Monday, February 28, 2011

New studies reveal an old truth.

Some recent headlines regarding studies of marriage breadown may have caught your eye. A lot of interesting work in this area ha
s recently received some mainstream press attention, and garnered some eyebrow-raising coverage. This new approach to marriage psychology has been pioneered by Dr. Elena Olaffsson at the Oslo behavioural institute. Her work in the field has revealed what many of our readers already know - that for many couples, the usual western model of mariage has deep flaws, but that these can be remedied by the application of the principles of wife-led marriage.

Here’s an extract from the institute’s recent study of gender roles within successful and failing marriages.
“The study of gender roles within marriage has usually concentrated either on the difficulties that may be caused by a perceived imbalance of work in the home, or the potential to emasculate the male partner by the imposition of female roles of homemaking or childcare when the female partner works outside the home.
this study has revealed is that the imposition of perceived female roles on the male partner can have a hugely beneficial effect on marriage outcome. These results have heretofore been masked by the gender role bias of the researchers. Most interestingly these gender role biases are rareley apparent in the subjects themselves. Allowing their experiences to come to the fore, free from societal value-laden mores reveals the potential for deep beneficial effects of the reversal of normal gender-roles within the home and the relationship.”
What Dr. Olaffsson is saying, is that the study of gender roles needs to look at the context within the marriage and see past the superficial constraints that society places on such roles.
In other words, making your husband wear a pinny may help your marriage if it is addressed in the right way.
Her study first looked at failing marriages where gender roles were identified as playing a part in marriage beakdown and then examined how those perceived roles could be addressed.
The original study looked at over 100 couples presenting for counselling where either or both parties complained that gender roles were an issue. Typically these cases broke down in to one of two types. Firstly, where the male did not work outside the home, but the female partner was working outside the home. Secondly, where the female partner was unhappy with their partner’s desire to take on female roles within the marriage or the male partner wished to do so but was rebuffed.
Such cases often resulted in marriage breakdown, but due to the application of some imaginative work on the part of the institute some remarkable success was found by placing such difficulties in a different context. The institute began a program of persuading such couples to see the imposition of perceived female roles on the male party in a positive light. Males were encouraged to embrace the female aspects of their personalities and to adopt ever increasing female roles and tasks within the marriage. Such approaches were not new, but what was new was that such advice was given, not in the context of ‘balancing’ perceived female roles within the marriage, but rather in a wholehearted acceptance of the male party taking on a female role, led by their partner. Success in avoiding marriage breakdown was both marked and verifiable.
Interestingly, the reverse was shown not to be the case, and to the same degree. That is, the imposition of perceived female roles on the female partner had exactly the reverse effec
Here is Dr. Olaffsson again.
“Often, we see male resistance to the imposition of female roles based not on a reluctance to adopt such roles, but because such imposition is perceived as ‘unfair’. What does the male mean by this? Probing such resistance reveals that he feels that he will have only the negative aspects of the role - the work, the subordinate role - without any of the positive aspects. What positive aspects are those perceived to be? These are more difficult for subjects to articulate, and this in part leads to confusion regarding the resitance in the first place. Theraputic dialogue, includng hypnoisis though, can reveal the nature of the supposed ‘positive’ aspects. A lack of responsibility, feelings of being cared for, respect due to the home maker, and most ephemeral of all - femininity itself. That femininity can be regarded as a positive, indeed desirable state, in and of itself is an interesting finding - but why should that be? Masculinity can be regarded as such. males speak of feeling ‘manly’ when partaking in aggressive sports, undertaking male-oriented tasks requiring skil and physical strength or protective or bread-winning tasks in the context of the home. In the same way, femininity can be ragarded positively. A woman may gain satisfaction through the achievement of feminine goals - child rearing, home making and, of course, and especially through a feminine appearance. Thus, a male, suborned into what is perceived as a female role through necessity or changes to a relationship’s dynamic, may feel that he is obliged to assume the role, without gaining it’s benefits.
Of course, such benefits are purely subjective. A male who is required to clean and tidy as part of their work outside the home does not feel that he has become feminine. Within the home though, the perception is different. A male who is required to work in the home is simply performing a woman’s role. But of course, he is not treated as one, nor can he be, he is male. Here is the perceived unfairness, and it contains a paradox - what is a man when he is not behaving as a man? The answer is simple. He is an emasculated, feminised man - a sissy. The resolution of the paradox, and the solution to the marriage problems it engenders is simple. The man must become a sissy. He must bend to the will of his wife and take on the feminine role in the marriage. “
Strong stuff, we’re sure you’ll agree. But Dr. Oflaffsson’s discovery is even more contentious. Her research has shown, conclusively, that such a solution can not only work, but work extremely well. Not only that, but that it can work in almost all cases.
Relaxing in her surprisingly comfortable offices, she relates to us how her techniques have been applied.
