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Dr. Helen

Hen-pecking doesn’t work: who knew?

July 2nd, 2013 - 5:04 pm

Psychology Today has an article on hen-pecked husbands by psychiatrist Jerry. R. Bruns (thanks to the reader who emailed this link):

A new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships by researchers at the University of Arizona assessed the sex differences in communication styles of heterosexual couples. It confirmed a 2011 study headed up by Neil Warner of Creative Conflict Resolutions that found that appeasement by the male is not the way to relational peace in our time.

The Creative Conflict Resolution study found that 68% of men preferred to say, “yes dear” or “uh huh” instead of sharing their true feelings to please their quarreling mate. The Arizona study found that girlfriends and wives are not fooled by this capitulation and that this “no mas” defense actually antagonizes and frustrates these women, who then have a lower opinion of the relationship because there is no real satisfactory resolution of the conflict.

The author starts off okay with the article but descends into blaming men for the problem:

After the thrill of the physical part of the relationship fades, many women discover they have bonded with a compliant wimp who observes the letter of the marriage or cohabitation and secretly years for just a little peace from a woman of clashing temperaments and few if any shared interests or goals. These hen-pecked men will kindle a simmering resentment from living with an incompatible mate, but rarely openly voice their true feelings. They will attempt to find opportunities to covertly do the things they really like such as hiding out in their “man caves” or volunteering for business trips so they can find a quiet refuge where they can eat pork rinds and corn nuts and watch their beloved ESPN in peace. Eventually many women discover that their one time Prince Charming has no core beliefs besides pleasing her. These wives and girlfriends will lose all respect for their spineless men who stand for nothing. Then the magic of the marriage or cohabitation will be over.

So close, but the author had to go and ruin what could have been a decent piece. Yes, hen-pecking doesn’t work and men are resentful but in today’s modern marriage, what is he to do? If he raises his voice, he might be charged with domestic abuse, he doesn’t want to get mad because he might lose control which society frowns on and finally, if the wife wants to fight back, she has the force of the state, the legal system, and the culture on her side. He has little recourse. I definitely think there are ways to engage in more productive communication with one’s wife than stewing in the basement but men are not taught these skills, any more than women are taught the boundaries of aggression. The author claims men are wimps but offers no solutions.

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Top Rated Comments   
Of course, the vague ramblings with which Bruns concludes his study (where he departs from science to offer his own version of Carlson's scintillating"Of course it's unfair and real men should like it, too" insight) may have been the only reason Psych Today published the piece. It's an act of devotion that any participant in the media/academic community must offer the feminist catechism.

And that sort of claptrap is extremely familiar to any man who has experienced "marriage counseling", prior to his being dismantled financially and emotionally, and alienated from his children, by divorce. In this way the solipsism of the divorcing wife is cloaked beneath the ideological assertion that men just aren't cutting it and, while unfortunate, that's just the way it goes if women are to escape bondage.

If a man puts his foot down -- i.e., he ceases attempting to be a post-feminist "good man" and decides to be good, again, at *being a man* -- he will get the boot. The nagging, hen-pecking, manipulation, shaming -- these are all indicators that the woman has already checked out. Guys know that, if only intuitively, so they default to hope (and naive avoidance) as their only strategy. There's a reason by 2 of 3 marriages are ended by the woman: they don't suffer the same consequences that men do.

Yes, my office used to be in the basement and yes, my experience with marriage counseling ended when I finally said, "I'm just curious why I'm the only person who has brought difficulty to this marriage. I want to discuss this marriage as a two-way street with two actors." The counselor and the ex- just went silent and I was served a month later. I was too stupid to realize that she had already checked out, was already sleeping around, and I should've just instructed her to pack up if that was the case, because the children and I were fond of our home and would carry on as best we could while she implemented her Eat Pray Love life strategy. Of course, at that point, a woman could just hit herself in the head with a frying pan, and reports the father's fabricated abuse of their children, so that the state can criminalize him. Frankly, in a conflict-ridden marriage, the 'manning-up' direction is just a taunt, and like all taunts is only designed to cause a man to make his situation worse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (32)
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Anyone here read Agatha Christie? One of her "Parker Pyne" stories was about a man who's wife wanted to leave him. The man kept talking about how brilliant his wife was, artistic, connected, a hit at parties, and he was a bit dull by comparison. Parker Pyne's comments were, "Never take an apologetic tone with a woman. She will take you at your own valuation of yourself...and you deserve it!" and "I suspect she is merely bored, bored with the atmosphere of absolute fidelity and uncritical devotion with which you have most unwisely surrounded her."

So Parker Pyne hires an "escort (strictly platonic)" to hang around with the man and basically gush about all his good qualities. The idea being to make the wife jealous.

