Become Your Spouse

Become Your Spouse

Become Your Spouse

After over 21 years of working with couples and families, I have found one common thread: we are highly attracted to our shadow.⁣⁣
We unknowingly partner with people who embody the very strengths that we lack, and we decide to be with them for the unconscious purpose of adding to our own quiver the very arsenal of weapons they possess — which we have not yet acquired. ⁣⁣
In the counseling setting, couples come in with heated complaints about the failures of the other. I believe that embedded in these complaints are merely the side effects of the strengths they possess that we ourselves are envious to become.⁣⁣
He is easy going and lackadaisical, you need to freaking relax. She is emotional, and you need to be more vulnerable with your feelings. He is aggressive, and you secretly desire to be more assertive and stand up for yourself. She is overly concerned with the well-being of others, and you need to tune-in to the care-taking and selflessness that you so often neglect.⁣⁣
It is not that we must fundamentally abandon our own strengths and invert ourselves into an opposite nature. But we become whole and fully human when we add to our own gifts the upside of the very attributes our partner demonstrates in their seeming waywardness.⁣⁣
She is anxious and visually neurotic, and you need to tune into the things that you are forgetting about. He is overly sexual and you need to drop your guardedness in the dimension of your own sensory stimulation and satisfaction. She is overly social, and you need to get more involved with your friends. He is insanely spiritual, and you need to see the bigger picture. ⁣⁣
Much has been written about the polarity that brings us together. Consider the things that you deem flaws in your significant other and become those things, yourself. To become one is to each add to your own beauty the things that are missing from it. These attributes are most often displayed in (and recognized as) the words and actions and behaviors that look like bullshit when you are in a defensive position of resistance. Become who they are and you, yourself, evolve into the character that your soul is craving to create in you. ⁣⁣

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Music — Feeling Is Healing

Music — Feeling Is Healing

Music — Feeling Is Healing

When we let ourselves FEEL, even the hard stuff, sometimes we wanna run from it. But in my 20 years of helping people heal and 43 years of musical self-medicating, myself, I can tell you, feeling is healing and avoiding is bondage.

I always recommend that people play the sad music when they’re sad, and the angry stuff when they’re pissed off because so often feelings are intense and we try to avoid their impact. Are you avoiding the dark stuff? The stuff that makes you distracted at work. That’s bullshit and it won’t work in the long run, my friend.

Some people feel it instead, and it works exceptionally well.

Don’t be afraid to feel what’s in there: fear, worry, sadness, loneliness. Because it will actually allow you to consciously dissipate it.

Music is just one awesome way to caramelize all that beautiful healing.

It feels SO good to be validated. Music can do that, for every kind of feeling, and in a way that YOU control. You’re not having to wait for the magic persona to give you that. You’re just an old (or new) playlist away. Whatever you’re harboring in your dungeon of despair, there’s an escape hatch with some weirdo band’s name on the door.

Every heard of J Roddy Walston and the Business? Volbeat? Explosions in the Sky? Bears Den? Kings of Leon? I’ll share some of my stuff this next week on my Facebook page where they let you link songs like grown-up social media should.

And the good news is that music bonds people. Music can heal your relationship, or at least get you back in a space of emotional exposure and set the mood for attachment which builds intimacy. It is probably already part of your story, but maybe an abandoned method of connection to self, to feelings, even to your person.

My office is a 45 second drive from my office so its never even worth turning something on. I suppose in my newest ambition, I will have more time now as I take the 15 minutes to walk to work in 2019. That’s like 4 jams. There and back.

Music bonds people. If you feel as deserted as the picture above, and you *happen to share emotional taste in music with someone cool, it can quickly become intimate, whether it’s your homies or homegirls or the person AT home. Sensory disconnection precedes almost any separation. In 90% of the cases, I’d say, anyway. Music is a sensory bonding agent stronger than fiberglass resin.

Turn on your jams. The ones you both feel.

So people that are hurting, particularly those hurting from empty love relationships, often fill the sensory voids with stuff like food, drugs and alcohol, porn, and all kinds of bad shit. Music on the other hand, is a healthy way to simultaneously numb and heighten all that intensity. And it freaking heals you.

