marriages

NATURE’S EDGE: valued women

NATURE’S EDGE: valued women

You will often read me saying women are more valued by nature and that men are the expendable sex. Sometimes a guy thinks this means I am putting women on a pedestal. Of course, this is nonsense. It’s as if they are saying unless you have contempt for women, you are glorifying their existence. Bullshit.

Perhaps we should glorify each other, which is more in line with what what I teach, and that is a long way from pedestalizing women. Don’t be a fool about that but we should look for opportunities to appreciate each other. A lot. I just realize women’s value is a biological reality and I will tell you why: I see examples of gynocentric favouritism all over the planet in both the animal and human kingdom.

For example, there will probably always be rape. It is why women will never be able to walk the streets in the night anywhere half dressed expecting no one will molest them. It’s not fair but then again, life is often not fair. There will likely always be some lesser value male who cannot compete for females effectively who resorts to stealing something of value from a woman, with tragic results.

It is also why women have been “spoils of war” since forever. There is not a culture on the planet where women have not suffered in war because of their value, and either been raped and killed or become captive slaves or concubines for a conquering army. Note, this goes on around the world to this day, for example in Nigeria and the Syrian caliphate war of late.

Look up any Indigenous tribal culture and raiding for women was rampant. In one wonderful book in my library, A Stolo-Coast Salish Historical Atlas, it details how rival tribes used the tides to raiding advantage heading up the Fraser River in the south of British Columbia.

In what used to be freshet flooded plain between the cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack, BC, the natives who lived there became known as “people of the reeds,” because they would run really fast over the swamp, knowing just where to step, and escape into the hills, They bought extra time by seemingly walking on water while their pursuers would stop and sink into the bog where they could be killed by warriors lying in ambush.

In the old growth forests overlooking the plain, the tribe had constructed hiding places, camouflaged earthen caves dug into the mountain where women and children would wait while the men fought the intruders.

Women have value, and that value is sought after by men. Put all the men over here in one group and all the women over there in another group and soon you will see the men drift towards the women. It’s an irresistible pull, a natural force of nature itself programmed deeply in mankind’s psyche.

It’s why when the Titanic went down, we put women and children in the lifeboats first. It’s the first thing honourable men protect in a society: women and children.

That doesn’t put them on a pedestal but just recognizes this truth. The w.o.w. effect (women are wonderful) is a measurable reality. Right or wrong.

So is a woman’s other side, her tendency to compete covertly using mean remarks, social exclusion and by trying to win over your friends and allies. Her power can be abusive when it’s turned against you.

Neither is recognizing abuse of empathy as her birthright pedestalizing her.

I’m older, experienced and more educated than my missus—all things which count for fuck-all when we argue.  It’s recognizing her power and according it respect. Value judgments are secondary to appreciating how she is made and operates.

Get bitten by anything in the animal kingdom and the chances are it will have been by the female of whatever species. From mosquitoes to lionesses, females are survivors of the fittest kind first and foremost.

There are key differences between men and women. Don’t listen to the social constructionist “move to androgyny” narrative prevalent in western society. Equality of opportunity is one thing, but generally men and women are too different to be considered equals. This post is about her value to nature, so I won’t go over our many differences. It is enough to say the case is strong nature makes her more valuable than men and that men, therefore, are more expendable.

There are good and bad in both sexes, and context is everything. Using scarcity—a widely accepted measure of value—women are more valuable based of their shorter fertility window alone. She has roughly 20 good years, between ages 15 to about 35, before risk to her and baby go way up.

Men have triple or more her fertility period. I’ve already told you about the 90-year-old farmer in Rajasthan who fathered a baby girl with his fourth wife in 2007. I myself am 62 with an eight-year daughter and six-year old son. Women can’t do that and if they do, it makes international news.

Heck just look out at the bird feeder and see the male Cardinal in his bright red plumage (or most other songbirds). Meanwhile, the female is more buff coloured. If a Sparrow Hawk (American Kestrel) happens to catch the couple unawares, he’s getting it first. That is expendability.

This same male expendability is reflected in society where men are 90+% of workplace deaths, up to 95% of deaths from war, etc. These are all things you know. To think men are not the expendable sex is to deny reality. Seems to me we can accept this with grace and make the best of it, or we can whine about it.

We are also far more likely to die in childbirth and die earlier in life. Our life expectancy is less than a female life expectancy.  There are  more developmentally challenged men as well as more bright ones at the two ends of a Bell curve. Women cluster more safely in the middle of distribution.

I agree there were constraints on women in days of yore that do not exist today. This is largely irrelevant to this discussion and so I’ll skip the presentism to theorize about the merits of old cultural norms.  But it’s also true that: “Ont as tous les qualites de nos defauts.” Translated:  “We all have the faults of our qualities.” Both sexes are good and bad. On that we are equal.

I’d like to see more discussion in society about women’s and men’s preferences and differences but without the blaming (and anger). I also think a man can get stuck considering these things and embrace a disdain for women, and I see evidence of this every day. If your view of women rings with contempt, I suggest that is an unsettled part of your personal maturation as a man. Same goes for women.

