Monday, September 28, 2009

Reader Reponses to How Testing and Emotional Scales Affect Your Relationship and Marriage

The last couple of days’ lessons have brought some great comments from readers that you can learn from, so here they are!

We’re going to do something a little different today. Some of my best students have shared comments over the last few days that are insightful and pertinent, but wouldn’t provide sufficient content for a whole newsletter, so I’m going to put them together here for you so that you may share their insights and hopefully have something “click” that may not have occurred to you.

Regarding
yesterday’s article on testing, the following paragraph was embedded in a status report from my top student:

“Great newsletter, by the way - if it isn't one of your “must read” reprints, it should be! The whole subject of testing is so critical that it can't be talked about too much. The key, I think, is to get men beyond the recognition of it [we all recognize it, whether we name it or explain it properly or not], and get us to understand that women aren't to be BLAMED for it, just understood. It would get rid of a lot of anger, but deny comedians a ton of material!

“Of course, it wouldn't hurt women to learn a bit about men and stop BLAMING us for things, either. So much of the relationship advice is of the "what men do wrong" type that it leaves women thinking they have to change their husbands or leave them - no alternatives. What a huge disservice to the women that is, not to mention the men. One of my favorite quotes from you is that people need to be concerned about WHAT'S the issue, not WHO'S to blame. Huge.”


That is absolutely right. Blame is for losers; you NEVER see an achiever of either gender engaging in blame at any time. If you look at the people who are respected in the world on any level, they don’t try, they don’t blame, and they don’t wait. They DO. They simply see a problem, figure out what needs to be done, and get it done. The biggest favor you can do yourself in your entire life is to do the same thing, forget about trying, blaming, and waiting for others to act and take responsibility for what’s happening in your life. It’s only then that you can make it better. One of my favorite lines from a movie is when Yoda said to Luke Skywalker, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

That doesn’t mean you should expect to do the impossible; a rational decision must be made about a solution before the solution is implemented. It means that once you’ve identified the problem, you take responsibility for whatever part of the outcome you can influence and you take appropriate action. For example:

You’re in a hypothetical marriage that started off too young and with the wrong person. The two of you have had a great sex life because there has been abundant attraction, but you’ve fought tooth and nail in all other aspects of your relationship because there is no real love, common values, common or shared goals and interests, etc., to give the rest of the relationship substance, and everything other than sex is a point of conflict. Your wife says she’s had enough and it’s time to move on. What do you do?

You take the only rational action available to you, and you take it quickly and fairly. You move on.

You don’t wait for things to get better, because compatibility problems don’t go away over time. You don’t make some heroic attempt to do the impossible, because it only causes more pain and resentment. You don’t blame her and go to war and punish her or allow her to punish you; it was a mutual mistake that requires cooperation to get out of without further pain and frustration, not to mention totally unnecessary escalated legal expenses. In a nutshell, you just do what must be done.

Second hypothetical situation: you’ve been married twenty years, your lives have revolved around your children, who left home a year or two ago, and the two of you have love, respect, trust, loyalty, and communicate better than most couples you know. But you’re not having fun. You’re in a rut of watching TV every night while you eat dinner, then the two of you go off to your computers to chat with friends or to other hobbies, and you go to bed without saying “good night” to the other whenever the mood to sleep strikes you. Your sex life amounts to one episode every month or two that can be described as “relief without gratification.” Your neighbor starts making advances toward you. What do you do?

Do you succumb to the temptation of the affair? No, because it’s a stupid move. Too easy for it to get out of control and get you caught. Any other affair has about the same probability of the same outcome.

Do you accept the realization that life could be more fun and hope that things get better? Also a stupid move. When was the last time you saw people ignoring their relationship problems and their problems just fixed themselves?

Do you blame your wife for the rut you’re in and wait for her to take the first action in making life fun again? Utterly ridiculous, given that it’s your job to lead the action because you’re wired to do it and she’s wired to respond to you doing it.

Do you just break it off and get a divorce? Throwing away genuine love is the most foolish and destructive act a person can inflict upon oneself, except for suicide.

So in a nutshell, you have a whole lot of options, but only one good one: Recognize that you have a great foundation for a lasting relationship, but have indeed fallen in a rut. Take responsibility for the rut, find out what it takes to get out, and get out! You may have to “try” a few things to see what helps get out of the rut, but there’s a big difference between experimenting with potentially fun things to help your relationship and failing to commit to fixing the relationship and following through. If you’re attitude and conviction are where they are supposed to be, you’re “trying” activities and solutions, not “trying” to fix the relationship; you’re FIXING the relationship.

This excerpt is from another of my top students:

“Your newsletters and e-book have helped immensely. I saw that I was a wuss. I couldn’t and wouldn’t make choices for a fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Now I make choices or give options and if someone says ‘doesn’t matter,’ I make a choice and stand to it. I am still in the learning phase of reading my wife. She is a very independent woman and makes decisions without me. I have to learn how to deal with that. One of her hot buttons is the ‘making a decision’ button. I have learned that when she says ‘it doesn’t matter’, she is testing me and she wants to be led and she wants to follow.”

