Below is a transcript of my interview with Suzanne Venker for the Dad Starting Over podcast. Click the player above if you haven’t yet listened to the episode, or listen and subscribe on your favorite podcast player.
DSO: My guest today is Miss Suzanne Venker. Suzanne is an author, a certified relationship and life coach and host of the Suzanne Venker Show. Suzanne is on a mission to deprogram women from the toxic cultural narratives that undermine their success in life and in love. Her work has touched the lives of thousands with inspiring messages about the power of masculine and feminine energy, and about the importance of prioritizing marriage and the family.
Her new book, How to Get Hitched (and Stay Hitched). A 12-Step Program for Marriage-Minded Women will be published August, 2021, Suzanne lives in the Midwest with her husband of 23 years. And they are now empty nesters.
So welcome Suzanne, to the show.
Suzanne: Thanks for having me.
DSO: Yeah, absolutely. So, let’s talk first about how you came into my little world, so to speak. As guys who listened to this, they should know by now I run a website called dadstartingover.com and we have members-only, part of it called the DSO Fraternity, and we get on there quite a bit, online on forums, and talk. We also have live meetings. When you hear a name 12, 13, 14 times, eventually it gets into my thick head and I pay attention. Your name was one that came up quite a bit. Just a little background… if there’s a valid criticism of my work, it is that I pay too much attention to the male side of the equation when it comes to relationships. I don’t pay enough attention to the female side of the equation.
I put a lot of the responsibility for the direction of the relationship, squarely on the shoulders of the man. It’s a very masculine-centric way of looking at things. Be the leader, the woman will follow, etc., etc. And, for a lot of men, they will take to heart things that I and others in the group suggest on how to be a better man within the relationship and to their credit, they will become an objectively better husband, look better, act better, more confident, more of a leader, more of a loving, attentive person. They help out around the house whenever possible and they are just a better all-around adult and better partner. Sometimes the wife’s reaction is basically, yeah, it’s still not enough. And for these men, a lot of them say, man, I just wish there were some female version of the DSO if you will, out there. Somebody that’s kind of pushing the women to say, “You need to put in the work too.”
And these men in turn found you and they found your podcast and they saw you on YouTube and so forth. And they said, well, “Oh damn, here we go, Eureka. This is what we’re looking for. How do we get our wives to look at this?” So, congratulations to you Suzanne. You’re really filling a niche here.
Suzanne: Thank you. And it’s funny to listen to you say that because of course, I get the opposite. My message is primarily to women on learning how to receive that leadership that you were talking about. And my argument there for focusing so much on women, well, there’s several reasons, but one is that I do believe they drive the relationship boat. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you happen to have a man who knows how to lead despite what’s going on around him, but I think that’s rarer for a lot of reasons.
And so, I stick with, speaking primarily to women and what they can do to bring out the best in their man. And occasionally I will get the same thing that you just described as well. What about the man? What’s his role? And so, I do actually address that. And I certainly do in my coaching, I coach couples mostly, and I do work with the women primarily, but then I also check in with the husbands and they have contact with me via WhatsApp in between sessions.
So, it’s not just one-sided, but it’s heavily weighted in terms of my talking to them. Partially because I’m a woman, you’re speaking to a man, I assume because you’re a man. And if you’re trying to talk exclusively to women, I’m not sure you’d have the audience, I don’t know maybe you would.
DSO: And I know a big part of this and a big part of what you like to talk about. It’s not necessarily a topic I like to go down the road too far on, but it’s one of feminism.
Suzanne: Yes. Right. Exactly.
DSO: A big part of this feminist doctrine is , “Let’s set aside some of this old-fashioned BS of the man needs to set the example and the man needs to be strong and all that”. Some say, “Oh, thank God”, but probably the majority opinion you get is, “Hey, Neanderthal, buzz off.”
Suzanne: Well, that’s okay. They’re not your audience. And you’re going against the cultural tide as am I, of course. And, they don’t get it and they’re never going to get it and that’s fine.
DSO: Which kind of begs the question, is it, in fact, a cultural tide, this, a relatively new phenomenon that we’re seeing, which is the polarization man, woman let’s blur the lines more. Is that something that’s relatively new in your mind or is that something that’s always been lurking under the surface and has something like the changing financial landscape. Has that just kind of peel the scab back so to speak?
Suzanne: So, it has been long in the making, in my opinion, since feminism has done its damage over the last 40 years, of misunderstanding, well, first of all, denying biology just flat out altogether, so there’s that, but also understanding the purpose of sex roles. In other words, initially the idea was to not have them be so rigid, which I think most people would be in favor of.
But we’re correct instead of just calibrating it a bit and saying, hey, if you want more out of life, so to speak, this is going back, here are your options. Let’s, open those up or whatever to just throwing out the whole concept of maternal desire. There’s no differences between men and women we’re equal as in the same. It doesn’t matter who does what.
It just went overboard in this crazy direction, which is what has, in my opinion, led us to where we are to the point now where women are definitely over, the supplanting formerly, I don’t know what you want to call it dominant role or whatever. And, it’s messing up the calibration there and how it’s designed to work with women and men.
And so, one of my main arguments is, as long as you’re moving with the biological tide, you’ll be good. And the more you’re fighting against it, the harder hill you have to climb. So, it’s not really about right or wrong, or this is the right way, this is the wrong way. It’s just working within that framework as best as you can, as we progress through the world, not throwing it out, because if you throw it out and reject it, you’re going to suffer. It’s just not going to work. It’s like fighting nature and, mother nature wins. So good luck with that.
