Hen-pecking doesn't work: who knew?

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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