I recently read an article about relationships and marriage that had me yelling “Ah! Wait! What? Oh no!”
The article was an excerpt from an author’s new book, a relationship self-help title aimed at helping ‘Alpha females’ with men and marriage. It piqued my interest and I was on board with statements like “men love women who are fun and feisty and who know their own mind! But they don’t want a woman who tells them what to do.” I too believe that neither partner should ever tell the other what to do. And “every relationship requires a masculine and a feminine energy to thrive.” I agree that it does.
After these few sentences, however, she lost me with this line: “If women want to find peace with men, they must find their feminine—that is where their real power lies. Being feminine isn’t about being beautiful or svelte, or even about wearing high heels (although those things are nice). Being feminine is a state of mind. It’s an attitude. In essence, being feminine means being nice.” Cue my exclamation.
To be feminine does not equate to being nice. When I passionately pursue goals and strongly advocate for myself or others, I in no way forfeit my femininity. In the pursuit of anything worthwhile we will run into challenges and while I always advise treating others with kindness, niceness implies letting others have it their way.
The advice throughout this column sets out to help, what the author describes as, the type of woman who “micromanages, delegates and makes most or even all of the decisions” become less that way and more of a ‘Beta’ that will make her husband happier. Along with the above, the author goes on to say that the reason so many women have a hard time in love is that they have been “groomed to be leaders, not wives.”
Admittedly, my jaw dropped. Where do I begin with how damaging this advice can be? Let’s start with defining what it means to be alpha or beta in regards to relationships:
Alpha: noun. A person who has a dominant role or position within a particular sphere
Beta: noun. Denotes the second in a series, most notably the second brightest star in a constellation
What the author of the article believes is that Alpha equals Male and Beta equals Female. That in order for women to truly thrive in love relationships they need to be Beta, by definition, dim their light. Basically the opposite of any kabbalistic approach.
The kabbalistic concept for love relationships is called The Three-Column System and it describes the three forces that exist in this universe:
The Force of Sharing (known as the right column), The Force of Receiving (known as the left column), and the balancing of these two energies, which is the Desire to Receive for the Sake of Sharing (central column). Men are the sharing energy, or the conduit for the Light, while women are the receiving energy or Vessel for the Light. Female energy supports and directs where a man reveals his Light. Male energy wants to share its Light in order to fulfill the Vessel. It is the circuitry between the male and female energies that create fulfillment in a relationship.
The kabbalistic approach and the author’s approach are very clearly at odds, with the exception of the belief that relationships require a masculine and feminine energy. However, the author’s style is about dimming light while the kabbalistic perspective is about creating light. Let’s look at these styles in action:
Both men and women actively seek out ways to make their relationships work. It’s admirable and utterly worthwhile. However, if you do a search for ‘husband making marriage work’ you get your standard listicles, 5 things to say, 10 things to never do, etc. But if you go a little deeper you find a whole community of husband support groups encouraging men to reclaim their ‘manhood’, by being overbearing, assertive, and overtly ‘alpha’.
In essence, if a man wants success in his marriage, he has to first take control of his wife. In their eyes, they are the ones in charge and should be respected. They believe that what all women truly want is a man to tell her what to do. In these types of relationships, the men seek to control their wives by manipulating them, intimidating them, and shaming them. The Alpha in these relationships is considered the one who ‘calls the shots.’
The beta is the partner, typically the woman, who represses their true desires in order to not rock the boat, to avoid conflict within the relationship. They keep their real feelings and opinions to themselves and believe that, as long as their partner is happy, everything is fine. This type of relationship style is borne of settling and is built on co-dependence, people pleasing, and feelings of unworthiness. The beta partner might believe that this is the best they deserve and, as such, defer to their partners in every instance.
Both Alpha and Beta marriage styles are based on the concept of control. Who has it, who should have it, and who is responsible for it? The highest expression of love, though, has nothing to do with control. Love is a connection that is built on being authentic and being vulnerable. This is why I like to say “we wear shorts” because no one person in a relationship ‘wears the pants’.
When both partners accept the responsibility to assist each other and are trusting and vulnerable, only then can they see their way toward a successful long-term relationship. It isn’t about who is in charge, it is about what you do together.
A relationship thrives with unity and equality and mutual support. No one should ever feel they need to be ‘less-than’ in order to please someone else. Kabbalah teaches that the moment we limit ourselves, we close ourselves off to all of the blessings that the Light wants to bring to us. When we approach relationships from the point of view of Alpha versus Beta, we are limiting aspects of our true selves.
It’s equally damaging for a man trying to be a ‘good’ Alpha because this role doesn’t leave room for vulnerability nor does it create a safe space for him to express his emotions or desires. Without disclosing our innermost thoughts and feelings and allowing ourselves to be truly seen, simply being known by our partners becomes an impossibility. It opens the door for a myriad of miscommunications and dissatisfaction.
Relationships are gifts that can bring enormous blessings and happiness into our lives. Successful relationships are the result of being our authentic selves and by creating a space in which our partner can do the same. From this place, we will we be able to create Light and bring about the potential, in ourselves and each other, that we all came to this world to realize.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
What areas of your relationships do you find yourself being overly assertive? Are there areas where you find yourself biting your tongue or ‘letting things go’ but holding onto them in your mind? If you are not in a relationship, analyze your parents’ marriage. Was your mother the Beta and your father the Alpha, or was their relationship more balanced? In whaanywaysy ways, do you mirror their behaviors or relationship expectations?