December 12, 2014
There’s a lot a guides out there that will help fellas “get the girl.” There’s even a mega-creep named Julien Blanc who runs seminars that instruct bros on how to use violence and abuse to “pick up chicks.”
I might have been interested in what he has to say when I was 19. But I’m a man now and (straight) men need women, not “girls.” There are guys my age who never get that. Apparently, there are people who don’t know that I got this a while ago.
Every time I look at our daughter Cozette’s perfect baby face I’m reminded how lucky I am to have met Andrea. I went through a lot in my life to be finally be ready for her to arrive. I didn’t pursue her. She came for me. I flew the feminist flag but never really figured out the last pieces of the puzzle until this decade. My shrink gave me a reading assignment. The New Rules of Marriage (2008) by feminist therapist Terrance Real.
The first chapter really hit home. It was essentially about how couples are teams, not competitors. Most battle-tested husbands will tell you that you can never actually “win” an argument. But I spent much of my relationship time “proving my point” and “defending my position.” The important response is to shut up, listen, and be empathetic. I joke to my male students that if they are in a heterosexual relationship, the sentence that will save their world, is “How was your day, honey?” And then to just shut up and listen.
In relationships there are really three beings. The two people (in this example, we will use a man and a woman) and the relationship itself. Traditionally, the female has been in charge of the relationship. She tries to nurture it on her own. The guy blows if off for golfing or woodwork. So when mama says to papa, “Honey, can we talk?” Papa says, “Oh, shit. This is about the relationship right? Can it wait until after the Masters Tournament in April?”
So guy shuts down and mama is left holding the bag. Or guy changes the oil in her car as proof that he cares. Or guy tries to convince her she’s crazy and throws a beer can at her. It just spirals from there.
There are some folks who probably don’t think Andrea and I should be together. Our cultural differences (she’s a foreigner!). Our age differences (I’m older!), but people who know us know we fit together perfectly. We’re a team. And whenever we face a tough time, that’s our mantra. “We’re a team! It’s us against the world!” And now that we are parents, we are even more bonded as a team. I have no fear because I am with someone who is stronger than I am. She is not my “submissive wife” (Sorry Southern Baptists). She is my partner in our life adventures.
I guess I just feel bad for guys who don’t know this. I was one of those guys. I couldn’t figure out why relationships would start out so well and then crash and burn. I didn’t know how to stop and listen to my teammate. It took a lot of work to get to this point, so let me share it so it won’t be so hard for you. You want to be a good father? Start a partnership. That way you can spend less time fighting and watching golf and more time living in love.
This book is available at Powell’s by clicking the cover below.