Psychological Self-Help

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than one half were not married at that age. Still about half of all
marriages end in divorce. 
As more and more women break away from the stereotype of
marriage, homemaker, and motherhood, women in general will be
freer to chose their own life-style, including not marrying, not having
children, having children with parenting shared equally, or having
children with one parent--the male or the female--doing most of the
child-rearing. In spite of dogmatically held personal biases, so far as
we know, all would be equally good options in a society free of
antiquated stereotypes. The child needs care and love; gender of the
lover doesn't matter to the child. (There is evidence that children
benefit from having both a male and a female caretaker.) 
An independent person will not only decide about life-style but
he/she will be self-sufficient. That doesn't necessarily mean earning
half of the income but it does mean being capable of earning an
adequate income if you needed to do so. It means being socially and
emotionally strong enough to live alone and/or find another partner if
you needed or wanted to do so. It means having a fair division of
labor, and the knowledge and skill as well as a positive attitude
towards your partner's duties so that you could easily exchange or
take over his/her role. Great personal security comes from knowing
you can handle problems that might arise. 
There's an old joke: Where does an 800 pound gorilla sleep?
Anywhere it wants! Likewise, what is a woman's (or a man's) place?
Whatever she wants it to be! Yet, there are powerful forces opposing
women being equal; men, being competitors, like their superior
position and are threatened by talk of change; already successful
women, hoping to keep their status, may not welcome more
competition from other ambitious, capable women; the women
themselves, wanting good relationships, are hesitant to be assertive
and seek advancement. However, since unequals are not likely to be
true friends, both men and women have much to gain from being
equals (Miller, 1976). 
Assertiveness and Our Excuses for Not Acting
In the 1960's and 1970's the Women's Movement blossomed, not
just in books but in millions of families. Women went back to school,
got jobs, and asked their husbands to help with the housework and the
child-care. One big strength of the movement was the personal
support available to women from friends or from consciousness-raising
groups. These groups preached equal rights--the right to be treated
with respect and have an equal voice in all family decisions, a right to
have and express your own feelings, a right to be listened to and
taken seriously, a right to set your own priorities, a right to get away
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