Divorced and Remarried? It’s Never Too Late to Get It Right!

Posted on 29. Jan, 2011 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

 Patricia Bubash, M.Ed., LPC, 1-27-11 §          Some people say that the second divorce could not be as painful as the first one. But if they have never been through it, how would they know?

  I talked to a lot of couples about this when I was researching my book, Successful Second Marriages. What I heard was a resounding, “It hurts!” They said that you need to learn from your first marriage, and then, hang in there in your second one until you get it right—not split up.

 Our conversations were held in a variety of living rooms, kitchens, or family rooms.    The degree of economic status of each home varied. But there was no difference in the degree of sincerity and commitment brought to the new relationship.

 Without a doubt, they knew what worked and didn’t work the first time around. What they told me was that a little personal insight goes a long way. And accepting responsibility for your actions instantly improves the status of a marriage.

 For instance, Derek and Colleen said, “Know what you contribute to the marriage, either positive or negatively.” Similarly, Max and Janet said, “Each of us has certain personality traits, good and bad behaviors, and expectations we have for our married life. Hopefully, you don’t think that you are perfect and your partner has all the faults.”

 Similarly, Marcia suggested that the key to an improved marriage is not to let frustrations and anger build up: “In my first marriage, we did not talk about what was bothering us. We’d let it fester. My second husband, David, and I get whatever is bothering us out on the table for discussion. It could be as simple as a difference over a household expenditure or as serious as allowing his aging father to live with us. And whatever happens when you talk—don’t go to bed angry.”

 David and Marcia were not alone in their advice to communicate emotions, annoyances, frustrations, discontent—whatever the problem—to your partner. So many people said that in their first marriage they had simply ignored their spouse’s signs of unhappiness. They foolishly thought the problem would resolve itself. Or they kept quiet about what was bothering them. So no one was working to resolve the issues.

 The point here is that it is essential in any marriage that a couple learns how to express themselves to each other. The traditional rule that silence is golden does not apply to a happy marriage.

 Paula knew this. She was determined that her second marriage would be one where she and her husband talked and shared whatever was on their minds—good or bad. She and her first husband had quit talking to each other long before the marriage was legally ended. She was convinced that her marriage with Steve would not be a repeat of the past. Before becoming Mr. and Mrs., she signed them up for membership with ACME.

 That organization fosters marriage enrichment via a variety of activities. One activity is where couples gather in small groups and exhibit the sharing of positive communication techniques.   Individual couples dialogue together, allowing their group members to observe, suggest, and encourage better communication.

 A Licensed Professional Counselor, who is certified as a marriage and family therapist, gave me the bottom line on why second marriages fail. So many clients viewed the failure of their first marriage as not being their fault. It truly astounded her how these clients choose not to look back, gauge what went wrong, what role they played, what they really wanted in a marriage, and how much they were willing to give to married life?

 As these second timers entered into another marriage they were no more insightful about the factors contributing to their divorce than when they married that first time! Their take on their divorce was simply this same old tired story that keeps the marriage-divorce cycle going: “I married the wrong person last time. This time my marriage will last forever because now I am marrying the right person.”

 If you said that last time and this time, too, you can move toward a successful marriage by thinking of your partner being your best friend. Also, remember that you need quality time together to make a marriage work. You’ll also find yourselves enjoying lots of shared activities if you have a spiritual connectedness.

Having a common goal or activity is also vital to a second marriage. Whether it is planning a trip, starting a business, joining a couples’ bowling team, volunteering together, attending church, shared activities bring closeness, compatibility, and connectedness to a relationship. 

The dynamics of planning for something and then accomplishing it together is different from the day-to-day activities of work, maintaining a home, parenting children, and paying the bills. Taking time out from the necessary things breathes freshness into marriage.

So plan together. For some it is an annual trip. For others it’s a date night, forming a card club, or taking dance lessons together. The point is to do something different and break out of the usual routine.  It is also rewarding when you successfully plan for retirement together. Discussing travel plans, new hobbies, and where to live can be exciting. 

Remember, accomplishing a goal as a couple is equivalent to being a team. As in a team, partners are working together, sharing ideas, decisions, thoughts, and the sense of together we can.

My book opens with the following old English proverb: 

Marriage halves our grief

Doubles our joys, and

Quadruples our expenses

 I believe the words of this adage speak to the positive side of having a soul mate, a partner, a husband, and a wife. Within a great marriage, we have a soul mate who supports us through grievous times, making the anguish seem less overwhelming. As a best friend, our partner delights in our joy, is glad for the pleasure we are feeling, and is pleased for our accomplishments.

 If we are honest about our less than perfect self, support our partner when times are difficult, act like a best friend, set some goals as a couple, we will not only improve our marriage, but feel successful about the relationship we share with our partner.

