Monday, August 02, 2010

Distant Early Warnings Can Alert You to Problems That Could End Your Relationship or Marriage

Let’s talk about some of the most commonly-missed early symptoms of relationship trouble, and what needs to be done about them.

Like many of you, I grew up in the Cold War era (will politicians never figure out that the vast majority of us, in all nations, don’t care about spreading political and economic ideas around the world and just want to try to get along with our families and our neighbors, and that we’re far more interested in the exchange of goods and information with others and raising our standard of living through those activities than exchanging bullets and bombs and destroying the wealth that generations have worked to build, lowering the standard of living for everyone? Sorry…getting off my stump…), and one of the things we learned about in school was a surveillance system called “The D.E.W. line.”

“D.E.W.” stands for “Distant Early Warning,” and is basically a line of radar “listening posts” along or near the Artic Circle in Northern Canada that would detect an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) coming over the North Pole (the shortest distance from the launch sites in the former Soviet Union) to strike U.S. targets. Thankfully either they never heard anything coming over, or we never heard about it.

The Soviets had their own version of the DEW Line, and frankly, you should, too. You should look around you and determine what is in your life that could prove as an early warning of impending trouble and allow you to take whatever is necessary to fix the problem before it gets out of hand. Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to work out a problem or even shoot down a missile than to bury the remains of a million people and treat another five million for burns, injuries, and radiation exposure, then live with nuclear fallout for a few thousand years, right? The same principle applies to your career and your family life.

I’ll let you address your career observation system on your own, but I can help you to identify early warning signs of relationship problems, and you’ve no doubt noticed that it’s also easier to smooth a few ruffled feathers or even better, tie a string around your finger to remind you of your anniversary than it is to work your way out of a break-up or divorce. It just doesn’t make sense to wait for a catastrophe, hence that old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

So what are some early warning signs of relationship trouble? I’ve been alluding to some of them in the closing paragraphs of a lot of these e-mails, but apparently a lot of you aren’t reading the last paragraph because you know there’s a sales pitch in there somewhere (wink!), and you’ve missed some pretty crucial information as a result. Instead of just listing them all, I’m going to lead you through the thought process of identifying them to help you learn how to construct your own “DEW Line.”

First, women like to talk, a lot, right? They like to discuss feelings and events, and many of them have a powerful drive to give an accounting of the events of their day and the people they interact with, even when the parties don’t know each other and really don’t care. For example, I once had a really great secretary who was also a really great friend, and she would tell me about her cat’s activities and what her elderly father had for dinner the night before, knowing full well that I despised cats because of allergies and didn’t like the way her father brow-beat her, and knew I didn’t want to hear about either of them. It’s a drive that is so powerful that I’ve never seen any proof that it could be overcome.

Their biological wiring compels them to be extremely social and share a lot of information, and their need to escape boredom causes them to sift through their own and each other’s experiences looking for relief via adrenaline spikes from the emotional reactions to memories. Most of them don’t know or understand that we men don’t do this, and find much of it truly annoying, especially the drama, so they’re driven to give us big doses of it, too, thinking that we do the same thing for the same reason. So what do you think it means if your wife is talking to you less and less, and has devolved from answering “How was your day, Dear?” with a 20-minute account of everything she did, saw, heard, tasted, felt, thought, etc., to simply “Fine”???

It doesn’t mean that she’s learned that drama annoys you. It means that she thinks that you don’t want to listen to her at all and are asking as a formality because you’ve shut her down in so many other conversations. Women who learn that you find the drama annoying will simply filter out some of the drama, not give you curt, monosyllable answers. Communication is one of the primary ways they seek intimacy, and if she’s not communicating, she’s no longer interested in intimacy with you on any level. See how that works? And it will only go on for so long before she starts telling someone else, like a new affair partner, so don’t think that getting her to shut up like this is a solution. Indeed, it is one of the causes of a very big problem.

How about the bedroom? How often in your life have you ever really been too tired for really great sex? Or had a headache so bad that it would prevent it? I grew up on a farm and have worked my butt off frequently since leaving the farm, and have been too tired precisely once, and that was in my military days when I was injured, hadn’t slept in two days, was dehydrated, and my muscles were so fatigued and stiff that I literally couldn’t stand up. People just don’t get that tired but a few times in their entire life, no matter what’s going on, if they’re even of average health and mobility.

The same goes for headaches, unless there is some kind of migraine or brain tumor issue, or possibly a neck injury. The really bad ones just don’t come that often, and if they do, whomever is suffering them is looking for medical help, not just sitting around complaining, right?

By the way, medical studies have shown that what they call “frequent headache sufferers” have a headache once every two months on average. Not every night or even several times per week. It’s just not that hard to pop a couple of aspirin or something, and there really aren’t that many people around who prefer the attention they get from the martyrdom of drug-free endurance of a headache so much that they’d actually do it, especially night after night. There’s no logic to it.

