Saturday, January 30, 2010

Preparing for Valentine's Day to Kick Things Up in Your Relationship or Marriage

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and you need to be thinking about it now, not on your way home from work on February 14. Here’s some help in the area of choosing the right gift.

Before we get into how to get prepared for Valentine’s Day, I want you to read an excerpt from a letter I got from one of my female readers who “felt” that I wasn’t aggressive enough in trying to make sure that you understand the idea of “mutual consent”:


...A man can create attraction and a woman can respond physically but not really want to do anything with this man. I have been in this situation. If I had been asked verbally there is no way that I would have gone through with it. Many women, especially younger women, feel great expectations to be sexual; our society promotes the idea that a man's way goes. Many women have been raped in this way but because they did not say no verbally they feel like they cannot complain or acknowledge the pain men have caused them. While having non-verbal consent is fine especially in an established relationship. I especially like the quote you had a while back where the man (I can’t remember his name) said “I lean in 90% for the kiss and she comes in the last 10%.”

Also while I am a fan of the rough hasty sex described the other day, I have a warning for the men who do this: if she is saying something do not assume it is positive. Having to say stop 3 times with the last a yell is a very frightening experience.

Men pay attention to your partners. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men have been sexually abused. Many things may be frightening for you partner. This is why consent is so important you do not want to damage your partner and as the statistic shows it is very likely that one of your partners has been abused. I also believe if more young men and women were taught about the importance of consent verbal or non-verbal many accidental rapes could be prevented.

Regards

If our society really promoted the idea that a man’s way goes, I and the entire marital and dating advice industries would be out of a job. The biggest problem women voice to me and the other gurus is that men are wusses who won’t engage properly in sex play (this reader might be quite young and dealing with horny teenagers who have boundary issues instead of men). But that aside, Her concerns for men (and women) respecting boundaries is legitimate. So once again, Guys, “no” means “no;” don’t ask for sex, but don’t push it on a protesting woman either; and the straightest path to the bedroom is playing and teasing her so that she gets all amped up and takes YOU to the bedroom. (And read my book so you’ll know the right way to go about that! LOL!)

So let’s get to the Valentine’s Day fun!

I got a question from a reader that reminded me that it’s time to prepare for St. Valentine’s Day. Those of you who are historically-inclined know that this day was originally instituted as a day for old flames to get back in touch with each other, back in the days when very long courtships were the rule and women didn’t approach men; it was acceptable on this day for women to contact a former suitor and invite him to resume his pursuit, although a proper lady would never do so in so many words, of course! The mere announcement that she was widowed, or her engagement was broken for some reason, was “understood” as the invitation. ;-)

It has since evolved into an occasion upon which women expect “romantic” gifts, and one of the biggest mistakes you can make with many of them is the traditional, boring, and very impersonal dozen roses and box of chocolates. A woman wants a gift to be very personal, regardless of cost, so that she knows it was carefully chosen – or even constructed, if you are good at creating gifts of any kind – just for her. One of your fellow readers has seen the light, and asked for help. Meet John:

Hi David,

I have read your book and have seen the light. After 12 years of marriage I have slipped into pre-packaged holiday gift mode. I am having trouble coming up with new ideas for this Valentine's Day. Could you recommend some new ideas? My birthday is a few days before the 14th and my wife has planned a short trip out of town for us that weekend. Last February we were talking divorce, this year after reading your book and actually seeing that I had become foolishly predictable and boring, I've turned OUR life back on. I am now running out of ideas to keep her on her toes. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank You
John


My reply:

Hi John!

Congratulations on getting things turned around! If you're like most men, you're not running out of ideas, you've run out of inspiration and need a quick refresher course on the art of choosing gifts for a woman to remind you of where to look in your life with your wife for ideas. I could name off a hundred things that somebody else’s wife would love that your wife may have no interest in at all, and would in fact be insulted by, because they aren't something very personal and obviously chosen specifically for her. This must come from within you, because you are the guy who lives with her.

Start by going back to the gift section in "THE Man's Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," which is short and to the point, and then I'm going to give a list of a few newsletters that expand on the subject. As you read these things, plug you and your wife, your upcoming plans, your history, etc., into the processes and examples and you'll most likely be flooded with very good ideas.

(Those of you who have not yet downloaded your copy of "THE Man's Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" can find that same gift advice in my free “What Women Want” report, which you can download at your convenience.)

After you do this, whether you come up with ideas or not, write back and we'll do a quick double-check and either make sure you've made some good choices or figure out what got in the way of you making a good choice and get you moving on the right road. This is one of those "give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach him to fish and he eats for life" kind of things, and luckily, what you need to read to review doesn't amount to more than probably 3-4 pages at most, because the subject really isn't that difficult once you recapture that "groove" that you know you're going to get back into when you start reading; you'll knock her socks off for sure!

Here are the issues you need to read:

Buying the Perfect Gift (11/27/08 - This is the book excerpt on gifts, in case it's easier than finding your copy of the book, and you can skip it if you have your book or my free “What Women Want” report handy).

A Female Reader Writes About Gifts (11/13/05 - Probably the best newsletter on the subject after the excerpt from the book)

How Much Is Too Much? (01/09/09 - Defining the rules about excessive gift-giving, expectations, buying love, etc.)

Ballroom Dancing (10/09/05 - Ballroom dancing lessons are still a huge romance and attraction-builder, especially if your wife likes to dance!)

Girls and Their Toys (11/22/08 - about women and adult toys, in case your wife likes naughty things)

(For those of you who have never visited my newsletter archive, the address for the archive index is http://www.aweber.com/z/article/?mhh_tips and it's just plain HTML web pages. You scroll through the directory to find each article and just click on the link to get it on your screen, then hit the "back" button on the screen or press the backspace key on your keyboard to return to the directory. Very simple, no cookies or spyware.)

