"Home-work" imposes some special frustrations and tensions on women, and we should face them squarely. Even for a mother who is deeply committed to her family and its welfare, there may be times when she feels like running away from her tribe. Small children, such as Ryan, can be exhausting and irritating to those who must care for them 365 days per year. The little butterballs are noisy and they bicker with each other and they make incredible messes and they wet their pants and they scratch the furniture and they steadily unravel mom's jangled nerves throughout the long days. Truly, it takes a superwoman to raise a bevy of children without occasionally wondering, "What in the world am I doing here?!"
Women also encounter other problems and pressures which are less common among men. Loneliness for adult companionship is particularly prevalent for the woman who remains at home. She often experiences deep, persistent yearnings for human contact. She longs for laughter and love and the romantic moments from her own younger days. Her daily dedication to soap operas on television is a reflection of this need for involvement in the lives of people, for her existence has become so isolated. It is no small problem.
This brings us to the most common source of frustration expressed to me in marital counseling: women who have experienced the unmet needs described above are often totally incapable of explaining their feelings to their husbands. The wife who knows something vital has disappeared from her life naturally reaches out to her man to supply the missing ingredient. She desperately wants him to understand her fears and frustrations, but she can't seem to get through to him. Oh, she tries, no doubt about that! But instead of her effort bringing empathy and support, it is likely to be interpreted as nagging, complaining, self-pity, and eye-gouging hostility of various forms. And every man alive is equipped with a little button somewhere in the center of his skull which permits him to "tune out" that kind of unnecessary noise. One wife wrote me the following note, expressing the precise sentiments of a million others: "Lack of communication causes most of my depression. When I try to resolve our problems or talk about them, my husband gives me a cold wall of silence. He becomes extremely negative whenever I try to discuss anything. He feels we have no problems!"
I did not write my book What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women to bad-rap American men. We've had plenty of that in recent years. It has become popular to depict father as an idiot, a bigot, an exploiter, a misogynist, a football fanatic, a sex-maniac, a self-centered egotist. To hear some angry females tell it, men are lower than a snake on snowshoes. Being a man myself, I tend to take those charges rather personally. But it is true, I believe, that too many men do not understand the emotional needs of their wives. They live a vastly different world with ample frustrations of their own. Either they are unable to put themselves in a woman's place, seeing and feeling what she experiences, or else they are preoccupied with their own work and simply aren't listening. For whatever reason, women have needs which men do not comprehend. It is this breakdown of understanding that motivated my book and its title, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women.
What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women, then, is devoted to the American woman, with particular reference to her home and family life. There are workable solutions to the problems and frustrations which she faces there, and I have shared some of the approaches which have been effective in the lives of others. I have also discussed the nature of feminine emotions and how they influence her day-by-day activities. In short, the message of my book is designed to accomplish these objectives:
1.Help women explain their unique needs to their husbands.
2.Assist in breaking the shackles of emotional isolation.
3.Provide the keys to more fulfilling motherhood.
4.Discuss the common sources of depression in women, and their solutions.
5.Offer specific answers to everyday irritants.
6.Point the pathway toward greater self-esteem and acceptance.
7.Describe the real meaning of romantic love.
These are ambitious purposes, admittedly, and they sound a bit like the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. However, it is easier to shoot straight when one knows where the target is.
By Dr. James Dobson