Saturday, July 12, 2008

Do You Want to Be RIGHT, or HAPPY? Conflict Resolution in Relationships and Marriage

Many people get so hung up on WHO’s right that they can’t see WHAT’s right, making them push a bad position to “win” instead of focusing on getting the right answer in everybody’s head and moving forward, alienating everyone around them. That’s bad enough when at a social gathering, even worse at work, but what if it’s going on in your relationship or marriage? Just how long do you think such a relationship can last? Luckily, the condition is treatable with a little self-injection of self-esteem and an attitude adjustment.

Good grief! This has been the week for phone calls from very disturbed people. But before I get into that, I have a really great announcement:

I’m in the process of installing and configuring forum software to support this blog and newsletters, where all of you can discuss with me and each other what’s happening in your life, what you’re doing about it, ask questions, get help, etc. It’s a bit more involved than I was told, but it’s looking very promising, so stay tuned for the announcement that all is operational and ready for you to use.


Now back to today’s lesson…

I just got off the phone with a consulting client who bought “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” and he was frantic. His relationship with his wife was on the rocks, she had filed for divorce, and it didn’t take but a very few minutes to see why she was divorcing him.

First, a little background: The poor guy has such an extreme self-esteem deficit that no woman would ever have him for long (I question whether his wife married him for his money because he described her as coming from a rather “low-maintenance” background, he’s loaded with “old money,” and there’s just no way this guy was ever able to spark attraction in anyone through any means other than dressing well and exhibiting the trappings of money and power), and every part of our conversation was about “who was right” instead of “what will work for him.”

You’ve probably met people like him, and if you haven’t, ignore them when you meet them. Don’t bother trying to get to know them, because they will try to get to know you by telling you that they know more about your life than you do before you’ve said much more than, “Hello.”

His wife had apparently had enough of it and was bailing out, and he maintained that she knew nothing about herself, what she wanted from herself or him, didn’t have a clue what relationships were about, and he couldn’t get her to understand that he was smart because he was wealthy. Attention all disciples of the Church of Cause and Effect…all together now…1…2…3…CRINGE!!!

I’ve heard a lot over the years of being a business consultant and executive coach, but this guy beat anything I’ve ever seen in terms of being in denial, having a sub-zero self-esteem level, and having absolutely no concept of cause-and-effect relationships. He actually believed that inheriting a large estate made him intelligent! Being intelligent gives one the ability to build a fortune, but receiving an unearned fortune obviously does not include a brain infusion or transplant.

Now that you have the background, picture the fun part. He calls up, introduces himself, describes in great detail all of the above, and after agreeing to a $250 consulting fee for a block of my time, proceeds to spend the first hour trying to first justify everything he did and then trying to tell me why nothing in the book he purchased could possibly help him, and that since he was wealthy, he could afford to spend time with me to suggest changes that had occurred to him as he was reading the Table of Contents – he had NOT yet read the book!

Now, in case this is your first edition of this newsletter and you’ve not heard it before, a team of 118 couples helped me conduct and test all the research that went into this book, and anything that was less than 90% effective was not included; things that were between 50% and 90% effective were noted for discussion in this newsletter to see if there might be a way to fine tune them for acceptable performance, and anything less than 50% effective was consigned to individual circumstances or personal tastes and omitted entirely. Now, think about that for just a second…

…a 118-page book full of advice and concepts, each of which at least 90% of 118 women agreed on being effective with them, and at least 90% of men agreed were easy and enjoyable to do. There have been only two refunds in four years, and both were the result of some misunderstanding about the purpose or content of the book (one of which has purchased the same book twice and wanted one of them refunded!). I also have testimonials from almost everyone who has ever bought it stating that it works wonders. That kind of thing is unheard of with information products. Most authors brag if they can keep their refund rate down to 10%, and mine is under 0.01%.

That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for error, does it? It has worked to improve everyone’s lives, but this guy, who’s bought this book to try to head off a divorce and starts the conversation with the words, “My name is XXXXXX XXXXXXXXX and my wife is divorcing me and I don’t know what to do,” is going to be charitable and spend an hour of paid consulting time telling me that everything in my book, which he has not yet thoroughly read, is wrong and then asking me for help. Spare me!

Are you like this guy, more interested in being heard or being “right” than in being happy? Is your partner? Can you see what a strain it’s putting on your relationship? If either of you are like this man, you can bet that at some point it will end your relationship if it’s not fixed. The first steps in fixing any problem is admitting there is a problem, defining it, and taking responsibility for fixing whatever part of it you can impact. Only after those three things are accomplished can an effective solution be developed.

And, by the way, taking responsibility does not mean taking the blame; it means committing to act in solving and eliminating the problem. People who won’t take responsibility are very prone to focus on blame and point the finger everywhere but at themselves, making it impossible to show them how they may have contributed to the problem and determine how they might modify their behavior to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future. As you might expect, this was the hardest part of this phone call – getting this man to see that his self-esteem deficit was the vast majority of the problem so that he could begin building self-esteem through genuine achievements and eliminate the problem.