Just as men have great gifts of aggression, sometimes this gets the better of us. In one context aggression is critical, in another it’s a detriment. An aggressive man who wants to fight you is one thing, one that will back you up in a fight is entirely another isn’t it?

A woman who can maneuver covertly and win over people to her cause is a bitch when it goes against you. But when she uses her power in your favour. it’s more than tolerable, it’s encouraged. I’ve seen this too many times to discount it. Context.

I have spent the last few decades learning sex differences as a result of being disappointed with my father when I mentioned I was having a hard time understanding women. He answered, “You’re not supposed to,” which I thought was weak as fuck. Resolving to do just that I found my father was wrong: we can understand each other, and it’s not that hard.

I have been following along from a behavioural science viewpoint while observing how women work through my relationship with Gallup and as a Strengths Coach.  As VP for the largest paid sales newspaper company in the world where ran teams of teens and young adults in close quarters for a couple of decades—giving me access to a live lab of sorts.

I was never a red pill type, but I listened to Tom Leykis in the early 2000s for a few months and saw the reality many men were facing (with the traditions of womanhood, shall we say, long on the wane). I also lived through feminism’s heyday, something I find contemptible now. Well intentioned but mistaken idealists I call them.

I just think the answer is to know our strengths and weaknesses on each side of the gender energy divide. I’m aware of women’s faults, but also appreciate her gifts. I’m aware of men’s faults but appreciate his gifts. We are a team, and a people, and knowing our tendencies and proclivities is critical to having any chance at winning any kind of game, the game of life included.

I’m not intimidated by either gender’s powers gone awry; nor am I deterred from finding the awe on each side. That’s the thing about male maturation. If you are to become an elder of your tribe, as a man you will need to discover the inter-connectedness of all things, including this energetic female force you may presently find so befuddling.

Men and women have been banding together since the dawn of time to benefit from each other’s strengths and shore up each other’s weaknesses. If we were the same, if she were more like me, there would be no need for each other. Think about that for a moment: what kind of egocentricity demands others be more like us?

Fact is, her depth and wider perception balance out your narrowness and single-mindedness. Her power with people and your power with things are what makes you an unbeatable team. Striking a balance which respects differences while recognizing each other’s value and place in the natural order of things is what makes the pair bond interesting and rewarding. What’s bad about her? Instead, try: what’s good about her? Men lead; women command.

It is only when a man is fully secure in his power that he can appreciate the intricacies of his relationships and see magic in those around him. You must push yourself to find this wellspring of strength, even if it is pain which motivates your quest for consciousness is slow. So little of your existence makes its way into awareness that each small realization is a gift of body and mind and heart.

This is what a man’s power really is: it is agency over his being. It’s him taking the hidden parts of soul and the quiet voice of spirit and finding and living his potential and possibilities. You have a bigger mission in life than just understanding women. Make that part easy.

Find it early, find it late, we must all find love.

Stay powerful, never give up
cw

©2019, Christopher K Wallace
Advisor to men, mentor at large

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The rose breasted grosbeak at my feeder. The darker male has white and black colours with a rose breast while the female sitting on top of the feeder just blends into the background and is barely visible…

GRIEVING LOST LOVE


Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

Regrets? I’ve had a few…
After a breakup, it’s almost certain we will find ourselves a little sad. For some of us, it’s a process akin to grieving. Should you show sadness, concerned friends might inform you of the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. “Grieve!” they will tell you with the best of intentions. I’m not so sure. Kubler-Ross’s five stages were developed from her observations of people struggling to accept terminal illness. Only later was the paradigm applied to grief and eventually, to any general loss.

Fact is, loss is not a one-size-fits-all process. While important to consider if you get stuck, there is no rule which says you must pass through all or any of these stages to regain your sense of self. On the contrary, many people are liberated after a breakup, reveling in their newfound freedom, even asking why they didn’t do it sooner. Others have their whole model of the world shattered and require time and work to find their footing again.

New interpretations of the 5 stages of grief emerge every so often. One with good keywords shows up in search as the 7 Stages of Grief. These include 1. Shock and denial; 2. Pain and Guilt; 3. Anger and Bargaining; 4. Reflection, Loneliness and Depression; 5. The Upward Turn; 6. Reconstruction; and 7. Acceptance and Hope.  I suppose these seek to expand the stages to include wider loss by adding key ideas about the moment we might turn things around as well as the work involved in rebuilding a life after loss. I like the expectations in these, they seem familiar.

In some respects, this is a variation of the Hero’s Journey, which also follows a predictable pattern. Derived from extensive research by the mythologist Joseph Campbell adding to the work of CG Jung and others, we go through a series of these Hero’s Journey’s as we live our lives, usually in these predictable steps.
1. Hero confronted
2. Rejects challenge
3. Accepts challenge
4. Road of Trials
5. Gathers Allies and gains power
6. Confronts evil and is defeated
7. Dark Night of the Soul
8. Leap of Faith
9. Confronts evil and is victorious
10. Student becomes Teacher

The Hero’s Journey always means transcending ourselves for someone else or for a greater good. A sure way for women to do this is to give birth, whereas outside of war, men must find other means of moving & growing through its challenges. That could mean college or university, joining the marines, training for a charity marathon, moving cities or taking on a new job somewhere. I say breakups are one of those ways.

