A few years ago I felt shocked when a male therapist asked a male client, "And do you do that when you are with a controlling woman?" I was seriously disturbed! First of all that any therapist still thinks stereotypically and uses such an outrageous stereotype. Second that any man still thinks this way.
Women have been controlled by men, in any and all patriarchal societies such as ours, for hundreds of years, and its still going on. Some men perceive women as being "controlling" even when the woman simply wants to be heard. This stereotype that has been put onto women is false, has caused many problems and seems to be more of a projection of masculine thinking or fears than the way women are. Some men, sadly, have been raised to believe that they must be in control and having one person in control of anything is rarely a good thing. After all two heads (two different perspectives) really are better than one.
Why this stereotype has been put onto women is something that men need to think about. I think one of the reasons for my feeling so shocked by that therapist is because it was such an unenlightened thing for a man educated about the human psyche, to say. For the past 30 years there have been many "men's groups" which were supposed to be helping to reduce this type of thinking and stereotyping. I was taught that men's groups were trying to help them become more aware of their own feelings (rather than negatively labeling women) so they could have better relationships with women. If men's groups did nothing but continue the negative stereotypes about women, they failed in their purpose. And that is sad because men lose as much as women.
Most people need to have as much control as possible over their lives, in fact having enough control is a healthy thing. Many people who behave in a manner that others might call "controlling" are often doing so because they feel as if they have either too little or no control in their lives and relationships.
Conflicts of interest are inherent in every relationship. In order for each individual in a relationship to take good enough care of themselves they need to have enough control over their own interests within the relationship. To be safe in a relationship each individual needs to have control over various aspects of their lives including their physical/mental health, value system, principles, ethics, integrity, relationships with other family members and friends, their appearance, education, maturation, income, entertainment, etc. Working out how to integrate those aspects of their lives into a relationship with a significant other is part of the art and work of relationship. A relationship will not work, as well as possible, if one person takes too much control.
Each individual in a relationship has certain strengths and weaknesses. For instance, one person will be better able to manage money than the other. It would make sense for that person to be the Head Financial Officer. However, the needs, wants, values, principles and integrity of the other person must also be respected. So the person who is responsible for the finances must also be responsible for respecting the needs and wants, etc. of the other person. This is the ultimate problem when it comes to control. Can the person who is in control of the finances (or any other aspect of the relationship) respect the needs, wants, etc. of the other person? If not, then they are not handling the job very well and may be left. After all, everyone has a healthy limit as to how much time he or she can spend being controlled in a manner that does not take his or her own interests into account.
Actually, having control is a huge responsibility. Personally, it's not one that I like to have. A lot of people like to be the boss, supervisor, the CEO or president of an organization. For me, raising children taught me a lot about control, where I can have it, where I cannot and how to be aware of and respect those limits and boundaries. Then I became a teacher and now a therapist. All of the work I have done in my life has been in relationships with people in which I have learned the limits and boundaries of control. I greatly enjoy being with people, recognizing their strengths and helping them become aware of their strengths, their ability to have and use enough personal control. Enough personal control results in individuals being able to have a healthy relationship with a significant other. Although I've been given opportunities to be a boss or supervisor I have turned them down because I don't enjoy trying to have that much control. I do know people who like to have that kind of control. Indeed I've met people who feel they cannot be anything but a boss or supervisor. Unfortunately, I've only met a few bosses who are truly, deeply good at it. It's very difficult to do.
In intimate relationships/partnerships the best situation is when each individual has enough personal control. Self-control is the ultimate control. I control my own needs and wants, etc. in order to have a better relationship with my partner and he does the same. I do my best with my appearance first for myself, then for my partner. I control my personal finances, he controls his finances and we both control our finances. I keep my own schedule, so that I can get enough sleep and be healthy enough to be my best in my relationship with him. By taking the best of care of myself (having enough personal control) I am better able to love him and he does the same.
Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Anne_Ream
Anne is a Board Certified Registered art therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor. Anne has been studying human development and relationships for over 45 years. She has been successfully working with families, in various capacities, for over 20 years. Her private practice is in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia PA. She specializes in helping people recover from various types of trauma, difficult changes and loss. Anne has an unusual ability to connect with children and adolescents, along with their parents. Parenting is the most important job we ever do, yet no one shows us how to do it or gives us the support we need. Anne has successfully coached many parents through a variety of critical stages in their children's lives. Annes greatest joy is helping people understand themselves and each other.
©2009 Anne Ream
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