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Category Archives: Men
During my years of relationship coaching, I can’t tell you how many men have said something like this to me: “If only I had a bullet point list of what to do to make her happy”.
In this brief post, I’ll give you just that, a bullet list with 6 points for what to do to make your wife or partner happy. Of course, you have to actually DO it to find out if it works, and not just once, but as an ongoing practice of relating.
With no further ado, we’re jumping right in.
#1 Engage in the relationship.
We men have a tendency to think that once we’ve gotten into a relationship, or once we’ve gotten married, we’re done. In the back our minds, we say, “Mission accomplished”, and give our attention to the next accomplishment. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the attitude of “I’m done” is responsible for countless love stories turning from sizzling hot to lukewarm to ice cold.
When there’s a kerfuffle, a conflict, or some sort of tension and upset, don’t back away or shut down. Instead, engage. Step in, even though your natural instinct might be to get the heck out of there. Engage and participate actively, both in the fun and sexy parts of the relationship, as well as the tedious or tense ones.
#2 Connect. Talk. Share.
One simple way to accomplish “connection” is to talk. Share about yourself, your day, how you feel, what you dream of, and what you’re afraid of. When she asks you how your day was or how you’re doing, answer in more than one word. To this day, I still sometimes have to remind myself of this, because it is so ingrained in me to just say, “Fine. Great. I’m good”, or another one-or-two syllable response.
It’s not that I’m trying to withhold information, it’s just that to my practical brain, “Fine” is a satisfying answer to “How are you doing?”
But it does not produce a sense of connection for my wife. Connection is produced by the back-and-forth passing of something, in this case words. It’s like throwing a baseball with a friend. Imagine you throw it to your friend, he catches it and then just keeps the ball. Boring game, right? To have a game, you have to keep throwing the ball between you. Same with connection and conversation with your wife. Catch the ball, then throw it back to her.
#3 Listen. Without taking stuff personally
The other side of talking and sharing is listening. Particularly, listening without taking her words personally. Granted, when she’s talking, your name might appear frequently in the content. When it does, don’t take it personally, and don’t jump to providing solutions to what you think her problem is.
If, for instance, she comes home after a long day at work, starts sharing about her challenging day, don’t jump to providing solutions that would make her feel better. Just let her talk and she’ll take herself home.
If during her share she says, “That guy at work is just like you …”, don’t jump in and defend yourself (or the guy at work). Don’t do anything, other than listen. The vast majority of times, she will sort out anything that needs sorting out and your listening helps her do that.
#4 Tell her she’s beautiful and special to you.
Not just with your words, with your actions too. For her to know that among all the people you could be in relationship with, you choose her to be your wife or partner, produces a tremendous sense of safety in her. It helps her relax, let her guard down, open up to you, and be with you.
Actually, this is great advice for anyone in relationship. Making your partner feel actively chosen basically confirms what our soul is longing to hear, and what our demons are always trying to convince us that we’re not.
#5 Give of yourself
When she asks you to do something with her or for her, either do it, or if you can’t or aren’t willing to do it, at least acknowledge that she asked or ask her questions about why she’s wanting you to do it. If you’re saying no to her, tell her what you would be willing to do, or when a better time is. Don’t just say no, ignore the request or turn away, because that will surely build a barrier between you.
Give your time and attention to her. Give your touch and adoration. Give your praise and encouragement. Not just for special occasions. Always. And especially when you’ve landed in a tense situation, or you haven’t been connecting much. Be the first to break the deadlock by giving of yourself.
#6 Hear her criticisms as a desire for more of you.
This relates to not taking her statements personally. Rather than arguing with the surface criticisms, respond to the deeper meaning of her communication. For instance, if she says, “We never do anything together! You never want to do anything with me!”, it’s easy to take it personally and want to defend yourself.
The deeper communication here is, “I miss you. I want to spend time with you. I love you. I want to be with you. I want more of you”. Those are good intentions and they basically tell you she loves you. If you’re skeptical about this interpretation, think about this way: If she didn’t give a shit, she wouldn’t even bother trying to get you to spend time with her! The logical conclusion, then, is that she cares about you.
There you have it, a short bullet list for how to make your wife happy. If you do these steps, there’s an excellent chance she’ll be really happy and think you’re a fabulous man for her. Don’t take my word for it, though. Try it out and see what happens. Show her this list and ask her about it.
And if you want to make her REALLY happy, take a small initiative that pertains directly to your relationship (per #1: Engage in the relationship).
Invite her to join you for our upcoming 90-minute mini-workshop, How To Stay In Love. It’s super easy, you do it from your couch or kitchen table. Takes the same time as a standard movie, so you still have your whole weekend.
Some of what you will learn and experience:
• Deep connection with your partner
• Insight into what has you feel love, loving, and loved
• Ideas for how to recreate that in-love feeling
• A powerful process for finding love in anger
• Concrete practices for how to stay in love
More info and register: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-stay-in-love
How often do spouses wonder how to make their partner happy? Do you ever wonder how to make your husband happy? Does it sometimes seem that what you’re doing must not be working, because he doesn’t seem all that happy?
(Next week, we’ll publish a post about making your wife happy)
Making your husband happy is one of those instances that often seem difficult, but at its essence is quite simple. I’ll give you a brief 4-point list for how to make him happy. Don’t take my word for; try it out and see what happens. I use all four as a permanent part of my marriage and I have a very happy husband (editor’s note: Christian here, she’s telling the truth:-)
Without further ado, here we go:
#1 Tell him he’s a good man!
