Work On Your Weak Areas First

Jason had an excellent question on yesterday’s post.
Jason: Would it be fair to say that whatever is your “glaring” issue, is the one that needs to be worked on. Say I were in decent shape, but underemployed, relative to my wife. Is that “the” issue that’s putting our sex life and relationship at risk (and the one to focus on)?
Athol: The short answer is “yes” you should absolutely work on whatever your glaring issue is. It’s going to give you your quickest gains.
The explanation of why that is so, is a little longer.
Let’s assume that say you’re a basic good guy with a great job pulling in say $100,000 a year as your primary selling point as a husband, but you’re 50 pounds overweight, and that’s your primary weakness. If you decide to do “more of what works”, you might work an extra one or two hours a day and bust your ass up into a promotion and make $120,000 a year, but still be fat. The extra $20,000 is going to be nice, but it isn’t really going to make your wife all that more excited sexually about you. It’s a lot of effort for a slight improvement. But if you instead spent the extra time working out and getting in shape, now you’re going to be a fit guy making $100,000 a year, and that’s going to get much better results.
The opposite would hold true as well. Imagine now you’re an in shape guy stuck in a crappy job making $24,000 a year. If you keep doing “more of what works”, you might have to work crazy hard in the gym to get even more in shape, but still be making crappy money. It’s a minor plus. But if you hold the exercise steady and maintain what you have, and make a push to educate yourself / get promoted, up to a $40,000 job, that extra $16,000 a year is going to be huge.
There’s a law of diminishing returns on self-improving on any one area of your life. Whether that’s physical fitness, dressing, income, help around the house, being cocky and funny, or anything… the more you do it, the harder it becomes to squeeze out even better results from it. The trap is to get fixated on continuing to “do more of what works” long after you’ve really pretty much maxed out on an area.
This is why I keep saying if you’re good on the Alpha front, the solution is to add Beta, and if you’re all set on the Beta front, add more Alpha. It’s vastly easier to work on the weak area, plus it’s really the only thing that works.
A wife getting endless Beta support, isn’t going to be craving yet more Beta. Even a tiny bit of Alpha improvement is going to be exciting to her. It’s like her having a full meal but nothing to drink, and then having him offer more food…. that would just annoy her.
So work on one thing, and then work on another. Crazy about fitness for three months, then work on dress sense, then figure out how to cook a few new things, then get on top of cleaning the house, then figure out how to fix a few things around the house, then ramp up the cocky and funny. Just rinse and repeat in a cycle of minor but consistent self-improvement. She won’t have time to adjust to everything and it will keep her a little off balance, but impressed with you.
(I have a slight counterpoint to this advice planned for tomorrow.)
Jennifer: Yes! If Athol didn’t have a job I would tire of the cocky and funny thing eventually lol.


  1. I don't mean this as crappy as this is going to sound, and I do agree with the advice. I have also bought the book and agree with what is in it as well.

    It's just, it's just all like a neverending frantic striving to please one's wife so she doesn't let loose the dogs of war (lawyers) or cuck you.

    Does it sound oddly like the advice that used to be given to housewives in the 50's? "Make sure the house is clean and you have fresh lipstick on when your man comes home." Etc.

    Not knocking your advice Athol, because it's very mucn needed. I guess I'm just so tired of the way things are out here in real life ville, where if you don't pander to her constantly you could lose everything. And she knows it, and uses that fact. Give her alpha, give her beta, it doesn't matter because the law and the court gave her hand. It's just pretending. If you married her, she has hand.

    Ehhh, I dunno. I guess I'm up late in one of those moods. I won't get married again. I think taking the legal options off the table for her makes her have to actually partcipate in keeping up her end of things. G'Night Athol.

  2. Looking Glass says:

    @ Anon:

    Athol's advice mostly exists for two reasons:

    1) We don't really pass on how to deal with the opposite sex in Western Culture anymore.
    2) The legal environment is brutal for men, while male earnings is no longer necessary for survival for women.

    Which is why marrying a person of high moral character is the single most important aspect to getting married.

  3. @Anonymous : You cannot make someone be a good husband if they do not want to be.