DSO: You know why this is such a hard sell sometimes to so many people, is that there’s an undeniable element for lack of a better term submission. And, anytime you tell someone women specifically, you need to submit a little bit, go easy a little bit to a lot of women that is a slippery slope towards, basically misogyny and people patting them on the head saying, they’re silly little girl, just go back into the kitchen. So there has to be a happy median there somewhere.
Suzanne: So, I would say that I’ve probably rarely ever used the word submission in any of my writings, it’s worth talking about because it’s always sitting there under the surface, as you say, and it’s a complete misrepresentation of what that really looks like in real time. It has of course, nothing to do with the average man, now there’s always outliers, but the average man wanting to hold a woman down and back, or even having the last word per se.
But just understanding his need and desire to lead and not to being that disagreeable difficult person, who’s constantly fighting against that. Which at the end of the day, not only does it not serve him, but it doesn’t serve her because she doesn’t really want to be in charge and tell him what to do. And he’s not trying to tell her what to do either.
And that’s sort of where this thing goes, who’s going to have the last word, who’s going to be in charge. It’s not about that. It’s about leading and letting that leadership, do its thing. It’s like dancing, there can’t be two people stepping on leading. Otherwise, they’ll be stepping on each other’s toes. So, if you know how to work with that leadership, you’re both going to benefit because ultimately women do want to feel protected and provided for, and that provide doesn’t have to always be financially.
That can be just providing what it is that you want. And I believe that men who love their woman want to give her what she wants, so to speak, but there has to be some tempering of that and understanding that it’s a two-way street. And I think that is not a message that is sent to women or has been in the last several decades, that this is a two-way street that men have needs and desires.
And you need to meet those just as much as you want them met. That’s really, what’s missing. It’s supposed to be all about what women want or need. And then if a man can’t supply, it will screw them.
DSO: You just said a term there, that’s a sensitive one to many of my readers and listeners, and it’s one of being a provider. And the reason it’s sensitive is because a portion of guys end up on my website and the podcast. They were super providers. They had that provider thing down, pat, they worked a large number of hours. They sacrificed a lot of their time and money, to provide for their wife and family.
And in the end, after all was said and done the wife basically by their estimation said, “Thanks for all you’ve done, but I’m going to have to upgrade to this new guy over here.” And then he ends up divorced and loses half of his assets or more, and all of his retirement. And then, he only gets to see the kids every other weekend, you know, the drill.
DSO: And so, one thing I covered in my book “The Dead Bedroom Fix” is that a lot of men, not all, but a lot of men have completely negated the other side of the husband equation, which is what we call the lover side. I can’t tell you how many guys have told me that they have just completely negated or have completely ignored all the shallow stuff like going to the gym. They’ll tell you; I haven’t been to the gym forever.
I haven’t cared about anything like how my personal grooming or my fashion sense. None of that. As far as wooing my wife and taking her out are concerned. Who has time for that? Leading, let her take care of that. I’m too busy with work. That whole part of being a husband just completely goes away. And then they read my book and then they say, “Oh, holy shit. I just completely ignored that whole side of the equation.” And then they applied what they learned from the book to their next relationship, the next woman, or the next woman.
And those women say, “Oh, finally, so many guys are just so, uh, when it comes to this kind of stuff and it’s so nice to finally be with a guy who has a genuine opinion about things or even the more shallow stuff like it’s nice to see a guy who actually takes care of himself physically for once.”
So, when guys hear things like be a better provider, they may bristle a little bit at hearing that because we need to do a better job of teaching both sides of the equation, which sounds a lot like what it is that you tell your ladies that you work with.
Suzanne: And what’s interesting about that is I don’t, I actually work with a lot of women whose men aren’t providing and that’s kind of the underlining problem providing financially, I mean. So, I deal with a little bit different situation, but there’s no question that I’m certainly not suggesting that just providing a salary is enough. Like that’s it.
The only reason I end up having to focus on that is because we have so many men right now who are not, or women who are out-providing them and that’s causing a real problem in their marriage. So, I deal almost primarily with that, but as far as what you’re talking about, you’re absolutely right. It’s not enough to just bring home the bacon, if you want to connect with your wife and have something more meaningful than just a functioning relationship day to day.
There’s more to the equation than just bread-winning and you alluded to it there when it comes to dating or romancing your wife, really similarly to the way that you did when you got together is really, really important. And I don’t think people get enough of that message at all. I rarely hear it actually. It’s almost like that dating process just kind of ends and then the kids come in and there’s no question I’m about to be an empty nester.
I know you’re about to be a new dad for the second time, I guess. I mean, fourth time. I hope I get that right. Because I’ve listened to a lot of your stuff, so correct me if I’m wrong.
DSO: Fourth kid overall but second wife.
Suzanne: So, you know, from experience, obviously kids change the whole ball game.
DSO: Oh yes.
Suzanne: So, what I would love to do is I really feel like there’s this relationship that you have pre-kid and let’s put that over here in a box, then you have the relationship for those 20 years, or 18 years that you have children at home, however long that is, and that’s another kind of marriage. So, let’s put that in a box and then you have what I’m about to hit just empty nester, which is going to happen in August. I’m very excited and that’s another box and we’re going to need different things at different points.
And so, it sounds like what you were just describing was those years raising children, when those men were providing, they felt like that’s how they could do it, was to, provide the money for the children, which is great and absolutely important. But no question, the relationship gets lost in the shuffle. So, when that happens, you often end up years down the line before you realize, “Oh, I forgot something.” And then that’s why the reaction is, “Oh, you’re not doing it for me.”
