Friday, January 04, 2008

And Why Does She Erupt? Are Inexplicable Female Eruptions Putting a Damper on Your Relationship?

Why do otherwise stable and level-headed women sometimes pitch a fit for no apparent reason? And what’s the best way to handle it?

We talked yesterday about how to tell when a woman is getting ready to erupt for no apparent reason, and there was a cursory explanation of how to handle it, but I really wanted to give you more on understanding the cause and handling the situation, including something from my own experience that details the build-up, explosion, and diffusing of the situation to help you relate this lesson to events in your own past so that you can be better prepared next time it comes up, and IT WILL come up. It’s a topic that I frequently need to address, and the following reader question makes for an excellent lead-in for the discussion. Meet Joel:

Hi David,

I bought your book and I'm progressing through the relationship evaluation and it looks like we're good, but I've got to ask you about something that may already be in the book because it's driving me nuts. Donna, my wife, is usually pretty stable and understanding, and seldom raises her voice. In fact, sometimes we don't talk much at all. Occasionally she'll get really antsy and next thing I know she's exploding on me for no apparent reason, literally! Whatever she picks to explode about is usually trivial at best, and really ridiculous most of the time. I've watched the calendar, if you know what I mean, and it's not "cyclic." The only thing I've noticed is that it always seems to happen when I'm traveling or busy a lot. She'll explode, I'll explode back, and then she'll go away and come back in a few minutes cheerful and acting like nothing has happened. Can you shed any light on this?

Joel

Well, Joel, congratulations on taking the first step to making some serious improvements in your life, and thanks for writing. As for your question, yes, it is covered in detail in my book, but I'm going to give you the short version now to help keep you out of trouble and for the benefit of your fellow readers, because every man alive goes through this phenomenon at some point in his life, if not with every woman he spends any time around, and it may not even be with a wife or girlfriend. It could be with a "platonic" female friend, or even a coworker, but it will be with someone with whom you have regular interaction.

What's happening is she's feeling ignored (or possibly testing to see if you'll wuss out when she acts like a brat, but they usually use other tests for that), and missing the feeling of having you define or exercise authority for her, which gives her a little rush of adrenaline and attraction and gets the planets back in alignment. Actually, this is a good sign, because if she had already lost all attraction for you, she wouldn't be doing this at all, so congratulations on taking action before your relationship deteriorated to critical status as well!

Here's the deal. If you don't pay enough attention to her in ways that let her see you being the alpha male, especially in projecting authority and leading, whether it’s in critical decision-making or just having fun, she'll find something trivial and pitch a fit over it, just to get you to call her on it and tell her to straighten up. Mentally healthy women will respect you when you establish a “no brat zone.”

This doesn't mean that you turn her across your knee and spank her, unless you can do it without hurting her and in such a way that it's entirely plain that you're playing with her and you're both laughing all the way through it. Remember, women love to have gutsy, strong men show their sense of humor in naughty ways, but they hate being painfully man-handled, bullied, and abused, at least if they are mentally and emotionally healthy. A show of strength when everybody is smiling and having fun is one thing, a show of control or cruelty is quite something else.

What it does mean is that you must take one of several approaches to call her on it, and it may entail raising your voice a little bit if that's all she'll respond to, but it mostly requires a show of strength, not of volume; a show of leadership, not abuse.

My wife did this to me once. I'd been neglecting her a bit as I worked overtime on the women's book. Read the following paragraphs carefully and make sure you pick up on the details - no yelling, the only physical force was non-violent and smiling naughtily, etc., the very things she was looking for.

She wanted me to verify the quality of a piece of office furniture she wanted to buy and to pick up a pair of eyeglasses before 5:00PM, and it was 3:30PM. We live ten minutes from the eyeglass store, and had 90 minutes to get there. I said that I wanted to stop and pick up something on the way home. Boom! That's all it took to open the door - I had set myself up.

I could see the change the instant she realized the opportunity she had. In the space of less than a second, she went from excited about getting a piece of office furniture and new eyeglasses to stormy. Then she said, "No, I don't want to go check on the office furniture, I want to go get my eyeglasses before they close. We've got to go there first." I thought, "Oh, hell, here we go!" and said, "We have 90 minutes to make the ten minute trip to get your glasses. We can afford the extra five minutes to stop on the way to check out the office piece."