Let me give you another perspective: we exist in each other. The idea that you and your loved ones are separate entities is an inadequate way to describe human existence. It’s far more likely that our attachment to each other encompasses more than just a physical safe haven we return to. It also involves a much deeper connection at the soul and spirit level, and more obviously using intellect and memory.

Think of a pod of dolphins. Evolving in the ocean for fifty million years, they are said to have a greater para-limbic system—the emotional part of the brain. One dolphin hits the beach and suddenly, the rest of the pod follows suit. The good citizens in the area rush to the seashore to “rescue” the dolphins from the horror of beaching. And what happens? Sometimes a freed whale or dolphin swims merrily back out to sea. Often though, if one dolphin is still on the beach, the others simply beach again, over and over, to everyone’s frustration. It’s as if they must as one pod; it’s as if they exist in each other.

Every close relationship we have with another person means part of that person is “left” with us, just as we leave part of ourselves with them. I find myself saying and doing things like my father and mother did when they were alive.

When my son shits his pants out back a couple of years ago after being at the top of the Chokecherry tree and not being able to get down on time to go, I knew exactly how to handle it with kindness, patience and generosity. Why? Because my father had done the same for me more than half a century before when I was about four or so and had an accident out in front of the house in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In fact, it’s my first memory of my dad, one of a half dozen or so I’ve never forgotten. Confronted that day with my boy’s dilemma, it was not me but my father who answered.

This is what happens when we love someone and lose them in whichever manner. My father died a couple of weeks ago, surrounded by sons and daughters, He went with his hand held just the same way as he had held his own father’s hand back in 1990 near the same spot in the veteran’s home. Where I exist in my father was put into doubt at that moment. This could sustain my grief longer as the existential question, “where is that part of me now?” remains open and unresolved. But where my father exists in me is never in doubt.

One’s beliefs play a part in how loss is maintained. It’s the idea a part of me “over there” (in the other person) is now unknown… whereas it WAS known until recently. Religious faith can take advantage of metaphors like heaven and earth, purgatory, or reincarnation to lessen our pain. An aspect of this dynamic is present in any loss. In a breakup especially, it is as if the other person is leaving with a part of you. Absent the metaphors of religion, how do you handle it?

In the case of loved one’s death we welcome this idea of existing in each other as comforting, for they are never really gone. Their influence and the memories of our shared existence echoes endlessly down through time in those left behind. When I shut my car doors with the kids strapped in their car seats, I say, “watch your fingers, watch your toes, canteen open, canteen close.” It’s the rhyme dad learned on the ships in the navy and which he said before slamming the car doors of his 1967 Pontiac Parisienne loaded with his nine kids all those years so long ago. He’s not gone at all.

And what of the other half of that equation? If we exist in each other and she has left with part of me, that means she has also left part of her behind. Now you might be thinking, “that’s my problem!” and you’d be partially right. Can we realistically excise a part of another from our soul once it has been placed there by love? It’s unlikely.

If the soul is the epigenetic influences upon your ancestral DNA passed along through methyl groups and added to your emotional experiences since birth, then contrasted against humanity’s collective unconscious, the spirit is its calling. Lifted at sunrises, at the stars, at nature, and sometimes or often at each other, the spirit is an action which should regularly awaken awe within you. It is a deep stirring, an indomitable will to live, a creative calling to serve the universe with the gifts of your unique potentials and possibilities.

In that context, what should you do with this part of you left behind by your former lover? Should you poison your own spirit out of fear and loathing? Should you deny the lessons learned and the love once shared? To toss the whole of it is to cut of your nose to spite your face. You were once good together, that changed. Lessons learned, perhaps even cherished.

The problem is often one of self-concept. That’s comprised of how you see yourself contrasted against how you believe others see you. You play a balancing act between those two most of your life as a social animal. To do the work is to rebuild the self-concept so that it is once again imbued with confidence. Both parts are under our locus of control.

Everyone one of my long-term relationships left me something beautiful. It’s up to me to find this wisdom and claim it as my own. From Sylvia and Claire to Marie as teenager and young man, and as a mature (debatable) adult with Debbie and the women in between, each of whom I trusted and was vulnerable with to the best of my ability, each of whom taught me to be a better man than I was with her, each of whom sent me forward to be more. This is nature’s way, the calling of the universe.

Currently, missus gets the best version of me though I’m not done yet, not by far. And, neither should you be.

If we are not expanding into the night and days of our travel through time, we are stagnating or retreating. A man using his power in service of himself and others finds meaning and freedom.  What is love but an internal projection, a part of self reflected outward onto other as if they were a tableau upon which you are laid bare. Think of that for a moment.

Like two comets streaking across the sky at night, you and your ex’s orbits were just sufficiently different to ensure your eventual separation. Blame physics if you must.  It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault unless the pain of your regret serves you in some way, perhaps by letting you know that to feel hurt is to be alive, to suffer is to exist. I am reminded pain is inevitable in life, though suffering is usually a choice.  Be careful of that one.

