The Magic of Connection - Part 1:
Connecting With New Eyes and Ears
When: Saturday, September 15, 2012
This one-day workshop teaches skills to create a healthier, more trusting, and dynamic relationship through new ways of connecting with your partner!
Hours: 9:00am – 5pm
Cost: $250/couple; ($225/couple if paid in full by 2 Saturdays prior to the workshop date; repeat workshop participants may register for $125)
When we learn to speak and listen with compassion and curiosity, we create a context of greater safety and understanding, from which flows deepened passion and intimacy!
For more information about this workshop and to register please Click Here.
One-Up Power in Couples
Men as well as women often see women as the 'relationship experts'.
They talk about relationships much more than most men do, they read far more many books than men do about relationships, and are often the planners and arrangers of family time and social engagements. They are usually seen, and usually rightfully so, as more skillful than men when it comes to relationships. All of which makes the following very interesting.
When a man and a woman come in for couples counseling, if the woman is willing to look at her behavior and grow and change, the woman grows and changes. If the man is willing to look at his behavior and grow and change the man obviously grows and changes and additionally his growth and change is usually the key factor in whether the relationship succeeds or not!
This is doubly interesting because men often feel powerless in a relationship where in reality, the power to change the relationship for the better often lies with them. How to explain this?
First of all, men being brought up as masculine, are more often in the one-up, power over position in the couple relationship even when they don't feel like they are. This point requires some explanation. The one-up position isn't based primarily on feelings- it's based on behavior and who actually controls what happens in the relationship- usually the person who is willing to do the least. The other person, usually the woman, can complain all she likes but she can't get her partner to change his behavior.
A man who is being constantly complained at may not feel like he has much power in the relationship. It's true that he can't stop her from complaining. He does have the power to decide to change his behavior that is eliciting her complaints. And he doesn't have to give up his manhood to do so. He just needs to realize that since her cultural position is one-down, she probably sees his behavior a lot clearer than he does and complains, usually ineffectively, to try to get him to change. Complaining is not a powerful strategy. It is one-down behavior.
Masculine acculturation trains men to be one-up and women, who are trained in the feminine, to be one-down. (If a woman is truly in the one-up position, the situation is reversed and then her changing her behavior changes the relationship. We are addressing the destructive one -up position inherent in masculine training rather than men or women. However, many men argue vehemently that, no, she is in the one-up position even when he rides there unconsciously the majority of the time.)
At this time in our society, women initiate divorce proceedings at about twice the rate that men do. Many women eventually decide that if men won't recognize and deal with their one-up and entitled behavior, they are not going to take this lying down, so to speak. What more and more women now have the power to do is to leave a relationship when a man is unwilling to change.
So here it is. A woman who changes her behavior does not usually change the power dynamics in a relationship while a man who changes his behavior moves out of a power over position and begins the movement toward power with his partner in the relationship. If it isn't too late and the woman isn't too far gone, the prognosis for a revitalized and loving relationship is good. It's useful to keep in mind that women don't usually leave us men because they don't love us. They leave us because they get fed up with our unconscious, entitled, one-up behavior patterns that are a destructive legacy of our being raised in guy school. The good news is that we guys have the power to change these patterns and often change our relationships for the better with the women who love us and mostly don't want to leave us.
John Mariner, LCSW
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