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.

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

Why Being Asshole Alpha Works For About Six Months

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-man-woman-dating-restaurant-image19636044One of the biggest frustrations I’ve had over the last five years, is watching the endless parade of guys get all excited about becoming Alpha,  getting about six months of great success from it, then nose diving their relationship into the ground.

If you’ve been deficient in Alpha and failing to attract your wife, adding Alpha is pretty much always going to be a good idea. But just like all the standard “Blue Pill” advice assumes there’s already attraction in place and then advises to be more Beta, all the “Red Pill” advice assumes there’s already enough relationship comfort in place and advises to increase the Alpha. If you go all Alpha and neglect the Beta, eventually you run her Relationship Comfort down far enough to damage the relationship.

Alpha and Beta are two completely different traits. You have to get over this idea that Alpha and Beta are at oppositional to each other or you’ll eventually screw your relationship up. You can do behaviors that are highly Alpha / Attractive / Dopamine stimulating AND highly Beta / Comforting / Oxytocin stimulating. Something like going to a really nice restaurant and having a wonderful conversation with her can be both Alpha and Beta. There are all kinds of ways to Display High Value in your dress, your car, choosing to take her to a new restaurant as a novel experience, and your confident casual frame. That’s all Alpha. But you’re also paying individual attention to her, being emotionally connective, touching her and so on. All Beta. It’s completely possible to do both.

It’s also possible to do things that are so crappy that they drive down both her attraction and relationship comfort at the same time. For example, smelling like you’re unaware of the existence of toilet paper is a great relationship ender.

The trap is that most guys discover the importance of Alpha, after a prolonged period of being Low Alpha and High Beta in their relationships. So they arrive with a stockpile of Relationship Comfort and a shortage of Attraction. Thus those early improvements in being Alpha result in fairly immediate success. She’s relived and excited to be attracted to him again/more, and even if he’s being a little less attentive and Beta, he’s still got a huge stockpile of Beta credit to pay with.

But after about six months of now acting High Alpha, Low Beta… he’s pretty much spent down the stockpile of Beta credit. Then she starts getting really hurt and pissed off at him.

The point of critical failure comes around the six month mark where he misreads a Loyalty Test as a Fitness Test. A Loyalty Test is based on her fears he’s not that into her and a Fitness Test is based on her lack of respect for him. Thus if she acts out a little to see if he actually cares about her (Loyalty Test), and he responds to that like she’s rude, spoiled and demanding, (Fitness Test) the results are going to be quite negative. It’s an easy mistake to make because being more Alpha was successfully passing all the Fitness Tests she was throwing at him before now. Once you have an hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Worse still, these critical points of failure can come when he’s bankrupted himself on the Beta front. Which is why suddenly the wife that was hot to trot just a few weeks ago, is suddenly shutting down sexually. That shutting down could be anything from no sex at all, minimal sex, duty sex, starfishing, drinking in order to have sex, reducing it all to very vanilla sex, no BJ’s yada yada yada.

If you’re in that position, it’s usually fixable, but you’re sure as hell going to have to offer up some apologies and the worse you bankrupted the Beta, the longer it’s going to take to make her feel comfortable being in a relationship with you. If you confuse being Alpha with being a full-time asshole, you’re going to have to eventually change that if you want to stay happily married.

It’s all about the calibration. Be  consistently Alpha to keep attracting her, be consistently Beta to make her feel comfortable she’s attracted to you.

20 Completely Arbitrary Rules For Being a Good Dad

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-father-daughter-beach-little-looking-ocean-morning-image310697201.  Be a dad, as opposed to mom’s helper.

2.  Every dad needs to be able to do an impression of a completely fearsome creature, that can be defeated by a four-year-old.

3.  If you have no clue what to do at home, you’d be surprised how often ordering Chinese food for dinner solves 75% of the problem.

4.  Your kids have a need to be proud of you. That thing that makes them proud, is probably that thing you stopped doing to spend more time with the kids.

5.  Know that the best moments in your kid’s life, are typically preceded by the words, “Don’t tell your mother.”

6.  Accept that you’re probably going to screw up being a dad at some point. All you can do is your best, and hope that one day it was enough, and you’ll be forgiven.