    But personally, continual growth is the only way to be. Sure, you might have a partner that feels okay with just staying at the same point. But I find that I personally flourish more in relations that push me and my boundaries.
    And generally, this goes vice versa.

  4. I will start by saying that our marriage is great, but there seemed to be something lacking in the area of passion. We have sex and it is OK most of the time, but my wife was a bit lukewarm at times. So, after reading the book, I decided that I needed to add some Alpha, mostly in the area of leadership and sexual advances. I would almost call it "tweaking" but I worked on the areas that I knew I could improve immediately. It may be just because she was ovulating, we'll see, but damn she has responded! She has been affectionate (I am usually the affectionate one in our relationship), sexy, wanting to rub her cute little body against mine…it is hard to explain. I just hope it lasts!!

  5. Anon, I had that same "can't win for losing" sense the past few weeks while reading the stuff women do wrong. (yes, i'm the wife.) I kept over-analyzing everything I was doing and saying, and reading into his every action and inaction. I drove myself nuts. To end it, I stumbled on the damndest thing: I turned to him. Shared my fears and thoughts. Let hin set me straight. Of course, all he had to say was that he loves me the way I am. So, I was trying so hard to change in the name of improvement. But he wasn't complaining!

    So, you may be just fine. Just because my man doesn't make six figures doesn't mean I *want* him to. He's not overweight, even tho he's not happy with how he looks. But I don't want him to sacrifice what it would take to spend hours in the gym. In the end, these stories are *personal*. The specific solution applies to that couple. The *concept* is general.

    You are who you are. Your relationship is unique. And don't forget that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. There's the MAP for when things are broken. Then there's the fun hints and tricks (game) to increase the fun and hotness.

  6. To Anon who mentioned '50s housewives:

    As a woman who is dependent on her husband for income (because we agreed on this situation for our family), it's frustrating to be in a bland lousy relationship. I *don't* have the option to walk away from the marriage because I can't take care of my family financially on my own. My husband knows this, so why does he have to worry about Game to keep me around? He and I both know I can't go anyplace.

    Many modern women are earning their own income and able to support themselves, so husbands become a choice instead of a need. Therefore both spouses need to be good enough to entice the other to continue staying in the relationship. Let's face it, you should both be trying to make each other happy anyway.

    The part you're forgetting is that the MAP does lead to divorce if you're not getting what you need. But that's after you've gone through a bunch of steps to try saving the marriage first. What judge can fault a guy for trying to save the marriage and giving up when he hits a brick wall time after time?

  7. ExtremeBalance says:

    "It's vastly easier to work on the weak area…"

    I'm not so sure about this. It may be 'easy' in the sense that it provides the best marginal return on investment but psychologically the most difficult area (maybe that's why it's weak in the first place).

  8. The MacNut says:

    A Wife:"What judge can fault a guy for trying to save the marriage and giving up when he hits a brick wall time after time?"

    Many judges can and do-or at least it seems that way when the ex-hubby gets hit with alimony and child support payments so high he'll have to live in a cardboard box (or move back in with his parents/crash on a friend's couch) to keep up the payments.

    Many men fear this outcome-especially with stay-at-home wives, who often do get both alimony and child support. Now I don't know your home situation, maybe divorcing would leave you far worse off financially than staying. But there may come a time when you won't care, or think it's worth the sacrifice to get away from him…

  9. That tide is starting to turn in some local courts. Watch for this to start trending. Yup, I'm one screwed mom.

  10. Thanks, Athol.
    I'm finding it easier to get to the gym than to land my next job. At least I'm getting the endorphins from the workout & improving my body.

  11. Anon mom who's stuck: it took me 10 years to build up a skill and turn it into a sustainable career. During this whole time, he never took enough notice. I was running the MAP on him without knowing it. He never claimed me. He continued to put me down. He missed every clue that if I didn't get a relationship worth sticking around for, I wasn't staying. Yes, we did counseling. Yes, I gave him a clear warning. Finally I got both the self-esteem and the financial security to leave him. It is insanely hard, but can be done.

    Your situation may not be that extreme. But, if you start improving yourself, you'll feel less stuck. And maybe he'll take notice and resune the things you love about him.

