Forging The Married Intimacy You Want

“My wife won’t have sex with me.”

“My wife is cold to me.”

“My wife has changed, she’s no longer the same person she was when we started dating.” 

If these scenarios describe your marriage, guess what?

It might be your fault.

That’s right. It’s probably on you.

That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that you can also take steps to fix yourself and improve your sex life.   

As humans it is our natural tendency to want to blame everyone else whenever something is not going right in our lives.

“She’s a bitch.”

“She’s cold.”

“She’s distant.”

“She doesn’t respect me.”

Facts

If you aren’t getting the sex you want – and I don’t mean the mechanical starfish duty sex that you may be getting on rare occasions – it’s because there is probably something you’re doing or not doing that makes her not want you.   

She might not respect you.

She might not believe you can lead and protect her.

She might not desire you because you have made yourself physically undesirable.

She might view you as a child she has to mother.

These are facts to face.

You are in some way not the high-quality man she wants to desire.  

She wants to want you, but you have to play your part too.

Saying “I do” just doesn’t automatically equal a lifetime of passionate on-demand sex. It doesn’t work that way.  

You have to earn it through your attitude, your appearance, and your leadership. When you get these things right, you will barely be able to contain her passion. You will know it.

Here’s some questions to ask yourself

What kind of shape are you in?

Do you have a beer belly? A “Dad Bod?”

Would you rather spend all your time watching other men play sports, instead of time spent exciting her?

Do you prefer watching porn on your phone instead of pursuing and challenging her?

Do you get drunk and embarrass her every time you go out?

Are you fun and unpredictable?

Do you keep her guessing?

Do you plan nights out and make the decisions on what you will do?  

When you do get your duty sex, do you make it fun for her?

Do have an independent self-identity and a mission separate from her that she can support?

These are all questions all married men who don’t get the sex they want need to ask themselves.

Be honest.

The Good News

It’s within your power to change all of this. You can turn the ship around.

You can excite her again.

You can be the man she desires again.

But, it is up to you.

The easiest one is your appearance. Getting in good enough shape to be better than 95% of the slobs out there is remarkably easy. Just think of how low the bar is set. Gain a little muscle and lose some body fat and bam, you are doing better than most American men.

If you don’t know what you are doing, invest in yourself and spend some money on a professional to help you dial in your training and your nutrition.

This is seriously so easy, but not simple. You know what you have to do. Just do it.

How do you dress?

Does she pick out your clothes for you? If you answered “yes.” Stop it right now. She’s not your mother and you aren’t a child. She will never respect you if you can’t even accomplish the simplest tasks on your own.

Do you wear pajamas or ill-fitting Costco sweatpants when you go anywhere?

Do you really want to be like the mass of men out there who look like shit and have zero respect for themselves?

Your wife wants someone she can respect and admire. That guy is not the schlub who lets her pick out his clothes like he’s her son, and who doesn’t give a second thought as to how he looks.

This is so easy, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are numerous free resources out there to start with.

How is your attitude?

Do you complain about everything? Your boss. The weather. The fact that the store ran out of Coors Light.

She doesn’t want to hear your complaints about things she can’t control. She wants to view you as someone solidly in control of his emotions and every situation.

Do blame everyone else for your problems?

Do you shy away from difficult tasks because you want your life to be a comfortable one?

Do you have goals, know yourself, and know where you are heading?

Do you have friends who challenge you and make you better or friends who bring you down a few notches because they still act like middle school students?

Are you boring? Here’s a secret, no one has fun with a boring person. Predictability leads to boredom.  

By making yourself higher value, you can once again get the intimacy and passion you may have once had but lost.

Make a plan and execute

It won’t pay dividends overnight, but with enough work it probably will.

This is what men do. We plan and execute.  

If it doesn’t work, and the relationship is too far gone to make right, then by taking these steps you have already put in the work to make yourself higher value for your future time as a single man.

It’s a win-win situation. Either she will get to enjoy the fruits of the work you’ve put in or someone else will.

Get to work.

Teach your kids at all times. When necessary, use words.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that our kids see and hear everything we do and say as parents.

While their faces might be glued to their iPads, it doesn’t mean they don’t notice everything.

One of the most important things we can do as parents is to model for them positive behaviors.

They are watching, and they will imitate.

My kids see me lifting weights daily, they see me reading and writing, they see me working from home, and they know where my meditation cushion is.

Just the other day, my five-year-old ran over to me to tell me that he wants to have muscles like me and wants to start working out with me.

