Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Destructive Effects of Self-Pity

Self pity

Want to improve your relationship? The first step is to quit being a victim and take complete responsibility for the status of the relationship — even if you’re convinced you’re not at fault. ESPECIALLY if you think you’re not at fault. Why? According to Dr. Margaret Paul, self-pity (being the victim) demonstrates a lack of strength:

  • Self-pity gets you off the hook from having to take responsibility for yourself. If you see yourself as a loser or unlucky or not good enough, then you don't have to take loving action in your own behalf.
  • The hope of self-pity may be to make someone else feely guilty enough to take responsibility for you. Self-pity is a form of control - to avoid making mistakes, and possibly failing, by getting someone else to feel sorry enough for you, or guilty enough, to take care of you.

It’s impossible for your partner to feel completely secure when you act weak and needy.

The choice is simple: Whine like a victim or protect like a Sigma. The happiness of your relationship depends on it.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Defusing a Drama Queen

Drama

For help defusing a drama queen, read this article (via Unstuck).

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where Are All the Strong Men?

Strong Military Woman

A commercial featuring a strong female soldier filmed at a military camp — what’s not to like?

A better question: Why do commercials featuring strong women feel the need to denigrate men?

In this commercial for Navy Federal Credit Union, the group is literally up the creek without a paddle:

 

Apparently, this woman had to save the day because of the imbecilic shenanigans of “Campbell,” who, the woman says, will be the one left in the garage next time. Whether Campbell is this strong woman’s weak, dumpy husband or not, he still ends up looking sheepishly at his feet as she exclaims “Seriously?”

Wow! This “strong woman/weak man” model (found in countless other recent sit-coms and TV commercials) STILL hasn’t run its course. Oh boy…

I’ve written extensively about this modern trend in advertising (for example, here and here), so what else can I say? Well, answer this question:

What would happen if the same ad aired with the roles reversed?

Imagine Campbell, looking fit in his sharp military gear talking about the failings of some inept, dumpy woman. Guess who’d get left in the garage after that commercial… Feminist outrage? You better believe it.

As I see it, most men have become so afraid of feminist backlash that they would rather ignore this issue than risk saying anything “controversial.” But I have no problem speaking up.

Let me be clear: Kudos to strong women everywhere, including those in uniform — but can women only succeed when men fail? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that the fault for this trend lies squarely on men’s shoulders, since television and movies tend to mirror society rather than map out its future. In their rush to support women’s rights, men have stepped away from the masculine roles that enhance a true partnership. I believe these types of ads exist because more and more of these kinds of men have become the norm.

And believe me when I tell you that getting left behind in the garage is the least of modern men’s worries. It’s high time modern men woke up and smelled the coffee…because women have already had a cup and are on their way to work. 

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"My Wife is Such a Baby"

Flesh Wound

Although the names have been changed, the following story is true.

EXAMPLE: JOE (42) & JULIE (44), MARRIED 12 YEARS

ROLE IN QUESTION: SIGMA PROTECTOR

Situation

Julie nicked her finger preparing dinner. The cut was minor — just a drop of blood.

Problem

Eight years prior, Joe had been in a serious car accident that landed him in the ICU for over a week. His recuperation and rehabilitation took over a year. He understands what real pain and suffering feel like. Joe’s difficult rehab has made it hard for him to empathize with other people’s “inconveniences.” He thinks Julie routinely overreacts when she suffers a minor injury.  

Joe’s Typical Past Reaction

Before he learned the Dragonslaying Skillset, Joe would have said, “That’s nothing. Take a look at what a real injury looks like,” while lifting up his shirt to reveal his extensive scarring.

Recommendations

Joe had been ignoring this type of Protector dragon for years, not realizing that his wife interpreted his reactions to her injuries as non-protective and uncaring. I reminded Joe that his duty was to protect his wife from all dragons, whether small, self-inflicted, or imaginary.

This time, Joe was prepared with the proper response. As soon as his wife announced that she had cut her finger, Joe grabbed a towel and applied pressure to the cut, saying, “I’ll bet that smarts. Small cuts are the worst.” After the bleeding stopped (about 10 seconds later) Joe applied a Bandaid to her finger and “kissed it better.”

Final Notes

Although this incident seemed insignificant at the time, Joe’s Sigma reaction was the genesis of a one-week relationship turnaround. He was amazed how Julie responded to his new-found status as her Protector. They reported feeling like they were newly married again.

Remember, if your spouse can’t trust you to protect her in small ways, what would make her think you’d have her back during a big threat? 

Are there issues that create anxiety or pressure in your relationship? Email me the details and I’ll address your concern in a future post.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Telling Your Wife What She Thinks

This week I stumbled across a great quote from comedian Bill Cosby:

Billcosbywomenthink


Read the updated post here.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book Review: The Relationship Handbook by George S. Pransky

Relationshiphandbook

George S. Pransky’s The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of good insights into building a strong marriage. Although he splits his message into 15 chapters, his message can basically be distilled to a single idea: The cause of relationship distress is insecurity; thus, “the cure is understanding the psychological thoughts, feelings, and states of mind” in order to overcome that insecurity.

This thesis fits well with the Sigma Philosophy but as is the case with most counselors, Pransky never manages to identify the true source of a couple’s insecurities. Nevertheless, his book is an excellent companion to The Sigma Male, especially if you want to explore changing your state of mind.

By request, here are all 15 parts of my review. For your convenience, each post contains links to each post.

 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods5-Emotions6-Compassion7-Dissatisfaction8-Change9-Bringing out the Best10-Transcending Problems11-The Source of Conflict12-Levels of Relationship13-It’s Never Too Late14-Intimacy, 15-Commitment

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Provider Insights: Financially Stuck?

Money Worksheet

Although Provider is the most easily defined Sigma Role, it can be the most challenging to implement. Understanding your responsibility to provide for your family’s basic needs is much easier than actually doing it. Often, many choices made early in life have long-reaching affects on your career and finances. Fortunately, as bleak as your current prospects look, improving your financial status is always an achievable goal.