What are you listening to? Since Instagram can’t catch up to 2018/19 and allow links, just post the song name and artist. I need some new stuff. Share it with me here and I’ll post some stuff on my FB page this week that is healing me by letting me feel what’s deep down in there these days.

(I realize I am a terrible writer. I need an editor if you know someone.)

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The T-Word: How NOT to Be a Typical Man

The T-Word: How NOT to Be a Typical Man

The T-Word: How NOT to Be a Typical Man

The T-Word: How NOT to be a typical man

  You’ve heard it before. The sarcastic-toned critique from someone who is sick of your $#!+. After some discovery of your failings–the trash you didn’t take out, the birthday you forgot, the overspending on some self-absorbed purchase–you get what many men get, the dreaded T-Word: a comment about you being a “typical man.” It’s like a gender slur. Some unfair assault on you regarding your gender. But it isn’t so much your gender this person is attacking. It is what they perceive as your failure to fulfill some kind of contract that you may or may not have even agreed to. Let me just say this, men. You don’t want to ever be considered typical. To be called a “typical man” should be an indicator that you have work to do. Unless of course the person slinging that mud is perhaps a “typical woman.” But that’s a whole ‘nother blog article. What is a typical man? I guess, like so many things, this disparaging label gets it’s meaning from the beholder of such behavior. But in my 20 years of counseling men and their families, I have found a few common characteristics of this sub-par sub-species:
  • They are selfish.
  • They are irresponsible.
  • They are undisciplined.
  • They are hedonistic.
  • They are aggressively immature.
Some of what others see in you to call you typical in the first place is filtered through unrealistic expectations and the false hope that you’ve read their mind about what you’re supposed to be doing. But sometimes, dude, you suck. Sometimes I suck. And I’m here to shoot you straight about how not to be a typical man.
  1. Have an opinion. I can always tell how mentally lazy a man is by the amount of “I don’t know’s” he uses in conversation with me. To me that is simply a shutting down of effort and a refusal to engage. Yes, decisions take brain power, and that is difficult, metabolically. It takes calories to think and we men have perhaps evolved too far when it comes to preserving caloric resources and avoid having an opinion or making a decision. Know what you want for dinner. Know what your dreams and goals are. Know what you want to do this weekend. If you don’t know, simply say, “give me a minute, I need to think about that one” and sort out your thoughts.
  2. Use your voice, assertively. In working with men for a month-shy of two decades, I have discovered that most angry episodes are sparked only after a long period of previously-unspoken passivity. Go into an anger management class and you will find a room full of “nice” guys who lost their cool after too much passive avoidance of communication. Speak your mind. Tell the truth.
  3. Do it yourself. Don’t let someone serve you. I don’t mean when there’s been a death in your family and people bring scalloped potatoes. I mean when you’re in the recliner and you ask for someone to bring you a beverage. Some people’s “love language” is acts of service and they feel very loved when people DO things for them. But far too many men have become so dependent on people waiting on them that they have come to expect service and never return the favor. A few years ago my friends step-mother died and one of his father’s first remarks was “who is going to fix my dinner?” I was shocked. Do it yourself, bro. Get out of the habit of asking, especially if you do it all the time.
  4. Be consistently reliable. We can’t just say here to “be consistent” because for too many men, consistent means you consistently suck. You are consistently UNreliable. Do what you said you were going to do, or stop saying you’re going to do it. The worst example of this and the ugliest form of unreliability in the world is the divorced father who promises he will be there to pick up the kids and never comes. Don’t be a flake, man. Do what you said you were going to do. Sometimes things get in the way. Sometimes your job, your vehicle, your new wife, your stomach flu, and your headache WILL get in the way. Even if you claim a 20% error rate…be 80% consistent. Eighty percent of the time, follow through and be there. Show up.
  5. Find ways to selflessly serve. We are naturally lovers of ourselves; maybe all human beings, but particularly men. Here’s how you fix that. Feed the homeless. Visit with your widow neighbor who NEVER knows when to stop talking. Volunteer for two hours once a month at the animal rescue. You have to exercise the selfless muscle or you will be ripped with ego, and alone.
  6. Over-communicate. There is a professional here in Vegas that I have had to work with a few times and I just can’t stand the guy. He has personally insulted me, caused major upheaval in some of my plans, and is generally a total douche bag. But about 2 years ago I had reason to coordinate some client care with him. I was stunned by the positive way he communicated with me. It was like he had just attended a customer service seminar recently and was being observed by headset by the owner of the company. Here is what he did: He answered the phone and I shared the need for this client. He told me he was going to transfer me to so-and-so and that explained what their role was, and right before transferring said “ok, i will transfer you now.” It was SO helpful to know what he was doing to handle this call. He told me what he was ABOUT to do and it really changed some of my opinions of this guy. He over-communicated. I knew exactly what to expect. I would say that men need to channel their inner flight attendant when it comes to communication. Tell them what you’re about to do. Ask what they need from you. Before delivering it, be sure you have it right. They even do that at Taco Bell and Jack in the Box.
  7. Be disciplined. So much our bullying comes from feelings of inadequacy in ourselves. We pick on fat people most when we, ourselves, are so undisciplined. We complain about others’ lacking when we are hiding from our own guilt and shame about what we aren’t doing so well. I remember at one of my heaviest times I was having a meal with a group of people, and one of them was a police officer. I asked if he was finished eating and if he wanted or needed more food and he said “I’ve had enough food.” I was so impressed because I probably had already “had enough food,” myself, but I’m sure I continued eating. This man has maintained a health body and didn’t fall into the kinds of destructive indulgences I did, and I think that is all about his discipline and my lack of such. Perhaps our toxic tendency to control others in unhealthy ways stems from our inability to control our own appetites and habits.
  8. Act your age. Many times, I have told the overly-serious man that he needs to get in touch with his “inner Jack Black.” Sometimes we need to be silly and let loose. I write about this in my upcoming book, but here, I want to address the need to understand appropriate behavior. Sometimes we need to be goofy and have some fun. But I think the “typical” man overdoes this and can’t really be on the same vibe of the given experience. Grow up, bro. Your “that’s what she said” jokes stopped being funny 40 minutes ago.
I could go on. And I have so much more to say, which I will share in the form of podcasts and my other articles and upcoming book. In the meantime, do whatever it takes to not be “typical” because there is no honor and dignity in that. For me, that’s the worst insult that can be spoken to me: the T-word.  

