What did I do wrong in my failed relationship?

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

When you write a blog like this one, you run the risk of it becoming a site where a man stomps his feet and says, “I AM AMAZING AND MY EX IS A DEMON AND I DID NOTHING WRONG”. In looking back on my postings over the past few years, I can see where I may come across that way. Hey, it’s understandable. This is an emotional topic, after all. Am I wrong? Well, no… not completely. She did awful things and it crushed me as her husband and partner, but I’m not some infallible perfect angel of a man, either. I had, and continue to have, my faults as a father, husband and as a human being. I’m human, after all.

If there was an overall theme to my time in marriage number one, it would be “Meh”. That was my disposition for much of my relationship: “Meh”. I wasn’t thrilled, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t super happy… I wasn’t much of anything. Jesus, I was dull. I think deep down I knew my relationship wasn’t what I always wanted it to be, but it’s what I had. I lived with it. This “Hey, it’s good enough” theme permeated everything about our marriage together. I never once put my foot down and said, “I don’t like THIS. This needs to change and it needs to change now, or else we are done.” I could never conceive of such a stance. To be married, in my mind at the time, meant that you accepted certain shortcomings. You accepted life, warts and all. Were there lots of warts? Yes. But hey, that’s life. It ain’t perfect. You keep going.

I remember distinctly one moment in particular. I don’t know why it sticks out in my mind, and it sounds awful in hindsight, but I remember it vividly. I was on the bed, relaxing, and she was in the adjoining bathroom doing her makeup. She was just wearing her underwear and leaning in towards the mirror. I looked over at her… and I was so completey turned off in that moment. What should’ve been a sexy little candid moment that put a smile on my face was just me looking at my wife, the mother of my three children, and thinking, “… Yuck.”

That’s not right. That’s not a good thing. Not at all.

A real husband sees this situation and says to himself, “Okay… why am I so turned off right now? Because she’s out of shape? She’s overweight? She doesn’t workout anymore? She eats way too much? So, what are you doing about that? Anything? What about yourself? Do you think she’s looking at you and saying ‘Yum’? Probably not. Maybe you need to step up and be an example to her.” But, I didn’t. The thought didn’t even occur to me. I just rolled over and put it out of my mind. She was my wife and mother of my kids. What can I do, right? Such is life…

My passivity was completely and totally deplorable. It was lazy. It wasn’t fair to me, to her, or to our family. It was cowardly.

The bathroom mirror moment was one small moment in a series of dozens of moments over 20 years where life said to me, “Alright… here’s another test. What you gonna do, captain?”… and my answer was always, “Just leave me alone. I’m tired.”

I just didn’t care. Life wore me down. Work, the kids, the wife I lost attraction to… too many things to tackle. I just concentrated on my kids. I coached their teams. I helped with homework. I played with them constantly. I convinced myself that jumping completely into the dad box was proof of my awesomeness as a father and husband. No… it was an escape. I saw the hard work that needed to be done in the marriage… and I ran from it. “I shouldn’t have to do that”, I convinced myself.

My overweight wife was a mirror. I was looking at myself… not only in the most obvious way (I myself was out of shape), but I was also looking at the results of my “work” as her loving husband. I didn’t do the work of instilling in her an urge to keep herself in shape “for her man” (Because, honestly, why should she bother?), and I didn’t set an example for what a good partner does to keep the other one around. I didn’t set any example except one that said, ”Your job as a Lover is done once the kids start coming out”. No wonder she gave up… I gave up, too. I had given up as soon as that first kid came out. The combination of stress and need for comfort swallowed me up and spit me out as some effeminate wad of bubble gum. “Yaaay! I’m a great dad!” Yeah, but you REALLY sucked as a husband, dude.

We grew apart. That was obvious. I did my thing, she did hers. To keep that bond, to keep that attraction… that took real effort. I didn’t have it in me to keep up that level of work. Why? Well, we weren’t “meant to be”. In other words, we both should’ve just walked away very early on in the relationship. I knew it, she knew it, maybe even our families knew it. We kept at it in honor of our vows and in honor of the theme of staying together “no matter what”. It can be argued that it was an honorable goal, but when you ignore red flag after red flag… you realize you’re not just honoring your vows but instead ignoring the giant elephant in the room: We shouldn’t be together.

When you put two incompatible people together, it’s just a matter of time until the union breaks down. In my case, she ended up jumping into bed with another man. It was then that the veneer of marriage was stripped away and all the vices and red flags that were there throughout the relationship were laid bare. She had her compulsive behavior and childhood issues… I had my overly agreeable “lack of backbone nice guy” issues. Both sets of issues were amplified a hundred-fold when our marriage disintegrated.