It took two hours of him yelling and screaming and arguing with me, and me countering every argument with the irrefutable facts he had given me, but finally a light came on (“No bad idea, no matter how popular, can withstand the onslaught of logic.” –Aldous Huxley) and he was able to see that he had spent the entire call rejecting the help he had paid to obtain because he wanted to be right.

There was no way to shorten the process. I kept asking, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” and he kept answering “I want both!” It was when he finally realized that if he could be both he would have never needed to call me in the first place that he finally had a revelation that made me think he’d had a heart-attack. He didn’t speak for about five minutes and there were all manner of stressful sounds on his end where he was trying to either hold back or silence his crying so I wouldn’t hear it. I mercifully let him get it out of his system without asking if he was alright, and he finally said, “Okay, I’m a clean slate. Tell me what I need to know.”

I said, ‘What you need to know first is that everything in that book you bought has worked for everyone who has used it; within the last week a young man in your predicament pulled his marriage out of the jaws of a divorce, his wife is back home, and they’re making long-term career and family plans now. Go back and read the book again, this time looking for answers instead of validation and expecting to be happy in the future instead of expecting to be right throughout your history, and then call me if we need to talk further. Now that you have come this far, I have every confidence you can go the distance.” Tear ‘em down and build ‘em back up the right way…facing reality and embracing it with a fury.

(Update: He did as I instructed, and he eventually turned out to be one of my star students. It turned out that he was quite intelligent, not because he was wealthy, but because he had an analytical mind and the ruthlessness to learn anything, once we got his ego out of the way; emotion and rational thinking don’t mix. Congratulations, J.G. – you still hold the title as my biggest challenge of this project, even bigger than finding a whole book full of facts about women that over a hundred women agreed upon!)

As I said, this situation can destroy your relationship if it goes on continuously, but I didn’t mention that you can do extreme damage to your relationship in a single argument with this mistake. As tempers rise, things are said that can be apologized for, but not taken back. When there is a disagreement, focus on WHAT is right, not WHO is right. You’re partners, and supposed to be a team, so the important thing is not to win an argument (competitive), but to score a win for the team in the situation (cooperative), is it not?

So why do we do this to ourselves and our partners??? As with many people problems, low self-esteem puts us in a competitive mode, thinking that we’ll feel better if we beat somebody at something – anybody at anything! How much self-esteem will you be garnering by making an ass of yourself and putting your relationship on the rocks? Think before you open your mouth, because you can certainly get your foot in it much easier than you can put back into it any words that came out of it. Keep things in perspective, and you can keep things moving in the right direction always.

So, are you going to concern yourself with what’s right, or with who? Have you ever heard that old ditty, “If you always to what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got…”? There’s a little more to it, but that’s the gist of it.

I’m telling you, straight up, achiever-to-achiever, “I got the hook-up for ya,” right here. Solid, factual information, tested by over a hundred regular couples in long-term committed relationships, most of them married, all of them long-term enough to have developed significant problems that threatened their relationships, before this book was every published, and hundreds more since..

It’s in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” and it’s just a few mouse-clicks away. Download your copy today at
http://www.makingherhappy.com, because with information like this and a little study and desire, you can start putting an end to silly little traps like this one once and for all within minutes of downloading it. And I’ve got a whole bunch readers who will tell you that you can’t get results like you’ll get with this information, anywhere or at any price.

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

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Don't FIND Time, MAKE TIME, If Your Relationship and Marriage Are to Last!

A reader asks how to find some time in a busy schedule to spend with her husband. In her case, and maybe in yours as well, finding time isn’t possible because it just isn’t there to find. When there’s none to be found, you have to make some!

I love hearing from the women who subscribe to this newsletter as much as the men. Their questions are just as relevant and they prove that women really do want time with their men to be intimate and nurturing and to have some fun. Meet K.:

Hello David,

I have a question for you. My husband and I work together as we own our own construction company. We are together 24 hours a day, and need to find a way that we can spend time together but as work. It seems like when we get home we are to tired to have any intimate time together and when we are at work we are at work. I want to know how I can separate work from pleasure with him. We don't have much family that we can rely on to take our son, and the one's that we do have that take him are sick right now. So when we need our alone time we want it.

How can we get this?

K

My reply:

Good morning, K!

Under the constraints you’ve listed, you can’t, so you’re going to have to make some changes, at least small ones. You’re going to have to change your priorities to make that time together actually important enough to take it, and then manage your schedule so that you can, no matter what that takes. Maybe until your babysitters get well, you might have to schedule one day a week where the two of you disappear at lunchtime for an hour or longer, to an intimate lunch or a hotel or whatever, or schedule a late opening one morning so that you can have a little while at home after your child has gone to school before going to work, or something like that. How you do it isn’t important as long as it doesn’t destroy your business, but you have to schedule the time and then take the time instead of just waiting for a window to open.