What if we haven’t lost love at all, but instead, have been given the opportunity to find a deeper love within us? Unshackled from unsustainable confinement, insecure attachments can next become secure. Now you get to check in with the soul and answer the spirit, and to rebuild your self-concept in a version of your choosing.

What if you exist to learn to  love and give? What if living IS giving? What if this your Hero’s Journey, your pain a Dark Night of the Soul awaiting its Leap of Faith? How will you rebuild even better than before?

Find it early, find it late, we must all find love.

Stay powerful, never give up,
cw

©2019 CKWallace, all rights reserved

Christopher K Wallace
Advisor to Men, Mentor at Large

Reach me here for a free call

JUST ONE THING

JUST ONE THING: re-establishing devotion
Sometimes, it gets to the point between a man and a woman where she feels she can no longer rely upon him, and this is a problem. The pact she makes with the universe to choose the right guy is put into doubt.

This is especially true when a woman has children. This is her Hero’s Journey. For a woman to go through childbirth and create life is a situation that can only be called heroic. How many men can even fathom this?

A century ago, her risks of dying during childbirth were great. My great-grandmother died at age 40 giving birth to twins. For three days the women of Truro, Nova Scotia took turns sopping up blood with towels in shifts until she died. It affected generations of Wallace men. Women still die giving birth today.

We should never take for granted their struggle. And, once the kids are born, there are countless sleepless nights and diapers and suckling and it just goes on for years! My boy was born with some challenges and I can say he would not be alive today at almost six years old without my woman. She says he’s her little bear, and for now, he’s all hers and she is his. There will be time to make him King later.

Outside of war, it can be argued her challenge is as great as any man’s, maybe far more. How many men cry when the baby comes out after witnessing the birth of a son or daughter like the modern practice calls for? I didn’t, but I would not look down on any man who did. Fact is, mothers are heroes.

And her journey, like all Hero’s Journey’s involves subjugating her own existence for the sake of another’s. It’s a sacrifice in service of a greater good. Sound familiar? All the heroes do this down through time. A man who uses his power in service of himself and others finds meaning and freedom. You and I need to seek ways to do this. She only must have a baby.

Women are way ahead of us gentleman, in the nurturance and giving departments, by far. While it’s true they are also sexual human beings, if there is a man-child in the house, expect the resentment to build over time. She needs a powerful man, not a boy as a partner. Nice guys are boys. |

I was one, admittedly, and I wish I knew then what I know now. It may not have changed anything, but it might also have made ALL the difference in the world. I regret I’ll never find out because we let trust go too far, irretrievably far.

I can tell you this go around I am all man and she is happy… and shows it. I have earned her loyalty.

How to recover? Assuming there has been no cheating, where trust is fundamentally broken on both sides, is there a way back? Maybe. All she wants is a powerful man. She takes a HUGE risk on whichever man she chooses because she has twenty good years of fertility, and she spends most of those years caring for little ones so can’t prepare for old age like a man can.

Think there is nothing to the feminist rant about these things? Think again.

I’ve had guys see success using this simple strategy I’m about to share with you to regain their wife’s trust. It doesn’t always work but it’s a wonderful exercise, nonetheless. Get this, I use this at home every so often to mid things up and everything is going great. And don’t tell me you don’t want my life because I assure you that you do (your version of it).

Here’s what I think is worth a shot:

Guys start and first ask their wives, “what’s one thing I can do for you today?” and then do it. Doesn’t matter how small a thing, just get it done. Fix a drawer that gets stuck, repair a light, tile that needs cementing, a bike tire that is flat, drop off a parcel or pick up dry cleaning, whatever it is just do it. Doesn’t matter if it takes until five minutes to midnight, get it done. Then say nothing. NOTHING. ZERO. FUCK ALL. NOT A WORD.

Next day, one more thing. ONE THING and NO expectations, NO looking for points, NO pat on the head, NO sniffing for pussy or angling for compliments. NOTHING. If she says thanks, it’s “your welcome” and NO smile, NO lingering eye contact, just GO about your business.

You ask: “what’s one thing I can do for you?” and add it into your schedule. Don’t bat an eye.

Next day, one more thing. Just one. And it’s not, “is there anything I can do for you today?” because that’s a trap. It’s always, “what’s one thing I can do for you today?” Said just like that. Matter of fact, no emotion. Like you are asking her to pass the salt. Write it in your book, phone or schedule and be on your way.

SO now, you do it. You take care of your job, your gym time, your children, and your whatever else responsibilities, AND this one thing for her. Just one thing. That’s it, that’s all—no more, no less.

DO this for as long as it takes. JUST DO IT. Stop trying to predict the future. Stop trying to weight the pros and cons. Stop trying to balance fairness and make it transactional. STOP ALL THAT.

Just do the one mother fucking thing every day and forget about it. FUHGETABOUTIT…

Do it for a month. Do it for two months. Do it for three months. If she hasn’t kicked your sorry ass out of the house and you are still there in month four, do it all that month too.