For a giant chunk of the men I talk to, they are in the same boat. They are completely destroyed by their wife’s infidelity and subsequent divorce… then they have months or maybe years of introspection and growth… and they finally realize it was never “meant to be”. They had so many red flags for YEARS, and they did nothing. The relationship wasn’t some romantic fairy tale of love that would conquer all. It was simply two people that were put together with all of their warts and baggage, and neither had the balls to say, “Yeah… let’s both move on. Sorry.”

Live and learn.

The Provider is Dead

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Modern-day men tend to be very agreeable dudes. We just go with the flow. We are the quintessential “Yes, dear” guys. Happy wife, happy life! “Okay, whatever you want to do is fine with me.”  We gravitate towards the path of least resistance. Whatever causes less unnecessary drama and anxiety in our lives… we go for it. We get fat. We get comfortable. We just do whatever… as long as we can ocassionally escape to our “man cave” and keep our wife’s nagging and drama to a minimum, we’re happy. We’re simple creatures after all.

Therapists will often ask what spouses NEED out of a relationship. Men will boast about how simple they are. We just NEED sexual intimacy and food, and we’re good to go! Is that really the case? Turns out what we label as “needs” are really just strong desires. Our wife can lock the sexual gates for weeks and months and we’ll still gladly say “Yes, dear” as we take the kids to the soccer games, fix the broken thing in the basement, and listen to her complain for hours on end about everything. In other words, these needs really aren’t NEEDS after all. The relationship continues on whether we get them met or not. “Hey… whatever. That’s just the way marriage is.” The mantra of the modern-day man.

What brought about this lazy agreeable way of life? Well, a big part of it was what we viewed as our cultural norm for so many generations: MAN WORKS , WOMAN STAYS HOME AND TAKES CARE OF KIDS AND HOUSE. If the two partners have a list of “Things I need to do to keep this relationship going”, the man’s list consisted of one thing: “Go to work. Come home. Bring paycheck.” He was the PROVIDER. He was the provider of the fuel that kept the household economic engine going. He was the reason they had a roof over their head and a car in the garage. He was the reason the kids had popsicles in the fridge and tennis shoes every year for school. He was the reason the wife could go get her hair done every other week. He was the reason she had 120 pairs of shoes. The husband/dad immediately earned a high level of respect by virtue of his providership. It was known that you left dad alone after he came home from a hard day at work. You go to mom with questions about your homework. You go to mom about getting you to your baseball game. Dad was the boss. Why? Because dad brings home the bacon. Simple.

When you’re the king, there’s very little that will motivate you to go beyond your “king” status and kick things up a notch. Kings get fat. Kings get lazy. Kings also get drug out in the street by a horde of angry people and ripped to shreds… But I digress.

Fast forward to today… and the tables have been flipped. Women woke up. “Wait… you mean I don’t HAVE to play the part of Suzy Homemaker? I can make just as much, if not WAY more than these guys out there? “ With this drastic change in the economic landscape comes some relationship growing pains. Things don’t just change completely overnight. Women, overall, still feel that their prospective spouse/partner candidate should have some strong Provider/King qualities. In short, many successful women won’t look at settling down with the hunky plumber with the heart of gold. He’s a great person and great fun (and great in the sack), but the generations of conditioning and social pressure tells her that marrying him would be a huge mistake. She would always have to worry about “taking care” of him. Having a man in a subservient role is the ultimate turn-off for the ambitious successful woman. She doesn’t necessarily want YOUR money to take care of HER… she can do that herself, but she’ll be damned if she has to dig into her purse to pay for some loser’s way of life.

So let’s summarize the “problem” here: Women are making more than ever. As their bank accounts grow fatter, their list of spouse candidates goes down (there are only so many rich guys to go around). Many, not all, refuse to settle for a guy that they deem less successful and less ambitious than they are. Women complain that there are no good men left. They either “settle” for the good guy who makes less, or they go on dating and having fun with no end in sight. Most go with the latter plan of fun dating. If you asked them, they would say that they “have no choice”. They’d love to settle down, but it’s just not happening. Not with THIS pitiful pool of candidates.

Result: The marriage and birth rates are plummeting. Women drive the marriage industry, after all. When they put the brakes on, the whole system collapses. This will have huge economic implications for the western world.

Men are a little slower to adapt to the change.

