Marriage

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.

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.   

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.

Money, Money, Money…

Managing finances is one of those issues within marriages that frequently causes conflict.

I can say that, in my own marriage, we have never had arguments or even disagreements about money.

It just hasn’t happened.

Not now when we are living comfortably, and not when I was still in school and making very little.

While I know there are several different ways of doing finances as a married couple, I will share what has worked for us.

Transparency

We have and have always had joint bank accounts.

Period.

Venmo, part payment tool and part social media platform, allows you to see who is paying who and for what purpose. Admit it, you creep Venmo too to see which of your friends are paying each other. I can’t be the only one.  

I was struck when I first started using it at the number of married couples who send money to each other for their share of the household bills.

I’ve seen “mortgage,” “rent,” “electricity,” and other explanations that indicate one spouse is paying another his or her share of a regular household expense.   

I’ve even seen one spouse pay another for his/her share of lunch.

This means that they have separate bank accounts and keep at least partially separate finances.

Frankly, I didn’t realize anyone did it this way, naively assuming that everyone just shared money with their spouses in one pot that pays for everything, like we do.  

I could not imagine sharing the payment of bills in this way within my own marriage.

Perhaps my situation is not the norm because my wife is currently a stay-at-home mom. With that said, even when she worked full-time this is still how we handled finances.  

I am particularly cognizant of reminding my wife again and again that the money in the account is not my money – it is our money – no matter what its source. This means she doesn’t have to ask me for permission to spend anything, just as I don’t have to ask her permission to spend.

Now, this doesn’t give either of us carte blanche to blow through the account, and neither of us would ever do that. We both have complete trust of the other. Any large purchases within our home we are both always involved in anyway. She knows, for example, if I am shopping for a car.

We are constantly communicating about finances so there are never misunderstandings, ever.

There will be times I will say something to the effect of, “try to limit the use of the debit card until a check I’m expecting arrives in a couple of days. Use the Amex instead until then.” This isn’t an example of control, since I am also following the same admonition. It’s simply my way of saying the account is a bit low at the moment.

Sharing an account means we are fully transparent with each other. If I was blowing money on hookers and cocaine, she would see the large withdrawals and I would expect her to question me about it, and vice versa.

Our joint accounts extend to our credit card. We each have an Amex charge card on the same account. Using this card keeps us disciplined since we must pay it in full at the end of each month. We use the card mostly for the points, which we convert to airline miles for trips. The flights for our December vacation to Jamaica were paid for using these miles.

This transparency means that neither of us have secrets or opportunities for arguments about money.  We talk things through.

Finances are just never an issue. This was true when we had no income, when we were jointly making $35,000 my first year out of law school, and now.

Allowances

At the beginning of each week, we withdraw an agreed upon sum of money from the bank and split it evenly. This serves as an “allowance,” for lack of a better term, for each of us for the coming week.

This is our personal spending money for the week to be used for whatever we want.  I’ll be honest, I end up putting large chunks of my allowance into my dresser drawer as a sort of savings. When I go on vacation I prefer to use cash, and this mini-savings becomes our spending money during those times.

The allowance amount varies depending on the week and the current financial condition. 

The money in the drawer is also used for buying each other gifts. Of course, if I buy something from a store on the credit card or debit card, she is able to see that I bought something, which can make it hard to surprise each other. The easy solution to that is that we sometimes use some of our saved cash for presents. Each of us have also had a family member order items online for us for complete secrecy.

Do What Works For You

I understand that the way we do things may not work for everyone. We met so young and had nothing in the beginning, so when we started opening bank accounts it just made sense to make them joint. I know those who meet later in life when both parties are established in their careers and already have separate bank accounts may view and do things differently. I am not saying our way is the only way or the right way, but it has worked very well.

My suggestions for those contemplating marriage are:

Discuss Financial Issues before Saying “I Do”: We know that finances are big flashpoint for many married couples. Have the discussions for how you will manage your finances before getting married. This is important. Make sure you share the same values and same goals and are on the same page so there are no surprises or misunderstandings after the wedding.  

Include Money Management in your Vetting: Let’s face it, marriage is a risk and divorce is costly for men. When you meet who think is the girl of your dreams, examine how she spends money. Is she in major debt? Does she make impulsive purchases? Does she save money? These are important questions to consider as you prepare to tie your finances together hopefully for the rest of your lives. If your future wife is compulsive in spending, and can’t stop herself, it may presage other issues, other than financial, down the line.

