Women Maintain Your Sense Of Self. As little girls, we are socialized to be the “good little girl” in that we are supposed to follow what our parents and society tell us to do. We have our own stories that we take with us into adulthood. This is what I heard while growing up in my family. “You could be anything you want to be when you grow up,” “You are just as good as anyone else.” As a licensed Marriage Counselor and Family Therapist, I treat individuals with their own stories about their upbringing and how it affects their relationships. Women, in particular, come in with symptoms of depression and anxiety as they seem to have happy lives, yet are not happy. The American Dream seems to be women staying home raising their children while their husbands go off to work bringing home the paycheck. While this may appear ideal the majority of women I treat state it really is not.
I have worked with many women who come into counseling losing their Sense of Self because they lived that same Dream. I’m not criticizing “stay at home moms.” They are great at what they do. I just don’t think it really pays off that well financially, emotionally or psychologically. I don’t think it ever did. When push comes to shove having your own financial resources is powerful and empowering. I have come to the conclusion that women who go to college should utilize what they studied and make some kind of financial contribution to the household. Especially those who have received higher education and post-graduate degrees. Why in heavens name invest time and money in becoming a doctor, lawyer, scientist, etc., only to become dependent on your husband. Under ideal circumstances, we trust our husbands will always be there for us and never betray us with any kind of infidelity, including financial infidelity. But life isn’t ideal now, is it?!
As a Marriage Counselor, I have seen too many women become dependent on their husbands and have regretted it despite the wonderful beginning of their relationships. As the Honeymoon Stage ends we all continue to survive the Conflict Resolutions Stage, where life gets challenging and isn’t always nice. Having your own financial resources keeps things in perspective. If you are in an abusive relationship having the resources needed to leave can be freeing. Being Co-dependent in a relationship where you don’t have access to your own money can be scary and gives you a feeling of helplessness.
Money isn’t the only thing that is important. Having a support system where you have friends and people you trust keeps you more objective to know what kind of reality you are living. Hobbies and your own personal activities keep you differentiated from your partner and the rest of the family so you foster the “Individual” within the wife, mother, sister, professional, caretaker, etc. and keeps you interesting. When you have a Sense of Self you not only have your husband’s respect you have yours.
As a Couples Counselor, I work with women who have Ph.Ds, Law Degrees, and Medical Degrees. I see entrepreneurs making over a million dollars a year and tolerate infidelity, verbal abuse, and even domestic violence. Why do these women stay in these relationships? I help these women understand they have lost their sense of self by allowing their partners to “disempower” them. I also help them understand they have come to “disempower themselves” by their tolerance of the maltreatment. “You teach people how to behave around you.” When you continue to sit there and take verbal abuse, you allow your perpetrator to talk to you like that. He, in turn, learns he can continue to yell obscenities at you as you take it. I have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be a perpetrator of verbal abuse to a partner who possessed higher education. My first husband had a law degree, was a CPA, Real Estate Broker, and entrepreneur. He tolerated years of verbal abuse as I obviously was an angry person. He taught me by his lack of assertiveness that I could continue to be abusive toward him until he finally left me one day. I know an angry abusive person can change if they choose to change. I also know if they choose not to change they will not change. You, however, have to decide what kind of life you want to live. Whatever your payoff for staying I hope it makes sense to you. If not please contact me to get some perspective at (858) 735-1139.
Happy Mother’s Day!