 

 Patricia Bubash received her M.Ed. in Counseling from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Working with students and families has been her true calling for over thirty years. For more than twenty years she has presented workshops at the community college on a variety of topics relating to parenting issues, self-esteem, children, and divorce. Patricia is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Missouri and a Stephens Minister.

 Patricia Bubash was interviewed about her book, Successful Second Marriages, on TV 4 – St. Louis. Further information can be found on her website: www.successfulsecondmarriages.com, by contacting her at patriciathecounselor@yahoo.com, or through her Facebook page. Also, you can tweet her on Twitter.

Is Your Love Taken for Granted?

Posted on 26. Jan, 2011 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

Bob Quinlan 1-21-11 §          A lady once barked at me for opening her door, yelling, “I can open my own door!” This simple act of courtesy, and attempted chivalry, was not appreciated. Rather, it was condemned.

Believe me. I wasn’t trying to imply that she couldn’t open the door, that I was physically stronger, or that she didn’t deserve to make as much money as me for doing the same job. I was just trying to be nice but was emotionally slapped for being kind. Do you think what she did encouraged or discouraged this sort of civilized behavior?

Let me tell you, I was determined not to let this angry, insecure, or over-compensating woman deter me from being a gentleman. I still walk to the outside of the sidewalk when I’m with my wife. I still refer to her as My Queen. Our sons have learned to stand when a lady arrives at or leaves the table. These kindnesses are appreciated by M’ Lady. She enjoys the kindnesses I share and recognizes that they are not a matter of control or superiority, but of caring and showing appreciation for all of the kindnesses she gives. She rewards my gestures, which encourages me to repeat these behaviors.

Our society has changed dramatically. Perhaps much of the gender confusion stems from the fact that women are starting to become the kind of men that they used to want to marry. And maybe some women consider men to be expendable. After all, women are not being protected in the safety of their fortified castles, anymore, and most households have women working outside of the home.

I have written a book, Earn It: Empower Yourself for Love. It is quite different from other relationship books. That is because it uses basic business principles and terminology understood by both women and men—who are seen as equals in relationships as well as in business.

Yes, you read that right—men can understand romance! Sometimes we treat our clients and co-workers better than we treat our personal partners. But just as we cannot successfully take our clients’ business for granted we cannot take our loving relationships for granted and still be successful in love. Anything taken for granted, including love, is vulnerable.

The point is that you can have more love in your life—if you deserve to have more love in your life—and you can empower yourself to receive it. But just as you must earn your rewards in business, you must earn your rewards in your personal relationships. Obviously, the more you fill your customers’ needs, the more of their business you will receive. But sometimes we overlook the fact that the more you fill your loved one’s needs, the more of his or her love you will receive.

In Earn It: Empower Yourself for Love, I focus on three primary principles:

  • Love is an investment from which you are entitled to receive a fair and reasonable return—no more, no less. When you invest the behaviors necessary to earn the rewards, you empower yourself.
  • Once you demonstrate the necessary behaviors, you earn a return on your investment. This will make you more valuable to your partner and s/he will reward you, partly to motivate you to meet her or his future needs. This will encourage you to reinvest in your partner—actions he or she will find to be self-empowering.
  • The quality of the reward will be directly related to the quality of the investment. If you give less, you are allowed to receive less in return. The more you give, the more you are permitted to receive. You empower your partnership.

 Love is earned logically. List some one-word synonyms or components of love, such as acceptance or respect. Did you think of caring, affection, passion, or devotion? Aren’t each of these earned or unearned? Isn’t acceptance earned or unearned? Doesn’t unconditional respect even sound absurd? If each of the components of love can be earned or un-earned, then their collective sum, love, can also be earned or un-earned. Love is earned logically. 

Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as unconditional love. It is a very nice goal that we can all strive to achieve. But do you know anybody who practices truly unconditional love without getting anything at all in return? Love is so deep and involved that it requires some kind of feedback, reward, or nourishment to continue. Love does not exist regardless of its circumstances. Love may lead to reciprocation, self-satisfaction, respect from others, good karma, or a place in heaven. Love is not humanly unconditional in the long term.

Unconditional love implies that love will happen unconditionally—regardless of any conditions. It suggests that you are completely powerless regarding love. You are not that vulnerable. Once you accept that you can influence your feelings, you empower yourself. You cannot control love, but you can motivate others to want to love you. Likewise, you can motivate others to love you less. Love can be enhanced or reduced; love can be earned or unearned.

The acceptance that there is no such thing as unconditional love is extremely empowering. Once you make love a priority in your life, you can choose to demonstrate behaviors to earn more love and its many rewards. Acknowledging this principle allows you to decide whether you get a little bit of love in your life or a lot of love in your life. The choice is yours.