To this, she went totally ballistic. "You know what? I don't even want you to go. I'm going by myself. I've got to get my glasses and I don't have time to go running around all over the place." Do you see how the level of absurdity is rapidly escalating, as well as the sudden reversal of both her desire to see the furniture and desire to be driven? (She doesn't see well enough to drive safely without glasses.)

Then I said, "You can't see well enough to drive without the glasses we're going to pick up, we have 90 minutes to get there, it's a ten minute trip, and we can certainly afford the five extra minutes to check out the furniture. Explain to me why you have a problem with this." The response was, "No, I'm not explaining anything. You always want to change my plans, so I'm going by myself." (Big hint: when you "always" do something that you've never done, or "never" do something that you've frequently done, it's said to make you call her on it and you're in this same situation.) At this point she has crawled across the seat of the car and is sticking her keys in the ignition, literally begging for an authoritative intervention.

I reached in, grabbed the keys, and snickered a bit as I said, "Excuse me, but you're not going anywhere unless somebody else drives because you're blind without your glasses. Now, it was your plan to stop and look at the furniture, and your plan to go to the eyeglass store. I suggested stopping one place to pick up one thing on the way there, and that hardly constitutes a change in your plans. You're pushing a bad position in an illogical argument, and until you tell me what's really going on here, I'm not driving your blind ass anywhere."

She went for her spare keys in her purse cursing and I climbed over top of her and grabbed them, and then playfully held her pinned to the seat with my body while she struggled and I said, "Say Uncle!" with a big grin on my face and that was all she could take. She busted out laughing and by the time she was done, she was about too weak to move. She finally scooted over, we went to check out the office furniture, get the glasses, stopped and ran my errand, and just to put the icing on the authority cake, I announced a change in plans for supper (I'm the household chef) and stopped at a grocery store and lingered longer than necessary in the produce aisle, cracking jokes the entire time about how good the cool air felt and "nature's thermometers" (guys if you don’t get this, ask a woman – I’d never get a more verbose description past the spam filters), exiting only when the smile began to fade the slightest bit, indicating that she was on the verge of boredom and starting to feel the cold, and therefore about to stop having fun.

Do you see it? She was trying to goad me into taking an authoritative action, and may not have even been aware of it because it's such automatic behavior. If you respond to this the first time, you can get away with doing it with a humorous flavor as I did above and not having it get too ugly. However, if you just ignore her, or act bewildered and walk out of the room without doing anything, forcing her to find another excuse and launch a bigger attack, you may push it to the point where you have to yell a bit, physically restrain her from running out the door by standing between her and the door, etc.

Please note that one small change in the scenario, especially the failure to grin naughtily as I said, "Say Uncle," could have changed the event from one of fun to one of control and abuse; she would have been scared stiff instead of amused. Always mind your bearing when in this situation and make sure that it's fun for everyone or it will explode in your face. You've been warned...

Understand fully that unless she has been severely physically abused she will not be pushing you to strike her in any way (unless the two of you have a history of playfully spanking and slapping each other on the butt or something), and if she has ever in the past kept screaming and maybe even struck you until you slapped or shoved her, it's a strong sign that she has been beaten, still has issues, and really needs professional help to face those issues and begin healing. NEVER, EVER, for any reason physically strike her with the intent of hurting her, even if she begs you to do it or tries to force you. Use no more physical force than it takes to restrain her from hurting either of you, and if she's crying and hysterical, call a counselor and try to get her some help, because she needs it, badly.

There you have it. Again, it took more to explain that than I had hoped, but I wanted you to see a real-world example so you would have something more than just a rule to try to apply - a real episode with distinct characteristics that you could compare with what you have seen in your own life.

Women are constantly communicating things to us, but as you will learn in "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," much of that communication goes right over our heads, while they are thinking it just goes in one ear and out the other because we don't care to listen, when in fact we're simply unable to hear it because we don’t know what we’re hearing or what to listen for.