Jason Hull, a Fort Worth–based financial planner and personal finance blogger, shared his expertise in an excellent Unstuck post to this week.

A few of the highlights:

THE 3 BIG FINANCIAL STUCK MOMENTS

1. Debt: I can’t deal with my debts. I feel overwhelmed whenever I start thinking about it, so I end up doing nothing.

What to do: Stop doing what it is that’s getting you into debt in the first place. You’re not going to pay it all off tomorrow. Set your expectations realistically.

  • Start modestly
  • Get an accountability buddy
  • Build a competition with that buddy
  • Create little milestones

2. Overspending: I don’t have anything leftover from my paycheck at the end of the month. I know I’m overextended, but I can’t seem to resist the online flash sales. I’m saving money in the long run, right? 

What to do: Stop defining happiness in terms of what you have versus what you are. Spend time doing little things that create a sense of fulfillment, enrichment, and purpose.

  • Dial down your lifestyle
  • Reduce your spending baseline, bit by bit
  • Put away the plastic
  • Question your purchases

3. Taxes: I haven’t paid my taxes, and I just got hit with penalties, which is going to make it even harder to clear up.

What to do: Make it a project. Break it into subtasks.

  • Work with the IRS
  • Use an anti-motivation strategy (e.g. commit to doing something you dislike if you don’t file on time)
  • Spread out the pain (e.g. setting deadlines for different sections)

With Jason’s help, Unstuck created a simple worksheet to help you prioritize what’s important to you and plan your spending accordingly. I wholeheartedly recommend it as a great starting point as you work to strengthen the Sigma Role of Provider.

You can read the complete Unstuck article here.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Friday, October 3, 2014

DC Comics T-Shirts Misrepresent Superheroes as Non-Sigma Sexists

Batman vs superman

Guest Post by Matthew Alexander, Director of Coaching, Sigma Status 

I’ve read and collected comic books as long as I can remember and have to admit that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even though writers and artists put their own spin on individual superheroes, these characters’ basic traits remain pretty consistent. I know the editorial staff does its best to take as much artistic license as possible but the fact is, comic book companies protect their trademarks like sacred cows — anything to secure the never-ending flow of royalties attached to their biggest character’s sparkling images. 

Given that, I was amazed to discover a recent marketing gaffe that slipped by the licensing arm of DC comics. As it turns out, a couple of recently released t-shirts offended a multitude of buyers, as they portrayed both Superman and Batman as sexists.

First, the Superman t-shirt:

Superman macks on wonder woman

Next, the Batman t-shirt:

Batman wife in training

These images, along with an accompanying litany of vitriolic comments, went viral this week. Most people, including comic book aficionados, were not happy about this perpetuation of negative stereotypes. Without question, this news item didn’t do much to elevate the oft-sullied image of the comic book industry, which has long been accused of everything from cashing in on the sexist portrayal of scantily-clad female characters to inspiring misogynistic rape fantasies. But in an effort to avoid becoming a magnet for our friendly neighborhood trolls, I’ll just stick to a discussion of the images I’ve posted here. 

From the perspective of both a relationship coach and a comic book fan, I find both t-shirts problematic.

Given the well-known romantic involvement of Superman and Wonder Woman, the first t-shirt distills their relationship to nothing more than a conquest, another notch in Superman’s belt. I’m not a Superman fan, but this t-shirt still had me shaking my head.

Superman is perhaps the greatest Protector icon ever created, nothing like the womanizer suggested by the word ’Score’. A respecter of all women, Superman has always been drawn to the strongest of them, from his longtime friend Lana Lane to the tenacious reporter Lois Lane. Additionally, Wonder Woman is the epitome of womanhood: Strength and beauty inside and out.

Since they are the combination of humanity’s ultimate Protector and womanhood’s ultimate Defender, this reductionist version of Superman and Wonder Woman’s true relationship completely misses the mark.

Besides, I’m pretty sure that Wonder Woman wouldn’t let down her guard if she didn’t feel absolutely safe with ‘Supes.’ I’ll bet she’d bash his face in if he tried to make an unwanted advance.

With regard to the second image, I’ll let blogger PJ speak for me:

“The idea that you should settle for being married to or sleeping with someone awesome instead of being the awesome person is insulting. This just happens to be aimed at a young girl. I resent the idea that she should “train” to be so Batman’s wife.”

To me, the idea of Batman falling for a weak, vain woman is laughable. While Superman has always been a worldwide Protector, Batman looks after the weakest and most downtrodden of Gotham City’s citizens, especially its women. It would have been more accurate to have titled the t-shirt “Training to be Bruce Wayne’s Wife,” as that would have fit the false image maintained by Batman’s alter ego.

Like Superman, Batman has only been attracted to the strongest women he associates with: Talia al Ghul (his arch nemesis’ daughter), Selina Kyle (née Catwoman),  and Vicki Vale (reporter) just to name a few. He also relies on the assistance of other strong women, like Dr. Leslie Thomkins (physician) and Dr. Barbara Gordon (PhD).

But I’m overreacting, right? They’re just a couple of innocuous t-shirts.  What’s the big deal? If you don’t like them, don’t buy them.

Unfortunately, these t-shirts rehash the negative stereotype of domineering male/weak female, a view that sends today’s men into full retreat. Modern Men are so desperate to distance themselves from any appearance of chauvinism that they have willingly eliminated all forms of dominant behavior from their lives, including the positive dominant traits of Protector, Provider, and Presider.

That’s too bad, because I think we can agree that both Superman and Batman adhere to the Sigma Philosophy: They respect a woman’s strength but are still willing to ensure her safety. And that’s dominant behavior we can’t afford to leave behind.