7.  Know that when you were little, your father was totally faking it. He had no clue what he was doing with you. Yet you thought he was amazing.

8.  Small naughty children are like Klingons. Speak to them as such, and they respond so much better. Come here now. Put toys away.

9.  Go to your kids’ parent teacher nights and the other school stuff like their plays and sports events. Yes they can be painfully boring, but you being there is important to them.

10. Part of your job is to let your kids take risks and fail. Life isn’t always fair, or easy, or simple. Sometimes the best teacher is a bad outcome. It’s your job to let them get hurt, but not injured. It’s your job to let them get embarrassed, but not ashamed. It’s your job to let them get anxious, but not fearful.

11. Have a good marriage. In a world of divorce, you’d be surprised how seriously kids appreciate that you’re still together.

12. Show the kids how to do stuff. Almost anything counts.

13. You should treat the kids all the same in a general sense, but different kids have different needs, so you’re going to have to treat them differently too.

14. Play ball inside the house. The kids are more valuable than the things that can be broken.

15. You do a vastly better job at defeating under the bed monsters than mom ever will.

16. Wear the dumb crap they bought you for your birthday, if only during the party.

17. If your kid does something good, put it on display on the fridge. When you take it down, keep it all in a secret stash somewhere.

18. Realize that half the time your kids are hanging out and watching sports with you, or whatever it is you’re into, your kids aren’t really into it. They’re just not opposed to it and are here just to hang out with you.

19. Tell them the stories from when you were little, about your dad.

20. Say you love them.

Jennifer is Back on the Sauce

So we’re in the grocery store, and I’m HUNGRY. I’m doing that slightly light-headed grabbing of everything tasty and fun and tossing it into the shopping cart.

I’m in trying new things mode.

Oh wow. Smokey garlic onion sauce.

That sounds delicious. Yes please.

Jennifer: “Oh, that sounds nice.”

Athol: “It does.”

Jennifer: “What I miss though is A1 Steak Sauce.”

Athol: “Oh, I didn’t know they stopped making it.”

Then I gaze down and literally stare right at a bottle of A1 Steak Sauce. Now I’m trying to  comprehend why Jennifer misses something that is obviously still available to buy, and is also inexpensive. It’s even on sale. WTF is happening?

Athol: “It’s right here, if you want it, you can have it you know.”

Jennifer:

Athol: “So…. why don’t you buy it anymore?”

Jennifer: “Well you hazed me about it.”

Athol: “I did?”

Jennifer: “Yeah.”

Athol: “Oh.”

And…. hmmm… I don’t recall hazing her about it. Maybe some light teasing though. Okay so let’s not quibble about a few times she may have made mistakes with condiments. That’s all He Said, She Went Bloop Bloop Bloop. We’ll never really be able to assign actual blame. I’m pretty sure any hazing she mentioned was horribly overstated based on her sensitive feminine nature.

It’s roughly at this point I recall that I haven’t seen a bottle of A1 Steak Sauce in my house for… ah… well since the old house and we moved in 2006, so according to the math, I’m an asshole.

Athol: “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you not eat something you liked. I feel terrible.”

Jennifer: “It’s okay.”

And off we went down the aisle, steak sauce gently nestled in the cart like the prodigal son back in his old bed. I really do feel bad about it.

But seriously now, I like to think Jennifer and I communicate pretty well. If we can miss these things, anyone can miss these things. Life is too short to miss out on the stuff you want. If you like things, you may as well enjoy them no matter what your partner feels about them. (Assuming it doesn’t have a direct negative affect on them of course.)

It’s not like I have to eat A1 Steak Sauce if she eats it. And in case someone thinks this post was sponsored by A1 Steak Sauce, please be assured that I think it should have a large warning label attached to it saying, “WARNING! Tastes like bovine rectum juice.”

 

So anyway…

what are you holding back on enjoying because of your partner?

 

 

Upcoming Forum Changes

The short version is this…

I have four major aspects of my life I can spend time on. (1) The life coaching side of things, (2) creating new content including blogging, (3) the MMSL forum and (4) rest, relaxation, getting to enjoy things and all-purpose self-care.

