Relationship Responsibility 101 (For All Those Women Not Interested in Being Super Woman)


“How would it make you feel if your husband or boyfriend told everyone he meets that you’re the “perfect” woman? That he’s giddy every time he comes home to you…That there’s no woman in the world he’d rather be with…That he worships the ground you walk on…Would that be pretty cool? Would that FEEL pretty good? I bet it would   . . . there are 13 skills that some women have that make them a man’s ultimate fantasy… the “perfect” woman… the woman he’d never want to leave and wouldn’t even dream of cheating on . . .(this course) teaches you EXACTLY what they are and how to use them to make your man addicted to you. ”

Do we need to be Super Women to make marriage work?

Sounds like some promotion for a primitive ‘magic potion’ to make your relationship just right doesn’t it? In some respects, that description just may come close. However, it’s actually part of a modern, detailed infomercial, which arrived in my Inbox, guaranteeing women the ability to “snarl” their guy, by developing thirteen essential skills (on their way to being Super Woman). To my amazement, this “program” is being supported and promoted by qualified and licensed sex therapists and counselors; I couldn’t believe the advertisement when I read it. It’s sad to see that although we’re in the twenty first century, not much has changed since Eden; apparently. We’re still basically blaming women for everything wrong; including their partner’s failure to stay faithful and avidly interested in them.

There are several things inherently wrong with the philosophy behind this infomercial. Firstly, it presupposes that men are clueless cads just waiting to be controlled by the whims and feminine wiles of the women in their lives; somewhat like “doggy go fetch you’ll get your reward”. It promotes somewhat beneath the surface, the notion of a deep abiding weakness in men, which can only be “fixed” when the wool is pulled firmly but obliviously over their eyes by the women in their lives. By promoting such, this philosophy and by extension the infomercial, seeks to absolve men of their relationship responsibility; a responsibility which should be hinged on their own personal integrity. Instead, it lays squarely at the feet of a woman ALL the responsibility to tend to her relationship and to literally try all the doggy tricks in the bag, to keep her puppy guy wagging his tail. It is in fact one of several, which perpetuates the idea that it’s mainly a woman’s job to fix her relationship.`

And please guys don’t get offended, I mean you no disservice or disrespect, but the point I’m seeking to drive home is that this ad seeks to rob you of your balls. It attempts to divest you of your power of choice and of your ability to abide by sound decisions based on your sense of decency and on your level of commitment. Why should a woman in a committed relationship or a marriage, need to “trick” her partner into being faithful, loyal and trust worthy by developing these ‘secret’ skills? Can’t a man decide for himself what he really wants? This ad buys strongly into the stereotypes about men which exist today and which are for the most part, seriously media-driven.’  For example, it suggests that:

  • Fidelity is unnatural and difficult for men.
  • Men cannot be trusted to do what is right on their own.
  • Women control and manipulate men because men are weak and basically clueless.
  • A man only stays faithful if his woman is an expert at the latest sexual tricks.
  • Men need to be trained by their women, if such women are to experience happiness.

Then there are the female stereotypes:

  • A woman must perform for her man to keep him guessing and interested.
  • A woman can be the perfect “superwoman”, if she tries a little harder at improving herself.
  • A woman can get her man ‘eating out of her hand’ as it were, if she learns the essential tricks of the trade.
  • A woman is largely responsible for her relationship.
  • Any woman worth her salt knows how to manipulate her man.

Must we really play relationship games?

Then there is the underlying idea which suggests that relationships are really all about manipulative game-playing. He’s not behaving as you want, a la “worshiping the ground you walk on” or being “giddy every time he comes home to you”  et al?  Then learn these simple tricks and have him bowing to your every command in no time. Is this really where we want our relationships to be headed in the twenty-first century? We know that there is a certain amount of relationship game-playing which is rife on the dating scene. Men and women both act in particular ways and there is almost a predictable response from either sex. We attempt to learn each others’ trigger-buttons and attempt to work them for all they’re worth. Perhaps the social anthropologists will say that this behaviour is an age-old game between men and women. Some admittedly do have this game-playing down to a Science but maybe this is where we are going wrong in our relationships.

Playing games or learning tricks to keep each other interested or faithful is to my mind the weaker route and is counter-productive. If we begin our relationships under false pretenses, maybe we will feel compelled to carry them on in this manner; even in marriage. My relationship is not a game of predictability which says “If I do this therefore you will do that”. Life is NOT that simplistic. We are all different with individual personalities and life-scripts which influence how our relationships will pan out. Relationships involve a huge amount of sacrificial risk-taking. This one-size-fits-all philosophy robs our relationships of their individual uniqueness and as to my case in point, absolves men of the responsibility which they MUST share if our marriages are to succeed.

Admittedly, as I have noticed in my counseling, a greater percentage of women are reading books and seeking help for marital challenges. We are traditionally the guardians of our relationships. This does not, however, mean that men should not be responsible or held accountable for their actions. The idea that there are specific skills which any woman can learn, which will guarantee that her husband will not cheat on her, is ludicrous! It means that she is being held accountable for his cheating ways (if he does cheat). Moreover, the thinking behind this ad implies that a wife has her work cut out for her, in ensuring that her husband remains “addicted” to her.

This theory raises several other questions. Where is the husband’s responsibility in all of this? And is he too not required to work to ensure that his wife stays interested in him? Where is mutual commitment in this entire scenario? And why pray tell must a woman be “perfect” for her marriage to work successfully? Why are we repeatedly letting men off the relationship hook yet still expect them to grow up?

In order for our relationships to thrive, working on them must be seen as a two-way street. Yes, I do agree that we have to learn each other and find new ways to keep our marriages interesting and exciting; especially as the years roll by. This is, however, a system of give and take and not one where there is a one-sided servicing of needs. We need to navigate away from reinforcing these negative stereotypes which have traditionally governed our relationships. It’s definitely time to beckon the ‘equal opportunity’ relationship of the present and the future.

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