When you hear hooves beating the ground, expect horses, not zebras, unless of course you happen to live somewhere in Africa where zebras are more common than horses. That’s a very common way of expressing “Occam’s Razor,” which states that the simplest explanation or solution is most often the best. You could call that one of the laws of the universe with regard to troubleshooting, right up there with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s formula for finding truth, as spoken through Sherlock Holmes: “When you have eliminated the possible, whatever is left, no matter how unlikely, must be the truth.”

One of the young men on our forum, http://forum.makingherhappy.com/, just had to learn that lesson the hard way. His girlfriend gave him the old “we need a break” routine. But when we went through all the evidence of what was happening, “we” didn’t need a break. “SHE” needed a break, a permanent one, and was trying to let him down easy enough to keep from having to deal with the drama. What she had given him was excuses, not factual reasons for the “break,” which was in fact a “break-up,” sort of like how a “headache” is in fact sometimes a “lack of interest.”

So if you’re hearing excuses like that, what does it tell you? What MUST it tell you? That you’re not creating attraction and desire, and it’s just easier to tell a common lie than to hurt your feelings with the truth and deal with the confrontation, drama, pressure, and guilt that is likely to follow. Hence, if you’re hearing frequent medically-oriented excuses and not seeing medical bills, somebody’s trying to let somebody off easy.

What if there are no excuses, and just no sex? What if you were “throwing down” (as one of my best friends calls it) 4-7 times per week, and now you’re at once per week, or once per month, or have fallen all the way down to that nasty statistic of once every two months, the average frequency for couples world-wide who have been together more than two years? This one is going to scare the pants off of you, because it’s two-fold…

Why? Because it’s a symptom of a big problem, and in the bigger picture, it’s also a cause of a bigger problem. Decreasing frequency is a symptom of lack of attraction and increasing boredom, and it’s also a cause of non-sexual marital boredom and affairs, the lack of intimacy that destroys solid relationships, and ultimately causes break-ups and divorces. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Marriages seldom break up solely because of sexual infrequency, but they nearly always break up because of the things that cause sexual infrequency and lack of interest, so it’s yet another early warning sign of current problems with bigger ones to come.

By the way, I’m talking about a change in behavior here, not somebody who has had a diminished libido all their life because of low hormone levels. And even then, according to my readers, many people who have had diminished libido, upon gaining love and intimacy with someone, will more often than not seek a hormone supplement or other libido booster from their physician or over the counter.

So in the end, there is very likely something that can be done for nearly anyone to help them have physical intimacy with their mate. Men are paying $15-$20 per tablet for prescriptions or some other enhancer, and there are some testosterone supplements that cost less for a whole month’s supply than a single dose of some sort of enhancer, and are still more affordable even when you add in the medications necessary to stop conversion of testosterone to estrogen and atrophy of testicles from supplementation of testosterone so you get the desired effect. It’s not beyond your reach. But I digress…

What about not talking because there’s nothing to talk about? What does that tell you? If it’s happening frequently, and you’re both finding yourselves driven to outside hobbies and friends and avoiding spending time together doing anything that requires conversation (like one of the few things you do together is watch television or a movie or sit in the same room reading but not discussing what you read), it tells you that now that you’ve come to know each other you have nothing in common to keep the relationship going (common values, common interests, etc.) and may well be so mismatched that you don’t make it.

Look for common ground to give you something to talk about, and if you don’t find any and can’t make any, consider easing out gracefully before you wind up getting frustrated with keeping up pretenses and bored to death because there’s nothing fun, interesting, or important to do together, and can logically discuss what is happening without the interference of being angry with each other over problems that developed and couldn’t be fixed; don’t get into “the blame game.” It’s a lot easier to part friends who acknowledge the common mistake of being incompatible than to fight a war because you’re hurt and frustrated and wanting to punish each other for making you feel “not good enough to change for.” You can’t change who you are to suit someone else any more than someone else can change for your sake.

There are lots of early warning signs because there are many potential pitfalls in committed relationships. Being able to identify the pitfalls and warning signs are a simple matter of knowing what it really takes to make a relationship work, which in turn takes knowing what your partner needs and wants from both you and the relationship. That will require knowing how to communicate effectively with her, which is a lot more complex than simply marrying someone who speaks the same language; a man and woman can say the same words in the same tone of voice and the meanings be very different, even stark opposites.

Yes, it’s pretty much a minefield, but there’s a map through the minefield, called "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," and you should download your copy at http://www.makingherhappy.com/ right now, and get your own DEW Line developed and in place, or if the missiles are already inbound, find out how to shoot them down and get yourself into some “intense diplomatic negotiations,” fast!

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

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