And by the way, double congratulations for having the forethought to deal with this now instead of on February 14, like 99.8% of other men will do. That's the mark of an achiever, and you get bonus points for that!

Take care, and keep in touch,
David Cunningham

Gentlemen, this really isn’t that much reading to do if you don’t remember the material, so don’t let the fact that it’s five articles deter you from doing this right. There are few things that you can do for a woman that endear you to her like selecting a truly great gift for her, not because she’s some kind of materialistic gold-digging “ho,” but because choosing a great gift for a woman requires that you pay attention to her, know intimate details about her, and consider those things when buying or making something for her.

Most women would melt over a carefully-selected bunch of wildflowers, that contained scents and colors she liked, and only perfect flowers, maybe matched her eyes or something like that, and possibly were accompanied by a brief handwritten note that said something like “You’re my favorite thing, of ALL things…” than a dozen roses or orchids with a piece of jewelry hidden in them and a $10 super-card from Hallmark.

Every woman can receive roses, thousands of women can receive that same piece of jewelry, and who knows how many people receive that same card? BUT! There will never be a bunch of flowers like the one you picked ever again, and if what you wrote on the paper was something she’s never heard, doesn’t sound “canned” (so don’t be an idiot and copy something cute from a card, because many women spend a lot of time browsing card verses in stores looking for good cards and emotional rushes), and is something that she would expect you to mean when you say it, it’s just for her too, and devastatingly special. And let’s not forget the bonus of including something small and durable that can go into her “treasure box” to remind her of her favorite times with you when she feels lonely, down, or really ticked off at you!

Indeed, one of the greatest stories I received from a reader featured a “card” that was a short note written on a sticky note (like 3M “Post-It” notes) and was stuck on a picture of the two of them wrapped in plain brown paper. The paper was from a grocery sack from the grocery they first shopped in together after they got married, and inside was a picture from their honeymoon in a frame that he had made in his shop from magnolia wood, her favorite flowering tree. The total cost was pennies (his neighbor had cut the magnolia tree to get it out of the way and he’d asked for some of the wood), and the impact was maximum romance because he had thought it through and put in some personal effort.

Caution: Don’t just run out and try to find wildflowers in February because I mentioned them, either! Spend some time getting to know your partner or thinking about what you know about her, and think about how you could combine some things she likes into some unique gift that leaves no doubt in her mind as to why she received it. She might be one of the few women who never get tired of roses, and all she really needs is a rose of an unusual color like lavender or something (or in her favorite color) to know that you know what she likes and made the effort to produce it.

Indeed, there will be no doubt in her mind why she received anything! If it’s the wrong thing, there will be no doubt that you’re in insensitive idiot, and if it’s the right thing, well, take your vitamin E and make sure your medical insurance is paid up in case she injures you when she pounces on you later, because giving the right gift is some pretty hot stuff!

Gift-giving is one of the many areas where men fly blind when trying to get along with women because we’re not trained to know how they think and what they like as we grow up. Our mothers train us to be “nice” and to defer all decisions to women to be “considerate” and to buy extravagant gifts for women to impress them, and bless their hearts (as we say in the South), they have no idea that they’re setting us up for disaster, but they are. They should be teaching us how to choose a good woman, how to communicate with women, and how to keep a woman interested and excited enough to enjoy our company for years and years. They don’t, but I will!

All you need is a copy of “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” and you can download it at http://www.makingherhappy.com/ with a few mouse-clicks. Do it now, because you never know when she might decide she’s had enough and you’ll be another one who’s been thinking everything is just fine until she hands you the divorce papers, and when you ask in that shocked voice, “What’s this about???” she says those immortal, bone-chilling words that sends shock and confusion into the very soul of every man who hears them: “See! You NEVER LISTEN TO ME!”

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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Female Insights on Fantasies, Romance Novels, and Feminists Affecting Your Relationship and Marriage

One of the brightest of my female readers weighs in with some valuable insights on rape fantasies, romance novels, and feminists that every man needs to know!

I continue to be impressed and appreciative of the intelligence of my readers. In case you missed them, a few days ago
we covered women’s fantasies, especially the rape fantasy, and how men should understand and handle them, and there was a special edition yesterdaywith some enlightening historical commentary by one of you who seems to be well-versed in the literary and cultural aspects of the subject.

Today, I got this from Stella, a close friend and client who is one to whom everyone should listen when she speaks, because she’s sharp as a tack and is quite adept at cutting through the crap and isolating the facts and the truth they indicate.

Hi there!

I really enjoyed your special edition. As you know, I'm an avid romance reader and have been since 1980ish. I can emphatically tell you, without a doubt, that rape is the one thing the alpha male heroes of these novels DON'T do...ever. They are the archetype of the alpha male you write about in your columns. They know how to build attraction, they know how to capitalize on that attraction and they eventually get the girl. These heroes know how to take no for an answer and usually say no to themselves if the situation warrants. In my humble opinion, this is what makes these men gentlemen, no matter what their social standing in the novels.

At any rate, I believe the reason romance novels are a $2 billion industry is because they are great reads: easy, often humorous, and they have happy endings, unlike 90% of what passes for "good" fiction these days. I was once told by my literature teacher that "romance" stories are fairy tales and "literature" speaks to the human condition. I asked her what kind of sorry, bitter, miserable world she lived in. In my world, people aspire to be the best they can be, act with honor and integrity, and try to build loving relationships. That's what I learned from romance novels. If that means I'm living in a fairy tale, I invite the rest of the world to join me. It's a nice place to be!

