My previous article about relationships had a lot of surprising feedback. I was especially surprised because I have no clue how it was shared from my blog to Facebook in the first place. Maybe I hit something while working on the draft at 3am? Who knows. All I know is the level of feedback was amazing.
What’s not surprising is the majority demographic that shared, liked or commented on the writing. Look at the below pictures and let me know if you see a pattern.
How many men do you see within those comments? Sure I had a few men like the article. Eight to be exact. That’s nothing compared to the 80+ women that shared it. What does this tell me? It further reinforces the fact that only a small percentage of men want to become a better partner.
This is a problem.
Us men we want to be stronger, faster and make more money All of these aspects are good. Yet we often fail look at our relationships in whole. Of course we all want to be better at sex. Cosmo for men… I mean Maxim routinely lists something about sex on the cover. New techniques, new positions, yada yada yada. Don’t get me wrong. Wanting to make more money, have amazing sex and be physically stronger are all good things, but it’s not enough.
The bigger problem is the large percentage of men that suffer from “Peter Pan Syndrome”. There’s a good chance that you know someone like this. They invest minimal (no zero) effort into themselves. They’ve stopped learning. They usually pass the time by playing video games, or living in a complete fantasy world. The gym is non existent. Basically they never matured past the age of 15.
So what’s the deal?
Why is it so difficult for men to work on themselves? Women seem to flock towards self improvement. I can’t walk into a coffee shop without overhearing someone talk about their Chakras being out of alignment. Look, I don’t fully understand what a “Chakra” is, but good for them. I know it originates from various Indian religions and is common in Yoga and various self improvement methods.
Guys on the other hand, what do we talk about when they get together? Sports stuff. Car stuff. Gun Stuff. Boobs. Money Stuff. Truck Stuff. Hey.. did you see that chick’s butt? Work stuff. Boobs. Rinse and repeat. We avoid conversations about relationships, emotions, and trauma like it’s the plague. We’ve been social conditioned to believe that conversations about these subjects will make us weak.
That’s where we run into this giant disconnect.
While women are conversing with their friends about deep topics, us guys are drinking beer and yelling at the TV because a ball was intercepted. Naturally when the male gets home from work, or his “male bonding time” his partner wants to “talk”. Our minds are so disconnected from the concept of talking about anything other than the aforementioned “Stuff”, we don’t know what to say. Instead we often go silent not having a clue what the f#ck to say. Next thing you know, our partners are frustrated over the level of silence that they become angry. Then people are raising their voices, door get slammed and occasionally things break as collateral damage to the fight.
A fight that wouldn’t have happened had us men talked about REAL ISSUES with each other.
We are afraid to “open up” to each other. We are afraid to tell our brethren our fears about life, our relationship issues, and ask them if they have dealt with a similar situation. Now ladies, if we can’t talk to our best friends about these issues, how do you expect us to communicate them with you? You’re probably thinking “Well I am MORE than his best friend, I am his partner”. Yes, that’s 100% true. Which is why it makes it exponentially harder to show you signs of “weakness”.
Women get practice talking about issues with each other. Hell, they often come up with strategies of how to address a problem when they are speaking to their friends. When you come at us wanting to “talk” it often makes us feel under attack. We feel like we have done something wrong, go into a defensive mind frame, and then move to the offense once your guard is down. The voices get raised in an attempt to shift the power in the conversation back toward us. It’s what we do.
So how do you get your man to start working on himself?
The bad news is, you can’t. There is no direct way to get him to start the discovery process. You will have better luck asking a lion to stop slaughtering gazelles. For a man to start working on himself, it is something that he must desire. You can leave hints that make him wonder why you see the world as you do. The curiosity may entice him to start the process, but it cannot be forced.
The other indirect route is to change his circle of influence. This can be difficult. Especially if your male partner is full on Peter Pan Syndrome. You may have people that you want him to learn from, but if they don’t know all the cheat codes to Call of Duty, your man doesn’t want to budge from his pillow throne where he is Sofa King Amazing! Again, it’s difficult, but not impossible.
So what happened to Me?
When I started to “wake up” and work on myself it was because I started to recognize the complacency that was starting to form. I was lucky enough to work with someone that I saw as “a step ahead of me”. He started to work on a plan to get to the next level in his life. I wanted to do the same. He tried his hand at real estate. We attempted multi-level marketing together. He eventually moved to Denver to further advance his career. I came to the conclusion that every man needs a mentor to light a fire under their backside. Somehow this caused me to end up at a Toastmasters group.
Joining Toastmasters was a completely different experience than I would have imaged. I honestly thought we would sit around at a table, raising glasses and give a 30 second “toast” at each meeting.
I remember the first time I walked into this Toastmasters group. I knew absolutely no one in the room. Then some smiling, overly tan man with bright white teeth walked over and started talking to me. My first thought was “Ohh great.. I am in the wrong place, where are the younger people?”.
I sat down and watched the meeting. Everything was done according to an agenda that they did not deviate from. I was rather impressed by the whole process. I watched every member of the club walk to the front of the room and improvise a 30-60 second speech. I then watched two people speak to the entire room for about seven minutes. Then the third speaker of the day walked toward the stage.
Within 30 seconds she had me drawn into her speech. She showed emotion to the entire group, and within that emotion was strength. I was mesmerized. I wanted to learn to do that. I made the decision at that moment to join this club. If you are curious, this person’s name is Deborah Edwards.
Now remember the overly tan older gentleman with bright white teeth? At the end of the meeting he walked toward the front of the group. I looked around the room as he approach. I noticed that everyone in the room stopped to pay attention. The first syllable that emitted from this man’s vocal chords captured the entire room. I was blown away by this man’s ability to capture the room. I went home and googled his name. Turns out that Mr. Joel Weldon is a well known professional speaker, sales trainer and executive speaking coach.
Over the next few months I met more incredible individuals within this group. Everyone at a different stage in their careers, life and their process of self discovery. This became my weekly “group therapy” session. If it wasn’t for a few months of this, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the next major event in my life.
My wife and I had a blow up fight.
There are fights, then there are fights that make you want to walk away from a long term relationship. This was one of those. I was ready to walk away from eight years of marriage, take my daughters and tell my wife to have a nice life. I won’t get into the details of this fight, but it boiled down to me not seeing her point of view.
I let myself calm down over the following few days. Instead of walking out the door, I started learning. I tried to see her point of view. It took over a year of working on it, but finally I could understand the lens that she sees the world through.
Over the past three years I’ve become a completely different person. I used to spend hours watching pointless televisions shows. Now I read, I write, and I learn. I don’t have issue talking about ANYTHING to other men. Sometimes people want me to shut up because I embarrass them. Good! Get over yourself!
I’m also better at communicating my thoughts and feelings to my wife. There are times where I revert to silence. I never said that I am perfect, but I’m better than I used to be.
That’s what you need your partner to be.
Don’t aim for them to be perfect. That isn’t about to happen. Help them to be better than they were yesterday. Eventually these small changes will add up. If your partner is willing, and able to embrace the unknown, you will soon see a completely different person.