Thursday, July 31, 2014

5 Ways to Avoid Relationship "Potholes"

Happy marriage

Parade recently published an article titled Happily Ever After: The New Science Behind Wedded Bliss. I’ve summarized the article and added a few comments of my own.

1. Remember That You’re a Team

Parade says:

Avoid behavior that cause division. Thomas Bradbury, Ph.D advises couples to “remember that you’re in this together. It’s not you against each other. It’s both of you against the world.”

More than 40 years ago, relationship expert John Gottman, Ph.D. identified four negative behaviors that could predict divorce with over 90% accuracy: criticism, defensiveness, contempt (e.g. rolling your eyes), and stonewalling (a.k.a. the silent treatment). Studies show that stress is the best predictor of how negatively couples behave with each other.

The Sigma Male says:

A Protector does not attack his wife.

It is impossible to become your wife’s dragonslayer when you are one of her dragons.

When the wife of a Sigma Male experiences stress, he defends her by slaying dragons and goes on offense by maintaining a complete, protective wall.

In stark contrast, when the wife of a Modern Man experiences stress, he will interpret her response as a personal attack, making himself the victim. If he is oversensitive he will defend himself and go on offense by attacking her.

In order to protect your wife, the Sigma Mindset requires you to shed the victim mindset once and for all and develop the masculine attitude that you are tougher than she is. If your wife thinks she is tougher than you, you have a problem. 

If you are more easily wounded than your wife, she will never believe you can be strong enough to protect her. If she believes you are more sensitive than she is, you have a big problem. 

Men, make the simple choice: don’t whine as a victim. Instead, choose to protect as a Sigma. (The Sigma Male, pp. 138-139)

2. Try a Little Tenderness

Parade says:

It’s not just words that help or hurt a marriage. Couples who regularly apply a positive “affect” (the outward display of emotion) are more likely to be happy than those who can’t. For example, using a warm tone of voice versus turning away. This means that you can make up for losing your cool in other ways.

The Sigma Male says:

This is an extension of item #1. Being a Protector automatically engenders natural sensitivity and tenderness.

Men don’t need more sensitivity training. They need to learn how to reclaim their masculinity, because when a man learns true masculinity – to protect – true sensitivity emerges of its own accord. 

If you are a father, recall the first time your child was placed in your arms. Her limbs were wrapped snugly in a blanket because she did not have the strength to hold them steady on her own. Her hands, pink and wrinkled, opened and closed as she sought contact with the massive hand you offered her. She was completely vulnerable, utterly reliant on you to care for her and protect her from a cold, alien world that was apathetic to her basic needs. Your heart immediately responded. In an instant, you chose to protect her no matter the cost while marveling that anyone would even allow you to try.Once a man realizes he has a duty to protect, it becomes natural – almost easy – to selflessly accomplish this task. (The Sigma Male, p. 157)

3. Soften Conflict with Humor

Parade says:

Laughter can go a long way toward defusing tension during negative interactions, according to Sarah Holley, Ph.D., director of the Relationships, Emotion, and Health Lab at San Francisco State University. A light moment can keep an argument from spiraling out of control.

The Sigma Male says:

Both men and women list humor as one of the top 10 characteristics looked for in finding a mate. But humor can only be used effectively when you are in control of your emotions. Otherwise, a quip will come across as being sharp or laced with sarcasm. Initially showing a degree of stoicism — the ability to appear unfazed when others around you are losing their cool — is essential. When you’re calm and collected a funny statement can give others a way to cope with a stress-filled moment. It has the same effect as dropping a gag in the middle of a horror flick: temporary relief of tension.

4. Support — But Don’t Smother

Parade says:

“Social support” is vital to marriage happiness. University of Iowa psychologist Erika ­Lawrence has identified four kinds of support: emotional (listening, holding hands), tangible (dealing with the kids or helping with a ­partner’s chores), esteem (“Honey, I know you can do this!”), and informational (giving ­advice). The trick is knowing which your spouse wants.

Experts suggest couples need to ask for the type of response they require.

The Sigma Male says:

Having a spouse tell you what they actually need is great — it just doesn’t happen that often. This is why dragonslaying requires two skillets: identification and action. Men tend to jump to the action stage before they know what the problem really is, which causes that anger and resentment attached to “giving advice.”

Empathetic listening is an important skill to develop in actually identifying the cause of your spouse’s stress. Mirroring back what you hear is a good way to know if you have correctly identified the issue. After this, agreeing with the pain connected to the stress is essential (showing empathy).

Once your partner knows you recognize the problem, offer to take care of it. Most of the time the fact that you understand and empathize will be enough and no action will be required. However, when your spouse accepts an offer of help, act quickly and decisively.

5. Celebrate Each Other

Knowing your spouse will be there for you when things go bad lays a strong foundation for a happy marriage. Experts say this belief is developed from how you react when good things happen. For example, do you respond actively or passively, constructively or destructively? In the case of a promotion, saying, “I know you’ve worked hard for this” is active/constructive versus saying,” Wow, do you really think you can handle this extra responsibility?” (passive/destructive)

The Sigma Male says:

This is great advice that should be practiced in every relationship. However, experience shows that being supportive during a crisis carries much more weight than celebrating a success. When a man falls prey to unleashing a rant during a crisis, all the nice things said during better times get thrown out the window.

Protective behavior requires consistency: being positive during the good and the bad.