Men still prop up their provider traits as their “awesome husband candidate” qualities. Show me a guy whose wife cheated on him, and I’ll show you a guy who says, “I paid for her schooling, I worked 60 hours a week, I paid for her car, I got her the house she wanted…” He’s still playing by the old rules. “I’m the KING, dammit!”

I know that some of you are saying, “But, my wife is jobless. I’m still the main breadwinner. She stays home with the kids. It’s better that way. This is the way it should be.”

This is the point where I could go to my email or my Facebook group and bring up story after story from the quintessential Provider husband who paid for everything for years… only to have the wife and the government say to him, “Hey, thanks for all that providing. Much appreciated. We’ll now be taking half your paycheck, your 401k savings, most of your bank account, and the house… oh, and you won’t see your kids except for the occasional weekend”. 

If you can make this Provider scenario work… awesome. Best of luck to you. Most cannot. Most will fail. That’s just the way it is.

Here’s what I’ll often hear from guys that jump back into dating after divorce:

  1. All that women care about now is looks. “Nobody wants some old fat man like me”.
  2. Women won’t take you seriously if you aren’t richer than them.

The writing is on the wall, gentlemen: The days of the classic Provider are dead. Women are bluntly telling us this. Society is bluntly telling us this. We had our fun for a while, but it’s time to wake up to reality. In the “good ol’ days”, the Provider man was a safety net. He was the fuel for the household economic engine. He was the boss. You, as the man, had a product (your ability to make money on a consistent basis), you put it out on the market, and the buyers came (your new wife). The market has changed. Your put your product out there, and the market is saying, “Okay…. cool. What else you got?” 

So, what else do you have?

For many men, the answer is “Not a whole hell of a lot”. They had the old book of rules and they threw EVERYTHING into that Provider role. They went to work, they helped coach the kid’s football team, they fixed the broken stuff around the house… but now the world just pats them on the head and says, “That’s cute. Now, kindly get out of the way. There’s a handsome guy with abs trying to get to the front of the line.”  You see, when you strip away the elements of economic comfort and stability from the whole mating game, you’re left with the basic elements of human attraction: Women run the mating game… and they want somebody they both swoon over and respect. Yes, they want it all. No, they’re not going to settle. No, they’re not going to die alone with 12 cats and a bad case of diabetes. They have a long list of men that would be more than glad to buy them dinner and take them away for a fun weekend and no commitment. These women are not suffering.

So, is it hopeless? Of course not. You just have to change your entire mindset. You have strip yourself of the old you and rearrange your priorities to accomodate the new paradigm. You gotta get off your fat butt and stop crying about how things should be. You need to get in shape. You need to get your money situation in order. You need to become a more well-rounded and interesting man. You need hobbies. Interests. You need to do things that help out your community. You need to be an awesome father and role model to your kids. You need to do all of these things for YOU. You don’t do all of these things so that you can snag the next Mrs. Right. The chances are that you’re not going to find her, so… have fun! Enjoy. Once you’re ready, go out on dates. Realize what the dates are: two people that have a mutual attraction enjoying spending time together. There’s no need for you to get hitched, move in together, have kids, etc. The rules have changed. All that stuff is great. It’s magic when it works. But, it’s exceptionally rare. It’s like hitting the lottery.

You don’t need to hit the lottery to be happy. Everyone is telling you this. It’s time to listen.

You are free.

The concept of having the Provider weight lifted from your shoulders should be a freeing one. You can focus on YOU for a change. The days of setting aside your dreams and aspirations to make your wife happy are long gone. Is it a selfish way of life? Maybe. Is it safer? Much safer. Is she worth rolling the dice for and paying for everything while she stays at home? Probably not… and that’s okay.

Have a date with a successful woman who you really seem to get along with? Worried that she won’t see you as a professional equal? Cool! That means she likes you for YOU. She thinks you’re handsome and charming enough to spend an evening with. Enjoy it for what it is. You’re just two adults enjoying time together. That’s it. Throw away these old notions of playing the “Marry me!” game. You’re probably out of the running for that, anyway… and that’s okay. It’s more than okay, actually. Congrats… you’re the Lover. Let some other shmuck play the part of the Provider for once. You want to be the one she sneaks off with for a wild night of fun… not the guy left wondering why she’s out all night and not texting him back.

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Losing Those Last Few Pounds

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

I have a personal goal right now… and that is to be a very lean and mean 190 lbs. I started around 203 lbs several weeks back, and now I’m at around 195. Little bit yet to go… and it has NOT been easy.

