The biggest surprise for Dorothy was how much more influence and power she had when she showed her feminine side. The image of the beauty and the beast started to mean something different now. Dorothy’s femininity provided healing, nourishment, and safety for her husband. His masculinity provided her support, security, and safety to be herself as well as strength to be strong outside the home. Her career benefited even more. Her friendships also grew as a result.
The decreased pressure from having to have everything perfect made Dorothy relax more at home. Her children opened up more and taught her lessons about being imperfect… made things more perfect. Seeing Albert sharing in the decision making process opened up Dorothy’s heart and mind to other ways of doing things. Albert was far more capable than she had ever given him credit for. Her quality of life improved beyond what she had imagined was possible as his voice found it’s place.
There were areas of differences that could not be fixed in a way that both parties liked. Albert was not going back to chasing a career like Dorothy wanted. His hobbies and interests were his passions and he pushed them forward quite profitably. He was not interested in her having a controlling stake in his hobbies either, to Dorothy’s irritation.
Dorothy didn’t like having to reign in her complaints about how men were. It took away from the story she used to help others gain power. Albert was not giving any inch of compromise in this area. If Dorothy could not say anything supportive about his role as husband, she was not to say anything at all. Albert found creative ways of enforcing this as well. It was a sore point for Dorothy, but in time, she found peace with it… on the grounds that she would have been highly upset if Albert spoke about her like she did of him in public.
The circle of friends that Albert had, he kept. Much to Dorothy’s dismay. She wanted those women in his circle to be pushed out. Albert didn’t agree. They both agreed to disagree and be nice about it. Albert did express some concern about a few of Dorothy’s friends but didn’t press the issue. While he had grounds to press more, his tactic did soften Dorothy’s heart and she agreed to reevaluate some of her friendships at a later date.
The resulting relationship was a lot warmer than the one that came into counseling. Their communication styles improved greatly. Trust was secured. The dating helped a lot. The had grown considerably apart and would need to keep an open mind about each other as they dated and re-acquainted themselves with each other.
Over time, the gap narrowed. What helped them narrow the gap more than anything was their steadfast focus on where they wanted to go. They had to be very understanding and forgiving of each other as they relearned so much about their assumptions. There were tears. There were silent nights. There were struggles. However, they worked through the difficulties to find a happier balance.
As for Dorothy’s views on feminism, they’ve strengthened. The more she owned her voice and ideas, the easier it was to communicate her needs with Albert. The more he understood her needs the easier it was for him to provide creative ideas on how they could negotiate and find a middle ground. In addition to negotiations, the more solidly Dorothy stood, the stronger Albert stood. The better he was at sharing his thoughts. The less he feared of accidentally hurting her… out of fear she was weak and feeble… a sensitive touchy point they had to work through very patiently.
Finding a third way of doing things was their secret weapon to solve disagreements. When their views couldn’t find a middle ground, they searched for a third alternative that they both could agree on and would meet their needs.
Albert is now jokingly calling himself a feminist as well. He likes the idea of having a savvy sparing partner to dive into negotiations of love. It is not a situation in which he has to lose for her to win or vice versa. It’s two people coming together to fight for the victory of the relationship. They two can disagree and fight fairly without damaging the relationship. The love and respect remains intact while the topic is heatedly debated. Then, the conclusion is accepted and the relationship marches on intact.
The two sides of a coin is necessary to make the coin have value. Mr and Mrs are needed to make the union work. How the division of labor happens will vary from couple to couple. Dorothy and Albert still have work to do. The road to bridging the gap still has potholes. The threat of divorce is not all gone, but it is much less now than it once was.
The children did benefit from this as well. They too looked into talking with someone about their concerns. They too started to contribute more to the family. The whole group is now functioning in a healthier fashion. They’re very happy to finally have their dad around instead of having to worry about when they could access him and when they couldn’t.
The children now plan the family vacations… sparing Dorothy the work and Albert the silent resentment.
In time, this couple will be OK.