I can however only realistically do three of those four things for any continuing time period and I’ve really come to a point of just being burnt out on nearly everything. Thus something has to give, and that something is going to be the forum.

I’ll get to what those changes are going to be a little later in the post, but for now, I feel the need to explain how we got to this situation.

A little history…

Back in 2009 I started commenting on the Talk About Marriage forum. Most people liked what I had to say and I kept saying it over and over, so I started thinking about writing it down as a book.

In 2010 I stared the MMSL blog and began work on the Primer. Major sidetracking in the death of my father knocking me for a loop.

In 2011 the Primer is finally done. Very Red Pill in tone. By this time I’m working about 2-4 hours a day answering email and giving free advice out.

In 2012 I’m getting exhausted from full time work, all the email advice I’m giving, and trying to write the Primer revision which fails to figure itself out a couple times. In mid 2012 I quit my nursing job with the plan to start turning the free email advice into paid life coaching. Unfortunately I’m told that MMSL as it exists is really going to be far too close to marriage counseling to do it without a license yada yada yada. Crap.

At this point the book money is doing just fine and I have all this email advice I’m doing for free, so the idea was to start a forum and eventually have it running so instead of having hours of my day taken up with unpaid advice-giving, I could write more. I figured the forum would be a few hundred people.

In 2013 I come close to starting a business with a partner in the training industry who wants to merge my MMSL stuff with his industry knowledge, and turn it into a small empire. It all sounds good at first and then flounders. It dies for a number of reasons, one of which being I’m still not happy with the state of the Primer revision. I also delay another book 95% complete while this all goes down. By April I’m in a bad place.

In a brainwave, my Primer revision takes a vastly different tack and it becomes The Mindful Attraction Plan book. It sells well and also has the advantage of being “whole life” in approach, thus justifying a life coaching approach based on The Mindful Attraction Plan. Thus shortly thereafter I can open a life coaching service. It would be easy to say I sold out at this point, but the reality is I really do believe in the MAP book and it’s very effective for many people.

In later 2013 though, things start to get out of hand for me. The coaching takes off great, the forum remains vastly more time consuming than I ever imagined, I’m still writing the blog and starting to have more writing ideas. Then the bottom falls out as my wife Jennifer gets targeted at her job, literally taken to Human Resources and frowned at, because some random person from their government funding agency is sending the CEO of her company my blog posts in unmarked letters.

I green light Jennifer leaving her job, but there’s a lot to do to balance the income of her not working. I’m also no longer getting any enjoyment out of writing the blog, knowing some bitch (Jennifer is 99% certain she knows who did it, so I’ll say “bitch” here) is actively willing to use my writing to personally screw my wife over. About three months later, Jennifer quits her job.

Meanwhile the forum has grown and grown to where today it has just over 3000 members. It only takes one person in three-thousand on any given week being pissed off or otherwise Batshit Crazy and behind the scenes it turns into something like being an Air Traffic Controller in a freak snowstorm. It makes me miss just doing 2-4 hours of free email advice some days.

Meanwhile the older forum members miss the good old days when the forum was smaller, and new members feel the older members are often jerks. Oy, Houston we have a problem.

Why the forum is problematic…

The biggest issue with the forum is that it starts to define my own personal branding and philosophy out from under me. By which I mean that if I have a stated viewpoint on something, and the forum starts repeating something divergent from that viewpoint, eventually that viewpoint becomes “MMSL says to do X”. Then it is a very short jump to “Athol said you should do X”, when in fact I may have warned to do the exact opposite of X.

There have been some very useful insights that have come from the forum interactions, don’t misunderstand me on this, but there have been some absolutely maddeningly wrong ones that I can’t seem to kill off too.

What I’ve come to understand is that there are always going to be some small percentage of people who will take something I’ve said, and then endlessly restate it one standard deviation toward stupidity. Then if this is left unchecked, it becomes part of the “official MMSL canon”.

This is why, for example, I eventually just banned all talk of anything related to BDSM on the forum. I’ve long held some mild to moderate bedroom play of dominance and submission related stuff is perfectly fine. Many women respond very well to it. Jennifer and I like it. However I’ve discovered through some repeated testing that if BDSM-anything is allowed on the forum, it quickly starts turning into something I’ve rather depressingly termed Rapeworld.