The problem isn't that we ignore it; it's that we don't have the natural tendency to pick up all the non-verbal and verbally indirect ways they use to try to tell us things. They really don't know that we are that under-evolved with respect to communications infrastructure and skill any more than we are born knowing that they are that highly-evolved and sophisticated when it comes to communications without someone pointing it out. It's just not obvious when you don't have a frame of reference. (I'm explaining it to them in their own book, so hopefully, when everybody knows how everybody else does things, life will go a bit smoother for everybody.)

If you want to learn what you need to know to deal with this problem and others, and get your relationship and marriage (not to mention your “bedroom life”) working at full pleasure and intimacy capacity, go to
http://www.makingherhappy.com/ and download your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" now, before you do another thing. Recognize that life is too short to spend it unhappy and work daily on making it better until it gets there.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

Signs That She’s About to Erupt, and What to Do About It: Miracle Cure for Tension and Drama in Relationships and Marriage

A guy asks if there are any telltale signs of a woman needing a drama fix. A few do come to mind… (WINK!!!)

This is one of my favorite topics, and it’s something fun and useful. To start the ball rolling, meet Zane:

Hey David,

I’ve been following you for a while and I see the things you talk about in my home every day, especially the testing and the drama. I got pretty good at handing the testing within a couple of days of reading about it in your book, but the drama thing has me stumped. I know she does it, I even know when she’s doing it and not expressing a genuine problem, but I can’t quite catch the knack of seeing it coming so I can head it off before it gets ridiculous. What am I missing?

Thanks,
Zane

Hey, Zane! Always good to hear from a fellow Southerner. (For all non-Southerners, “Hey” is Southern for “Hello and how are you?”) You are indeed missing something, but it’s not hard to spot.

In "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," when I describe why women create drama (emotional boredom) and how they nearly always use negative pressure to create it because it’s both faster and easier to get a drama fix by stirring up a fight than by achieving something exciting, you missed the description of the progression of the problem in her and how it works up into an explosion.

Remember that in a woman’s emotional make-up, it’s boredom, not crisis, that is the biggest enemy. If she doesn’t get relief from the boredom, she gets anxious, and then irritable, and you’ll watch her getting more and more uneasy and unreasonable as the tension within her builds. By the time she gets to the point of nearing an explosion, you’ll notice that her attitude has become very sour…

Let’s say your car broke down on your wedding anniversary and you jogged three miles to your house because she didn’t answer the phone when you called to tell her you were in trouble (okay, she was in the shower getting ready to go), and you hit the door late, sweaty, smelly, and tired. A woman in a normal state of mind would see that as heroic and be thrilled, where a woman in need of a drama fix would ignore the fact that you ran home to her and fight with you because you were late getting home. Get it?

Fights that break out over legitimate issues usually have some identifiable logic in them somewhere, although you may have to look hard to find it if you haven’t yet read "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and become well-versed in what women want and what makes them tick. Drama-induced fights are in a word, absurd. These are the fights in which she seems to be raising the roof over nothing, brings up things that happened 20 years ago, and plays dirty, and your warning signs are pretty much toned down versions of that absurd behavior – being abnormally bothered by more and more insignificant things, preoccupation situations and details that she’d normally ignore, etc. Why?

She’s trying to milk enough emotion from those things to get her fix, and getting more and more frustrated by the hour because it’s not working any better as she deviates more and more from her normal behavior. That’s what you watch for. If on a normal day she’s fairly laid back, then she’s acting depressed and tense, then fussy, then negative about everything she speaks of, trouble’s coming.

There are two things you can do. Let her pick the fight, which you will both regret, or you can buck up and admit that you failed to give her some positive emotion that she needed and make up for it with some sort of surprise act of leadership, mystery, and fun, but be advised, if she’s too far gone, your efforts may end up being the very thing she uses to start the fight, and all you can do is hang tough. What exactly does that mean?