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What I’ve Learned in 364 Days Since a Family Suicide

What I’ve Learned in 364 Days Since a Family Suicide

What I’ve Learned in 364 Days Since a Family Suicide

Please pardon this extremely personal story that I need to share.

One year ago tonight, I was at work. I was in the middle of a session and my ten-year-old kept calling my phone. It was already dark, maybe 8 p.m. I knew something was wrong so I answered the call during the session with a couple I had been working with.

He told me I needed to come home immediately, and that something was wrong with my wife’s brother. I could hear her wailing in the background and I knew something was terribly wrong.

When I got home I found her in her bathroom–on the floor–crying so hard that there was drool and saliva and snot and tears running down her face. Her cheeks were red and her eyes were swollen already.

She had just learned that her 25 year-old brother had died by suicide earlier that day.

Jack was an Afghanistan veteran. He was a US Army Cavalry Scout and was responsible for detecting mines as his unit was on the front line, and he was in front of them. He had many traumatic experiences, but came home a hero, having saved many lives and bandaging up the wounded. One of my favorite stories about him over there was that he personally applied bandages to an Afghan soldier after a particularly fierce attack from the Taliban.

It has been the most difficult year of my own life, and I barely knew this kid. I met him and had a couple of private conversations with him and had great respect for him. He was exceptionally bright, a voracious reader, and a very kind friend to everyone he met.

Apparently he was being treated through the VA for post-traumatic stress disorder. After his death, we found blog entries where he had written about his experiences in Afghanistan, and he admitted that PTSD is real.

