Why Are Your Most Important Relationships so Hard?

Why Are Your Most Important Relationships so Hard?

Photo by Corentin Marzin on Unsplash

Many of the men and women I work with are struggling in their relationships. It is likely a relationship with their partner, but not always. Sometimes it’s a relationship with a family member, boss, co-worker, or neighbor. In almost all cases, it’s a clash between the way men and women do relationships. So I decided to write a book. After more than 15 years of working with clients and addressing relationship issues, it’s time to take what I’ve learned beyond the walls of my office.

Ultimately, I want to change the way men and women interact. I want women to get what they want and need from relationships and I want men to participate more and be less confused about what women expect of them.

The women I work with are asking for what they want, making reasonable demands on their partners, coworkers, bosses and family members, and yet are met with resistance. They aren’t getting what they need. Why is that? This book is an attempt to address this question and to help women (and men) have the relationships they want and deserve.

Below is the introduction to my book. I’d like your feedback and questions. Would you want to read the book based on the introduction? What would you most want to know? What would help you have a better relationship with your partner, co-worker, boss, family member, or neighbor?


This book is meant for women who have realized they have a problem with relating to men. You are single, married, widowed or divorced. In any case, you have taken the opportunity to look at your history in relationships and realized that despite your best efforts and intentions, you don’t have the relationships with men you want and you are confused as to why this is. Your story is my story.

I married in my 20’s to a wonderful man who wanted to start a family. We hit an impasse over my desire to have a career. He was not interested in helping me get my degree and start a career. Within a few years we divorced. One of the most vivid memories I have of our relationship is how unhappy I was with him. We would get into fights, only they were one sided fights. I would yell and he would go to the next room to get away from me. Of course, I followed him around the house yelling about how unhappy I was. Obviously that was a failed strategy. I didn’t understand the dynamic and blamed him for being emotionally unavailable and selfish.

A year later I married another man who was more than willing to engage in conversations about our relationship and any problems we were having. The problem with this relationship was that I had no sense of my own self and when he told me that the problems we had were my fault and I needed to change, I believed him. That set me up for years of feeling like I was never good enough and always doing something wrong. I tried harder and harder, but never felt good enough. Along the way I developed a heaping dose of resentment to go along with his nearly constant commentary on what I was doing wrong.

After all that why would I be interested in yet another relationship? Good question!

For 20 years I’ve offered all manner of counseling and advice to adults from all walks of life. They have come to me with problems with their health and problems at work, home, with family, co-workers, neighbors and friends. Almost without exception at some point in my work with them we talk about their relationships. Over the course of my career I’ve become well-versed in helping people work through their relationship issues. As you might imagine, two things have happened. The first thing is that I began to see patterns in the problems my clients were having. Then, I realized I had dealt with the same problems in my marriages. It was time for the coach to take her own advice.

This book is my attempt to teach you and others what we didn’t learn growing up about men and how to be in a relationships with men. I will walk you through my process for empowering women and teaching them about the psychology of men and the natural dynamic between men and women, areas of knowledge sorely lacking in our culture. Men and women are different and when women expect men to be like them, talkative, emotionally available, and putting the relationship first, we set ourselves and our men up for failure. It doesn’t work that way.

This book is for you if

  • If you are single with a history of problematic relationships, this book is for you.
  • If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with your marriage, this book is for you.

Over the course of going through the material and exercises in this book, you will gain an better understanding of yourself and learn to trust yourself again. You will learn about dynamics between the genders that will help you understand and appreciate your (past or future) partner in a new way.

When the Women’s Movement became a tour de force in our culture, the dynamic of relationships between men and women began to shift. Women started to have options for work outside the home in unprecedented numbers, resulting in women who were no longer financially dependent on their husbands and free to leave marriages that were not serving them. They began to believe that they didn’t need men. In the work force women encountered resistance to their presence and hurtful behavior. As women began to feel empowered, they began demanding that the men in their lives change. Women wanted more emotional connection, more considerate behavior, and a sense that we are equal in a partnership and just as competent as men. Women made these demands by talking about their unhappiness, labeling behaviors that made them uncomfortable, describing what they wanted out of a relationship, and detailing how they want their husbands and co-workers to be different, better, and more like them. While valid, the concerns and complaints women raise have left men confused about the rules. Men have told me that they feel like the rules get made up mid-stream and/or are designed to benefit women rather than being fair to all parties.

The result of the expectation that men change is that men are beginning to check out. If they aren’t married, they are making the decision to just date around, rather than enter into a relationship that will leave them feeling inadequate, shamed, and trapped. If they are married, they often hunker down, withdraw from any connection with their wives, and check out of their marriages.

As men check out, women are left more unhappy in their relationships than ever before. Single women over 40 can’t find men who are willing to commit to a relationship after their previous wives divorced them. Married women struggle to connect with their sullen withdrawn husbands. Working women feel their needs as mothers and wives are not adequately considered by workplace demands, their male co-workers, and bosses. Additionally, most working women don’t feel their husbands appreciate how hard they work to balance career and home life.

What can be done? Rather than trying to change you or the men in your life, this book is designed to empower you to take responsibility for your happiness; to learn how to relate to men in a healthier way that works better for both of you, instead of demanding that men change to meet your wants and needs; and, to look at your own psychology to master the art of owning your emotions instead of expecting men to know how you feel. It’s not about making either gender wrong for their approach, but it’s about teaching you what you didn’t learn growing up, both about the dynamic between men and women and about knowing what you want and having the confidence to expect it.

By showing up in a healthier more empowered way, men will more naturally learn how to give the women in their lives what they most need, to feel safe and connected. Women will be happier and by extension men will be happier and the relationship between the sexes will be better for it.


Your Feedback and Questions

If you have feedback or questions, feel free to reach out. You can message me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/julienelliganphd or send me a message through my website at www.JulieNelligan.com/contact/.

  • Margie Wasiloff
    Posted at 01:51h, 04 May Reply

    I would definitely read this book. I can totally identify with what you are saying. And I know friends that have experienced the same. One thing I really liked about your introduction is your personal accounts. Knowing you’ve been there; done that makes it all make so much sense!

    • Julie
      Posted at 23:47h, 04 May Reply

      Thanks, Margie! That was helpful. I’m never sure how much of my own story to add in. ~Julie

  • Donna Wassing
    Posted at 01:59h, 06 May Reply

    Wow! Thanks for taking the time to write a book that sheds light on a problem that many of us struggle with and have no idea what to do to fix it! I would definitely read this when it’s available!

    • Julie
      Posted at 16:54h, 06 May Reply

      It’s so good to hear that this topic could be useful to you and others. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

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