Patriarchy vs Your Marriage: Should I Stay or Should I go with Kate Anthony

Life coach Kate Anthony had the best response when I asked her, “When you first heard the words, ‘Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD),’ what did you think about, what did you feel?” She said part of her wanted to embrace it and dig into the work, while the other part was screaming to run from the reality of the invisible inner prison. This is precisely what most women experience when they learn about PSD. Trauma doesn’t want to be discovered. It doesn’t like to be looked at. It hides under a variety of defenses.

Kate and I dove deep into talking about trauma and its defenses. Including a very common one, which also happens to be one of the most excruciating—women’s struggles with weight and body image.

Kate shares how PSD has affected her body image and set her up for years of dieting and the war on her body, amidst the noise of comparisons with other women’s bodies constantly abuzz in her mind. She bottomed out on a beach in Mexico. What should’ve been a dream vacation felt like hell of incessantly comparing herself to other women, and judging her own and their comparative worth based on the body size.

Sound familiar?

I so appreciated Kate’s honesty about sharing her inner experience, that every woman is intimately familiar with. And it’s not our fault. This is one of the insidious symptoms of PSD. It’s so important to share our stories—so we can recognize: There’s nothing wrong with us. And move from stuck to healing.

Kate realized then that she had to stop her yo-yo dieting, because it was a vicious cycle that would never take her to feeling good about herself and her body.

We talk about Kate’s awakening and healing journey. About the shame so deep and the voices so loud that PSD plagues women with, “I’m fat.” “I’m disgusting.” “I’m not worthy of love.”

We talk about society and family patterns and other traumatic experiences that create the invisible prison of PSD—and how we can recognize that and get on the jailbreak journey.

Jailbreak begins with awakening followed by examination. Is this right for you? How much is it costing you? How much of your true self are you sacrificing? And sometimes it’s that bottoming out moment that gets you to wake up.

Can you relate?

We talked about how the divide and conquer design of the patriarchy robs us of sisterhood. We are trained to compare instead of being able to hold other women up without judgment.  This is the perfect setup to keep these systems in place. We all have received this messaging about how our body shapes define our worth since we were born. We have all been trained to believe that you are supposed to look a certain way. Bombarded by messages—subliminal and overt—that turn into vicious negative self-talk.

And what about marriage?

Many of us get fed these messages about our bodies from the men we form close relationships with. But the dynamics go much deeper. Many women struggle with whether their marital struggles are serious enough to warrant a divorce. Like me, Kate faced that difficult decision. Like me, she decided to leave a relationship that wasn’t serving her. Now she helps her clients make the process of deciding to stay or leave less agonizing.

Kate hears the same problems again and again from the women she works with. She recognizes them as rooted in patriarchy. Men receiving lavish praise for taking care of their own children. Husbands abdicating all responsibility despite women now often working as much—or more—than men outside of the home. We do more emotional labor as well. And the studies prove it. But most men think they do 50% of the work in their families.

With clients, Kate stresses the importance of asking directly for what you need. Yes, husbands in heterosexual relationships should know what they need to do, but they don’t. And that dynamic often leads to raging out—a trauma defense response. There’s a reason why we do it, but that doesn’t mean it works.

Like me, Kate wants men to join us in the conversation. Men do want to show up for us in the way we want them to show up but all this patriarchal conditioning stands in the way. As Kate puts it: “We know that when we say ‘smash the patriarchy,’ we aren’t talking about smashing men…” but some men don’t hear that key distinction—because of their own trauma defenses getting in the way of hearing and understanding women.

After all, women’s feelings and opinions have been invalidated by patriarchy for millennia. When they say it to us that it’s all our fault, we believe it. We believe that we’re crazy when we hear it.  We buy in. It’s not okay to be angry. The range we are allowed to play in is defined as ‘sugar and spice and everything nice.’ And the bar for marriage is set so low that if he comes home and brings bacon sometimes, that is the most we should expect.

Kate points out that women need to be honest with each other and stop pretending that everything is great. It’s hard because there is so much shame. We perceive other women as having perfect marriages because that’s what we see on social media. But, as Kate points out in our conversation, being honest about how hard marriage is, what our struggles are, can allow us to recalibrate. Right now, we are comparing the inside of our marriage to the outside of others’ marriages. We are carrying deep secrets that our marriages aren’t perfect. Then if your partner is saying the imperfections in your marriage are your fault, the shame spiral deepens.

‘He’s not beating me so he’s not abusing me.’ Gaslighting is so systemic that we turn it on ourselves. Believe patriarchy has us believe that we are not worthy, incomplete, if we don’t ‘succeed’ in marriage. We make up stories—trauma defenses—to keep us safe from facing hard questions. This idea of ‘failure’ at the patriarchal game or measuring our worth by our marital status keeps us stuck.

Kate redefines it as a success to walk away from an unhealthy, untenable marriage. Tune in to hear more of her powerful insights and candid shares, deep realizations and reflections.


Kate Anthony is a certified life coach who helps women decide if they should stay in or leave their marriages. Kate empowers women to find their strength, passion, and confidence even in the most disempowering of circumstances and helps them move forward with concrete plans. In addition to her certification, Kate has also trained as a relationship coach and is an expert in communication, co-parenting, and emotional intelligence.

Connect with Kate: 

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Take her “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” Quiz here. 


Dr. Valerie Rein is a psychologist, women’s mental health expert, and business consultant who helps people achieve the best ROI by achieving the best mental health—without therapy. Dr. Valerie specializes in uncovering the hidden traumas that hold hostage people’s best work, relationships, and well-being, and effectively heals them with a powerful mind-body methodology. She holds an EdM in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University and a PhD from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Dr. Valerie is an author of Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Inner Barrier to Women’s Happiness and Fulfillment and a sought-after speaker at conferences and companies committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, leadership development, and unlocking people’s potential.

Would you like to have Dr. Valerie speak to your audience? She can share with them:

– Why despite having checked so many the boxes of accomplishment, high-achieving women are still dissatisfied, and why it’s not our fault.

– What secretly drains 90% of your energy and productivity and how to reclaim them.

– The missing piece to the upper limit problem and a solution that ends your big leap struggle.

– Why fighting against your inner critic, self-doubt, and anxiety backfires and how to turn your inner adversaries into your strongest allies.

– The biggest untapped resource of a woman’s personal power, why it is locked up, and how to set it free. PS It is also an instant antidote to stress and burnout.

And so much more…

The book is coming! Download a free chapter today.

Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Inner Barrier to Women’s Happiness and Fulfillment will be available in a few weeks. Stay tuned. In the meanwhile, whet your appetite with a delicious free chapter.

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