by Madison Brightwell, LMFT
My client came to me complaining of major concerns about her husband: he still looked at girlie magazines even though they’d been married for over a year; he openly appreciated the physical charms of other women and she was afraid he might cheat on her.
I asked her to tell me what were her husband’s positive qualities, and she admitted that he was a very caring father to her four kids from a previous marriage, had made a real effort to change his habits after they’d gotten married in order to please her, and had never actually done so much as flirt with another woman.
A Question of Perception
It seemed to me, therefore, a question of perception. The client told me she was having difficulty feeling that he really loved her, even though logically speaking all the evidence was there. So I asked my client to just imagine that her husband was her, but in a man’s body. After all, didn’t he want all the same things she did? Didn’t he too want to have a happy marriage with a loving partner, the chance to be a great father to the kids, the stability and security of a lasting relationship? As soon as I put it in those terms, my client felt much better, and in fact she has continued to feel better in the months since our last session.
Even though men and women have certain fairly minor, biological differences in body structure and brain function, we are all humans and we basically all want the same things in life. I suggest we stay connected and attuned to those things which make us the same, rather than noticing the things which are different. That way, communication will be so much easier.
I for one, don’t want to be placed in a box where I’m expected to act in certain ways because I’m a woman. Although I consider myself at least an averagely feminine woman, I prefer hiking to the mall and I’m both less emotional and less talkative than my boyfriend. I – like everyone else on the planet – am a unique blend of “male” and “female” qualities, and above all else I am a human being.