I have seen countless men burst into tears when they finally get to hear this from their wife/partner. Men are working so hard to make us happy and to do the right thing, so when they get to hear “You’re a good man”, it touches them deeply.
Men often have a very hard time believing their own worth, so it really helps when they can hear it from you, the person who’s opinion they care about the most.
#2 Give him points for effort.
Giving points for effort means to appreciate him for what he does do, instead of pointing out all the things he doesn’t do. It means to give appreciation even when he makes a gesture that doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. Give appreciation for trying.
Many men have a strong internal critic, so whenever they hear even a tiny bit of criticism from you, it’s as if it invalidates everything they did do, and they end up feeling inadequate and unappreciated.
The more you appreciate your husband for what he does do, the more it inspires him to want to do more, give more, because men are motivated by the reward of appreciation and the result of you being happy.
Appreciation is more effective than criticism, only 100% of the time!
#3 Respect his choices
How often does your husband do something you simply don’t get? Where you might be shaking your head?
It’s crucial to realize that everything he does makes sense from his point of view. There is a reason for everything he does, even if you don’t understand or approve of that reason.
At the very least, when he make a choice you don’t understand, get curious about his motivations, ask him about it instead of condemning it. You can even be his sparring partner and constructively challenge his choices and decisions, but make sure your challenge is delivered in that spirit, and doesn’t become a polished way to criticize.
When you respect his choices, he feels respected and will in turn have much higher regard for you.
#4 Share your physical affection and appreciation
When we lead our sex workshops, one of things that surprises and touches me every time is how poetic, loving and spiritual men become when they talk about what sex and physical affection gives them.
In stark contrast to the stereotype that men only want sex to “get off” or that they just want you for your body, they will describe how profoundly it touches and resets them when they get to share sex and touch with you.
So when we say yes to sex and touch, it fills them up in ways we might never understand. Plus, it feels good to us when we make love too; to get in our bodies and enjoy our sensual connection. Of course, this doesn’t mean you are somehow obligated, but say yes whenever you can. I do, and I appreciate it every time I do.
That’s it for now … if you take on these 4 simple steps you will definitely see results in terms of a happier husband.
Let me know how it goes for you.
PS. Here’s a chance for a deeper connection with your partner:
We all know how anger and hurt can take us out of love. And we all know how better it feels to be in love. So how do we stay in love? How can we get back to love when we get hurt or angry?
In this mini-workshop for couples, uncover what produces that “in-love” feeling, and discover how to get back to love, even when someone gets hurt or angry.
Some of what you will learn and experience:
- Deep connection with your partner
- Insight into what has you feel love, loving, loved
- Ideas for how to recreate that in-love feeling
- A powerful process for finding love in anger
- Concrete practices for how to stay in love
Find out more here: https://loveworksforyou.com/how-to-stay-in-love/
My wife doesn’t respect me! What I am going to do about that?
This is a refrain we often hear from husbands.
Obviously, we would all hope that our partners would treat us with kindness and respect, but sometimes that’s not the dynamic we have established. If we were talking directly to your wife, we’d be giving her her own coaching, but assuming we’re talking to you, the husband, we’ll focus on what you have some control over, namely your own behavior and how you communicate with her.
Not being respected can show up for you in a myriad of different ways. You might experience that she …
* Belittles you
* Emasculates you
* Puts you down
* Withholds affection, touch, love, sex
* Doesn’t appreciate you
* Doesn’t acknowledge the things you do do
* Questions your choices
* Doesn’t trust you
* Talks down about you to other people
* Tries to control or micro-manage you
Or perhaps it’s something else for you?
When you have the experience that your wife doesn’t respect you, there’s her responsibility in that situation, and there’s your responsibility. It’s not all on her, nor is it all on you. It’s a co-created dynamic. When we coach couples, we help each person take their share of ownership. As mentioned above, we’ll focus on what you can do to change this dynamic and in effect encourage her to respect and appreciate you more.
Is there a grain of truth?
For starters, look at what she’s judging you for. What is she criticizing you for?
Then, take an honest look at yourself and ask, What’s the grain of truth in what she’s saying about me? Notice, we say “a grain of truth”, i.e. it’s not the full story about you.
For instance, if she’s judging for you always being late, look at where there’s a grain of truth to that? Are there times when you don’t show up when you said you would?
If she’s nagging you about not following through on commitment, take a look at that. Are there times you say you will do something, but then don’t?
If you can see a grain of truth to her judgments, you now have an opening to change those behaviors, if you so choose. But there’s no question that doing what you say will do, or showing up when you say you will, contributes to her respecting you. If you don’t, you feed into her judgments about you.
Now, I know when your wife says stuff like, “You never clean up after yourself!”, my default reaction is to either get defensive – “I DO clean up after myself. Stop talking to me like that!!” – or to just get the hell out of there so I don’t have to listen to that.
Next time that happens, try telling yourself, “Ok, hang on a second, let me just see if there’s any grain of truth to that I don’t clean up after myself”.
If there is a grain of truth to it, just own it. Just say, “Yeah, sometimes I don’t clean up after myself” or “Sure, there are times I don’t finish my projects”. Owning it without explanation is a way for you to respect yourself more, to restore your own integrity. In the process, it’ll help her respect you more, too.
