Thursday, January 30, 2014

Who Says Real Men Don't Dance?

Chase finlay


A recent article in Details magazine caught my eye. Rising ballet star Chase Finlay has been rehabbing a broken fifth metatarsal, an injury could end his career—but not if he has anything to say about it.

I was particularly impressed by this paragraph:

When he’s rehearsing and performing—hoisting ballerinas nine feet in the air, turning them upside down for hours on end—Finlay hits the weights only twice a week, tops. Now he has to make up for lost time: “You’re putting your partner in danger, so you have to be strong enough to earn her trust.”

Judging by his physical condition, I’m guessing he’s earned his partner’s trust.

Have you?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Critique: The Relationship Handbook, George S. Pransky, PhD, Part 7 of 15

George S. Pransky's book, The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships (ISBN 0971198802), is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of strong insights into building a strong marriage. This book is worth reviewing as a supplement to my book, Dragonslayer, while working to overcome the disease of Gender Role Reversal.


Previous chapters: 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods5-Emotions, 6-Compassion

Chapter 7: Dissatisfaction

Pransky's Take

Being bothered is a learned, habitual behavior that can be dropped once it is seen as nothing more than a thought pattern.

Focusing on dissatisfactions creates a negative tone. In that atmosphere—in the absence of trust—people begin to look out for themselves.

Anything we spend a lot of time thinking about becomes a mindset. A mindset is:

  1. Self-validating
  2. Externally validating
  3. Lock you in an uncomfortable, but familiar, feeling state.

This means that if you have a mindset of dissatisfaction, you will see things in other’s behaviors that confirm your dissatisfaction. As a result, your world or your partner will never “be up to snuff."

To counter dissatisfaction, express positive thoughts and feelings instead. When a couple is relaxed and happy together they naturally look out for each other’s interests.

The Sigma Male Says

Once again, Pransky is correct in his observations. However, the difficulty lies in actually implementing his advice, because recognizing a flawed thought process is only half of the battle. Most struggling couples are stuck in the blame cycle, thinking that they are already doing everything in their power to make the relationship better while their spouse is not. As an example, Pransky asks an an audience close their eyes while he asks the following:

In your relationship, has your heart been in the right place? Deep down have you tried your best to do right by your spouse? If so, raise your hand.

All hands go up.

But when the same question is asked about their spouses' efforts, only a third of the hands go up.

While expressing positive thoughts and feelings eventually builds a positive mindset, the process can be long, laborious, and frustrating.  Expressing positive emotions is easy when you know you will immediately receive positive feedback. But we know that positive feedback is not always the norm.

We’ve all been in situations where we have been positive while our spouse continues to be negative; in fact, sometimes a partner will respond to our efforts with increased negativity. And when you’re trying to develop a positive mindset, another person’s negativity can be absolutely exhausting.

I believe that the quickest way to for a man to develop a positive mindset in his relationship is to embrace the role of Sigma Protector: I am my wife’s ultimate Protector. I will not abandon the responsibilities of that role under any circumstance.

Imagine yourself a strong hero. For example, when a fireman rescues someone from a fire, does he quit because the individual responds to his efforts with negativity? just imagine:

Fireman: I’m here to get you out!

Homeowner: There’s no way out. We’re going to die!

Fireman: Why do you have to be so negative? You don’t appreciate anything I do for you. You’re on your own until you change your attitude .

As a Protector, your duty is to protect your wife physically, emotionally, and socially—NO MATTER WHAT. Taking on the role of Protector is empowering. You realize that you are strong enough to take any amount of negative feedback and still stay on the job.

Fireman: Lean on me. I know the way out.

Homeowner: The flames are too hot. I’ll get burned!

Fireman: I’ll shield you from the flames. Keep following me.

Homeowner: I can’t breathe!

Fireman: Don’t give up. We’re almost there.

At no time during this process does the fireman quit. He protects; he leads; he does his job.

And just as a complaining homeowner ultimately expresses gratitude for the fireman’s protection, your wife will respond to your protective strength in the same way. 

Next up: Permanent Change

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Focus and Compassion

Unfocused man

Yesterday, I shared Dr. George Pransky’s observation that compassion protects human beings from each other’s frailties. To have compassion, we need to be able to look beyond a person’s negative behaviors and strive to understand the motivations behind them. What’s the best way to do that?

In his latest book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Human Excellence, Daniel Goleman makes an interesting observation:
On average, people’s moods are generally skewed to the unpleasant while their minds wander; even thoughts that have seemingly neutral content are shaded with a negative emotional tone.
And when our minds wander:
“Me” reflects the activity of the default zone. Mind wandering tends to center on our self and our preoccupations and more often seems to gravitate to rumination and worry. Ruminations generate a background of low-level anxiety.
At this point, a man might be apt to think, “A-ha! My wife is fretting too much; she is only thinking about herself. She needs to stop being so self-centered and then she will feel better. Oh, and I’ll feel better too."

Unfortunately, this modality of thinking — while unhealthily satisfying from a self-righteous point of view — does not improve either the current situation or the relationship at large.
Goleman makes another point that can help steer us to a different conclusion:
Emotional reactivity flips us into a different mode of attention, one where our world contracts into fixation on what’s upsetting us. Those who have difficulty sustaining open awareness typically get caught up by the irritating details like that person in front of them in the security line at the airport who took forever to get their carry-on ready for the scanner — and will still be fuming about it while waiting for their plane at the gate. But there are no emotional hijacks in open awareness — just the richness of the moment.
When taken together with Pransky’s observations on the need for for having compassion, a new paradigm emerges:

When your wife is upset, you must be present in the moment (have “open awareness”), and to do that, you must learn how to FOCUS on the right things.

When a woman complains, how many men do the exact opposite, allowing their minds to wander to “happier” places until the voice in the background fades into a dull, droning murmur? That is a sure recipe for disaster.

In contrast, neuroscientist Richard Davidson says:
The capacity to remain with your attention open lets you attend with equanimity, without getting caught in a bottom-up [inattentive] capture that ensnares the mind in judging and reactivity.
In other words, giving proper FOCUS to your wife’s concerns allows you to avoid knee-jerk reactions, which is key in developing compassion. So, the next time your wife is distressed, dial in and pay attention to what’s actually causing the distress. I guarantee you'll feel much better.

Oh, and so will she.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Critique: The Relationship Handbook, George S. Pransky, PhD, Part 6 of 15

GGeorge S. Pransky's book, The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships (ISBN 0971198802), is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of strong insights into building a strong marriage. This book is worth reviewing as a supplement to my book, Dragonslayer, while working to overcome the disease of Gender Role Reversal.


Previous chapters: 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods, 5-Emotions

Chapter 6: Compassion or Resentment?

Pransky's Take

Compassion protects human beings from each other’s frailties.

Compassion is not sympathy — it is not “being a doormat.” The difference between sympathy and compassion can be found in the accompanying feelings. Ask yourself this question: When interacting with an upset partner, do you feel sad or warm? Afterward do you feel drained or exhilarated?

Compassion (signaled by the latter feelings) helps you maintain a healthy relationship.

Pransky explains that whenever people exhibit counterproductive behavior, they are in an insecure state of mind. When we recognize that insecurity, we should reserve harsh judgement and "look beyond" the behavior. Instead, we should try to understand the underlying motivation, which demonstrates compassion.

Resentment, on the other hand, comes from focusing on the behavior itself, impairing our ability to be objective.

The Sigma Male Says

This chapter is right on target, as Pransky is basically describes the Sigma skill of Dragon Recognition. When a woman displays a negative emotion (through negative behavior), her husband needs to “look beyond” that behavior and discover why she feels that way. Negative emotions are caused by problems, fears, or burdens — anything that causes anxiety or stress; in other words, a “dragon.”

The first step in becoming a Sigma Dragon Slayer is the gaining the ability to quickly recognize your wife’s dragons, a skill that does require compassion.

The second step is to learn how to actually slay a dragon, but that is a topic for another day.

Next up: Dissatisfaction

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

When Husbands Become Dragons

The internet is rife with all kinds of crazy videos, including mean-spirited pranks, questionable challenges, and an endless menagerie of cats. All good fun, right?

Not always. I’ve noticed a particularly disturbing trend emerge where men post videos of their unsuspecting wives and girlfriends. Their rationale for doing so varies from poking fun to proving a point. Regardless of the reason, when a man goes public with anything that could potentially humiliate a woman, he become her worst nightmare: A Protector turned dragon.

An example of this trend recently went viral when James Mongiat of Tennessee posted a video of his wife’s temper tantrum on YouTube. I’ve chosen not to re-post the video, but it’s easy to find online.

Whitney Mongiat's Meltdown

Apparently, James had promised to take his wife, Whitney, out with friends for a day on the lake. When he reneged in order to catch up on household chores, she went ballistic: yelling, pleading, crying — basically throwing the equivalent of a four-year-old’s temper tantrum.

The internet blew up as people criticized Whitney's immature behavior. While a few pointed out that perhaps James should not have posted the video, most bloggers came down in support of his actions. In fact, relationship coach Dr. Tara Palmatier of went as far as to say that:

"What James did is a great example of ABR (Always Be Recording), which I recommend every man do who is married to or dating an abusive woman."