This does not mean mistakes will not be made. But when your focus is on being a Protector, recognizing you’re headed down an angry path is much easier. That’s when a quick apology will get things immediately back on track. When you realize you’re being negative, the time to apologize is now. Don’t waste energy “stonewalling.” (see #1).


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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Husband Tracks Wife's 'Excuses' For No Sex

Do men keep track of how long it’s been since they last had sex? You better believe it. Witness the Reddit post by a women whose husband emailed her a spreadsheet listing the results of 7 weeks of requests for sex (only 3 “wins” in 28 days):

Sex spreadsheet

The email arrived in her work email inbox. In addition to the attached spreadsheet, he also had the “courtesy” to let her know he wouldn’t be missing her during her upcoming ten day business trip. Within days the posted spreadsheet image was removed and the post was locked, but not before it garnered 755 comments and went viral.

Where do I begin?

I’ve commented on the troubling trend of humiliating a spouse here.

I’ve commented on men complaining about a lack of sex in their marriages herehere and here.

I’ve commented on men complaining about their wives focusing too much on work here.

How about this? Perhaps most amazing is the lack of insight found in the litany of comments left on Reddit and other sites that re-ran the story. Most focused on the standard red herrings: poor communication; asking for sex without any romantic overtures; changes in the relationship due to time, children, work, and stress; the nature decline of sex in a marriage; a wife’s obligation to give her husband sex; and so on.

NOT ONE commenter dialed in on the true problem in this marriage: Gender Role Reversal stemming from a failure in one or more of the three Sigma Roles: Protector, Provider, Presider.

One thing is certain: Sex is always a barometer for what is happening outside of the bedroom. If a woman doesn’t respect a man outside the bedroom, she certainly won’t respect him inside the bedroom.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here is a simple, three-line translation of the spreadsheet’s contents:

Husband: Let’s have sex.

Wife: I don’t desire you. Let me make up an excuse.

Husband: I will try again tomorrow night. In the meantime, I will pout.

Let me be clear: There is little worse for a man than to be rejected by his wife — I know from personal experience — but consider how sad it is for a woman to be so repulsed by her husband that she has to come up with a nightly excuse to avoid physical intimacy. I guarantee that when this woman says she feels “sweaty and gross” she is projecting how she knows she will feel if she were to submit to her husband’s request. After all, she would rather go to bed smelling like a rank gym sock than to risk having him follow her into in the shower or to have to make up another excuse after her shower.

Sadly, every so often she gives in — partially submits — to placate him or perhaps to reward him for something nice he’s done, but obviously nothing changes. Without a doubt the experience is unfulfilling for her — and most likely downright degrading.

Here’s the key to understanding sex in a relationship:

For a woman, the security of feeling completely loved and protected leads to the desire for sex.

At its best, intimacy in marriage builds a rock-solid bond of loyalty and love; at its worst it becomes a source of frustration and obligation — a real power struggle.

The bottom line?

Positive, dominant behavior is always the solutions to eliminating sexual frustration and achieving true intimacy

Changing your focus from your wife’s inattentiveness and low libido to increasing your positive, dominant behavior (Protecting, Providing, Presiding) is a strategy that will always increase the intimacy in your marriage.

Men, the power and responsibility to make this change is in your hands. (The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want, pp. 127, 129, 132)

 If a man wants his wife to be in the mood to have sex — to allow herself to be vulnerable without reservations — he must first help her feel completely safe and secure in their daily interactions.


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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Different Approach or Poor Performance?

In a post titled “3 Simple Ways Women Can Strengthen Their Relationships,” I led with this recommendation:

 1. Thank him for completing a task, even when he doesn’t do it the way you’d like it to be done

The example I used (loading a dishwasher) prompted a reader to forward me this graphic (courtesy of The Oatmeal):

How to Load a Dishwasher

I admit this comic gave me a good laugh, but even better were the tongue-in-cheek comments posted on Facebook. Some of my favorites include:

  • NO ONE loses chores based on poor performance in this house. No. One.
  • Step Six: Run Dishwasher again…
  • Step Six: Act surprised when husband/wife divorces you for being a lazy ass and takes all your money 

Another commenter posted this follow-up image:

Bad job

…to which a witty female replied:

That includes sex.

Apparently, dishwasher-loading is rattling a few cages, as evidenced by this comment:

My dad literally took my sister and me aside when we were kids and dispensed this “wisdom” to us. Not specifically about dishes, but any task you don’t want to do. “#&!@ it up,” he said, “and keep #&!@ing it up no matter how many times they show you how to do it right. Eventually they'll give up and then you won't have to do it any more. You don't see me washing dishes, do you? That’s because I kept washing them in cold water until your mother finally gave up." 40 years later my dad is now facing living out his twilight years alone, after having wrecked two marriages via apathy and neglect. So yeah, this cartoon is great advice if you wanna steep in your own dirty Depends when you're in your 80's. Just sayin’.

Another viewer offered this advice:

Here’s the solution to a spouse/roommate/whatever who does a $#^& job to get out of it in the future: Instead of falling into the “oh #&!@ it, I’ll do it myself” trap, do this: Male the person do it over WHILE YOU STAND OVER THEM. Until they get it right. DO NOT DO ANY OF IT FOR THEM. Give “advice" the entire time. Then they learn if they do it right the first time, they won't have to it over. Yeah it sounds bitchy, but people need to do their share. Don't be a doormat.


All of this got me thinking. What are other examples of performing poorly to avoid household responsibilities?