I have watched my sweet wife turn into something that only sadness and grief and loss and anger can make someone become. It’s been extremely difficult for our family and I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned throughout this year as a result of the suicide of John McCliment.

Say good morning.
After his death was discovered by his friends, so many of them went to social media to tell the story of how everyday this handsome and quirky young man would text them a good morning message…every day. It became something of a tradition, and many people learned to be annoyed by his constant “good mornings.” He posted on Facebook almost every day, good morning. In the days and weeks and months after his death, the expression of good morning became a way that the survivors of his suicide bonded with each other and remembered his kind and thoughtful words.

I know that some of those mornings for him were not good at all. They weren’t good because he had insomnia, and often went with little to no sleep but kept grinding through whatever he had to accomplish. He used alcohol (to self medicate, I presume) but that wasn’t–and never is–a good remedy for poor sleep. But surely it had its effect on his mood and well-being in other respects. So he didn’t sleep, he would have been drinking all night and now he had to face the day, likely feeling alone, still he shared love in the form of a good morning message to everyone he cared about.

Hang out with people who drink, even if you don’t.
I’ve had my vices. I do not drink alcohol, partly because I’ve had issues with it in the past, and partly because I’m a Mormon and perhaps uncomfortable being seen with people who drink, maybe because of the fear of how others might judge me. I think that’s something that I need to get over.

I don’t intend to go to bars or nightclubs anytime soon, and I’m not going to purchase alcohol for people to come into my home to drink. But I feel like there are many people that I could appreciate more fully in my life, if I lost the judgment about the fact that they drink alcohol.

Jack was someone like that. He came to visit one Thanksgiving and he and his cousin and younger brother wanted to have some beers. One of my wife’s favorite pictures of him includes him with his arms around his brother sister and cousin, with him holding a bottle of Budweiser. It’s always kind of made me cringe to have that picture visible in my home, but now I see it so differently.

“He’s holding a beer!!” I would think to myself. And while his use of alcohol was surely a part of his eventual demise, that’s not what this article is about. I just feel that I–and maybe many others–are so concerned with how things look, and should be more concerned with how things feel.

My regrets would never make me feel like I should have drank with him that night; I was already battling that demon for myself during that very hour. But I think maybe I would have let myself at least be in the picture. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded that photo to be visible at my house. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt whatever tension that was probably palpable because this young man was holding a brown glass bottle.

This picture of him now sits on my mantle, next to a statue of Jesus Christ and a large painting of the Salt Lake LDS temple.

Take pictures.
One of the only contributions that I was able to make to the memorial services was a tribute video. We asked for people to email us pictures that they had of Jack and I put them together with a few songs and what I found was so many amazing photographs of this kid.

He was goofy.  He allowed himself to tap into extensive absurdity and it was so humorous and heartwarming to see how he let himself have fun. He took pictures with just about everyone he loved. He held them close. Some days his shirt was dirty, some days he wasn’t even wearing a shirt, he had a chipped tooth and while he hid that sometimes, he also let it show through when he was really having fun.

Take pictures and let your picture be taken. In the end it really won’t matter if your hair is fixed or your gut is sticking out or if you have bad teeth. And a little detail that I noticed he often did in his pictures is that his face was touching the face of the other person. How many times are we so uncomfortable with having our picture taken that we stand there all stiff and fake. No, stand there with your cheek touching the cheek of the person you love. Male or female, pull yourself close to them and act like you like each other.

Be kind. To everyone.
One of Jack’s friends said that the best thing about him was his hugs. She said that he would just hug people until their hurt went away. Who are you hugging like that?

Be humble. One of my favorite stories about Jack was that he was staying with a friend and had gotten a job. Instead of asking for rides to work, he asked to borrow one of the bikes in the garage. Apparently he rode the bike to work in the snow and rain. They lived in Wisconsin.

Respect the military.
Regardless of what your political views are, I hope that you can have respect for our military because it is made up of young men and women who are doing the most difficult jobs in the world, for basically minimum wage and just a little bit above that. This young man volunteered for this job; he wanted a job that no one else wanted. And to be the person who sweeps for mines put himself in grave danger every single day of his one-year deployment. He saw people blown up.

