Recently, I have noticed what appears to be a cultural phenomenon -- wives talking badly about their husbands behind their backs. I guess women feel a sense of camaraderie when they discover other women have the same complaints. Moreover, if they feel there is consensus among them about their complaints, it leads to one and only one conclusion -- men must be the problem. Therapist and author Michele Weiner-Davis recently told me about a session she was facilitating with a group of women who wanted to improve their marriages. As the evening progressed, she realized it was starting to turn into a male-bashing session. Wives were saying things like, "I feel like I have another child" or "My husband never does anything to help." After listening for a few minutes, she asked the ladies this question: "If your husband were here and you weren't, would he say you were more complimentary or critical of him?" Mrs. Weiner-Davis said it was as if a light bulb went on for many of the wives. One woman in the group admitted she recently had returned home to see that her husband had mowed their 3-acre spread - and her only comment was, "You missed a spot under the tree." "I think women are likely to notice so much more easily the things that aren't getting done," Mrs. Weiner-Davis said. "If they happen to notice what does get done, since women are often perfectionists, the only thing husbands hear is what they aren't doing right. Who wants that?" Quite frankly, I am not surprised. I honestly don't think women spend much time thinking about how they treat their husbands. Women don't seem to realize that the more you complain about your husband, the more fuel it adds to the fire. In other words, it doesn't make you want to go home and be more loving toward your husband. According to Mrs. Weiner-Davis, complaining reinforces the idea that you are stuck and you don't know what to do, which leads to a sense of helplessness. It might feel good at the moment to complain to a friend, but it is disrespectful to the husband who isn't there to tell his side of the story. Bottom line, it isn't productive to the relationship.Read the rest of the article here. To thank Baumgardner, click here. Thanks to Ron, a reader, for sending it.
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Julie Baumgardner: 'Women don't spend much time thinking about how they treat their husbands'
Washinton D.C.--"One woman in the group admitted she recently had returned home to see that her husband had mowed their 3-acre spread - and her only comment was, 'You missed a spot under the tree.' "'I think women are likely to notice so much more easily the things that aren't getting done,' Mrs. Weiner-Davis said. "'If they happen to notice what does get done, since women are often perfectionists, the only thing husbands hear is what they aren't doing right. Who wants that?'" Julie Baumgardner is Executive Director of First Things First, an organization dedicated to strengthening marriages and families through education, collaboration and mobilization. She has some important things to say to women in her recent column Resist the urge to trash husbands (Washington Times, 12/21/08):