  • Pretending to be asleep when the baby cries in the middle of the night so your spouse will have to get up
  • Leaving crumbs in a cereal box or a splash of milk in a carton
  • Mashing additional items into an already-full trash bag to avoid taking it out
  • Letting the phone ring so someone else will have to pick it up
  • Watching TV next to a hamper full of unfolded laundry

What would you add to this list?

There is a definite distinction between having different standards about “how a task ought to be done” versus purposely screwing up to avoid responsibility. But the truth is, when it comes to ascertaining our partner’s motives and intents, we can seldom tell the difference — and we usually assume the worst.

Part of Sigma Coaching requires a person to identify their own motives and biases, and then take responsibility for each accompanying negative reaction and response. After all, you cannot control the motives, biases, reactions, or responses of your spouse! But you can have total control over your own, and that is the first step in wielding influence with your spouse.

Because men and women tend to have distinct views of the world as well as different approaches to problem solving, the steps to gaining control of a reaction and response work better when they are custom-tailored to each spouse. But the starting point is the same. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I screw-up on purpose, either to avoid responsibility or to “teach my spouse a lesson”? 
  • Do I assume my spouse screws up on purpose because they do something differently than I do? 

Remember, only you have the power to load a dishwasher to the best of your ability — and the humility to believe that your spouse is doing the same.


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


Monday, July 21, 2014

Form two lines: Dominant men on one side, whipped on the other...

Heaven saint peter dominant whipped

After the Apocalypse everyone on earth dies and goes to heaven. God appears to the crowd and says, "Men, sort yourselves into two lines: Stand in line one if you dominated your woman on earth. Stand in line two if you were whipped by your woman. Women, follow  St Peter.”

Said and done.

God looks out over the crowd. The women have left and there are two lines. The line of whipped men is thousands of miles long. The line of dominant men has a single, solitary soul.

God’s wrath is kindled. He thunders, "You men should be ashamed of yourselves! I created you in my image yet you were all whipped by your mates. Only one stood up and made me proud. Look to him for wisdom!”

God turns to the lone soul and says: Tell them my son. What actions did you take on Earth that brought you to stand in that line? 

The man replies, "Beats me. My wife told me to stand here!”

Where would you stand? 


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

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bring It On: The Sigma Philosophy Can Take It


It’s rare to recognize the degree of a couple’s relationship struggles until after you hear about an impending divorce. Even then we can’t know what really went on behind closed doors — especially since most couples are unable explain where it all went wrong. And even if we are privy to any sordid details, it’s usually only half of the story.

I am the first to admit that back in the day I never discussed the specifics of my relationship problems with friends and family. I would occasionally make an off-the-cuff remark about being frustrated or commiserate in general, non-specific terms, but I never fully admitted the actual depth of my despair.  The truth is, when you’re wading through the muck and mire of an unhappy relationship it’s easy to fall prey to many different emotions: anger, frustration, depression, failure, and so on, which makes admitting the truth even harder.

Most of my family and friends were shocked at the number of personal details I chose to share with readers of The Sigma Male. But now that my wife and I are happy, it’s easy to describe — without hesitancy — how my missteps affected our relationship.

A few months before launching The Sigma Male, a friend asked me if I was “ready for the beat-down.” From his perspective — and he was correct — wading into an emotionally charged subject makes you a magnet for criticism — especially if you’re discussing deeply personal issues. As I mentioned, when something touches a nerve it’s hard to consider the possibility that you might be wrong.

As the Sigma Philosophy has gained momentum, criticism has begun to pop up more frequently. Interestingly, most of this negative feedback falls under the category of one of these common misperceptions:

1. Your work degrades women and confines men to a non-nurturing stereotype

What’s degrading about recognizing that strong women need even stronger men? And when have I ever said men can’t be nurturers? In reality, this criticism is usually connected to one of two points:

  • Men need to preside in the home. Yes, but my definition of ‘preside’ is not aligned with the old authoritarian model. In its most basic form, presiding means taking responsibility for the outcome of all familial decisions. This does not mean a man makes all the decisions, nor does it mean that a woman cannot take responsibility as well. But a man cannot — he must not — shirk any responsibility for what goes on in the home. Irresponsibility breeds contempt, not desire.
  • Men need to work, not be stay-at-home dads. Yes, but this doesn’t mean women can’t choose to work as well. The simple fact is, men who don’t provide for their family’s basic needs or who simply choose not to work become less desirable to their spouse. Many corollary studies confirm this point (a topic for a future post). I acknowledge that there are always exceptions: disability, temporary unemployment, or other unforeseen circumstances, but in the majority of cases, a man should earn a living.

2. You put too much blame on men. When a relationship struggles, both parties share the blame.

Yes, I tell men that it’s their fault if they’re experiencing difficulty in a relationship. Here’s why:

  • Being a Sigma Male is hard work. True, the Sigma concepts are simple and a Sigma’s overall workload is lighter than what a non-Sigma does in a futile attempt to please his wife. Nonetheless, it’s still hard work. To be successful in a relationship, a man can’t give himself any “wiggle room” for excuses. In all walks of life, blaming someone else is the quickest way to a guaranteed failure. Women are not perfect — they have their own row to hoe — but that has nothing to do with a man having the strength to shoulder anything life throws at him.
  • A man can change the nature of his relationship on his own. Research shows that men are more affected by a plethora of relationship issues that don’t seem to bother women. Perhaps a woman can change the nature of her relationship through her actions, but experience demonstrates that men tend to take what their wife does for them as a sure sign they are doing all the right things — which means that it’s business as usual. By contrast, when a man steps up, his wife will reciprocate with increased love, service, and support.