And that is related to how well you keep up with yourself, no question physically and your ability to wine and dine your wife. And I don’t mean that with a lot of money and expensive restaurants, I just simply mean treat her the way you did as much as possible when you were dating.
DSO: You got it. You’re exactly right. I actually wrote a rare article that was aimed at women. And it was also a podcast episode called, “How to be a Better Wife,” and predictably that didn’t go over too well with some women. But the gist of it was, it all centered around validation and how important it is to validate and show your husband respect because men hunger for that more than anything, especially from their wife.
And, I’ll give the example of a guy. It’s, a silly example, but it’s very realistic where he’s driving around in the car and his wife’s in the passenger seat. And he says, “Whoa, look at that cool Corvette over there. I’m going to get me one of those one day.” And the wife doesn’t even look up. She doesn’t even entertain anything. She just continues tapping away at her phone and just grunts, like, ah, whatever.
And this kind of ticks off the husband because he wants that validation. He wants her to kind of join in on his fun, you know, show me that you care about what I care about. Show me you care about what I have an interest in. And for some women that just ticks them off even further, because they can sense the man’s need for her validation. And she’ll just go, “I don’t know why you keep bringing up old cars to me, I hate cars, so I don’t know why you do it. It’s just stupid. You’re never going to get one of those old cars anyway.”
So very, very typical situation. And so here we have a guy who’s just starving for validation and wouldn’t, you know, it lo and behold, the bimbos start coming out of the woodwork and they see a man what they consider a high value man that they want to go after.
And what is the first technique that they employ? They start validating him. “Well, you look really cute in that shirt. Your wife is so lucky to have a man like you. Corvettes, I love Corvettes.” And a lot of men don’t realize, or a lot of women don’t realize rather that that’s all it takes is that little bit of validation. And we’re off to the races.
Suzanne: One of the things I have to try to get across to women, or I guess I do, I hope I do, I’m just basically reiterating what you’re saying, how far the smallest thing will go with a man. It can be literally what you just said, just appreciating him, giving him a compliment and lots of sex. We can get into sex. And you get an immediate response afterward. It’s so immediate and so wonderful, you might have to force yourself into it, but once you see those results, it gets really easy to keep it up in my opinion.
DSO: Perfect segue into the sex thing. And, that’s a touchy subject for men as well, because as soon as a man gets the whiff of pity sex as we call it or duty, the wife closes her eyes and hurry up. I got 10 minutes in my show.
Suzanne: That’s not what I meant, but yeah, yeah.
DSO: Or anything resembling that we instantly get filled with a dread of she doesn’t really want, I’m not really turning her on anymore. And a lot of women, the impression, “I know he has needs, he’s a man I’m just trying to help out.” And the man is like, “Yeah, this isn’t doing it for me, sweetheart. Remember back in the old days, when you used to drag me in the bedroom, you had what we were going for.” And a lot of women say I get it and I love you, you’re amazing but I just don’t have that in me anymore. Three kids. Uh no, that’s tough.
Suzanne: It is tough. And, it’s probably, too tall of an order to expect what happened at the beginning of a relationship to carry you through to the end. I don’t want to suggest that it’s possible to get that back. I think it’s better if people, do what you need to nurture that side of your relationship.
So, I often suggest that one of the easiest ways to get a woman back in that state of mind or in the mood is to remove her from the home and the kids. So, If you took her to the local, it could be a hotel in your town and you don’t have to go out of town, for the night, and give her enough time to unwind and experience life with you alone.
Chances are, you will find a different person there than you would back at the house with the kids. Now there’s caveats to that. If many years have gone by and you have a lot of problems in your relationship, she’s not going to all of a sudden be sexual. But in general, if your relationship is decent, but it’s just getting carried away with the life of, raising kids that usually does it.
A glass of wine, moving the kids out of the equation, you’re going to see a different side. And so, it’s hard because men don’t need that to get aroused and they don’t need the scene to be set just so, and that’s unfortunately just a really unfair difference between men and women, but it is what it is, women need what they need and men are, what they are and they don’t match.
And so, you have to cater a little bit to each. So, when we get that whole concept of, why should I do it? It’s like, well, there’s really two things. He needs to romance her more. Or get her situated. And she might say yes, sometimes when she’s not in the mood and that’s sort of the trade-off, but like you said, it’s not supposed to be pity sex. Unless you’re suffering through it. And it’s really bad.
A lot of times people, it’s hard to get into the mood and when you’re not, but you might do it anyway. And it turns out pretty good in the end. So, everything’s not going to work out so perfectly. But I think during those years of child-rearing, it’s really important to work with each other’s, bodies and minds and how they operate and try to lower those expectations a little bit, because it’s a pretty tall order to expect, what you had pre-kid. Do you not agree?
DSO: And I always say, it’s more realistic to say, you can see brief glimpses, new relationship, energy as they call it that’s super over the top. And you’re right. What’s your best chance of getting there, get the hell away from the kids. And so, with a little bit of coaching, guys will recognize, the scenario of this dynamic in what’s going on.
And they will take my advice and they will completely plan a from A to Z a trip for him and the wife. The kids are taken care of, Billy’s, homework’s taken care of. Baseball practice is, taken care of. Your mom’s going to watch the kids on Saturday. Aunt Judy is going to watch the kids on Sunday. All you need to do is pack, a nice evening dress, some clothes for hiking. We’ll be gone for two nights.
Everything’s planned. Don’t worry about a thing and much to the chagrin of these men. A lot of these men, the wife turns around and says, “No, I don’t feel comfortable leaving the kids alone with somebody else. I’m not going anywhere.”
