Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Great Lesson in Relationships and Marriage from a Dinner Party

There was a dinner party at my house, most of the attendees were women, and there was much to learn from their behavior. Let me share some of it with you…

As I write this it is late on Sunday night, and I’ve spent the day cooking and serving a traditional southern feast – barbecue pork, grilled chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and miscellaneous tidbits like a relish tray for the light eaters and Buffalo-style hot wings (yes, made with Frank’s “Red Hot” cayenne sauce and butter, the real deal, and kudos to The Anchor Bar in Buffalo, their birthplace, and all the other wonderful places in Western New York that serve them!) for the more adventurous. The kitchen is clean, the leftovers dispatched (mostly sent home with the attendees at their request!), and here I sit with a big cup of coffee to tell you about it, because anytime you get this big of a group together, there are going to be lessons to learn.

The group was a bunch of people, mostly women, who work in my wife’s office and a couple of their husbands, and some of my neighbors, 22 total, 5 men and 17 women, who had come to walk in a local breast cancer awareness event. Four of the five men were very strong alpha personalities like me, and the other was “just one of the girls,” if you know what I mean. Annoyingly flamboyant and effeminate, and a total drama queen. We’ll not be talking about him, by the way…

First, I have a reputation as a talented chef in my wife’s office because a few of her employees have been to our house for dinner, and many of the women who came without an escort were there simply to see what all the hubbub was about. I was buzzing around the kitchen getting things together and running outside occasionally to check on the grill, and there were pots and pans on all five burners on my stove with beans, sauces, etc., and I wish you could have seen the women’s faces as I was emptying pans into serving dishes, washing the pans up, and keeping the kitchen squared away and neat with all this activity. Why?

Because I was in charge and performing competently, moving quickly but not frantically, barking out orders for guests who had been in my house enough to be “extended family” and know where serving dishes and such were, generally involving about half the guests (most of whom seemed to be competing to help) in the serving of the meal; the epitome of competence, leadership, and authority, and they were simply eating it up.

I’d catch them staring, smiling, and even primping, and if you want to see something funny, watch your wife’s best friend catch herself involuntarily sending flirtatious or even seductive body language signals to her best friend’s and boss’s husband! And there was my wife in the middle of all of it, with all the women telling her that she married well and how lucky she was to have a husband who “gets it”…you can imagine how that went over as well…

So the first part of the lesson, Gents, is that in any kind of a gathering, no matter what is going on, if you are the guy in charge and acting like you belong in charge, the eyes of every woman around will be on you, attraction will be building quickly if you are acting like a man, and your partner will get hit with a double-whammy of attraction because she’ll not just be seeing you do the things that light her up, she’ll also be getting social proof of your attraction value from all the stares, comments, flirting, etc., from all the other women – we are talking attraction overload here, gentlemen, as long as you don’t start acting like you wish your partner wasn’t there so you could bed one of her friends, that is. That will get you either a lot of grief or killed unless your wife has rather versatile tastes, so don’t go there.

The second part of the lesson is a big lesson on knowing what makes women tick. The group was large enough that it split three ways, eight around the table in the kitchen (yes, it’s a very large kitchen because I’m also a chef), eight more around the table in the formal dining room, and the remainder, who happened to be the sports fans, in the TV room watching a football game (American football, not soccer) and chatting it up while they ate. This made for an interesting dynamic as the group divided, because those who ended up in the formal dining room were the more analytical of the group and in the kitchen were the more creative and emotionally-driven. I, of course, was in the formal dining room with those who are like me.

I heard voices rising in the kitchen as the emotions started to rise, and went in to find one of the women, a close friend of over 20 years to both my wife and me, crying. Thankfully, nobody was fighting. One of the men had made a remark about single parents not being able to be there for their children, and this woman had lived a very hard life to make sure that she was indeed there for her children in every respect and that they were well-provided, and she got overwhelmed as she was trying to describe some of the things she had gone through and was crying pretty hard.