  12. It should be fairly clear that both husband and wife in a Bread-winner + SAHM marriage are going to be pretty much worse off economically in a divorce. Usually one income only supports the family because of the internal economy of cost savings put in place by the SAMH.

    Once the marriage splits, expenses shoot up, the cost savings are lose, and there's only one income still. Both husband and wife suffer economically.

    The only way to "win" at divorce economically is to get court ordered payments + immediately attach to a new partner willing to assist with support.

  13. WRT the first comment:

    Yes…and deliberately so. Something I'm noticing about the Married Game blogs is how much they are rediscovering and systematizing information that our grandparents, and even more our great-grandparents, would have regarded as obvious.

    If you want a high SMV spouse, you have to work on your own SMV. Looks count. Income counts. Attire counts. Past history counts. Personality counts. Fairly soon, someone is going to start doing some serious parametric analysis and come up with an equation that weights the various factors.

    I'm in the sort of situation Athol is describing. I'm a professional with a good income and job security. But the improvement in SMV from going from $125k/year to $140k/year is not terribly great. The improvement in going from 350 lbs to 250 lbs would be a lot greater (it had better be). So I'm on a diet and taking two karate classes a week.

  14. Working on your weak areas first is very good advice. Women in general have a tendency to compare their men to every man they see. They place a magnifying glass on ANY flaw their man might have. You can have a 6 pack but if Joe down the street is making 200K a year she'll compare you. You could be making 200K a year but if Joe down the street has a 6 pack she'll compare you. If you have a six pack and make 200K a year, but she finds out Joe down the street has a penis that's 2 inches bigger – she'll compare you.

    The point I'm trying to make is you can have just about everything, but all it takes is that one thing you don't have and you're suddenly lacking.

    Damn women.

  15. Ryan – you are correct, but men have always been in competition with each other for women. Women just want the winners, but the "enemy" isn't so much them, as it is other men.

    You're not trying to please women, you're trying to be a better man.

    This is why MRA types can't stand PUA types. MRA want men to agree that women are the enemy. PUA types think women are the prize for trumping other men. Thus the conflict between the two camps.

    And yes it is tiring. But that's life as a man.

  16. "It's just, it's just all like a neverending frantic striving to please one's wife so she doesn't let loose the dogs of war (lawyers) or cuck you."

    "You're not trying to please women, you're trying to be a better man."

    "And yes it is tiring. But that's life as a man."

    I am 3/4 of the way through the book Athol.

    I think it comes to a point where sometimes one (in my case, a husband) ends up saying, "Screw it. I make a good living, working hard, I have a good body and it is getting better, I am mostly equal parts beta and alpha. Not perfectly or maybe naturally, but there is teasing and play and romance and affection, from me to her, but not much in return."

    And the wife is still not happy or maybe she is but she isn't telling the husband. But in the end, it seems like a whole LOT of hustle and hard work, for not very much reward. And yes, I am becoming a better man, but to what end? To just keep improving myself until I reach Nirvana? I would rather be able to drop it down a notch or two and either be on my own or with someone who would not be so high maintanence. Not even drop it down a notch, I am enjoying the changes I have committed to, the physical improvements, the additional attention from other females, but again to become a better man… and then what?

    The ROI just doesn't seem worth it.

  17. ROI. Good way of putting it.

    Been thinking on this today some more…

    I think the healthiest way to look at it is if you improve yourself in whatever way it either:

    A. Mitigates your risk of divorce,
    B. Results in a less shitty marriage or
    C. Sets you up in a position where you can secure newer, better vagina if need be. (either by choice or by circumstances)

    At that point perhaps it all becomes very academic and mathematical. Since your self improvement has greatly reduced your risk of that which you fear most, no access to vagina.

    Outcome A,B,C all mean you are better positioned to have more of the vagina you are currently renting or to sign a lease on a new one.

    Where I guess a lot of us guys get hung up is we get sentimental about the current woman and start thinking she is irreplaceable, etc. So we get too invested into keeping her specifically around. Not to mention the legal/financial headaches.

    Which is ironic because maybe if we were less invested in trying to keep that specific woman around and were more invested in doing things to keep a supply of women around in general, it would have had the original effect we were looking to achieve. That is, keeping that specific woman around, and giving up the sex as often as we would like it. That is, if my logic isn't too circular.


