WordPress Update Pain and Comment Loss

Just a quick one to say that WordPress has been extremely demanding about installing version 4.0.1 to cover a security hole in earlier versions.

Unfortunately it has some sort of database error for me and it’s making page loads 12-15 seconds long. I’ve tried to go back to an earlier restore point on 12/1/14, hoping to be rid of 4.0.1, with the unfortunate side effect of removing all comments and posts since 12/1/14. Which seemed like a good idea at the time, but hasn’t removed 4.0.1 anyway. I couldn’t reinstall the 12/7/14 database back up because it had an error. So crap.

If you’ve commented in the last 5-6 days, I do apologize for their loss.

Doing the Thing Again and Compounding Errors

There are plenty of marriage situations where one person has a problem with doing the thing.

It’s a thing they clearly should not be doing, but they do the thing anyway. Their partner at first tolerates the thing, then loathes the thing, and finally hates the thing. At some point it all goes to harsh words, threats and various assorted drama, and the evil thing-doer eventually promises that they will not do the thing anymore, they are sorry for the thing, and will get the thing all sorted out.

It goes well for a little while, they make some good progress… then they do the thing again. Whereupon their partner becomes Batshit Crazy about the thing.

So here’s the issue with these situations were you keep doing the thing.

Each time you start recovering and then lapse back, it’s typically a compounding error, meaning each lapse will tend to have a greater and greater negative impact, and take longer and longer to recover from. You might have collected a lot of +1 points as you made progress, but what look like minor screw ups can net you a -10 reduction.

Each time you lapse, you’re training your partner to believe you’ll never beat it, and you set the bar higher and higher to regain their trust. You’re also probably lapsing at the particular moments where they want to see you as being at your best, and doing the thing again is going to be a Display of Weakness every single time. Often that Batshit Crazy explosion from your partner is an expression of loss of attraction as much as anything.

Is it “just doing the thing one time”? Sure it is. I get it, it’s one bad day in a while, and you’re on an upward path. But the days where you lapse into doing the thing get you vastly more negative points because of the “boy who cried wolf” effect of all the previous failings, lies to cover up doing the thing and so on. It’s death by a thousand papercuts.

The risk is that you get yourself into the situation where you are in fact making progress, but the repeated steps backwards of the “two steps forward, one step back” shuffle, are framing you as not making any progress at all because the one step backwards carries more emotional weight than the two steps forward. It often requires some sort of outside person talking your spouse down repeatedly and reaffirming that progress is indeed happening.

If you’re the person who is doing the thing, you have to (1) very much frame the positive progress made as actually happening, and (2) acknowledge as justified any anger your spouse has about you doing the thing again, (3) not defend against their anger, just accept it, and (4) continue to make progress and stop doing the thing without trying to burden or make your partner accountable for stopping you from doing the thing.

The thing is your problem. You are your spouse’s problem. If you make you doing the thing your spouse’s problem to solve, you’ve now given them two problems to handle and you  simply aren’t attractive enough in this moment to carry it off successfully. You’re effectively giving them a reverse ultimatum of (A) just accept responsibility for my shit, or (B) dump me. So…

Depending on just how bad and big your thing is, I understand stopping might not be either an easy or simple matter. But it’s really the only way forward. It’s going to take some time, but the thing is draining your life away for no gain.

I’ve also seen a large number of Batshit Crazy people become rather less Batshit Crazy after their spouse finally stops doing the thing.

Do you have a thing you need to stop? What’s your thing?

And for those unfamiliar with the story of “the boy who cried wolf”…

20 Years and General Catch Up

 SD:  Hi Athol and Jen, it’s Thanksgiving Day and I’m taking a break from the family and working on my computer. Checked MMSL blog and see no entries since October. Just wondering if you guys are doing okay?

I’ve bought all 3 books. Athol’s advice is great and I appreciate all the work you’ve put into MMSL. Hope all is well. Just checking since no new posts for a month. New content is not the (only) point — just wanted to make sure one of my favorite bloggers is doing ok. And will be posting again when ready :-)

Athol:  Hiya, it’s been a busy month. I am alive!