The man who had touched a nerve kept trying to interrupt to apologize and smooth it over, and the women (and the effeminate drama queen) were sitting there rolling their eyes at him because he was interrupting, some trying to comfort her non-verbally and all trying to get him to take the hint. What happened next was magic, and something that you can and will do yourself after I describe it to you.

When women get amped up like that, they don’t want you to fix it, or make it better. They NEED to pour it out and vent that excess emotion because it literally tears them up inside. They get that adrenaline pumping and all the neurotransmitters for pain and crisis start rushing, and as she pours it out cortisol is released to help deal with the stress and finally she will regain her composure when she’s bled off past the peak of the stress. Knowing that, I caught the man’s eye while standing behind the crying woman, and shook my head slightly in a “no” gesture and held up a hand in a “wait” gesture. He sat back with a concerned and rather pained look on his face, and I motioned to him to lean back in, thus inviting the woman who was talking about her experience to continue.

Again, I wish you could have seen the women’s faces. They were looking at each other and my wife like “How the hell did he know to do that???” Literally awestruck because none of them had ever seen a man understanding a woman in an emotional moment, let alone coaching another man to handle it right. When she finally had poured out enough to pause and take a deep breath and try to regain her composure, I nodded to the guy who had struck the nerve and he apologized for upsetting her, assured her that his comments were not directed at her, etc., to smooth things over, and I stepped over to my espresso machine, dumped some heavy cream and bittersweet chocolate into a mug and melted it down with the steam wand, then quickly hydrated it and shot some whipped cream on top of it and set it in front of the woman, whom I knew to be a “chocoholic” and very sensitive to the serotonin-boosting effects of the polyphenols in dark chocolate (which cause enough of a serotonin rush to cause a mild euphoria in many people and everyone to simply feel more content). As far as these women were concerned I was walking on water. Why?

Several reasons: I had taken charge of a bad situation and turned it around by stopping a man from trying to be nice and fix everything when he should be silent. I had known how to best help their friend while she was having a dramatic crisis, and had given her something that was so supremely personal to help her feel better after the crisis was past.

And mind you, NONE of this was difficult to see, know, or orchestrate. And only a few years ago I would have been the guy I was coaching, not the coach. That’s why I’m adamant in telling you that you can do this, too. I’ve been on both sides and crossing the line from the “don’t get it” side to the “get it” side was akin to that “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” thing, a small step with a life-long and far-reaching impact.

When the crisis passed, all these women wanting to help clean up the kitchen, not to be polite, but because they wanted to be lead through something fun. (Yes, everything that happens in my kitchen is fun!) The flirting, hugs, compliments, etc., escalated all over again, and every one of those women thanked me for taking care of their friend like that. To them I was a hero, the icing on the attraction cake. Had I been a single man instead of their boss’s husband, I could have expected any of the single ones to stay the night, and probably longer. As for my wife’s response, that’s personal, and I’ll leave it to your imagination, but I will say that she smiled a lot and it was exactly what I expected. ;-)

I’ll admit, maybe you had to be there to appreciate the full impact that this had on everybody; as long as I’ve been writing, I’ve never found words to fully and accurately describe a woman who is eaten alive with attraction. I will tell you that the men were somewhat awestruck, and I got several covert comments from them to the effect of “I want you to teach me how to do that,” as they were leaving. All but the one who was “just one of the girls,” that is. But like I said, we’re not going to talk about him…

So, gents, that was the day, and here I sit. I wasn’t born knowing how to read and respond to women like that, not even close. Like I said, a few years back I would have tried to be nice, tried to immediately fix everything, and stuck my foot in my mouth and had that woman crying harder and every one of those other women so angry with me they would have left with their friend in tow to save her from me.

Today, my wife has a reputation for having the greatest husband in the world. I don’t know if I am or not, and will never claim to be, but if she and her friends want to think that, I’m not going to argue with them, because I’m close enough for her and that’s all that matters.