3. You oversimplify a very complex issue

If oversimplification means creating a model that readily defines a universal problem while providing a simple solution that works, then I’m guilty as charged. 

  • Gender Role Reversal is the cause of most relationship unhappiness. I acknowledge that there are a multitude of complexities that factor into relationship success, but none has the same impact as does the interplay of basic gender roles. Whether these roles have evolved over a millennia of social norms (nurture) or are the product of biology (nature) does not matter. I have found that filling basic gender roles has a greater impact on a relationship than any other factor. All other counseling methodologies become nothing more than a band aid if you fail to address the underlying problem of Gender Role Reversal.
  • Becoming a Sigma Male automatically fixes Gender Role Reversal. When a man learns how to Protect, Provide, and Preside, the strength of his lead makes him a competent partner, and there’s nothing more attractive than having a partner who makes the right moves.

Do you have a criticism I haven’t addressed? Email me at: or leave a comment below.


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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Financial Presiding: A Short Primer

Financial Presider

I am often asked to explain the difference between Providing and Presiding with regard to finances. The answer is simple.

Providing requires you to hold a steady job and earn enough to provide your family with the necessities of life.

Presiding requires leadership and planning, which means you must have a complete understanding of your finances — present and future.

To see how rate as a financial Presider, take this short test:


  1. I know my monthly expenses and net worth. 
  2. I have a proactive financial plan that addresses my goals and objectives and is inclusive of an investment plan, an insurance plan, a retirement plan and an estate plan. 
  3. I have addressed the most tax effective way that I can save money. 
  4. I have a plan for putting money aside for investment each month. 
  5. I  have a will. 
  6. I understand what taxes will be payable upon my death or understand what probate fees are. 
  7. I  know if I have the appropriate insurance coverage (life, disability, med/dental, business, long term care, critical illness) nor do I know if I am getting the best insurance rates. 
  8. I have insurance to cover medical and service costs in my golden years (critical illness and or long term care). 
  9. I know what my retirement plan will be worth when I retire or how much money I will need post retirement to live the lifestyle I desire. 
  10. I know what my legal rights/obligations are in terms of my business associates or my life partner. 

10: Strong Financial Presider: Congratulations. You have a proactive financial plan for prosperity. 
8-9: Financial Presider: Pay attention to the red flags you have circled. Your personal financial plan needs to be revisited.
6-7: Weak Financial Presider: You do not have a financial plan in place and if you continue on this path expect to go down the road to financial trouble.
5 or less: Financial non-Presider: You are in imminent danger of financial problems. Get help now! You are failing as a Financial Presider

self-test written by Irene Segal 


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

Out of Work? Better "Dig Deep!"

Ever wonder how losing your job affects your marriage?

USA Today's Regina Lewis summarizes research conducted at the University of Ohio and published by the American Journal of Sociology in this video:

Key point:

An employed woman is only more likely to initiate divorce than an unemployed woman if she reports being highly unsatisfied with the marriage. It's different for guys. They are more likely to leave a marriage, and they are more likely to be left if they are unemployed. Researchers involved with the study suspect this speaks to the fact that women working has become acceptable, but men not working does not sit as well.


If you find your marriage is strained by job loss, be mindful of the gender disparity. Women should not try to overcompensate, and men may need to dig deep for humility and resist the urge to flee.

Resisting the urge to flee is obvious, but what does it mean to be mindful of the gender disparity and dig deep for humility? More and more mainstream society is suggesting that men should “ swallow their pride, stay home, and become a “househusband.”

I disagree.

Men, if you lose your job you must work to become gainfully employed as soon as possible, even if it means taking a temporary job as a stop-gap measure. Your relationship happiness depends on you getting back in the game as soon as possible.

In their best-seller, Well Being: The Five Essential Elements, Tom Rath and Jim Harter address the connection between employment and a man’s sense of happiness. According to the authors, studies show that men can recover their well-being more rapidly after the death of a spouse than after a period of prolonged unemployment!

A key takeaway from USA Today’s report supports Rath and Harter’s assertion:

Your employment status may be the most telling harbinger of divorce.

Cashing an unemployment check week after week is the quickest way to start down that path, so avoid long-term unemployment at all costs.

Updated 7/17/2014 from a previous post


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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

3 Simple Ways Women Can Strengthen Their Relationships

Manly arms ad

In connection with my list for men, here’s three ways women can help their husbands apply the Sigma Principles:

1. Thank him for completing a task, even when he doesn’t do it the way you’d like it to be done

Men have the capability to do things “right,” but they often approach tasks with a different set of priorities. When a man completes a simple to-do and his wife responds critically, he takes it as a denouncement of his upbringing or feels like he’s being treated like a child. Since most men are pleasers by nature, a quick acknowledgement will work wonders.

Example: Your husband loads the dishwasher with the bowls on the bottom rack instead of on the top. He also neglects to pre-sort the silverware like you do. Instead of correcting him you say, “Thanks for loading the dishwasher — that’s one less thing I have to worry about.”

Result: Because your husband wants to make you happy, recognizing his effort opens the door to future and more timely task completion. Who knows, he may even start paying attention to how you organize the dishwasher racks — but would it really matter if he didn’t? 

2. Praise him in front of the children, then tell them why he’s great

Criticizing a spouse in front of the children is a subtle type of abusive parental alienation that causes emotional damage. Conversely, nothing makes a man feel better than to be built up in front of his children — and also invites your children into his circle of protection, since you are verbally recognizing his role as Presider.