He sees me every day toiling in the basement with weights and knows that’s a positive thing he wants to imitate. That made me happy when he said it.

He also often asks me to read to him, usually when he sees me reading. I’m happy to oblige him and we’ve been reading Jocko Willink’s Way of the Warrior Kid. The book is too advanced for him to read on his own, but I make him point out his sight words on every page to reinforce what he is learning in school.

I want my kids to value physical fitness and discover the joy of learning and questioning, so I make it a point to ensure they see me when I do those things.

I encourage them to not accept everything at face value and to not be afraid to question me or authority figures. If they disagree with something I’ve asked them to do, I give them the opportunity to make a logical argument to me. This is to ensure they don’t grow up to be automatons who are afraid to question future teachers, professors, bosses, or perceived elders. As Socrates said, “To find yourself, think for yourself.”   They are still finding themselves and must be allowed to think for themselves.

Zac Small, in his instructive book, Fatherhood for Modern Times, wrote: “Your children are going to follow your example, not your advice.” This book was helpful for me in internalizing the fact that our kids are always watching and imitating, and I’ve been consciously trying to parent with this constantly in mind. This extremely valuable book is currently on sale for only $9.25 using the code 4THEDADS. I encourage all fathers to read and apply it.

Be that example by showing them and modeling behavior for them. Don’t just lecture them and expect it to get through.

It won’t.

Just as our kids see and imitate the positives we do, they also see clearly the negatives.

Imagine my surprise when my son called his sister an “asshole.” When I asked him what he said he repeated the word (I’m kind of proud he stood his ground). He said he heard me saying it about someone. 

Though he doesn’t always appear to be listening, the fact is he does listen.

It made my wife and me more careful with our language around the kids.

Likewise, if your kids feel constant tension between Mom and Dad at home, they will internalize that this is what a marriage is like.

If your kids see you come home from work and immediately retreat into your “Man Cave” to drink beer all night alone, they will think this is what fathers do.

If your kids see you let the negative news on TV affect your behavior, they will more likely let external events they have no control over affect their emotions and actions.

They see our positive and negative behaviors and they strive to emulate us. This is a remarkable gift since we as parents have the power to model the types of behaviors that will make our kids more successful, happy, healthy, and well-adjusted as adults, and they are a captive audience.  

We must all take this responsibility seriously. It’s easy to see their heads buried in their electronic devices or in schoolwork and assume they aren’t paying attention or listening.

This is false.

I’ve also begun self-censoring what I listen to in the car when they are in the back seat. When my daughter pointed out a “Fuck” in a song I was listening to, I knew I couldn’t continue to listen to everything I might want to.      

The behaviors we model will be different for each parent depending on your own values and interests.

That’s perfectly ok. What works for me and my family doesn’t work for everyone.

But, understand that they are watching, and we have the opportunity to help them every day as they grow into adulthood. A famous quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi says, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

This is how I view parenting. To change it slightly into a parenting and non-religious context: “Teach your kids at all times. When necessary, use words.”

Our daily actions repeated and visible to them count more than our words. Let’s make those actions positive and helpful to them as they develop into adults and future leaders of families and communities.

You Don’t Need Permission To Celebrate

Our son is graduating kindergarten next week. He’s our third and final child and, I’ll be honest, we’ve been savoring all the moments in his life since we know we won’t get to experience them again.

When schools were closed back in March and there was still uncertainty about how long the COVID crisis would last, I told my wife that the kids would not be returning to school this year, no matter what the City government was saying at the time. It was obvious it wouldn’t be going away in a few weeks.  

When I said that, we both realized that this would mean we would miss out on the end of year kindergarten festivities, including his graduation ceremony.

I know it’s only kindergarten and he will have many much more important graduation ceremonies in his future. There is something, though, about the joy that a small child demonstrates during special moments.  

We grieved a bit that we would miss seeing him sing songs with his friends, walk across the stage to accept his diploma, take pictures with his teachers, and take him out to a meal of his choice.

We grieved for a very short time and then got to work.

The fact is we don’t need a school ceremony to make him feel special. We decided we would create our own special day for him to replace what he (and we) would be missing. I recognize that the way we were feeling was probably more about what we would be missing – i.e., watching our baby get lauded – rather than what he would be missing since knowing him he’d rather not get dressed to go to a long ceremony at school.  