One of the things he would have to do is gather all of the material from the bombs to find out what was in that particular explosive. Many times that included gathering human remains and this was part of the trauma that he never could come back from.

He was just a kid, trying to be a good citizen of the United States. He was trying to be a soldier. He was trying to protect his brothers. He was trying to do his duty. And he did that–with incredible courage. Show some respect to the kids in the camouflage.

So much of people’s anger is sadness.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, this was one of the most difficult times of my life, but not because of my own grief. I cried a few times, especially putting together the tribute video for Jack and typing out the stories that were relayed by his friends and family.

The most difficult part for me was being on the receiving end of some very intense anger from my wife. It was beyond my wildest expectation, and beyond any story that I’ve ever even seen in my work with clients in 20 years of practice.

I’m not sitting here talking a bunch of trash about my sweet bride. I’m trying to illustrate a point.

One of the things that she did was target me as the source of all of her problems and pain. She found it difficult to talk about her brother and her own guilt. See, their mother died when my wife was 14 and Jack was 5 or 6 years old. That led to major upheaval in the lives of these kids, and they were separated because they had different fathers.

My wife felt tremendous responsibility for this because she was the older sister, and felt like she should have been more like his mom. There were plenty of good women in Jack’s life, but that did nothing to remove the burden of guilt that my wife placed on her own shoulders and by so doing, projected so much anger toward me in the last 12 months.

She told me about 100 times that she wanted to divorce me. She would rarely cry in the corner of our living room.  Instead, she would lash out in anger, picking apart everything I did, and being enraged by sometimes the most insignificant of triggers.

It was difficult to bear. And even though I have lots of experience and formal, advanced, graduate-school training, I still wasn’t able to have the kind of patience I should have had. Here’s my point:

Sometimes anger is simply the bodyguard of sadness.

What seemed like such an unfair targeting of me, was really just an effort to release pain. Jack had pain, Jack had anger, Jack was sad, and apparently that’s what led to him ending his own life. That anger and pain and sadness was transferred onto my wife and other friends and family he left behind who had to absorb all of that.  It compounded all of Kara’s other losses, and all of her other pains from the time that she was about five years old until August 25th of last year.

That sadness and hurt and loss and anger and devastation came at me with an unrelenting severity. A couple of times I didn’t think we would make it. My dear, sweet, and beautiful wife was hurting. And even though I have all of the intellectual understanding a person should ever need to help someone through a hard time, I still was unable to be free from my own subjective experience and took things personal, and often reacted poorly.

So if I, with all of the 40-plus-hour-per-week experience of observing people’s emotions and helping them through them for the last 20 years, have been unable to control my reaction and keep things in perspective, you and your loved ones who are also failing to do that should be given a break. The person you know who’s grieving and sad and who behaves in unkind ways should be given a break. The person who has experienced trauma and painful situations in their life should be given a break for a bit while they sort it out.

Know and love God.
In the tribute video for Jack, there were some words shared on the screen that were written by Jack and Kara’s mom while she was facing treatment for a brain tumor, which she survived, but then died from another form of cancer a couple of years later. As she wrote what she thought were her final words to her children, she wrote to Jack, specifically, “know and love God.”

I’m not sure if Jack was ever aware of this letter, or his dying mother’s admonition to use a relationship with a higher power to deal with life. But he didn’t. I’m not exactly sure what kind of exposure he had to spiritual traditions, but in his last few years, at least, he professed to be an atheist. That was likely something that he developed (understandably) throughout his experiences of war. Maybe he felt that way from a young age because his mother was taken from him when he was in first grade. Maybe he didn’t understand how so many unfair things could happen to such good people. I don’t know.

But I wonder if things might have been different if he believed in some kind of just and loving Source. I wonder how his perspective might have been different had he explored with a more open heart the beauty and peace that comes to many people who choose (and it is a choice) to believe in a Creator of some kind.

It is my conviction that this kid has not truly departed, but has only changed. Maybe like the caterpillar emerging from the cocoon becomes a butterfly, he is flying in some beautiful form and may even be visiting my wife and our home this weekend.

