Dr. A. Lynn Scoresby
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Husbands Who Believe They Are Always Right and Wives Who Withhold

March 21st, 2008 by Lynn


We all start out in life thinking we are the center of the universe and other people are planets that revolve around us. It is a natural thing for children to concentrate on themselves and think that everyone thinks or should think the same way they do. This is known as egocentrism. Often children are frustrated when adults don’t let them do what they want, when they want it, and as often as they want. But, in the process of making certain that other people’s ideas are considered, most children grow out of being egocentric. Most people learn to be aware of others, accept what others think, and consider other people as valid and important as they think of themselves.

Many do not learn quite enough. It might be true that all of us have some egocentrism. And, it is not all bad. Many professions attract people who believe strongly in themselves and accomplish much because they prepare themselves to possess great knowledge, communicate logically with persuasive evidence, and pressure or persuade others to agree. Some that come to mind are some business executives, medical doctors, and lawyers. I am not saying that all members of these professions are like this and I am not suggesting that egocentrism is limited to these professions. Men and women both can be egocentric and be in any profession or situation. Their strengths make it possible for considerable success at work, but at home, and especially in marriage this mental quality is often associated with real problems. Let’s consider the case of egocentric husbands and their wives who withhold.

When making a decision egocentric husbands believe their ideas to be better, far better. When having a disagreement they will argue to be right and avoid being wrong. They often will verbally punish (e.g criticize and demean). They will be critical of the pace someone goes to fulfill an assignment and will remind their wives of their slowness or inadequacies. They may, with an angry and condemning tone of voice, criticize a spouse or child who does not do what they require and point to the problems this creates for them. They will attribute their problems of unhappiness to the other person and communicate that they, themselves, are hard working and deserve more than they receive. If their wife, for instance, is having a hard day and feeling blue, this sort of person will, instead of comforting, often want to know the reasons for the emotion and act irritated that the depressed feelings are going to prevent the attention and warmth they want. Sometimes they will demean their wives for not bucking up and keep themselves in shape in order to fulfill their needs and desires. This can extend to her weight, to her sexual performance, and her social behavior.

What about their wives? Faced with this sort of behavior, and still emotionally attached, many wives develop a strategy of withholding whatever their husband desires. They may be passive when the husband wants activity. They may be late when the husband wants to be on time. They may withhold emotional warmth, sex, and affection. They believe they have been hurt, and they have been. They believe themselves married to someone who doesn’t care more for them than for his schedule, being right, and his needs. Sex, until it ends, is usually set up to please the husband and so she defends her position by collecting evidence that she is justified. Why does she stay with this type of person?

The reasons vary but often it is because she is strongly attached herself, doesn’t want to destroy the family, and she occasionally wants to win too or at least prove that she is not wrong as he would hope to make her. She is not happy and neither is he.

What to do? Usually this condition is not corrected without professional help. By then, however, one or both may have had affairs to deal with. But, if they both persist they can create something much better. The course of change usually includes each learning to stop trying to control or manage the other person and agree to focus themselves on controlling and managing their own behavior. (E.g. being positive and eliminate criticism and blame). Then they can be helped to discover what each other “wants” or “desires.” Finding two “want to’s” is not as easy as it sounds when someone has been telling the other what should and ought to happen. But if each can trust what the other person wants then they can practice treating them and acting toward them to give them exactly what is wanted. Why do that? Giving someone what he or she wants is the easiest and best way to get what you want if the other person is a loving and willing participant.

The next step is to ensure each person protects the other’s freedom to speak and act as he or she desires and totally without pressure or constraint. This takes some doing, because each believes that if freedom is granted the other person will use it to control or withhold. Lastly, they both will need to participate in several joint activities to actually demonstrate they can control themselves and participate fully with each other. In this stage they can finish the process by demonstrating their willingness to sacrifice for each other. This may seem like an involved process, and to some it is, but it is better than the other way.

Posted in Marriage, Mental Health

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