Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's NEVER Too Late to Fix a Relationship or Marriage

A reader who has been married for forty years demonstrates that it’s never too late to fix common relationship problems, even forty-year old problems, if you know what to do and just do it.

There have been a lot of new readers sign on lately (welcome aboard!), so for the benefit of you newbies, I want to start by saying that while I get a lot of e-mails with success stories, I don’t share them with the rest of you unless there is some specific lesson that you can learn from it. I never liked receiving such e-mails (or reading blog posts) that said nothing more than, “So-and-so did good and you can too if you buy now,” and I’m not going to bore you with them either. Yes, I have a book to sell if you need it, but I have a lot to teach you outside of that book, too.

I also want to urge you to grab my free browser toolbar from to have instant access to blog posts, flash messages, a reader chat room, great stuff like pop-up blocking and Internet radio, games and gadgets, and other goodies. Some of us are having a lot of fun with it, and you should join us. And speaking of joining us, our forum, has been open for a couple of months now and there are enough people and posts for you to be able to make friends, get help, and learn a lot.

This story started in April 2006 when “Roger” (name has been changed to protect his privacy) subscribed to this newsletter and in early June 2006 bought a copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," a few days after that. He had a little trouble downloading the e-book because of Windows security features (128-bit SSL for you computer geeks) that had not been installed on his computer, and in the course of getting it straightened out he dropped a few details of his situation. I’ll quote some of them here to give you a feeling for where he started at the time of his purchase:

Hi David
Many thanks for your help in this. What little I saw indicates it is going to be a very useful reference book and answer some questions concerning things that happened years ago. We have been married for 40 years this year, but it has been a rocky road and still is occasionally.


A little later:

Hi David,
Your recent letter concerning your friend Matt has made me realize just how common such a situation can be. I have been married for almost 40 years with two daughters and three grandsons and for as long as I can remember, I have never been able to please her; always there is something else that she wants me to do. I realized this many years ago and now always make a joke of it. So as fast as I complete one project, she will have the next ready for me, sometimes before the first was finished! I just add them to my list of tasks these days, some will get done, some will never be done. My problem is that she has a real knack of making me feel guilty.

This is not just about projects, it could be a social event or something she simply does not approve of, but always I have a guilt feeling when I refuse. The feelings haunt me and I end up doing what she wants sooner or later in most cases. If I argue or try to discuss, I am accused of always wanting to control her. I am driven to succeed because I want the quiet life and the brownie points that come from approval. I am told she sings my praises to others, but never to me.

To give you some idea how it works, she wants me to tidy the garage so it can have a workbench, all the machines and space for me to work. She tells everyone how it will improve things for me, but she also wants me to move all the items stored in the garden shed to the garage so that I can demolish the shed. Then I am expected to build her a summerhouse in the space, not a prefabricated one, a purpose-built brick and tile fantasy!

In my spare time I am expected to remodel and transform the gardens, paint the house, build a new two-level deck across the back, turn the second bathroom into a "wet" room and keep the maintenance of our other two houses up to scratch! I must finish the kitchen sometime too! In all this she has ignored the plans we had to convert the garage into a dining room whilst we built a new garage with attached workshop. Maybe this is because her new greenhouse currently occupies the site?

David, I am tired! I work a 9-hour shift, six days per week and generally get just one day off. I cannot afford to pay someone else to do the work as I am still clearing debts from a failed business venture and I am earning just a tad above the minimum wage. I am reading the book you kindly emailed to me after it got lost in transit when I downloaded, but have yet to put it into practice.

Recently she took a vacation with my daughter and grandsons at one of our cottages. It was tiring, but different and the boys were easy, spending their time surfing. What was I doing? I spent my evenings and a rare weekend off work, repairing and painting the beach hut! Trying to please her again! My own vacations are limited and restricted to the extent we cannot have time together and if I take time off without her, I am expected to work on one of the projects!

I am considering building her a dungeon! :-))

There is a lot more to this than meets the eye, but I will not bore you with all the details of the problems in our marriage. I do not give up easily, but there are times when I seriously consider cutting my losses. Divorce is out of the question as we both feel it might make the other happy!

Any advice you can offer would be appreciated. I simply want time to complete a few things on the list without her adding items faster than I can delete them! I can live without the approval for completed projects, but it would be nice if the feelings of guilt could be stopped too.

