Dealing With Her Time Release Brain Bombs

I don’t want to give away the punchline, so watch the video first, and then we’ll get to the reader question. The video is about ten minutes long, and is not safe for work, but it’s basically only so for a bunch of F-Bombs.
So the reader question…
Reader:  This morning we got into a fight about responsibilities and getting things done in and around the house. Six months ago, I would have given in just to avoid the fight, but nowadays I stand my ground. Especially when I’m absolutely sure that I’m right.
This seems to be really difficult for her and for me too actually. Standing my ground feels very unnatural for me, especially since it escalates the fight. So I’m hoping that this tactic will prove its worth in the long run. Anyway, she was still quite mad when she left for work and the last thing she said was “You’re starting to be more like your father every day”.
It’s the first time she ever said that. When someone used to say that I was a bit like my father or even looked like him, I used to take that as in insult (my father was an alcoholic that was never really around). But my father is also quite the alpha male (a bit too much even).  So the fact that she said that wasn’t insulting to me, it was more of an acknowledgement that she sees the change. So I guess that all in all things are progressing in a positive way, even if we seem to have more fights nowadays.
Athol:  So yeah… here’s why comparing you to your father is always going to be a below the belt punch.
Whether you like it or not, you have an enormously strong emotional tie to your father. That may be a strong positive, a strong negative, or a strong reaction to the fact that there isn’t a strong connection to your father. You’re pretty much locked into him emotionally somehow.
So when she said “You’re just like your father”, it’s going to tap a deep emotional well. If you happen to react negatively to your father, it’s going to be a vicious insult because in at least some ways, you’re actually going to be like your father. So it’s a cutting statement in no small part because… well, because it’s true.
If you happen to react positively to your father, it’s going to rile you up because she’s making a clear insinuation that your father isn’t that great, and by implication you aren’t that great. So then there’s this thing where she’s implying that you’re kinda destined to suck on a biological level. You’re not even Mr. Suck Sr, you’re Mr. Suck Jr.
So there’s usually not much way around having a bad reaction to her statement. It’s exactly as Dane Cook says, designed to screw with your head. What you have to do, is see it for what it is designed to do, and respond to that, rather than to the actual comment.
The good news is that if she is reaching for the emotional terrorism as a tactic, it means she hasn’t managed to achieve her objectives by her usual tactics. Or in plain English, she throws out the “You’re just like your father” as a line when she’s losing the war.
So my reader is exactly right. He’s making progress on the whole MAP front and his Sex Rank is going up and the relationship power balance is starting to swing toward him and away from her. He’s not just folding up like a wet napkin over everything. She’s getting freaked out by that change and has been pushing back on his pushing back on her, so yes fights will have increased in the short term. But the whole “You’re just like your father.” line implies that she’s getting to the end of thinking pushing back on him will work.
What should be done now, is he should claim victory, and an immediate end to this round of arguments. “Your whole line about how I’m just like my father has nothing to do about whatever our current issue is, which means I won this argument, and you said that simply for the purpose of hurting me. Now I am totally fine with the idea of us having disagreements, and talking them through, but if you want to turn this relationship into one where purposely hurting each other is acceptable, you’re standing on the wrong side of the front door.”  Say it with total commitment and hardcore eye contact with her. Don’t yell it, just controlled anger. You’re looking to create that “Oh shit!” reaction in her.
The frame is that you are in charge of this relationship, and there is simply no purposeful hurting of each other allowed.
Of course this is all going to mess with her head, as you just announced her relationship just switched from ME/him to HIM/me. She’s going to be pretty sure that you’re cheating on her, but likely have zero evidence that you are. She wants to be in charge to ensure she can’t be hurt by you, but you just took charge to ensure that there would be no hurting. So she’s going to be seriously confused as to what is going on. At some point you may have to unveil MMSL to avoid her totally freaking out on you. But in the meantime, use this line…
“I just feel like a stronger person now.”
…which of course doesn’t really mean anything immediately. But she’ll be thinking about it for days to come lol. What the hell he did mean by that?  Detonation in 5.. 4.. 3… 2…
Jennifer: Even saying “You’re like your father.” as a compliment is going to potentially backfire on you. I agree it’s a low blow. I like the “I’m a stronger person” line too. Because if it’s true, she can’t really argue it can she.