Example… true story by the way.

Email Guy: “Hey I haven’t had sex with my wife in two years. Should I just start having sex with her when she’s sleeping around 3am? Just push through if she wakes up?”

Athol: “Ahhh… no that’s a terrible idea. Are you emailing from the 4th century or something?”

Email Guy: “Gotcha, thanks.”

Athol: (thinks) “What the frak is on the forum today!?!?”

It gets worse. Some chick on the forum was floating the idea of using sleeping pills to knock herself out, and the idea was as she was drifting into unconsciousness, maybe that would result in a great orgasm with her husband. Oh. My. Gawd. You’re slipping yourself something like a date rape drug. I leave a WTF comment and close the thread. Heavy facepalming in moderator channel ensues.

All that stemmed from someone’s original comment that they liked it, when their husband woke them up in the middle of the night and they had sleepy cuddly sex. See what I mean by one standard deviation toward stupidity? Most people knew exactly what was meant, a small handful just didn’t.

Look, I won’t lie here either. Some of the confusion is my fault. MMSL covers a big set of theory and it’s not all perfectly laid out. Plus I’ve actually slowly changed and expanded my own thought. I don’t say exactly the same thing in 2014 as I was saying in 2009, 2010 or 2011. There’s a heck of a lot for new people to get caught up with.

Plus… well there’s hamster to contend with.

The MAP is hard. It’s really, really hard. It’s not all wonderful. Not everyone wants everything to apply to them. Everyone wants to be a special snowflake and find a way to take a shortcut. No one wants to wake up and realize that their MAP is probably going to take years rather than months. Everyone says they want to be Outcome Independent, but no one really wants to go to Phase Four and start putting their chips on the table and flop their cards down.

A lot of the attempts by the forum to “improve MMSL thought” are actually attempts to create shortcuts around something I’ve fairly well proven works. Then obviously when the shortcut fails to work… cue up the complaint that “MMSL doesn’t work for me”.

Coaching vs. the Forum…

There’s a tendency to slowly turn the forum into a place where you can just talk about running your MAP, but not actually run your MAP. Some people stall out for a long time. This started becoming blindingly obvious as soon as I started coaching people. The difference in success between the average coached client and the average forum member is really quite sizable.

Obviously I’m going to claim that myself and the other coaches (Rebecca and Brian) are amazingly amazing, and it’s our presence that makes all the difference. That is true. However, it’s also true that the coaching clients start coaching with a much greater sense of investment and determination to succeed than the average forum member does. There’s just something about taking money out of your pocket that stops your hamstering excuses about why something can’t be done, and you just go out and start doing it.

Which brings us to money. The forum is expensive to run, about $600 a month currently and it generates very minimal income and requires a huge time investment to keep running.

The thing that pays the bills is the coaching. The majority of the coaching leads are coming from the blog, the books and word of mouth. Only about 25% of my coaching clients are also active forum members, 25% of them have a token forum membership, and 50% of them pretty much think the forum is horrible-to-nasty-in-tone-and-advice and it makes me look bad.

To be blunt, I’ve been told repeatedly by people paying me hundreds to thousands of dollars, that they are using me in spite of the negative branding the forum is giving me.

That’s a huge problem.

I’ve twice now had an interaction where a “senior” forum member has crapped on a newer member, I’ve had to say something about it and the “senior” member quit the forum and/or needed to be banned. The crapped on member became a coaching client and spent $1-2,000 dollars on coaching and has a vastly improved life.

I completely understand why someone who has been on the forum for over a year and posted a thousand or more comments, can feel a sense of entitlement and position. They have contributed to the forum. But I can’t afford any more of these friends.

Private Messages are of The Devil…

If I had known what private messaging would turn into on the forum, I never would have enabled it. There are really two forums. One is the main forum where everyone can see what is happening. Then there’s this entire other forum experience happening in private.

The most common issue is advice cherry picking. Someone has a problem and they post it on the forum, then they get advice and they don’t like it. So then they start Private Messaging anyone and everyone to hunt for someone to give them the advice they want to hear. When they finally hit on someone giving them the “correct” advice, they thank them and then continue on doing the dumb thing they wanted to do in the first place.