In fact, I’ll tell you a quick personal story to demonstrate.

We went to Niagara Falls once to visit friends and family (she’s from that area) and ended up in a tourist shop. I bought her a bottle of water colored with green dye that had a label indicating that it was taken from the falls at night while the lights were shining on it, which is pretty funny when you see the bottle and have seen the spectacle of Niagara Falls at night. Normally she would have come out with something similar to that, but she found a T-shirt that says, “My husband is the 8th wonder of the modern world,” and she snatched it up, held it close to her chest until she paid for it, then held it there most of the way home. I’ve noticed her wearing it often, and she smiles and hugs me when she sees me looking at it, often misty-eyed. Any questions?

What’s important to you is that I learned everything that was necessary for today’s events to unfold as they did, and so can you. It’s not rocket science, it doesn’t involve memorizing some encyclopedia of female behavior – I know about serotonin and polyphenols in chocolate from studying herbs and alternative medicine and making desserts, not studying women; all you need to know about it is how much your wife enjoys it and that it contains caffeine, so it can keep you awake if you eat too much of it too late; some nights that may even come in handy. ;-) In reality, women aren’t that complicated. They merely seem complicated because they are different from us.

They take the long way around in doing some things, like getting through a conversation or making a plan, and they do some things that are downright self-destructive, like dwelling on negative emotions when there aren’t any positive ones available, but once you see the ways in which they are different, it’s very easy to understand and anticipate them, which in turn makes it incredibly easy to do something they love to have a man do: LEAD them, competently and with confidence, which turns them on like a light switch, and nearly as fast.

I had to learn all this the hard way, first by making the same mistakes that you have made, and probably more and bigger ones since it took multiple marriages to get it right, and then by getting a bunch of women together and working with them to figure out what I was missing, like really understanding how women think, what they need, what excites and bores them, and how to communicate with them, followed by getting their husbands into the action to test everything we’d uncovered, some of which turned out to be quite wrong, by the way, because women will at times say that they want something but will in fact respond very negatively to it when they get it.

They called that a “booby trap” when I was in the service. Life with a woman is filled with them, and if you don’t know how to watch for them, you are going to get something, possibly your reproductive organs or your life’s savings, blown off sooner or later.

Or maybe you already have. I don’t know. What I do know is that no matter how good it is, you can make it better, and it usually has to be so bad that she’s obtained restraining orders from the court before it’s too bad to save. I also know that there are some relationships that were doomed by compatibility problems from the beginning and should not be saved, no matter how badly you think you want to. It’s a mine field, but I can walk you through it if you’ll let me. Take a look at a comment left on our forum, by a woman who recently joined to get help with her own problem:

“Actually, if you can't help me then I don't think anyone can. I found your blog a few days ago and I've been reading like crazy. I have to say how excited I was to know that what I was reading was written by a man. Finally! A man gets it. I haven't yet read anything I've disagreed with and even a couple of things that initially gave me pause, I ended up agreeing with once I was honest with myself.”

You can read her story, and the discussion that ensued and is still developing, at It’s one of the more elaborate situations you’ll hear about in middle-age people and yet quite common, with common enough elements that no matter who you are, there is something valuable for you to learn. I help people like this all the time, literally every day, and if you’re in trouble, or maybe you don’t think you’re in trouble but things seem a little too quiet to be healthy, it’s time for you to get some help, too.

To get started, just go to and download your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage" and get started. If you’re having problems, you may also want to download my free reports, “Break-Up Busting 101” and “What Women REALLY Want,” by following the instructions at the end of this newsletter to help you understand what’s happening and help you focus on fixing it instead of the fear that may be overwhelming you. There’s not a thing in the world to lose except the time it takes to read it, and after four years, I’m still not hearing anybody saying anything except how great it is and thanking me for the results they’re getting, so the evidence says you should try it, too.

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

No comments: