Improve Your Gal?

A woman often marries a man for his potential. If women married men for who they actually were, there would be far fewer marriages. When a woman loves a man, she says to herself, ‘I could improve him. Once we’re together, things will be different.’ Since I began my [couples therapy] practice in 1977, I’ve heard this refrain hundreds of times. I try to get it across to the woman that what she sees is what she gets. This is him. …

Men tend to resist change. In fact, one of the most prized characteristics of a man’s friendship with other men is total acceptance. When a woman begins to encourage a man to live up to his potential, he misunderstands that as her overall dissatisfaction with him. … The man may initially improve according to her recommendations — remember, he has a lot invested in what she thinks of him. But over time, he becomes slower to respond. …

When the marriage is on the brink of breakup, the woman drags him into my office. That’s when I hear what almost any therapist can tell you is the most repeated phrase among men: “No matter what I do, I can never please this woman.” (more)

I have many questions:  Why don’t men try as hard to improve their women?  Is it that he cares less what she will become, or would she more resist the pressure to change?  If he cares less, is this because men peak later in life, and we care more about our spouses qualities near their peak than their trough?  If she resists more, is this because example the median woman is more dominant, the median man more submissive?  Is the above pattern world-wide, or mainly in the US?

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