Shame on DC for sullying these superheroes’ images while indirectly giving a black eye to real men who actually care.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why Strong, Independent Women Want Strong, Independent Men

Strong woman

As a strong-willed, “conservative” male, I am regularly asked how I could possible presume to know what women want. Even if I were to set aside the research I compiled while writing The Sigma Male, the answer would still be simple: I’ve spent most of my professional life listening to women describe what they want in a partner. They’ve told me! 

As a plastic surgeon, many of my patients are women making life changes. Whether they are addressing a physical issue that has always bothered them, seeking to please a spouse’s desires, looking to roll back the effects of childbirth or the ravages of time, or paying particular attention to their appearance as they re-enter the world of dating after a painful divorce, these women all have the same thing in common: Sitting in an exam room makes them incredibly vulnerable and, as a by-product, extremely open.

As I meet with these women they freely share details of their life, unsolicited information that justifiably outlines their hopes and fears. I’ve met with myriad women of distinct backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs, but through the years I’ve come to recognize reoccurring themes that have given me a clear understanding of what they desire. After applying this knowledge to my own relationship, I decided to help others do the same.

Although I’ve worked with struggling couples for some time now, I still find it satisfying when I discover a fresh voice that sheds additional light on everything I’ve learned. To wit, readers continue to send me links to affirming articles and interviews, which I’m happy to pass along to you.

In an article titled “Why Strong, Independent Women Just Want to Be Taken Care of (Sometimes),” published by The Huffington Post, writer Lauren Jacobs comments on the paradoxical nature of the article’s title:

“Mature, confident, independent women sometimes face the catch-22 of wanting to be strong in the world while wanting to be ‘taken care of’ in their romantic relationships. That is, some women want to be completely respected for their capabilities and strength of character while also wanting to be led, supported and cared for emotionally, socially and yes, sometimes even economically when they are with a man. The stronger a woman is emotionally or professionally in her daily life, the more she may desire some aspect of this.”

While noting that she and other women do not want to be seen as “takers, traditionalists, needy, or vulnerable,” they still value men who are “givers.” Here is her explanation:

SOCIO-POLITICAL REASONS

1. The uphill battle in securing rights outside the home leads women to want to be treated that much more nicely at home.

"It becomes a refreshing change of pace: When a man’s kind treatment comes from a desire to give, we can relax, be ourselves and not have to push so hard.”

2. The reality of domestic violence causes women to pay extra attention to a man’s inclination to be protective.

"Women want to feel safe, and we deserve to feel safe, especially in the presence of men.

SOCIO-CULTURAL REASONS

1. Women try to look nice for men and want them to notice.

“Because we primp, preen, prep and prime ourselves in these ways for the benefit and attention of men, (let's face it, few of us endure hot wax for our own enjoyment), it is nice to feel that we are being taken care of or even courted once we are on the date that we have spent numerous hours, dollars and grimaces prepping for."

2. Acknowledging gender differences is fine, as long as you understand both sides of the coin.

"In other words... go ahead and tell us we're cute when we're mad, we have no sense of direction, we're overly emotional, we're obsessed with greeting cards, our apartments look like a bed-and-breakfast, that we're ridiculous to wear high heels and then complain about them... but then hold the door, share your umbrella, carry our bag, offer your jacket, buy us a drink, take us to dinner, write us a thank-you, email us with date plans, call us to say goodnight and tell us you're thinking of us. You can't have one without the other. I think that’s only fair."

3. A romantic night out shouldn’t feel like a business proposition

"When a man plans a fun excursion or suggests a new restaurant and pays for the couple, the date becomes both simpler and more romantic; thus, even women who are fully capable of planning an outing or footing a bill often prefer this mode, at least at the beginning of a relationship.”

SOCIO-EMOTIONAL REASONS

Women are socialized to be responsible — giving and helping, loving and sharing — so they like to see evidence that men can take care of people too.

1. Self Worth

“As strong, confident women we have enough self-esteem to know our intrinsic worth and to expect someone who respects us, who will continually be there for us and who will remain interested and dedicated enough to want to care for and about us for years to come."

2. The Emotional Biological Imperative

“A woman seeks someone whom she can imagine taking care of her while she is pregnant, in labor, recovering from delivery, nursing, weaning and/or unfortunately, sometimes going through the emotional and physical pain of miscarriages or infertility issues. It takes a real man to stand by their side and be there for them through the difficulties as well as the joys in life. Women also seek caregiving ability in a man who will be father to their children. Will he be there for them, support them and provide love and a sense of security?”

At this point, lest men believe that woman want too much, Jacobs has a special note for them:

”Most women are kind, reasonable, realistic people who want to make sure that their partner feels secure and loved. Most are not asking for fancy meals, fancy trips or fancy things; they know that the company is always the most important factor.

"THEY SIMPLY WANT TO BE TAKEN CARE OF.

THE BOTTOM LINE

"We’ve lived happily on our own for many years, and we’d rather be on our own and not be taken care of than be with someone and not feel taken care of. If we're going to be with somebody long-term, we want to find the man who loves our strength and wants to make us feel cared for in the ways I have discussed. And for the reasons I’ve discussed, we're not going to apologize for it. We either have to find a way of tactfully articulating our aforementioned paradox of strength and the need for care, or we have to find a man who intuits our needs — who has the desire to care-take while fully respecting us; who is strong, sharing and supportive while acknowledging and enjoying our strength; who is wholeheartedly giving in the right ways at the right times.”

I think it’s obvious that in describing what women are looking for, Lauren Jacobs is quoting from The Sigma Male without realizing it.

And for any man interested, now that “Mr. Right” has been so adequately defined, you can become that kind of man by focusing on the Sigma Philosophy and its Protective Skillset. It’s that easy.

You can find Jacob’s article in its entirety here.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Quality Do Single Women Most Value in a Potential Spouse?

Pew poll

A new study confirms the importance of a major pillar of the Sigma Philosophy, namely, the role of Provider.