These relationships can slowly morph into a de facto coaching arrangement spreading over several months. This isn’t immediately problematic, I mean it’s not illegal or immoral, it’s more that there’s a competing free coaching service that I’m unwittingly supporting. Maybe they would have used the paid coaching, maybe they wouldn’t, I’ll never know.

There’s also some giant Private Messaging chains and cliques that have developed. We’re talking 10,000 or more messages with 10 or more people on the chain. It’s great that people are getting along, but if 10,000 x 10 = 100,000 page views, then its cost me about $60 to host the conversation. I feel incredibly old and cranky saying that, like I’ve discovered an open window in my daughter’s room while the air conditioners have been on all day.

There’s also lots of playing footsie in the Private Messages, budding Emotional Affairs and I can neither confirm nor deny knowledge of worse. It’s not wildly uncommon for a new male member to immediately Private Message 10+ female members looking for specific… advice.

There’s also the issue of Private Messages being used to target and/or actively harass other members. This is easily the most problematic aspect of them.

Plus, obviously there’s bitching about me in there. But we all knew that. I wouldn’t wish telepathy on my worst enemy.

All that being said…

The Forum really does a lot of good for a lot of people. Some people make remarkable progress and make leaps and bounds of personal growth. Marriages are saved, sex lives restarted, kids grow up in intact families.

When it works well, the forum is amazing. But it’s working less and less well, so there have to be changes.

Recapping the issues…

The primary issues are that it sucks up my time, I have to fight to retain my branding, it’s losing money, undercuts the coaching, newbies arrive lost, oldies feel entitled and grumpy, there’s a sheer size issue and PM’s are really problematic.

The Solution…

The core of the solution is dividing the forum membership up into differing membership levels, some of which are paid. We’re looking at generally forcing the forum culture toward the culture of people being here to actively work on their MAP and get their lives turned around.

Free Member…

This is going to be the default member option when people sign up for the forum. Along with that is some reduced functionality to the membership.

Can start a thread in the Introduce Me category.

Can comment on threads, except the 911 category is read only.

Cannot start a Private Message.

Cannot have a signature line, can’t upload images, standard Vanillacon avatar images.

The Gold Member area is completely invisible to Free Members.

Even mildly badly behaved Free Members are just going to be summarily dismissed. Walk in polite, or keep walking basically.

Silver Member…

This is essentially the same as the current forum membership, with the following exceptions:

Cannot start a Private Message, but can reply to one.

The Gold Member area is completely invisible to Silver Members.

Silver Members behaving badly will be made Free Members

You become a Silver Member by proof of purchase of one of the books. Send us a copy of receipt or a your copy of one of the books can send a “book selfie” picture as proof.

Current active members will get grandfathered into Silver Members, so as to avoid Jennifer having to deal with hundreds of emails of book selfies.

Gold Member…

The Gold Member category area will include four categories.

(1)  Men only area – not even viewable by female flagged members.

(2)  Women only area – not even viewable by male flagged members

(3)  Running my MAP – must be about what you are actually doing for your MAP

(4)  The Fungeon – consider this an introductory sexual dominance and submission topic area. Emphasis on fun and pleasure rather than pain and pushing things into non-consensual activities.

The entire Gold Member area is not viewable by memberships below Gold.

Private Messages can be started.

The Gold areas will likely attract the best members to comment, and the members who are the most motivated to actually make changes. Likewise the moderators/coaches will obviously give greater priority to Gold Member concerns and categories. We can’t assure giving anyone specific attention and advice though.

There is also a Zen Garden option where for Gold Members, the entire rest of the forum is turned non-viewable. Peace and quiet at last.

Gold Memberships are $19.99 a month, whether single or a couple.

Platinum Member…

This one we’re still debating and working on between the coaches. It’s intended to be all the Gold goodies, plus a hybrid of a One Hour Call, plus the 12-Week Guided MAP questionnaire, scripted into a more forum based process. As opposed to Gold, this would be a specific advice and attention thing from the coaches/moderators. It’s a question of what we can do for $99 a month that is effective for members, but not going to exhaust a coach if it’s wildly popular.