The graduation day is next week, and we are prepared. We bought him his own cap and gown, we’re having family over, we’re getting cake, the choice of dinner is up to him, and Mom is making him special items.

We’re making his day special. We know how hard he’s worked this year, particularly since as a December baby he’s in school with some kids who are almost a full year older than he is.

The key is we don’t need to wait for permission to celebrate or rely on the State to create out joy. We’re going to make the day even more special for him than a long-drawn-out ceremony in a hot auditorium could ever be.

To me, this shift in thinking from what could have been to what we will create was key. We could have chosen to focus on the negatives, but instead we turned the situation around and turned it into a positive.

Kids throughout America have been through a traumatic time. They’ve been thrown out of their routines, not been allowed to play in playgrounds, and missed their friends.

Those parents who have done it right have minimized the disruption as much as possible and turned what could have been a bad into a good. I’m inspired when I hear of what some fathers I admire have been doing with their kids.

That has been our goal these last three months. I think we have succeeded. We are closer as a family than ever before. With the normal activities not available to us, we’ve had to get creative. This broke whatever moribund routines we were in and broadened our horizons.  

We’ve created new family traditions. One of the things I most admire about my wife is her ability to create new family traditions seemingly out of thin air. She seems to will new ways of celebrating into existence.

I am grateful for these last few months and, I’ll be honest, I’m dreading the world getting back to normal. We’ll probably never have an opportunity to spend such a sustained period of time together as a family like we’ve had, and I know I will eventually miss it.

Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned once again as we’ve designed my son’s graduation celebration:

  • Don’t rely on school or anyone else to celebrate your children;
  • Get creative;
  • Never stop creating new family traditions; and
  • Find ways to turn negatives into positives.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy 101

Studies continue to show that men’s average testosterone levels continue to dramatically decline. A well-cited 2007 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism demonstrated that between 1980 and 2004 the average testosterone levels of American men dropped 1% each year.

There are many explanations for this drop, which has many negative effects on men, including the increased levels of obesity, the effects of the standard American diet, and increased exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and environmental toxins.

As study of Danish men showed similar declines.

Other studies showing rapidly declining sperm counts, as well as decreases in strength amongst young men. Decreased grip strength is associated with increased risks of heart attack and stroke.

Whatever the reasons for these declines, their implications are profound.

One of my best friends happens to be a men’s health expert who owns a clinic that specializes in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).

I’ve learned a lot from Gil on this topic, and instead of writing about it here, I decided to share his hour+ long video where he dropped much knowledge on the basics of this important topic for all men .

I encourage all men, particularly those over thirty to watch the video and become educated on this issue with the kind of factual and non-sensationalistic information Gil provides.

While the topic of men’s health is often demonized, sub-optimal hormone levels can lead to a variety of health problems for men.

No, being on hormone replacement therapy to treat hypogonadism isn’t steroid abuse, no matter what the media tries to tell you.

Gil’s clinic, Elevate Men’s Clinic, is available for telemedicine for those who don’t live near one of their locations. To work with them, you can go to their telemedicine site and fill in your information. Note: this is NOT an affiliate link, and I will not get anything for any referrals. I’m sharing this video and his contact information because he’s an expert and he’s helped countless men get back to optimal hormone levels.

Unfortunately, primary care doctors are generally not informed about best practices, and often do more harm than good when men go to them for help with their hormones.

An Important Marriage Hack For Those With Children

My wife, Patty, and I didn’t get to go away alone together until the week of my 40th birthday. Sure, through the years we’ve had a few one-off nights when the kids slept out and we were home alone, or spent a night at a local hotel, but we had never made it a regular part of our lives to spend intentional time away alone.

About six months before my 40th, Patty asked me what I wanted for my birthday.

“Nothing,” was my response, “except a trip alone with you that lasts more than one night.”

I had recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who, from the day his kids were born, had taken a vacation alone with his wife each year. They had just returned from a trip to Costa Rica.

“Chris,” he said, “trust me, there are few things better for a relationship than going away together without the kids. It helps bring you back to when you first met, and you could just focus on each other for a short time. Do everything you can to do it.”

I was sold.

The idea of a relaxing vacation alone with Patty was highly appealing, especially after a variety of Disneyworld and cruise vacations with the kids that are exhausting. After these trips, I feel like I need a vacation to relax from the vacation.

At first, Patty was hesitant. She’s a wonderful hands-on mom who genuinely enjoys our children. But, she was easily convinced. We have trusted family members who are ready, willing, and able to babysit our kids for a few nights, which makes it easier.