Firstly, the easy one, Jennifer and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We went to Florida and essentially did a repeat of our honeymoon, namely visiting Universal Studios and Disney World. It was a great time and we did two days at Universal and two days jumping around the Disney parks.

If you go to Universal, it’s completely worth it to stay in the on-site hotels. The benefit of walking distance to the parks, early access to the parks and the free upgrade to your tickets to the Express Pass completely rocks. We caught some lower traffic days but were completely exhausted from riding rides rather than standing in line. Both the major Harry Potter rides are exceptionally well done.

Disney World… I guess I’ll just assume you’ve heard of it. Stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and it’s all giraffes and zebras in the back yard of the hotel. Nice. The major change from last time we were there was the advent of the Magic Bands – your all purpose park tickets, credit card and Fast Passes – in the form of a handy little electronic wrist bracelet. I’m told they can track down lost kids who wear them too, so there’s probably some kind of GPS thing in there as well. It’s the sort of thing that if you really think about it, this is the way the entire country will be in about 15-20 years and it smacks of population control and Big Brother. But holy crap the lines move so much faster to get into the parks and for some reason the white swirly light thingy turning green just makes me happy.

So fun, fun, fun, fun…. and came back home and immediately got a low level pneumonia that I’ve fought off heroically for the last two weeks. I knew I was getting sick before we left for Florida, but at that point the money is already spent, you aren’t getting it back and all complaining can do is make everyone else enjoy themselves less. So just grin and bear it while away and come home and crash.

Thanksgiving was remarkably low key this year in that we didn’t host it. We just got to eat the food, though for some unclear reason there is now more food in our fridge than we took to Thanksgiving. Which I suppose defines it as a good Thanksgiving.

Writing the blog is complicated these days.

One issue is time, I’ve been in a situation where I can only reasonably do two of the three potential things of, (1) coaching, (2) the forum, and (3) new content creation. I’ve been slowly extracting myself from the day to day of the forum, and the coaching is going well and I’ve finally got it down to a solid three days a week of calls, rather than spread all through the week.

Just doing the coaching itself is teaching me a lot more fine tuning of my overall approach. I’ve posted less, but some of the posts are my most important ones. The Leadership Moments one is crucial for example. It’s also a case of seeing a ton of people working through the process step by step and seeing where the common stumbling blocks are. I’ve not so much been wrong in the past, but there are unquestionably ways the emphasis on certain things can be better defined and some things are just quicker to apply now.

I’m also seeing how much of a jack-of-all-trades I was trying to make MMSL. It’s Sexy Moves, it’s for men, it’s for couples, it’s affair busting, it’s about adding basic Alpha when you have too much Beta, it’s Nice Guys, it’s dealing with toxic spouses, it’s about personal energy, it’s anything and everything. Plus everything was essentially on the blog in some form and it’s hard to sell something as a book when you also have it on your blog for free. #Facepalm. Thus new content, actually has to be somehow new.

I’m seeing more and more how each thing can be sliced off and defined as it’s own topic and really the only long-term solution is simply more coherent content. So… defined audience + defined problem + defined solution = defined product topic and therefore long term success.

If there’s a problem in the marriage right now, it’s Jennifer going crazy that I’m spending all this time thinking rather than producing *anything* of the next layer of content that I could create.

So, um… working on my marriage lol.

Jennifer:  Happy Anniversary to us! Wow, 20 is a strangely impressive number. And yes, I do go crazy with Athol endlessly thinking about the many permutations of producing huge amounts of content and what should come first…and…and…and. But the end product is always so impressive that I find it hard to truly be angry.  (And as a completely unrelated side note, the place holder note for this section for me to write a little something said “Jennifer: something something dark side”. Thought you all would get as much of a kick out of that as I did.)

 

 

Boo the Villians, Cheer the Heroes

Most women have a need to verbally decompress their day. Which is a fancy way of saying they need to talk when they come from work, or you come home from work when they’ve been home all day. Women tend to be more emotionally fluid than men, and it can often seem to the guy like he’s been dropped into a verbal puking of half a dozen emotions and disconnected storylines. This is just her  clearing her daily event cache.

There are two mistakes a guy can make here.

The first potential mistake is to simply tune her out and ignore her. It’s low effort, but the cost is that more and more she simply feels like you don’t care about her. Also there’s the obvious risk of along with tuning out the clearing of the cache, you are missing more important communications. This is why you never should make grunting noises of agreement without being consciously aware of what you’re grunting agreement to. Unless you want to risk being forty-five minutes drive away from “the thing” when the thing starts in ten minutes and she’s holding seats for you both.

“Got great seats! See you soon!”

Shit. Soon for what?

The second potential error is too listen too hard, and start engaging your powers of problem solving when she doesn’t actually want to have a problem solved. She’s just clearing her cache and reconnecting with you. If you start trying to problem solve when she isn’t actually looking for it, it tends to both be interpreted as you “not listening” and as somewhat demeaning in that you’re acting like she can’t solve her own problems. It’s frustrating to her because you’re stopping the problem solving she was doing, which was simply clearing her head and feeling connected to you.

The actual solution is to do what I call “Booing the Villians and Cheering the Heroes”. Which is to say you treat it something like watching a TV show with a bag of popcorn, and simply enjoy the show. When good things happen you say “woo-hoo”, when bad things happen you say “that sucks”. Her friend does something good in her story, say “she’s awesome”, and when some bitch does her bitch thing, say “that bitch”.

That’s it. Seriously, that’s about all you have to do. Boo the villians, cheer the heroes.

Caveats…

You don’t have to sit through endless reruns of the same show. If you start hearing the same sad story of her failing or losing or whatever negative again and again, call attention to it as her making some variety of a Display of Low Value.  Then ask if she needs help troubleshooting the issue. You don’t necessarily have to run out and assist with the application of the solution either. If it’s her workplace drama for example, there’s usually zero you can do to help anyway.

Also a very high risk option is to tell her to “stop bothering me with all this and take it to your girlfriends instead”. They don’t always end up talking to their girlfriends… it’s a situation tailor made for a Beta Orbiter to get a leg up on her attention. As soon as she says you told her to get lost unless she wants cock, it’s almost impossible for another guy to screw up the stock-in-trade husband/boyfriend destroying tactical responses. Unless of course her talking to another guy, with him saying you sounded abusive was your intention. In which case, carry on.

And ladies… same thing applies to listening to talk about sports.

His team was sporting very hard, and they sported sportingly. Go sports team of his preference. Go!

 

Self-Deprecating Humor

Forum Question: Can a comedian with a self deprecating sense of humor be an Alpha Male? I remember hearing that John F Kennedy had a self deprecating sense of humor and he was an Alpha Male. I have always had a self deprecating sense of humor and wonder if I should alter it. 

I think you have to separate the comedy from the comedian when you’re thinking of whether it’s Alpha or not.

Being a comedian… especially a professional one… is unquestionably Alpha in that anyone with the balls to stand on stage with nothing but a microphone, and entertain a crowd of people for an hour, is very much walking a tightrope of victory or failure. A big part of it is not caring what the audience thinks, and how they might be offended et al. That’s Alpha.

The caveat to that being you actually have to be good at it and pull it off to be Alpha. If it goes well, it’s amazing. If it goes poorly, you reek of the most awkward social failure.

It’s also Alpha to a decent percentage of women to have a high intelligence, and the average IQ for a professional comedian is in the 140 range. Connecting different nuggets of information into something funny requires a high IQ. Almost everyone is smart enough to get the joke, but the creation of the joke requires a moment of very high IQ.

The comedian, or perhaps more correctly the comic persona, can be more or less attractive, based on what vein of humor the comedian is attempting to mine. Usually comedy is based on some sort of social disconnect, vulnerability, fear or frustration. Less common professionally is wordplay, because after an hour of wordplay humor, it’s no longer punny.

Self-deprecating humor is a variety of using personal vulnerability as a power source. As such it tends to reduce your attractiveness. However it’s possible to use the observation of that same vulnerability, and the under lying social disconnect creating it, and do it from a stronger frame of attractiveness.

It’s the difference between making a joke about you being some variety of loser, and you making a joke explaining how losing happens. You essentially frame yourself as a winner by default.

As a rough example of this, Louis CK is unquestionably at the top tier of the comedy world, but a fair bit of his material is centered on being unattractive and failing with women. Someone like the late Patrice O’Neal mined a lot of humor out of explaining male-female social dynamics. The average guy in the street is probably going to be a lot better off doing Patrice-like humor than Louis CK-like humor.

Oh and in terms of Presidential humor, well again, you already have massive social proof in that you’re the President of the United States.

And drones. I’m pretty sure having the ability to unleash attack drones makes you funny.

 

Who Is Your Jury?

There’s often a generalized line of advice that you shouldn’t worry about what other people think, and just do what seems right to you. It’s meant to cut through the self-doubt, the people pleasing and get you finally doing the things that you’re best suited for doing. There are some people who feel like their life is an endless jury trial where everyone passes judgment on them. It’s generally good advice.

However, there are two basic problems with this advice…

(1) The type of people who really don’t care what other people think and just do what seems right to them, tend to also be called sociopaths.

(2) Most people who aren’t sociopaths, are pretty terrible at trying to act like sociopaths.

So let’s just admit that we all do worry about what other people think to at least some degree. We all like to be liked, we all like friends, most of us don’t want to screw our fellow man over either. In short, we do care what other people think.

The real question though, is not whether we care what people think, but who you allow to sit on your internal jury to pass judgment.

Seriously now, sit back and have a long think about who you worry about pleasing, who’s opinion you to try and follow and why you want to follow it. Who have you put on your jury? Most of us tend to have some automatically assigned people like parents, siblings, spouses, close friends and peer group members. All these people have been selected uncritically.

Now think of all the different situations you have today, the choices and challenges you face.

Are any of the people currently sitting on your jury, qualified to have a genuinely valuable opinion on the subject at hand?

Are any of the people currently sitting on your jury, free of self interest when it comes to the decisions you’ll be making?

If you were starting from scratch in picking out a jury for yourself today, would you pick any of the people currently on it?

Who would you pick instead? If you had to please / impress / get the approval of five or six different people for the rest of your life, who would you pick?

What’s interesting is how much power we give away to people who essentially have no real leverage over our lives, apart from that which we give them.

So who is on your jury? Who should be?

 

 

Five Date Nights = One Fight Night

I’m a big believer that your overall approach to your relationship needs to be as positive as it can be.

Have a quick watch of John Gottman…

So what does that mean in terms of practical application?

Well, sometimes the best thing you can do is just knock off the pointless fighting for no reason. Stop the snarky one-liners. Stop the eye-rolling. Stop the passive-aggressive ignoring. Stop the nagging. Stop the whining. Stop slamming the doors. Stop assuming disrespect. Stop trying to find a negative motivation behind what they are doing.

I’ve seen so many misapplied attempts to be Alpha just coming across as a contemptuous asshole, that I’ve started wondering if some guys are actively trying to tailspin the relationship into the ground. Should you stand up for positive boundaries and not be taken advantage of? Sure you should, but that’s not being an asshole, that’s being a functional adult.

In all seriousness, I see the greatest and fastest gains in relationships, when people just stop doing the things that are negative. You don’t even have to do anything new, just stop the endless Displays of Low Value and Negative Energy.

Or put another way, if the five-to-one ratio of positive-to-negative is correct, maybe you have to start thinking of it more like five date nights being equal to one fight night.

If you had to try and change your relationship to fall into line with a five-to-one ration of positive-to-negative, what would you have to change?

All Else Being Equal, Assume Love.

I’ve seen something really interesting with the couples I’ve been coaching.

I tend to lean heavily toward getting as much information as possible before we get to the call stage of things, and I usually have a pretty good idea of which way things are going to go. But there is always something about seeing people in person and hearing their vocal tones. There’s always a ream of information in the way a couple sit next to each other, who turns to look at the other when they speak, who speaks first, who rolls their eyes and sighs. When I ask a particularly pointed question… who locks eyes with mine and gives that tiny little up and down nod with a quarter-smile that someone finally gets it.

There are also all the questions about their history. How did you guys meet? Tell me the story of you two.

And they tell me.

At some point though, I usually have to drop the bombshell… and just to be clear, I don’t do it unless I genuinely believe it to be true.

“You guys love each other a lot. I can see it.”

Usually that’s closely followed with something like…

“There’s a lot we can work on here, but it’s not like I’m seeing any great deal-breaking issues. This is all fixable.”

Their looks of utter relief are so palpable. It’s as if I said something like “The biopsy is back and there’s no cancer.”

Now I realize I’m the great and mighty Athol, who is the expert of all things marriage, and there’s probably some kind of placebo effect here. But the effect is so much greater than what I bring to the table. I mean I’ve sat through hour long tales of everything a couple has done up until now. There’s risk, pain, sacrifice, triumph, joys and failures on their journey of togetherness… but they still aren’t sure there’s love there sometimes.

It’s like their greatest struggle is against the fear that divorce is their destiny. I’m totally blown away at how powerful it is to a couple to simply hear that someone else thinks they love each other.

Now to be sure no one gets married for perfectly benign reasons of saintly love for their partner, but invariably people do indeed marry from a desire to love and be loved. Misunderstandings and tiredness imputed with an assumption of a lack of love, will quickly spiral the relationship into a dark place. It can be incredibly destructive to a relationship to have the wife’s girlfriends endlessly explaining what’s wrong with men and how secretly abusive all of them are. It can be incredibly destructive to a relationship to have the husband’s manly mentors endlessly explaining what’s wrong with women and how secretly abusive all of them are. It can be incredibly destructive to a relationship to have the culture endlessly repeating a badly written sitcom assumption that love, sex and happiness ends at the altar.

So all else being equal, assume love.

And try it out yourselves. If you know a couple who are being good to each other, tell them so. It has a way of changing things for the better.

 

When You Feel Like You Married the Wrong Person

There’s always some point in your marriage when you find yourself waking up in the morning next to your not-soulmate. It’s natural to start to wonder if you even should have married them in the first place. It’s tempting to just want out, not even to be with someone else, just to simply be free of ever having to look at them again.

But in the face of a lack of significant personality defects, abuse or cheating, leaving them simply because you feel unhappy is one of those deeply conflicting questions.

i.e. “My wife is an alcoholic and can’t keep a job” is a very different situation than “my wife is lacking some girl game”, or “what’s with all these hair products everywhere?”

Some of the questions you have to ask are …

(1) Whether or not you’re screwing up the situation yourself, and just dealing with a sub-optimal relationship you can improve.

(2) Whether you’re simply expecting too much of any one person in a relationship.

(3) Whether you’re struggling through some stresses external to the relationship, which are making the relationship harder, but aren’t precisely their fault (or even your exact fault)

(4) Whether you’re still hurt by Critical Moments of Neglect by your partner and holding onto the anger etc.

I’ve had instances of all four of those factors with Jennifer.

(1) I bumbled along for years not knowing about Alpha and Beta stuff, and changing some of the things I did made positive changes. Things on this front were never terrible, but they are significantly better now. We’ve also do a lot of different things in the bedroom now than we did before.

(2) Jen is very soft, quiet, gentle, peaceful, forgiving, trusting and yielding… and at times that is something I experience as horribly under-stimulating. I now consciously create a lifestyle for myself where I have more stimulation. Part of the reason I wrote MMSL was it was something to do that was high-stim. I can’t expect Jen to provide all that for me. Likewise she is more conscious that I get bored faster than she does. We have a better balance with this now.

(3) Being broke sucks. She was stressed out a lot. Not sexy.

(4) There have been a handful of miscommunications and major incidents where I got seriously hurt and some took a couple years to work through.

At the end of the day, Jennifer loves me like no other person on earth does. But she’s not my magical soulmate where everything is perfect and we don’t have to consciously work at our relationship. She’s my wife. It’s not like I’m a perfect match for her either.

Thankfully in most cases, when you just have a background sense of vague unhappiness, without some kind of clearly dysfunctional spouse to work around, things can get remarkably better once you start working on improving your life and marriage on a conscious level.

It really can get better.

Five Things That Make Someone Batshit Crazy

Back towards the beginning of the blog I had a viewpoint that when it comes to a spouse being Batshit Crazy, all you could do is “medicate it, or run”. I pretty much saw it all as a combination of psych and behavioral issues. These days, I see Batshit Crazy as having five different potential causes.

(1) Something funky with their endocrine system.

I talked about this in particular back in February, but the link between endocrine levels being out of whack and crappy moods is well established. Just think of a woman with bad PMS. She’s a cranky shit weasel because her hormone levels are actively turning her into a moody version of her normal self. Now imagine that her hormonal levels are out of whack on a permanent basis and she’s permanently in a PMS-like hormonal state. At some point you just run out of chocolate and Midol to distract her while you barricade yourself in the mancave.

The solution for this one is to head to the doctor and get the full set of labwork, being clear that there’s some degree of negative moods and behavior that goes along with it. Same deal for men and women, low testosterone guys are fairly intolerable to live with.

(2) They figured out being Batshit Crazy gets them what they want.

This is the behavioral one. Just like a three-year-old who figures out throwing a tantrum gets them candy from a weak parent, your Batshit Crazy partner has figured out on some level that being “out of control” gets you to do what they want you to do. They don’t want to clean the house, so they throw a tantrum so bad you don’t dare cross them and you clean the house for them instead. Despite the fact that you work the full time job and as far as you can tell, they are primarily occupied with playing Candy Crush all day. Or the last time you asked to spend time together on the weekend, he ripped the curtains off the wall and called you a stupid whore, so now when he disappears all weekend hunting, you just watch him go and don’t say a word.

Or put more simply, they figured out abusing you works great, because you just tolerate it. The solution for this one is standing up for yourself, maintaining personal boundaries, improving yourself to the point where you don’t need them so much you have to tolerate things so easily, and potentially getting outside help depending on the level of intervention required. If it’s really just a ton of Fitness Testing, you can run the MAP and push back on it more and more over time. If it’s genuine abuse, that’s more likely to need greater support.

(3) Unresolved abuse/childhood issues.

This is the one where there’s some kind of pre-existing trauma in their life, that’s never been properly addressed, and you’re getting to bear the brunt of them being triggered by whatever it is still lurking in their memories. Essentially *anything* from their personal history that makes you go, “Oh wow, that’s so horrible” counts as a potential trigger there.

The solution is therapy of some kind, plus stepping around the triggers that are easily identifiable.

(4) You’ve driven them crazy by your behavior.

 It’s a minority of cases, but it does happen where I hear impressive descriptions of an out of control spouse… and on finally meeting them, I discover they are fairly normal and driven to their wits end with the original spouse who talked to me. The DARVO method – Deny Attack Reverse Victim and Offender – a stock in trade of both men and women playing out the strategy outlined in point (2) above. The trouble is, if it’s actually caused in no small part by you, you probably think it’s all justified because in your mind they are the crazy ones.

Or alternatively, they are the crazy ones, but saying you’re the crazy one, driving them crazy. If that was confusing, that’s because that particular strategy is designed to be confusing, and make you start doubting whether or not you’re crazy yourself.

Generally speaking the solution is to try and figure out who else has problems interacting with the alleged crazy person. If basically everyone – friends, family, co-workers, bosses, the neighbors – are having trouble relating to one half of the couple, that’s the Batshit Crazy one. Or maybe you’re both crazy and your life is like a reality TV show pilot.

If it’s you, the solution is to stop being such an asshole, and smooth it all out. Seek some help for it if you need it.

(5) Genuine psych disorder.

Something like genuine bipolar, schizophrenia, depression even ADHD, are all real enough and can be treated with a combination of therapy, medication, diet, exercise and so on. But I’m honestly starting to reach for this as the last potential explanation of why someone is Batshit Crazy

Importantly, there can be more than just one cause and the more causes there are overlapping, the harder it is to unpick the situation.

But you do have to figure out what the causes are before you can align it with the proper treatment.