Respect is an earned privilege, so in order to be respected we have to show up respect-worthy. And that goes both ways, of course!
So take a good hard look at this: Do you respect yourself? Do you value yourself?
Still to this day, despite my many years of growing and developing, I can still find times or areas of my life where I don’t really respect or value myself. It’s hard to admit, I don’t want it to be true, but it is.
How can you respect and value yourself more? As a man, there are several ways to go about that process which involves you getting clear about questions like …
* What am I about as a man?
* What kind of man am I?
* What is my mission?
* What is my purpose?
There’s more to that process, but that’s the topic of another post.
Step in with presence and power.
Often, women get stuck in complaint, criticism, and blame when they don’t feel their man with them. That’s not to justify blame and criticism, but to give you some additional insights and options for actions.
It’s as if under her complaints and criticisms, she’s saying, “Where are you? I can’t feel you! Come be present with me!”
In the face of criticism, it’s natural to want to get out of there, but instead, try to lean in, come closer, and tell her with your entire presence, “I hear you. I’m here for our relationship”.
Make a boundary.
Drawing a line in the sand can be done with presence and kindness and still be firm. By doing so, you’re taking a stand for yourself, for you deserving to be treated kindly.
As you step closer with presence, you might say something like, “I request that you speak to me with appreciation. I request that you see what I do do around here. I’m available to have a conversation with you – I’m not available to be yelled at, I’m not available to be called names. I’m happy to hear what’s going on for you and what your experience is; I’m not happy to stay here and have you put me down”.
Go for what you want
When you feel not respected there’s always something you’re wanting in the background. You can go directly for that “something” by making a direct request to her.
“Would you be willing to speak well of me right now?”
“Would you be willing to lower your voice?”
“Would you be willing to tell me three things you really love and appreciate about me?”
For me, when I’ve felt not respected, it’s typically about me not feeling that my partner is trusting the choices I make, or that she’s not appreciating and acknowledging the things I do do, whether it’s around the house or around career and money. In those case, what I really is for her to trust the choices I make, so I can go straight for that. “Hey, I hear your questions about how I’m going to take care of this project … would you be willing to just trust me on it? I got it and I’d like to demonstrate that to you”.
When your wife is going off at you, not only can she not feel you but she doesn’t really know what’s going on inside of you. The more you can be vulnerable about sharing your feelings, your needs, your thought process, and what has you do certain things, the more you can help her step inside your world and understand you; the more she’s going to know you and the more she is going to respect you.
In relationship, we often expect our partners to be like us, but they’re not. We’re different people. We have very different ways of approaching things and thinking about things. You can help your partner understand how you move and how you think, and what’s important to you. When she understands you better, she has more compassion and feels more connected to you. Do your best to be authentic and vulnerable about even how hurt you feel when she speaks to you in a certain way or moves with you in a certain way.
I personally used to be a man who communicated very little in my relationships. I would have a lot of stuff going on in my mind but I didn’t say much of it out loud. I wasn’t very skilled or comfortable talking about how I felt and what was going on inside of me, so I just didn’t talk. I often felt she wasn’t respecting me because she always wanted to know what was “going on in there”. I felt nagged at.
What I realized (probably much too late!) is that when I’m not sharing about how I feel, it’s an invitation to her to fabricate conclusions; basically to make shit up on her own! If I don’t tell her anything, I’m basically telling her to go make up her own conclusions, and often those conclusions aren’t in my favor.
You can significantly improve the playing field by sharing genuinely about what you want her to see you as.
Provide what’s desired
You know the experience when you feel disrespected, you want to disrespect right back? When you get criticized, you want to strike back? Which makes for two disrespectful and disrespected partners.
Providing what’s desired is a powerful relationship idea, and it takes “the bigger person” to get it started (as opposed to both people waiting for the other person to “do the right thing”).
It means be the person you want to be. It means offer the respect you want to be afforded. You want her to speak well of you? You speak well of her. You want her to appreciate you? You appreciate her. You want to her not question your choices in front of the kids? Don’t question her with the kids.
Of course, you would hope she would do the exact same thing for you. Since we’re talking to you, the man who says, “My wife doesn’t respect me”, we’re talking about what what’s in your power. Providing what’s desired is in your power. We know, it takes two to create a kind and respectful atmosphere in your relationship and in your house. By doing your best to improve how you behave and show up, you contribute to a better dynamic between you.
You might need support in this process. We have coached hundreds of couples about how to stop a disrespectful cycle and establish better, kinder dynamics. There’s no shame in not knowing, and in needing help. Often, your patterns of interaction have been established over years or decades, so don’t feel bad if it’s not changing overnight; and don’t feel bad if you need professional facilitation to work through issues like these.
Show this video post to your partner and your friends and start a conversation about how you’d like to be treated, and how you’re committed to showing up!
Will this year be your year for love? Will you put relationship at the top of your priority list? Will improving relationship be one of your primary 2020 New Year’s resolutions?
Over the holiday break, we received many calls from singles feeling alone at this time of year, and from couples in crisis. Needless to say, they did not have a great holiday experience.
Perhaps it’s not so surprising. Both research and direct experience show that the quality of your life is directly tied to the quality of your relationships. Some studies reveal that loneliness, a rising social epidemic in this age of technology, has disturbing negative health consequences.
