Aesthetic Realism & Resentment in Marriage

Reprinted from the San Antonio Register
San Antonio, Texas
October  26, 2000

Part 2

Some Resentments Looked At

Many woman have felt their husbands didn't pay enough attention to them and havePhoto of Barbara Allen, Aesthetic Realism Consultant with There Are Wives been hurt and angry. In order to be exact, there are many questions that need to be asked: What do we mean by attention? What kind of attention do we want? 

There is a difference between attention that has in it the desire to know, which includes being for another person liking the world, and against narrowness or selfishness; and the attention that is unkind flattery. We asked Mrs. Crowly about her statement, what did she mean? She said: 

Well, as I think about it, there are times I felt I was right--he doesn't pay attention, and there were many times I thought I was wrong. I think sometimes he'd rather talk to someone else than do something with me and I resent that.
We asked Mrs. Crowly if she is clear about what she wants from her husband. She said she was not sure. We have seen--contrary to what is thought--that men are self-critical and have regretted not being interested in their wives' feelings. "But," we said, "it is very important for you to ask: 'Does my husband think I want him to know what I feel?'" 

Mrs. Crowly: I don't know. I've asked myself, do other people show him more respect than I do? 

There Are Wives: It's a good question. And do you think a wife can give a message to a husband "I only want to hear praising things of me. I don't want you to question me, and if you do, I'm going to get angry." 

Mrs. C.: Yes, I think I have done this. 

TAW: And do you think it would be important for you to look at that before you complain of his neglect? 

Mrs. C.: Yes, I do. 

Mrs. Rollins raised her hand and said: 

I have complained my husband is not interested in me. And then when he shows he is and asks my questions about how I feel, I say, "He's always after me; he's never satisfied."
I said: 
There is an assumption women have--I had it, and I'm grateful I heard criticism about this--that men are incapable, not sensitive enough to know the inner workings of a woman--me. Now this was something I had gotten a great deal of importance from, and also used to justify anger with the world and a desire to hide from it. My motto was: "Nobody is going to get me." 

Does a Wife Want to Show Her Husband What She Feels?

We said: "Mrs. Basset, we'll ask you this question: You said your husband doesn't seem to want to talk about his feelings. Do you think he feels you want to?" 

Mrs. Basset: No, he feels more that I want to criticize him.  TAW: Do you?  Mrs. B.: Well, when I was younger, I studied art and cared for it. But since I've been married, I feel my husband is more interested in material things than in what I want in my life.  TAW: Do you see your interest in art as related to your interest in your husband or as opposed to your interest in him?  Mrs. B.: Opposed, I think.  TAW: So, Mrs. Basset, if you were to tell your husband about a painting you care for--do you think he would shut you up?"  After a pause, Mrs. Basset said, "No, I don't."  TAW: Do you think it is possible both you and your husband have a similar resentment? He feels you also want to keep him at a distance?  "Yes," she said, "I think so."  In his essay On a Person's Not Being Known, Mr. Siegel writes about this: 

The desire deepest in us, the one we're most proud of, the one that is of our substance, is the desire to be seen, known....Whatever else a husband may bring, if he does not bring to his wife a seeing of her, she misses something and does not respect him. And the resentment of a husband comes from the wife's not seeing him as somewhere he hopes to be seen, thinks he has a right to be seen.

Is There a Way a Husband Hopes to Be Seen?

We asked Mrs. Basset, "Do you think your husband misses anything from you? Does he think you see him fairly?" "Maybe not," she said. 

TAW: A man may not outwardly complain. Meanwhile, is that there? Expressed or not--it can come out in other ways like staying away from home, preferring to be with his friends, going on the internet for hours, spending time in the basement or working on the car.  Mrs. B.: I see I've been playing games. I haven't wanted to talk to him about some things. It's easier to say he's not interested.  TAW: That's right. It is extremely important to ask: What do we hope for? There can be a tragic stance that women come to. "You'll never meet my hopes. I'm bereft." Wives have wanted to be disappointed by their husband. It doesn't mean that a man wants to say everything he feels. He may not know all that he feels. but we should want to find out. 

We are proud and grateful that through the education of Aesthetic Realism resentments need not consume a marriage. They can be a means of greater honesty, love, and respect between wives and their husbands. That is what happened in this class and we look forward to the day when every couple can study their resentments, rather than endure them! 


Copyright © 2000-2015 Barbara Allen, Aesthetic Realism Consultant