Which loosely translated means that side of our life together as a couple is over that’s not us anymore. We’re parents, that’s it. And that’s heartbreaking for a lot of men it’s depressing. So, what advice do you have for these men, if any, to help them pull their wife out of that mom mode and to try and reconnect again, as a couple.
Suzanne: I would get help if I was him from someone somewhere, I would get help from a family member, if they could find one, or if not outside of that, to get the woman to understand that at the end of the day, this is not okay. It is not okay to turn into mom for 18 or 20 years and reject your marriage essentially, or neglect it.
First of all, at the end of the child-rearing phase, you’re not going to have a marriage left and then there’ll be divorced because when the kids are grown and gone. All you have left is this other person for the next 20 or 30 years, depending on when you started. And so, by doing that, you’re basically throwing your future away with this man. So that’s one thing. But it’s also just simply not right. It’s just not okay.
And so, she needs that message and I would encourage him to find a way to get that message to her in some way. Starts with, somebody that she likes and respects and is close with, and then talk with that person to get that person to talk to her. Because unfortunately it sounds like based on what you’re seeing, the men, aren’t going to have a lot of luck in that regard. You need outside help to sort of get her heads on straight with that subject.
DSO: These poor guys have painted themselves into a corner over the years, if not decades of consistent type of behavior and expectations, these men have helped to create a relationship culture, if you will, that is just very parental and really that’s about it. And then he does something like reads my book or joins our group. And suddenly has a mind shift that, this relationship can do something a lot better than this.
And he’s upset that the wife isn’t jumping on board 100% right off the bat, and it just doesn’t work that way. And you just hit on something that is crucial here, hugely important. And that is her social group. It will be far more impactful if she were to have a friend group sit her down like an intervention style and say, sweetheart, you got a really good dude here. He’s a really good man. And 98% of women out there would kill to be with him.
We see that he’s, trying everything he can. And we think you just need to give the guy a break and it’s time you put in some work too. That would be hugely impactful, way more so than the guy sets her down and has the one-on-one talk.
Suzanne: It’s unfortunate. And I feel for men because, they’re probably thinking, well, that sucks that she has to hear that to appreciate it. And I don’t have an answer for that. Other than to say it is human nature with women when they think, other people want your man, they get more hot for you. I don’t know. I can’t change that.
DSO: I often give the example to my guys let’s say you’re at a Christmas party or something. And there’s the company bimbo that all the guys are ogling after and staring as she walks across the room. If she hangs around your man all day and laughs at all his jokes and she’s putting her hands on his chest and grabbing his arm and paying him a lot of attention and making it very obvious that she’s attracted to him.
And all he had to do was just basically sit there and drink his drink and do nothing. That’s a man who’s probably going to go home that night and get laid by his wife, excuse my French. There’s something to that. And always say to guys, every woman wants to be able to point to our man across the room and say, “See that guy over there. That’s my man. That’s my man right there.”
Suzanne: Right. And in order for her to feel that way, it is your job to, and I would say the reverse is true as well, but it’s your job to continue to be that person, if you were that person at one point, then she’ll feel that way. If you’re still the person, it’s just, what has happened in those years in the meantime is really the question.
And you pointed that out whether or not they’re taking care of themselves or whether or not they’re letting, her rule the roost. There’s a lot of men who actually do really well in their work space, but then they come home and just let her run wild with everything and can’t stand up to her, but can stand up to all the people at work.
DSO: Yes. We call that the man at work and the boy at home as Jack London, he’s one of my coaches that works for me as he wrote in one of his articles that he did for a DSO Fraternity site. Boy, this is super common. And I mean, high level CEO types that are just the alpha-male at work, but when they get home, some of them are downright, emotionally abused, verbally abused.
They get all of this validation at work and all of this reward and in form of their bonuses and their commissions and their raises, but they set foot in that door at home. And the wife turns on the nag machine and their shoulders just slump. And they just change completely. And a lot of these guys will say, they just want peace. They just want quiet at home. They don’t want to stir up any kind of drama. And they certainly don’t want to get in a fight with the wife.
And this is something that you cover in one of your books. And this is something we want to talk about for sure, your books, but in your “Alpha Female” book, you talk about men just do not like confrontation with the wife. They don’t like any kind of drama. And, I read that and I said, yep, yep. It’s probably the majority of men. We just want peace. We just want calm. Especially when it comes to the wife.
Suzanne: It’s very uncomfortable territory for them. And I think in the same way that sexually men and women are not made the same, this is also a really distinctive difference. I think women like emotional warfare and that’s a really heightened thing to say, but I think that it’s drama, and they’re good at it. They’re very good at it. And men of course are physically stronger and could crush a woman, really. They could crush their wives physically.
So, the offset of that is that emotionally, they give them the territory because that’s not their space. And so that’s, what’s playing out a lot in homes when you don’t understand and play to each other’s being, how to bring out the best in the other person based on what they need. And you’re doing really, what’s good for you and what you’re good at.
And if you like emotional warfare, then you’re creating an environment in your home that he will never win and you will lose respect for him. And it’s just the wrong way to travel. So, I grew up seeing this dynamic my whole life and it affected me deeply, which is why I do what I do by the way. I had a very domineering mother, very controlling.
And, my father was a good man, but definitely a more passive man and first of all, a very normal guy in like what we’re talking about, not cut out for that. And so, then what do you do when you’re up against someone who doesn’t understand that about men and keeps at it and never really gets the memo.
So, it’s an ugly dynamic. It’s not attractive to watch. It’s sort of burned in my head. And so, I’m just very attentive to that particular dynamic. And so basically what I do now in helping other couples is not to have that dynamic to reverse that. And, the way to do that is to understand men and understand women and their differences, and then playing to those differences.
And that of course requires a massive rejection of the culture, which is a whole other piece. So, with my parents, it was just a personality thing and she got it from her mom and her mom got it from her mom and it was passed on. And, this was back before people really were self-reflective. So, my mother was not capable of looking inward whatsoever, and making changes, which is kind of typical of that.
She was born in 1930, in those days they didn’t do much of that but that’s not the case anymore. So, on top of that, a personality piece, you’ve got the culture, now. That’s fostering this whole down with the men up with the women crap. And so that’s just embolden women who are already geared toward that behavior in every way.
And so, it’s a tall order to get it out of you and to, redirect and figure this thing out. But if you want to get married and stay married, if you want lasting love, you just don’t have any choice. I mean, the alternative is you’re either alone or you’re in a high conflict marriage, your whole life, and that’s not fun.
DSO: This leads in perfectly to my next point. And this is one that I make a lot. And it’s one that you may not necessarily agree with. And that is, this concept of marriage as we know it today, monogamous just you and I, nobody else in the planet, we’re in this for the long haul ’till death do us part. We both have the emotional tools in our toolbox to cope with life.
We’ll go through everything together. You’ll be my caretaker. You’ll be my lover. You’ll be my friend, the whole nine yards. It is just not for all of us to illustrate. A lot of men that I talk to, they come to my website and they find me, they’re doing some Google searches on a wife’s infidelity. And I will hear the worst stories imaginable about a wife having one, two, three, four more affairs, terrible stories.
And the first question out of my mouth after the men tell me all the horrible things that their wives are doing to them, is all right, “Well, tell me about her childhood.” I’m playing armchair psychiatrist and that’s when you really hear some terrible stories. Stories about sexual abuse.
Father left me, mom married three, four guys, stepfathers abused me, got into drugs, ran away from home. She got into prostitution. She had a kid at a young age. Then she turned her life around and she met this guy that I’m talking to. And when I asked him, “Well, okay, looking back on all of this, why did you choose her as your wife to be your marital partner?” And he said, “Well, basically I just fell in love and get married and have kids.” That’s just what you do. And that’s about the end of that.
That’s all there is to it. Now, these guys aren’t innocent either, innocent is not the right word. These guys also have their own baggage. And some of it’s pretty bad. A common story I hear is dad left and I was raised by mom and I became mom’s emotional punching bag. I became like a surrogate spouse for her.
There’s an uncomfortable term, which I did not coin. I read it somewhere called emotional incest. Basically, he becomes the surrogate spouse, the replacement husband to the mom. It’s a very toxic, unhealthy relationship dynamic between mom and son.
So, this illustrates the grander point, which is not all of us are ready for this marriage game. At the very least, just not at this exact point in our lives. Maybe it’s just a matter of as a society. We need to do a much better job of educating people on the facts of, okay, look, this is what marriage is really all about. It’s not all fun and games. It’s a lot of hard work and you’re going to have to have some skills and some tools in your toolbox to make it work.
And unfortunately, as you well know, this kind of butts’ heads goes up against the biological imperative specifically of women to have kids, a lot of women when they hit their early mid-twenties, say it’s baby-making time, regardless of where I’m at in my life, emotionally, mentally, and so forth. I may be a wreck and I may not have those tools in my toolbox, but I’m ready to settle down and start a family. That’s what I’m supposed to do anyway. It’s, it’s all very difficult. It’s a difficult topic to discuss your thoughts.
Suzanne: I don’t disagree with that actually. First of all, I don’t think marriage is for 100% for everyone because there’s always the exceptions to the rule. I do think most people naturally want it, maybe I should replace the word marriage with, they want lasting love.
They want commitment with one person. And typically, that means marriage. So, we’re such an anti-marriage, anti-male culture that you almost can’t even use the word marriage anymore because it’s too stringent or whatever.
But at the end of the day, a life of being alone forever is not going to be for most people. They’re not going to want that, but you’re absolutely right. It bumps up against what you’re essentially dealing with is people who’ve been damaged, broken or harmed or trauma.
And there’s no question that in the ideal world, you fix that trauma before you get with someone else. But again, the reality of that will be well, good luck with that, Suzanne, because most people have the trauma and then fixed by the time, they’re ready to get married.
So, then the only caveat there needs to be, are you able to deal with your shit, so to speak? Are you the type of person who is and can be self-reflective so that at least you are aware of what you’re bringing to the table and you’re going to do something about it? And that’s the key.
So, if we do have a bunch of broken people running around and they want to get married, I shouldn’t use the word, broken, just damaged, like they’ve had a lot of trauma and they haven’t worked through all of that, but it’s time to get married and if they waited until they worked through all that, they’d be 60 or something.
If that’s the argument, then the only thing we’re left with is okay, then you’ve got to be self-reflective, you’ve got to be able to look in the mirror and Lord knows that’s what marriage is going to make you do anyway, much more so than if you ever live alone. That’s what marriage is. It’s like looking in the mirror everyday of your life, because you have to deal with another person and figure out a thousand things with that person, as opposed to just being on your own.
So, you’re ultimately going to have to look in the mirror. Anyway, the question is, when you do, are you going to crumble or are you going to rise? And so that piece of it, if you have the other things in place that I always talk about with who to marry and how to marry, and that’s values, priorities, goals, your attitude toward marriage. All those things are aligned, you could still have this other piece though. Where you’re bringing this stuff to the table and we’ve all got it.