Example: You tell your husband, “Thanks for taking care of that leaky toilet,” then turn to your kids and say, “Anybody else would have called a plumber, but not your dad. He can fix anything.”

Result: Not only will your husband be ready and willing to take care of future tasks (see #1) but your children also become the beneficiaries of your praise. Parents who readily express appreciation for each other are more likely to raise secure, stable children who are less likely to act out.

3. Ask him to do a “manly” task, even if it’s one you usually do yourself

Without a doubt, today’s women are strong and capable, but the push for full equality has caused many women to avoid asking men for help while dissuading their husbands from offering it. When you allow your husband to help you with a “manly” task, you celebrate his role as a man.

Example: You say, “Could you get that big box down for me?” while giving his biceps a little squeeze.

Result: Asking a man to be a man — especially to be your man — will fill him with positivity while subtlety coaching him to look for additional ways to be your Protector.

These three techniques are easy to implement — even the most adversarial of relationships. But when a woman already feels vulnerable, she may have difficulty asking a her husband for help. Nevertheless, if she follows my suggestions, he will receive this important message loud and clear:

Although I am a strong, capable woman, I still need and want you in my life.

And that’s a message guaranteed to stoke the fires of your Sigma Male in training.


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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

3 Simple Ways Men Can Strengthen Their Relationships

Man protecting woman

I’m often asked for specific examples of how a man can apply the Sigma Principles to his relationship. Here are three of my favorites. 

1. Take ownership for mistakes she makes

Society believes that a guilty party must make restitution for a crime and human nature suggests suffering should be a part of that payment. When your wife is guilty of making a mistake, neither of these beliefs should apply. When you take responsibility for a negative outcome that is your wife’s responsibility, she knows that her security is more important to you than your need to be right.

Example: Your wife takes too long getting ready, making you late to a dinner party. Upon arriving you say, “Sorry we’re late. The day got away from me didn’t notice what time it was.”

Result: Your unselfish gesture engenders your wife’s loyalty. In the future she will do what she can to avoid being the cause of your undeserved pain.

2. Side with her instead of family or friends, even if you think she’s wrong

In marriage, blood is NOT thicker than water. Loyalty to your relationship must trump all other associations. Your wife needs to know you have her back no matter what.

Example: Your wife feels run down and would rather spend a holiday at home with the kids instead of packing up and traveling to see your extended family. Your father voices his displeasure and blames your absence on your “selfish” wife. You say, “Guess what? It was my idea to stay home and if you don’t stop ragging on my wife you’ll see a lot less of us.”

Result: Your family and friends will realize that the two of you have an unbreakable partnership and you will not be disloyal to her, even for “insignificant” reasons. In turn, your wife will reciprocate that loyalty.  

3. Pay attention to her small hurts

When a woman is seriously injured, men take notice; however, they tend to disregard a woman’s small hurts. Regardless the size or type of her injury, let your wife know she matters to you.

Example: Whether she gets a minor burn, suffers a paper cut, has sore muscle after working out, or hits her funny bone, your response should always be the same: “Ouch! That smarts, doesn’t it? Let me help take care of that.” Then apply a band-aid or massage the sore spot with as much tenderness as you can muster.

Result: If you demonstrate consistent caring for your wife’s small hurts, she’ll never doubt you’ll be there for the big ones.

Some men roll their eyes at these suggestions, insisting that behavior of this kind will only result in their wife rejecting the gesture as insincere or patronizing, or even worse, she will take advantage of this “weakness” in the future.

Not so, especially when you act with a good natured attitude combined with a healthy dose of kindness. If you do, your wife will hear you say:

You are more important to me than anything else in the world. I would do anything to protect you.

Sending that message is the essence of being a Sigma Male.


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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Can Real Men Cry?

Men don t cry

As a subscriber and contributor to Quora, an excellent question-and-answer website, I regularly discover insightful relationship threads. Recently, I stumbled across an answer that did more than just answer a simple question; it presented a perfect example of Sigma behavior.

In response to the question, “How does it feel to get fired (lose your job) suddenly?” Jake Hawken, a sound designer and musician, wrote a lengthy and perceptive answer. I’ve shortened his post considerably, but you can read his full response here.

Jake and his pregnant wife were in the process of buying their first home when he received the bad news about his layoff. In Jakes own words (emphasis added):

I’m a bit shellshocked. It finally hits me and I head outside to call my wife. At this point, the adrenaline is catching up to whatever brought on the numbness from minutes before, and I’m hyperventilating a little bit. My wife answers and I don’t beat around the bush. “I just got laid off,” I spit out in despair.

Think of how devastating this news is, not just for me, but for her. She’s pregnant, we’re about to buy a house, and I’m losing my job. The natural reaction would be for her to start bawling into the phone and screaming or freaking out like I clearly already was. And that reaction would be completely understandable and not something that anybody could hold against her.

My wife instead said this: “Jake, it’s going to be ok. Things are gonna be fine. Do you need me to pick you up from the bus?” I told her I had till the end of the week and was going to finish up the work day and then head home at my normal time. We get the most devastating news ever, and instead of freaking out with me, she shows immense strength and compassion, and tells me that things are going to be ok.

