“I don’t want to believe it!” ~ Female client
Over time, I’ve worked with many people in difficult, if not toxic or abusive, relationships. These have included women married to confusing men on the Autistic Spectrum (formerly called Asperger’s Disorder), men married to angry women with Borderline Personality Disorder, and women married to verbally abusive men. With few exceptions, these people have trouble coming to terms with the reality of who they married. “I never realized.” “He wasn’t like that in the beginning.” “I felt sorry for her and felt I could really help her.” “I don’t believe it!” “I don’t want to believe it!” and the ever-popular “What do I do now?” In this article, we’ll explore some of these situations, why they occur, and what to do about them. Continue reading
Abusiveness is not a product of a man’s emotional injuries or of deficits in his skills. In reality, abuse springs from a man’s early cultural training, his key male role models, and his peer influences. In other words, abuse is a problem of values, not of psychology. ~ Lundy Bancroft
Contrary to popular belief, abusive men are typically not clinically mentally ill, deranged, or have so-called personality disorders (Narcissistic, Antisocial, etc.). Instead, they simply believe that their behaviors are perfectly OK and justified. In this article, we look at the beliefs the abusive man has, his mentality you might say, and offer you an opportunity to gain some perspective about someone you might know (husband, father, grandfather, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, boss, priest, minister, President of the United States, etc.). Continue reading
Abstractions and programs about gender always miss the mark, because gender, genuine and full of blood, can never be separated in real life from individuality.
~ Thomas Moore
Most boys in our culture, somewhere around three to seven years old, have imposed upon them something called the “Boy Code.” In its shortest form, it reads as follows: “Don’t be a girl.” Later in life, this evolves into the “Man Code” (also called Male Code or Male Agenda or Guy Code), essentially “Don’t be a woman.” There’s a bit more to it, which I’ll get into, but you get the idea. Both codes involve a so-called “negative achievement,” in each case a rejection and renunciation (as well as devaluing) of what our dominant culture deems as feminine.
Below, after some review of the situation and the damage that’s being done, I propose a new, improved Man Code. This new code does no damage, actually leads to psychological health, and does not require boys and men (or anyone else for that matter) to go through life constantly trying to prove a negative (which is impossible).
In order to lead men and women into happiness and intimacy — intimacy with others and really a good relationship inside your skin as well — we have to lead men and women out of patriarchy, because the old rules were not built for intimacy and happiness. ~ Terence Real
It’s been a long and rocky relationship between me and the Patriarchy, starting way back in the mid-fifties, when I was about three years old. Like many relationships, it’s been on again/off again. It’s worked for me in some ways. In other ways, it’s caused great pain. We’ve tried to make it work, but at long last I’ve discovered that my motivation to continue is just not there. It’s time to say goodbye. While I’ll probably keep in touch with that part of me, we’ve finally agreed to see other people, other parts of me. While the Patriarchy is probably not happy, I know that I am. This is where I want to be.
Attempting to address abuse through couples therapy is like wrenching a nut the wrong way. It just gets harder to undo than it was before. ~ Lundy Bancroft
This is the second article exploring the appropriateness of couples counseling in various situations. See the first article here. In this article, we explore the situation where one of the partners treats the other partner very badly, disrespects the other, bullies or intimidates or otherwise tries to control them, and doesn’t consider the other partner’s opinion worth taking seriously. If you guessed that couples counseling can do little or nothing (and may actually be harmful) in these cases, you guessed right. Let’s look at this situation more closely, then explore some alternative options.