It’s quite often male clients who come in with a guilt complex given to them by their wives or girlfriends over housework, involvement with the kids, or any other such thing. These poor blokes are experiencing partner pressure.
Sure, it’s a different world now and most men need to get with the program for an equitable share of the workload when both people in the couple are employed or otherwise engaged. Keeping the household together takes effort. It is a very different story to the way that girls and boys grew up, with Mum chained to the washing line and Dad enjoying a cool one after the working day is done. Adjustment requires understanding, from both parties.
Guilt tripping or else bullying your partner into stepping up does not often meet with success. It usually creates resentment. For a man it can be highly emasculating to be told off around the home and kids, and for a woman it can be demeaning, hooking into a culture of thousands of years of chauvinism.
Peter’s Partner Pressure
Peter came to see me about “a block” with helping out around the house and particularly with the kids. At the same time it was noticeable how much he loves his children, with tears of joy welling up in his eyes at the mention of them. It didn’t seem to me that Peter had any emotional block towards his kids. As we discussed the issue further, it became clear that Peter’s reluctance to involve himself more with his children’s schooling was actually about partner pressure. Peter’s partner had a habit of constantly criticising him. When he did engage with these extra activities, he was never good enough, according to her.
It was Peter’s wife who pushed for Peter’s involvement, and Peter acknowledged that it was not the way he was brought up, with his Mum doing all of it, and so it was new territory for him, and he was OK with that. He just needed to be reminded that things have changed socially and economically and that his wife worked long, hard hours too. That’s fine. He was keen to get on board. But then he found that he was only ever a disappointment in his efforts, and so he stopped trying. This happened repeatedly.
Never Good Enough
I asked Peter that if he felt good enough, if his reluctance to help out would vanish. “Yes”, he said, he believed that it would. Now, despite the situation at hand, it’s not really fair to blame Peter’s wife for all of this. Yes she could learn a few rules in mutual respect but from her perspective she’s going nuts trying to get some help around the house, and if Peter has never really done this kind of thing before, he is likely to falter at first. The other aspect to this is the most important however: Peter already felt not good enough, even before he met his wife. If Peter didn’t come to the party already not feeling good enough, the situation probably would not have escalated to this at all.
Peter’s feelings of inadequacy causes him to withdraws from things where he might fail. Because Peter feels not good enough, he does not communicate his concerns for fear of admitting failure.
This inadequacy was present since childhood, hinged on an a-typical case of sibling rivalry, where Peter interpreted events as meaning that he was no longer important to his parents.
While Peter did not feel badly towards his sibling when they were growing up, he was nevertheless affected and his unconscious mind created a not good enough belief. This belief later strengthened through other, more obvious events. And now his wife was really exercising it, applying partner pressure. If Peter had resolved this underlying feeling, I would be surprised if his wife would have reacted the way that she has. Unconsciously to a large extent, Peter had been attracting this very type of response from her, fulfilling that underlying belief.
Resolving that not good enough belief is the key to resolving Peter’s dilemma. Because the situation has been dragging on for some time and the pattern between himself and his wife is firmly established, there is other work we need to do. This includes responding better to criticism, forgiving his wife and general de-stressing of accumulated worries.
If you require assistance with moving through partner pressure or and other of your perceived blocks, we can help. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Sunshine Coast.