When this all happens…

There’s nothing to see or sign up for on the forum currently. The nature of the forum software is that you’ll start seeing a bunch of stuff being put in place/turned on as I’m building it. I can’t really hide the construction process.

Likewise the grandfathering in the active members into the Silver Membership is going to take a lot of effort. We have 3000 total members, and 1000 of those have been active in the last three months. You may see some of that happening sooner rather than later.

Planning to have the option to have paid Gold Memberships available announcement on May 30th and the whole thing go live on June 2nd.

The majority of the day-to-day running of the forum will then be handed to Jennifer, with Brian and Rebecca helping moderate. We’re still discussing what I do with my account, I may just drop down to a Golden Zen Garden level. I still want to comment, just I want to enjoy commenting.

In closing…

Anyway that’s about it for now. I realize that a lot of this has sounded like whining. The truth of the matter is that I’ve taken far too long to finally get to the point of just being willing to pull the trigger and risk pissing a bunch of people off. A lot of that is simple exhaustion. Plus the forum has been my baby and despite my frustrations with it, it’s incredibly hard to let it go and see what happens.

I’m very much aware that many people have given of their time and effort to comment and help others through the forum. I’m really truly aware of that. The forum isn’t all created by me. But at the end of the day, I have to be able to create new content, or eventually everything will pancake down and that will be it. MMSL is this weird thing where my personal life, my philosophy, my business life and creativity are all merged into one thing. I simply can’t create new content, unless I’m in a good place on a personal level.

Likewise I’ve become a very boring person to live with recently and while Jennifer is tolerant, supportive and uncomplaining, she really should complain.

There’s so much more to do.

The Leadership Moment Quota

Captain and First OfficerSomething I’m seeing a whole lot of these days is what I’m calling the Leadership Moment Quota. Which means, the wife needs to experience some minimum weekly amount of moments of leadership from her husband, for her to act right feel happy about the relationship.

If she gets these Leadership Moments, everything goes pretty smoothly. She likes her husband. She’s agreeable. Sweet. Doting. Charming. Horizontal.

If she doesn’t get enough Leadership Moments… she has to create them by Fitness Testing her husband to try and force them out of him. This annoys her somewhat even if you pass the Fitness Test and really annoys her if you don’t.

So, what’s a Leadership Moment?

It’s any time you (1) create a default choice for something to do, (2) make a decision for her, or (3) ask her to do something for you. Let’s walk through them.

Create a default choice for something to do.

“Let’s get Chinese food and watch Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.”

“Let’s go to the beach on Saturday.”

“I’ll come grocery shopping with you, but we should hit Panera for lunch first.”

“I’ll get the wine, you get the lingerie.”

This works because rather than being some hardass command from above, it creates a default course of action. If she wants to suggest something else to do, she can, but it’s going to require a lot more mental effort coming up with something else to do and justifying why it’s better than your idea. Most times, she’ll just take the path of least resistance and say, “okay”. Which nets you a +1 for a leadership moment. She doesn’t care what happens, she just wants you to create some basic direction she can go along with.

Make a decision for her.

Jennifer: “The red or the blue?”

Athol: “Blue.”

Jennifer: “Peach or cherry?”

Athol: “Well I’ve had your cherry… so peach.”

Jennifer: “We can have leftover chicken and make soup, or I could go get fish and do it on the grill.”

Athol: “Do the fish. Whatever looks good at the store is fine.”

That all seem stupidly easy, because honestly it kind of is stupidly easy. Unfortunately most husbands just see these questions as pointless and annoying. We don’t care if it’s red or blue, we don’t care if it’s peach or cherry, we don’t care if it’s soup or fish. She probably doesn’t care either, that’s why she’s asking. All she’s looking for is for you to make a pointless, trivial, token decision because it makes her feel attracted to you when you make decisions like a boss. Just pick one.

Ask her to do something for you.

This is one mildly harder than the others, but still fairly simple. You just ask her to do something for you.

“Hey can you roast a chicken for dinner? We haven’t had that for a while.”

“I need new shirts, can you shop and find me a couple please. Something like the purple one I have, and anything else that you like is fine.”

“In case we lose power, can you please check on batteries, food and water. I’ll do the propane tank refilling.”

“Can you take this to the post office please.”