“The problem in the past has been that marriage therapists have recoiled from the kind of gender stereotyping that are ingrained in the conciousness. In a misplaced desire to achieve a false ‘equality’ and an understandable, but wrong-headed aversion to degenerate ‘women’s work’, they have attempted to persuade men to see work in the home, acceptance of spousal leadership, the subjugation of masculine traits as a positive, liberating role. This is doomed to fail, since it runs against every more in society and the male’s own experience. You simply cannot persuade men that cooking and cleaning is a positive, life affirming job. They are not that stupid. Women have rebelled against such a notion for generations, and men are not immune to this. However, a man can be persuaded that the adoption of a submissive, feminine role is a positive thing. This is new. Of course, many men embrace such a role. These are natural sissies. Such men have long been the subject of study. What we have discovered is that inside most men, perhaps all men, there is a natural sissy who is waiting to be released.
The key is in the positive reinforcement of the validation that this role can provide. Thus the male is encouraged not to ‘accept’ the role but to ‘embrace’ it. Yes. Embrace. A loving embrace!”
At this Dr. Olaffsson bangs the rosewood desk in her plush office and laughs a rich, nordic laugh, such as her Viking ancestors may have done. In fact, one can easily imagine the statuesque blonde in the garb of a valkyrie, taking ownership of cringing male captives, snatched from more dissipated shores. Any man, natural sissy or otherwise, would feel emasculated in her stern presence.
“But yes. This is the case, and such an embrace is good for them, for their marriage, for their wives. And how they embrace it!”
She goes on to describe the technique. Surprisingly, no hypnosis is used, only the most basic techniques of behaviour modification - punishment and reward, reinforcement and aversion. Such techniques work well with the male psyche, as they do with children, or pets.
“The key is the participation of the wife. She must also be trained, not in the same way, but at the same time. In fact, she must be the trainer, and anyone can learn the techniques. The ease is of course, because the man will want to obey, will want to comply. He will soon understand that reward comes with compliant behaviour, punishment, scolding comes with wrong behaviours.”
She shows me some short instructional videos used in couples therapy. The first is for the wife.
audio excerpt - “Nobody likes to make beds of course, but it has to be done. Nothing makes a home look untidy and unkempt quite like an unmade bed. Your husband should be encouraged to take pride in the appearance of your home and to feel that warm glow of satisfaction that an orderly, tidy bedroom gives. The bedroom provides an ideal venue for punishment when a bed is not properly made up to your satisfaction. When he fails to perform the task properly he can be made to sleep on the floor, or be ejected altogether. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing him to think that performing the task properly confers any conjugal rights. Certainly not. In fact the bedroom should always be seen as your domain. His only duty there is to keep it neat and clean. if you allow your husband to sleep in the same bed with you, his reward should only be in seeing you pleased enough with his efforts that you deign to allow him to share it at all.”
The second is an equivalent video for the male partner.
A softer female voice - “The sight of a well-made bed is it’s own reward. Everyone should take pride in their home, and the bedroom, the heart of the home is the place where that prid
e can be most intimately expressed. A perfectly smooth coverlet, a fluffed pillow, all combine to create order and comfort. How pleased will you wife be when she sees the care you have taken to perfectly present her bed. And perfect, crisp white sheets, ironed and smoothed in the linen cupboard are a wonderfully intimate way to express your love and devotion to her. The bedrom is where your wife can relax, and relieve herself of the stresses of her working day. It would be terrible for her to return home and find an unmade bed. She would be disspointed and displeased with you. No. Instead, as you make her bed each morning, think how happy she will be with the care you take in this simple task. She deserves clean, ironed sheets, a scented pillow, her nightwear carefully folded and ready for her. How loving and intimate this act can be. She leaves in the morning, tosing her used nightwear on the floor, the bed crimpled and used. How wonderful for her to return to freshly laundered, lovingly pressed fresh lingerie, placed on a perfect pillow.”
“You see? You see the reward? The femininity is it’s own reward. He strives to win her approval, and in return, she allows him his feminity. It is perfect? No?”
Dr. Olaffsson’s satisfaction is borne out by the dozens of successful couples she has helped to save their marriages.
Case after case shows truculent, dissatisfied men turned into happy, contented husbands, pleased to serve their working wives in whatever way they see fit. Happy, successful wives attest to the wonders that Dr. Olaffsson has worked on previously difficult marriages. Husbands are rendered pliant
and docile, attentive and loving where once they were argumentative and deeply unhappy.
In the face of such success it seems churlish to bring up possible problems. Howver, Dr. Olaffsson is nonplussed.
“The sex? Of course, you Americans always ask about the sex. But this is no problem of course. Yes, once the husband is feminised, yes, there are problems in the bedroom. He may not be able to perform, but more commonly, the wife can no longer tolerate the sissy as a sexual partner. But of course, the solution is right there. She can, she must, find sexual satisfaction o
utside the home. This is natural, to be expected. And there is no problem from the husband of course. Now he is a sissy, he is unable, unwilling even, to make this an issue. He, of course is bound to his wife. Even if denied sexual role at all, he cannot do anything about it. But this is natural, and often must be part of his training, not to seek an active sexual role for himself. If training is complete, he will not even think to do so, and will be glad his wife has a fulfilling sexual life without him. He thinks only of her hapiness.
Well, quite. I am almost afraid to ask if the doctor takes her own medicine. Her laugh puts aside my trepidation.
“Well , of course. Although, I have to say, my marriage was never in trouble. My husband is Swedish, and between Sweden and Norway, there is not contest - you understand?”
She laughs again, and while I have no idea of the subtelties of Scandinavian
politics, sexual or otherwise, I am left in no doubt that Elena will be returning to a well-made bed this evening.