It does not mean you should be abusive, or play dirty like she is apt to do. It means that when tensions (and voices) start to rise, you must step immediately into that leadership role and exercise some stern – and maybe even tough – love, by calling her on whatever bratty behavior she’s committing. For instance…

She says, “That’s it! I’ve had it! I’m so sick of you ALWAYS buttoning the button in the middle of your shirt first and then bouncing up and down from bottom to top! Why can’t you just start at the top and work your way down like everybody else?!” To which you reply, “Because that’s how I’m comfortable buttoning it, and I don’t really care what you or anybody else thinks about it. It’s ridiculous that you should even bring something like that up, and the only reason you’re doing it is because you’re bored to death and need the a rush. Now settle down, stop being a brat and conduct yourself with a little dignity, and let’s find a more productive way of giving you what you need without the two of us saying and doing something that we’ll both regret.”

She may try to further escalate the situation after that to test your resolve, and if she does, there’s an answer to that as well, one that involves getting a bit cocky and having some fun with her, but rather than spell it out in detail I’m going to employ it now and tell you that if you want to know what it is, you’re going to have to read it in "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" – LOL!

Face it, Guys; it’s not and has never been a secret that the simple act of wishing your wife a good morning and making it out the door to go to work in the morning can be like walking through a mine field. You need to know how to listen to her and how to talk to her to get along with her. You need to know when to be tough and when to be gentle and reassuring, when to indulge and when to reject, when to make her laugh and when to stand tall and get serious. If things have slowed down in your bedroom, that’s not old age setting in, it’s one of the first symptoms of real relationship problems, the kind that lead to affairs – a symptom of advanced relationship decay – and divorce.

You can let things continue to decay and try to make a heroic save at the last minute, which can indeed be done, or you can take the easier path and employ the same tools now, when you are not under so much pressure and have far less damage to correct, to fix everything that’s broken and keep your relationship running like a precision machine. The cost is the same (at best – it can be MUCH worse if you wait!), and it takes less time and effort to do it now before everything goes critical.

The big question is whether you are the kind of man who puts everything off and unnecessarily risks the future of his family by letting it fall into crisis before doing anything about it or if you are the kind of man who steps up and does what is necessary to keep his family – and himself – happy. So what kind of man are YOU?

If you’re the kind who sees the wisdom of fixing the little problems to keep them from getting big, or if you’re the kind who likes to fix them early but have been unable to find answers before things got bad, then you need to click over to
http://www.makingherhappy.com right now and get your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and put things on the right track. If you’re the kind who puts things off until the last minute because you just don’t want to deal with them until you’re forced to, then I’ll be seeing you later, or if not me, your wife’s boyfriend, and probably her attorney. It’s your call; make it a good one!

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Are You a Man, or a "Wannabe"? Be Recognized As a Real Man in Your Relationship and Marriage

Whether you know or not, your choices, tastes, words, and actions tell the tale, so you need to know what you’re saying to the world, including women, because being a wannabe is a major league wussy turn-off.

Let’s start 2008 with manly resolution. Never again will we say, “I want to be,” or colloquially, “I wanna be.” We WILL be; whatever it is that we desire to be, we will put forth the effort to make it happen instead of blowing a bunch of money (and major attraction points) trying to look like we’ve done it, because it’s pathetic. Take a good look at this with me, because you may not realize you’re doing this…

When I drove to my late best friend’s home for a memorial service, it was a long, rather boring interstate highway drive, so I was dictating text and ideas for upcoming newsletters and book content into a micro recorder when an aggressive driver went flying by me, cut too close between me and the car ahead of him, and almost flipped his vehicle trying to keep control. There were several things about the event that jumped out at me immediately.

First were the vehicle characteristics. He was in a late-model Ford Excursion, one of those mammoth over-sized SUV’s that pretty much amount to a well-appointed utility van. The differential housing (the big round thing between the rear wheels for those of you who aren’t automotive-mechanically inclined) sat a scant six inches off the ground, giving it no more ground clearance than most passenger cars, and it rocked and swayed like a boat on choppy seas, yet despite the pathetically low ground-clearance, soft suspension, and a custom paint job that must have cost a couple thousand dollars, this idiot had put bright chrome off-road brush guards across the front grill and tail lights.

The immediate impression he created was that of a downtown attorney, banker, realtor, etc., who wanted to be a rugged, off-road exploring kind of alpha male, but what he had achieved was the look of a person who had suddenly came into a lot of money, didn’t know what to do with it, and created something that looked like a pimp car and a land rover had created a child.