Be Transparent, Always: Don’t lie about money. Just don’t. Neither of you are children, and you should be able to communicate without fear. Of course, you may not always be able to buy what you want when you want it but communicate what is important to you and work together to spend your money in a way that not break the bank, but still allows you to enjoy life. Lying about finances will inevitably lead to lying about other issues and lead to a marked lack of trust.  

Assign One Spouse the Job of Paying Bills: This is my role in the house. I keep track of bills and pay all of them online (well, except our lawn care company, which doesn’t give that option). With one person responsible for knowing due dates, it will eliminate any confusion and inadvertent blown deadlines, thereby eliminating opportunities for recrimination.   

I understand that every couple has their own system, and some have separate accounts. I am not being critical and would never urge anyone to change something that works well for them. There is no one blueprint for a successful marriage. It depends on a variety of factors, especially the values of the two partners.

There are so many stresses involved in the modern world, particularly for those with children, and it’s sad when married couples allow disagreements about money management add to it.

Don’t let that happen. Talk through these issues. Talk about your values. Find a system that works for you. I recommend full transparency and a joint financial life since I believe it generally leads to greater trust and a better partnership.

Your Wife Wants To Respect You, Don’t Make It Hard For Her

Respect is defined as “admiration for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities.”

So, by definition, in order for another person to respect you they have to:

(a) admire you, and

(b) you must actually have good ideas or qualities that are worthy of admiration.

The great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed “If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”

I agree with Dostoyevsky.

If you don’t have positive qualities, how can you expect anyone else to admire you?

Men have to realize that perhaps the reason why they are not getting the sex they want, the true partnership they desire, and the deference to their leadership they expect is because their wife or LTR simply doesn’t respect them. And, like Dostoyevsky indicated, the real problem at the root of this problem is a lack of self-respect.

To get the marriage you want, you simply must develop greater self-respect. You will then have earned the respect you want from your wife, and incorrectly believe you are entitled to by virtue of mumbling a few words during a marriage ceremony.

The fact is your wife wants to respect you. She wants to give herself to you wholeheartedly, body, mind, and spirt. She wants to defer to your leadership. Too often, however, you make it really hard for her.  

Face the facts. Your wife doesn’t owe you anything. She doesn’t owe you wild and passionate sex. She doesn’t owe you a happy life. She doesn’t owe you any deference to your leadership. You have to continually earn it by being the kind of man who respects himself and shows to her he is worthy of her respect.

I have identified several ways that some men self-sabotage their way out of having the kind of relationship they want. 

They get fall down drunk every time they go out.

If every time you go out together she knows she will end up driving at the end of the night because always get too sloppy drunk to get behind the wheel, you are not worthy of her respect.

In my own life, I believe driving is my responsibility, and if I’ve let myself get so intoxicated that I have to shift that responsibility to her I’ve failed her and myself.

If you feel like you cannot enjoy her company without getting sloppy, you have issues with yourself. It’s that’s simple. No, I’m not saying don’t enjoy some wine with dinner, but I am saying to have some self-control and don’t allow it to get out-of-hand. Save that for when you are with your male friends, if at all.

I remember one time when I was at a party, very early in the night one of the husbands was already stumbling around and nodding off alone on a couch, barely able to be roused. He ended up vomiting in the bathroom and passing out on the couch while it was still early. His wife, obviously used to this behavior, ended up visibly shaking her head in disgust and laughing at him with her friends, including other men.

His behavior demonstrated a decided lack of self-respect, and he should have no expectation of any admiration from his wife. In fact, he deserved to be laughed at and deserved her obvious contempt.

If you can’t enjoy a night out with your wife without getting shit-faced drunk you should know that the time to unfuck yourself is now.  

You disappear into your “Man-Cave” every night.

First of all, if you have a place you call your “Man Cave” that is meant to watch sports while drinking copious amounts of beer, you have an issue. I’m not saying not to have hobbies. I’m not saying not to have a study where you can read, work, think, or write or a workshop where you can build things. These latter activities include the act of creation. You are, in fact, doing something.

If you have a “Man Cave,” the purpose of which is to watch other men doing something on as large an HD screen as possible while you increase your already high estrogen levels drinking beer, and wear shirts with another man’s name on your back, you are not creating anything. You are being lazy while others get shit done. You are escaping. You are not demonstrating any self-respect or earning any respect from anyone else, most particularly your wife.

In fact, she probably feels a certain level of contempt for you. She won’t verbalize that feeling, but it’s likely clear through her actions she is demonstrating it, and it’s well-deserved.