Thanks for listening
Kind regards,

Do you see what’s been going on here? Roger’s been married to this woman 40 years, and has been tested and tested and tested to see if he’ll stand up to his bratty wife’s whims. Think about this: If they’ve been married 40 years, he’s around 60 years old, still working a 54-hour work week, and she’s dominating every free minute he has. When he tries to stand up to her, she guilt-trips him into complying anyway.

I sent Roger a brief bit of encouragement, pointing out that she could only make him feel guilty if he allowed her to do so because the acceptance of guilt is his choice, and that from his description of his situation, he could easily take charge and turn things around after he had finished reading "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and knew how to position himself and interpret his wife’s words and actions to separate the whims and tests from the legitimate issues that she really expected his full attention and cooperation on.

Three weeks passed, and then I receive this in response to the lesson on attitude (the reader who chastised me and ended his subscription because I was boring him by providing TOO MUCH valuable information free of charge):

Hi David,
The guy who wrote complaining you were too verbose, is never going to listen to women! He has missed the point completely and seems ill-educated concerning a number of matters, which makes you wonder why he signed up in the first place. As you say, the winners listen, read and learn.

I am putting some of the advice contained in your book into practice, with some spectacular results and a lot of amusement. There is a long way to go, especially after 40 years, but I can feel the difference.

I thought you might also be amused by a couple of little anecdotes. The first concerning the first time I listened as she went around the house, to tell me about her day. Instead of requesting that she comes to the point, I allowed her to ramble on as she wanted, I asked occasional questions, nodded now and then, made comments and all the time I was making eye contact. Not once did I try to fix anything and after about 30 minutes of this, she suddenly stopped speaking and stared at me. I asked what was wrong, only to be told that I was behaving strangely and had not walked off when I got bored because she did not come to the point!

I simply grinned at her and said I was simply listening to her experiences of the day!

Since then, I have repeated this procedure and it has resulted in her being much more relaxed and a lot more helpful to me.

I also spotted a recent test of my resolve following which she behaved like a spoiled brat. I forget now what it was about, but I know I explained my reasoning and asked if she had any other thoughts, but warned if she continued to behave like a spoilt child I would put her across my knee and give her a good spanking! I then grinned and made a grab for her, but she was too quick and ran off laughing! Not long ago this would have degenerated into a full-blown row.

As I said a long way to go and a lot more to introduce, but results are coming faster than anticipated. Thank you.

Enjoy your day

I don’t know about you, but in my experience, heading off even one spoiled brat tantrum and turning it into an attraction-building exercise like that would be worth the time and effort to read a whole encyclopedia, and he only read one e-book! That’s two to four hours, depending on how fast you read. And what’s really cool is that Roger will now be able to do that every single time the situation arises, and will be able to take charge when real issues arise and get through them with respect and cooperation instead of a “full blown row” as well! Knowledge is indeed power, Gentlemen, the power to shape your environment, your day and your destiny.

Now, get this into perspective. Forty years of bad behavior creates a lot of inertia – the strong tendency of things to keep doing what they are doing until acted upon by an opposing force of equal or greater magnitude. In behavior, we call it habit. Roger’s wife has a forty-year old habit of being a brat and pitching a fit. Roger HAD a forty-year old habit of putting up with it to keep the peace. In under three weeks, he learned and improved enough to break a forty-year old pattern of bad behavior and turn it into a positive event (that had SERIOUS positive repercussions in the bedroom that night – and there’s another thing for you to ponder: a healthy and fun “intimate” life at age 60 after being together 40 years! Can you imagine?).

The lesson? It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a wuss, or thought that giving in to all your wife’s whims was what you needed to do to get along, or how long you’ve been going about communicating with her the wrong way, it’s all correctable, if you know what to do.

You don’t have to live out the rest of your life having someone you love drive you nuts with control issues, bratty behavior, dramatic fits, talking for hours and seemingly saying nothing, treating you like a child instead of a husband, being bored with your bedroom life (or having none at all), or any of those common problems (other than incompatibility, which unfortunately can only be fixed by divorce) that established couples complain of so commonly that they’re all as cliché as the image of a knight in shining armor on a white horse.

Just learn what to do, then do it. Roger’s no dunce by a long shot, but you have to agree that if Roger can overcome 40 years of bad behavior in a few weeks, while working that 54-hour work week and doing everything else he has to do, the odds are pretty good that anybody, including you, can do it in your own relationship or marriage, no matter how long you’ve been together.

So give it a shot! Jump over to and download your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," and learn what you need to know to fix what needs fixing, and just do it! (Nike really struck gold with that slogan, didn’t they? It’s a powerful statement, and an even more powerful attitude, one every real man has and every man and woman alive should have.)

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

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