Why It’s Hard

When you get to “in pretty good shape” levels of fitness, the body just does all it can to keep things right where they’re at. If you’re a huge obese person, a change in diet and exercise can result in 10+ lbs of fat falling off week after week. If you are at 15% bodyfat and workout regularly (like me), then your body says, “Nah… I think I need to hold on to this fat. Good try, though.”  It’s tough.

How I’m Doing It

For me, diet wise, it’s a two-fold process:

  1. I’m eating less. For you gym rats, yes… It’s okay to feel a little hungry before bedtime. Guys who lift weights and work out regularly tend to WAY overestimate the amount of calories they need to take in on a daily basis. You don’t NEED that much food to function and recuperate.  You’re not going to waste away. You’re also not a steroid-abusing professional bodybuilder. There are a ton of people out there that are experimenting with Intermittent Fasting (extended periods of no food… like skipping breakfast or just eating one meal a day). The commonality in all of the IF eating programs is that you, in the end, are eating fewer calories overall. It really is a simple math game. You eat less, you lose weight. Cut your portions down. Eliminate the junk food that is so densely packed with calories.
  2. I’m still eating mostly protein, fruits and greens. It’s not technically a Ketogenic diet (I eat more carbs on workout days), but it’s close to it. Why? Are carbs evil? No, but for me and my body, I just can’t eat a carby diet without a huge hunger response. In other words, if I eat some crackers … I want more. Like, now. Right away. If I eat a fat steak and some salad, I have to remind myself to eat six hours later. My body just remains satiated for much longer. No blood sugar spikes and crashes. No craving for the crunchy/salty/sweet stuff. No bloat and water retention.

My Progress

Renpho scaleI use the RENPHO scale that measures my weight as well as bodyfat, water, etc. How accurate is it? I’m sure it’s not 100% accurate for just $30, but it seems to be PRETTY close. The numbers are close enough to use as a helpful tool for me to use to gauge my progress.  It sends the data to my phone for me to track in a free app. Here’s a look at my progress:

 

Notice how I seem to have a spike before a drop in weight? Happens every time for me. I don’t know the science behind it, but that’s how my body works. It gives one little gasp of a protest, and then the weight comes off overnight. I have learned not to be frustrated with sudden spikes in weight.

You’re Going to Need Extra Help

There are a few extra things (above eating less) that you’re going to need to do to loose those extra few pounds:

  1. Drink a ton of water. All day. Every day. No, soda doesn’t count. Just plain ol’ water. It fills you up. Keeps your muscles hydrated. Keeps the system functioning properly. Drink more water.
  2. Have a little coffee in the morning. This always helps me before working out. Gives me that extra little oomph I need. I don’t do the pre-workout powder supplements I see so many kids using in the gym. Those have the equivalent of several cups of coffee and a bunch of other crap in them. I just like plain ‘ol coffee. There are known health benefits that go beyond just the stimulant effect. There is evidence that it also helps to boost the immune system and supresses appetite.
  3. Eat plenty of fiber. Salad greens. Broccoli. Metamucil fiber is an excellent supplement to your diet that keeps things moving through your gut and has positive effects on heart health. It also helps keep you feeling full. That’s important for those nights when you just want to eat several spoons of peanut butter.
  4. Do your cardio. Yes, I know it sucks. Mix it up a bit. Do the more “traditional” cardio but kick it up a notch. Get on the treadmill, but set the incline to 10%. Get on the stair master and kick up the speed a notch or two and sweat it out for 30 minutes. Throw in the rowing machine. Try more “high intensity” things like battle ropes and kettle bell swings. Try box jumps if your knees and ankles can take it. The cardio is great for your heart health (hence it being called “cardio”) and it will help burn off more calories and be good for your overall sense of wellbeing.

Be patient.

This stuff takes time. You HAVE to measure your progress and make adjustments. You’re going to have to be strict with your diet and exercise plan. It’s okay to give yourself a little treat now and then, but be honest with yourself if you notice the scale numbers not moving for a couple of weeks. Even though you did all those hours of cardio and lifting and had 5 days of strict eating, you could’ve very well wiped out all that progress with one Saturday afternoon of beer and chips at the football game.  Remember, you can’t out-work a bad diet. Abs start in the kitchen.

Get good sleep.

A lot of you are chronically sleep-deprived. This has HUGE effects on your overall health, including your ability to lose weight. To keep it short, if you get a full night sleep every night and wake up well-rested, you will have a MUCH easier time losing those last few pounds. The whole physical body system works in harmony when you are well-rested. The whole machine starts breaking down when you are sleep-deprived.