Why do the feminists hate romance novels so much? That's easy. Because romance novels promote the idea that men and women complement each other and can live together in a mutually satisfactory relationship that works to the strengths of each person. I think they hate the fact that romance novels celebrate the fact that it's ok to want to have a special man in your life, that your life might be the richer for it. What these folks fail to accept is that while the heroines of these novels know they can live on their own and be fine, they make the conscious choice to include a man in their lives.

Every now and again, if you have a talented author, you can pick up a few interesting bedroom tricks to share with your special someone. But, between you, me and the fencepost, a great romance novel doesn't even need sex. It's all about attraction and anticipation, something a lot of women doesn’t get enough of, for whatever reason.

When I was 12 or 13 and my mom gave me my first romance novel to read (other than Gone with the Wind, of course), she told me that I'd never find a man as great as the hero, no man would ever treat me as great as the hero treated his woman, and sex will never be as great as it was in the book. You know me well, and by extension, Warren (and all his flaws ). We've been together 22.5 years now and I still say that my mom was wrong on all three counts!

Bottom line, would you rather date Rhett Butler or Hugh Grant? 'Nuff said.

Hope all is well with you,
Stella :)


Well Gents, I’d suggest you go back and read that letter two or three more times, and pay attention, especially to what Stella says about anticipation and attraction. I cannot overstress how important this is. Lack of compatibility will kill a marriage that never should have happened to start with, but lost attraction can kill even the best of marriages.

You really need to do everything you can to keep it going, and keep her on edge with exercises in anticipation. Those are the things that keep her imagination and sense of fun and adventure alive, which protect her from the boredom that causes women to either get crazy or have an affair, two outcomes you don’t want to deal with, and shouldn’t have to if you’re behaving like even half a man.

And get this, the more you shed all that feminist programming and let your real man core take over, the more you will achieve, the more fun you will have, the more your wife will enjoy and nurture you, and yes, you guessed it, the hotter things will get in the bedroom, and a lot of other places, too, if you have any imagination at all. ;-)

So how about it? Are you ready to “man up”? Do you have any clue as to how to go about it? Or how easy it is? Once you get that done, do you know how to listen to what a woman is saying and really know what she’s trying to tell you? Or even that it’s possible? Yeah, I know. Twenty years ago I would have thought such knowledge was like the Holy Grail, stuff of legend that men just weren’t supposed to find. Even Sigmund Freud, the renowned neuropsychologist who founded the method and practice of psychoanalysis, is famous for saying, “The Great Question, which I have not answered, is ‘What does a woman want?’”

Well, I do know. I asked a lot of women, got what they thought was the truth, compiled it all and turned their men loose with it to test it. We found that there were some things that women thought they wanted that they really didn’t like at all after they got them, so we refined it and tested some more. When we finally got down to something that worked for everyone, I published it. It’s all that, women have approved it and couples have proven it, and it can be yours in the next few minutes…

So now you have a choice. You can keep doing what you’re doing and watch everything continue to swirl the drain. You can keep ignoring what works while you search for something that validates your mistakes and doesn’t do a single thing to help your situation. Or…

You can jump over to http://www.makingherhappy.com and download your copy of "THE Man's Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and start enjoying your life and fixing your marriage right now. Let’s see, put up with more fighting, more insanity, and more celibacy, and possibly lose most or all of what you own, or spend a couple hours reading some solid research and how-to and have your life suddenly be the envy of everyone you know? Seems pretty clear, huh? So get moving, Mister, and move like you have a purpose! ;-)

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More on the Issue of Rape Fantasies and How They Can Affect Your Relationship or Marriage

A really interesting response to yesterday's newsletter, and while there may not be any direct "how-to" lesson for you within the information, it provides some interesting historical perspective that indicates that this is a long-standing misunderstanding.

Please take a minute and see what you can glean from this reader's letter:

David,

I was impressed with your response to the gentleman who wasn't sure how to handle what he thought his wife wanted, which, he thought, might be some kind of rape. I particularly appreciated your strong caveats.

There is more to this than some folks think.

Years ago, a guy named Aram Bakshian read a bunch of romance novels so the rest of us wouldn't have to. He concluded that all of them--as in 100%--included some kind of rape of the heroine, preferably a duke or something. "Edwin/ward/mund/gar, the sullen, darkly handsome Earl of Loamshire cheated of his rightful place has to make a living as a pirate. He captures our heroine, takes her back to his ship {he's always the captain, for some reason} and throws her on his furs. Or something".

Mona Charen in National Review discussed the feminists' reaction. They accused him of promoting rape, a non sequitur which indicates he'd hit a nerve.

I gather that romance novels are a $2 billion business, which is more than the GDP of some nations sitting at the UN. And, unlike a bottle of whiskey which has approximately the same unit cost, the purchaser can re-use the romance novel, or give it to another. In fact, you can get them for free, endlessly, at the library which will probably tell you that's their most popular category. It would appear that romance novels are addressing something quite important to a lot of women. Or romance novels are convincing a lot of women about something which will become quite important, if confusing.

Some years ago, Christina Hoff Sommers published "Who Stole Feminism" which dealt with many of the feminist shibboleths such as the SuperBowl domestic violence incidence and women in education and a number of other items. Then, as if she'd run out of ideas before getting to a proper book length, she devoted the last section to an extensive discussion of the romance novel and the alpha male. She used the mother of all romance novels, Gone With The Wind, for the most part. Discussed the issue with women. Even, in a version of an experiment, referenced a number of young ladies from enlightened top-tier colleges who went into publishing and cleaned up the alpha male. Sales tanked. They would. The alpha male is supposed to ravish the heroine, according to Sommers. Or else.