As long as the task is easy enough to do, and there’s no reason not to do it, she’ll very likely just go do it and enjoy it as you creating a Leadership Moment. The key is that these are reasonable requests in a reasonable tone of voice. You’re just asking her to do them because you can use her assistance… which frames her as your assistant… which makes her see you as the leader.  Thus generating more attraction to you.

The point is that these are all dominance moves, but they are essentially an understated dominance. There’s no threat behind them or harsh tones. It’s simply setting a direction, asking for what you want, asking for her assistance. You’re just assuming her submissive instinct is going to kick in and she’s going to enjoy the direction. Because after all, female submission doesn’t need to be forced, simply evoked.

Valentine’s Day and the Gift of an Alpha Experience

@Dewy:  Here’s my dilemma: Earlier today, my girlfriend announced by text that since I am not there on Valentine’s Day this year we should celebrate it this early, this weekend. And she’s expecting a present. Apparently her therapist suggested that we need to be more romantic, and as we don’t normally do much for Valentine’s, we should make a big thing of it this year.

At first the exchange started off pretty lighthearted. She dropped hints about silver or chocolate presents. I dropped hints about more intimate “gifts” instead. She fought a bit for the cause of materialism, and I jokingly pointed out how unmaterialistic I am (and made more sex jokes). But she kept on about presents and eventually suggested that I was making her “feel judged for suggesting we try something fun and different”. (I guess I don’t like being told I’m expected to by expensive presents for someone, or else…).

What do I get her? She just texted me to say she is “buying the components of my present now”. I need to do something in response, however minor, but there are two problems. (1) I have virtually no free time in the next 24hrs to get her anything, and (2) I’m annoyed how she is putting me in this situation of demanding something at the last minute.

Is this sort of a fitness test? If so, is it a shit test or a loyalty test?

Athol: Okay, let’s do the Fitness Test vs. Loyalty Test thing first. Fitness Test meaning she’s looking for some sort of Alpha attraction building response, and Loyalty Test meaning she’s looking for some sort of Beta relationship comfort building one.

This one is pretty ugly because it’s actually a Fitness Test AND a Loyalty Test presented in a Double Bind. Meaning you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

If you act like it’s a Fitness Test and somehow bump back on it and don’t get her something, then it will very likely be announced that you’re failing a Loyalty Test and your lack of gift signifies that you don’t care about her. That claim will be backed up by the authority of the therapist having recommended in. No gift = bad.

If you act like it’s a Loyalty Test and just immediately run out to the fancy gift store like a dog chasing a thrown tennis ball… she’ll eat some of the chocolates, then as her blood sugar dips she’ll find a way to express her quiet disappointment you’re so biddable. Probably by complaining all this chocolate is going to make her fat and you’ll sabotaging her. Gift = bad.

So…. what to do…

Well, (I’m armed with a little extra information from another forum thread,) I suspect a part of the reason she’s depressed / in therapy / on SSRI’s is because she’s in the situation where she’s struggling to find ways to hamster herself into staying with a guy that’s currently low Alpha and high Beta.

My suggestion is to give a gift of something that equates to an Alpha / high dopamine / high stimulation experience for the two of you. i.e. Ride rollercoasters somewhere, parachute jumping, date night out somewhere unusually good, ziplining, waterparks, a seriously extreme bouncy castle with no regard for safety.

There is a gift, so it meets the Loyalty Test side of the Double Bind.  But it turns the Fitness Test around on her and turns the acceptance of the gift into a Compliance Test that she has to pass. She has to step up and do the high stimulation experience, otherwise she’s chicken and/or bitchy for not accepting the gift. Double Bind that back at you baby. Which sounds a little manipulative but all you’re really doing is running your MAP in a way that dovetails with Valentine’s Day. Just add an Alpha experience and give her what she actually needs from you, rather than what her therapist thinks she wants.

@Dewy: Has anyone ever told you that you are a genius?! Most of those activities are a bit out of my budget, but I started rock climbing 3 months ago as part of my MAP and she mentioned she would like to try it. Plus it will be a good opportunity to Display High Value with my mean climbing skills…

Athol: So dear reader…

What’s your plan for Valentine’s Day?