This contempt is demonstrated through infrequent duty starfish sex, talking shit behind your back to her friends, and not deferring to you in any area of life.

Your beer belly continues to grow.

Don’t believe the lie. “Dad Bods” are not attractive. Your gut should not stick out further than your chest.

This indicates a lack of self-control and a lack of self-respect. Women don’t want to be led by men who can’t even manage to lead themselves.

By failing the very basics of fitness, you are showing you are not worthy of admiration because you can’t even do the basics to show that you can defend her physically if you had to.  

She may lie to you and tell you she likes a soft belly because it’s comfortable to cuddle with, or that men with “Dad Bods” have a great sense of humor, but she is probably only humoring you. 

Lift. Stop eating like an asshole. Stop drinking so much. Make the physical improvements you know are necessary and can easily be accomplished with even a minimal amount of self-discipline.

You make her pick out your clothes like she’s your mommy.

Your wife doesn’t want to be your mother. She wants to be your lover.

She doesn’t want to make decisions for you. She wants you to be decisive. If you can’t even do the simple things, like ensure you have presentable clothing that fits correctly, and can make the easy decisions, like whether you should wear the dark jeans or khaki chinos, she will never trust you to make the important decisions that will affect the lives of her and your children.

You have made clear that you have ceded even the simplest of leadership roles and are dependent on her, and she can never respect someone who is so quick to cede leadership.

You fail to keep your word.

Do you continually tell her you’re going to do something, and fail to live up to your promises?

Do you forget to pick up the bread on the way home from work like you said you would do?

Do you fail to pay bills and rack up late fees because you forgot?

Do you tell her you will be available to pick the kids up from school, and fail to follow through at the last minute?

Do you promise a date night alone at a nice restaurant, and at the last minute include your boys in the night out and take her to a bar to watch the baseball game instead (after all, it is the playoffs!).

If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, you demonstrate that you are not worthy of admiration.

It shows you are unreliable and not dependable. It shows her you can’t be trusted. 

The motto of the Fraternity of Excellence is Acta Non Verba, “Actions Not Words.” If you consistently fail to keep your word you are demonstrating that your words are meaningless.

You must act and show that you care. One way of doing that is by acting in congruence with your words.  Your words mean nothing if they are not followed by concrete action.

Conclusion

Sometimes the problem is not with “the relationship” or with your wife, it is with you. While it’s not always the case, it usually is.

She is not acting the way you think she should nor showing the affection you think you are entitled to because she simply doesn’t respect you.

The thing is… she wants to and will, if you show yourself to be respectable.

I’ve just scratched the surface with ways some demonstrate a lack of self-respect and concomitant lack of respect from their wives, but the factors I’ve identified are a good start.

You may have a lot of work to do to begin to respect yourself and earn it from her, but you have to start somewhere. Begin with correcting one of the factors I’ve identified and work hard at fixing it.  

Don’t do it for her. Do it for yourself. If you lack self-respect, it’s time to put in the work. Make yourself a higher value man. She’ll recognize it and, if it’s too late, and the relationship is truly over, you will put yourself in a better position when you start over.

Just make the decision and get to work.    

On Sincerity in Marriage

The word “authenticity” and all its variations are overused.

Everyone wants to be authentic, and the word is used often in the self-improvement world, perhaps too often.  

It’s an overused word, and I’m not going to use it now.

Instead, I’m going to use a related concept, “sincere.”

The words have a similar meaning. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “authentic” means “being what it claims to be; genuine.”

Sincere” means “honest; not false or invented.”

They mean the same, and I prefer to use “sincere.”

“Sincerity” and social media don’t belong together. They are different animals.

We all know this on a visceral level. Social media has been a part of our lives for more than a decade and, while we recognize the benefits it provides through the connections it forges, it is also very easy to see its drawbacks, and they are many.  

We all know that it’s often used to paint an idealized portrait of users’ lives, while glossing over the not so great or forgettable parts.

It can be thought of as the press release version of real life. A press release is, after all, a form of propaganda where an organization presents its best face and tries to control the narrative. Any organization that issues press releases does so with the hopes that the narrative it writes will be the story that makes it into the newspapers.

Good reporters will dig deeper beneath the surface level of the press release to find what’s missing. Press releases serve a purpose, and that’s to paint an idealized portrait desired by the issuer while ignoring anything that can appear to be negative.

