- In most cases, men see themselves in the driver's seat. Whether they are any good at chairing the relationship and being in the driver's seat can be debated. But in terms of a man's self-image, he needs to be the chairman; he needs to drive. He needs to be first among equals, not to be superior or dominating but because this is how God has made him and he wants to take on that responsibility. page 191
Eggerichs assumes that a husband and wife must live in a hierarchical relationship with the husband as the leader and the wife as the submissive. The husband has 51% of the authority in all situations. The wife may win her husband over to her opinion by expressing her respect and admiration for him. Perhaps the fact that, for Eggerich, the wife wants to be treated as a princess and the husband as a king says it all.
Other than that, this book is an easy read, has many anecdotes in it, some of them helpful, and supports the ideas that many of us learned in grade school, that girls like attention and boys want to be the hero. Nothing wrong with that.
Patty has written a more favourable review of the book here and here. I note that she does not support the basic concept of hierarchy but applauds the notion of fundamental differences in emotional makeup of men and women. I agree. As a commenter on her blog remarked,
- Emphasizing that every individual and every marriage is different, there may be a neurochemical basis for the degree of emphasis men and women place on love and respect.
Women are more susceptible to the effects of oxytocin, the chemical of love, bonding, snuggling, etc., because our estrogen is higher.
Testosterone damps oxytocin's effects. Moreover, bonding in some male mammals seems to be due to vasopressin as well as oxytocin. In male animals, vasopressin stimulates guarding the mate and offspring, as well as challenge to other males.
Human experiments with oxytocin have shown that its effects are like those in other mammals. And vasopressin increased the likelihood that men, but not women, would see neutral expressions as angry. So this may be what's going on.
I think that understanding these neurochemical differences can go a long way toward giving the other person a break.
I like the last line of this comment but I wanted to know more about vasopressin. Here are excerpts from the study that I suppose this comment referred to,
- Insel and his colleagues primarily study male and female pair bonding in two species, the prairie vole and the montane vole. The two are 99 percent genetically alike, but that 1 percent divergence accounts for some dramatic differences.
Indigenous to the Midwest, prairie voles, Insel jokes, "represent in some ways the very best in Midwestern values." They mate for life, and the monogamous pairs nest together, often snuggling side by side. The male aggressively guards the female, and both are affectionate, attentive parents.
In contrast, the montane vole, a native of the Rocky Mountains, is a loner. The male and female do not share a nest and come together only briefly to mate. The male has no investment in the offspring. "They are what we consider the prototype of a promiscuous animal," Insel says.
Having concluded that the two hormones [oxytocin and vasopressin] are somehow key to lasting, monogamous love, Insel and his colleagues turned to the montane vole, the promiscuous loner. They gave the female montane oxytocin and the male montane vasopressin to see if they would exhibit behavior similar to prairie voles.
"But all they did was scratch," says Insel. "They remained as uninterested in social interaction or bonding as ever. So the question had to be asked, ‘What is different about the brains of these two species that leads to such different responses to these hormones?’"
What this study shows is that males and females are extremely variable. We suppose that God made both the Prairie Vole and the Montane Vole. Therefore we should not choose just one of these voles to illustrate our point about male and female humans.However, if presupposing male and female differences can contribute to us giving the other person a break, towards patience and forgiveness, humour and affection, then I am all for it. If a consideration of male and female differences is used to subordinate women, then the world will be a poorer place to live in.
I love the emphasis that John Gottman puts on mutual honour and respect, affection and humour and tolerance for difference. If two people can simply accept that the other person will not always share viewpoints, without this diminishing affection, this is a major predictor of a successful relationship.