Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Most Important Skills in Building, Maintaining, or Saving a Relationship or Marriage, Part 2

A reader writes more about his success and discoveries in reviving his marriage in the post-affair situation that many of you have written me about. He’s already identified playful behavior and a positive attitude as necessary, and we get to the really big issues today, the ones that must come before all others. Do yourself a big favor and learn from him…

We started yesterday with Mark’s first letter to me and my response, in which he demonstrated how a playful attitude went a long way toward reestablishing trust and intimacy in his marriage as he and his wife work to recover from a crisis, one resulting from the slow decay of a good marriage inducing the wife to have an affair.

(If you missed yesterday’s edition, you can see it in the archive at at your convenience.)

Today we continue with a partial transcript of several e-mails that have passed back and forth between Mark and me. Today he gets into the real meat of his discoveries, or rather confirmations of my own discoveries with his own experience. Let’s continue…


Thank you so much for your thoughtful response.

Yes, I did catch that email about the guy who pulled his wife's pants down; in fact that's part of what convinced me to try the pillow fight. And I did try the pulling the pants down thing, too. It worked as well, I think my wife is starting to realize that she has no idea what I'm going to do next - and it’s exciting to her.

I also wanted to tell you about a great conversation I had with my wife.

You see one of the most beneficial aspects of what you teach is showing us men how women communicate. Throughout our marriage I was always frustrated and upset because my wife never would just come out and ask me a question about a topic. It always seemed she would just make a statement and expect me to realize that it was a question. Or she would ask a question and stupid me thought it was really a question. This led to all kinds of fights because I wanted her to communicate the "right" way - namely my way or a man's way.

Anyway, the other night my wife is telling me that she really needs to just express herself more directly to me. Smart me realizes that this statement is a question or at least a request to open a dialog. So I didn't just agree, I started a conversation with her. I told her that sure there were times that I wish she were more direct, but the one thing I realized through this learning process (yes I told her that I bought your book) was that I had learned a lot about her communication style in the past few months. I told her I no longer felt the need to change her behavior to suit me because I had been taught (by you) about her communication style. I tell you it was a beautiful sight to see the sparkle in her eye when she realized that I got it - finally.

I think the best thing that's happened in our marriage recently is that we've both opened up because we realize that we are free to be ourselves instead of what someone else or society thinks we should be. I am free to be the fun-loving, strong, confident and naughty boy husband I was meant to be and she's free to be the drama queen (I mean that not in any negative way) she was meant to be.

Boy is life fun, when you really start to get these things figured out.

Thank you so much for all your help.


Powerful stuff, huh? We’ll discuss this in detail in a minute, but when I told Mark that I wanted to share this with all of you and why, he came back with more very insightful commentary that we also need to talk about. So here’s the brief reply that opened him up further:

Hi again!

This is great, and it would make a great newsletter, too. I have a hard time getting "non-believers" to accept that communications is more important than anything else in such crises because it's the tool for solving problems and creates trust and intimacy, which in turn buys you the time to work on attraction and other issues. Do you mind if I use this anonymously? I'll call you "Mark" or something like that in the newsletter.

Thanks, and take care,

To which he replied:

I just thought that I would add a little in case you wanted more to use.

I remember many instances in our past where I would absolutely know that she was trying to hint around at something. I always called it circling around the issue. I mean I knew exactly what she wanted to talk about from the first statement or question. But because I wanted her to communicate "my way" I would ignore it or answer in short one word responses in a vain attempt to infuriate her enough to finally get to the point. I mean it was incredible. Here I was hearing the message and understanding it but because it wasn't delivered in the manner I wanted to hear it I would play a game of ignoring it until my wife finally was mad enough to just say it - or usually scream it!

So in a way I won the battle, but lost the war. I finally got her to communicate "my way" but I did it in a way that destroyed any intimacy or attraction. You know she had to be thinking that I was the biggest jerk in the world for doing this - and in reality she was exactly right - I was being a complete jerk.

And the really weird part is she knew it too! She wanted me to communicate "her way" and wouldn't try to hear me either. So we had in effect painted ourselves into a corner where we were convinced that everything would be fine if the other person would just change.


So how much of this soaked in?

Let’s start with something that Mark touched on and I elaborated only slightly on. Of all the things that you can do to improve a relationship or marriage, communication is second only to being in a highly-compatible relationship in terms of reasons that relationships and marriages last or disintegrate. Compatibility gives us common ground upon which to act, discuss, and have fun, and communication is the tool with which trust and intimacy are built. All of these things are components or constituents of the primary relationship emotion, love.

When love is elevated through heightened trust and intimacy, the protective walls come down and women will then not try to fight off the attraction they feel for a playful, confident man. Feeling safe, especially in terms of her emotional well-being, is such a huge issue to most women that I don’t know if the average guy even has sufficient frame of reference to understand it, let alone empathize. Suffice it to say that if she has trust issues, everything else will be moot, because women know just how easy it is for them to go overboard and get lost in an emotional storm.

Then we get to another HUGE issue: Competition. Doing it “his way” or “her way.” Focusing on WHO is right instead of WHAT is right. The tendency to compete or cooperate is what determines whether she and you are truly “partners” or merely cohabitants of the same residence.

Partners cooperate. They seek out the best solutions to problems for the couple. It’s true that individuals must maintain some level of independence to preserve their identity, but if you find yourself frequently competing with your wife or girlfriend instead of cooperating to act in your mutual best interest, you can take it as a sign of severe compatibility problems, self-esteem issues, or some mixture of the two, and you can be assured that you are in a relationship with the wrong person if love and partnership are you reasons for being in it.

This isn’t rocket science, Guys. You don’t even have to know how to pronounce the phrase “governing dynamics” to understand that there are real-world constraints, tendencies, and issues that are common to men and women, know what they are and understand how to make the best of them instead of constantly fighting against them.

Do you remember yesterday’s remark about the genie who thought it would be easier to build a bridge from California to Hawaii than to tell a man what makes women tick or what women really want? That story is hilarious when you first hear the punch line, but then comes the “double-take,” that sudden realization that it’s funny because it seems so true, and then that sense of futility sets in as you acknowledge that the genie is probably right. But he’s wrong!

And what’s more, if you think about it, right now you ARE the genie. With what you know right now you’d have a better chance of being able to build that bridge than to solve the many riddles and mysteries of womanhood. They’re simply unsolvable; the answers must be revealed, and the good news for you is that they have been!

I tried to solve them just like every other man, and with an IQ in the top 1% of the whole world’s population, I failed, miserably, so don’t feel bad. There are ways in which we are deceptively different and deceptively alike, and we’re just not equipped to see them. So I did the unthinkable:

I gathered a large group of women and asked them!

That’s right! And they told me everything, because they want us to know! But, being an engineer and scientist at heart, I didn’t just take their word for everything, I collected it, identified everything that was common to virtually all women, and then tested it by turning it all over to their husbands and boyfriends and listening intently to the feedback from both genders.

Sure enough, we found some rather common misconceptions among the women, instances of thinking that they wanted something they had never had, and being grossly dissatisfied when they got it. There were also common instances of instinctively responding negatively to behavior they had previously said they wanted to see in their men.

When all was said and done and we were all on the same page, so to speak, the final draft was formalized and THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage” was born, and real men and women have been saving, reviving, and improving marriage and other committed relationships with it ever since. It’s now your turn, so go to and download your copy, right now, and be the guy who knows all about women instead of the genie looking to build a bridge half-way across the Pacific. And while you’re at it, join us at our forum,, and learn from those who have come before you, and leave your mark for posterity as well.

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

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