“Single Life Is Deadly. Be sure to find someone to live with. Or move into a co-housing situation or some other form of dwelling where there are other people you can be around. Whatever you do, avoid moving into an apartment by yourself, where you only meet other people when you pass them in the hallways. If you do, it could cost you your life.”
That’s the dramatic beginning of an article (translated from the original Danish article in the Berlingske newspaper. The article describes a large Danish research study which documents a 36% increased risk of dying from coronary or other life threatening diseases if you live alone. The study followed 3,300 men for 32 years, and is being published in the European Heart Journal here.
Granted, this study followed only single men, but even if you’re not a man living alone, you are not immune from loneliness and its effects. We all live in a world affected by the use of technology and changing demographic patterns, such as the consistently increasing number of people living alone.
In one study documenting the negative effects of social media use on interpersonal relationships, the author writes, “The top three responses for negative effects of social media use on interpersonal relationships were distraction, irritation, and decreased quality time with their significant other in offline settings”.
From our vantage point as relationship coaches for both men and women, singles and co-habitating couples, loneliness and disconnection are a manifestation of a deeper problem that can befall anyone.
When we add a bunch of extra expectations, as happens during the holiday season, to our loneliness and disconnection, we get even more relationship breakdown!
In the big US holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we received phone call after phone call from distressed couples who were suffering under the real and imagined increased pressure of the various extra activities and expectations surrounding the holidays. Couples told us they couldn’t take it anymore, that the stress of the season was turning into shouting matches, disconnection, and short fuses all around.
On a coaching call I did with a man in the throes of separation, he expressed how painful it is for him that his partner is no longer giving him affection, touch, love, and appreciation. He no longer felt loved and cared for.
On first look, it might seem that men living alone, couples preparing for the holidays, and a guy separating from his wife are such different groups of people that they couldn’t possible have the same problems.
So what is this thing that afflicts us, this loneliness that is so severe the authors of the above mentioned study stated that, “We have to look at loneliness as a separate risk factor that is destroying people’s quality of life and increasing mortality”? According to this study, loneliness is as dangerous as smoking and alcoholism!
For some, like the men in the study who live alone, we might say it’s just because they’re never around other people. They’re alone as well as lonely. For couples, it’s certainly not because they are alone; most of the couples we talk to still live together, often with children in the house.
When my client was sharing his agony over not being loved by his wife anymore, I offered that perhaps it was not just because he wasn’t receiving the love and affection he wanted, but just as much that he had no one to give his own love and affection to.
We believe that we are loving beings, and that we thrive by giving love, care and interest to others. If we have no one to give our love to, it’s as if our love gets stuck in our hearts, and we get mad or depressed when we don’t get to give.
The loneliness so many feel is a combination of not feeling seen and acknowledged by others; not getting to share our own love with others; and finally, not having the opportunity for meaningful contribution.
In the absence of those three essential human needs, we feel lonely, empty, and without worth, no matter how many people we are around. Everyone knows you can’t fix loneliness by simply going to the nearest Starbucks and sitting among 40 strangers. Heck, sitting in a crowd by yourself can magnify your loneliness instead of cure it.
Theoretically, it’s easier than ever to find someone to hang out with or date. Just grab your phone, launch Tinder and in seconds you can check out dozens of potential dates and set up a meeting with someone. But that doesn’t seem to have cured our societal loneliness.
Why? Because the three human needs I mentioned don’t get satisfied just by getting together with someone. What we need is a certain quality of “being together”.
If you know about our work you’ll know we offer in-person workshops. We do that not just because it’s a highly efficient way to learn and practice new skills, but because in that setting, participants get to fulfill some of those human needs, right there on the spot. They get to connect with other human beings in meaningful ways. They get to both receive and give love, interest, and appreciation.
In any one of our workshops, you can find single people waking up their hearts after years of feeling unseen and “un-given” (to borrow a poignant term from David Deida). Couples reconnect in ways they didn’t even think were possible anymore because they get to share their love and appreciation with each other in a safe and focused manner.
There’s no replacement for getting to connect deeply and meaningfully with another human being. There is no substitute for giving and receiving love and appreciation. Seeing other people’s lives on a screen cannot replace your own need for being seen as a good person with something to offer.
In the 2004 movie, Shall We Dance, Susan Sarandon’s character is reflecting on her troubled marriage. She says to Richard Jenkin’s character, a PI she hired to spy on her husband): “Why do you think we get married?”
Jenkins says confidently, “Passion!” To which Sarandon replies, “No. It’s because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion (sic) people on the planet, what does one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything, the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things. All of it. You’re saying, ‘Your life will not go unnoticed, because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed, because I will be your witness.”
So when you’re feeling the stress levels rise; when you find yourself snapping at your partner; when you’re feeling lonely because no one is there to witness you; or when you have no one to share your love and affection with … instead of getting mad or depressed or lonely, ask yourself some simple questions, such as:
- Who can I reach out to?
- Who can I give to?
- Who can I ask for a minute or two of their time?
- To whom, or where, can I offer appreciation, interest or a helping hand?
And then take action according to your answers.
In today’s world, for the first time in history, it is possible to work, shop, date, and talk to other people without ever leaving our homes, or without ever being physically in front of another person. That’s amazing! And sad, too!