According to Pew Research, single women: 

“place a great deal of importance on finding someone who has a steady job — fully 78% say this would be very important to them in choosing a spouse or partner.”

Translation: Women value Providers.

Interestingly, in spite of being able to provide for themselves, today’s women are scrutinizing a man’s work prospects more than ever before.

Pew Research revealed that this desire far outpaces women’s other marital requirements, including similar ideas about having and raising children, sharing the same moral and religious beliefs, having at least as much education, and being of the same racial or ethnic background.

Does this suggest that today’s women are overly concerned with a man’s wealth and power — a seemingly sexist and shallow desire?

Hardly. When you consider the fact that women are regularly outperforming their male counterparts in both graduation and employment rates, it becomes obvious that women are less willing to select a mate that will become a dependent rather than a partner.

Remember, this isn’t an issue of dollars and cents. It’s about security and stability.

More on this tomorrow…

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tim McGraw's Modern Man Anthem

Tim McGraw

Have you ever misinterpreted the meaning of a song because you liked the chorus — or because you only paid attention to a single line? It happens more often than you would believe, especially if the song has a catchy melody.

A classic example of this phenomenon is the classic tune “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. As the biggest hit of 1983, a multitude of couples chose it as their wedding song, in spite of the song’s actual meaning: Lost love and jealousy, accompanied by a bad case of serial stalking! It goes without saying that this isn’t the best choice for a wedding song. Said lead singer Sting to one couple, “Good luck. That song is very, very sinister and ugly.”

I wonder what songwriters Mark Nesler and Tony Martin had in mind when they penned the Tim McGraw hit “Just to See You Smile,” because I recognize a “Modern Man” anthem when I hear one. 

A quick glance at the chorus (repeated multiple times) might lead you to believe the song has a sweet sentiment:

Just to see you smile
I'd do anything that you wanted me to
When all is said and done
I'd never count the cost
It's worth all that's lost
Just to see you smile

Sounds like it’s about a great guy who is willing to do anything for his sweetheart. But a careful listen to the entire song yields a different conclusion.

Tim McGraw

Just to See You Smile by Tim McGraw on Grooveshark 

First verse:
You always had an eye for things that glittered

But I was far from being made of gold
I don't know how but I scraped up the money
I just never could quite tell you no

Roles in question: Protector and Presider

Analysis: Buying things you can’t afford leaves your partner open to financial dragons. Giving her a sparkly gift may result in a momentary smile, but she won’t be nearly as happy with your increasingly stressful debt load. 

Second verse:
Just like when you were leaving Amarillo
Takin' that new job in Tennessee
And I quit mine so we could be together
I can't forget the way you looked at me

Roles in question: Protector and Provider

Analysis: Quitting your job to follow your spouse may seem like a gesture of true love, but things can really go downhill in a hurry if you forfeit a steady paycheck and she ends up having to support you.

Third verse:
When you said time was all you really needed
I walked away and let you have your space
'Cause leavin' didn't hurt me near as badly
As the tears I saw rollin' down your face

Role in question: Protector

Analysis: At this point, you have to wonder what this guy is thinking. He doesn’t seem to have sufficient strength or willingness to fight for his relationship. “Set if free and see if it returns” is patently passive behavior.

Fourth verse:
And yesterday I knew just what you wanted
When you came walkin' up to me with him
So I told you that I was happy for you
And given the chance I'd lie again

Roles in question: Protector, Provider, Presider

Analysis: Sadly, in typical Modern Man style, this guy mistakenly believes he couldn’t be the one to give his woman what she wanted: Someone who knows how to protect her. No surprise she finally ditches his pathetic Modern behavior in favor of a guy with backbone. Can you imagine? The love of your life introduces her new beau to you and all you can think about is making her smile…

I’ve got a suggestion: Learn how to Protect, Provide, and Preside — become a Sigma Male.

That’s a gesture that is guaranteed to put a permanent smile on your spouse’s face.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: The Relationship Handbook, George S. Pransky, PhD, Part 15 of 15

All in

I regularly read and dissect popular relationships books, sharing the most relevant information and correcting misguided fallacies. In this post, I cover Chapter 15 of The Relationship Handbook.

Relationshiphandbook

Chapter 15: Commitment

Pransky’s Take

Commitment to a relationship enables you to experience its full potential.

Commitment can be defined as a wholehearted, single-minded predisposition to a person or activity. It is all about our degree of mental involvement.

Commitment requires no sacrifice because it is actually self-fulfilling and self-serving.

Commitment comes before enjoyment, not because of it.

Lack of commitment comes from insecurity.

The Sigma Male Says

Pransky chooses an apt topic to end his book, since fully committing to a relationship is the only way to build and sustain it.

Instead of jumping in with both feet, many couples err in thinking they will fully commit after they have built a perfect relationship. Men, in particular, seem to have a greater difficulty committing to relationships, somehow believing they may eventually find greener pastures. This approach becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lack of commitment is distracting, only leading to a nit-picking focus on your partner’s flaws. This is why the Sigma Philosophy requires a man to accept complete responsibility for the state of his relationship, regardless of his spouse’s faults. Complete responsibility — total commitment — leaves no room for excuses.

Amazingly, as Pransky points out, total commitment is actually self-serving. Once a man decides to do whatever it takes to protect his relationship, the resulting benefits far outweigh any costs.

By now you may have recognized the following oft-repeated paradox: to get what I want (selfishness), I must put my wife’s needs ahead of my own needs (selflessness). This is an overused cliché, a favorite of marriage counselors.

Being selfless doesn’t mean you can’t wish for good things to come to you. True masculinity allows you to give your wife what she really wants while getting what you really want – at the same time. (The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want pp. 155-156)

Only a full-hearted commitment allows this to come true.