I’m not saying this will work for you. I’m saying I’ve seen it work for dozens of men in my time. Not all, but some of them probably bullshitted as to if they did it perfectly or consistently… or at all.

A man who uses his power in service of himself and others finds meaning and freedom.

What part of that don’t you understand? It’s about service. Living is giving.

And the guys who do this find that their women respond. Not right away, she’s too smart for that. She’s been gamed before by the universe, most notably when she chose you. She needs a track record of service like she has a track record of service to her children. You are not one of her children, and that was the problem.

No woman can love a man unconditionally, and it’s best to disabuse yourself of this expectation for good. Oh, maybe she can muster it for a short time, but don’t get sucked in by this, not one bit. Your mother didn’t (bless her heart) love you unconditionally and neither can your woman.

We band together as man and woman for mutual need, to shore up each others’ weaknesses while benefiting from each other’s strengths. It’s about surviving against a harsh world. No one has time for white flags.

One of your strengths is supposed to be your power.  Her archetype for love is the powerful father. It’s a gal’s first love and she will never lose this need for the masculine’s powerful love. You were gamed by your mother’s love and it left you searching for her in your partner. My missus has some of my mother’s qualities, but can she love me like my mother could? Ha! Not my missus. Can’t happen. In fact, she loves me just as my mother did, conditionally disguised as unconditional but clearly conditional.

Don’t be fool.  The boy must leave his mother to become a man.

In time, the men who have consistently applied this strategy have reported good results. Some guys save their marriages. It’s because as they get lost in the daily habit of doing just that one thing for their partner, the joy of service to each other returns to the pair bond. That’s where the sacrifice lies. Would I die to save my woman from harm? Of course, I would, I’d easily defend her to the death!

Then, why wouldn’t I do one thing for her? Each day.

Sometimes a few days or weeks or months go by before she starts to respond. “Here, I sewed that shirt you ripped last year,” she says as she hands you a bundle of material and turns and walks away. That’s a test, a shit test if you like. Or maybe it’s something else, but her nature, her very nature is to nurture, for God’s sake. You think if you give her an opportunity to do what she is best at it won’t surface? Chances are it will.

Don’t count on it. If her one thing is “sign these divorce papers giving me the house,” see a lawyer. Don’t be stupid. Don’t jump off a bridge because someone told you to. You may have heard your mother tell you that.

But if you can re-establish service, you often can re-establish why you got together in the first place.

Almost 70% of things in a marriage are not resolvable. My wife hides shit. Changes where she puts stuff. Opens something and leaves everything right where she opened it. Used to drive me nuts. She couldn’t take a picture of me and the kids worth saving. And, the house was not up to my standards. It’s not that I’m Felix from the Odd Couple, but I like stuff to go where it’s supposed to go, so I can find it again.

So, I bought her an expensive camera for Christmas one year. She’s frugal. What does she do? She opens a photography business and learns to take pictures. We live on two hundred acres and soon she has people over posing in front of our artisan well, the apple blossoms in spring, the old rail fences, etc. Her goal was to pay for the camera. She’s been at it for three years now and has added to her income every season. Camera has paid for itself twenty times over, and it was a gift! She takes great pictures of me and the kids now. She’s a whiz at photoshop.

Once the kids were in school, she searched for something she could do, yet still be able to cancel at any time. She tried having daycare kids over last summer but didn’t like it. One kid was a handful and despite my help at times when he acted up, she lost her taste for it.

She starts cleaning houses for $25-30 bucks an hour. I shut up, remembering what happened with the camera. Holy shit, wouldn’t you know it, not only was her calendar full of happy customers, it shows at home where she elevated her game and lowered her tolerance by several degrees. I just stay out of her way and never complain about her approach.

She still hides my shit though. “You can’t always get what you want,” goes the Rolling Stone’s song, “but if you try sometimes, you will find, you get what you need.” Indeed.

We train each other. And the magic is in having a little more awe for our partners. Awe, that sense of being small in front of the stars, or the majesty of a mountain, the distance of the sea. A man with a loyal woman by his side has the wind at his back… but must stay out in front of her to feel it. Holding space in your heart for awe when it comes to your partner is part of what makes it all worthwhile.

Just do one thing, selflessly. Women command, men lead. Do it because you can. Not because you have to, not for any reason other than you are a man and you can do this one thing every day for this woman.

It’s what men do.

Stay powerful, never give up
cw

CHRIS WALLACE
Advisor to Men

©CKWallace July, 2019 all rights reserved
Book time with the Advisor to Men here

INFIDELITY RECOVERY


The problem with humans is this damn memory of ours. There is no new-age or old-aged techniques that`ll make us forget what we have already experienced. We`re kind of at the mercy of our memories, for good or for bad.

What makes things worst is our feelings are based on experiences too. No matter what we do, our past follows us. And, our feelings about stuff remains prominent, at least until we can put a little time between us and a past event. This interlude allows new experiences to supersede old emotional states when we create new feelings. It gives us, the brain that is, a wider experience to draw upon.