Because nothing replaces physical, in-person interactions, where we can see, feel, hear, and touch another human being.
Remember, research and direct experience show that the quality of your life is directly tied to the quality of your relationships.
\When your relationships are humming harmoniously, when you are having great sex and quality intimate conversations, when laughter and play are a regular part of your days, life feels sublimely rich and satisfying.
One couple who came to work with us declared that this was “The Year of Us”. In previous years, they had focused all their attention on their kids, on their respective careers, their home, and a myriad other things. But they’d never given any real attention to their relationship, and it showed. So they came up with The Year of Us.
They devoted an entire year to attending as many workshops and weekly support calls as they could, for the benefit of themselves as individuals, for their marriage, and for their young children. During that year, they told us, “It made all the difference. We are far happier and closer now.”
What kind of year is 2020 going to be for you? Is this your year to make love and relationship and real connection a priority?
If this is the time for you to put yourself in our loving workshop space, check out the next dates here …
Wishing you a connected, meaningful 2020.
❤️Sonika & Christian
Last week, I sent out a video about men losing power with women (here ).
Seems to have struck a nerve. In response to that video, Brian sent me this email …
“Wow, what timing! I was just telling a friend of mine, “I want my power back!” Just like in your video, we talked about exposing my vulnerable spots and my emotions to her.
It’s a scary spot to go with my partner. Feels like if I go there she will use that against me in some way that will hurt me or the relationship. It will get out that I’m really not a man; I’m a wuss that can’t even stand up to his woman!”
Boy, could I relate to that! For the larger part of my life, I did not show a shred of vulnerability to my woman partners, for exactly the reasons Brian stated.
I thought it would make me look like a wuss! That I’d lose all my power and be totally humiliated.
This was probably the biggest reason I crashed and burned relationship after relationship.
Now, I know you might be thinking …
Isn’t that just because Brian (or me) are old-fashioned and haven’t caught up to the new Times of Equality? I mean, c’mon, men today know about feelings and being vulnerable and embracing their feminine side.
Yes, many men are certainly a lot more comfortable with emotions, vulnerability, and sharing openly than our fathers or grandfathers ever were, no question.
But I have a theory – based on work with hundreds of men around these issues – that even though we are in “new times” where men can be sensitive and feminine, as well as powerful and strong …
That deep in our psyches, there is still a strong voice that says to not get too open, too vulnerable, too feminine, with our partners, or with anyone, for that matter.
I think we men have a built-in, ancient, protective mechanism that has us either clam up or get pissed when we feel questioned, threatened, unappreciated, or put on the spot in our intimate relationships.
Now, I’m well aware that lots of men are highly conscious and engage in diligent self-discovery, shadow work, relationship work, you name it. I happen to know that Brian is such a man. I’d like to think I am, too.
Men like that now find themselves in the historically ironic situation that it’s easier for them to be real and open with other men, for example in their men’s groups, than it is with their woman at home.
Which sounds kinda crazy. According to stereotype, she should be able to be empathetic and understanding of our fears and vulnerabilities, right?
Those same stereotypes would suggest it should be way more risky and difficult to be vulnerable in a group of men than with a woman we’re intimate with.
Brian even said as much: “Crazy thinking for sure but then again sometimes I’m not too far from that craziness!:)”
In other words, he knows it’s crazy, but finds himself doing it anyway.
So back to the question about losing power with women …
If you or me or Brian, or any man, is afraid to show his vulnerability and feelings to his woman, and thinks to himself: She will use that against me. It will get out that I’m really not a man; I’m a wuss that can’t even stand up to his woman!”
What impact do you think that would have on his relationship with his wife/girlfriend/partner?
Well, for one, he would have to protect himself from his own partner. NOT a good situation, to say the least.
And even more importantly, what impact would it have on himself? On his sense of worth? On his ability to be a powerful, whole man?
You bet. Detrimental. Self-sabotaging. Painful. Fucking “ouch”, man!
Food for thought, I hope …
And if you’re interested in diving into your own dynamics around your power as a man, how you deal with your partner, and how you find your own authentic way to be a man, check out the small-group retreat I’m hosting, Power And Heart
To my thinking, it’s not so much about standing up TO your partner, but rather finding the power to stand up FOR your own worth, for connection, for equality, and for what you know to be true.
During any given year, I engage with hundreds of men, in private life coaching, in our workshops, and in men’s work. And one thing I consistently find is this:
Men lose their power with women!
You can find the men’s retreat here …
Margaret Paul, PhD, makes a great distinction about power.
She says, “Our society often confuses personal power — ‘power within’ — with ‘power over,’ which is about controlling others.”
She continues: “Personal power comes from an inner sense of security, from knowing who you are in your soul, from having defined your own intrinsic worth.” (article here …)
It is in this respect I see men lose their power with their women partners. Even though most conscious men today have no desire to have “power over” their partners, but they definitely DO have a strong desire to keep their “power within” in their relationships.
I used to think that “losing my power” was exclusively about backing down, not following through on commitments, or taking orders from anyone (i.e. my partner); basically not looking like, and acting as, an ever-confident, invincible, man-hero!
But it’s a lot more nuanced and complicated than that. Losing power takes place along the entire spectrum of states a man can find himself in; from weak to strong, fearful to heroic.