But if you are someone who can cope and face it, you’ll probably be okay. And if you’re not, you probably won’t. And there are ways to look at that early on in your relationship to see. Well, I was married before, I was married at 23 divorced at 27 remarried at 30.
I didn’t have kids with my first husband, but one of the biggest sticking points in that marriage was that he would never get any help from a professional whatsoever. You wouldn’t catch him dead in a counselor’s office, much less even acknowledging when something was actually not good or wrong or dysfunctional cause a complete shutdown.
And I couldn’t cope with that. It took unfortunately getting married and divorced to get it into my thick head because I’m sure I saw it before we got married, but probably, I thought I could change him. I went down that road. But at the end of the day, there’s no way I could have dealt with that for a lifetime. There’s just no way. If you cannot deal and call a spade, a spade, it’s not going to work.
You don’t have to be perfect and you might struggle for a long time, but if you consistently deny that it’s there, it’s impossible for the other person to move forward in the relationship because you’re literally hitting that wall and refusing to go through it or door.
DSO: And the positive thing about marriage or long-term relationships is that when they work, when they’re clicking, like they’re supposed to, there’s nothing better. We know for a fact, for example, let’s take men, men tend to perform in society better overall. They’re much more productive person in society when they are married.
It may be up for debate, but even you look at it, pragmatically from an economic standpoint, men are more productive, making more money, spending more money. They have more to strive for. When you have mouths to feed and bills to pay, you’re going to be more ambitious and you’re going to go for it as opposed to maybe the single guy who spends a great deal of his time, bouncing from woman to woman.
If you want to get, oh, it’s somewhat controversial to say, but the general opinion of many, the economists as well is that it’s better overall for society. If we have, the nuclear family or the man woman, the 2.5 kids just, everything seems to click and society hums along better with that dynamic.
But it’s really tough these days. In this day and age, it’s really, really tough to find a good partner that will go through life with you. And that has all those tools necessary, especially if you’re a single woman these days. If you’re a single woman, these days looking for a good all-around good man, that checks all those boxes. Good freaking luck.
Suzanne: You’re referring to, what specifically? Because that’s a good segue into my new book. That’s coming out in August. Go ahead. When you say, “Good luck.” What do you mean?
DSO: There’s a big portion of my readership. Men listening audience are guys that have gone through the divorce process and have really hit rock bottom. And they’ve gone through these steps of really rebuilding themselves and, objectively, they’re a much better-looking person. Economically they’re much better financial shape. They’re much healthier mentally, just an all-around much more attractive guy. And they are at the top of what I like to call the dude pyramid.
There’s a very few at the top. And then the rest of them at the bottom. Well, they’ve clawed their way to the top. And those are the guys that are experiencing life at a different level. And it’s very, very difficult to convince them to, “Hey, why don’t you come down off the pyramid and join the rest of us in married land?” Many of them will just laugh at your face.
It’s, a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle that we’re experiencing right now in the world of dating in terms of if you are in fact at the top of that dude pyramid, and you have your choice of women, so to speak. In other words, a lot of women are vying for your attention. You can have a dating app on your phone, swipe left, right, whatever it is, pick three different women this week and have sex eventually with all of them. It’s really not that difficult.
And so, trying to convince those guys who on paper and otherwise they really looked like the cream of the crop as far as men are concerned for women to try and convince those guys. “Come on down here and let’s try out this whole marriage thing.” Very, very difficult.
Suzanne: There’s a lot of them on my Facebook page and on YouTube. So, I know what you’re talking about.
DSO: There’s the whole culture of the MGTOW.
Suzanne: Yeah. And, there’s a large segment of them that follow me. And because saying things they’re not going to hear from most women’s mouths. And so, it’s comforting and I get that and I’m very, very sympathetic to their stories. I give them an open space.
It does get exhausting after a while because the reality is, if you just wake up and you’re negative every day and saying negative things, then that’s your life. There it is, on a platter. And that’s what you get between now and then. And I’m not good with that. I’m sympathetic. I get it. But enough already, like after the hundredth comment, I’m just, there’s no way it’s not adding to the conversation.
You’re really venting and I get it, but I’m trying to move forward. And every time you do that, you’re just pulling me back. And it’s frustrating for me. I’m always in an odd space with that because they know I’m sympathetic, but I can only hear so much over and over and over again. When I’m trying to get out of this mess and that’s the best, we can do is to be optimistic and forward-thinking and do something about it, which is what I’m doing. Than just to consistently complain is not helpful.
DSO: You know, what’s ironic is that these guys, these MGTOW guys, they are not what you would call at the top of the dude pyramid by any stretch. Most of them anyway. These are guys who typically have very little experience with women in the romance department, and they’ve probably been hurt really badly by women. And, they don’t like that they’re basically not been invited to the game with the rest of us, and they’re very angry about it.
And, they say, “I don’t want to play in that game. I don’t want to be part of the game.” To which I say, “Hey, that’s cool. Have fun, dude, enjoy the bachelor life, live it up.” But the problem is that they don’t leave it alone and they can’t shut up about it.
Suzanne: Exactly. Exactly.
DSO: And, I’m just like, dude, whatever man, you do you, I’ll do me. You do your thing more power to you, but no, they view it as kind of almost like a cultural conspiracy, that this industry of marriage is one that is the downfall of men, specifically not mankind of men, that there’s no way to exist within the framework of marriage and actually be a happy independent man. And they must do all they can to squash it.
