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Couples Counseling and Women in Policy

Are women generally better at considering the needs of others? Exploring this concept through the lens of couples counseling and momwalks.

About 2 months ago, my husband and I began weekly couples counseling sessions. I knew before we got married that our communication had significant room for improvement, but after an argument over a bike that went infinitely in circles, it seemed that it was time to have some professional assistance. Further, being just a few months out from moving into a van with our small children to set out on our who-knows-how-long-and-exactly-where-we-will-go van trip, we both acknowledged that excellence in teamwork and communication would make all the difference for us.

Within just the first couple of sessions I learned so much about the difference in the way that my partner and I think, process and make decisions. Truly groundbreaking realizations, and we have both acknowledged that our therapy together has been helpful.

In our most recent session, our therapist commended us for how far we’ve come in just a few short months with our communication, and suggested that the health of our relationship is like a snowball, and asked how we could continue to roll it around to make it bigger and stronger. We were at a loss, so she suggested that we both voice what we would like to receive from the other during the week so that each partner knew what they could best give.

I asked for both an AM and PM daily emotional bid. Backing up, an “emotional bid” is a term that our therapist used when I expressed that my husband had been showing me more affection as a romantic partner – from a wink in the kitchen to a “what’s cookin’ good lookin'” to a sly ass grab. These emotional bids were things that made me feel seen in my romantic relationship which really energized me.

James asked for one night during the early evening (which is usually when we are working together to feed the kids and get them to bed) to go for a bike ride (on his new mountain bike from aforementioned argument lol). I was thrilled to KNOW and therefore to be able to GIVE him exactly what he wanted.

That afternoon, I asked him which night he would like to go for his ride and offered that I would be happy to give him TWO or even THREE nights off to ride if he would like that.

That evening, I realized I hadn’t yet received my emotional bid which I had been looking forward to. I debated whether or not to say something to him, to text my therapist for advice or to just wait it out. The next morning, nothing. So after he was 0-for-2 on emotional bid opportunities, I decided to say something. He picked up his phone and said that he was going to just go ahead and set a reminder.

WHAT?! A reminder to give me a little flirt or compliment after I had voiced that this was the only thing I was asking for as a romantic partner?!!!!! I expressed my extreme dissatisfaction in how apparently unimportant and at-the-back-of-his mind my needs were to him. He ended up abandoning the phone notification, and by the near end of day 2, there was no emotional bid. 0-for-3.

Thankfully, every Tuesday evening after the kids go to bed, I momwalk. What is momwalking? It is when two or more moms get together to go for a walk, where we work out our bodies and our grievances. I coined the term because it became a staple in mine and my momwalking partners’ week. As you can imagine, one of our go-to-topics is our partners. I immediately shared that James was 0-for-3 on such a simple ask (IMO). Fortunately, one of my fellow momwalkers was able to shed some light on the mindset of my husband and was horrified when I told her that I shamed him for putting the reminder in his phone. She suggested that THIS act of putting it in his phone was his way of showing that it was important and that I really should cut him some slack because it is clear that he is trying.

I came home, took a shower and came out to a “what’s cookin’ good lookin’?” (ok 1-for-3!) and I said “Hey, I am sorry for giving you a hard time about putting the reminder in your phone. I realize that you are trying and I really appreciate it”. He thanked me and we had a cuddle.

That was over a week ago and I have really enjoyed my emotional bids since then. And fortunately, have stopped keeping score. James has enjoyed his bike rides, which I follow-up on without reminder every other day to make sure he is getting what he needs and wants (beyond).

So, all is feeling great in my romantic relationship, woohoo! But what has really struck me in conversing about this with several of my female friends who are in relationships with men, is that this is a common theme! We constantly consider their needs and wants, and yet the very doable things that we express as our needs, are often ignored, or are seemingly very difficult for them to remember and execute on.

And there it clicked for me, and granted this is a HUGE generalization, but I believe based on my experience and conversations, that women in general have a much greater capacity and tendency to consider and act on the needs of others. And by this logic, I believe that we would all be better off with more women in policy. Meaning, shouldn’t our governing laws, processes and institutions be crafted by those with the greatest capacity to consider the needs of all?

What do you think about this??? What has been your experience with expressing needs and having that met in relationships with women and/or men? Would you like to hear more about what I have learned thus far in couples counseling? Do you agree with my logic here on the increased importance of having women involved in crafting policy (and also perhaps prioritizing policy changes that need to be implemented)? Let’s discuss!!

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