Well it works...sort of. The wife decides that maybe she wants to stay with the husband after all, but it also backfires, because after years of being starved for attention, the husband now falls head-over-heels for the escort and now _he_ wants the divorce.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Personal experience. Looooooong courtship. Work it out. Know each other as well as you can. Helps tremendously to have some type of NORMAL dating history, each of you. Even though there aren't any guarantees, there are Good Bets and Bad Bets. The better you know each other...the better bet you'll make.

Really, know yourself.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
the abusive of power began by seduction in the Garden of Eden. Satan say to Eve: Why should you trust the mouth of your husband bringing you words from God ? God and your husband are preventing you from escape to your freedom say handsome with the snake in his hand.
Then the key was given how the greatest among you are the servants. That type of mind and heart can be trusted to have great power. So Mary has total control over the sun in my life. like two doves Saint Faustina and i do not fear the enchanted forest with wife Lilith in total control now of the snake and the Absolute type of control wife has over water is refleshment for both body and soul for the two doves entering ocean lake or pond
In Atheist age it seems impossibe to trust another with great power so this is what i see in the constant friction in hell when the Queen of Shba leads me to the exposed thrones in hell at low tide as she brings me total protection from the power struggles i see in hell yet hell is useful but surely you do not want to stay there forever do you?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The amazing thing I take from the article is, that even when it is women being psychologically and emotionally abusive, which is what henpecking is, it is men's fault for letting them do it. If a man behaves like that, it is domestic abuse, and she can have the cops come and haul him away. I wonder what would happen if a guy called the police claiming that, my wife is constantly nagging me and making me feel inadequate, and treats me like she is in charge of what I do.

Plus, he deceived her by pretending to be something he is not. HAHAHAHAHA. Of course, there was no deception on her part, not ever, in any case. Women are always completely honest in their dealings with men, who we all know are deceptive and sneaky. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

And women wonder where all the good men have gone? HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The best advice I received before I got married was from my best man - a Marine pilot. He said, "Don't do anything now that you're not going to do later."

If I don't want to do something in my household, I don't do it - and I say so. If I have to explain myself, I do. There are times that I don't; however, I look out for my wife giving ground when she's right without fanfare or derision.

There are times that I have to remind her that I have considered her views and decisions the right ones as she seems to think that I believe I am right all the time. Yes, I keep a list of those times that she is right and what I have learned from her. After reminding her of that long list, she is at a lost for words. I don't have to struggle with deciding if she's right and so the event goes unnoticed by her. What is right for the marriage and family is paramount - ego aside.

When she believes I am wrong about a decision, she pushes back hard making that event more memorable then it should be. But, disagreement is part of the marriage pact - peaks and valleys - another male friend says.

We are equals in my household until I believe my wife is wrong - mostly big decisions - and I voice my opinion or declare her decision null and void. My smart, loving, prairie strong wife is the glue that keeps the family moving - but, I am a man and have to remind her from time to time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Adam's Curse

Adam's curse was that he wanted to make Eve happy but God himself couldn't make Eve happy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"because there is no real satisfactory resolution of the conflict."

This is because the only real satisfactory resolution is the one she is vested in...

I have been married to one woman in my life. We married at the ages of 19 and 20. She and I were both virgins at the time. It has not been an easy row to hoe. We have had a few major disagreements over the years of raising four children and the loss of one at the age of two.

Our foundation is made of the shared belief in each other's desire to do good to and for the other. We hold to the Ten Commandments even though we do not participate in organized religious events. This foundation allows us to work through the issues as they come up.

The problem with most relationships today is that both parties have different understandings of just who and what they are responsible for in the relationship prior to beginning it.

I blame the parents of the Me generation for eschewing the institutions of morality, virtue and honor.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1. The female sends the male on quests.
2. The male goes off but being on the average just average screws up in the quest sometimes.
3. The female shows him that she's satisfied with him.

This can repeat forever.

If (3) doesn't happen it's nagging.

If (1) is directed at men in general rather than a mate then it's feminism, there being no way to show satisfaction either.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I eschewed marriage because back in the '70's I saw how my sisters treated any and everyone desirous of anything beyond lemonade at the local fast food dive. No way in hell would I put up with THAT bag of effluent. They were so not worth the cost. I've been married for almost 25 years now to one woman and still have no biological kidlings. Adopted hers to prevent the ex from crapping over my movements, was his idea, actually, because he didn't want to pay child support and I agreed since I didn't want him to have any say in my movements. No regrets to date. They're all married off and moved out now, no worries.

If I was to find myself wifeless at some point in the future I would remain so. I love my wife but lacking her, I'm done, root and branch. There is no one out there that could compel me to do differently.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The truth is that men marry too often for beauty or sexual attractiveness. Chalk that up to men being visual. But by choosing the visual over someone that's easy to get along with, we obey our passions, ignoring our best interests. Of course, the writer of Proverbs had it right so many centuries ago when he wrote "It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife." If the writer was indeed King Solomon, then he ought to know, having a thousand wives....

Choose wisely....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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