We picked three nights in St. Lucia. I wanted five nights. Patty thought that was too long. We compromised. I didn’t complain.  

For our first trip alone without the kids we picked a place that was a five-hour flight with limited daily flights, which would have made it difficult to get home quickly in the event of an emergency. Go hard or go home I guess. The kids would be in good hands, so we knew we had nothing to worry about.

I won’t go into details but spending my 40th birthday in paradise took the sting out of that milestone a little. We relaxed. We went to the beach. We spent time in the pool and had drinks from the bar in the pool. We laughed. We enjoyed each other. We ate well.

The kids missed us, but they were absolutely fine.

That trip opened the floodgates. It proved it could be done. Now, we try to sneak away for a big trip alone together each year.

In 2018, we spent 4 nights in Barbados where we renewed our wedding vows in a private ceremony. In 2019, we spent 4 nights in the Bahamas. In 2020, we spent 2 nights at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida as part of a bigger trip with the kids to visit family in Florida. The kids stayed with family while we got away for 2 nights.

In addition, until this current COVID-19 crisis, we’ve been able to do 1- or 2-night trips about every other month, mostly to Atlantic City, NJ, which is nearby.  

Last weekend we had plans for something different. We had an Airbnb booked, a house secluded in the woods, for two nights. We had to postpone that trip until the world returns to some semblance of normal.

I believe that going away with your wife is one of the most important things you can do to supercharge your marriage.

Notice I said “away.” That’s important. It doesn’t have to mean something elaborate. It could mean a Holiday Inn one town over that you can drive to.

Being somewhere outside of your own home is important because the natural tendency when we are home is to fall into normal housework routines. This has happened to us in the past when the kids were out for a night and we stayed home. Our elaborate romantic plans tended to turn into something different when we realized that we had the opportunity to get things done in the house without distractions.

These nights together should not be spent deep-cleaning the house or washing dishes, and that’s what tends to happen when we are home and we realize we can do these things quickly and efficiently.  

Getting away into a different environment is so important and has improved our marriage in many positive ways.

There are at least four reasons to take such trips alone with your wife.  

New Adventures Together

We should never allow our marriages to get into a rut or routine. It’s so easy to allow familiarity to kill intimacy and adventure. As men, it’s important to never be boring since boredom kills both. Our wives want to be surprised. They want to be excited. They want to have fun and experience new adventures with us.

This doesn’t mean you have to climb mountains or go scuba-diving or some other high energy activity. Some people just aren’t wired that way. For me, the adventure starts on the Uber ride to the airport or as soon as we get in the car for the drive to wherever our local destination is.

There is always a sense of anticipation, and I try to have some kind of surprise planned for our time away.

I don’t want to be boring, and I want to experience adventures with Patty. I asked her to marry me again and renew our vows a few weeks before we left for the Barbados trip. That wasn’t the purpose of the trip, but when I realized that we would be there on our anniversary it just made sense to do it. The planning of our little private ceremony became an adventure on its own. The “wedding” day was an adventure. Patty got her hair and makeup done. We had our own wedding planner and got to plan every detail of the day. That day was fun. It felt like we were getting married for the first time.

Take your wife on adventures. She will appreciate it. You’ll both remember and reminisce about them frequently.

The Modern World Keeps Us More Connected Than Ever

We live at a time when we can, not only speak with our kids even when we are thousands of miles away but can speak to them face to face on FaceTime. When we are away, we make sure we schedule a time each day to talk with them on face-to-face. We’ll typically do this while we are getting ready for dinner.  

It alleviates any guilt we might feel about being away from them and gives them a chance to see us.

We have an international plan on our cell phones so, even if the WiFi at the resort is bad, we have cell service that allows us to stay connected.

Technology makes it simple to stay in contact with your kids. Take advantage of it.   

You’ll Be Better Parents In The Long Run

It is better for children when Mom and Dad truly love and like each other and enjoy each other’s company. That sense of togetherness is noticeable and helps bring the entire family closer. The connections we forge on our trips carry over when we return and make us better parents.

Increased Intimacy

So often we hear stories where married couples end up more as co-parents or roommates than lovers. When we are engaged in the struggles of everyday life. it’s easy to forget that we should be lovers first above all else. How often do we hear of marriages that fall apart after the kids are grown and out of the house? That happens because for far too many married couples the only thing holding them together is their status as co-parents. Their children become their only commonality.  