I’m all about achievement and getting the job done, and this was a very hard lesson for me to learn as well; very early in my own marriage, my wife and I were both over-achievers and found ourselves in serious trouble before we realized that while we love each other dearly, we had inadvertently let our work schedules take over our lives, and had evolved from husband and wife into roommates and business partners. That was one of the problems that led to me doing the research to write "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," and one of the first problems that I put to the test group to solve.

It turned out they all had it to some degree, either with spending all their time with their jobs or their kids, and for most, just scheduling one date and one lunch per week was enough to keep them close and engaged while continuing to get things more under control, and all of them found that once the schedule was made and acknowledged, it was very easy to keep to their commitments as long as they were smart about scheduling the time, avoiding times that were common for meetings, times that were in the middle of project start-ups, times that were during peak customer flow or when they knew they would have problems getting a sitter, etc., and they always secured a sitter before planning the date – “We need a couple hours some evening this week; when would be good for you?” was the question. And when the sitter gave them a date, it was set in stone, and only an event that produced fever or lots of blood was a good excuse for breaking the babysitting engagement and spoiling the date.

This isn’t as hard as what it may sound. An hour or two per week isn’t going to make that big a difference in your business, if any, and it will make a world of difference in your life together. Just realize that you’re together for the long haul, and you should therefore try to give each other the best part of your day instead of what’s left over after everybody and everything else has worn you out all day.

Speaking of which, when you do schedule an evening date, try to keep your day-time schedule a little lighter than other days to make sure you aren’t too tired to enjoy the time together, and never let yourself think that you are too tired to enjoy some time together without at least trying it. You’d be surprised how rejuvenating a little intimate, playful time together can be, because it gets your adrenaline pumping. Sometimes a long day doesn’t create so much fatigue as it does simple frustration and depression, and some time together in celebration of a job well done and a rough work day brought to a close can be the best pick-me-up of all.

Give this a try, and let me know if I can be of further help. You can do this.

Take care, and keep in touch!
David

A lot of couples make this mistake. They try to find time instead of making time, not realizing that when your life is in overdrive, even small amounts of time scattered through the week can make a huge difference in keeping your relationship on track, and if a couple hours a week is going to make the difference between your business folding or succeeding or the difference in you being able or unable to pay your household bills, you’ve got bigger problems than you realize and need to be finding some professional help. It’s like arguing over a nickel at the cash register; if that nickel is going to break either you or the vendor, you’re already broke.

Make the time for what’s important, and get your priorities straight. You will most likely outlive your career, your parents, and your friends by a very long time, and while you may not outlive your children, they will be moving out of your house somewhere around age 20 and you won’t be seeing that much of them after they are gone. Your partner, on the other hand, is supposed to be with you for life, right? Common sense should tell you that your partner should therefore be your first priority, and if they are not, then you need to stop and figure out whether your priorities are wrong or you’re with the wrong partner.

Finding a new job, making new friends, or even making new babies is relatively easy compared to finding a true life partner and soul mate, and if you’ve found one and lose them, that lengthens the odds of finding another somewhat, does it not? Look at your life, and get your priorities in order, and then do whatever it takes to support those priorities. Yes, it’s really that simple.

When it comes to your partner, Gentlemen, doing what it takes to keep her happy and striving to nurture and excite you is a simple matter of communications and manliness, something you aren’t taught in school, and have no hope of learning from watching television unless you’re able to home in on that tiny percentage of programming that shows men and women being men and women, and no this homogenized New Age mess of political correctness and utter wussification and victim mentality that seems to be swallowing the world.

For a tested and proven, tutorial and definitive reference on “keeping mama happy so she keeps everybody happy,” go to
http://www.makingherhappy.com and download your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage." Life’s too short to let it pass under-lived and unenjoyed, and as anybody who has ever used it will tell you, this book is “the hook-up” you’ve been looking for.

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

David Cunningham

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Is Your Intimate Behavior Killing Attraction, and Thereby Your Relationship and Marriage?

When people are together long enough to get comfortable they start doing things exclusive to their relationship, like “baby talk” and wearing sloppy or goofy-looking clothes, that might be cute to them, but can kill attraction deader than a rock. Sometimes they get so comfortable with it in private that they give the rest of us a dose of it, too! (Yeah, YUCK! is right!) Look for signs of this in your relationship.

I had a visit from a couple of friends today, Bill and Cheryl. It was a study in “what not to do” as they say. They’ve been married for about twenty-six years, and acted SO married it almost seemed scripted to watch them. They finished each others’ sentences, ate from each others’ plates, talked “baby talk” to each other (gag!!!), and were about the shabbiest dressed wealthy couple I’ve seen in a long time. She was in an oversized men’s sweat suit (despite the 90+ degree F. / 32+ degrees C. weather) because it was “comfortable” and wearing no makeup. He was wearing baggy cargo shorts, an over-sized graphic T-shirt, and sandals (accentuating his bow-leggedness, very knobby knees, and extremely large feet).