The other thing that jumped out was that his rear windshield was covered in NASCAR racing stickers. I don’t have anything against competent sports driving in a well-maintained sports car – I do it myself frequently – but an oversized SUV driven at over 100MPH and trying to execute tight, race-track style maneuvers in such a vehicle on a somewhat crowded interstate highway in a rural area that only provided for two lanes in each direction doesn’t say that this guy is a competent sport driver, or even a racing enthusiast. It says that he’s a racing “wannabe” who doesn’t have the sense, taste, or motivation to buy a vehicle designed for that kind of driving.

The funniest thing was that my wife, who is normally pretty non-judgmental and doesn’t usually comment on such events, even though they scare the mortal crap out of her, said, “Damn! You need to send that idiot a copy of your book.” When I asked why, she said, “Because no real man would ever be driving like that or driving anything that looked like that.” I simply laughed and said, ‘You’re quite right.”

So you see, Gentlemen, it’s like this. Women are a whole lot more attentive than we usually give them credit for, and they notice everything about all of us. Single women are comparing all of us against each other, and those partnered with us are constantly comparing us to both their ideal image of a man and to all the other men around, not to mention against how we were when we met them.

What are you giving the women in your life, especially your partner, to compare against that ideal image, or the other guys, or the “old you”? Do you do the things you want to do, achieve the things you want to achieve, etc., or are you terrorizing other drivers in a veritable death trap because you want to be a racer, wearing long hair and motorcycle T-shirts but don’t own a motorcycle, talking about football plays that should have been made in the Sunday game instead of coaching or volunteering at a local school or junior league, reading woodworking magazines when you don’t even own a handsaw, etc.?

Don’t just try to put up the image of doing something you want to do, DO IT! BE a man, a man of action, and enjoy those things you want to do, and you will be seen as an achiever, a real man of action, a guy who lives in the game instead of as a spectator. You won’t believe what a simple change like that will make in your self-esteem and the way the people around you perceive you; there will be a transition from “that annoying big-mouthed know-it-all wannabe” to “that adventurous man’s man who walks to his own beat and gets things done.”

Just take action! It’s really that simple. And if you think I’m full of crap and don’t want to accept the wisdom and experience of all the couples that help me develop and present all this advice, ask the woman you love and the other women you know what they think, and they’ll tell you the same thing. Whatever you do, just stop being an armchair quarterback, a second-guesser, a full-time spectator, etc., and get out and DO something, and enjoy it.

The first thing you’ll notice when you do is that whatever it is you decide to do, if your partner sees you having fun doing something extraordinary, she’ll be there cheering you on, maybe even doing it with you, and getting hotter than nine kinds of hell seeing her man being a manly man who does manly things instead of sitting around flapping his jaws or making an ass of himself trying to look the part of a role that he can’t play. The simple act of turning over a new leaf like this can breathe new life into a stale relationship quickly, and is a great place to start in rolling back the clock to the honeymoon days and a great way to start the year regardless. And there’s no time like now to turn over a new leaf, is there?

The new year is a great time to start any self-improvement effort; indeed, any day is a good day as long as it’s today, but there’s always that bit of extra momentum caused by years of programming that the new year is a time for a fresh start as books are balanced and closed, annual reports are done, etc. Or you could just do what you’ve been doing, and keep feeling the way you’ve been feeling – bored, frustrated, tense, walking on eggshells, suspicious of an affair, seeking or having an affair, celibate – you know what you’re feeling, so do something about it. It’s your move, so make it a good one.

Start this year with a renewed commitment to a better life, starting with a better life with your partner. Go to
http://www.makingherhappy.com and download your copy of “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage” and get with the program that any man can follow and every man can love.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

An Eye-Opening Confession from the Comfortably Unhappy

One of your fellow readers offers a compelling confession of her 15 years of being comfortably unhappy – nearly half her lifetime! Look to see if you see any part of yourself in her confession…

A very dear friend in London wrote to me confessing having spent nearly half her life in this condition before she finally broke free of her husband, a philandering, abusive, substance-abusing codependent wussy parasite who thought her purpose in life was to provide for him and his was to take advantage of it. Meet Heather:

David....sorry but I read your lesson about “Comfortably Unhappy” and...

