Archive for the ‘women’ Category

Sir, Are You Married to a “High Maintenance” Woman? Ma’am, Are You One?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

I was driving home from Atlanta late the other night, changing stations with my deft never-miss-a-beat male fingers, and one song played three times within an hour.  It is called “HIGH MAINTENANCE WOMAN”. Since I am always looking for topics that fit under the umbrella of mental health and relationships, I felt that this was a sign from the universe that this topic needed to be addressed.  Actually this topic is often discussed in relationship counseling. (Another motivating factor was that many men got really defensive about my article a couple of weeks ago asking men to quit “fixing” or “improving” their wife and, thus, they felt their wives needed to be under the microscope as well)

In my research I found many descriptors of a “high maintenance woman”.  Most have common threads.  One writer, Madeline Murphy (note I am using a woman commentator here to illustrate my non sexist bias). To quote Ms. Murphy: “High maintenance women are like high maintenance sports cars.  They’re lots of fun when you’re out on the town together, but for every hour of showing off, there are another ten spent on upkeep and repair behind the scenes. … Broadly defined, high maintenance women are those who need many things (money, material goods, affection) to be happy. These women love dressing up whenever possible, and are obsessed with all aspects of their personal appearance and grooming in general.  This almost obsessive attention to detail usually extends beyond their person, to their homes, pets, and even to their men.  They tend to be perfectionists.”

According to Ms. Murphy there are pros and cons regarding the HMW:

Pro: She looks like a million bucks.  Their fascination with their own looks means that whenever they step out of the house, they look perfect.

Con: She knows she looks like a million bucks. She’s never met a mirror she doesn’t like. She may blow huge wads on things like manicures, self-tanning, and keeping up with each and every trend. She also may take herself too seriously.

Pro: She’s a challenge.  For men who like to be challenged on a daily basis, the HMW girl is the
perfect choice.  She likes attention, compliments, and fancy dinners, and she demands the best of these things.  She will keep you on your toes.

Con: She can’t be satisfied.  She is like a ravenous beast, always wanting more of everything.  She will find fault in all your best efforts.

Clinton Bland, author of AMERICAN EPIDEMIC: HIGH MAINTENANCE WOMEN, lists five characteristics of such a breed:

1. Hard to please: she’s never satisfied.

2. Center of attention: she has to have the spotlight at all times.

3. Can’t distinguish between needs and wants: she’s irrationally demanding and confuses what she wants with what she actually needs.

4. Won’t take responsibility: she never admits to being at fault but is quick to blame. She depends on others to meet her needs.

5. Plays hard to get: she prides herself on being a challenge; because it puts here in control. She takes more than she gives.

Bland feels “high maintenance habits stem from a need to fill a void or soothe insecurities.”

The emphasis in this article is not to judge, but rather to describe a certain type of woman. My desire in all articles is to raise awareness at to what exists, evaluate the findings, and change whatever may be deemed suitable for optimal functioning and healthy relationships.  May the focus of this article on “high maintenance women” help women look at themselves and men assess what they may desire, or not.

P.S. I am so grateful that I am not married to a “high maintenance” woman!!


Ladies, Are You Cabable of Pushing the “Re-set” Button in Your Relationship?

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

In the last couple of years I have observed more and more women shutting down from their husbands. This “shut down” may involve staying in the house and being a remote roommate, or seeking a separation or divorce.  These women “have had it”!  They have fallen out of love with their husbands and want to disconnect from them.  They are not open to working on their marriage.  They have pushed the “off button”.  I have noticed that when most of these women push the “off” button, they mean it – and it stays off. Over!

The reasons for this shutting down and shutting off from the relationship vary. My position as a therapist is to describe, not judge, these decisions.  Some examples follow:

1. The corporate or military wife who has been a loyal follower of his many career moves, often sacrificing her goals while subservient to his.  “My turn” she says.

2. The wife who participated in letting the marriage die while focusing on raising the kids. Now she has little in common with her husband.  The relationship was not nurtured.

3. The wife who suddenly realizes that she is getting older, is not getting enough love from her husband, and now wants to be free to explore other male experiences.