Additional chapters: 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods5-Emotions6-Compassion7-Dissatisfaction8-Change9-Bringing out the Best10-Transcending Problems11-The Source of Conflict12-Levels of Relationship13-It’s Never Too Late, 14-Intimacy

George S. Pransky’s book, The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships, is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of good insights into building a strong marriage. This book is worth reviewing as a supplement to my book, The Sigma Male, while working to overcome the problem of Gender Role Reversal.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sigma Coaching vs. Marriage Counseling

Coaching vs counseling

Since writing The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want, I am routinely asked to explain the difference between Sigma Coaching and marriage counseling.

Having experienced my fair share of marriage counseling first hand, I can safely say that the following short video is a great example of a “therapeutic” approach. In the clip, Susan Johnson, the developer of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, outlines the steps she takes to therapeutically engage a couple complaining about a lack of sex. 

First, I agree with Johnson’s assertion:

If we’re angry and scared, sexuality goes on the back burner. Anxiety and rage do not fit with relaxed, coordinated erotic fun and sexuality.

However, the beliefs and practices of Sigma Coaching and therapy begin to diverge with Johnson’s next statement:

Therapy focuses on the negative patterns that cut people off emotionally from each other.

While I agree that negative patterns definitely affect how people respond to each other, Sigma Coaching does not focus on the emotional effect of those patterns.

As Johnson continues to describe the therapeutic process, Sigma Coaching and therapy part ways even faster. By Johnson’s definition, therapy explores the pathology behind a couple’s behavior by asking questions like:

  • How do you emotionally connect?
  • How do you lose each other?
  • What patterns do you have in your relationship?

Johnson goes on to describe a couple she currently works with in counseling. The wife admits she pushes her husband too hard but does so because she feels lonely. Her husband says he responds by attacking her and then feels awful. The husband says he feels “hopeless and helpless.”

Therapy attempts to dial in on those feelings in order to resolve the issue. Johnson explains:

The couple stops talking about the content issues of what’s happening and they start talking about how lonely they feel, how they see each other, how they don’t have this connection. Then, if they stay with me in therapy, they can look at how they scare each other, look at how they get stuck in these patterns of distance.

I’m going to help them have what we call a “Hold Me Tight” conversation where they’re able to talk about their attachment needs and fears, helping them move close and open up to each other. And as they open up emotionally, they become accessible and responsive — and they start to open up physically to each other too. Their sex is going to start to improve.

Sounds complicated, right?

Sigma Coaching recognizes the source of the problem (much different than the one diagnosed by Johnson, by the way) but is not concerned with the pathology of a couple’s behavior and how it makes them feel.

Instead, Sigma Coaching lays out a step-by-step path to mastering the roles of Protector, Provider, and Presider. Rather than worrying who’s doing what to whom, coaching focuses on implementing a simple skillset that immediately improves the relationship.

The end goal may be the same (a better relationship and increased intimacy), but the approaches of Sigma Coaching and therapy are very different.

While therapy lingers on exploring and understanding the self-indulgent expressions of a man’s therapeutic “issues,” Sigma Coaching helps that same man change his behavior by practicing simple skills, thus addressing the real source of his relationship problems.

Which sounds better? A drawn-out therapeutic mish-mash of inefficient hand-holding or Sigma Coaching’s manageable timetable of assertive, self-sustaining action steps?

Seems like a no-brainer.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: The Relationship Handbook, George S. Pransky, PhD, Part 14 of 15

Intimacy level

I regularly read and dissect popular relationships books, sharing the most relevant information and correcting misguided fallacies. In this post, I cover Chapter 14 of The Relationship Handbook.

Relationshiphandbook

Chapter 14: Intimacy

Pransky’s Take

Intimacy is about focus, not time or “deep discussions.

Intimacy is the feeling of closeness that comes when two people are together with nothing in particular on their minds.

Capacity for Intimacy = (Attention Span) - (Distractions)

Evaluating each other (insecurity) dampens intimacy. Busy schedules and parental responsibility need not affect the level of intimacy. If the partners focus on each other when they are together, their relationship will not lack intimacy.

Levels of Intimacy

Click image to zoom

The Sigma Male Says

Pransky hits the nail on the head when he talks about insecurity and lack of focus.

If you want to build intimacy, focus on helping your spouse feel completely secure.

Period.

Next up: Commitment

Previous chapters: 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods5-Emotions6-Compassion7-Dissatisfaction8-Change9-Bringing out the Best10-Bringing out the Best11-The Source of Conflict12-Levels of Relationship, 13-It’s Never Too Late

George S. Pransky’s book, The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships, is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of good insights into building a strong marriage. This book is worth reviewing as a supplement to my book, The Sigma Male, while working to overcome the problem of Gender Role Reversal.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Strong Women + Weak Men: An Unbalanced Equation

Strong man strong woman

In a post for Special Broadcasting Service, comedian Alice Fraser offers a solution to the age-old complaint made by women in the workplace. Unfortunately, her opening line (Men and women are different, by biology and socialization) gets lost in a torrent of bad stereotypes.

It’s hard to take her serious when she suggests that it’s not fair that masculine qualities “like being ruthless, aggressive and cutthroat” are generally seen as strong while “things like compassion or ‘having had a baby’ make you weak or a bad leader.”

I did pay attention to her suggested steps society needs to take to reach true equality:

1. Women should get as good at doing men things and succeed in doing those things as well as (or better than) men.

2. Redefine and examine what things are actually men things, and what things are women things. (eg. the color pink and being more sexually lustful are things that have changed gender-designation over time). Many things that we assume are genetically determined are not. 

3. Stop making men things the signifiers and necessary qualifications of success.

Whether or not these “women’s complaints” (as she refers to them) are in process or have already come to pass is irrelevant, because there’s something much more important at stake. Fraser claims the “capacity to be good at math, rich or a CEO shouldn’t be dictated by our chosen set of genitals.”

I agree. The issue is not about women becoming stronger and more accomplished; it’s about men buying into a belief system that asks them to step aside and abandon their masculine roles.