Losing your power is just as much about not standing up for yourself as it is about not daring to share your softest, weakest spots.
This may show up in different ways …
1. When your wife/girlfriend/partner gets upset and emotional. Especially when it’s about you or something you did. Because you feel uncomfortable in the face of the intense emotion, you want to get out of there or make it stop. Further, when she gets emotional, you might feel it’s a statement that you’re somehow lacking. That’s why we men often jump to offering solutions, aka “fixing”, because we try to bring the emotionality to an end.
2. You don’t dare share your vulnerability, your fears and insecurities. So you have to “pretend” you don’t feel those things. When you don’t express the full range of how you feel, you are out of integrity with yourself, because your insides and outsides are not out of sync.
3. You say Yes when you mean No, or No when you really wanted to say Yes. In other words, you “bend” too much away from your own knowing of what is right and true. You either accommodate too much, or don’t go for everything you want. In either case, you shortchange your own desires to take care of hers, and you can only do that so many times before you get resentful.
4. You avoid engaging with her about emotional or triggering stuff. Instead, you keep quiet, you check out, you find reasons to be elsewhere, you stay busy with work or projects. This a favorite strategy of men (mine too, sometimes!), and whereas it might give the immediate “benefit” of avoiding trouble, it always comes back to bite you. Either because you feel shitty about yourself, or because she will make it unbearable to keep doing.
5. You don’t speak your truth. You feel you can’t say what’s REALLY on your mind. You don’t want to hurt her and cause another stir, so you keep it to yourself. Which ends up robbing both of you of your contribution. A man I worked with, who used to keep his thoughts to himself a lot, said it like this: “Before, I just didn’t think I had anything to contribute to the relationship … I didn’t have the tools to communicate to her what my needs were”
6. You’re afraid of her anger … or your own. Anger, hers or yours, is tricky in most relationships. Most men are – rightfully so – keen on NOT being like their angry dad or like the violent, dominant males they see in the world. So they try to keep their own anger contained and under seal. On the other hand, they are pretty sure their partner’s anger means they themselves screwed up somehow, and given how much self-criticism most of us men leverage on ourselves, we just don’t want anymore piled on top of it from her. I coached a man who said, “I’ll stand and face a gang of thugs any day, but when my wife, who’s 5-foot-1, gets angry at me, I get scared and I just want to run.”
I believe Margaret Paul has it right when she says, “All of us would love to have personal power — the power to manifest our dreams, the power to remain calm and loving in the face of fear, the power to stay centered in ourselves in the face of attack.”
And it is exactly this personal power that men often lose with their female partners.
When that man is you, there’s a very real cost to you. First and foremost, you don’t get to feel good about yourself. Every time you have an interaction where you don’t stay connected to your power, you feed the little voices in your head that says you’re no good, you don’t measure up, you’ll never make it, and you’re not good enough.
Secondly, by not being in your personal power, you inadvertently contribute to the breakdown and demise of your marriage or relationship. A healthy, loving, passionate, empowering relationship takes two people who not only stay connected to their power, but knows how to express it, in times of passion and love as well as in times of anger or conflict. When you don’t, the results are the “usual suspects” of less sex, less connection, more arguments, more distance, and so on. In plain language, it sucks! And it hurts.
A question for you …
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you recognize yourself in what I’m sharing?
I’d love to hear from you. Please send me an email and tell me where this hits home for you (or if it doesn’t).
Also, check out the private retreat I’m offering for a small group of men, which is all about your power as a man. Click here for more ….
When I talk to men about marriage, relationship, or the women in their lives, I sometimes get a reaction like this:
“Why should I change? Why should I change for HER?”
Which is actually a really good question. I’d like to offer you two answers to it.
First, If you’re just doing it “for her”, and you don’t actually want to, you shouldn’t!
If you do, you’re destined to feeling resentful because you’re not following your own internal knowing, your gut, your heart!
And it’s going to set you up for having a running conversation in your head that sounds something like, “Why it always ME having to change? What about HER? If she would just do her own work, and stop telling me what to do … ”
There’s only so many times you can do something you don’t really want to, before you start losing respect in yourself. And that’s no good.
So the first answer is, you shouldn’t.
Secondly, because you take inventory of your life and you want to make changes. I use a pretty pragmatic method for my taking inventory of my own life.
I simply ask: Is it working for me?
I look at my marriage, my work, my family, my health, and I ask myself, “Is this working for me?”
That is, am I getting what I need and want? Am I pleased with my sex, love, and intimacy? Am I getting to be the man I want to be? Am I showing up as a good role model for my kids and others. Am I getting to contribute in a meaningful way in my world? In short … Is it working for me?
Of course, included in this equation is whether it’s working out for out for the important people in my life. Is it working out for my partner, or my kids? Because if they’re not happy, it’s not working out for me, either.
I’d invite you to apply that simple method to yourself. Look at yourself, your life, your marriage or relationship, your work, your family, and ask, “Is it working for me?” And include in that question, “Is it working out for them?”
Now, do you see reasons why YOU would want to change, why you need to change? Not because she said so, or anyone else said so, but because you know it’s time?
Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell me what you think about this.
And if you’re ready to make take a deeper look at how you show up as a man, how you give away your power, and how you can own an authentic style of power for yourself, take a look at the Power And Heart Men’s Retreat.
