondering to myself: What kind of man is that? I hate thinking this way.
He says: Oh, don't be so fussy, honey. What's the big harm. Our bin is only half way full anyway. It's not like we wont' have room for the garbage.
She says: Now I feel even worse. I'm very very upset. I am hurt and scared by the idea that my man, my protector, my lover, doesn't care about how I feel, about how I am so upset and disturbed.
He says: OK, all right, I'll put the garbage out next time and I won't forget. I promise.
She says: That will be good. But I'm still upset. I'm scared that you are not going to keep your promise. I need to be able to rely on your promises. It's very disturbing.
He says: (comes over and holds her hand gently, looks into her eyes) I want to make sure you feel reassured and not have to keep putting up with this feeling about me and my promises. (kissing her) (then she relents, feeling better, smiles at him, holds her body close to him)
Now compare the above strategy used by the wife, which is objective, to the following one, which is subjective.
She says: Honey, you forgot to put out the garbage again.
He says: Yeah, I guess so.
She says: But honey, you always forget. Why don't you care enough about it to remember. It's not such a big deal. Why don't you write a note to yourself or set the timer on your cell phone.
He says: Nah, it's OK. I'll remember next time.
She says: Now it's going to smell all week. You promised me. Can't you make your promises good?
He says: You're making too much of this. Just forget about it. It won't smell. It's only if you open the lid that it will smell.
She says: Oh, No, it's horrible. The neighbors can smell it on the other side of the fence.
He says: I don't know. I didn't notice that.
You can see that in the above subjective approach the wife is not getting anywhere with him. He just starts arguing with her about the details of the garbage smelling or not smelling. This is not what she wants, not what she needs, not what will put her mind and feelings at rest. Notice that the wife's statements are all about her husband and his behavior, while in the objective approach, the wife's statement are all about herself, her feelings, her needs, her wants.
Study the contrast between the objective and subjective approaches in the examples below:
Objective feedback approach:
Or, "I am getting sick with stress because you are not talking to me about it."
Or, "I feel totally bummed out. I feel it's totally unfair for you to do this."
Or, "I feel that you are not listening to me. I'm getting more and more upset because you won't take care of my feelings."
Or, "I'm very annoyed at you. I want you to stop."
Subjective feedback approach:
"You are lazy. When are you going to fix yourself?"
Or, "You are not listening to me. What is wrong with you?"
Or, "You forgot again. You're being totally unfair. You're so annoying."
Or, "You're being ridiculous. There you go again."
Study the differences. You will see that all objective statements start with "I" while all subjective statements start with "You." This may be the reverse of what you had thought until now. but consider the logic of it. The only objective statements we can make are those that start with "I" since no one else can observe directly how you feel or what you think. So your statement reporting on how you feel or what you think is objective.
For the same reason if you start a statement with "You" then you're going to have to guess subjectively what the other person is doing or thinking or feeling. That's where the exchange starts failing. The husband simply denies that he feels this way or thinks that. He is going to reinterpret what you say and you fail to make your point to him. But he cannot call into question statements you make about yourself that you are informing him about.
Notice that the wife is telling the husband how she feels about what he is doing or not doing. So she can talk about what he should do or stop doing by telling him how she feels about it herself. Now it is up to him. If he says "Well, I don't care that you feel this way." then she knows where they stand. He cannot hide it or pretend. It's better that his attitude be called out into the open because then it's on the table and she can tell him how she feels about it.
So the wife's strategy to help the husband is to always confront him with objective statements about herself regarding how she feels about him or what he is doing or not doing. Everything a husband does is something he does to his wife. Until he recognizes this truth and reality, he is avoiding unity, avoiding true love, true friendship, and ultimately, conjugial unity in eternity.
Make up two different dialog exchanges between a man and a woman, married or living together. Pick any two topics other than taking out the garbage. Show the dialog to your partner or friends. Discuss it with them from your perspective on mental intimacy. Explain to them the difference between objective and subjective comments. What are your observations or conclusions from these discussions?
For all the Scenes written by generational students the names of the couples will be as follows:
Man-Centered Couple: Brent and Jane (one syllable)
Equity Couple: Henry and Nancy
Woman-Centered Couple: Anthony and Charity
See the following pages for a background context
for this Scene.
Dr. Laura book: pages 19-20; 30-31; 61-67.
Tanner book: pages 40-47.
DeAngelis book: pages 177-181.
Dr. James book: Section on Conjugial Accommodation
ii) He comes home from work. She is in the kitchen on the phone with her mother taking care of a crisis. She covers up the phone to talk to him and explain. He is not pleased. He gets himself a beer from the refrigerator. She ends her call.
iii) They have a talk while he is drinking his beer and she is making preparations for dinner.
iv) They sit down to eat and they talk some more.
v) After awhile, his cell phone rings and he answers it. It’s from an old girl friend he used to date in high school. She is passing through town and decided to call him up to see how he is doing. His wife eating at the table can hear him chatting with her about the old days. Her face indicates she does not like it. He acts like he is embarrassed to talk to the caller in front of his wife. After awhile, he gets up and walks out of the kitchen to continue his talk. His wife is waiting impatiently for him to come back to the kitchen table.
vi) When he gets back they have an exchange.
vii) Eventually she gets up and starts gathering the dishes. He is thinking about helping her or just go do what he wants to. He is thinking about whether to come up behind her doing the dishes, and holding her, or to act mad and walk out. Which will he do? How will he decide to behave?
See the following pages for a background context
for this Scene.
Dr. Laura book: pages 110-118.
Tanner book: pages 87-95.
DeAngelis book: pages 207-213
Dr. James book: Section on Gender Discourse and Unsexy Talk
are in the office of their accountant who is filling out their tax forms. The
accountant has left the office for a few minutes and they are alone. They are
talking about their expenses and the changes in lifestyle they need to make in
order to make ends meet. The things they talk about include things suggested to
them by the accountant, namely:
** eating out less often,
** taking a lunch bag to work,
** fixing up his older car instead of buying a new one now
iii) They are now driving home. There is more traffic than they expected. He gets into a bad mood and take it out on her when she tries to tell him about her discomfort with his aggressive driving. They continue talking in the car.
iv) They are now home and going to bed. He proposes that they have sex, but she doesn’t like the idea. She tells him that she is still upset about the way he talked to her in the car and in the accountant’s office.
(end of Scene 2)
These Scenes will be made up by each Team. Be sure to include 3 or 4 sub-episodes in each Scene. Reread the instructions and suggestions above on how to create a logical progression to the dialog in each sub-episode. After preparing a draft dialog, be sure to go over it together to improve it. The draft always needs to be improved if you want to end up with a realistic or representative exchange within the three perspectives of marriage.
Before you start, read these three Sections in the lecture notes:
Here are some dialog topics you might want to consider:
(end of Scenes 3, 4, 5)
Special Exercise for the Last Class
Each team of three students meets for 20 mins. to prepare the dialog in their Scene, which has to be enacted on the basis of the Synopsis below. You can add or modify the details of the events as you see fit.
(Each dialog exchange is between 2 and 3 mins.)
(Each dialog exchange is between 2 and 3 mins.)
(Each dialog exchange is between 2 and 3 mins.)