The brain operates predictively in any situation using the body and that databank of prior emotional states to determine how you will feel in the present moment, correcting afterwards given the social reality before you. Helluva sentence to follow, I know. Well, the brain has been at this gig a while.

With classical conditioning working its power beneath the surface, we can be triggered as the brain seeks to safeguard us from danger by best-guessing emotional states in response to the environment and messages from the body. It’s good to know this so we are not totally blindsided to past fears. Knowing how it all works can take the sting out of things when circumstances catch you unawares.

As for infidelity, the subject of this essay, I’m not sure we forgive it at all. Cheating is so personal. Within the pair bond, at first glance it’s such a clear rejection of you and a preference for another. It seems to confirm every person’s worst fear: I’m not good enough and because of this, I am unlovable.

It screams at me: UNLOVABLE.

There is more… for this is our Achilles heel. It is the human condition, conjoined with a need for others and knowledge that we will one day leave this world. We have only each other as present-day salve against the inevitable wounds of time. That’s a lot to ask in the name of love.

Like most things, it is both our weakness and our strength. Find it early, find it late, but we must all find love. Giving to others is the greatest expression of your humanity. I don`t know if that`s how we start, but I`m convinced it`s where we should end up.

But what if you saw that person who cheated as just as fallible as you, suffering from the same questioning of their worth as we tend to do our own? Could it be they secretly believe they are inadequate and unlovable? Did something inside them scream UNLOVABLE as well? What if we could separate the act so it is less about me, and more about them?

What if they didn’t even think of you or me? What if you didn’t even come to mind? What if the other person was able to compartmentalize their existence and put me on a shelf, fully intending to take me down and resume life with me afterwards? It happens all the time. In part, that’s how its done. I know it`s the same for men cheating on their women as women cheating on men. Cheating is betrayal pretty much universally, no matter the gender.

What if you were not as big a factor as you believe? Attachments weaken and strengthen over time, and we hope the good times see us through the bad.

What if it’s not so much a repudiation of you but a signal the other person cannot find love even if it is staring them in the face? What if it was their blind spot, and not yours or mine, which made it so?

Everyone makes the best decisions for themselves at the time, they say. If they knew better, in that very moment of whatever they decide, if they had the wherewithal to do something differently, emotionally, physically, spiritually, they would have. For them, it was their best decision. The act is proof. This is hardly a satisfying answer. We don’t have to like it. We don’t even have to respect it. But it is what it is. Often sadly.

Gabor Mate likes to say two people in a relationship find each other at the same level of trauma resolution, quipping smartly, “only 100% of the time.”  It’s what attracts us to another, under it all, a sharing of pain rarely understood and usually unmentioned. We all carry pain; it’s just the way nature builds resilience. It is by overcoming pain that we assert much of our wisdom. My pain won’t be the same as your pain. How could it be? We each travel this internal journey alone.

Empathy? Mostly projection. We guess at what each other feel and can only use our own experiences to gauge the other’s emotional state. Don`t get too excited about mirror neurons. The saying goes, “monkey see, monkey do,” not “feel,” and that finding was based on macaques, not people.

In any case, the disconnect between us is our challenge but can be our reward as we move through pain in the normal course of living. We re-find love and compassion for each other over and over

However, it takes two to do this. Or does it? Most of us marry what we can tolerate at that moment we get together. Gottman, famed relationship scientist I’ve read since the 1980s, says 70% of issues between a couple are not resolvable. That annoying habit of hers or his? Nope, not going anywhere. We put up with them and learn to appreciate them or we don’t. Missus hides stuff, has an uneven system for putting stuff away. Used to annoy me, now I think it’s cute. Choice is ours, the agency to decide how to live.

Getting naked in front of someone requires a fair bit of trust. It encompasses safety and danger all at once. We usually reserve this for those with whom we trust the most. It’s also why infidelity is so hard to reconcile as the aggrieved and non-involved party. Because without trust, you’ve got nothing.

I don’t think forgiveness is the right word for getting over infidelity.

But can you let it go?

Perhaps by realizing you were not the right man for her. Or she the right woman for you. That your maturity and needs and experiences didn’t match up. Your trauma resolutions played out on different tracks. You would know for sure if you were playing out your own drama and living a second life, a secret one. Women know these things, more so than men I think.

We know an atom looks a lot like a solar system with its revolving planets, the billions of stars out there like the billions of neurons in here. When we look at the way a tree grows into the sky and then look at map of a river approaching the sea, or the way our veins spread out on our hand, we may notice the same mathematical fractals occur. There is a great inter-connectedness in the universe, much of it we don’t understand.

The philosopher Douglas Hofstadter says we must leave more than a little room for mystery as we move through our years, implying we might resist the need to come up with an answer for everything. I think that’s a good idea. Shit happens by surprise too often to think we’ll sail through our time unaffected by calamity. And my father had a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson handwritten in black marker upon his bookshelf, the one directly behind his reading chair where he spent most of his days: “None of us can ever know the all of anything,” it said, reminding the reader to remain humble in the face of knowing so much.