  1. Opps Athol – you'd better erase the first 3 comments. I've not clicked on the links, but thinks it's pretty mean of someone to use ambush marketing for the indicated products on your blog.

  2. Candice – this isn't the only post they did that on either. Just deleted a bunch across multiple pages on the blog. It's something I have to do about three times a week these days.

  3. The fact that the reader in this post is fighting more with his spouse after claiming some apparent hollow victory has to make you wonder if anything has actually improved.

  4. Ian Ironwood says:

    @ Anon. 9:39: The goal isn't less fighting with the spouse, the goal is taking control of his life. If that's a departure, then he can expect some friction along the way as things re-adjust. It's only natural and only to be expected.

    It's a delicate balance, to be sure. As the relationship struggles to find a new balance, she's going to push back by instinct and out of fear that her relationship is in danger. That's fine. Because fear is exciting. And the goal is to keep her excited, not keep her happy. Subtle distinction. Eventually she'll realize that she likes being excited, will stop being fearful when she understands that the relationship isn't necessarily in danger, and she relaxes into her new role. But it takes time, and there might be some fighting and make-up sex involved.

    Athol's quite right about what this indicates. When you start reaching for ad hominem attacks like that, it usually indicates that there's no further reasonable argument to be made. And the linking of your perceived 'poor behavior' to your father is a particularly dirty blow that's favored by modern women who reach for shame in their arsenal all too quickly. While I agree with Athol's proposed response, my own would be this:

    Grab her gently but firmly by the shoulders, look her dead in the eye, and while she bugs out about your sudden and unexpected move, you ask her in a quiet, but intensely firm voice, "Do I have your complete attention?" That's a yes-no question, and it's unlikely she will say 'no'.

    Follow with, "Then don't speak until I'm finished and don't interrupt, this is important. That was a cheap shot. But understandable, under the circumstances. I can see how this might upset you. But let me make this clear: my issues with my father are mine to own. He may have had problems, and I may have had problems with him, but he is still my father, and for you to say that disrespects both me and him. Let there be no mistake: I am my own man. Don't doubt it for a second. And don't try to undermine me by trying to hit a weak spot — it's ignoble and petty. So this is the last time I will permit you to compare me to my father without getting a more severe response, because I consider you warned about it now. Do we have an understanding? Or do I need to go through it again?"

    It can be a tough play, but it's a strong Alpha move that will — at the very least — shock her out of her complacency. She might be angry. She might be pissed. But it's highly unlikely she'll bring up your father to your face again, and she will respect you for setting that boundary even if she doesn't like the hint of backbone. If she tries to argue the point, stop her, tell her you've said all you are going to on the matter, and walk away to leave her to her thoughts.

    Don't let her change the subject. Don't let her continue the fight. DO let her know that she crossed a line and has been warned.

    That's a lot more than a hollow victory.

  5. I have found more success communicating to my wife through action than words. If you say more than two sentences to her, you've said too much.

    Emailer, take everything that Athol said and communicate it through your actions, your attitude, your body. You won't back down, and you know it. You won't back down, and she knows it. Don't claim victory or verbalize anything, just act it. When she capitulates by doing a better job around the house, praise or reward her somehow.

    Also Emailer, make sure you are on top of your stuff. Whatever you have taken responsibility for doing, get it done. Take action.

  6. I want the 10 minutes that Dane Cook just took out of my life. I'd rather spend 10 minutes arguing with the Mrs.

  7. Question for Athol (and anyone else who may have read it): what do you think of No More Mr. Nice Guy (by Robert Glover)? It seems to have some of the same basic premises as MMSL. I heard about it here, where I went after hearing the word "ubersexual" used for the first time.

    Maybe a sea change is underway after all, if that sort of book is mainstream.

  8. Usually I always try to post something beneficial to the blog but not this time ….. the clip WAS HILARIOUS!!! "MY FATHER'S A BRILLIANT MAN!!!!!!" LMBO!

