The Great Divide Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:25:15
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The problem of communication or more likely miscommunication in marriage is likely as ancient as the institution of marriage (Lakoff, 1999). Research abounds in this area. Of the self-help books already in print, how to understand one another in intimate relationships likely almost tops the Bible as number 1 bestsellers. Even pop psychologists choose this topic more often than most or any other. An example being the Dr. Phil Show, even a casual glance at topics, discussions regarding communication between genders far outweighs any other single topic (http://www.

drphil. com/upcomingtopics). This is only one small example of this most popular of many psychological topics. Interestingly, lack of clear communication between partners in a traditional marriage is often cited as the cause for divorce. What often occurs is not a failure to communicate, but a failure to understand communication (Akin, 2003, 1). Very, very simply men and women may share the same goals, i. e. a happy marriage, yet envision this goal completely differently.

Men often view support through doing things, such as working, while women show affection through emoting (Torrpa, 2002, 1). Women expect their marital relationship to be based on mutual dependence and cooperation while men expect it to be based on independence and competition (Torppa, 2002, 1). Clearly, these different sets of expectations have an effect on how partners communicate and ultimately, on the strength of the union. According to Ohashi (1993) marriage is established on the assumption of a division of labor based on gender-role stereotypes (from Katsurada, Sugihara, 2002, 2).

Women have often be socially pressured to want to make everyone happy while men are provided the freedom to make decisions based largely on their own personal needs (Torrpa, 2002, 1) an aspect of marriage that has remained largely unchanged yet appears responsible for lack of communication and therefore, understanding, between partners. Societal pressures, can also be cited for the stereotypes that exist and contribute to the demands of gender-specific roles (Coates and Cameron, 1988).

A brief example being that, even in this day and age women are expected if not required to sacrifice education and/or career in support of her husbands career (Wood, 2000). In many ways men and women are forced into these roles, thus contributing to the breakdown of traditional marriage. Women are often characterized as being the more talkative of the sexes as well as fulfilling the role as comfort providers and are depicted as more secure in showing their emotions (Lakoff, 1999). Women are purportedly better at reading between the lines regarding interpersonal issues (Torrpa, 2002, 1).

Men, on the other hand, are depicted as being poor communicators and less able to provide emotional support. Their assumed selfishness and perceived inability to read between the lines regarding status is depicted as being more pronounced than in women (Ivy and Backlund, 1999). This research explores the varying roles of a man and woman in a traditional marital relationship. Particular interest will focus on how these roles influence a partners ability communicate, according to Torrpa (2002, 1): understanding differences is the key to working them out.

It is understood that these roles are often socially acceptable, yet unrelentingly binding, contributing to the pressure between genders (Wood, 2000). Men and women are immersed practically from the beginning about the idea of dominance versus subjugation between men and women. As stated earlier women are treated cruelly when this gender shows dominance, derogatory terms are attached to her behavior. Such as, bitch, being on the rag, etc. Aggressive women are just as socially unacceptable as sensitive men. Men may show emotion, so long it is aggressive and/or considered dominant.

These terms are socially attached, thus the root of miscommunication between the sexes. The contention of this research paper is not that men are naturally dominant nor that women are naturally, subservient. But that these rules are socially based and therefore restrictive, becoming the base for the ability or inability of people to communicate honestly in the marital relationship. Hypothesis Men and women struggle to communicate within stifling, well-defined, and what could be construed as ageless, societal roles. Women are placed in the role of caregiver.

In the 1950s women forced into this role, were notoriously unhappy and yet this role has extended into the 21st century. Women are pressured to choose between their role as care giver versus career (Ivy and Backlund, 1999). Strong willed women are often depicted as offensively as possible (Coates and Cameron, 1988). While men are forced into the role as breadwinner, an enormous amount of pressure is placed on the male to succeed. There is a definite prejudice against men who fail, an example being homeless men.

Homeless or jobless men receive as little or no social support, instead these men are treated and depicted as contemptuously as possible (Lakoff, 1999). The theory is that these societally forced roles are the root of the breakdown of communication between male and female in intimate relationships (Wood, 2000). Societal roles are enforced at an extremely early age. Girls are given dolls, and are encouraged to play the mother role (Ivy and Backlund, 1999). This helps to explain the lack of women in true leadership and the serious sciences.

Girl children are believed to be incapable of logical thought and are therefore, taught to stifle dominant characteristics and as such, accept the role of caregiver to everyone, except herself. Boys are taught to be aggressive (Wood, 2000). Even boys who are not provided toy or play guns find a means to make weapons out of available materials (Coates and Cameron, 1988). Young men are taught to stifle their emotions and be a man, as if being a man had anything at all to do with the ability to emote (Pearson, Turner, and William 1994).

Men are taught to get what they want, while women are taught to acquiesce to the needs of others, even to the point of self deprivation. These examples of forced gender specific roles can be observed in the work-a-day world (Wood, 2000). Very few men are nurses or teachers and even fewer women are electrical engineers or architects. And of course, there is the problem of the glass ceiling. Women are expected, if not demanded to give up formidable careers, for the role of motherhood. Rarely, are men expected to give any real time to their families (Pearson, et. al, 1994).

A males contribution is his ability to climb the corporate ladder, forcing men to miss those unique and special moments with their children or wives. There can be no doubt that such demands create frustration and the inability to communicate effectively with ones mate (Wood, 2000). All of these characteristics lead to an almost impossible means of communication between the genders and even more so, in the intimacy of the marital relationship. It is as if the couple are doomed to failure even before truly getting started as a couple (Coates and Cameron, 1988).

Men are taught to rely on themselves, while women are immersed in the idea that they truly cannot care for themselves. Interestingly, failure should (and well, often is) be the norm, while success is the anomaly. Why? As children male and females are taught from the beginning how to problem-solve, not through communication. Communication can truthfully be said to be one of humanitys largest failures. Boys are taught action, girls taught that talking and caring are the answer or solution to fixing relational problems. Method A random sample of 15 couples was chosen from 3 different local marital counseling centers.

The couples will be provided a questionnaire regarding their methodology of communication regarding their roles. The material gathered will be subjective, as the subjects will be asked to respond individually to 10 open ended questions. The answers should provide a summary proving or disproving the proposed hypothesis. The males and females will be separated, yet provided with the exact questionnaire as the opposite gender. This is an attempt to keep the answers as balanced as possible while receiving input data on communication and the sociological affect of communication in gender roles.

This will be the first use of this type of scale. Bias has been carefully avoided as the survey is not gender specific. Due to the fact that this scale is specific to summarizing responses, it is conceded that the scale may not be as reliable as desired. There were no incentives offered the couples other than the assurance of complete confidentiality, that the surveys would be numbered with no names being of issue. The test will be conducted at a local university, in separate conference rooms. There will be a mediator during the test time, with no time limit.

At the end of the survey each participant, without knowledge before the survey, will be compensated with 5 dollars for their time and participation. Potential Risks To Participants There are always potential risks when studying a particular group. This is the reasoning behind choosing clients from local marital counseling clinics. The participants already recognize a problem in their communication or at the very least some problem that has brought these couples to begin counseling (Wood, 2000).

This survey has been ethically approved and one risk could be that the couples may recognize their inability to communicate and upon such recognition decide to dissolve the marriage (Lakoff, 1999). However, as agreed with the ethics committee, this potential risk is one that could also be experienced through marital counseling (Pearson, et. al, 1994). The opposite could also hold true, in that, couples could benefit in recognizing how their roles affect their ability and/or inability to communicate. Expected Benefits to Participants and Society

The potential benefit is that participants will recognize that society has played a definite role in confining couples to specific well-defined, even gender specific characterizations. This aspect could also play a role in benefiting participants in their ability to communicate. The key being that stereotypical roles are detrimental to what otherwise should be psychologically healthy unions. Society benefits through healthier familial relations and hopefully, divorce rates could lower as a result, as people begin to benefit from new information, education, and resources.

Another benefit of this survey is that literary research will also be conducted. Therapists have agreed to release portions of their therapeutic technique in working with couples in distress. This will help provide summary data as well. No patient name will be revealed, only dates of birth and gender. Each file will be randomly chosen as the participants were, for a total of 30 files, 15 male and 15 female. This technique also provides impartial data, which adds to the way men and women communicate, as well as specifics as to the detrimental affect of societally enforced roles.

Summary Gender specific roles are strongly affected by unchanging societal influences. In fact, both men and women seem extremely frustrated with the roles forced upon them. Of the 15 couples 95% expressed extreme frustration regarding their role in the marriage. The women felt restricted in their role in caregiver, especially as their children grew older. As the women grew older most viewed their lives as productive regarding the children, some were extremely doubtful about their future with the same man.

While men expressed their dissatisfaction with the marriage, often their frustration lay with the inability to fix the problem. Most seem to realize there was a problem in the marriage, but were not attuned to the specifics. Some of the men seemed especially confused about their wives dissatisfaction with the marriage, these men considered themselves as good providers and as such could not recognize the reason behind their partners dissatisfaction. From the study conducted the problem of communication/miscommunication played a significant role in the problems of the marriage.

Few of the couples had framed their problem in a societal manner. And this seemed to help some of the couples understand that their assigned roles, restricted them in communicating. Of course, this did not solely improve their situation, however the added knowledge did appear to bring some relief. One reason being that the couple was not entirely responsible for the dynamics of communication in their marriage. Conclusion The process of bridging the communication gap, takes a type of re learning. The idea of gender subjugation and dominance, first had to be recognized (Coates and Cameron, 1988).

In some ways, this proved to be a relief, while in other cases this increased the friction between the couples. The male was unwilling to give up his dominant role in favor of keeping his wife subordinate. In some cases, this was the end of the marriage. In others, couples simply stopped therapy and it is unknown whether successful communication was ever reached (Coates and Cameron, 1988). In, dishearteningly few cases, the couple worked through these problems in communication and strove to incorporate such methods as, active listening and I, you messages (Wood, 2000).

Women often learned these techniques fairly quickly, while most of the time men had to work through their ego and allow themselves to feel and ultimately show emotion. However, it must be stressed, this is the first study of this nature. That is linking male-female communication directly to social stimuli and providing clients with this top of information. The information was direct at the close of the survey. In many instances, this knowledge was revealed, as appropriate by individual therapists. Yet, the information gleaned from both survey and literary research provides astonishing support for the hypothesis.

Societal pressure appear to play an overwhelming part in the way men and women communicate. It is a fascinating link and could provide a breakthrough in the way men and women ultimately communicate whether in intimate or other relationships (Wood, 2000). Society creates the web into which all of us are born. Interestingly, this fact is sometimes largely ignored when pathological problems occur. In the problem of communication between the sexes it must be recognized that the problem begins at a psych-social level.

Gender roles are socially created and can become stifling to the point of interfering with communication between men and women. Once these roles are recognized as having been created beyond the control of couples, the healing from dominance and subjugation may begin. The key to successful marital relationships, after all, is equality. In the Jewish tradition, there is a saying, Woman was not created from the mans head to be above him, nor from his feet to be below him. But from his side to walk beside him.

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