Can we view this unraveling of relationships metaphorically as two similar but different stars revolving around a sun who are in the same orbit for a while, but subtle shifts in the composition of their mass and magnetism means over time they are doomed to slowly begin to separate and edge away, eventually flying off into a different part of space?

Then, it’s not me, nor is it you, it’s just physics. It’s a form of inevitable physics beyond our control. When I imagine floating above my existence, perhaps as I move out into the space above me, high up, maybe to the clouds and beyond, I see things differently. If you could sit on the moon for a while and look at the general spot on earth where you live out your life, what would you see?

Would you notice the others all around, some dealing with the same problems? The numbers of people teeming all over the planet going to and fro, living, dying, being born, eating, running, playing, working and loving, might give us both perspective.

And, can we use this pain we feel over infidelity to grow ourselves? Was I perhaps just as unfaithful, perhaps in actual deed but if not, then of heart and mind? From this resentment, can I accept I was not meeting my partner’s needs, my weakness so entrenched only the catastrophic bomb of adultery could wake me from my stupor? The falseness blasting away my complacent attitudes about my masculinity, her femininity, our relationship expectations, and of power, loyalty, lust and love?

And, could I work hard to shore up those parts of which left me bare, exposing me to this kind of turmoil? Could I use this pain, not to be crushed by it forevermore, but rather, to be rebuilt better than before? Is this one of my hero’s journeys? Is this your challenge?

And, would I one day realize that time and new experiences, especially the work I did making myself into a more powerful man, allowed different and better feelings to prevail when I consider my ex? Can I reserve my sympathies for what could have been, knowing I disappointed her just as she disappointed me? Could I be honest enough, powerful enough, wise enough to see this?

And, might I even thank her, though through the tragic lenses of both our lives, through the anger and confusion, and instead, salvage something of great worth from our mutual suffering? When I think of how beautiful and talented and in so many ways how amazing my ex-wife was, I can only feel sadness. She failed me, I failed her; and ultimately, we failed each other.

It was Robert Brault who said, “Life becomes easier if you learn to accept an apology you never get.” Absent that small act of reconciliation, you have only you to both apologize for your shortcomings but also to accept an apology from time for the failings of others. Accept the apology you will never get. Accept it.

So, I didn’t bother with the cumbersome idea of forgiveness. It carries too great a burden, too many unanswered questions philosophical and emotional, of principals and values and beliefs. I’d constructed a world where I could live, such are the entanglements of love, and all of that was too great a chore to dismantle.

No. I reminded myself, if happiness is a decision, then so is love. And if happiness and love can be decided, so can forgiveness. What I did was I let it go. You might do the same. See it off in your mind’s eye, perhaps like a child might watch a helium balloon drift away to the clouds after an inadvertent release of the hand, knowing it was pretty while it lasted, but also that it was never ever coming back.

The experience will help you to be stronger, and a far better person than before.

But then, all of life is like that isn’t it?

Stay powerful, never give up.

CHRIS WALLACE
Advisor to Men

©CKWallace, July, 2019, all rights reserved

reach me at advisortomen@gmail.com

DO I LOOK FAT?

DO I LOOK FAT?

This is a question which comes up often, dreaded by western men everywhere. How do you answer this interrogation? And, is this even fair to ask of a man?

Despite all the hoopla about objectifying women, while imploring men to focus purely on their partner’s “inner-worth,” everywhere you find men and women this question is asked. Someone, somewhere, is posing the question today, perhaps before heading off to church with the family.

Women’s concern on this issue is often laid at the feet of the supposed patriarchy. This would be where men objectifying women’s bodies has ostensibly put enormous pressure on women to be the perfect avatar for male lust. Of course, well-intentioned but mistaken idealists cling to this narrative, often desperately. “It’s your fault I have to even ask this question,” it says.

If you ask men about this dreaded quiz (and it is not always dreaded), their answers generally fall into two camps. Denial and acceptance on one side (includes bullshit), and naked truth on the other. Both approaches have consequences.

If a man answers his gal with, “Yeah, I noticed you lost weight,” even if she hasn’t, he’s set off her bullshit detector. You’ve heard the expression, “Never lie to a woman.” Now he’s fucked, because she knows full well she’s ten pounds heavier than a month ago—probably the last time she asked this damn question!

Or, maybe he senses the trap. No fool our man, he tells her she looks perfect to him—just the way she is—and he can’t see anything but her inner beauty. He thinks this gets him off the hook, and he basks in his virtue, feeling impregnable to criticism.

And, truthfully, this may seem like the romantic’s answer, an exemplar for all men, salve for the female neuroticism at the core of the question. But, mostly likely, he’s dead-wrong.

Hearing this, she tells herself, “You asshole,” and contemptuously, “so, you think I’m fat, thanks,” said declaratively, as surely as if he’d uttered the words himself.  His avoidance tipped his hand and she wasn’t fooled, not one bit.

Aye, it’s a litmus test this one.

Some men seize upon this scenario to introduce a little self-improvement into the marriage. One man was asked by his beloved if there was anything wrong with her. To which he nobly answered he loved her no matter what, but that she has a hunchback, probably from poor posture, and wondered if she’d like to improve how she sits at the computer to alleviate her condition.