I shamble in slow motion home. I get inside, and like usual, our dog is losing her mind with excitement that I’m home. My wife embraces me and I start to lose it again, but clamp back down. She’s in the middle of making dinner, so I let her get back to that and I slump down on the couch and let the dog climb all over me, showing me how happy she is that I’m home. From the kitchen (which, in that 680 sq/ft apartment, was about 10 feet away) my wife tells me something that must have been some kind of revelation from god or womanly intuition or something, because it’s exactly what I need to hear, “Jake, I want you to know that no matter what, I am not mad at you, or upset with you, or disappointed in you.” Well, ladies and gentlemen, after keeping a tight lid on it up to this point, I finally lost it. I broke down.

At this point you might assume Jake is not a Sigma Male, that his wife is the rock, not him.

Read on:

I told myself that I could have that one night to feel sorry for myself and be frustrated, angry, and negative. I decided that after that, I would be productive, optimistic, and driven. I wasn't sure how, because I tend to be kind of a pessimistic dude, but I knew I didn't really have a choice. I didn't have time for that crap.

I went to sleep and woke sometime after 5am because my wife was weeping in bed next to me. Losing the house was so devastating, especially when we had been so close. NOTE: Waking up to your wife crying in bed next to you is pretty much the worst thing in the world. Just saying.

Most of my next day was devoted to job hunting. Job applications, résumés, and cover letters make my head swim and my blood boil. They make me feel despondent and tired. They suck the life out of me. But I had promised myself that night before was my only allotted ”feeling sorry for myself” time, and so I approached the day with every ounce of can-do that I had in me.

As the day progressed, not only did I not get depressed, or feel hopeless, or get angry, but I actually began to feel positive. I began to feel like something good was in my future. I began to feel like things were going to get better. I felt a miraculous aura of comfort, optimism, and peace begin to infuse me. It ebbed and flowed a bit, that first full day on the job hunt, but as we drove home that night, it struck me in what I can only describe as a revelation. I turned to my wife and said, “You know what? Things are going to be ok. I know it.”

My wife, being the aforementioned saint that she is, was way ahead of me: “Oh, I know that. I don’t doubt it one bit.”

It's been a year and about eight months since this happened. I've done a lot of contract work and worked some crappy day jobs, but not only have we stayed afloat, we bought a house last October, and I have my final interview this week for a really fantastic full-time position doing exactly what I want to be doing. It's been a long path being underemployed (at pretty much the worst time to be looking for a job in the last 70 years), but things are finally on the up-and-up.

Remember, men do feel pain and sometimes even express that pain. But a man’s role ultimately requires him to shoulder life’s burdens and move ahead, just as Jake did.

Some men might argue that life’s most difficult burdens can only be carried with the support of an understanding wife. No doubt, a wife’s belief in your abilities makes it easier to work through a crisis, but ask yourself these questions:

  • Has your past attitude and behavior demonstrated to your wife that her support actually makes a difference?
  • Has your wife had faith in you in the past, only to have you let her down?

Regardless of his wife’s level of support, Jake had a responsibility fulfill. And I have no doubt that Jake’s wife knew what kind of man he already was: a Provider who had built a strong wall of protection around her.

When Jake awoke to find his wife in tears, he knew there was only one course of action: He had to be a rock, a man who would pay the price to keep his wife feeling safe and secure. And that’s what he did.

Sigma Males do exist. Jake Hawken is living proof.


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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Leader or Dictator?

Veto stamp
Katy McLaughlin wrote an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal about the benefit of having an occasional dictator in a marriage relationship. She cites an example where her husband went ahead and hired some house painters before she felt she was ready for them. She had not yet settled on each of the colors and was furious that he went ahead without having a consensus.
"We'll get started and figure it all out as we go," her husband told her. "It's time to make it happen."
Although McLaughlin later admits that he made the right decision — an admission that she is not yet ready to share with him — she concedes:
In a democratic system like a marriage, where two parties enjoy a 50-50 split in voting rights, it’s uncomfortable when one party designates himself or herself the dictator and makes a decree. 
But she also knows it is necessary to get things done.
In my book, The Sigma Male, I make this distinction: While decision-making can be split 50/50, true leadership cannot. A true leader is not a dictator — he does not make all of the decisions — but he must take responsibility for the outcome of all decisions. Someone has to, even if the stakes are not high. This greater lesson (taking responsibility for the outcome of decisions vs. just making them) is aptly described by McLaughlin:
One party having the total confidence that this is the right thing to do is, I believe, the first requirement for decree-making. It relates to the second requirement, which is a willingness to take responsibility for the consequences. It's not always possible to completely mitigate the impact after the fact, but it's important to let your spouse know you understand it will be your job to clean up any mess.
McLaughlin's husband, Alejandro, did just that. He made the decision and then stood ready to fix anything that might have come up as a result. This fact is not lost on his wife, as at the end of the article she says — tongue-in-cheek — that she’ll wait to “see how the house looks when the paint dries” before finally giving him due credit for the decision. In effect, he will have to maintain responsibility for his decision until she deems the work — ergo the issue — completed.
The article raises another point of interest for anyone interested in becoming a  Sigma Male. McLaughlin mentions a time when she decided the couple needed more life insurance because:
For Alejandro it was a nonissue: None of his Uruguayan friends or family have life insurance, which he considered a symptom of Yankee neurosis.
She uses this example to show that she too makes decrees in their marriage. However, I see her story as an example of a husband who really missed his chance to be his wife’s ultimate Protector and Presider. A man’s responsibility isn’t to gauge the size, ferocity, or reality of his wife's worries. Knowing that his wife was concerned about something should be enough to spur him into action. In this case, if McLaughlin was worried about life insurance, her husband’s opinions — and the opinions of friends and family — should’ve taken a back seat.
Had Alejandro taken appropriate action to begin with, McLaughlin wouldn’t have to have made a decree in the first place. The minute she told him that she was concerned about not having enough insurance, he should have said, “No problem. How much would you like me to get?"
Better yet, he should have upped the policy and given it to her along with a nice card  that read, “Don't ever worry about the future. I've got it covered."
Having followed that advice, I believe his wife would have let him paint the house chartreuse.
Well, maybe not chartreuse…
Updated and revised from a previous post.
Dr. John Alexander is an expert on marriage relationships and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about the Sigma Roles in marriage, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why Lady Gaga Dates a Sigma Male