Going on regular trips together gives you the privacy you need to be lovers once again. You are freed of responsibilities for a short time and can spend the time totally focused on one another.

If your marriage is in a sexual rut, it could help reignite the flame that may be petering out. While I won’t go into specific details here, I always have well-thought out surprises for Patty to increase our intimacy, and I will never allow this part of our lives to be boring.

It’s important, though, to walk a fine line. We jokingly have used the term “sexcation,” and these trips could easily turn into that. While that could fun if that’s what you both want, there are a lot of other things to also do during the few days away.

Conclusion

I’m not wealthy. I willingly give things up to save the money to go on these trips, as well as a family vacation we plan each year. I am disciplined about saving because these trips are important to me.

I typically spend all year putting money away to pay for each trip and rack up airline miles on a credit card for free flights.

The old cliché is that it’s better to spend money on experiences than on things. I buy that to an extent. The fact is that if Patty had bought something for me for my 40th birthday instead of agreeing to our St. Lucia trip, I might not even use or own what she bought for me today. The memories of that trip, however, will never fade. They are now a part of our story.

Each trip becomes a separate chapter in our story. We reconnect, we increase our intimacy, we experience a sense of adventure, and reenact the thrills and excitement that were present when we first started dating.

The next trip is already booked for August 2021, the week of our 20th wedding anniversary. This is, admittedly, an elaborate trip, bigger than usual.  I booked it last year to give me two years to pay for it, and my saving is right on target. I’m just happy it’s not booked for this summer since I imagine many trips will be canceled due to the ongoing virus situation. I am hopeful by next summer we will be good to go.

I look forward to writing that new chapter in our story, as well as other chapters on shorter trips we might take before then. They are important chapters to write, and I encourage husbands to make the effort to plan them. They could help change the trajectory of your marriage for the better.   

Why You Should Not Always Listen To Your Elders

Growing up I was often given the admonition to “listen to your elders.”

The underlying assumption was that by virtue of one’s age alone, a person had accrued sufficient wisdom to guide those of younger generations.

While the passage of years does presumably give a person certain life experiences, a blanket “listen to your elders” statement does not take into account the kind and type of experiences that “elder” has accrued.

As my teens turned into my twenties, then into my thirties, and now into my forties, I have learned the valuable lesson that someone’s age on its own is not sufficient for me to allow that person to speak into my life.

Age is simply not a barometer of the quantity or quality of wisdom a person has.

I was duped.  

I would argue that when a young person is told to “listen to your elders,” the one saying it is trying to mold the younger person into one who is pliable and compliant to those in positions of authority.

This command is, thus, used as a bludgeon to keep younger people in line and unquestioningly obedient to authority. Respect must be earned – and being alive for a large number of earth rotations around the sun is not nearly enough to earn it.

Our Children Learn From Us

This is the lesson I try to impart to my children. Those who wish to speak into their life must earn that right, and they should never blindly trust or submit to anyone. When kids are taught to unreservedly “listen to your elders” it leads to unthinking, passive, complacent, and submissive adults.   

As my friend, The Polite Savage, said:

“As a parent if we instill obedience, submission to authority, and reinforce complacency as opposed to encouragement, curiosity, and self worth, we are subconsciously setting the stage for bullying.”

I have found that some of the wisest people I know are younger than I am. Conversely, some of the most unwise people I’ve come across are older than me and thus, technically, my elder. If I allowed such people to speak into my life, I would be doing myself and my family a disservice.  

Instead of “listen to your elders,” young people should be taught to respect those of all ages, but only follow those who have demonstrated through their actions and experiences that they are worthy to speak into their life.

I can give numerous examples of people in their twenties who are crushing it and who I listen to when they speak on matters of entrepreneurship.

I know men in their thirties who, while they have been a father for shorter than I have, bring so much wisdom to the topic that I would be stupid to not listen to them merely because I am older than they are.

I also know men who are older than I am and who have given me profound guidance on marital issues that have helped improve my life.

All of them walk the walk and have demonstrated to me their knowledge and wisdom. They have earned the right to speak into my life.   

Ultimately, it’s about swallowing your pride and understanding that the answers can, and do, come from people of all ages and backgrounds. There is no monopoly on wisdom and truth, and it can come from unexpected places.

If we are lazy and simply pay attention to those older because they are an “elder,” we don’t serve ourselves well, and we will miss out on many other sources of wisdom. This way of thinking closes off our minds to new knowledge.