When the unfortunately-related William French Smith was accused of rape, the trial sparked a popular discussion of whether a woman has the right to say no. This was kind of dumb, since the basic issue of the trial was whether "no" had been said at all.


One of the interesting happenings in this widespread discussion was that a C&W singer withdrew a song whose subject could apparently be described as "a real man wouldn't take no for an answer. if he had guts, he might get lucky". In other words, "take the risk or be forever a wimp." The singer, whose name I can't recall (a female, for heaven's sake) said she didn't want to be the occasion of injury to anybody.

Now, it costs money to front a song. You buy it, you write it, you pay studio time, you hire sidemen. If it isn't the best you can get, you're throwing money away. It costs money to play it, at least in the sense that you want to play the best you have to keep ratings up. It costs money if the audience is bored or offended and stays away from your concerts. You don't front all that money unless you think you have a reading on the audience. And these guys were pros which meant they had a better than average chance to be right about the audience. That's how they made their living.

So, somewhere out there, they must have thought with a better than average chance of being right, are a substantial number of women thinking something like, "I didn't mean forever. I just hadn't made up my mind." And there are guys thinking, "I know she liked me better than him. Her sister said so. But I wanted to do the right thing. He kept after her and they had to get married. So he married her and they have two children...." "She said no and I backed off and her roommate says she wonders if I'm gay...." And the pros are probably right.

Richard


See what I mean?

Thanks to Richard for sharing, and I wish you all a wonderful day,
David Cunningham

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The First and Most Important Step in Having or Saving a Great Relationship and Marriage

The first step in any great relationship of any kind is being well-matched. If you are not well-matched, you may be able to survive together, but the odds of being happy together are slim to none; if you are, you’ll find you can conquer about anything! Unfortunately, some couples live in misery for years without ever asking this most fundamental and necessary of all relationship questions! This is one of those “must read” issues, so dig in…

Today I want to talk more about something that seems to be so logical that it would be self-evident to all, but obviously is not practiced by many, the first step in having a great relationship. We touched on this
in another issue of this newsletter concerning what to do if your wife is with another man, and you should read that issue if you missed it. I try to go through this every two to three months because there are so many new people coming in and everyone needs to see it.

Those of you who have been banging your head against the wall after receiving advice from someone claiming that “any relationship can be saved regardless of circumstances” will want to pay particular attention to that and this issue, because this edition may be addressing your biggest relationship or marriage problem. And if people are going so far as to call you a “quitter,” or “loser,” because you’re tired of fighting a losing battle for a lost cause and can’t see how it can end well for anyone, you’ll not only want to read this, but share it with them, to at least get them off your back and possibly even help them get in touch with reality.

That first and most crucial step in any great relationship or marriage is being well-matched to your partner.

Yes, some of you are right now saying, “Duh!” but others are saying, “but can’t you learn to love someone?” Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Here are the facts and truth of the matter:

When you first meet someone, the emotion that pulls you together is either attraction or need (or in rare cases lust, but lust is seldom responsible for keeping two people together long enough to get married, unless they’re incredibly reckless or needy), which are both independent of love; indeed, need is in fact mutually exclusive of love – you cannot love someone that you need, because (in a nutshell) need actually makes you resent them as the object of your dependence, and fear their power to leave and remove the thing you need from your life. Fear is a partner to hatred, not love.

Love can only come later, when you’ve had a chance to discover your compatibility, which is the basis of love. “Love at first sight” is poetic nonsense. Attraction can happen at first sight, as can need and lust, but not love, because you can’t just see someone, know that compatibility exists in that instant, and be motivated to love. And this lack of understanding has ruined more lives than you can imagine.

This in itself is a complex and difficult concept for most to embrace, and if you find yourself wanting to argue with it, see Lesson 3 in my free “Break-Up Busting 101” report, entitled “Love, Need, Lust and Attraction – Do YOU Know the Difference?” or skip to the similarly-titled section of “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage” and gain an effective understanding, because it is both factual and crucial. We’ll address need first because it’s easier to see, then we’ll get into attraction and love.

Need never develops into love, and sooner or later, the other person (unless they are hopelessly codependent) gets tired of neediness and moves on. There is nothing you can do about this, especially telling them that you need them and can’t live without them. That is the very drain, pressure, and stress that they are trying to get away from, and your fight for independence is going to take too long for them to wait around for you to complete it, if you can; most truly needy people, those who would be called parasites because they take from their partners without giving anything significant in return, spend their life moving from host to host because it’s just easier for them to find a new host than to evolve into a non-needy person of independence.

In short, if the person you are with is telling you it’s over because you are too needy, take the hint and grow up, become self-supporting and independent, and you’ll find that people enjoy being around you for the long term. Make no mistake, fighting this break-up is only going to make things worse, because you are severely mismatched; a chronically needy person cannot coexist with an independent person who resents neediness. You got away with it for awhile because you were somehow charming, physically attractive, wealthy, funny, or something, but now that the cat is out of the bag and it’s known that you’re a needy wuss, you have two options: find another host or evolve so that you can enjoy another’s company instead of needing it. It’s harsh, but it’s really just that simple.

Someone asked once why I didn’t talk about a case wherein the woman is the needy one. I didn’t because I didn’t realize how common it might be for a man to be trying to save a relationship with such a woman, wherein he is independent and she is the needy one. But lo and behold, I have run across them, and the “cognitive dissonance” within the men is overwhelming. They fight between wanting to get away from the stress of being stuck with a needy person and wanting to try to “salvage their investment in their marriage.” The truth is that for many, their protector circuit comes alive and they are driven rather than making a conscious choice, even to the point of self-destruction.