There’s nothing better for a communications professional than to see their press releases printed verbatim in a news outlet. It means they have won, and the narrative they pitched has become the accepted truth, whether it’s the whole truth or not.  

Danger always exists when a company starts to completely believe its own press releases. At that point any remaining sincerity is gone.

I’m guilty as charged in having using social media to present the parts of my life I want to present to the world. It’s always fun to post about the good stuff – vacations, life accomplishments, date nights, and special occasions.

But for all of us, those feel good posts tell part of our story. After all, it’s uncomfortable to write about disappointments, failures, hurts, and other forms of vulnerabilities. It potentially paints us in a bad light and runs counter to the positive narrative – our own version of press releases – we’ve constructed around our lives.

I’ve decided I’m going to make efforts to attack this problem head on and act with greater sincerity on social media. I will show my defeats as well as my victories.   

Sincere Communication

Patty and I have been together for 25 years, since I was 18 and she was 16 years old.

TLC’s “Waterfalls” was the Billboard Number 1 song, Kevin Costner’s disastrous Waterworld was flopping in theatres, and ER and Seinfeld were the top-rated television shows.  

The years since then have been a veritable journey filled with many, many ups, and also many downs.  

At times, we have hurt each other, disappointed each other, made each other angry, sad, and even despondent.

We all love to remember the good parts of our lives and try to bury the bad parts, but both the good and the bad are what make us, us.

Is it possible to expect anything different from flawed humans than to try to eliminate the bad while elevating the good? After all, we want to feel good about ourselves, and it’s a basic survival instinct.

Without the totality of our experiences we would exist as someone other than who we are right now. While we would still have our physical bodies, we would not be us.  

The passage of time has taught both of us, I think, the value of being fully sincere with each other.

We have been discussing and trying to live a concept we are calling “Sincere Communication” for the past year.

What does this mean? Briefly, it means we talk… a lot.

We don’t try to hide behind any masks and strive to show our true selves to each other at all times, even when what we are revealing or discussing may not show us at our best or it may be ugly in some way.

It means we have no fear about sharing our darkest thoughts or feelings with each other, and we will not judge the other for being human. As with social media, it’s s always easy to share happy thoughts; but those that live in the shadows are much harder to reveal, even to the person who has been your partner for so long.  

Far too often during the past 25 years, one or both of us held back parts of ourselves from the other due to fear and not wanting to rock the boat. This led directly to many bad times.  

Holding back parts of ourselves doesn’t happen anymore.

If something is bothering me, or vice versa, the expectation is now that we will discuss it without judgment and without expressions of anger. We will accept it is part of the reality of the other person, and work through it if it something that needs to be worked through.   

I hate using the word “safe space,” since it rightly has negative connotations, but I want to co-opt the concept for our form of Sincere Communication. Our home is, in fact, a safe space where we can and do live without fear in our communications with the other.

It is safe for us to be real with each other at all times, and about any topic.   

Disagreements will happen. Whenever human beings come together there will always be disagreements, but Sincere Communication helps prevent those disagreements from morphing into smoldering conflagrations.

A good analogy, or at least the best I can come up with, is controlled burns in forest management. Such controlled burns are purposely set because they help keep forests healthy by providing many benefits, such as reducing flammable materials, recycling soil nutrients, and providing an opportunity for new vegetation to grow. These controlled burns are much better than unplanned forest fires that could quickly turn into out-of-control catastrophes, ultimately taxing resources to the breaking point and destroying the forest, all wildlife in it, and the surrounding areas.      

If we had lived this way for the entirety of the past quarter century, we would have been able to prevent problems before they bubbled over the cauldron. We would have had greater intimacy because sharing everything with another person brings you close, exceedingly close.

We have full access to each other’s minds now. She knows me, and I know her, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.   

It’s obviously not possible to go back in time and erase bad moments, but it is possible to create the life and relationship we want now by breaking negative patterns and living with Sincere Communication.  

It is not easy at first, particularly when you are so accustomed to holding things in for fear of looking bad or ceding ground in an argument; but it is necessary. Just like a controlled burn of a forest might look scary and dangerous to an outsider, some conversations can appear to be fraught with danger initially due to fear.   

We continue to live this journey every day.

Just as I made the decision to no longer present the sanitized version of life on social media, we jointly made the decision to no longer present to each other the sanitized version of ourselves.  

Life is messy.

It doesn’t always go according to plan.

It includes inevitable pain, failure, and disappointment.

And, that’s ok.

Accept it, enjoy the ride, and live it with sincerity.