What better way to start the new year! More here …
Change is afoot.
Ford came forward to speak of having been sexually assaulted in high school by Kavanaugh, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing. Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison after being found guilty of sexual assault.
The MeToo movement has emboldened women to speak out about their past sexual assault, abuse and rape experiences – many of whom have held their abuse secrets for decades. Men are judged and handed “guilty verdicts” by the public court of opinion in a matter of hours as women’s stories make their way through the news media. Both genders are forever impacted negatively by these misdeeds and their ever trailing after effects.
The number of rape and abuse cases is staggering. Human rights violations across the globe are appalling. War, violence, crime, human trafficking, environmental disasters – we can’t listen to the news anymore without hearing about someone who is suffering somewhere.
All point to a need for a vast global overhaul in our political, financial, educational and legal institutions to ensure equal rights for all, regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, financial status or religious belief.
Massive change is required on so many levels, from the global to the individual. We also need advanced communication and problem solving skills, where we really listen to and learn from one another, and work together to create win/wins. We need to develop workable strategies for achieving sexual, cultural and racial healing, gender reconciliation, and effective reparation practices for people who take responsibility for and are genuinely sorry for their actions and want a new start. We need a safe space to look at ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and develop effective relationship practices that enable all of us to thrive and realize our pure positive potential.
In our work, we focus on where we can make a positive impact, in our interpersonal relationships. We notice, that when we are willing to take a brave and honest look at ourselves, there is much we can accomplish.
From outward focus to inward focus
It is far too easy in relationships to take someone else’s inventory; to point out someone else’s faults and weaknesses and lay out what they need to change or improve. We do this with public figures just as readily as we do it with the people we love. We think we are different. We are better. We aren’t like that. We aren’t as bad as they are.
Unfortunately, this way of thinking only inflames disrespect, inequality and separation. It breaks down our relationships.
Alternatively, we can use our judgments to gain insight into ourselves, to build bridges between others and ourselves, and to find compassion for those we love (and those in the media spotlight).
One of the favorite tools that we use in relationship, especially in the face of judgment, is to simply ask, “Where am I just like that?” For example, if I judge you for lying, I ask myself, “Where do I lie?” If I judge you for being selfish, I ask, “Where am I selfish?”
In the context of MeToo, we can ask:
- Where have I been sexually assaulted, abused, or harassed?
- Where have I abused, harassed, or taken advantage of someone?
It takes great courage to answer these questions honestly. It is a brave person who can admit to them and offer up apologies and make amends.
But even if we haven’t been abused, many of us can relate to feeling afraid or powerless to speak up in the face of a partner’s angry outbursts. Many of us have had the experience more than once of saying yes to sex when we really meant no, and of feeling coerced to go along with something that didn’t feel right.
Me too. I didn’t listen to my deep-seated intuition to walk away from a financial investment that turned out later to be a Ponzi scheme that cost me thousands. I allowed myself to be talked into a job that I didn’t want. In my 20’s, I had sex with several men I didn’t have the courage to say no to. I stayed in an abusive relationship where I got beat up for a whole year before I found the courage to leave.
On the flip side, we can explore how many times we have used our power to coerce someone to give in and go along with something we wanted – in everyday instances like doing the dishes, watching a movie, or getting our way with any given situation. How many times have we tried to override someone’s resistance to romance or sex? How many times have we yelled or cried or begged or explained our side to try to get someone to do what we want them to do?
Me too. I have caught myself more than once trying coax, force, or guilt trip my kids into answering a text or returning a phone call. I have screamed at my ex for not parenting the way I do. And I withdrew my love and affection from Christian when he declined my sexual advances early on in our relationship.
When I judge the people I love in my life, and I dare to explore “Where am I just like that?” I see places where I can grow, change and improve. Healing comes from honestly and squarely looking at myself, from owning my side of the street and taking responsibility for the impact of my less-than-ideal actions. There is power and healing available when I take responsibility, both within myself and in my relationships.
I can do the same thing with public figures. When I dare to investigate where I am just like Ford – to honestly explore where I too have been victimized in my life, where I have been terrified to speak up and reveal my secrets, where I still need healing from past painful experiences, I see aspects of myself I might not see otherwise.
Or when I explore where I am just like Kavanaugh – where do I act self-righteously from privilege and entitlement, where do I defend myself rather than listen and take responsibility for my actions, where do I lash out when feeling attacked and afraid and made wrong, something powerful happens …
I am suddenly no better or worse than they are, or any other human being on this planet. Judgment shifts to compassion, resentment shifts to forgiveness, separation shifts to connection, hate shifts to love. My heart softens. Healing happens. A new possibility emerges.
Actions I can take to improve my interactions in relationship begin to show up. Apologies are offered up and new commitments stepped into. A better version of myself arises. And consequently, better versions of those I love and happier relationships also rise up.
It is my hope that we will use this new chapter in our lives to learn from one another, to deeply listen to each other, to honor and respect our differences, to bravely share our stories, to own our shadow, to take responsibility, to ultimately offer amends, heal, forgive and create a courageous new world together.
It is my vision, that every one of us will be able to say one day, “I have never been disrespected or sexually abused by anyone”, and all of our brothers and sisters will be able to emphatically say, “Me Too!”