4. The wife who is having an affair and wants to pursue it to see if marriage is an option with this new “love”.

5. The abused wife who finally stands up for herself.

6. The empty nest wife whose children have moved on. Her husband has retired and is “driving her nuts”.

7. The wife who cannot forgive her husband for some infraction(s).

8. The wife who made a “mistake” in marrying the man she did and now wants to find the “right one”.

9. The wife who is married to a man who drinks too much or does other hurtful or shameful acts.

10. Fill in the blank. There are other reasons.

Should some of these women get out? Probably. But perhaps not all of them. They pushed their “I’m done” button and are not willing to push the “re-set button”.  Some of these relationships could be saved and the women involved might well be happier if they had truly tried to work it out.  Much of the current research supports such a statement.

It is important for any and all women to stand up for themselves and address their concerns, needs, hopes, and dreams. Unless they do this there is limited reason to believe that her marriage, or life in general, could be better.

It is usually true that for many a man, they don’t “get it” until they are about to lose what they do really want – their wife. I wish more women would give the formerly clueless men a chance to show that they can become a good and loving husband.  Some of these men surely have been selfish, shut down, boring, non-loving husbands.  They may be willing to work hard with a therapist to learn why they did not do what they should have and what they need to do in the future.

Ladies, is your “off button” pushed down? Would you be willing to “push the re-set button” to see if it is in your best interest, and your family’s, to see if this phoenix marriage can arise from the ashes? If it does not happen, then you can say with a clear conscience that you tried.  “Re-set buttons” sometimes open the door to a bright future!

“Oh No! I’ve Become My Mother!” Desired or Detested?

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Surprisingly often in the course of counseling with women I hear them say, “I can’t believe it; I am turning into my mother!”  More often than not they are not pleased with that deductive conclusion.
Such a realization oftentimes helps them look more closely at their behaviors, where they have come from, and be more motivated to change some of them.  In some cases women are pleased to
be becoming more like the mother they cherish. Your situation would be?

It would seem only natural that this similarity between mother and daughter would emerge since “the acorn does not fall far from the tree”.  Genetics play a big part here.  More often than not a
woman’s genetics would be a reflection of the mother.  However, if there are two children, odds are
that one would genetically reflect the mother, the other would see some father genetic factors. Examples would be body type, emotionality, and overall personality style.

In addition there is the role model factor presented by the mother. You have probably heard the expression, “Monkey see, monkey do”. It is a way of expressing that what you observe, especially from a significant person in your life, you probably will emulate those behaviors in your life.  A mother is a pretty significant person in one’s life – as a blessing or a curse as the case may be.

Sandra Reishus, a Californiatherapist, has written a book
called OH NO! I’VE BECOME MY MOTHER!  She speaks of the “Mom gene” that gets passed on to daughters.  She says that there are five negative role model Mom types that women need to be aware of and not emulate.  They are:

1. Intrusive: They come into their children’s life uninvited and in ways not welcomed by them. Physical presence or advice not asked for would be examples.

2. No Show:  They are, or were, not present in their children’s life, either physically or emotionally.

3. Critical: They point out what is wrong with their children and/or their behavior.

4. Helpless: They are weak and suck the life out of their children with their neediness.

5. Drama Queen: They are hysterics with exaggerated life situations.

The reason for this article is to invite you ladies to ask the question of yourself as to what degree you are like your mother.  Is the answer, whatever it may be, one that pleases you? It may even be that you are not like her, but would like to be.  What is stopping you?

Men, be careful here!  You certainly have your opinion on this and it may or may not be welcomed by your wife/significant other – depending on what that observation is.  For your part, do you wish that your wife was more, or less, like her mother – or, perhaps like your mother?  Your mother has been significant in “wiring” you emotionally and affects how you relate to your wife. Also, the same basic question to you; to what extent are you like your father? Is the answer good or bad news?

Parents obviously play a big role in who you become.  Heredity and family conditioning are the most influential factors in shaping your identity.  But, you are malleable.  With heightened awareness, and a direction chosen, you have the capacity for a healthier adaptive change into who you want to become. A newly emerging self can be more satisfying to you – and perhaps to
the person who is trying to love you.

Bottom line. Ladies, is your mother your ideal role model to be imitated or an example of what to avoid, or at least modify?

