Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

What we can learn from husbands who share power with their wives
by Emmanuel, Donna, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 222; 3486443
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative study sought to explore the connection between three phenomena. The first was the researcher's prior observation, as a marriage and family therapist, of several married couples in which the husband's inability or unwillingness to accept influence from his wife played a central role in the couples' subsequent divorce. The second was research (Gottman, 1999) that suggests that the refusal of husbands to accept their wife's influence is highly predictive of divorce. The third phenomenon was the author's observation that although there is evidence that a man's willingness to accept his wife's influence is central to a stable marriage and marital satisfaction, there are no idiomatic, positive terms to describe husbands who do so. To the contrary, when husbands do explicitly and publicly seek input from their wives, the commonly used terms used to describe them are distinctly pejorative (e.g., "hen-pecked," "she wears the pants in the family," etc.).

This study focused on 18 heterosexual husbands who were identified as adept at sharing power with their wives. The project sought to identify the belief systems, attitudes, and behaviors of these husbands; the factors within and outside of their marriages which contributed to their skillfulness in this regard; and what advice they would give to other husbands who wish to develop these capacities. In order for the husband to be included in this study, both the participants and their wives completed the "Locke-Wallace Marital Inventory" (Locke & Wallace, 1959) and the "Gottman Accepting Influence Questionnaire" (Gottman, 1999), and both partners agreed that their marriages were satisfying and that the husband accepted his wife's influence. Gottman's statement, "marriages will work to the extent that men accept influence from, share power with, women" (p. 52) was the springboard for this 12-question, depth-psychological study.

The participants attributed their skillfulness at accepting influence to three major factors: (1) they married women they whole-heartedly loved, respected, and admired; (2) they were totally committed to their wives and to their marriages; and (3) they valued the role of conflict in their marriages and they learned to listen to their wife's complaints without defensiveness.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Watkins, Mary
Commitee:
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Counseling Psychology
Keywords: Influence, Marital satisfaction, Married couples, Power sharing
Publication Number: 3486443
ISBN: 978-1-267-04422-8
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