Eventually she excused herself to the powder room, and I asked him how things were going, ready to bet the farm that they were comfortable and bored stiff; I would have won the bet. They had started out very into each other, having a lot of fun together, and things had cooled off quickly not long after their marriage. They had joined that large group of couples in long-term relationships that sleep together every two months – yes, that’s a sad but true statistic, at least in North America. Adult couples in mature married relationships (two years or longer) average six sexual encounters per year. Sad, isn’t it?

These two were a textbook example of what happens when two people get too comfortable with each other. Take a close look at what they were doing. Is there anything whatsoever sexually exciting in hearing your partner talk like they are addressing a baby? Or like they are one? Not unless you’re a pedophile. “Sweet” as the girls say, maybe, but no way it’s sexy. As for the flour-sack-esque, nearly homeless-looking attire, she might as well have been in an over-sized bathrobe with curlers in her hair and a cigarette dangling from her toothless mouth, and he might as well have been holding up a sign that said “will work for food” and looking like he hadn’t bathed in a month or two, except maybe in a bottle of cheap wine. Just makes you want to snuggle right up to one of them, doesn’t it? It's a shame, because properly dressed and groomed, they're a strikingly good-looking couple.

I also noticed that as they talked, if they weren’t doing the “baby talk,” they acted a lot more like girlfriends than husband and wife, especially the business with finishing each others’ sentences and reaching over to touch each other every time they started a sentence. Now, Bill is anything but effeminate, and when he spoke to me it was very “mano-a-mano,” and I found myself staring at him as he switched modes every time he switched between talking to me and his wife.

Don’t let this happen to you! A man and woman should communicate, freely and openly, but not in a way that kills their attraction for each other. They should be comfortable around each other, but not in ways that make you dull, sloppy, uninteresting, or project an extreme lack of self-respect. Your partner should be the most important person in your life (other than yourself) if you have a great relationship, and as such, they deserve the best in you, not the worst, the most interesting, not the most mundane. That’s how life-long love relationships are enjoyed, by keeping in mind that all other relationships are likely to be transient, and are therefore less important than this one.

Many people would shrink back in terror or jump on a stump and start preaching at the mere suggestion that your partner be more important than even your children, and I’m not going to debate that subject with anyone; however, I will ask you to at least take a logical – yes, entirely unemotional -- look at it for a minute. Your children come along, and you live with them day after day for eighteen years, plus or minus a year or two. Then they’re gone except for weekly visits if you’re lucky, if you are the average parent. Your partner, if you manage your relationship properly, was there before the kids, and will be there long after the kids have gone, day after day after day, “until death do us part,” right? You don’t want your adult children living with you, but you want your spouse living with you for the rest of your life, at least if you have a good marriage.

So logically, who is more important to your life’s happiness, someone who by definition (early death notwithstanding) will stick around for 18 years and be gone, or somebody who (again, early death notwithstanding) could be with you day after day for 50 years or more, if you give them a good reason to stay, like being interesting and fun to be around, sharing their values and celebrating their achievements with them? Men will probably be comfortable with this much more readily than women because of (as usual) biological factors, but everyone should think about it and come to grips with it as self-evident truth, because it helps you to at least appreciate the full significance of a commitment to a life-long relationship.

(And for any of you women who are right now thinking, “How dare he? My kids are going to come first and he can just get over it!” get this: if you make your husband take a back seat to your children or anything else, you give up your right to be upset, hurt, mad, or anything else when he chooses to let you take a back seat to something. Double standards and hypocrisy don’t work any better in relationships and marriage than they do anywhere else, so get some perspective before you make a choice that the whole family will ultimately suffer over. Put your marriage first if you want it to last a lifetime.)

This doesn’t have to happen to you. It’s your choice, and it doesn’t take much effort. Basic awareness of the potential causes of the problem and choosing to do something other than commit one of those causes is really about all there is to it. Baby talk, men acting like girlfriends instead of men, and dressing yourself and acting in a way that does not project self-respect are only a few of the ways in which you can kill attraction dead, and knowledge is power!

Know what kills attraction, and what creates it, and use that knowledge to make one of those relationships that has you happy to be together for fifty or more years! (You wouldn’t believe the things people buy you for your fiftieth anniversary! Just kidding…) I put that knowledge together for you in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage.” It’s there, tested, working and guaranteed. All you have to do is go to
http://www.makingherhappy.com and download it, and then USE IT. It’s just that easy, and life is just that short that you don’t want to spend it being part of some miserable statistic.