At this point in my life, I have developed the quality of discernment and can spot from a mile away who is full of shit and bloviates about topics they know nothing about. While I show such people respect, I would never follow their counsel.  

Discernment and humility are the keys to the puzzle. Take the time to recognize who is worth listening to and be humble enough to consider their advice no matter their age or perceived experience level.

The right experience and true wisdom are much more important than age or outward expressions of confidence.

Fathers should encourage their children’s innate curiosity and help guide them towards the ability to discern who is worth allowing to speak into their lives and who isn’t.

If we do this, we will create children with critical thinking skills, humility, a healthy skepticism for unworthy authority, and greater self-respect.  

Hunter Drew is one of the examples I cited above of a person younger than I am who has proven himself to be wise and who speaks into my life. In his wonderful resource, Fatherhood For Modern Times, he goes into detail on many of these issues that are so important for raising children into critically thinking adults. I encourage all fathers and all who aspire to be one to pick up a copy.

I’m Failing and Winning at the Same Time

I’ll admit that I’m not getting as much done during this quarantine period as I expected.

I thought I was going to spend this time writing and otherwise producing.

That hasn’t happened.

And it’s ok.

I’ve discovered that it’s hard for me to think and write when the kids are home all day. Those who are parents of young kids know that they are always hungry. This means multiple times an hour I have to stop what I’m doing to get them snacks, drinks, defuse an argument, or find a toy they misplaced.  

I am also trying to spend as much time with them as possible. This means daily walks or hikes when they are done with their school work, which usually happens by noon.

I also want to spend time with my wife and, frankly, when given the choice between writing or sneaking upstairs with her, the latter wins every time.

I am also fortunate to still have a job and am working from home. That also takes chunks of time out of each day.

I have also not missed a single basement workout since I cannot let my fitness slip.

I could get angry at myself for not accomplishing all I wanted, but I don’t see it that way. It’s ok to set goals and adapt to the circumstances. In fact, I would argue that this approach is better than being rigid and inflexible.  

I have a lifetime to do productive work, but this dedicated 24/7 family time will probably never happen again.

I intend on taking full advantage of it. That’s why I don’t see how I’ve been spending this time as a failure.

If you are not doing as much “productive” work as you expected but are connecting to your family in ways not usually possible, I’d call that a win.

If, on the other hand, you are sitting around watching Netflix, drinking beer, and eating chips all day, then I would say that’s a loss and there’s still time to make a change.

Ultimately, I see it this way: family time is productive time.

I may not finish writing the book I meant to finish. That’s ok.

I may not come out of this fluent in Spanish. That’s ok.

I know this. My family will remember this time fondly as a time when we were all together making memories.

As a father and husband, there’s not much more I can ask for.   

That’s why I’m failing and winning at the same time.

Note: During the time I wrote this my son asked for a banana and five minutes later asked for an orange ice pop.

Sons Rely On Their Fathers To Teach Them How To Be Men

Young boys are often taught that their innate qualities and nature are, in some way, defective, and that they must bury those parts of themselves to fit in to the dominant culture.  

While I can’t directly control what my son is explicitly and implicitly taught in school or in the media, I can control the lessons we teach him in our home.

The most important lesson I teach him is that masculinity and men throughout history are heroic. I will ensure that he internalizes this positive message and always remembers it.   

He will know that male kings, presidents, emperors, philosophers, poets, artists, scholars, novelists, artisans, builders, farmers, soldiers, fathers, and so many other anonymous hard-working men through millennia, built and shaped our world, and continue to do so.

They created democracy, wrote most of the great works of literature we still study today, refined philosophical thought, created much of the art in our museums, designed and built the great skyscrapers and bridges that are ubiquitous throughout our world, discovered life-saving medications and vaccines that saved untold numbers of lives and alleviated suffering, defeated our enemies and died in horrific numbers keeping our world safe, and lived quiet unassuming lives raising and protecting their families and passing on important lessons to the next generations.  

Men throughout history have been and continue to be heroic.  This is the message we must teach our boys in our homes because we know that revisionist history wants to focus exclusively on the negatives perpetrated by some men throughout history.

My son and I will continue looking at pictures and videos of American soldiers, many of them so young that under new laws they would not even be allowed to legally purchase cigarettes today, storming the beach at Normandy, and dying by the thousands in the desperate quest to free Europe from the Nazis.

We will watch Civil War movies featuring thousands of young men marching towards each other in formation with full knowledge they would probably be cut down by a musket ball.