He’s noticed that some things are simply a matter of choice and attitude, like decision-making, while other require some study. He’s mastered the principles and is now methodically looking everywhere for new opportunities to apply what he knows. Ultimately, he realized that success, self-improvement, and great relationships are not destinations, but journeys that can last a lifetime and take you places that the rest of the world doesn’t even know exists.

From a new student who rapidly went to a seat in the front row of the class, in response to my remark that “I have looked extensively and intensely for a downside to attractive behavior, and have failed utterly to find one”:

“Abso-friggin'-lutely. And we seem to exude that simply by expressing more of what it means to be human; for example, expressing anger or disapproval quickly, but in a calm, controlled, constructive manner...setting boundaries... having self-respect, taking charge, leading, etc.”

I wish I had said that. Really. I’ve been trying to tell men for years, since long before I took up this project, that…

“…being human is something to which one should aspire, not something for which one should apologize…”

And that being an attractive male is all about doing those things that come naturally to men: leading, protecting, being deliberate and competent, not to mention confident, enjoying their life and being able to laugh at themselves and with everyone else, all with self-love and self-respect…

Yes, self-love is required! Those words cause altruists to cringe, but think back through your own life and identify even one person who was self-abusive that you wanted to be around, indeed, felt COMPELLED to be around (unless you were codependent, of course), and I’ll be thoroughly shocked, to say the least. That’s not to say that narcissism is an admirable trait, because it’s not; EXCESSIVE regard for anything is inherently unattractive, but a man must love himself enough to be able to respect himself before others can.

And one more quickie, because this newsletter is getting longer than some of you may have time to read, regarding the crying incident at the dinner party, after which I gave the crying woman a mug of hot chocolate after I…

“…shot some whipped cream on top of it and set it in front of the woman, who I knew to be a ‘chocoholic’ and very sensitive to the serotonin-boosting effects of the polyphenols in dark chocolate."

“Sir - you are a genius. Great newsletter, thanks.”

No, I’m not a genius. Come to think of it, I’m 38 IQ points above genius. But what I described was not the result of genius, and you don’t have to be a genius, either. That was the result of being OBSERVANT, and taking action where action is prescribed. That is something ANY MAN CAN DO. When you know what a powerful comfort food chocolate is and that women respond simultaneously to the smell, taste, and feel of a mug of hot chocolate in addition to the powerful effect is has on the brain, being ready and able to quickly dispense some when there are women around is like keeping versatile tools like a hammer, flashlight, and screwdriver within easy reach in your home, something that every man does because it is his nature to make problems go away.

If you watch women, they have their tools, just like we do. They have things like their treasure box and chocolate to fight melancholia. They have gadgets for painting their faces and curling their hair and eyebrows, not to mention removing hair. They have tools like romance novels and chick-flicks to fight boredom and help them manage their hyperactive hormone pumps that can mess with their moods at inopportune times. They are masters of communication and social networking because they are driven to engage in it, and you’ll find they always have things like telephones, notepaper, stationery, and these days a notebook computer or Blackberry for e-mail, etc., within easy reach of them, no matter where they are. A good look into a woman’s “tool box” can teach you a lot about women, if you have the sense to raise the lid and look.

There’s more, and I may continue this tomorrow, but I’ve noticed that many of you say you read this newsletter during coffee breaks at work so I make it a point to keep it short enough to be read in five minutes but long enough to make sure you can really learn something that can help you each day.

There is one other thing I’d like to point out in closing, and that is that all of my top students have a common characteristic: They seek out solid information and they act on it when they find it. They try different information sources, but they don’t try to make improvements or mix and match methods; they recognize facts, truth, and what much be done, and just do it.

Plato said, “Fortune favors the bold,” speaking of men of action, but if you’re like me, you don’t put much stock in “fortune” anyway. However, history is another matter, and while history also favors the bold, it seems to favor most THE PREPARED. And it makes perfect sense: The prepared are those who can be the boldest with the greatest chance of success.

So what about you? Are you blaming somebody for your problems? Or waiting for them to just go away? Or waiting for somebody else to fix them? Taking responsibility sounds tough, but in fact it’s the easiest thing in the world to do, because all it takes is a simple choice to seek appropriate action and take it. The decision is most often harder than the action itself.

So go on and make a choice, right here, right now, to make your marriage or committed relationship better and keep it that way. There’s no sense taking a bad trip when you can have a grand adventure, is there? Go to
http://www.makingherhappy.com and download your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," and then join us, the truly happy men of the world who know what men have always wanted and needed to know about women, and make your life one that you want to get out of bed every morning to live.

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

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