The only hope for you if you are in this case is to help your wife understand that what she is feeling is need, not love, and that she needs to develop some self-esteem before she can love either of you. Try to help her develop some self-esteem, and if she insists on living in denial (“Why can’t you just love me as I am?” and such questions are infallible evidence of such a problem) in spite of your efforts to get her to acknowledge her problem, seek counseling, etc., you have two choices: Get out or go down with a sinking ship. You can either lead her out of it, put up with it, or leave, and you won’t be able to lead her as long as she’s in denial. ‘Nuff said.

Now, on to the more complex case, where attraction was the reason for you to come together. Once attraction has brought you together and you’ve had your initial episode of “physical exploration and gratification,” there should be a period where you get to know each other, find that you have common interests, philosophies, values, etc., and come to value each other – love develops. This is the source of the friendship, respect, loyalty and commitment required for long-term relationships to survive, while attraction is where all the fun, excitement, and energy come from. There are several possible scenarios that arise from the various permutations of these two emotions between two people.

The most obvious two are having both love and attraction, in which case you can be together happily and feel like you’re in a never-ending honeymoon (the ideal situation, right? And it can be sustained for a lifetime if you are aware of its requirements and constituents and hold out to find and have it, and we’ll get back to this in a few minutes), and having neither love nor attraction, after events have eliminated them both, in which case the relationship must end, because even though lost attraction can usually be easily rekindled, lost love just doesn’t happen. Peoples’ values and personalities just don’t naturally move radically away from some baseline and then go back there.

Now, the other two are a bit trickier to deal with. We’ll talk about the harder of the two first, the case in which love is lost but attraction survives. It is common for people under tremendous pressure that they ultimately cannot handle, and they degrade themselves somehow. They could then become a loser, maybe a criminal or spouse abuser, and/or possibly a substance abuser, but they still project the personality traits that trip attraction triggers.

This would typically be a marriage that started out like a story book romance, but currently one spouse is drunk or high all the time after losing a loved one, a business, or career, etc. They have lost their self-love, self-esteem, and self-respect, but have still managed to somehow remain fun, funny, authoritative, somehow sexy or intriguing, or something that holds the other spouse’s attention. You can’t base a great relationship on nothing but sex, jokes, and parties, and you can’t “fix” somebody else, especially someone who won’t admit there is a problem and doesn’t want to fix anything.

Your only choices with such a relationship are to either get this person some professional help so that they can be redeemed or move on. Again, it sounds harsh, but statistically and historically, this is reality, and if they won’t get help, moving on is your only option; having once loved someone is no reason to go down with a sinking ship that refuses to be repaired. That’s martyrdom, the ultimate form of sacrifice, the trading of valuable life for nothing of value at all, not love.

The last possibility is the one I like dealing with the most, where love is still alive and healthy, but attraction has failed; you’re in the “friends column” but nobody else has created attraction in your partner and she still loves you, but is bored and vulnerable. In the dating world, lost attraction nearly always means that you blew it and you just move on immediately, because the other person already has; the window for creating attraction opens once, and very briefly, period. However, when you’ve been together for long enough for attraction to fade, you develop a vested interest in keeping the relationship alive. You acquire memories, security, a mortgage and property, and usually children, which motivate you to try to work things out. Hence, the window that closes in seconds in the dating world can be open for months or even years when you're committed.

Men are generally pretty easy when it comes to attraction. We’re attracted mostly to physical appearance and seductive talk and actions, and if attraction is lost and must be recreated, women seldom have to do any more than correct whatever major issues have developed with their appearance, if any, and act like a woman; self-respect and self-love in a woman are among the sexiest things a man can behold, and they cause the things that trip men’s attraction triggers, such as being height-weight proportionate, good grooming and posture, smiling, having fun, etc. Drama and depression are big turn-offs to men, but both tend to disappear when a woman feels attraction for a man.

Women aren’t so easy though. Physical appearance barely makes them curious, and then only for a short while, and that curiosity can be destroyed in an instant by any non-alpha male behavior, such as deferring decisions, approval-seeking or trying to impress them, being lazy or boring, etc.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible, or even difficult, to rekindle attraction. Indeed, if you have the right information to work from, it has been proven to happen in less than a week to a sufficient degree to halt the signing of divorce papers already prepared and move an estranged spouse back into the family home. This is the failing relationship that you fight for, even if there has been an affair, because love is hard to find and to earn, and a physical affair – which virtually always happens out of boredom and means absolutely nothing unless you choose to assign meaning to it – is no reason whatsoever to abandon a proven love.

Yes, I said that, and I’m about to say it another way: a one-time physical “fling” that happened out of boredom is not proof of lost love, nor a sign of disloyalty or disrespect. It’s an unfortunate and very STUPID thing that happens when two people can’t or just don’t effectively communicate with each other and allow their attraction to fade, nothing more, and nothing less. I’m not saying that the person who does it is stupid; I’m saying that it’s ridiculous that people will let their problems go to the point that this happens before realizing there is a problem and trying to fix it.

If you’re sitting on the couch with a beer and the TV remote every night while your partner is doing something else, and you’re part of that statistic that says that the average mature couple (mature meaning having been together, married or not, for two years or more) has sex six times per year (yes, that’s once every two months on average), trouble’s not just coming, it’s HERE!

And, there’s no sense waiting for it to get that bad before taking action; a good relationship is far easier to maintain than it is to fix if it gets broken, right? What you need is a plan for evaluating and then fixing and/or maintaining it and the knowledge required to empower you to do that. Luckily for you, it’s already been figured out, tested, proven, and published, and it can be yours in the next few minutes.

It’s called “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” you can download it right now at http://www.makingherhappy.com/, and it’s working for everyone who’s used it. Don’t make things rougher on yourself than they have to be by waiting. Do it now, and do it for keeps, because life is too short to do it any other way.

