Ladies- when fantasy gets in the way of reality

By • May 19th, 2009 • Category: For Women

I had a conversation recently with a psychotherapist who specializes in couples and marriage therapy and she mentioned that one of the most common problems that she sees in marriages is when the husband is gone at work for many hours, then gets home too tired to do anything, while the wife has more time on her hands and becomes increasingly more dissatisfied at feeling ignored and unappreciated. As a result, the woman acts out on her feelings of “abandonment” by going out and striking up affairs without her husband’s knowledge, kind of as a way to get back at him and assert herself.

This is how perfectly good relationships with slight issues that need to be resolved devolve into horrible, lying, cheating, back stabbing, and hateful relationships that end up in divorce. And it all could’ve been easily avoided.

I mentioned to the therapist that the main reason for this kind of “acting-out” behavior is the unrealistic expectations of the female in the relationship; in other words, the female has a certain kind of idealistic fantasy of what the relationship SHOULD be like and when it doesn’t work out the way it’s SUPPOSED to be, instead of working with her husband as a team to resolve the conflict and see how they can spend more time together, she retaliates at him for not providing her with the fantasy relationship she had envisioned. The therapist responded by saying that I was absolutely correct, but that women are “trained” that way in their upbringing to have an idealistic fantasy envisioned for their relationship.

It is true that men and women are brought up differently in our society and as a result, expect different things from their relationships. For example, women are taught from the time they are little girls that one day a knight in shining armor will sweep her away and she will have a fantastical, magical wedding that would befit a princess. The entire wedding industry is built around this theme.

It’s all well and good to have some fantasy in your life, but not at the expense of your relationship. A relationship is a complicated dynamic between two diverse individuals with different goals, beliefs and expectations. Obviously it is important to have common beliefs and goals, but that is unrealistic all the time. It just may be the case that the male half believes the best thing for the relationship is to work hard and save as much money as possible, while the female half believes that the male should provide her with excitement and affection all the time. The way to get around these kinds of mismatched expectations is to treat each other as complicated individuals who have their own understanding and work as a team to communicate and bridge the gap. The worst thing anyone can do, and which happens all too often with detrimental consequences, is to demonize the other partner and lay the blame game, portraying yourself as a victim. Once you victimize yourself, you see the other partner as an offender, you see each other as separate entities, rather than as a team, and you make it all too easy to do some vile things yourself. After all, it’s easy to lash out at and get revenge at someone who “victimized” you right?

Instead of going into a relationship with certain rigid rules or expectations set in stone, go in with the attitude of trying to understand, communicate and compromise with each other. It’s one thing if your partner refuses to listen or change, but it’s another thing entirely if you feel it’s alright to act out every time you don’t get your way.

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