    I guess you aren't doing it for women at all. You're doing it for your penis because your penis is a selfish prick who only cares about himself and what he wants. Penis wants the vagina. So, do the things that your penis is telling you to do.

  18. Oy. Thanks, guys, for sharing this side of things. I love my husband more than anything, and also think he's the hottest man on the face of the earth. Everything works for us. Reading this serves as a preemptive reminder of what happens when I get lazy. Can't do tgat, ever, because he is irreplaceable to *me*, and i'm not going to risk him ever wanting to replace me. Yup, we can all get lazy, and it's hard to get out of. This is a fabulous eye-opener. He needs to know every day how important he is to me. This is why I thonk Athol and Jennifer are right about daily sex. Keep that connection strong.

  19. Looking Glass says:

    One kind of side point to Athol's work. It has the result of always showing whether you made a good marriage choice. If you did, you get the joy of realizing you botched one of the most important decisions you can make. It's not a fun realization for a number of people that have come past these boards. (I happened to be a bullet dodger, but there's plenty that pop up that didn't)

  20. If your relationship is about connecting and creating an environment where you lead and as a result your woman feels safe, connected, and like you're really listening, then great sex usually follows.

    If you are looking for ways to get laid more often then she will feel like your attention is about getting laid and not about her or the relationship. No one wants to be valued only for the sex they provide.

    The suggestions here will take you either place, it just depends on where you want to go.

  21. I think it comes to a point where sometimes one (in my case, a husband) ends up saying, "Screw it. I make a good living, working hard, I have a good body and it is getting better, I am mostly equal parts beta and alpha. Not perfectly or maybe naturally, but there is teasing and play and romance and affection, from me to her, but not much in return."

    It's when you effectively frame that emotion/thought and act like you're heading for the door, that very likely changes her feelings for you.

    And yes it's very frustrating that you have to act like you would leave to have her want you to stay.

  22. UGH. I never want that kind of relationship!! Shoot me before it gets to that point.

  23. "It's when you effectively frame that emotion/thought and act like you're heading for the door, that very likely changes her feelings for you."

    Ok, I am sorry if I am dense. But what does that entail exactly? Telling her, "If things don't change I am leaving." (although a bit more subtly) Or just starting to go out to bars / clubs / etc and picking up girls and not coming back home until 3am on weeknights?

    If the first, in my case, she would probably just say, "Well, you have to love me for who I am!" Or something similar and the second, she would assume the worse even if I was just hanging out not interacting with anyone, and accuse me of cheating.

    Sorry I am at a loss on this last step… and it very well could be covered in the last part of your book, if it is, I just haven't gotten that far yet.

  24. "One kind of side point to Athol's work. It has the result of always showing whether you made a good marriage choice. If you did, you get the joy of realizing you botched one of the most important decisions you can make."

    I know this with my whole heart, sadly enough. I was one who did not dodge the bullet. I made a poor choice. Granted she has changed some, she is a better mom for sure and is a slightly better wife. But, unfortunately, not in the areas that I would really like. In the kitchen she is VERY accommodating, she will cook / bake me anything that I would ask for. In the bedroom, not so much.

    And this gets into the root of my frustration. I could put about 1 days worth of effort in to one of a few girls that has shown interest in me and I would have the sex that I am looking for. As nice as that sounds and it really does… personally I would like to be having that sex with my wife.

    It is times like these that I think game / learning game / learning alpha and beta traits and exercising them is not a linear progression. There seems to be an ebb and flow, up and down cycle, at least for me… sometimes I feel things are going very well and others not so much.

  25. @Anon 1:15

    Hey it could be worse. Much worse. I was married to a woman for over a decade. Sex very infrequently, Stay At Home mom – would cook but only make the kids dinner and I got nothing after coming home from work, cheated – repeatedly from about the day I met her – sheesh, got two kids not sure are mine. I failed to dodge the artillery strike. Divorced now of course.

    So chin up there buddy. Keep working on it. A lot of things in life kind of go up and down but follow a generally upward progression if you keep working at them. I'd be happy as a pig in you know what if I'd have been getting dinner for a start. :-)

Speak Your Mind