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

David Cunningham

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

So She Needs a Good Cry or Is Spoiling for a Fight? Knowing When and How to Get Tough in Relationships and Marriage

Sometimes a woman quite literally NEEDS you to get a little tough with her. How do you recognize this, and how do you get tough without being abusive? Think “leadership”…

Yesterday was a really odd day. Everyone I know was having what you would call an “off day” of one kind or another. Hay fever, colds, arthritis, lousy weather, vendor incompetence, boss incompetence, employee incompetence, monthly cycle – you name it, somebody was going through it. The oddest thing was what happened with one of my best friends, Daphne.

We met over ten years ago, and when we did, she was a mess. Totally submissive, living for the approval of others, and living under the thumb of a wimpy, manipulative, predatory husband and a highly-controlling and manipulative mother. She asked me one day fairly early in our relationship how I had come to be so tough and independent, and how I could live caring absolutely nothing about what others thought of me, I steered her to some excellent reading, especially some of Ayn Rand’s work, and we talked about different problems and how to solve them.

She became fiercely independent, ultimately “wearing the pants in the family,” and presenting such a strong image to her mother that her mother went from being dominating and manipulative to seeking Daphne’s approval at every turn. That was about nine years ago, and she’s held the line ever since…that is, until yesterday.

There had been a lot of turmoil over the weekend, including a funeral, a couple of family problems, a severe migraine, etc., and by Monday morning she was so mentally fatigued that her self-esteem became challenged, and she suddenly started acting like she had when we first met, very dramatic, needy, approval-seeking, etc. As the day wore on, it was getting worse instead of better.

To finish putting this in perspective, Daphne is one of the brighter women I know, with an IQ of around 130-140, very emotionally aware, and extremely competent at self-evaluation. She’s one of the top three women on the support staff who helped with the development of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and who continue to respond to surveys, questions, reader dilemmas, etc., with useful insight because she can “step in and out of herself” at will and remain entirely objective through the whole thing (except on unusual occasions when she gets uncharacteristically hormonal), which is very unusual among women, who tend to get wrapped up in the emotion of an experience and don’t want to quickly shut it down and analyze it, even when it would be to their extreme benefit to do so.

Do you have the picture now? A smart, fiercely independent woman who is quite adept at side-stepping her own emotions to rationally examine them has reverted to behavior not exhibited in nearly a decade, and as the day wore on, as I tried to point out what was happening, it got worse instead of better. I knew what was coming when she said, “I just feel like I need a good cry.” Why?

She’d been to a funeral and yet she needed a good cry? Danger Will Robinson! Danger! That’s a major sign of emotional energy build-up looking for an outlet. Emotional energy is like any other kind of mental energy. Thought is the result of chemical reactions in the brain causing electrical impulses at the nerve synapses. This tells you what?

That the stress of all the emotion from the weekend had put her brain chemistry out of balance. Some women have more of a problem with this than others, but the symptoms are the same; they get weaker and more clingy, then needy, then irritable, and finally they sound like they’re spoiling for a fight, and you can hear the stress and anger start building in their voice looking for an outlet. The big question is “what do you do?”

First, you have to avoid the urge to let her engage you in a fight. If she gets bad enough, she’ll say something to put you on the defensive and then jump to get you to jump back. Giving her a good fight will reset her brain chemistry, but it will also create a lot of embarrassment, hard feelings, scars and other aftermath that neither of you really want to deal with. We’ve all seen how things, once said, cannot really ever be taken back, no matter how much they weren’t really meant at the time. You need a confrontation, but not a fight. How do you do that?

Remember the many times I’ve mentioned leadership as a biological trigger for attraction? The chemical balance in the brain is a biological matter, is it not? When she finally had things built up to try to start the fight and made a snide remark to try to provoke me, I took a stern tone that she had probably never heard me use before, and said, “Just hold it! You are not going there with me!”

That’s leadership (decision-making), and authority (establishing a boundary), but it’s also a confrontation (denying her the fight and doing so in a stern tone). I thought for a second she had dropped the phone until I heard her breathe, and then continued, “This is not about me and you, or even me or you separately. It’s about all the emotional turmoil that you went through over the last few days, and you’re looking for a fight to sort it all out. There’s a better way to handle this.”

I went on to explain what had happened, maintaining the stern tone of a friend who is verbally roughing up another friend for doing something silly, and gradually softening it as I proceeded over the next couple of minutes. After a couple of minutes of silence as she took it all in, she interrupted me in mid sentence with, “Oh my God! I’ve been doing this all day, haven’t I?”

It was like hearing somebody come out of a daze, and Gentlemen, you MUST understand this, for many women, it really is like coming out of a daze. When they get off balance like that, they are truly in an altered mental state, and may not even remember some things that happen or have an accurate sense of the passage of time. This does not in any way make them inferior, weak, or any other kind of sexist nonsense. It’s just the way they are, and something that we have to be aware of and work around if we are going to have a long-term relationship with them. It goes with the territory, and you can help them though it or be made miserable by it. A pretty obvious choice, huh?