In my estimation, today’s stronger women require even stronger — not weaker — men.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: The Relationship Handbook, George S. Pransky, PhD, Part 13 of 15

Forgive

I regularly read and dissect popular relationships books, sharing the most relevant information and correcting misguided fallacies. In this post, I cover Chapter 13 of The Relationship Handbook.

Relationshiphandbook

Chapter 13: It’s Never Too Late

Pransky’s Take

A relationship can always be “saved.

Emotional pain, resentments and grudges are just bad habits that make things worse by adding more insecurity to a situation. Experiences happened in the past, not the present. All that is left is the accumulated painful memory, which is no more real than the feeling that comes from remembering a dream.

Forgiving and forgetting is the answer. Fortunately, these skills (forgiving and forgetting) are innate and don’t require practice to implement.

Forgiving is actually self-serving because it allows you to get rid of the pain you feel when you re-live a bad experience. Forgiving requires understanding, which depersonalizes the event. Forgetting allows you to begin again with a fresh start.

The only reason we hold onto bad memories is insecurity — we are afraid forgiving and forgetting will cause us to repeat the problem. In reality, we re-live the mistake each time we “replay it” in our mind. When you “forget” you’re not actually eliminating the event from your memory; rather, you’re choosing to see it in a different light.

To forgive and forget:

  1. Question the significance of the event in the grand scheme of things. Does it really matter? Who is really being hurt if you hold onto a grudge?
  2. Open your eyes to your limited perception in life — to the idea that you should not use the event as an excuse to protect yourself.
  3. Instead, see the event as a blessing in disguise. What insight can you gain?

Remember, people make the same mistakes over and over because they are distracted by their memories. They step into an open manhole because they are thinking of their problems instead of where they are going.

The Sigma Male Says

Pransky expounds on a theme that I strongly support: Accepting personal responsibility is the first step to undoing the damage caused when you hold a grudge — damage that hurts both you and your spouse.

His reasoning is sound; however, his approach to forgiving and forgetting does not have enough visceral appeal to inspire most men to embrace it. Focusing on “soft skills” is counter-intuitive to many men because it feels “weak” to them. When a man experiences emotional pain his pride can override his rational thought process. Pain causes a playground mentality to kick in, telling him that the only way to avoid additional hurt is to inflict pain on his “attacker.” Men become rational about emotions after they learn how to control them.

I believe a more masculine approach to forgiving and forgetting yields a better result and can quickly break a “tit for tat” cycle. The Sigma Philosophy does this by appealing to a man’s pride — to his innate strength.

A man accepts the responsibility of forgiving  because he is a Protector. He is strong enough to carry the load. He has the built-in capacity to shrug off the ill-feelings and attacks of others, including his spouse.

Accepting responsibility can be likened to a warrior holding a shielding position; in other words “staying on the wall.” As a Protector, a man must maintain the higher ground so he can fend off any real dangers that threaten his spouse. Since he lives to protect her, holding grudges or fighting is not an option.

Taking on and living up to this responsibility will ultimately result in the loyalty, thanks and admiration he desires — praise that can only come after his spouse feels completely safe and secure.

Next up: Intimacy

Previous chapters: 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods5-Emotions6-Compassion7-Dissatisfaction8-Change9-Bringing out the Best10-Bringing out the Best11-The Source of Conflict12-Levels of Relationship

George S. Pransky’s book, The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships, is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of good insights into building a strong marriage. This book is worth reviewing as a supplement to my book, The Sigma Male, while working to overcome the problem of Gender Role Reversal.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: The Relationship Handbook, George S. Pransky, PhD, Part 12 of 15

Relationship status

 I regularly read and dissect popular relationships books, sharing the most relevant information and correcting misguided fallacies. In this post, I cover Chapter 12 of The Relationship Handbook.

Relationshiphandbook

Chapter 12: The Evolution of Relationships

Pransky’s Take

Relationships change over time from excitement to comfort. This evolution is a good thing because it allows you gain a deeper, more fulfilling level of intimacy.

 Marriages “quiet down” over time, becoming “deeper rather than more stimulating” because excitement is not very satisfying.

Intimacy comes more from sharing and companionship than from sex.

Levels of Relationship

Click image to zoom

The Sigma Male Says

Based on my interaction with struggling couples, it would be easy to misconstrue this chapter. Pransky’s description of arriving at a level of deep intimacy sounds like an excuse for couples who allow themselves to fall into boring routines, content to live without any spark of excitement. His statement about gaining these deeper feelings is correct: Other aspects of our lives (besides sex) help us develop intimacy. Couples who share nothing more than a physical connection are apt to become bored and discontent.

However, Pransky’s analogy of stimulation vs. depth (back scratching vs. massage) falls a bit short. As much as we may love receiving a great massage, I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like to have their back scratched as well.

Couples err in thinking that it should be natural for the excitement of sex to wain over time because of an increasing depth of psychological intimacy. I’ve heard other psychologists refer to transition this in terms of lust vs. love, stating that it is impossible for the two feelings to coexist.

I disagree. While our physical bodies may lose the strength of youth, a couple can maintain or even increase the level of desire they feel for each other.

The more secure a woman feels, the more she will desire her husband — physically and emotionally.

Sigma behavior makes this possible.

Next up: It’s never too late for a fresh start

Previous chapters: 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods5-Emotions6-Compassion7-Dissatisfaction8-Change9-Bringing out the Best10-Bringing out the Best, 11-The Source of Conflict

George S. Pransky’s book, The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships, is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of good insights into building a strong marriage. This book is worth reviewing as a supplement to my book, The Sigma Male, while working to overcome the problem of Gender Role Reversal.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Protecting Women. It's Our Duty.

Ultimate protection message

Over the past few days, media outlets have inundated us with reports about running back Ray Rice being cut by his team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL for assaulting his wife.

