Over the last several years, as an author, educator, and mentor of women, I have analyzed marriage from a multiplicity of angles—that is from material written by professional governmental, educational, and faith-based sociologists, scientists, and psychologists, as well as journalists, philosophers, and novelists. What strikes me overall is how each source (regardless of the author’s personal background, purpose, or professional credentials) assert, or at least assume, these general trends in the Western world:
1. There has been a titanic cultural shift in the roles of men and women.
2. This social transformation has left many men in a quandary over their identity. The lack of definitive social expectations leaves men at a disadvantage compared to their male progenitors, who knew for thousands of years exactly what was expected of a man.
3. This adjustment is affecting men’s personal and professional relationships with women.
4. Men are increasingly looking to strong women to help them direct their energy, inspire their dreams, and channel their ambitions in constructive ways.
5. This progressive view is allowing more and more men and women to act as true partners in achieving family and professional goals.
6. Of all the strengths women bring to partnership, one of the most vital is their natural orientation toward relationships. Women generally, by virtue of biochemistry, social tradition, contemporary cultural developments, or all of the above, are frequently more adept at relationship dynamics than men are.
Thus, in a nutshell, women today, either by design, development, or accident, depending on your belief system, are in a very powerful position when it comes to creating and maintaining truly rewarding relationships with men. As anthropologist Helen Fisher asserts: “Women are becoming capable, worldly, and interesting—as wives, as lovers, as friends, and as companions. If ever there was a time in human evolution when men and women have had the opportunity to make fulfilling marital attachments, that time is now.” (First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World, p. 283)
Of course, any relationship is a two-way street, linking two people who share responsibility for its outcome. But the truth of the matter appears to be that women have a disproportionate amount of influence on both the day-to-day and the long-term tenor of their marriage. The feminine energy we bring to the partnership is intuitive, relational, receptive, connective, intimate, and inclusive.
Musing over the idea that women in general (at least Western women) wield significant influence in their relationships, I am reminded of a conversation I once had with a student who took exception with this one aspect of Wife for Life (the body of successful marriage principles and skills I teach to women exclusively). I agreed with her—right out of the box—that each party in the marriage is responsible for 50% of the partnership.
“But aren’t you,” I challenged, “100% responsible for your 50%?”
She went on to concede that life is not really about numbers, and relationships that keep score inevitably fail. Plus–once we got off the principle platform–she admitted to reality: her man was persistently ignoring their troubles and resisting permanent change. Attempts to move the dial had repeatedly, frustratingly, topped out, at best, somewhere in the middle.
After our conversation however, my new friend made a new tact, fully embracing her relational power. With that simple shift, she felt suddenly motivated to learn and practice all she could about relationship dynamics, particularly marriage, so that, like thousands of others in my experience (including myself), she could move the dial past center, toward maximum. I watched her work day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year; her partner necessarily responding to, and learning from, her relational influence. She is now one of the most satisfied, successful wives I know, with a truly beautiful marriage—one for the family history books.
I believe that same outcome is possible for most intelligent women partnered with well-intentioned men because feminine intuition, inclination, and imagination is nothing less than potent, pure energy. Modern women really do have more power than ever before; and in terms of human happiness, it’s the power that counts the most.