Do you realise that was me for a long time before I contacted you, comfortably unhappy? You could use me as a perfect example of how not to do what I did and waste years of your life.

I was evaluating how long I was truly unhappy and you know what I came up with..............I was with [him] for 15 years.......at 7 years I had an affair with an older man (gosh how I wish I'd run away then, but things wouldn't have led me to the other things I have today, like my career, if I'd done that, so it’s ok really!!) and I'd been miserable for a good year before that so and the friendship with the guy had been growing through that time where we were meeting each other in a plutonic way before we got it on so to speak and that means I was comfortably unhappy for 8 years David......why I stuck it for so long I do not know and all that happened is things got worse and worse even after I stayed after the affair as his possessive controlling behaviour escalated so how do we explain why people dont 'wake up' to what's going on for so long.............

I mean I didn't properly think about leaving when I was caught in the affair at that time it was easier to stay in the comfy situation than change everything, and I felt awful for the hurt I'd caused [my ex] despite the fact I knew the reason I had done it was because I was being taken for granted and treated like a maid even back then. Is that weird or what?!!

I think after embracing the change I had this time I'd be the first one to say if you’re not happy, run! Do whatever it takes! Just don’t waste life.

Life is a precious gift that is far too short already and the only thing I have grieved for through all of this isn't my failed marriage or my lost childhood love/sweetheart. It’s my wasted years of my life that I cannot ever get back, years literally spent being comfortable but unsatisfied and unhappy in every way.

Do you think if people realised how much you actually kick yourself afterwards they would wake up and sort out their own situations now, rather than waiting and waiting and watching the years of their life ticking away until they can't take it anymore?!!!!

Just my thoughts on the newsletter and if you want to use any of them feel free.......

Heather


Guys, it’s no different for us. We get in a rut, we spend years seeking a woman’s approval, or looking to her for our self-esteem when we should be looking to ourselves and she has none of her own, let alone any to give us. We mistakenly think that things get stale and boring because that’s the way they are supposed to be, and that’s the price we pay for sex, and then the sex stops, too, but we look at the calendar and think that we’re better off putting up with it and having an occasional affair than to give up half or more of everything we’ve earned and a big chunk of our future earnings to get out of it and have a life. What a load of crap!

For starters, unless you are with some kind of parasite or predator, or someone with whom you are grossly mismatched and never should have married, life doesn’t have to be like that at all. The truth is that she probably got bored at the same time you did, or even before, if she’s like most women, and would love for things to be fun and exciting again. Women are nesting creatures, right? They don’t like crises that cause major changes in their life (like divorce!) any more than we do, even though you will see them craving the adrenaline it causes to combat their eternally-tormenting boredom.

And no, it’s not easier to have an affair than to fix things with your wife if you have the foundation of a good marriage. That’s a myth that I’d like to strangle somebody for propagating, not because I think everybody should be married, but because it’s simply not true and has ruined so many marriages that could have been fixed. What does it take?

It doesn’t take much at all! It takes knowing whether you have the foundation for a good relationship, which is a matter of answering a few questions that I have for you. It takes knowing how you and your wife differ as man and woman, and using those differences to enhance your relationship instead of allowing them to remain points of contention, competition, and frustration.

It takes learning three simple rules that govern all communication with a woman, and using them to hear things she’s been telling you for years that you never knew you were being told. It takes shedding the “nice guy” programming that you’re drowning in, and getting back to being the “real guy” that your Y-chromosome has set you up to be, strong, competent, fun, and feeling good about yourself.

It’s the easiest process a man can go through, because it’s a return from your current unnatural self to your natural self, and a process that gives you the answer to questions you’ve spent a lifetime thinking you’d never see answered, like “What do women really want?” and “What makes women tick?” not to mention “Why did she just get mad at me for answering her question???”

So what do you say? Are you comfortably unhappy? Are you ready to learn things you never thought possible to know and enjoy your life – and your wife – like you never thought possible? Start the new year right! Go now, right now, before you do another thing, to
http://www.makingherhappy.com and download your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," and see just how easy enjoying a great life can be!

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham