Summer's a great time for evening walks, except for one problem - mosquitoes. Many couples like to walk at night. They'll be walking along, enjoying the cool air, when zap! One or both of them gets bitten.

Mosquitoes don't discriminate between genders. I don't know how they choose their targets. But the mosquitoes that bite are the females. The females literally suck blood to get the nutrients they need to develop fertile eggs.

So I started thinking...

After giving birth, women continue to need nutrients to feed our young. We require emotional as well as physical "food" to raise healthy children. Where do we get those nutrients? Is it possible that we depend on others the way these female mosquitoes depend on us?

Many of us grew up in the Cinderella era, during which time we were taught to find husbands so that they will "take care of Daddy's little girl." No matter how educated we became, some part of us wanted to remain that little girl who can rely on a man to take care of her.

So we may say to our children, "Just wait until your father comes home!" when we've run out of energy to discipline them. We'll greet our spouses with a litany of complaints and expectations when they walk in the door. If they don't deliver, we zap them. And watch out! A female on the warpath leaves great big welts.

It's easy to fall into the mosquito pattern, to bite the ones we love.

There are other, healthier means of satisfying our emotional needs. Women have an enormous capacity to connect with others. Realistically speaking, our men cannot fulfill our relationship needs. Depending on them to do so results in tension and increasingly distant relationships. The more we complain, the more we cry, the more we display our hysterical feathers, the greater distance our men will run. Bites hurt. The men will withdraw to a safe place and will reach for the best repellent they can find, possibly in the form of an addiction or a more appealing female.

We don't want our homes to become stagnant bodies of water that attract mosquitoes and nothing else. We need to keep moving and growing, so that the waters are constantly refreshed.

We can do better than we're doing now. We can work on our relationship skills and use honey rather than repellent to encourage change. We can learn from others - even from animal trainers - how to improve our marriages.

In addition to satisfying personal relationships, we must develop clear priorities. Sarah Palin, former vice-presidential candidate, recently resigned from her post as Governor of Alaska. Some commentators view her decision as a sign of being a quitter, of her lacking "focus or discipline." Governor Palin, it seems, had too much on her plate.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, now being considered for the US Supreme Court, is another highly visible example of the difficulties a woman faces who tries to be the best at everything. Her first marriage broke up after two years and, as she states, "I cannot attribute that divorce to work, but certainly the fact that I was leaving my home at 7 and getting back at 10 o’clock was not of assistance in recognizing the problems developing in my marriage.”

Judge Sotomayor's second marriage lasted eight years.

It takes much work to maintain a relationship. That work multiplies when we have children, spouses and elderly parents as part of our families. We can't do everything all the time and to the same degree. We need to choose.

And we alone are responsible for our life choices.

Women have enormous responsibilities, matched only by our capabilities. When we accept the former we can begin to develop the latter.

It's never too late to start anew.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Mona Spiegel attended Barnard College and then earned two Masters degrees and a Doctorate in Psychology at Columbia University.

As her children grew up and left home, Dr. Spiegel decided to help people not only resolve their problems but also reach their highest potential. She thus founded My Family Coach to provide life coaching to women who want assistance and guidance but do not need therapy.

Dr. Spiegel contributes articles to magazines online and in print. She speaks to women’s groups all over the country, on a variety of topics related to women’s development and family relations. Dr. Spiegel is a member of the International Coach Federation and the American Psychological Association. Visit her at http://www.myfamilycoach.com.