  9. For Anon 6:35, I am a disciple of Dr. Robert Glover. I had the honor of attending one of his men's groups this past year. I found him to be one of the most engaging guys in the men's support area. I found this blog first and then shortly afterwards read the NMMNG book from Glover. It changed my life. Athol's book was a close 2nd. The one thing that Glover has that Athol doesn't is 30 years of marriage counseling and his book has been out there for 10 years. When I stand back and compare the two, there isn't a whole lot different at the core which tells me these problems many of us have are routine and can be averted (if you want). I appreciate Athol's humor more, Glover can be a bit dry sometimes. Seeing how popular both are tells me there are so many men out there with problems, it's just crazy! They both have it dead on though. Listen to everything they say and take notes!

  10. I agree with anon 12:18…Too many words, especially when establishing your Alpha role, is bad. Concise and Direct statements(not open ended questions) + Strong Alpha body language + "Deep" Eye Contact = Best Results

  11. Zorki – I've read NMMNG and commented on his forum a few times when MMSL has been mentioned.

    It's a good book, and I used some of his ideas quite obviously. Very complimentary reading to MMSL.

    The one thing I added to his Nice Guy stuff is I actually explain the biological unpinnings of the Nice Guy addictive routine.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I don't talk too much when it comes to my husband. In fact I strongly agree with the poster who said "less words, more action". By the time he's done espousing his theory, what needed to get done is done.

    For the person who mentioned the idea of marriage is not about keeping her happy – that made me laugh. If my marriage can't be a happy one I don't want to be in it. Marriage is not about control. I have no interest in controlling my spouse nor does have any interest in controlling me. Each of us master of our own life and domain. Playing all the head games is pretty pointless and frankly a bit childish and immature.

    The wife of the main emailer/poster was definitely out of line; rude and immature. If he knows how she is already then he needs to know that she resorts to those types of tactics and cheap shots. Ignore and disarm ignorant people, even if you happen to be married to them. Happy New Year!!

  13. To Anon 12:47,

    You said, "For the person who mentioned the idea of marriage is not about keeping her happy – that made me laugh. If my marriage can't be a happy one I don't want to be in it."

    It IS about making the marriage happy. It IS NOT about keeping her happy.

    If you spend all of your time trying to meet your wife's needs, neither one of you will be happy. It's like the goal is to raise happy children not to keep them happy. Spouses and children are happier if they learn to make themselves happy not have someone else responsible for their happiness.

    You said, "The wife of the main emailer/poster was definitely out of line; rude and immature."

    You forgot: all too common. It happens a lot. Many people lash out like that during conflict. It is not healthy for anyone involved.


  14. Anonymous says:

    Didn't forget it's common. Just pointing that he is dealing with an emotionally immature person.


  15. Several comments:
    1. Regarding "No More Mr Nice Guy". That book and Glovers forum Changed-My-Life. I say that with no hyperbole nor over-exaggeration. I found the book about 4 years ago and have been working on myself ever since. With fantastic results.
    However, as much as I worked on myself and improved I still struggled with the final piece regarding my wife/marriage. While things improved post-NMMNG it wasn't where I wanted my relationship to be. This is where Athol's stuff has been fantastic – as it has helped me integrate my personal changes with my relationship.
    Glover helped me grow up and grow some balls. Athol is helping me get those balls get the wifely attention I wanted.

    2. Regarding the wife's reaction to your changes. I can relate as well. My wife also sees changes and they are making her a bit uncomfortable. My marriage and sex life have definitely improved but she still is unsure of what is going on. The most important thing to realize here is that this is not an overnight process. Have patience. Keep growing your balls. Stand firm. (And remember, to apply just enough comfort beta as well. Too much alpha/asshole can be counter-productive as well.)

    3. Concerning the father comment. I'd minimize it as well. Focusing on it would just let her know how much that comment truly did sting. Instead, next time she brought it up I'd say something like "leave my father out of this. What, are you 3 years old?" and that would be the end of it. Just continue with the real heart of the issue paying no more attention to that comment.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Again, to echo other posters: No More Mr. Nice Guy is fantastic. And like others have said, MMSL fills the pieces of the puzzle Glover leaves out. I found both of them about a month or so ago and they have been revolutionary. I'm on my second time through NMMNG and when I'm done there I'm going to go through MMSL again. I'll probably just alternate until everything sinks in and it's an unconscious effort.
    Already I've had a complete mental shift that is as profound as anything I've experienced.

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