P.S. Check out what our friend Dave Klaus’ Facebook post; it’s a really powerful example of “Where am I just like that?” in the context of the Kavanaugh issue. Click here to read …
My husband Christian and I have been busy of late. Distracted. More in our heads than our hearts. We felt a bit flat and off. I was definitely not in my feminine receptive loving flow – more in my masculine “doingness.”
When it came time for dropping back into our hearts and bodies with each other in lovemaking, I surprisingly felt a bit of dread about the whole thing. My body was so closed that mostly I felt like I didn’t want to open.
I could watch my mind wanting to rush out to the kitchen to eat something, to watch something on TV, to check my phone or email for messages – anything to avoid sinking and melting. I put on a shirt as a sign of sorts of my guarded, un-open heart. I dared to tell the truth about my resistance to opening.
Now, thank God, I am with a man who knows my deeper yearning: to melt into love and God through our bodies and hearts in sex. To let go of resistance and be fully present. To love and be fully open in my heart.
So he doesn’t pay much attention to my words, because he is listening to what is underneath my words: “Take me.” “Make me open.” “Melt my closed heart with your love.” He meets my resistance with his strong, yet gentle, persistent presence. I feel the strength of his hands and body as he wraps his arms around me and holds me close.
I push him away, but he stays with me. He kisses my face and neck and keeps holding me. He kisses me and senses my closed lips. He tries to tease me out. But I turn away from his eyes and lips and try to hide in his chest.
He stops for just a second to see if I am serious, to check if he really should back off. I love that about him — his heightened awareness and sensitivity to my body language and non-verbal communication. His checking in, enables me to feel safe, to trust him. I know if I really wanted him to back off that he would.
But deep inside myself, underneath this closed heart and body, is a desire to truly open and surrender to love, to melt. So I encourage him to stay, to continue to love me in spite of my “shut down.” He needs that reassurance to proceed. It helps him stay present, helps him know he is doing the right thing.
He keeps being there with me, relentless with his kisses and eyes and touch. He knows I will eventually open, that I won’t be able to keep resisting his love, his presence… And he is right.
Within minutes, I start to cry. Then sob. My whole body releases the build-up of tension and resistance in my cells through my unstoppable tears. I can feel my body relax more and more through my crying, and my heart begins to soften. He just keeps holding me, telling me it is good that I am crying. He knows that my tears are essential to my opening.
The tears eventually stop, and then I am laughing and looking at him and touching him and opening my mouth and heart and yoni to him, and he meets me there. In this sweet soft open loving powerful presence place.
And in the end we are melted and soft, a puddle of love, lying in each other’s arms.
We appreciate God and each other, for this delightful place of love and softness and strength and presence where all is well and good and right….
It never ceases to amaze me how I need to cry to soften myself out of masculine and back into my flowing easy open feminine heart. If he didn’t stay with me—if he took my resistance personally and stopped and turned away—I would never get to drop down into my tears and melt. We would never get to wash away all of the “disconnect” and “re-set” ourselves back to LOVE.
How grateful I am for the transformational power of Presence. And for having a man in my life who can funnel that presence through his eyes and body and call forth the deepest parts of my love.
FOR A LOT OF GUYS, intimate relationships are hard work!
It’s uncomfortable, way too emotional, and you’d rather just not deal with it at all, and hope it’ll work itself out. After all, she normally returns to her senses after a while. Right?
Even when deep down, you know you have some problems in your marriage or relationship, you might be saying what my friend said right after he found out his wife had fallen in love with another guy: “I knew we had some problems, I just figured we’d get to it some day”.
But here’s the great news.
It really isn’t meant to be that difficult, and it’s absolutely attainable to make it smooth and easy.
And if you’re being totally honest, wouldn’t it be worth a lot to feel admired, loved, and appreciated by her? Doesn’t it make you feel taller when she thinks you’re the best guy ever?
You just need to know some key points, and then do your best to practice them. By doing so, you can actually make it easy for her to see you as the man she fell in love with.
- She’s not like you. Never will be. Isn’t supposed to be. So don’t try to convince her to stop being “so emotional”. Simply accept that she has a different “operating system” installed than you do. Accept that her emotional way of processing information is as valid as your logical way of doing it. Just different.
- The #1 thing she’s looking for is trustworthiness and reliability in you. Why? So she can feel safe and relax. When she feels safe and relaxed, it’s really easy for you to relax and enjoy life.
- Face your own discomfort with her intense emotions and conflicts in general. You cannot make emotions or conflicts go away, period, so you might as well make friends with them. How? Own your discomfort about it, admit it out loud.
- Pay attention to her. Be an attentive mate, just like you were when you were first courting her. Chivalry never goes out of fashion. So notice how she dresses, notice when she comes and goes, hold her hand, touch her cheek … BE there in a way that she can feel. Don’t just be the silent brooder in the corner.
- Find your own power. Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. Don’t pretend to listen for 10 minutes while thinking, “blablabla, she’ll be done soon”. Be honest if it doesn’t work for you to be talking with her right now. Stand up for what’s important to you, in a firm, but non-aggressive manner. Let her feel you have a spine, and don’t just along with anything she says so you can avoid a conflict. She’ll respect the man you are when you do that.
Now, sure, there’s a lot more to the equation of having a great marriage. But if you can keep these five in mind, and use them as a starting point, you’ll be ahead of the game, and might even produce some serious breakthroughs and sexy action!