Eventually, after talking for a few minutes (and Daphne making several apologies and sounding very embarrassed), we got back to the point in a prior discussion about her saying that she felt like she just needed a good cry. Sometime before we spoke today, she watched some old sad movie, had a good cry, and was herself when I called this morning to share a reader e-mail with her. This brings up the other VERY important point…

When women say they “need a good cry,” they’re not being prissy little wuss-bags. They know that they are off-balance, and have learned over time that it’s going to take some kind of extreme emotional event that is sustained for a fairly long time (as emotional events go) to get things back in balance. It is VERY difficult to create a positive event that can create this intensity and duration of emotion, so they usually use something negative but inert, like a sad movie, to get them started and keep them going, and by the time the movie is over, they’re bled out, stabilized, and generally okay. Are you with me here?

Women don’t like sad movies because they enjoy being sad, they like sad movies because they provide a needed emotional rush and release that rids them of negative energy and sets their body chemistry right without having to engage us in a fight and damage our relationships. Hence, when your partner wants to watch a sad movie, don’t interfere. You don’t have to sit there through the whole thing, and in fact should invite her to invite a girlfriend over to watch it with her, but…

If there is no girlfriend available or she doesn’t want to do that, you don’t want to be cast in the role of girlfriend because it kills attraction over time. Tell her that you don’t like sad movies and that you’ll be in another room, but if she gets upset and wants to be held a bit you’ll be happy to “pop in” for a few minutes if she asks. Being a strong shoulder to cry on is a far cry from being a girlfriend sharing in a drama festival. Crying at chick-flicks was part of the bad advice in the 1980’s that got us into this mess, so don’t go there, ever. You will be very uncomfortable in the girlfriend role if you have an ounce of masculinity in you, and you’ll kill attraction and respect in her. There’s just no upside for either of you if you try to substitute for a girlfriend for even a minute.

If you do have to spend a few minutes with her while she watches, monitor her as she does, and if you notice tears starting to form sit down with her for a bit and snuggle her up, then a few minutes after the scene changes and she’s dried up for a few minutes excuse yourself for a bit. She doesn’t need a baby sitter, but it will feel good to have you there holding her when the tears come, and it will be endearing to her to have you tolerate a few minutes of that movie to help her get through it. Don’t feed into it, or egg her on, or start crying yourself. Just sit still, pull her close, and do whatever you do when she doesn’t feel good and you snuggle her up.

Women are like us in a lot of ways, but in the ways they differ from us lie the potential for a lot of misunderstanding and lack of appreciation, not to mention good old-fashioned BIG trouble. They try to tell us what they need, but one of those differences is how they communicate with us, which really throws a wrench in the works. But, there’s help if you’re smart enough to know that you need it and man enough to accept it…

I got a group of 118 couples together and worked them over nine ways from Sunday to find out what went right and wrong in relationships, how men and women differed, how to communicate with them, and how to make or break that wonderful feeling of attraction, that emotion that women so desperately crave and which truly brings out the best in them when they feel it, so much so that they will literally kill to protect that feeling.

That research was compiled into my e-book, "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," which was given back to the couples for testing and fine tuning, and all of them, as well as everyone who has bought it since (unless somebody has failed to complain and get a refund when they felt like it, and can you imagine that happening today???) has improved their life and/or relationship. Some relationships can’t be improved because they never should have been formed in the first place, and this book helps you to identify and exit them peacefully as well. And the best news of all is…

That you can have it now! It’s an instant download at
http://www.makingherhappy.com, 118 pages in PDF format, single-spaced and optimized for printing on standard letter-size paper, so you can read it on your screen or carry it with you and read it on the train, plane, or your favorite easy chair – YOUR CHOICE. Just choose! Go for it now, so you can start replacing boredom, frustration, and fights with happy times and a higher standard of living and self-esteem, because life is too short to spend it just wondering why things aren’t going so well when they could be going great!

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

David Cunningham

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tact and Diplomacy in Relationships and Marriage: What To Do When She Gains a Few Pounds

Summer is here, and many of us still have that inconvenient layer of winter fat and we’re now wondering how many extra trips to the gym it will take to get rid of it. And it’s not just winter fat, either. Stress, pregnancy, etc., can put a major whammy on women, who are especially troubled right now because bikini season is here! What do you do when she gains a few pounds? Inquiring minds want to know, at least if they ever hope enjoy being married again…

That’s right, it’s past time to shed that winter insulation and get into bikinis, volleyball, backyard barbecues, and all those other fun activities that require baring skin, and exposing your jelly belly if you picked one up through the winter. Here’s a typical letter about this most common problem, and a very sticky one to say the least. Meet Tia:

Dear David,

I need your help. The past few months I have put on a few extra pounds due to a medication that I have to take for my asthma. Everybody tells me that they don’t notice it and I look good, but to me I feel like the Goodyear blimp and have no desire to be intimate with my husband at all because I’m embarrassed over having curves in places that were flat. The more he tries to tell me I look sexy the more his advances just make me feel pressured, and I hate feeling under pressure this way. It has nothing to do with not loving him or not wanting to enjoy each other the way we always have. We have always been very in touch with each other and being together in the bed was always one of the best parts.