We will discuss the role of monks during the Dark Ages who painstakingly hand copied great works of ancient literature, thereby preserving those works for all posterity.

Push Back Against the Cultural Narrative

Modern society today tries to tell boys, like my son, that he is responsible for the ills perpetrated by others in the past. He is given the message that there’s something wrong with him, and that he should sit still, shut up, and comply.

There’s not a chance I will let that happen.   

Fathers of sons must counteract these messages that our sons are bombarded with in school, on television, and everywhere else they turn to remind them that masculinity is heroic.

This is why it is so important for fathers to be familiar with history – real history – not the politically correct stories that masquerade as history today. We must be prepared to inspire our sons with tales of heroic men throughout the centuries who, through their actions, built and sustained the world.

At that same time, we as fathers must always demonstrate to our sons our own heroism by forging ahead against the culture by taking care of our bodies and health, improving our minds and spirits, financially providing for our families, and protecting our families in every way possible.

It is up to us to push back against the dominant cultural narrative before our sons internalize its false premise.

If we don’t do it, no one else will.

Never Cede Your Responsibilities to Anyone Else

Our sons must also know that they do not have to do great public acts to be heroic. Countless men throughout the ages and today lived quiet anonymous lives leading and protecting their families and shaping the next generations. They are no less heroic than great leaders of nations.

We go to work, and we know statistically men are far more likely to work in the most dangerous and deadly of occupations, and we provide through the sweat of our brow. We serve as moral teachers, as our guidance helps direct our sons’ innate quest to want to push boundaries and explore. We teach them how to be good at being a man and to be good men (for a greater discussion of the difference between the two, see Jack Donovan’s The Way of Men).

My son and I talk about when violence may be the answer. The fact is that sometimes it may be necessary, but those instances are rare, and must be reserved for proper purposes.  

We discuss justice, and what it means; honor, and how to maintain it; true friendship, and how to find it; and marriage and family, and how to find a wife who will be a true complementary partner.

As he grows up, we will continue to discuss what it means to be a man and the responsibility we have to protect our family from all kinds of harm. He will understand that if he acts in certain anti-social ways that there may be consequences. In short, he will learn the lessons that I learned and that generations of boys learned until recent times.

Fathers, our sons are counting on us to encourage their innate curiosity and desire for action. They need us more than ever to teach them how to be men, heroic men, who will lead in the future and help shape the course of world history.

Let us teach them well, and never cede this responsibility to anyone else.

Hunter Drew recently released a wonderful new resource called Fatherhood for Modern Times, which is an actionable guide for fathers today. I have been working through it and finding different strategies to implement in each chapter. It is a multimedia guide and includes a video and audio file for each chapter of the book. Check it out!

How I’m Making Our Quarantine Productive and Enjoyable

It seems hard to believe how much the world has changed in the last two weeks.

The Governor of New York has asked New Yorkers to not take part in any non-essential activities, and to stay home and away from other people as much as possible. This means we are effectively quarantined at home, and I’m not dreading the next few weeks. Things could be much worse than being asked to stay home with my family.   

After a crazy past week, things should settle into a routine. The teachers spent last week scrambling to put into place a distance learning plan, so the kids are beginning school remotely again.

I’m determined to use this time wisely and productively.

There is no way I will ever be a Netflix and Chill kind of guy, and I have to ask my wife or my daughter how to even turn on the TV.

Here are ten things I’m doing during this unexpected time home:

Write at a minimum 2000 words a day. I’m working on a few different projects, and this will provide me the opportunity to spend more time writing.

Work on a new language. I’m currently working through Pimsleur Spanish. I’m on Day 3 and enjoying the way the material is presented. It’s time to learn a new language! Thanks to those who voted on my Twitter poll and helped me choose Spanish.

Reading Classics I haven’t yet read. I’m currently reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Next up is Orwell’s 1984. While I have read 1984 in the past, it was many years ago and, besides, I think it’s a lot more relevant now than it was a few weeks ago.

Finish audiobooks I’ve been working on for a while. I am currently listening to Sex at Dawn and I Am Dynamite (a biography of Nietzsche). It’s time to finish them.  

Hike in the woods with the kids. My kids are growing up as urban/suburban kids. We are going to change that by hiking many miles of nearby trails.

Continue  my daily meditation practice and increase the time for each session. This has been going well since the New Year, and I am going to continue.