I’m sure his spirit lives on, and I’m sure that his perspectives on some things are different now.

So are mine.

In the time that has passed over the last 364 days, I have made the treatment of PTSD and Veterans and volunteering with suicide prevention programs and a program called Give an Hour a high priority in my professional life. I have tried to be more genuine and my relationships and have tried to seek out people in pain. I have sought forgiveness from my wife for MY unforgiveness of HER during the most difficult year ever. I’ve tried to love more. I am changed. Like every year–but more profoundly so this past year–I am changed.

Every suicide directly affects an average of 150 people. This was a kid I barely knew. And this situation devastated my family. My wife. My children. My clients. My neighbors.

Twenty-two (22) veterans die by suicide every single day in America. Let’s talk about this. Let’s love each other. Remember that every one is experiencing some form of pain. Everyone.

Suicidal thoughts are symptoms. Suicide is a medical condition.

It can be prevented.


I’ve learned so much in the past 364 days since Jack lost his battle with PTSD, more than I could ever describe in a single blog post.  But I am proud to be standing here.  I am proud to be married.  I am happy to have one more day to be alive and to hug my kids and live in this great land and be married to my best friend.  I am humbled and grateful.


Post Script: I wrote this while my wife was at work today.  She never even knew I was writing this and she told me the most curious butterfly, a yellow one, was flying around her today inside the indoors of her building.  When she told me that, I almost laughed and cried at the same time.  Life is just one extremely special educational experience.  Make it count.


If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, please reach out to 1-800-273-8255 (24 hours per day) or visit your nearest emergency room.

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11 Ways to Turn Your Man Into The Typical Man

11 Ways to Turn Your Man Into The Typical Man

11 Ways to Turn Your Man Into The Typical Man

out to surge into an area that will likely gain me some haters. Good. Bring it.

I’m not talking about a new area of discussion just in this article; I’m talking about in my whole life. In my career.

I want to talk about men, and what’s wrong with men, and what’s right with men, and what the people who love them need to know.

I am frequently encountering two common characteristics in the clients I see in my counseling and coaching practice. I’ll describe these in my two “typical” clients.

    1. The first is a woman who is fed up with the failures of her man.
    2. The second is a man who is feeling powerless.

I hear the partners of these failing men use the derogatory description that he is being “a typical man.”

So, what is a typical man and how does he become that way?

I’d say that the following describes what people see as the awful and “typical” man:

  • Selfishness, taking advantage of others, buying toys for himself and “forgetting” gifts for others
  • Dishonest, often deceptive
  • Trying to get out of responsibilities, making excuses
  • Disloyal, maybe cheating
  • Childish, goofy and never serious

Maybe there are other characteristics, but that is not my purpose here. I want to talk about the accidental contributors to these kinds of things and how to know men more fully and how to prevent the external perpetuation of these kinds of behaviors and attitudes.