I was hoping you could give me some advice as to how I could bring this up with him. I want him to understand just how awful I feel I look and how it has nothing to do with him at this point.

Thank you,
Tia

Tia, I’m going to make this really easy for you, because it’s such a great question. Just print this and let him read it, because I’m going to tell him and all the other men about this. He won’t know it’s you unless you tell him because I’ve changed the name to protect your privacy.

Get ready guys! Pay close attention, take notes, and make sure you fully understand what you’re about to read. This is some of the most critical information to ever appear in this newsletter and you need to get this down pat and cold, right now, because sooner or later, virtually EVERY woman will experience a bit of weight gain that makes her uncomfortable with her appearance, and consequently, with YOU.

If you’ve read "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," you know about the difference in the male and female brain structure. Aside from making our communications styles and methods grossly different, it also makes women visualize, emotionalize and even dramatize to the extreme compared to males.

You also must remember that nearly all of the advertising in the fashion and beauty industries is designed to prey upon a woman’s sense of competitiveness to make her feel insecure about her appearance. Women are literally bombarded with this crap everywhere they look, and while you or I probably wouldn’t even notice a little weight gain until we had to loosen our belt a notch or sew a button back on our trousers that had popped off, to them a pound or two can be nearly or wholly traumatic, especially if they’ve taken pride in a flat stomach for a long time.

We often respond to this by telling them that they look “fine,” “sexy,” “hot,” etc., and that is precisely the wrong thing to do. Why?

She knows what she sees in the mirror, and thinks that you see what she sees in the mirror. If she thinks she looks fat and you say she looks sexy, all that says to her is that either you’re lying or your standards are really, really low. Don’t go there, even if you really think she looks better with a couple of extra pounds because you like the curves, and whatever you do, DON’T tell her you like the new curves! That can get you killed, because in her ears, that’s, “But honey, I like you better when you’re fat like this.” (Ladies, you are cordially invited to write in and tell the men just that – I’ll reprint your letters so the men will know just how serious an issue this is.)

So what are you supposed to do?

You’d already know this, too, if you had read “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” because you wouldn’t be making those kinds of advances and doing really stupid things like asking her to have sex with you. You’d be tripping her attraction triggers with alpha male behavior, naughty talk and gestures, and making her have fun and get so hot that she doesn’t concern herself with her additional weight because she’d still feel sexy and desirable, and she’d be coming after YOU! (See Jay’s letter in the archive
for an example, because he’s got it down cold.)

When you know what a woman wants, what makes her tick, how to both listen and talk to her, and how to have fun with her, she doesn’t feel like a middle-aged housewife that can’t compete with the 20-somethings anymore. She feels like a real queen who rules the world at your side by day and a red hot vixen by night, keeping that naughty little secret for you and you alone because you create it for her. There's a time and place, not to mention a right way and a wrong way, for everything, and that includes delivering genuine, honest compliments.

That, Gentlemen, is how a real man makes a real woman feel, and that is what you learn when you read “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage.” So how many more times are you going to have to stick your foot in your mouth and spend the night in the doghouse before you go to
http://www.makingherhappy.com/ and download your copy? Go now, and get it done, because there are far better things to do with your feet (and your mouth!).

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

Handling Women's Insecurity and Jealousy in Relationships and Marriage

What to do when your partner gets jealous. It’s a security and self-esteem issue, so you must be careful…

I received the following in response to the recent edition on “Being Your Own Man”:

Hi David....I agree with you on what this guy needs to do. Let me ask you though...When I am showing this confidence which I believe I do and in fact I enjoy seeing my wife getting attention from the younger guys, but is it possible that when she sees me so self-confident and not being jealous etc that the wife may start being insecure herself? Do you think that she could start thinking that all the other women are going to want him and she might withdraw into herself seeing other women being interested in him?

Thanks,
Keith

I told Keith that it was purely a matter of her self-esteem combined with his past behavior; if she feels good about herself and he’s shown himself to be trustworthy in the past, she’ll eat it up just like him, but if not, there could be trouble. I also pointed him to this article in my newsletter archive, which does bring a lot of clarity to the picture, especially on how to maintain that “They’re chasing me, but I’m going home with you, so don’t worry” connection going with your wife or girlfriends while others are flirting with you. Read it again if you’ve seen it before, because this is a skill you MUST acquire, and one that will be richly rewarded:

“When She Gets Jealous”

Let’s talk about our women, and how to give them one less thing to worry about each day.

Why should that be important? Well, if you had read “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage” you’d know that women are wired differently from men in some rather fascinating ways, one of which is that they are constantly evaluating and reevaluating everything in their world. That includes us, themselves, and all the other women they know, too, and there are some “competitive insecurities” that still creep in, even though we now live in a world where women routinely make it on their own without a man’s help.

