"These days, women are making more difficult and painful choices about marriage and family life," Hasuara Rubenstein, a panelist for the Charlotte Perkins Gilman series of talks on women's issues, said last night.
Rubenstein, associate professor of social work at the University of Tennessee, and Carol C. Nadelson, associate professor of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Hospital, spoke to a crowd of about 100 last night on "The Changing Psychological Profile of American Women: Marriage and the Family."
Nadelson said the most common problems she sees in her therapy work with predominantly upper class families are partners in different life stages, economic competition between spouses, redefinition of sex roles and unrealistic expectations and demands.
"Women want to be satisfied sexually and emotionally, share common goals and values, want companionship and love--and want to be happy at the same time," Nadelson added.
Rubenstein said she finds different women's problems because she works with poor families in Tennessee, in towns where religion and the extended family play an important role in supporting traditional sex roles.
"We have many clients who believe their problems are a punishment for their sins," she added.
Rubenstein said many women are unable to communicate their concerns to their husbands, because many men feel "humiliated and betrayed" if a woman criticizes the relationship.
Most women have grown up believing marriage is the solution to all their problems. Rubenstein said, and they are often severely limited in their freedom of choice by financial and social pressures.