“From girlhood we have subscribed to the happily-ever-after myth from Sleeping Beauty, to Barbies, to romance novels, but men have not been socialized to fulfill these fantasies. I’m a big advocate of acceptance and teach women how to change the only one they can change—themselves!” –Sally Watkins
Hello Sally. Your philosophy is: Learn to love what’s right instead of trying to fix what’s wrong. Please tell us about your new book.
I’ve discovered in my own life and those of the many clients I’ve seen in my twenty year psychotherapy practice that our focus on trying to find and create a perfect relationship is the cause of much of our unhappiness. We come by this idea honestly because it is everywhere reflected in our culture—the idea that the perfect partner is out there and if we find our soul mate the relationship will be blissful. This is of course a delusion and we can spend a lot of time being miserable searching and discarding normally flawed guys or trying to perfect the guy we have.
Often when a woman changes her perspective and discovers how to make her life happier her partner is charged by this new energy and the relationship can be improved. Conversely, when a woman focuses on the negative and complains and cries or enlists the help of a counselor to fix him, the relationship can get worse.
What wonderful counsel! Sally wrote, “The purpose of a relationship is not to make you happy—no one person can or should be expected to do that—but rather to help you evolve and grow in character and strength and support your being in the world.” What a wonderful thought! This book will help women solve a wide range of problems. The secret is by changing your mindset. You said that we “will experience a decrease in anger and disappointment” as we learn to understand our self more fully. Sally, where did you get the inspiration for your novel?
I grew up in a home with terrible violence and deprivation and didn’t see a good relationship modeled for me. As a young woman I desperately wanted a prince to save me and looked long and hard for one, and struggled to figure out who I was. I had a lot of therapy, went to many groups, and read hundreds of self-help books. It’s what made me want to be a therapist and go back to school to get an education. I’m grateful for those early problems because I really understand from my own life what women are going through. A college education is important but overcoming my own childhood wounding is what makes me a more credible therapist and now author.
You wrote: Women can help a man be more relational when she realizes that being attuned to her feelings and needs does not come naturally to him. She can remind him of the things that matter to her, prepare him to handle emotional conversations, and not take it personally when he tunes out or shuts down. Do you find this is one of the greatest problems in marriage?
It really is for the simple reason that women want relationship security above all else, more even than financial security. It’s our nature to want reassurance on a daily basis that our guy is still into us and will stay. This is why we read into what he does to decide if he loves us or not. Unfortunately these signs don’t convey love to a guy and he doesn’t come by them naturally. Men were trained to ignore their feelings and not ask for help, and to be tough. Often guys want to please us but need help to know how. It’s a wise woman who helps him be successful in this regard.
The mistake men make is to not understand that talking about everything is how women connect. He sometimes hears her as complaining or criticizing him or their life. He may not get it that she’s trying to bring him into her day and her life and her feelings as a way of getting closer.
You are so right about that. I have six daughters and “talking about everything” is how they connect with one another. My husband has learned that about his girls. Sally, you use examples from your own life in your book. What does your husband think of that?
Warren and I have been married for almost 13 years. Most of the examples in the book predate our relationship. By the time we were married I had learned from all of my mistakes and was in the very best place to make things work out well with us. He is very proud of my book but doesn’t recognize the girl and woman I once was.
Thank you so much, Sally. I have gotten to know you much better in this interview. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.
My dear husband and I share an office and when I was writing my book I needed to really concentrate. Idle conversation was hugely distracting to me and I would lose my train of thought. So, I made a very special hat out of green fabric and printed many words on it that made it an inspirational writing hat—words like “inspire”, “create”, “imagination”, “enlighten”, “develop” etc. Then when I had my funny green hat on, my husband recognized that I was deep in thought and didn’t say anything to interrupt me. He tiptoed into the office and took his phone calls in another room. Then when I took off my hat I was available for us to talk. It worked like a charm. The hat actually helped me to settle into my writing and it alerted him without words to what I needed from him.
Wow! I love your idea about the green hat. Your husband was so sweet to recognize the fact that you needed time alone, tiptoeing here and there. He sounds like a real sweetheart.
Change Your Mindset, Not Your Man
Book Review by Linda Weaver Clarke
This book is full of wonderful ideas to help a marriage become stronger, to help bond two people with two different backgrounds and ideas. Even if a couple is raised similarly, there is one factor to take into account. A woman is completely different than a man with different needs. Sally Watkins says, “Many women feel that the way to fix a problem is to confront their man, reveal their feelings, and ask for what they want to change.” This simply doesn’t work. We tend to believe in the “happily ever after” stories, believing there is a perfect man out there for us, and that life will be wonderful. Where did this idea come from? Fairytales, romantic novels, and romantic movies! Sally’s first chapter is called: Fairytale Fantasy—Busted.
I love what Sally said in her book. “The purpose of a relationship is not to make you happy—no one person can or should be expected to do that—but rather to help you evolve and grow in character and strength and support your being in the world.” What a wonderful thought! This book will help women solve a wide range of problems. The secret is by changing your mindset, not your man. You “will experience a decrease in anger and disappointment” as you learn to understand yourself more fully.