Patience, everyone. It took at least a couple of thousand years to form those habits, and they won’t go away overnight, especially as long as every time you turn on the television you see commercials aimed at women whose sole purpose is to make them feel insecure about themselves so that they will spend more money on diet and exercise fads, makeup and clothing to try to outpace each other. (Yes, Guys, they’re doing it to us, too, with commercials about “dysfunction,” hair loss, etc., just not as aggressively as they do it to the women.) Until everybody gets together and figures out that there’s plenty of partners to go around and we all need to be a little more patient and selective when trying to choose one, we’re all going to have to deal with this.

Guys, this is particularly a problem for us! How so? As you master the knowledge and techniques in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” you will become more attractive – TO ALL WOMEN! Yes, that IS a problem if not handled properly. Put your ego back in your pocket for a minute and think with me here. What do you do when you’re in a public place and other women notice you and come up and start flirting with you, right in front of your partner?

She’s in a quandary, because she wants to be with a man who is in demand (F.J. Shark’s “social proof”), and wants to be proud to be seen with you, but unless she’s feeling particularly strong about you and your relationship, she’s likely to get a little uneasy, especially at first, if this is a new development in your relationship. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to allow her to see her man being in demand without making her feel insecure or even fearful of the other women noticing you. We cover this in detail in the book, but I’m going to give you the crash course here and now so you can have a better understanding of how things work and maybe avoid a bad situation before you get to that part of the book.

First, if you have followed my advice and let her read this book with you, she knows what you’re doing, and probably already knows that you’re becoming more attractive with her feelings and needs in mind and a desire to better your relationship and marriage. She just needs a little subtle but firm reminder, possibly frequently until she gets used to you being attractive and still remaining true to her – remember, they’re constantly reevaluating and testing, even when they know things are good. That reminder comes in the form of continuing to make contact with her when other women are around. Care for an example? Yeah, I thought so.

Okay, you have just spoken at a dinner, seminar, party, or some gathering and have become known to the room as some kind of leader, authority, entertainer, etc., that causes women to flock to you because you have just publicly defined authority and established alpha status in commanding the attention of the group, room, or whatever. Your partner is now at your side as all these other women come up asking questions, which is their lead-in to testing you to see if you can be swayed and to see if you’ll give them attention, and on what level. They’re highly competitive and can’t help it, so there’s no avoiding it. Some of them will be subtly flirting, others may even overtly give you a phone number or a room key (yes, attraction is that powerful!) knowing that your wife is standing there.

Frequently, yet subtly, make contact with your partner, touching or even squeezing her hand, glancing at her and smiling as you answer the other women’s questions, etc., which telegraphs to her and to the other women that while you are the catch of the room, you’re committed to her, and happy to remain so. If you are passed any room keys, phone numbers, etc., DO NOT try to conceal them. Try to very subtly and politely refuse them, and if they insist, take it, slip your hand behind your back, and try to get your partner to take it, or slip it in your pocket while smiling at your partner, and then turn out your pockets for her when you are alone again. Let her dispose of the phone numbers and take the room keys to the front desk.

If you know that you are going to be speaking publicly, discuss it with her! Yes, people really do things like that. “Honey, there are going to be women asking me questions tonight after the presentation, and some of them are likely to try to pass me phone numbers, room keys, etc. You know I have no interest in them, and I want you to be comfortable with handling the situation. I can dispose of the contraband myself or I can allow you to handle it if you prefer.” Don’t do it apologetically, or like you’re asking permission, because you’re not. You’ve decided what’s to be done, and left her room for input.

If your relationship is pretty strong and you want to be really naughty about it, you can take that approach. “Damn, I get so tired of all these women flirting and carrying on at these things. I usually just toss the phone numbers and room keys, at least the ones from the ugly girls, but I’m getting tired of having to deal with it. Why don’t you take the keys to the desk and trash the notes and numbers for me tonight?” A big wink and a grin at that point will probably get you get you a good natured slap, kick, punch, or something that doesn’t hurt, along with a choice expletive or two and a kiss. Ride her about it a little bit more to get her to giggle if you can, and let it go. The main thing is to keep it framed as your decision, because it is. It’s your decision to be true to her and it’s your decision to have her participate in celebrating that fidelity. This is something you’re doing because you love her, not something you’re doing because you need her and are afraid of losing her.

There are very few problems that a man and woman can have, or any two people for that matter, that some honest, factual communication can’t fix, even if it’s just to agree to disagree and move on; at least the conflict is stopped and closure secured. Listen to your partner, and trust them to listen to you, always. If you can’t, you may just be calling the wrong person “partner.” (Yeah, that’s another newsletter.) Learn how to make yourself this attractive and how to talk to your partner in the aftermath in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage;” your copy is waiting for you at
http://www.makingherhappy.com, and your life is getting shorter with each passing minute, so I strongly suggest you get moving.

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

David Cunningham