Taylor Dinney  Sigma Male and Lady Gaga

Is Lady Gaga dating a Sigma Male? Well, according to a report in Us Weekly:

The “Applause" singer admitted during a radio interview on Sirius XM's The Morning Mash Up that she's submissive to boyfriend Taylor Kinney.

This seems in complete conflict with her work persona, where Gaga is reported to be in “complete control on stage and on camera.” But she confirms:

I’m in charge all day long, the last thing I want to do is tell him what to do. I mean, when I am home, I am like, shoes are off, I'm making him dinner.

Gaga doesn’t seem like that type of woman that would bow down to anyone, especially a man, but she adds: 

It's not good for relationships to tell men what to do.

This sentiment is repeated to me daily by men who struggle under a “bossy wife syndrome.” Does this mean Gaga would submit to these men?

Probably not. My research confirms that the stronger a woman is, the stronger she requires her partner to be. I don’t have the inside track on Gaga’s relationship but it’s easy to make a few fair assumptions.

1. Kinney is a Protector, emotionally and otherwise. Says Gaga:

We complement each other’s weirdness. And you know, at the end of the day he's my best friend.

2. Kinney is a Provider. Whether he makes less than Gaga is immaterial, because she recognizes his ability to provide:

He has a job, too, and he is really busy!

3. Kinney is a Presider. Says Gaga:

He's totally in charge.

This is just another example of the increasing number of strong women who value the security offered by a Sigma Male, a man who Protects, Provides, and Presides. If your wife isn’t treating you the way Lady Gaga treats Taylor Kinney, then maybe it’s time to examine which of the Sigma Roles you need to strengthen.


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

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review (all 10 parts): For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

For women only


Shaunti Feldhahn’s For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men was published years ago but continues to be cited as a favorite by many counselors. While I believe Feldhahn makes a handful of good points, I think she — like most relationship experts — overlooks the real cause of relationship problems. 

By request, here are all 10 parts of my critique. For your convenience, each post contains links to prior and subsequent posts.

Part 1: DisrespectPart 2: AngerPart 3: InsecurityPart 4: The Burden of ProvidingPart 5: SexPart 6: What Sex Means to a ManPart 7: Visual StimulationPart 8: RomancePart 9: A Woman’s LooksPart 10: Saying “I Love You"

Hopefully, the time you saved by reading these posts can be applied to enjoying one of my favorite life-changing books instead.

Note: Feldhahn’s later book, For Couple's Only, is actually a compilation of two books: For Women Only and For Men Only. In this series, I analyze the first. The summaries of each point were pulled from this post, by Jim Burns.


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

Friday, July 4, 2014

5 Reasons Why Getting Into Shape Will Improve Your Relationship

Ooooh Muscles

Although I’m a plastic surgeon who generally sees patients for elective surgery, they still quiz me on general heath issues. These types of questions have only increased since opening our anti-aging clinic, Total T, where we work with clients — mostly men — to combat the degenerative effects of age. These men routinely ask me about the connection between improved fitness and increased intimacy. It makes sense, right? You would think improved physical shape would lead to more and better sex.

Well, sometimes.

It all depends on the status of a man’s relationship prior to getting into shape. Just because a man looks better physically doesn’t necessarily mean his spouse will find him any more desirable. True, both men and women are more attracted to a flat stomach than to a flabby gut. In fact, recent research suggests women are sometimes more receptive to visual stimulation than men. But this research also shows that other factors always play a role in a woman being visually stimulated.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for some of us) looking at a great body is just not enough to get most women going.

That being said, I still recommend that men improve their level of physical fitness while working on improving their relationship. Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. Mental Toughness: A man needs to be strong enough to take on anything life (or wife) throws at him. 

Sticking to a challenging workout regimen — not to mention actually powering through it on each appointed day — requires focus, commitment, and drive. In other words, mental toughness. When a man can choose to push through something he knows — in advance — will cause him pain, he is better prepared to work through difficult relationship issues.

2. Emotional Toughness: A man needs to be his wife’s emotional rock.

Can you work out without complaining afterward? Telling a buddy how sore you feel is different than whining and crying about it, especially when you also tell him that you can’t wait to get stronger so you don’t hurt as much. In other words, “I refuse to give up.” But my wife wants me to be sensitive, not tough!  Contrary to popular belief, “manning up” does not desensitize you.  You can be tough and still be sensitive; in fact, I contend that manliness leads to true sensitivity. Real men can hurt, they just don’t get to complain about it.

3. Physical Toughness: A man needs to protect his wife physically.

When your wife is attracted to you emotionally, a leaner body and stronger muscles only make it better. Enough said.