Here’s the problem I have with that statement:

Jim Mongiat's Reaction

James seems a bit too amused by the whole thing. During his wife’s tantrum, he appears to be mugging for the camera, as if he already knows he’s going to post the video. And the fact that James “did not lose his cool during the entire incident” is not exactly unwavering evidence of strength of character. After all, he knew he was going to post the video! If James had lost his temper, I’m pretty certain this encounter never would have seen the light of day.

Furthermore, are we to believe that this interaction is an accurate representation of all of their interactions? If so, James has more self-control than most—if not all—men, including me.

Dr. Palmatier states that:

"More men should document this kind of behavior. Oftentimes, it’s the only way people will believe them that their wife or girlfriend really is that bad.”

She defends his public posting of the video because:

"Whitney seems to have a habit of complaining about her husband to her friends on Facebook – a public forum. Seems only fair that James gets to have his say."

Before I take issue with these statements, let me make two clarifications:

  1. Nothing excuses Whitney’s behavior.
  2. No one should stay in an abusive relationships—men nor women.
We may never know what went on behind closed doors in this relationship; however, from a Sigma Male point of view, more than a few things are certain.
According to James, his wife was prone to "screaming fits
and as a result, their marriage had broken down. I find it hard to believe that her fits only started after they exchanged their marriage vows. More likely, James knew exactly what he was getting into.
But that is beside the point.

As a Protector, a man is responsible to guarantee the physical, emotional, and social safety and security of his wife. A woman has to know that a husband has her back, no matter what.
A Sigma Male does not need to prove to the world that his wife is crazy — that she is “really that bad.” A Sigma has to be strong enough to hold the higher ground — to refuse to come off of the wall of protection. A man who engages in this type of behavior is like a soldier who gets wounded and then runs away while blaming his pain on the people he is supposed to be protecting.
I’m not saying that James should have given in to his wife’s histrionics. But he never should have filmed and posted the exchange. When she started to melt down, he should have been asking himself which specific dragons she was reacting to.

Sure, this was not Whitney’s first temper tantrum; but I am also certain that this is not the first time that James sold out his wife publicly—to friends or otherwise.

There’s no way to know exactly when the initial damage occurred, but I believe James quit being a Protector long before he shot this video. And when he did that, he chose to become another dragon his wife had to contend with.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Critique: The Relationship Handbook, George S. Pransky, PhD, Part 5 of 15

George S. Pransky's book, The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships (ISBN 0971198802), is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of strong insights into building a strong marriage. This book is worth reviewing as a supplement to my book, Dragonslayer, while working to overcome the disease of Gender Role Reversal.


Previous chapters: 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication, 4-Moods

Chapter 5: Emotions

Pransky's Take

People either indulge their emotions or run away from them. Instead, we should realize that emotions are only thoughts.

Catharsis (acting out emotions) will not permanently remove them. Since negative emotions are just thoughts, the easiest way to rid your mind of a negative emotion is to dismiss it as you would any other distracting thought.

Pransky reiterates that emotions are just an indicator of mood. They are a momentary perspective on life, not a statement of the world at large.

The Sigma Male Says

From a Dragon Slaying perspective, understanding that your wife’s emotions are temporary thoughts might lead you to believe that if you ignore them, they will pass and then all will be well. In fact, don’t forget that Pransky also indicates that emotions are about a person's perspective—that they serve as an indicator or red flag. Although he states that emotions are temporary, he also points out that you can know that an emotion has become real to your wife if:

  1. It is an unpleasant feeling
  2. She feels it often
  3. It seems like circumstances created that feeling

In short, your wife’s negative emotions (her dragons in the form of problems, concerns, or stress) are real to her. To dismiss her dragons as small, self-inflicted, or imaginary does not make them any less real.

Perhaps it is good advice to minimize our own negative feelings; however, Pransky points out that negative emotions are an indication that our emotional health is suffering. What kind of man wants his wife to suffer? When you recognize a negative emotion in your wife, it should become real to you as well and treated as such. Move immediately into Dragon Slaying mode by first recognizing the dragon (validating your wife’ s feelings) and then killing the dragon (offering concrete assistance).

At the same time, recognize that when your wife feels bad, you do not need to feel bad as well. Empathy does not require suffering; instead, it is the ability to draw on your own experiences to understand how the other person feels.

Maintaining control of your own emotions when your wife is down shows your strength—the masculine strength she needs you to have. Your steadfastness will make her feel secure and help eliminate the negative emotion more quickly.

Next up: Choosing Compassion or Resentment

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Even Hollywood Tough Guys Need to Slay Dragons

Brolin and Streisand
According to an article in The National Enquirer, James Brolin and Barbra Streisand are headed for a cataclysmic $390 million divorce. While the merits of discussing a Hollywood break-up might be questionable — especially given the news source  — I am often asked for advice about “hypothetical” marriage scenarios. Perhaps a quick analysis of Brolin’s situation might help other men who recognize similarities in their own marriages.