Suzanne: No. You have a reaction. They’re right about the culture doing what it’s doing, I’m right there with them, but you don’t join them or cave to it. Then you’re just allowing it to go on. It’s like being around ER all the time, That’s just not helpful. So really your attitude is the key. And that’s always been my underlying argument for all of this.
It’s just fascinating to me how quickly people can change their lives with an attitude switch. Because so much of this is about getting into a different headspace and bringing out into the world, a new attitude and behavior that is going to foster what you ultimately want. And that’s true for both women and men too. If a man who wants respect, then you need to command it. And how do you do that? It’s in the way you dress. It’s the way you talk, and certainly, ER, isn’t going to get that respect. So, what do you want?
Here’s how you can go about getting what you want, even though the world sucks. And even though it’s against you, which it is the culture is against men and it is against marriage. And that’s why I do what I do everyday. So, I get it, but you have to be impervious to it. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. You have to, reject it and you have to exemplify what’s right and good. And it’s going to get you where you want to go and somehow find a way to have that not affect you, which is hard, unbelievably hard.
DSO: You’re hitting on a topic that always makes me cringe when I hear it from men. And that is when guys like me are telling men while you want to be a more attractive version of yourself, you’re going to have to put in the work. You’re going to have to do X, Y, and Z this is where the cringe comes in. A lot of men say I really shouldn’t have to do the work. It should just happen.
It’s almost as if love and relationships are owed to them. And then sometimes they even go as far as to point the finger back at women and say, who’s telling them to do any work. Everything just kind of happens naturally for them. They just sit back and the relationship comes to them. Why don’t they do any work? Do they have a point? This culture society overall tell women, “Hey, just keep being, you do your own thing.”
Suzanne: What is the work they’re putting in? What work are you referring to? If you’re going back to what you said at the beginning, if they’re just providing an income and that’s the extent of what they do and they think that should be enough. Well then no.
DSO: Well, for a lot of these guys, it’s me telling them that the shallow stuff is important, work on your physicality and how you look. And, that’s where a lot of them perk up. Let’s be honest. A lot of these guys are your home basement, dweller type, video game, player types. And, the concept of wait, I have to work on myself in that realm, I shouldn’t have to put in that kind of work.
Suzanne: Alright. So, the easiest way to go back to think about this, if you’re married and you’re either that kind of guy that you just described or you’re the woman who’s frumpy and let herself go, or what have you. Is to immediately go back to when you guys met and ask yourself is the way I am now, would it have attracted him or her, what I’ve gotten him or her? And if the answer is no, you have work to do.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t gain 10 pounds over the course of your life or 15 or whatever. It just means you can’t dramatically transform, either physically or emotionally by cutting yourself off and not looking her in the eyes when you’re talking to her the way you did when you were dating, it’s not just about, weight gain. But these other aspects of what you did when you were trying to get her or him, the quicker you go back to doing those things. Overnight, you can change that dynamic and it’s easy to remember.
I think all of us can remember back, what we were doing and how we presented ourselves and what we’re talking about and how we acted with the person. Just do that again. And you’ll get what you’re looking for. But you have to be willing to do that. So, these people that you’re describing who are saying, I shouldn’t have to do that. Well, then I would say, well, then don’t be married.
DSO: There you go.
Suzanne: It doesn’t work that way.
DSO: My common line for men is, welcome to being married. I’m sorry if somebody sold you on an alternate reality here, but it’s not true. You do have to put in that type of work to keep this machine running, especially in this day and age where one of the people sneezes wrong and the other one files for divorce, just like that. I mean, it’s tough. It takes a lot of work. Got to know what you’re doing. So, let’s talk about your books and the work that you do. So where can people find you?
Suzanne: Okay. So, my website is just my name, Suzanne, S-U-Z-A-N-N-E, Venker, V-E-N-K-E-R.com. So that’s easy enough. And then I have a new book coming out in August called, How to Get Hitched (and Stay Hitched). And the, subtitle for that is actually more significant. It’s a “12-Step Program for Marriage Minded Women.”
And essentially what it is, it’s in two parts, the book and part one outlines the four lies, the culture tells. And part two is the 12-step program, which basically says you need a detox from these lies because you’ve been lied to your whole life. This doesn’t work, and this does follow this plan.
So, it’s a roadmap, essentially the kind of roadmap that I think your mothers or grandmothers, depending on how old people are, would have told them, or could have told them back in the day, but the last 20, 30 years women don’t get these messages, they get completely different ones. And that’s why they’re finding themselves either single and alone or unhappily married, or burning the candle at both ends and trying to do it all and be it all. And all these, all these things that they were taught to do, do not work.
And you have to be counter-cultural if you want to win at life and at love that’s essentially the message. That has an actual site, you can go to howtogethitched.net and all the information is there. So, the book that I think you read or found, when you contacted me was the “Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage.” And that book is essentially sort of part memoir part self-help in terms of showing.
That’s really where I got into the whole, sort of undoing what I was talking about earlier with my own parents’ marriage, in teaching women, how to bring out the best in their man. And understanding that if you are a control freak type, if you are a type ‘A’ if you’re a go getter. If you’re very masculinized, stereotypically masculine, I guess, in your demeanor, that’s all fine and good for the workplace, but it is not going to work at home.
And if you want a relationship with a man to last a life, you’re going to have to temper that and figure out how to work with this alpha-male in your home. Otherwise, you have what amounts to a power struggle. So, it’s just a list of things to do to become this kinder, gentler person, more feminine. Getting in touch with that feminine side and understanding that that’s the magic that makes the relationship work.