There’s discord in that household, still ongoing.

Another fella took the high road (as he saw it), and in answer to the question “Do I look fat?” responded using the infamous turnaround, the rebound, the redirect, the mirror, by asking a question in return.

“I don’t know, do YOU think you look fat?” To which she answered, “Yes.”

His response? “Okay, you got your answer, but it’s not about what I think, it’s about what you think. To me, you’re normal but what you see is what matters to you. My love has no vision.”

He reports, bewildered, she insists he called her fat. Poor sap.

So, what women are looking for when they ask this question is anyone’s guess. The risks involved are real, as you can see. Perhaps she’s looking to confirm the diet and workout plan she’s been on the past week is paying off. Or, maybe she’s looking for reassurance she’s loved in all her glorious imperfection. Those two possibilities are pretty much the limits of most men’s perceptions.

But, it could also be a setup, a way to punish a man for something he did this morning, yesterday, last week, or last year—real or imagined. The question could be her version of Firestarter, like the flint, birchbark and moss you have tucked in your combat pants when you hit the back country.

There are layers to these kinds of trick questions, and trying to discern the true motivations behind them is to descend into areas of subterfuge and feminine energy. This disadvantages most men.

If you are the sun, the stars, the fire and the light, she is the deep of space, the vastness of the oceans, the power of the wind. That about sums up what you’re up against, my brothers.

There’s another context we need to keep in mind when considering this question. We think we are involved as a principal player: a reasonable conclusion since we are being asked and we are usually present during the asking.  Not at all.

Fact is, she’s probably not even considering you in her question. It’s far more likely she’s asking you what OTHERS are seeing and could care less what you think. She’s already fucking you, and knows she has your loyalty.

Women tend to compete firstly with their peers, just as men compete with other men. Do you primarily compete with your wife or girlfriend? Pretty rare.

Men tend to compete above board, either heads on, “best man wins” style, or by putting someone down. One is prosocial, the other antisocial, but both approaches light up the same competitive reward areas of the brain.

Women tend to compete differently, sometimes by maneuvering covertly using mean remarks, social exclusion and by winning over each other’s friends and allies.

Women can do pretty much anything a man can do but have general preferences. Whereas men tend to know many men in a diverse number of groups, and operate easily between them, not so for most women.

Our gals tend to have a small group of sisters, friends they guard jealously, usually less than five and often just one or two, and with whom they rely upon for emotional regulation. You could argue their standing among their close peers carries more risk because it also comes with more reward.

Like I said, women are deep. Men are shallow, thankfully (not said at all derogatorily).

So, the question, “Do you think I’m fat?” could just as likely mean, “Do you think OTHERS think I’m fat?” Duh. Uh-oh.

It means she’s asked you how she presents to the outside world, to those she competes with on a daily basis. At his point, mentioning her hunchback means you are telling her others see her as a hunchback. How’s that going to go over?

Now, to be fair, some couples can manage literal honesty between them. This kind of union exists and thrives on pain and suffering as a stepping stone to lust and bliss. If she asks a question, she’s getting the truth. It goes both ways.

To these types, there is a power and trust which develops as a result of their brutal honesty. But, there is also hurt feelings. And, in every case I’ve witnessed, over time the man learns to soften the blow of his forthrightness as his emotional IQ blossoms under her influence. She is the power of the wind.

Now, just how does a man safely negotiate this age-old question?

You could try the finesses answer. She asks, “Do I look fat?” and you answer, “Did you get your hair trimmed, it looks great!” standing fast with smiling admiration.

It’s a signal you’re not answering such an asinine question, suggests you didn’t even notice her body, and can only see and appreciate her overall radiance, refreshed somehow in this instance. Add in a, “you must have done that just for me,” followed up by a rush to hug her powerfully. If timed right, it might get you off the hook completely.

You could also try saying, “Yes, you look fat and I hope you put on another ten pounds so I can watch that jiggle bouncing around all over upstairs when we’re alone. You must have put that on for me, nasty girl,” and see what happens.

But a better option when dealing with the “Am I fat” question is to say “No.”

That’s a powerful stance for a man to take. He sees through her classic overthink—loaded in the question like high caliber weaponry—and simply sidesteps her neediness by refusing to play by her rules.

It is him recognizing she sometimes needs to be rescued from the brink of her own insanity. As her powerful man, that’s your job and you handle it with grace.

A simple, “No” and moving on to something else puts you back in control. I’ve been asked this question; I usually try to grab her ass as I answer.

You own your thoughts, feelings and behaviours; she owns hers. And, never the twain shall meet. Boundaries here are critical. Maintain them now and set the pattern for later.

But perhaps first ask yourself if perhaps she’s asking the question because she does not feel suficiently worshipped. Check that opportunity box first. Otherwise, in the moment, the simpler the answer the better. No reason to complicate this more than needed.

Seems simple enough: Just say no

Stay powerful, never give up.

Wally

© Christopher K Wallace
Advisor to Men
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