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

Giving in -- or Kissing Ass -- Has NEVER Saved a Good Relationship or Marriage

About any trained salesperson will tell you that to resolve any conflict, you should always agree. That’s ill-advised when a woman is involved. Why? Do you relish the idea of wearing the label of “WUSS”?

I generally try to focus on what works and avoid discussion of what doesn’t, but over the years I’ve run into some advice that has the potential to be extremely dangerous, based on what I’ve observed and proven in my own research. Over the next two days, I want to talk about that advice and show you both the pitfalls of following that advice and a much safer tactic that I found to be entirely effective in real-world application.

Today’s issue will concern the advice to “always agree” to resolve conflict, and tomorrow’s will be the idea of trying to stop a divorce (or any kind of break-up) before thoroughly evaluating a relationship to see if indeed it should be stopped, because a great many relationships that break up do so because the participants are horribly mismatched and should have never come together in the first place.

Now, let’s talk about this business of always agreeing to resolve conflict. This is a very old basic tactic used by sales people to overcome objections to a sales pitch, and has been taken out of context for use in relationship problem and dispute resolution. The idea is to agree to get the other person to calm down and let you disagree peacefully while you steer them around to your point of view. It originated from the old “Feel, Felt, Found” negotiating gambit.

You may have run into this with a real estate agent or car or other big-ticket item salesperson. Let’s say they offer you a car with a diesel engine, and you say, “I don’t want a diesel. I heard they don’t have as much power going up a hill.” And the salesperson replies, “Yes, I understand how you FEEL. We FELT the same way for a long time, but then some of our customers FOUND they still liked it, so we recommend everyone try it.”

Simple diffusion of an objection. And it sells a lot of cars. (I won’t venture a guess at how many go to people who end up liking a diesel. ;-) ) But later, psychologists urged people to take that tactic one step farther and just agree with anything to diffuse the objection and then build rapport. Once rapport is built, then ease back into the subject after the defenses are down.

But there are a couple of big pitfalls in this premise, especially with regard to relationships and marriage. First, holding a relationship together is a matter of cooperation, not of salesmanship. Women communicate on a level that is so far above men that they will immediately recognize this as just a tactic more often than not (it has always been known to work better on men than women anyway – remember, I’m also a marketing and management consultant, and this was something I used to be intimately involved in and teach almost daily). To make matters worse, when you give in to a woman to quell a stressful situation, you are instantly labeled a wuss! Really! You think not? You’re gonna love this:

I got several of the women “advisors” on the phone and told them about the “always agree advice,” and the most common response was a tie between “You’ve got to be kidding!” and “Oh my God! They didn’t say that!” Their overwhelming consensus was that a woman will lose any respect she still has left for a man who deploys such a tactic because women hate it when a man just gives in instead of holding out for what’s right. Now, notice I said “holding out for WHAT’S right,” not “holding out to BE right.” Hang with me here…

As a little background, while the biggest cause of rocky relationships, fighting, and destructive competition in relationships is incompatibility, the biggest immediate cause of break-ups and divorce is lost attraction – plain old everyday boredom. This happens to a woman when a man just stops being manly, fun, and interesting, and the woman gets bored and wants out, or gets bored and plays around and gets caught. (Women do things that cause men to lose attraction for them too, but I’m writing to men today.)

The last thing in the world you want to do under those circumstances is something wussy like always agreeing with her every gripe, because some of her gripes are not going to be real gripes, but rather tests to see if you are going to remember that you are a man and stand up against an obvious falsehood. A woman’s first criteria in evaluating a man is “If you can’t stand up TO me, you can’t stand up FOR me.”

The next big thing you want to avoid is use the words “I” or especially “YOU” at the beginning of a sentence during an argument or while the problem is being identified. Once you start pointing fingers, talking about people instead of issues, the conflict escalates and everybody loses. What’s the right move?

First, you must understand that women don’t speak to report information. Everything with them is a negotiation. They make statements to ask questions and ask questions to make statements, and will seldom if ever state the obvious, even if what is obvious to them isn’t obvious to a man. It’s all very diplomatic, even when they are angry. To keep from escalating what’s already a very delicate and volatile situation, you must shift the focus away from “I” or “YOU” to “WE,” and then move her focus to the actual ISSUE. “WE have a problem, and it is [whatever the problem is], so what needs to be done to fix it?” You must absolutely shift the focus from “WHO” is the problem to “WHAT” is the problem as much as possible to address the issues instead of the blame for (and emotions caused by) the issues. For example…

Let’s say you have the stereotypical male habit of grabbing the TV remote and starting to channel surf every time you come into the room, and she resents you being so disrespectful of her to interrupt something she is watching without asking. She starts out by saying, “You really make me mad as hell when you just start flipping channels when I’m watching something.” (That’s the statement she’ll be making with the question that you’ll actually hear: “How would you feel if I changed the channel while you were watching TV?” Or she might take the opposite tack, saying, “Didn’t you see me sitting here watching that?” meaning, “You inconsiderate jerk! I WAS watching that, and now I’m pissed off at you.” Statements are questions and questions are statements, remember?) If you respond with, “Well then why didn’t YOU tell ME?” it comes across as blaming her for your ignorance and disrespect, and that won’t fly.