4. Building a Sense of Security: A man needs to let his wife know he’s not going anywhere.

I have an overweight, out-of-shape friend who tells me his wife’s not worried — he’s got a big life insurance policy. And then there’s the friend whose husband recently passed away. He left her a sizable estate — she will never want for anything — but she’d give it all away to have him back. Taking care of yourself through fitness and clean eating is no guarantee, but it definitely signals more commitment than a insurance policy can by itself. Go ahead and take out the big policy for good measure. Then get into shape so your wife won’t need it. 

5. Overall Wellbeing: A man needs to feel good to have a healthy relationship.

I’ve cited studies that demonstrate that a man’s health has a greater impact on the status of his relationship than his wife’s health does. Believe me as a physician: No amount of financial success can compensate for poor health. Multiple studies show that exercise helps you sleep better, reduces stress, improves self-esteem and increases libido — just to name a few of the fringe benefits of hitting the gym. Feel better and your wife will too.

Are you suddenly feeling the need to make a mid-year’s resolution? Keep your eye out for an upcoming post for my recommendation and review of a great, highly-motivating fitness program.


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

Men's Complaint #6: Disagreements About Decisions



Over the next 10 days, I’ll be analyzing the Top 10 Complaints From Unhappy Husbandsoriginally posted by Redbook.

Complaint #6: Disagreements About Decisions

Evan, married 4 years, complains:

I thought I was being the good guy by letting her make all the decisions at home about what we eat, how we decorate the house, and when we started a family, but I’ve since realized that it’s one of the reasons why she’s fed up with me.

Redbook’s expert says:

If you’re unhappy about how much your husband helps out around the house, make sure you understand where he’s coming from. What you see as slacking may be his thinking a hands-off approach is a sign of respect and trust. Speak up and let him know when his help would be appreciated. And on the flip side, if you have trouble letting go of doing every single thing, ask yourself what it would look like if you started to delegate. Would it really be so bad if the dishwasher was loaded differently, or would you end up with clean plates anyway?

The Sigma Male says:

The expert really misses the point with this complaint. The issue has nothing to do with helping around the house, slacking off, or how a man loads the dishwasher. It has everything to do with MAKING DECISIONS.

As Evan clearly explains, Modern Men think they are being accommodating "good guys" when they abandon the role of Presider and defer all decisions to their wives. They mistakenly believe their wives will appreciate the gesture. Quite the contrary.

Women want men to be decisive and responsible. Instead they get indecisive blamers. Being decisive does not mean controlling every choice and outcome; rather, it means being willing to have an opinion and make a decision, then accepting responsibility for the outcome of that decision, whether good or bad.

Putting all the decision-making on your wife's shoulders gives her a burden she doesn't want or need. Evan is right: shirking the role of Presider can only end with your wife being fed up with your lack of backbone.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Can Women Have It All? Indra Nooyi Doesn't Think So

Indra Nooyi

More and more women are beginning to acknowledge that they can’t have it all. Writing a commentary for Glamour in May, Zosia Mamet explained “Why She Won’t Lean In,” as she questioned why more and more women are becoming obsessed with “making it.”  

And at the Aspen Ideas Festival this month, Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo was interviewed by David Bradley, who owns The Atlantic. Nooyi made some interesting comments, confirming a problem I’ve been writing about for some time now: 

Just as you’re rising to middle management your kids need you because they're teenagers, they need you for the teenage years. And that's the time your husband becomes a teenager too, so he needs you (laughing). They need you too. What do you do? … So we're screwed. We have no … we cannot have it all.

You can find a shortened version of the interview here

The internet lit up with positive and negative commentary, including this lively discussion on Fox News where each of the four female contributors agreed with Nooyi’s assessment:


Interestingly, Nooyi’s comment about husbands acting like teenagers was glossed over as a joke. Instead, one of the contributors explained that men were now in a position to be nurturers and househusbands — instead of suggesting that men step up and actually provide their wives what they really want: Complete security and protection.

I believe women can choose to do whatever they want to do, but that doesn’t let men off the hook for their responsibilities — they still need to fill the three Sigma Roles: Protector, Provider, and Presider. Only then can their wives be free to make weighty life choices without feeling like they have to do it all on their own.


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

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kelly Clarkson vs. Prince: Sigma Song Lyrics, Part I

Kelly Clarkson and Prince

Since writing The Sigma Male I’m amazed at the number of popular songs containing lyrics that fit the Sigma philosophy perfectly.

Perhaps Kelly Clarkson’s Walk Away, an anthem about a relationship that desperately needs a Sigma Male, is the best example of this. Here’s the bridge:

I wanna love
I want a fire
To feel the burn
My desires
I wanna man by my side
Not a boy who runs and hides
Are you gonna fight for me?
Die for me?
Live and breathe for me?
Do you care for me?
Cause if you don't then just leave

Walk Away by Kelly Clarkson on Grooveshark 

And Prince’s Future Baby Mama, a slow groove about a man trying to convince a woman that he’s ready to settle down, is a great response:

[Verse 2]
(You know what you want baby)
You're too secure to ever want to fuss and fight
(That's right)
That's why your man never ever got a reason to doubt you

I want to make you happy, baby
(Oh yes)
Happier than happy itself
(Oh yes)
U know what?
If you'll ever need a hand, call me I'll help
'Cos I got you, anywhere you want to go, uh
(Oh yes)
Paris, London, Africa, San Lucas Mexico, you see
I know what you want
What every good woman wants
A man so in love with you
He can't help but to flaunt you
Deep down I know what you want
You want your girlfriends to hate you
'Cos they can't get your man

Future Baby Mama by Prince on Grooveshark

Do you have a song lyric that describes the Sigma philosophy? Share your favorite in the comment section below.


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