Logo for Aesthetic Realism consultant Ernest DeFilippis

What Is a Husband’s Biggest Mistake?
By Ernest DeFilippis

From Aesthetic Realism Seminar of April 19, 200l, given by Aesthetic Realism Consultants Chaim Koppelman, Ernest DeFilippis, & Bennett Cooperman

Husbands all over America will feel strong, kind, and intelligent when they learn from Aesthetic Realism that 1) the purpose of marriage is to know and like the world; and 2) the biggest mistake a husband makes is to think that because a woman has consented to marry him he now owns her, and therefore doesn’t have to try to know her and the world she represents.

In his 1950 lecture Mind and Husbands, Eli Siegel explains:

The first thing a man should think about in thinking of a wife, is whether he knows the person he's thinking of as a wife. . . . Men are conceited and can decide they know a woman. Besides, they can think knowing isn't so important—it's important to make a living, find out about sex, be aware of health, but knowing is a luxury. A woman, without knowing it, most wants that she be known. I say this definitely. There isn't a woman who doesn’t resent a husband’s not wanting to know her....
          The word know is a very deep word, but that doesn’t mean it is any the less an emergency word
....Husbands think that once they have seemed to capture a woman, that is all.  

When I proposed to Maureen Butler in December 1987 and she said "Yes," I was thrilled, and enormously grateful to Aesthetic Realism for what I had learned about love. But more than I knew, I was also doing what Mr. Siegel described: feeling now that she had said yes, I had captured her.

One of the ways this showed was in how I told the good news to people. As I would announce, "I asked Maureen Butler to marry me and she accepted," it was quite apparent to my friends that I gave a certain smug emphasis to the word accepted. And though I was very happy, I had an uneasy feeling, which I didn’t want people to notice. I hope every man about to get married can learn what Class Chairman Ellen Reiss explained in an Aesthetic Realism class.

"Accept is a big word," she said; and as she continued, I was seeing that I had made the acceptance of my proposal equivalent to a total acceptance of me. "Do you think," she asked, "that while Ms. Butler accepted your proposal, you feel at ease with the idea of spending your whole life trying to deserve being accepted by her?" "No," I answered. And she said that if Maureen seemed to "accept" me entirely she would be insulting me, because I knew there were things about myself one shouldn’t be for.

"I like the idea," I responded, "of trying to deserve being accepted—more than I ever did. But spending my whole life doing it—that’s a long time." Ms. Reiss explained that if we don’t feel we’re trying to be worthy of something so big and beautiful as deserving the love of a person, we won’t like ourselves—that’s true both for man and woman. And she said something I feel enormously grateful for: "Your danger is to feel that because your proposal has been accepted by Maureen Butler, you’re all clear. . . .I see this as a beginning for you, not ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’" And with humor and encouragement, she added, "So we’ll all live happily-and-self-critically ever after."

That was thirteen years ago; and I love Ellen Reiss for what she taught me then and later. It has enabled me to change and keep changing in ways I have so much hoped to; it has enabled me to be a better person and husband.

I have seen that for a man to get the esteem and love of his wife, and his own self-respect, he needs to encourage her largest desire: to like the world itself. This necessary purpose is good will—which Mr. Siegel defined as "the desire to have something else stronger and more beautiful, for this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful"—and because of it, I have sweeping feeling for my wife, which grows more with every day.

Continued  >> "The Fight between Knowing and Conquering"
To Aesthetic Realism Foundation

Copyright 2005 by Ernest DeFilippis