If you respond with, “I’m sorry. I’LL let YOU be in charge of the remote from now on,” you’ve probably just ensured that you won’t have sex again for about 2 months, whether she does or not, because you just gave in. Something like, “Well, it’s MY house and MY TV and I’LL change the channel whenever I feel like it,” will get you more punishment over the coming months than you could ever fathom, and you won’t know that most of it hit you, although you probably will wonder why your underwear has been starched, your shirts are suddenly tighter and you can never seem to find your keys. ;-)

She wants you to take the lead in decision-making and be a stand-up guy, but in trade for respecting that position of leadership, she reserves the right to an input channel, in ALL negotiations, and you have to respect that or pay a price that you will invariably find you don’t want to pay. So your only option is to recognize that a negotiation has begun, and negotiate cooperatively, responding with something like, “Then WE obviously need to come to some kind of resolution here so that WE don’t continue to have this problem.”

Now you have her attention, and respect, because you have followed the form that she needs to follow to ensure involvement and a fair hearing. At this point it becomes okay to say “I” and “you” as long as you aren’t slinging mud with them. The purpose here is a peaceful and equitable settlement, resolving a problem, not winning a battle, remember?

Follow up with something like, “I didn’t realize that you were interested in that show, and to be honest, I probably never gave it due consideration. In the future, I will make sure that you aren’t enjoying a show before I change the channel. Will that satisfy you?”

Now, there are several really big things that you need to notice in that. First, you will notice that nowhere are you directly apologizing. You are indirectly apologizing by saying “never gave it DUE consideration,” and that is important, because you are acknowledging the mistake without being a big mushy wuss about it. Believe it or not, the words “I’m sorry” should rarely if ever come out of your mouth.

Acknowledging your mistakes in a manner that says that you should have performed better or with more consideration of her input is almost always enough and often even preferred because it refers to something specific instead of a generic apology that everybody gets all the time. (If there’s ever a time that it’s not enough, she’ll let you know.) The words, “I’m sorry” have come to be associated with deceit, incompetence, and inconsiderate jerkitude, the epitome of the principle that it is far easier to get forgiveness than permission and that you can do as you please and apologize if it isn’t good enough, and you need to separate yourself from that stigma no matter what you do, in everything you do.

Next, you are offering the first suggestion for the resolution, again, taking the lead, but not dictating terms. It doesn’t matter whether your idea is perfect for her or not, just as long as it’s not asinine. It’s a negotiation, and she will let you know if she sees any part of your suggestion as unsatisfactory. Taking the lead like this is a HUGE deal to a woman; a man who won’t lead, can’t make decisions, and can’t consider the input of others in decisions isn’t worth having around, just as any man who can’t stand up TO her can’t be expected to stand up FOR her. It’s really that simple.

Also notice that you ask if your suggestion will “satisfy her.” (Or if you prefer a more casual, phrase, ask if it will “work for her.”) You are not asking if it is “okay for her,” or anything that sounds even remotely like you are asking her permission to proceed in this manner, which is also good for several months of celibacy as you shatter any respect for you she may still be holding. You are asking for her input, inviting her to take part in the negotiation in which she expects to engage. Incidentally, she will punish you severely for shutting her out of it or giving in to avoid it. What’s next?

Chances are, in this simple example, she would have been satisfied with this plan because it fully addresses her issue, but you’re not done yet. She cannot have the last word, because whomever has the last word makes the decision, and you must be the one to formally declare the decision made. After she says, “Yes, that will do,” or whatever, then you must wrap it up with the formal declaration, something like, “Then that is precisely what I will do in the future, and if you catch me slipping, I expect you to remind me of it and let me fix it instead of jumping down my throat about it. I will do my best to treat you with the same respect. We are adults and partners and we can both do a much better job of handling problems. I don’t want us to be one of these couples that fight all the time over everything any more than you do.”

That’s leadership, and it gets you more than a solution to your problem, it gets you respect and trust, which in turn creates attraction, which breeds intimacy, and starts an upward spiral that may last anywhere from minutes to years, depending on how diligent you are about acting like a man – a REAL man.

Relationships aren’t always easy, especially when they start coming apart. Indeed, they’re a lot like houses. If the relationship has a solid foundation, it can usually be repaired; if not, it’s better to tear it down and start over. We’ll be talking about how to determine that tomorrow.

For today, just realize that as a man, to make any relationship work, you have to be able to assess the relationship to see if and how well it is working and compare that to how well it can work. You have to be able to communicate with a woman in a way that is considerate of her communication style, which is grossly different from a man’s to say the least; otherwise you can never even identify the strengths and weaknesses in your relationship, let alone fix them.

You also have to understand what it is that makes a woman tick -- what she wants, out of life, her relationship with you, etc., and what flips her switches, especially those that trigger sexual interest and excitement and create that emotion that women will literally kill to have and maintain, full-blown swept-off-her-feet sexual attraction. Sounds like the Holy Grail of relationships, doesn’t it? While it’s true that men have searched for centuries to find such knowledge, this grail has been found, it’s been right under our noses the whole time, and to make things about as embarrassing as they can possibly get, the women have been trying to tell us where it is!

Well, I finally listened to nearly 200 of them, wrote it all down, gave it back to the women it came from to see if I had translated it right and then gave it to their husbands to use to make sure it was accurate. It was then refined and tested again until it was working for everybody involved after we found that there were a few things that women thought they wanted that they didn’t want at all after they got them. I did all of this to save my own marriage, not to write a book. The book was simply a by-product of the success of the research I needed to conduct to find a way to get my own marriage and life in order. It will work for you, too. Really.

No matter what you have tried, no matter what the state of your current relationship, there’s a lot of information in this book that will help you make it better. Readers have busted their own divorces with it in as little as a week, others have kicked their relationships up to notches previously unknown, while some have found that they have been in the wrong relationship with the wrong person and that getting out was the first step in getting on the real path to happiness, for EVERYONE involved.