Lift weights in the basement. It doesn’t have close to the variety of equipment I have in the gym, but that’s not an excuse. It’s time to get creative and not let my workouts suffer.

Yard work. We have been putting off some cleanup of our backyard for too long. Now is the time to do it.

Schedule an hour each day with my wife to just talk. I described a good way to spark conversation here. I enjoy our talks and we are going to have them every day.

Continue to wake up early.  I like to wake up before the rest of the house stirs so I can spend it alone planning and thinking through plans. I can’t let this slip.  

Although we are living in a weird new world filled with uncertainty, if we use this time wisely we will look back on it as a time of productivity and increased closeness with our loved ones.

I am determined to make that happen.

Marriage Under Quarantine

In recent days there have been a lot of articles and opinion pieces written about the ongoing Coronavirus situation. Most focus on the health and economic impacts of this crisis.

Some focus on the effects of children who will be home for extended periods of times.

I read an opinion piece from the New York Times entitled “Welcome to Marriage During the Coronavirus: Remember both of you are right,” about the effects it will have on marriage, and I want to briefly comment on it.

The columnist, Jennifer Senior, wrote:

“The coronavirus may turn out to be the ultimate stress test for couples.”

Later in the piece, after expounding on the fact that partners in LTR’s often have “very different coping styles,” she offers the following suggestion:

“To keep our relationships sane, we’ll all need to turn to virtual communities of outsiders, whether it’s through work or FaceTime or virtual dinner parties…”

Much like the many jokes on Twitter by parents about their need for extra alcohol during the time their children are home, this take on the current situation, to me, is deeply fatalistic and emblematic of the state of marriage and the family today.

Frankly, if you view the idea of spending unexpected extra time with your spouse, as a “stress test,” and feel the need to talk to others on FaceTime to keep you “sane” then I would wager that there’s something profoundly wrong with that relationship.

During times of crisis and uncertainty, we should find comfort and strength in our spouses and children. The columnist focuses much attention on the fact that both spouses might have “stylistic differences” in coping styles during adversity. This, she posits, creates conflict, which will be exacerbated by time spent together over the coming weeks.  

If that’s the case that’s a failure of communication, and possibly a failure of leadership on the husband’s part. I have dealt with several stressful situations in the past, including 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, and I can say that my sole goal during both was to get home during to be with my family. I wanted to provide comfort for them and gain strength and extra resolve from them.

That’s my “coping style” during stressful situations. I draw nearer to my wife and children and seek to protect them, just as I’m doing now. By doing so, I gain strength. 

Communicate with your spouse

Instead of looking at time spent with your spouse as a chore, simple mindset changes can help you see it as a blessing. If your marriage hasn’t been that great in recent times, now is a good time to fix it. You may never get this opportunity again to connect in ways not possible during the regular hustle and bustle of life.

Truly get to know each other.

One way of doing it that I have found to be effective is to pick a different topic to discuss each day. One book that’s helpful to get conversations started on topics you might not otherwise talk about during everyday life is: Questions for Couples: 469 Thought-Provoking Conversation Starters for Connecting, Building Trust, and Rekindling Intimacy.

My wife and I have used this book to effectively spark conversations about a variety of topics. The best way to do it is to randomly pick a question (they are numbered) the night before by using a random number generator online, so there’s no bias about the type of question to be considered. By doing this, both of you have the whole night to ponder the next day’s question. Then, use the following day to talk it through. I guarantee you will learn new things about how your partner thinks by doing this.

Depending on your at-home work schedules and the kids’ schedules, you can pick a time to sit down alone and discuss, perhaps over a glass of wine, or you can discuss it in snippets throughout the day.

Then, repeat the process with a new question the following day.

It’s easy as a married couple to find ourselves always talking about the same things. This is particularly true when you have children since the default discussion topic often becomes the children. 

Using a book like Questions for Couples helps break you out of the routine. It could also have the added benefit of taking your mind, for a bit, off the events taking place in the world. The fact is what’s happening outside of our front doors is all out of our direct control, so we have to do our best to let events happen and view this time together as a blessing and an opportunity to connect in new ways.

If the prospect of spending a few weeks cooped up in a house together with your spouse creates a sense of dread and you feel the overwhelming need to FaceTime with other people, perhaps now is the time to work on that, and discuss what’s wrong.  

This is certainly a stressful time for all, and the world is changing in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few weeks ago. Embrace this time to connect deeply with your spouse. Times of great uncertainty out of your control should bring you closer, not drive you apart.