I am dismayed by the number of men and women making excuses for Ray Rice because of his wife’s behavior leading up to the assault. Given that my key message is focused on helping men learn to become Sigma Males — men who are respectful and appreciative Protectors of women — I feel the need to be clear as possible:

Protective behavior dictates that a man NEVER assaults his wife, physically, emotionally, or socially — for any reason.

In an effort to back up this message with total conviction, I am pleased to announce that The Sigma Male — in collaboration with Sigma Status — is forming a non-profit foundation to support groups and causes that help women in need, whatever their circumstances:

Protecting Women copy

A portion of the proceeds of The Sigma Male book sales will be donated to this foundation.

To get the ball rolling, we are supporting Fair Trade for disadvantaged women’s cooperatives. Click here for details.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing additional information about how you can get involved in ProtectingWomen.org.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Who's the Rock in Your Relationship?

As much as I was glad to see a positive portrayal of men in this commercial, I’m sorry to say it hasn’t become a new trend in advertising. Unfortunately, for every strong man TV gives us, it throws in another 49 weaklings.

At least for now, Gender Role Reversal seems to be the product sales message of the day.

Here’s a brief clip from the latest Sleep Number ad:

While the man — playing with kittens — is described as “the softy,” his wife — reading next to a huge Great Dane — is “the rock.” And he stays up late doing his best imitation of yoga while she’s the responsible “early riser. Up and at ‘em!”

While there’s nothing patently wrong with being sensitive and loving kittens, there’s no question the ad places the man in a weakened, impotent position.

Think I’m overreaching? Well, for starters the voice-over directly addresses women. Listen again:

He’s the softy. You’re the rock. And that works!

It would have been easy to write the ad in more neutral terms, by either using both “he” and “she” or with a subtle edit to the text (he prefers soft; you prefer rock hard, etc.)

Unfortunately, society continues to believe that today’s women prefer “soft” men.

I couldn’t disagree more.

Even more misguided is the suggestion that all is well in this couple’s relationship because they are “in it together — keeping the love alive.” But the imagery suggests otherwise. While they hold hands to create the shape of a cute heart, there’s nothing in their posture that even hints at intimacy.

Look again: Stiff joints, forced grins, and pelvises as far from each other as possible.

Heart in bed

Perhaps this has become the norm for too many couples. But what do you expect when a man is portrayed as “the softy?” And don’t even get me started on the innuendo of being “the softy” in the bedroom…

Sadly, this couple’s lack of intimacy is not too surprising given the full ad’s final act.

As it turns out, the woman has total control of the couple’s bed: She uses her remote control to guarantee herself an unmolested night’s sleep. 

Since she’s the one making the decision to buy the bed, she must be the Provider — meaning she’s making decisions outside the bedroom. And when a man fails to fill any of the Sigma Roles (Protector, Provider, Presider) OUTSIDE the bedroom, he can’t expect anything to be different INSIDE the bedroom. 

Only one question remains: Why do advertisers continue to run ads that seem to endorse Gender Role Reversal?

I think the answer is obvious. Leave a comment to let me know what you think.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: The Relationship Handbook, George S. Pransky, PhD, Part 11 of 15

I regularly read and dissect popular relationships books, sharing the most relevant information and correcting misguided fallacies. In this post, I cover Chapter 11 of The Relationship Handbook.
Relationshiphandbook

Chapter 11: The Source of Conflicts

Pransky's Take

Antagonistic thoughts need not be acted out through arguing. Understanding involves looking for the truth in what’s being said.

All couples have different belief systems in one area or another. Because of this, marital disputes progress as follows:

    THOUGHT     —>    FEELING    —>    BEHAVIOR
 (disagreement)      (defensiveness)       (argument)

Understanding lies midway between thought and action. In other words, if you start to feel insecure or defensive, review what your spouse has said and look for the grain of truth — there always is at least one.

At first, you may only be agreeing to accept or allow for that differing view. Eventually, you’ll come to welcome and respect differing views.

The Sigma Male Says

Pransky is correct, although learning to be “agreeable” is difficult if you’re even a little bit insecure. A non-Sigma wants to make a point, whereas a Sigma correctly recognizes that being “right” is inconsequential.

To overcome insecurity, work on developing a “protective” mindset instead of merely being “agreeable.” When protection of your spouse (a masculine attitude) becomes your priority, you will be able to label each disagreement as a specific dragon, which then allows you to shift your focus to eliminating that problem.

Protecting your spouse feels more masculine than just being “agreeable” — and it is much more enjoyable.

For example, rather than arguing about the best way to discipline your children, shift your focus to identifying the actual dragon afflicting your wife. In this example she may be worried about spoiling the kids, being too hard on them, or may just be feeling a sense of overwhelm. Each of these specific dragon — whether small, self-inflicted, or imaginary — calls for a different solution. Nevertheless, your ability to identify your wife’s specific worry or stress makes it easier to take care of the exact problem, thus eliminating a potential point of contention.

And proactively combating a specific problem is much more productive (and enjoyable) than combating your wife.

Next up: Moving from excitement to love

Previous chapters: 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods5-Emotions6-Compassion7-Dissatisfaction8-Change9-Bringing out the Best, 10-Bringing out the Best

George S. Pransky's book, The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships, is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of good insights into building a strong marriage. This book is worth reviewing as a supplement to my book, The Sigma Male, while working to overcome the problem of Gender Role Reversal.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sharing Relationship Details on Facebook?

Facebook crying

How does Facebook affect your relationship?

An article written by Anne Miller of Ozy reports that escalating Facebook use can result in increased relationship difficulties.

Miller cites a Boston University study which says that in general, 32 percent of heavy Facebook users consider leaving their spouse — twice the percentage of “non-users.” Also, a 20 percent rise in Facebook usage is accompanied by a 2 percent bump in the divorce rate.