This book is called "THE Man's Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and you can download your copy now at http://www.makingherhappy.com. Don’t wait, don’t sit there wondering if it will work for you, and don’t waste time asking me if it will work for you. It will, so just grab it and growl, because life is too short to spend it unhappy, scared, frustrated, bored, celibate, angry, or any of those other nasty things that bad relationships make you feel.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish for in Your Relationship and Mariage, Part 3: Romance

I’ve run into another of those “Be careful what you wish for” scenarios, and it’s yet another perfect example of how women will say they want something because it makes for a bit of an emotional rush, but it never quite works out the same way in the real world, especially on the subject of ROMANCE.

I got an e-mail from an Australian friend, one who’s pretty bright when her brain is engaged, but who seems to have been living alone and bored just a little too long, because she’s pretty bad about getting caught up in “sweet” e-mails when she’s lonely. Check this out:

RE: Awwww

A girl asked a guy if he thought she was pretty.

He said, “No.”

She asked him if he would want to be with her forever...and he said, “No.”

She then asked him if she were to leave would he cry, and once again he said, “No.”

She had heard enough. As she walked away, tears streaming down her face the boy grabbed her arm and said...

“You're not pretty, you're beautiful.

“I don't want to be with you forever, I NEED to be with you forever.

“And I wouldn't cry if you walked away...I'd die...”


I sent this out to two groups of women for their response. The first group was a group of 16-25 year old single women who had responded to a survey I ran last year. Their archetypical responses were:

“Awww…that’s sweet.”

“I wish I had a guy like that.”

“That’s so romantic.”

The other group was ages 30-60 who are married or in a committed relationship of two years or longer:

“’Awwww’ my ass! I’d say ‘EWWWWW!!!'

“Yuck! What a wuss!”

“Yeah, right. Like anybody would fall for that crap.”

“Can I just shoot him and get it over with?”

“Yeah, sure. I can just see Humphrey Bogart or Dirty Harry saying something like that.”


Are you getting the drift? When it comes to romance, young women and teenage girls are pretty silly, and don’t yet have a clue that there are things they respond to differently than how they imagine, while more mature women, while still prone to do that at times, can be expected to be more in touch with their feelings by virtue of having been burned by them in the past, so their reaction in this case is the one that tells you what you need to know.

There’s nothing romantic about acting like a needy wuss. Yet when we are in our teens and early twenties and are making our first efforts to learning about women, we’re inundated with all this silly crap we hear (or more likely, OVERHEAR, out of context) from girls, NOT women, mind you, and those wrong answers hang with us into adulthood until somebody pulls the wool from over our eyes and shows us the truth. One of the worst of these is the girlish tendency to confuse “sweet” with “romantic.”

So while you can’t necessarily be blamed for not having anything better to work with in the past, now that you know there is something better, you have a responsibility to yourself to seek it out, learn it and use it. So what is “romance”? And what is “romantic”?

Romantic, more than anything else, is that which is larger than life and sparks excitement and attraction, in a word, “heroic.” There’s nothing romantic about blowing a month’s salary to take a woman to Paris for lunch when you live in North America. That’s done for extravagance, and is wasteful. A young girl who has never had to work for what she has might mistakenly see that as romantic, but the average adult woman, while she might fantasize about something like that with a stranger, would see the actual act as wasteful and stupid if performed by the man she’s been with for awhile...

…and more to the point, a man who is so frivolous that he would blow money he didn’t have like that would not be seen by a woman in or considering a committed relationship as being able to make responsible decisions and be a good partner. He could be a plaything, but nothing more – another one of those things that might get someone’s attention in the dating world but has no place in a committed relationship, unless you’re so wealthy that going to Paris for lunch is something that you could afford to do for fun and would do by yourself. Otherwise it's just a desperate act of attention-getting and approval-seeking, a sign of a man who’s good for buying drinks, expensive dinners and vacations, and then leaving when she grows bored of it.

That’s not to say that a trip to Paris isn’t romantic. But it has to be a real trip. There has to be time to see the city, experience the city and build memories that she can relive, and time to gather mementos to put in her treasure box. There has to be time and opportunity for intimacy to take advantage of being in an exotic place and using it to build excitement, attraction, and all those memories as well. Just being there long enough to say you were there isn’t enough.

Think not? Think about it for a minute. You hopped a plane, went there, had lunch, and flew back. What memories will she have? Being rushed to cafĂ©, eating, and being rushed back to the airport. And what happens when she tries to share it with her girlfriends? She will be barraged by “Did you see such-and-such? Did you go to such-and-such? Did you try such-and-such?” To which she can only answer, “No,” and then will hear, “Well, when WE went, we did all that, and it was great!” or “Then why did you go?” Instead of an adventure to remember, you gave her a disappointment and embarrassment in front of her friends. That’s not romance, is it?

To be romantic, she needs to remember more than the sights of the city; she needs to remember you and herself immersed in the emotion of being in the city.

And you need to know the difference! You need to know how to look at the situation through her eyes to know if it will be something wonderful that labels you a wonderful man who gets it or a desperate, approval-seeking jackass.

Do you?

Would you know how to use a trip, a dinner, a bouquet of flowers, or more appropriately, a live plant, or even a “sticky note” to create a romantic occasion for your partner? If you don’t, I’ll give you three guesses as to at least one of the reasons that she’s bored and unhappy and you’re reading this newsletter…

…and in truth, should be reading my book, "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," which you can download at http://www.makingherhappy.com, and getting your knowledgebase in order. You need to purge all the lore, urban legends, bad programming and other utter crap you’ve heard about women that’s swimming around in your head and screwing up your relationship and marriage and get with the real program, the one that lets you enjoy being and feeling like a man and lets her feel like she’s truly living with the man of her dreams.

It’s your choice, and your responsibility, to yourself and to her, so choose well, and choose quickly. The clock is running…

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