Brolin has always been considered a man’s man, and he’s often offered the role of the handsome rake. At least some of that image has transferred to his personal life, as he’s been married three times.

If the Enquire has it right, Brolin and Streisand’s marriage is on the rocks because he “is sick and tired of his diva wife’s controlling ways, bossing him around and treating him like a second-rate citizen.” Sources also cite her crushing work schedule and lack of attention as causes of strife. “James often complains that when she’s not ordering him around, Barbra treats him like he doesn’t exist,” the article claims.

Apparently Streisand “screams and yells at him” and is overly involved in the life of her only child, 46 year old Jason.

From all appearances, Barbra is a real shrew, and a hypocritical one at that. She has been attributed (by many sources) with the following quote:

Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain that he’s not the man she married?

Brolin is reportedly a laid-back personality, a fact verified by his son, Josh. Commenting on his father’s first marriage, Josh revealed, "My father is so passive and my mother was so aggressive that it became a joke. He'd be watering the plants kind of glassy-eyed; my mother would be screaming some obscenity about something to someone. It became like a Norman Rockwell gone wrong."

Most would say the couple's problems have been caused by the conflict between Streisand’s and Brolin’s personalities — dominant vs. passive.

While personality can predict the difficulty of holding a marriage together, it is not the root cause of marriage unhappiness.

Instead, let’s analyze the three roles a man must take on to become a Sigma Male in order to avoid a Gender Role Reversal — in my estimation the true cause of their marriage difficulties.

Sigma Role: Protector

Streisand’s reported concerns about her grown son’s health is an obvious dragon that Brolin chooses to downplay and ignore. While it may be true that she is going overboard in attempting to control her son’s life, her consternation is a red flag that she does not feel secure. Brolin’s dismissal of his wife's feelings effectively tells her that he is unwilling to protect her emotionally; therefore, she must deal with the issue herself.

Brolin appears to be an inadequate Protector.

Sigma Role: Provider

Although Brolin’s income may not match Streisand’s, he makes a healthy living. In fact, the article states that he has been taking on more and more roles in an effort to give himself space. Making less money than his wife is a non-issue where GRR is concerned.

Brolin appears to be an adequate Provider.

Sigma Role: Presider

“James feels that Barbra is taking him for granted because he’s always gone along with whatever she wanted,” says the Enquirer. By taking himself out of any decision-making process, Brolin abdicates his role as a Presider, effectively telling his wife that he is unable —or unwilling — to lead the dance.

Brolin appears to be an inadequate Presider.


Brolin is only one-for-three on the three Sigma roles. While that batting average may cut it in baseball, it’s bad news for a marriage. Whether Streisand is a diva or not isn’t the issue. Brolin knew what she was before he married her; in fact, the whole world celebrated her diva status years before their marriage took place. The real issue? Streisand is a strong, self-sufficient woman who married what she thought was a strong, protective male — a man who would provide her with complete security. Brolin's behavior tells her that she actually married a typical Modern Male who can’t — or won’t — give her what she wants.

No wonder she’s upset.

Monday, January 6, 2014

President Barack Obama: In the End, a Typically Passive Modern Man

The obamas

I recently read an NBC news report about President Obama’s post-White House plans in which he describes the reasons his his youngest daughter, Sasha (now twelve) will be the one to choose where the family will live next.

At first, his rationale seems solid, as he states, “We’ve got to make sure that she’s doing well until she goes off to college.” As any parent knows, a move that happens in the middle of high school can be difficult for an adolescent. Kudos to the president for considering that fact in his role as Protector.

But then, like a typically passive Modern Man, he excuses his value as a Protector, Provider, and Presider when he “jokes” that the kids and Michelle have “obviously…made a lot of sacrifices on behalf of my cockamamie ideas, the running for office and things.”


Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but it seems like “hosting sleepovers and pajama parties” in the White House, jet-setting on Air Force One to exotic locales for family vacations, attending the private Sidwell Friends School, etc., etc., etc., are the kinds of “sacrifices" that most wives and children in this country would be prepared—even grateful—to make.

Why are today’s men so self-depricating when it comes to being a man, especially when they shrug off responsibility for the decisions they make? It seems to me that Barack Obama has chosen a path that has not only been good for him, but good for his family—certainly nothing to make excuses for.

This self-deprecating modern stance is nothing new for the president. Obama has been quoted as saying, "Whatever [Michelle] tells me to do, that's what I do. That's why we've been married 15 years,” and “I haven’t had a cigarette in probably six years…because I’m scared of my wife."

Mr. President, you’ve given your wife and children everything a family could hope for.

Maybe it’s time for you—the most powerful man on the planet—to grow a pair in your personal life. It would be the first step in claiming complete ownership of your presidency.