  1. Begin with a Lack of Trust. Assume he is lying and scour through everything he has ever owned for any slightest cue that he ever had feelings for other people. Go through his middle-school yearbooks even, to see who signed it and then become a private investigator into the social media of all the girls whose yearbook picture he highlighted, confront him about that, and question him like he is the Taliban and your next step is waterboarding. That will teach him to be SUPER secretive and sneaky.
  2. Tell Him All of the Things You Don’t Like About Him. That will be sure to inspire his decline into typical behavior. Tell him he is selfish. Instead of telling him he’s your “big strong man,” tell him he is a piece of $#!+. Disrespect him verbally. That’ll help him become the typical man in no time.
  3. Assault His Problem Solving. Assume he doesn’t know how to do things. Ask your dad for help with your car, first. Tell him you need to call a plumber instead of trying to see if he can fixed the clogged toilet. That will make him feel that you value the abilities of other men before him. Total buzz kill. He wants to be your hero.
  4. Watch His Eyes in Public and Attack Him for Seeing Attractive People. Let your own insecurities about your looks be projected onto him in an angry attack. And be sure to only notice him looking at hot girls, and fail to notice that he also looks at men, old people, fat people, and everyone else. We are visual creatures and wired for protectiveness. When we are in public, we are scanning everything. But if your tension rises every time an attractive woman (or man) walks by, and you quickly notice him simply “seeing” another woman, you are probably failing to see him also look the unattractive person up and down as well. He is looking for information. And while men are visually stimulated in a sexual sense far more deeply than women, don’t go assuming that he is being shady and ridiculously over-sexual in public.
  5.  Assume the Worst. Without knowing what is actually going on, assume that he has made a mistake before there is ever any indicator of that. Pretend you’re a fortune teller and that you can read his mind. Tell him what he is feeling. Tell him what his motivations were.
  6.  Never Acknowledge Your Own Faults. Blame everything on him. If he gives you feedback, turn it around on him. Bring up his past. Throw the irrelevant things from YEARS ago at him to defend against your glaring culpability. This will make sure he never feels safe talking at all.
  7. Embarrass Him in Public. Cause a scene, leave him places, or be so coldly infuriated and passive aggressive that EVERYONE knows how upset you are with him. Maybe pick a fight with his mother. This will make sure he doesn’t ever take you anywhere.
  8. Expect Him to Read Your Mind. Men are naturally not extremely intuitive. It is hard for us to read between the lines. Just hold your breath, hoping he understands your needs and feelings that you don’t even tell him, and that will skate him further down the alley toward typical.
  9. Stop Taking Pride in Your Appearance. Take the opposite approach he takes regarding food and exercise. Either a) let yourself go or b) become so freakishly fit that he doesn’t dare feel comfortable and is eyeing safer options in other women. Get dressed up only for OTHER people and OTHER events where he will not be. This will teach him that only other people deserve to see you looking pretty.
  10. Do Things For Him That You Shouldn’t. I don’t mean the laundry if he is working all day and you are not. I mean do things for him that he takes for granted. Drive him. Pay for things for him. Let him have sex with you when you don’t want it.
  11. Ridicule Him. Make fun of his football team when they lose. Tell him he is a fraud in his line of work. Criticize his efforts. Take out all of your junior high anger against the means girls who made you feel like a loser on him. That will turn him typical for sure.


Let me be clear about something. He is responsible for his own behavior. But if you have ANY kind of regular interaction with a man you see as failing, see if you are accidentally contributing to his poor choices.  You’re important to him!  You matter. And so often there is a circular causality in relationships.  You don’t like what he is doing or not doing, but he is influenced by what YOU are doing are not doing.  And the cycle continues toward dissolution.

I know this may seem to be saying that men’s behavior is perpetuated by others, removing the responsibility from the man who may already be trying to escape it. That’s not what I mean. But what if who we are and how we behave is simply a reflection of the way we believe our loved ones see us. I’ve heard 300 men say:

“She treats me like I’m cheating, I might as well be. She is beating me up verbally as if I am.”

I’ve heard 300 men say, “I try to stay as far away from her as possible, because she just stomps on me every day.”

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

If you are the person who is feeding in to this negative type of behavior in a man who is not fully being quite what he is capable of, seek help.  Get some perspective about how you can inspire healthier behavior in him.  See what small changes you might make that can lift him back to a position of confidence so he is not resorting to destructive things just to feel a sense of power and control.

If you are the man who is being an idiot–regardless of how you are being treated–get with me, brother.  I can help you.


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10 Things Your Teen Needs This Summer

10 Things Your Teen Needs This Summer

10 Things Your Teen Needs This Summer

Summer brings such mixed feelings for people, it seems.  Kids are loving life without the rigors of schoolwork and parents are often stressed about the demands brought on by their children being unoccupied for 3 months.  Younger children just need to have things to keep them busy but teenagers need to use this time to continue their most important developmental task during this time of their lives: identity development. Here are some suggestions for things to encourage your teens to do during the summer:

  1. Learn to Drive. What’s up with kids not wanting to drive these days?  Maybe it is the fear of parents, but I find a much higher percentage of eligible drivers are not even pursuing their driver’s license.  I often hear parents say that their teen is “not responsible enough.”  There is no more significant way, in my opinion, for 15, 16, and 17 year-olds to learn responsibility than to learn how to operate a vehicle.  Yes, kids can be impulsive and exercise poor judgement at times, but allowing them to get behind the wheel begins to help them exercise the mind-muscles of better decision-making and thinking through complex situations.
  2. Get Outside. We are losing this generation to electronics.  This is not just an opinion; it is a heart-wrenching fact.  Let them stimulate all of their senses, not just mental input from games that just make them believe they are doing X, Y, or Z. Let them get sweaty, dirty, and get them back on their bikes, skateboards, and dribbling a basketball or playing golf.  Have your Saturday evening meals outside.  Get a fire pit (or make one) and roast marshmallows in you back yard.  This kind of thing will create memories that will last forever.
  3. Read. Is there any better way to keep reading skills fresh than to read WITH them?  Even if you’re not reading together, aloud, and in the same room, pick some books to read and have your own mini-book club within your family.  Visit the library, go to book stores, let them get four books at a time.  Have them spend an hour a day just reading.
  4. Spend Time With Friends. When teens are trying to develop their sense of individuality and identity, the social feedback they get from their friends can be empowering.  Parents can tell their sons and daughters they are handsome or pretty or funny, but that means almost nothing compared to when they get those messages from their peers.  Learning to adapt to varying social circumstances gives kids a strong sense of strength and freedom to know they are desirable and interpersonally attractive, and—sometimes—how to improve their social skills for the future. Challenge them to have four major activities with friends: birthday parties, a day at the water park, carnivals, or Fourth of July events where they can involve their friends.
  5. Swim. One of the things that too many people are unable to do is live in the moment.  If there is too much idle time, teens especially can get lost in the abstract thinking that isn’t grounded enough in reality.  When you’re swimming, there is almost no possible way not to be in the moment.  I have often asked my clients, especially in the summer, when was the last time they went swimming.  Invariably, the depressed and anxious folks almost never do that.  Strange coincidence, maybe, or perhaps that’s the very kind of activity to ward of depression and worry.
  6. Work for Money. If identity development is the most important task for teens, earning money is a strong dose of self-esteem.  Learning that work equals tangible benefits is something that even school can’t teach.  Help them find some work, either in your own home or with a neighbor and if they’re old enough, in a proper place of employment.  Babysitting, yard work, special deep-cleaning projects and other work for hire can give adolescents a great boost of self-worth.
  7. Travel. You’re probably noticing a pattern here.  IF people want to feel good, they have to be doing things.  Go somewhere new.  I’m not talking about international travel or expensive air-travel.  Go to Lake Mead, Mt. Charleston, the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Big Bear, or other places. Make a few day trips with your kids and use the travel time to talk.  Let them teach you something about who they are and what embryonic genius resides within them, all while stimulating their senses with the sights and sounds of novelty or the traditions you can create.
  8. Visit Family. Get them with their cousins.  See the grandparents who may live far away.  Send them off for a week to connect with their roots.  There is nothing like seeing both the similarities and differences your teens have with their relatives that can help them come to a better sense of who they really are at the deepest levels.
  9. Learn Something New. Help your kids keep their brains in learning mode.  Even if it’s not geometry or Spanish, help them discover fun new skills that can open doors for new hobbies, future career options, or just cool ways of using their time that enriches their understanding of the world.  My kids want to make Christmas gifts for each other this year.  We will have them draw names and make the gift during the summer.  They have plans for woodworking projects and other creative endeavors like things involving photography, graphic design, video production, and even though I have all boys, sewing and little furniture projects.
  10. Maintain a Good Sleep Schedule. Many kids (and parents) feel there is nothing wrong with letting their teens stay up super late and sleep in every morning during the summer.  The thing I don’t like about this is that they get in the habit of thinking “if there is nothing to do tomorrow, I can just kind of waste my time.”  Make there be something for them to do tomorrow, early in the morning.
Sure, some down-time is good for them, too.  But make a summer bucket-list or put some activities in a jar that they can pick from every day.  Staying active will keep them from being grouchy and keep their identity development moving in a positive direction.  Have a great summer!

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