Relationship Resource Center
RELATIONSHIP REFLECTIONS

The Retirement Entitlement: An Entitlement vs. A Right

An entitlement to retire, for most men, is one of the last vestiges of “guy school” indoctrination that comes up in their lives.

Men certainly have the right to retire; it’s just that they are not entitled to do so.

An entitlement, remember, is a right that I claim that in effect cancels or overrides the rights of significant others in my life. It may be more or less conscious as in “Of course I have that right, and who are you to question me?” or something that I just take for granted and sail along my merry way oblivious to the needs or rights of others.

Note of warning to entitlement holders:
For every hour of entitlement you take, you get about an hour and a half of resentment coming your way in return. Watch out guys! The light you think you see at the end of this tunnel may be a train!

Hopefully, more and more men are realizing that retirement, even if they can afford to retire in this economy, may not be all that it was cracked up to be. As with most things in life, it depends.

work or retire

My desire to retire came upon me like a powerful itch. I needed to scratch it for a while to discover that retiring didn’t make sense for me or for my family, even though I felt entitled to retire.

I realized that it made sense to me to work about half time and continue my counseling practice with individuals and couples and to write more.

I have dodged the retirement entitlement bullet and choose to do the work that I love and that serves, to the best of my ability, this amazing, awesome world.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Differentiation Between One-Up vs One-Down Resentment

In order to understand how many men (who are trained in the one-up masculine in this culture and are generally trained to be entitled) become deeply resentful in their intimate relationships, it is necessary to differentiate between one-up resentment and one-down resentment.

Women, who are trained to be one-down in their feminine cultural roles, usually become resentful to the mostly unconscious entitlements that many men take for granted as a matter of course. As long as women go along with the unconscious entitlements and not challenge them, they don’t upset the apple cart.

resentments between a coupleOne-down resentment, as it gets going, often takes the form of ineffectual complaining or criticizing of their partner, at which point one-up resentment on the part of the person in the masculine, usually the man, begins to set in.

Masculine, or one-up resentment, is generally about having men’s entitlements challenged, while one-down resentment on the part of women is usually about men’s entitlements! Since men are trained in guy school not to see their entitlements and women are trained in girl school not to say anything about masculine entitlements, the s— hits the fan when women become empowered enough to start complaining. Then it becomes important for men to realize that women will generally see their entitled positions before they do themselves and believe them even when women come on angry, critical and complaining.

Complaining to a man about his entitlements is neither pleasant to the man
nor effective for the woman, but this is not the basic problem.

What is the problem? The unseen and unacknowledged entitlements.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Boys Into Men: Turning Away From One of the Most Formative Training Experiences of “Guy School”

In 1959, I was 18 years old and had just started college. The Vietnam War was just heating up in this country, and ROTC was a big deal on my Catholic college campus. Signing on sounded good to me. I would be an officer instead of a private; if I had to go into the Army, I would be in a higher pay scale and likely have more options on the inside. So I signed up for an introductory class and went to my first day of training.

We went into a long room with small tables for each person and on each table was an M-16 rifle that we were told to assemble and take apart until we could do it either way in under a minute. To this day, this was the best hands-on exercise I have ever done in my life! Here I was, feverishly putting this gun together and taking it apart, when I suddenly realized, like a bolt of lightning hitting me, that the sole purpose of this gun was to KILL PEOPLE!

Do Nothing, Do SomethingRight after the class, I went up to the officer in charge of the class and told him that I was resigning. He said something like “Bad idea, son, you will have to go in as a private before long.” I didn’t tell him that I just had one of the most important experiences of my young lifeI was NEVER going to go into the armed services – and I would go to jail or Canada first.

At 18, I was a very young man, still a boy actually, and I had just turned away from one of the most formative training experiences of guy school.

I was lucky.

War is supposed to turn boys into men (and today, girls into women).
I just wasn’t willing to kill people.

I would find other ways to serve my country, my world and become a man, such as becoming a social worker, a philosopher and a psychotherapist.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The Things That Make Us Happy Are the Things that Make Us Wise

When I first read “the things that make us happy are the things that make us wise” in Little, Big, a brilliant novel by John Crowley, it hit me like a ton of happy bricks! “Shut up!” I said to myself. For most of my life, I had heard that wisdom came with the pain of life with a large dose of suffering for flavoring. Wisdom coming from the things that make us happy was not the primary message from MY religious upbringing!

However, if you believe as I do that our essential nature is happiness, this makes a lot of sense.

jumping for joy

What if the things that lead to our true happiness
are also steps on our path to wisdom?

We are not talking here about addictions and aversions, which may seem to make us happy for a while and inevitably disappoint us. Good work, real love, true friends, a willingness to see the beauty that is in us and all around us are some of the things that make me happy. More and more I trust that these things lead to wisdom, even when wisdom seems excruciatingly slow in coming.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker