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.

Podcast with Shy Man’s Dating School

Hiya, yet another podcast.

This is actually the one I’ve most enjoyed doing and Steve and I actually clicked so well that we chatting after the podcast for another 40-50 minutes.

Far more on the “why did you write The Mindful Attraction Plan” angle, as opposed to the Primer material.

Anyway… his blurb from http://shymansdatingschool.com/31-athol-kay-balancing-alpha-beta-traits/

Athol Kay from Married Man Sex Life is an author who has written The Mindful Attraction Plan, The Married Man Sex Life Primer and How to Answer “Do These Pants Make My Ass Look Fat” … And Get Laid Like Tile.  Funny, lighthearted and realistic,  Athol looks at what doesn’t work and gives real world advice on how you can get results not only in your relationship, but how it can transfer into having a better career, a healthier lifestyle and ultimately, an entertaining life.

Today on the Shy Man’s Dating School Podcast Series, Athol tells you about the officer and first commander relationship, how to create the best possible positive energy flow to make your life better and he taps into how taking charge can actually take a low key approach and how instead of demanding submission, you can evoke it.

DURING THIS EPISODE, ATHOL AND I SPEAK ABOUT:

  • The officer and the first commander relationship: how having a well defined power structure in your relationship will make your life easier to handle and maker you and her happier
  • Taking charge can be low key: evoking submission rather than demanding
  • Balancing alpha and beta behavioral concepts
  • His advice has the random side effects of making not only your relationship better but your career, health and lifestyle
  • Taking aim at the Red Pill community, explaining his thoughts on what works and what doesn’t
  • Star Trek and the epiphany that started it all