True, these numbers may only suggest a correlation, not a causation — but here’s the interesting part:

The study also suggests that, “men and women troubled by their marriage may be turning to social media for emotional support.”

In the comments section of the article, readers were quick to point out that any time spent ignoring your spouse — on Facebook or otherwise — can be detrimental to your relationship, but I think they are missing the point.

Before talking about your relationship with friends, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I sharing intimate details that would betray my spouse’s confidence?
  • Am I commiserating  — just looking for someone to agree with how bad I have it?
  • Would I be hesitant to share the same information in front of my spouse?

A ‘yes’ answer to any of these questions suggests a breach of trust and represents patently non-protective behavior. Remember, the first step in gaining Sigma Status is accepting responsibility for the state of your relationship. You can’t accomplish that by complaining about your spouse.

Do you have a relationship problem you’d like to discuss? Are you seeking support that encourages you to be a better man? Send your question by Facebook Messenger or to info@TheSigmaMale.com.

Together we can build a better correlation: Using Facebook and building a stronger relationship.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"My Wife Won't Let Me Help Her"

Moving bummer

Although the names have been changed, the following story is true.

EXAMPLE: JUSTIN (31) & RACHEL (28), MARRIED 2 YEARS

ROLE IN QUESTION: SIGMA PROTECTOR

Situation

Rachel was born and raised on the West coast. She and her husband, Justin, live just a few hours from her hometown. Many of her extended family and life-long friends live nearby. Justin grew up on the West coast as well but went to school out-of-state and doesn’t see his family nearly as much. Recently, Justin was offered a job in his field of choice with a significant increase in salary — but it would require a move to the East coast.

Rachel agreed the move made sense so Justin accepted the position. They took a quick trip to scout the area and easily found an affordable place to live. Rachel was also able to secure a position in her current field at an equivalent salary. Everything seemed to be falling into place. After doing some initial packing, Justin departed a week before the move to begin work. Since her new job didn’t require her immediately, Rachel stayed behind to meet the movers.

Problem

Four days before the movers arrived, Rachel called Justin in a panic. She felt overwhelmed and said there was no way she could get things ready in time. After listening carefully (dragon recognition), Justin offered his help but Rachel said she could manage. She called the next day with the same concern, again refusing Justin’s help. Justin realized things were not OK and knew she would call again.

Justin’s Solution

Justin’s gut reaction was correct. The day before the movers arrived, Rachel called a third time with the same complaint: She felt overwhelmed, stating there was no way she would be ready in time.

This time Justin was ready. After listening and identifying the dragon (the stress of getting packed in time) he offered to take care of the problem for her. “There’s nothing you can do. You’re not here!” Rachel said. Justin said he would call family and friends to help. He was certain he could get enough people to respond to his request. Rachel refused. She didn’t want to burden anyone and she said that she would get through it alone — somehow.

Recognizing his wife’s strength and capability,  Justin agreed to step aside but he ended the call frustrated and confused. “I did everything I could to slay that dragon,” he complained to me later that day, “but it didn’t make any difference.” Rachel was just being a "stubborn baby.”

Recommendations

Getting things ready for the movers represented a true dragon, but it was not the only one Rachel faced that week, nor was it the biggest or most dangerous.

Sometimes a woman struggles to recognize her own dragons. All she knows is that she is under attack. Because of this, Rachel believed the stress of getting packed in time was the issue driving her anxiety but she was not entirely correct.

After a quick conversation with me and a little reflection, Justin realized that he had only identified a “secondary” dragon. The most frightening dragon was the move itself. Rachel would be leaving a lifetime of close support in exchange for the relative unknown. She would no longer have the comfort of family or friends nearby. Even her work environment — although similar — would be different: A new boss, new colleagues, and new ways of doing business.

Justin finally recognized the real dragon: Rachel’s fear of leaving her home. While the fear of being away from family and friends seemed somewhat imaginary to Justin, he had experienced anxiety about changes in his own life, so he could understand how Rachel might be impacted by the move. He had not previously considered her feelings but now knew how to slay the real dragon.

Justin called Rachel back. He empathized with the pressure she felt in making a big, life-changing move. He promised her that he would always be there for her and that everything would work out in the end. He knew that the stress of getting things ready for the move was only making things worse. He took responsibility for leaving town before getting the packing done. He admitted that since it was his fault he would be calling friends and family to ask for their help. He told Rachel that he would accept responsibility for leaving her alone and would not insinuate that she was incapable of getting things ready without him. Instead, he would ask others to stand in for him to help wrap things up.

Rachel — good sport to the end — made a half-hearted attempt to change Justin’s mind but knew he was resolute, that he would make sure someone was there to take his place so that Rachel would have time to say her “good-byes” and spend extra time with her family. Rachel was relieved to know that Justin’s call would not make her look bad in the eyes of others — she had actually thought of that (another example of an “imaginary” dragon). Even though she knew she would still have to work to get things ready she knew she had the support of her husband and others who cared. Rachel felt understood and loved. She agreed to let Justin make the calls.

As a side note, Justin told me that he had resolved to call for help whether his wife agreed to it or not. He knew it was the right thing to do — the protective thing to do.

Final Notes

Giving your spouse a true sense of security means you must identify and slay the “correct” dragons first, a task that requires introspection and practice. If you slay a dragon but nothing seems to improve, take a closer look. Chances are your spouse is being attacked by another type of dragon that is more difficult to identify.

Also, realize that sometimes a strong woman will have difficulty accepting help from her husband — it feels similar to admitting she is incapable or weak. Correctly identifying the real dragon will help her overcome these misplaced feelings. As she comes to understand that you have her best interests at heart, your wife will readily accept your help and support.

In the most pressing situations, go ahead and slay the dragon without your wife’s permission — as long as you don’t try to “teach her a lesson” afterward. Just kill the dragon and move on, without discussion.

What topics create anxiety or stress in your relationship? Email me the details and I’ll address your concern in a future post.

—————

Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.