Women Past Mid-Life: Would You Like To Be Seasoned”? Or Are You Already?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

     Gail Sheehy, remember her? She became famous when she wrote the book PASSAGES, which examined life’s transitions. A more recent book is more provocative, entitled,  SEX AND THE SEASONED WOMAN. (Notice how the first word of her book is “sex” to attract attention; even though the book isn’t all about sex)

     Ms. Sheehy, closing in on seventy, and enjoying her self described “lively libido”, wants to help older women live a long passionate life.  She interviewed women from across the country and has arrived at the term “seasoned woman.”  She describes this Baby Boomer plus woman as “assured, alluring, and resourceful; she’s open to sex, love, new dreams, and spirituality.”  She “knows who she is… and is committed to living fully and passionate in the second half of life.”

     A woman’s “First Adulthood” was about nurturing children, husbands or careers – or all three.  The “seasoned” woman has entered into her “Second Adulthood”, which also has three facets: “sexual vitalization”, “having a new dream”, and “spiritual exploration.”  She calls this stage “sex, passion, and soul.”

     Ms. Sheehy says that the “seasoned” woman OFFERS:

1. A “what the hell, life is short” joie de vivre.

2. Emotional stability

3. Financial independence

4. The ability to talk about anything

5. No ticking biological clock or toddlers underfoot.

6. A knowledge of what she wants sexually and the appreciation of a good lover

     What the “seasoned” woman WANTS:

1. Romance, fun, flirting, finesse.

2. Good conversation.

3. Mutual sexual pleasure with emotional connection.

4. Not to be tied down.

5. Men who are not threatened by her accomplishments

6. She wants to go dancing.

     Being a male writer, you can bet that I’m not going to comment in any form or fashion on Ms. Sheehy’s views on women. Let me repeat that! I feature this topical perception so as to foment discussion among women readers – and the men who love you.

     Does Ms. Sheehy describe you, part of you (which part?) or is she just marketing herself and her “lively libido”?  Who are you?  One’s sense of identity is crucial to self esteem and ultimate behavior.  “Seasoned”?

Warning! Women: Beware of These Type of Men

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

     There are some women who are naïve, excessively needy, overly tolerant, reformers, or masochists.  They choose, stay with, and get hurt by, “bad guys.”  Let’s look at a few types of men to avoid.

     Judith Brown, an experienced therapist, has written an engaging book, “HOW TO SPOT A DANGEROUS MAN BEFORE YOU GET INVOLVED.”  Ms. Brown is trying to educate women to be on the lookout for these types of dangerous men.  These “bad guys” to be avoided hurt women emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually, or financially.  They are pathologically damaged, with limited probability of healing unless committed to serious therapy.

     These are Brown’s “bad guys” along with my commentary.

1. PERMANENT CLINGER    This man’s needs were not met developmentally.  He is a weak man, probably looking for a mother figure.  He will suck you dry.

2. PARENTAL SEEKER   This emotional “child” is unable to pay bills, hold a steady job, or make good decisions.  Who needs this weak leech?

3. EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE   This group is not capable of emotional attachment.  They are totally into themselves and usually go for the chase and score, rather than attachment and commitment.  You become a numerical conquest, not a person to be loved. Bed and be gone is their motto.

4. HIDDEN LIFE    These guys have “deal killer” secrets:  married, closet homosexual, children, police record, etc…

5. MENTALLY ILL   You would be surprised at how many men have mental health issues.  Be sure to meet with a competent therapist to help you see the true man that exists beyond the presented façade.

6. ADDICT    These men are out of balance and control.  Something outside of them dominates.  They abuse drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, food, achievement.

7. ABUSIVE OR VIOLENT  These “bad guys” are physically hurtful, and/or emotionally controlling by shaming, blaming, finances, or sex.

8. EMOTIONAL PREDATOR   These chameleons turn themselves into whatever a woman needs him to be.  They have no core values or integrity. 

     Do you know any of the above types?  Date them?  Marry them?   Stay away; get loose from these “bad guys.”  They will whittle you down, wear you out, and kill your spirit.

     Open your eyes; see what you are inclined not to see.  Listen to your wonderful feminine intuition. Get rid of your own neediness or desperation to “have a man in your life.”  Better to be alone than to be absorbed by toxicity.

     Ms. Brown says that too many women are “volunteers for abuse” because they won’t address their own emotional issues that lead to this detrimental dating behavior.  A woman should not try to make excuses for intolerable behavior, try to “fix” him, or stay because she does not want to be alone.”

                                        WOMEN BEWARE.    BE WISE