I don’t think that women today are so different from women of the past. From the beginning of time, we’ve been finding food, raising babies, and keeping everyone safe. As I wrote about here, one of our primal urges is just to reduce risk because our children need us that badly to also survive. We have always been very, very busy. We’ve ALWAYS worked hard. And because of this need to find resources, raise our babies, and survive, we have amazing empathic skills. We need to know what people need and be able to detect who is going to be a safe part of our tribe and who we need to get far, far away from.
So when I think about what is driving a lot of women to be unhappy in their marriages today, perhaps it’s only at the surface that driven women in their masculine energy are looking for more balance to be in their feminine as I wrote about here. I think we ARE looking for balance, of course! We all are. That is the way. The Tao. But I think there’s something else we need to seriously look at…
Working Outside The Home Isn’t What Fulfills Us
Now, because we don’t want to rely on men for resources, as we are motivated to deep in our evolutionary psychology, we have to follow the money and sometimes work jobs that don’t fulfill or reward us.
All the while longing to mother something, whether that’s our own child or something else, like other people or children, businesses, animals, etc. Sadly, half the time that ends up being our husband. In some deep, unhealed way he’s longing to be mothered and in our primal way, we are longing to mother.
When we do finally have babies, we know deep inside that it’s our most important work, to mother them and mother them well.
But We Still Need Resources
But then we realize that mothering them doesn’t bring us resources… In fact, it depletes them faster than ever before. And we know that our children need good resources and networks to survive in the world. How good of a job we do determines their success–from an evolutionary perspective, that means survival and mating, and from a modern perspective, it means thriving and feeling fulfilled.
And here’s my theory… that this is the point when moms who previously were able to independently obtain resources but now are more focused on mothering (which I know is not ALL women), are incredibly uncomfortable with either having to choose between mothering or gathering resources (income) or desperately longing for their husband to manage all the resource gathering, as is his nature to do according to science.
But there’s also a caveat. That same science tells us he’s actually LESS motivated and “productive” after getting married and having children, because one of the primary drivers of gathering resources was to be able to compete with other men to get the best woman. Once he has her, that drive diminishes. Though he should still be focused on investing in his children and helping their mother launch them “successfully,” he’s as disinterested as she is in spending nights and weekends striving for cash he no longer needs to lek (entice females to mate with him through flashy displays proving he has resources for their babies). He’d rather be with the children he’s invested in to carry on his line.
Looking For Resources to Ensure Our Survival
So now, with our fertile and thus desirable window closing, we start to wonder if we’re in the wrong marriage. Ironically, looking for a better father or better resources often leads us to life as a single mother, far removed from both. Research shows that women do far worse for a number of years following a divorce, in terms of both happiness (we’re exhausted) and wealth. Divorce almost always creates even more struggle.
For some reason, I always like to take these issues and envision a caveperson dealing with them. There just seems to be the most truth in stripping away everything modern. So imagine a cavewoman taking her two babies and walking away from her “home” through the desert to look for better. Now she has to feed, protect, and shelter them all on her own. And because men have another strong driver to avoid cuckolding (raising another man’s child), it’s less likely (though not impossible) that she’ll attract another mate, if she wants one. If she does, he’s a threat to her existing children, and research proves that as well.
Now, obviously, if the real father was a threat to her or her children’s survival (meaning he was abusive), she would have bounced, period. But if he wasn’t–if he still afforded her some protection and some resources and didn’t threaten the things that motivate her (to resource, raise, and reduce risk to survive), then he would be the best choice, no? He has the most interest in investing in his children’s future.
But today we don’t look at it that way because we have things like homes with locks, daycares, and assistance. We have more choices.
If the father doesn’t seem properly invested in his children, either in raising them well, which includes providing the mother with the resources to do so, or is in any way a threat to our survival, then the marriage is threatened.
We Blame Him For Our Inner Conflict
To the woman, the child is everything. If she’s the one bringing in the resources instead, then she is depending on the father to raise them well. But here’s where it gets tricky… if he doesn’t raise them the way SHE would, then she starts to have inner conflict. She knows the child needs the empathy and nurturing she offers. Typically men push and women pull their children along. Men teach them how to protect themselves and compete, women teach them how to find resources and reduce risk. Men systematize, women empathize. We’re just different, even if we have fairly balanced brains.
With this inner conflict raging, the blame goes to the husband for both not being woman enough to raise the children right and not being man enough to produce the resources so she doesn’t have to.
So what is a woman in this position to do?
First, find out what IS true to her. Is she more in her masculine brain, most interested in the hunt? Or is she more in her feminine brain, more interested in using empathy to raise her children well? My guess is that most women in this position are realizing that they have leaned into a masculine role that isn’t totally natural for them, and they are desiring now to be more in their natural feminine role as mother. In fact, from an evolutionary psychology perspective, time is running out to launch their child “successfully,” which is their biggest goal in life.
So if it’s true that masculine is more her nature, then she needs to accept that and find a way to balance her time between producing resources and mothering her child. And accept that her husband will be giving their child something a little different than she would be giving it (though certainly men can develop more empathetic brains, too).
If it’s true that feminine is more her nature, then she needs to back away from producing resources and allow her husband to step into the more masculine role. She needs to be devoted to mothering, which also means reducing risk, keeping everyone safe and fed, and working hard to keep a home. Ugh, I KNOW this all sounds so patriarchal but I think it’s the truth. As I started to say in the beginning, I think we used to work very hard in our homes to raise our babies and that it used to be very fulfilling, but eventually toxic masculinity made it unbearable because men were jerks and stripped our rights. Now, men are evolving and we could both run our homes and still feel like respected, loved, worthy human beings. We could know that our worth is not tied to our income or career. In fact, the people who matter most are the kids being raised by us. To them, and really to society as a whole, being a parent is the most important work we’ll ever do.
And we could lean into the vows of our marriage and know that we’ll be safe even if we’re not the one producing the income. Though, often our meaningful work will eventually provide those resources anyway. And those vows mean that we’re safe even when we’re no longer fertile. Though we have the evolutionary drive to reproduce and carry on the line, in modern times we have the realization that the species will survive even if we don’t… meaning, even if we didn’t raise kids who seem to have a guaranteed chance to reproduce, it will be ok.
Mothering Doesn’t End When Our Kids Launch
And as those children grow and start to leave home, we continue our mothering through the meaningful work that we do. We continue to birth beautiful things in the world. Show me a woman and I’ll show you how she mothers SOMETHING. That is truly what’s most fulfilling to us… not making money, not competing with others, but mothering and being able to attract those with resources to support us. Does that make sense? It’s not the money that motivates us, it’s the mothering and self-expression. Yet doing whatever we do well gives us access to people with higher resources who could help us meet our needs, whether that’s a mate or a client who does give us money.
In my work, my goals are based on how many people I help, NOT how much money I make. Financial goals just don’t work for me like they might work for my husband. The same is likely true for you, too. You’re looking to have an impact, to put your mothering out into the world and have it be a success. Maybe it’s not even your own kids who will be the success, but the people you help through your other form of mothering, whether that’s a business or volunteering to help those less fortunate. You want everyone to be successful, to be cared for, to be happy, and to thrive.
So as I think today about what to tell men about marriage, it’s for them to know that a woman’s drive is always mothering. If you want her to love you, you must support her to do it well.
To learn more about having a conscious marriage so you can create the relationship you want, click here.