If you are a more masculine type, ‘A’ like I naturally am and the women in my family are. If you don’t learn how to tap into that femininity you’re going to struggle. And I don’t want that for you. And I had to learn the hard way, how to do this. It took me a long time.
And I finally, I shouldn’t say I finally did, like there was one day when all of a sudden, everything’s great in my marriage and nothing ever goes wrong. It’s not like that at all. It’s a roadmap, a different kind of roadmap than I was talking about before for navigating a relationship with a man, if you are that type of woman.
I have a daughter. We have a daughter and a son. And my daughter is naturally, very naturally feminine, completely. We have very different personalities. I’m using her as an example in my head because she’s someone who’s not going to struggle in this realm. She doesn’t need this book. She might need a different one, but it’s not this one. So, this book is just your standard.
And I say standard, because this personality that I’ve described is fostered in women today in this culture from day one, never depend on a man. You can do everything on your own. You don’t need anything, be self-sufficient, all those messages. And, they’re walking through the world with a guard up, and an unwillingness to be soft and nurturing and letting the man in and understanding that this isn’t, going back to your word before submissiveness.
This is simply understanding the male and female dance, and that men are made this way, typically. Women are made this way, typically and not everybody falls into that stringent box, but it’s all about finding that place on the spectrum, where you can both coexist peacefully.
DSO: Very good. So, for those guys listening to this nodding saying, “Yes, yes, God, yes. This is what my wife needs.” Exactly. She needs to hear this kind of stuff. How best is it for him? How can he best introduce her to your world and to this information? Because him just, grabbing a book and shoving it in her face and saying, read this, I think you need to read this. A lot of the times it doesn’t get the results that he wants.
Suzanne: I’m going to answer that by telling them what not to do with a funny story. I met with a gal for coffee once for a completely different reason that had nothing to do with this book. And somehow, I mentioned the book and she said, “Wait, wait, what’s your name? Wait, you wrote that book?” Yes. Okay. She had to pause and she’s like, “My husband just gave me that book a month ago on our anniversary trip.”
Suzanne: That did not go over, well, needless to say. Needless to say, she wasn’t going to be receptive to the authors. And she was mad about having been handed the book. No, that was not the way to do it, but at any rate it worked out very well because she ended up getting to know me and it’s all good, but I don’t recommend that.
And I have had a lot of men ask me, “Can I just strategically put it by the bedside?” It’s a hard question to answer, to be honest with you, because when you’re married and there’s a problem and the partner that’s most upset by the problem or who really wants to find an answer. And I know this from myself, having done this with my husband, I’ll find something. I’ll be like, “Oh, you need to read this book. You need to read this book.” It never works. It just never works. They’ve got to come to their table on their own.
That doesn’t mean you can’t sit down at some point and have a heart-to-heart, face-to-face no kids in the room, no phones and say, “Hey, here’s what I think the problems are. I’m concerned about this. I came across this book that I think might be, helpful. Would you be willing to take a look?” You know, that’s okay. That would work.
And I have had people do that, but the strategically, passive-aggressive setting it by the bedside table kind of thing. Isn’t the way to do it. And then if she’s not receptive. Then you could go the other way and go to more books like yours or the “No More Mr. Nice Guy” which is like the reverse side of the Alpha. And put into practice those things, which hopefully caused the shift as well.
But then that of course gets back to the whole argument that I made before, which is that I think women are better suited to lead that change in dynamic because men, they’re responders of women, they’re natural responders. The woman moves, the man responds. It’s very unlikely to be the other way around. Or at least not as easily, which is why I’m sitting here.
DSO: In your scenario of the sit-down conversation. There’s a version of it that a lot of the guys who’ve read my book and stuff have had with their wives. And it’s one where, they address the acute pain that they’re feeling in the moment, which basically revolves all around their lack of sex in the relationship. And he’s probably had some semblance of that conversation with his wife several times.
So anytime that he’s going to sit down with the wife and even if it’s for completely non-sexual reasons, it’s always going to be, as far as the wife is concerned, framed around that whole, “Oh God, here he comes again. He’s just wanting sex. And that’s what this is all about.”
Suzanne: So, I would leave sex off the table that’s not part of the conversation. You’re better off saying, “What do you want from me?” Bring it around to her. Like, “What is it that I’m not that you wish I were? What is it that you wish this relationship were?” And if she says things like, “I wish you’d step up more. I wish you’d stop asking me what I think all the time.” Whatever the case may be. Hmm. Okay. You think about that familiar.
I think there might be something that speaks to this it’s this book I heard about. So, start with what it is she wants so that she is understanding that this is her answer for her not, “You don’t give me sex. Here’s a book that teaches you that you should.” Which is actually one chapter of the book.
And I’m not sure I say it quite so cut and dry in that way, but yeah, meet her where she is and what it is she’s looking for and doesn’t have from you. And then ironically, this book will help her bring that out of you, if that makes sense, but you don’t have to say it that way.
DSO: Well, Miss Suzanne, you have to run, you have a coaching session that you need to do, which is another one of the services that you offer. But I just wanted to say, thank you so much for doing this. This has been wonderful. I appreciate it.
Suzanne: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
DSO: And everyone listening to this, please check out, Suzanne’s firstname.lastname@example.org and check out her podcast, The Suzanne Venker Show, which is how, the guys who told me about you, Suzanne, that’s how they, found you was on the podcast. And, thanks again for coming on greatly appreciate it. And we will be seeing you around.
Suzanne: Thank you very much.