Once upon a time, you earned your partner’s love and commitment. Selling him or her was the easier part. The real challenge is to repeatedly re-sell to your partner, service him or her properly, to confirm your partner’s decisions to stay involved with you.

So, ask yourself: What have you done lately to re-earn your partner’s love? How are you motivating him or her to want to meet your needs?

 Which perspective do you honestly feel will bring more love into your life: a) There is unconditional love and I will be loved no matter what I do or don’t do, or b) there is no such thing as unconditional love. It is up to me to earn it. 

The choice is yours. The question is: What will you do to earn it?

Bob Quinlan is the author of newly released (6/10) Earn It: Empower Yourself For Love. Nine years of providing psychiatric nursing, combined with twenty years of medical sales experience, demonstrated to Bob that there are many similarities between personal and professional relationships. Earn It uniquely uses basic business principles and terminology to provide a common understanding of relationships for women and men. If you want to learn to maximize your relationships at work and home, get the book!

Date Your Mate and Keep the Romance Great

Posted on 26. Jan, 2011 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

Bruce Cadle,  1-26-11 §          Soon after my wife Valerie and I got married I noticed something that was not good. We stopped dating. We dated every weekend prior to getting married. But once we got married—maybe since we saw each other daily—we stopped.  I don’t think it was intentional. It just happened.

The reason I noticed wasn’t because my calendar was clear on weekend nights. I noticed because it seemed like our romance was different … dwindling.  Things weren’t bad, rather, they seemed slightly strained, dry, forced.

Valerie still remembers the day I came to her and said I want a date night—a time for us to focus special romantic attention on each other. We didn’t have much money, so going out to dinner once a week was out of the question. We decided to have a nice romantic dinner by candlelight at home.

It was great! We relaxed, talked, laughed, just like we did while dating before marriage. That simple decision to start having a consistent date night made a huge difference in our relationship. As our communications deepened, our hearts connected and our romance revved up.

We’ve been married 35 years now, and date night is still our favorite night of the week. Years ago I decided I should cook on date nights to give Valerie a night off. I started developing my own recipes and gradually increased my cooking skills. I started taking elegant dishes and simplifying them so I could prepare a multi-course dinner without stressing out.

Even though our kids are grown and our finances have improved over the years, we still prefer having date night at home. We can take our time and relax. Sometimes we talk for hours over a leisurely meal.

We make date night a priority in our schedules and say no to anything else that arises on Friday nights.  We look forward to date night all week long just like we did before we got married.

A couple of years ago I started posting our date night menus on Facebook every Friday afternoon. I got lots of requests for recipes and began sharing them so that other couples could learn how to have fun, fancy, and easy date nights at home. Someone who enjoyed my recipes suggested that I should do a date night TV show. Their suggestion led to me being a finalist in the 2010 Food Network/Youtube Next Food Network Star competition.

Second only to the enjoyment that I get from our weekly date night’s is the enjoyment I get from helping other couples establish a weekly date night too!

If would like to learn how to have your own date night, visit my website www.DateNightChef.com or connect with me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/datenightchef.

Bruce Cadle is the author of Party For Two – Fun, Fancy & Easy Romantic Recipes from The Date Night Chef.  Available on Amazon.com.

From ‘Where The Boys Are’ to ‘What’s Wrong With The Boys?’

Posted on 26. Dec, 2010 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

By Dr. Karen Gail Lewis          Some of us remember the movie Where The Boys Are. Or, maybe, just the popular theme song from it. The hook was that – back in the 60s and 70s – the girls wanted to be where the boys were.

Times have changed. Today, “the girls” want “the boys” to be where they are – emotionally. This isn’t an idle desire. Let’s look at how this change happened, as there is a lesson in it for all of us.

The women’s movement starting in the ‘70s led to considerable changes in women’s expectations for themselves – both professionally and personally. Women gathered together for support, in Conscious Raising groups in the early years, to make these changes.

Now, at the same time, men started their own movement. However, without the strength of the mutual support groups, after a spurt of a excitement, it lost steam. Check bookstore shelves and you’ll see women’s self-help books far out-number those for men. Women care about self-awareness and self-improvement. There are far fewer books for men. Talk with sales people and you’ll see that women buy most of the men’s books – hoping men will read them.

I have a funny story about this. Years ago in one of my men’s therapy groups, the members were talking about a new relationship book. Lonnie proudly said, “Tanya bought it for me; I keep it on my night stand – unread, but it’s there!”

Art smiled, “When Nance gave it to me, I put it under my pillow. I hope to absorb it while sleeping.” Everyone laughed – except it wasn’t really funny.

The problem here is that men mouth acceptance of women’s financial and emotional independence without understanding what these changes mean for them. Women are in an entirely different position.

Since women don’t need men to support them financially, and it’s no longer shameful to be single, women are freer to make choices based on what’s best for them. They want a man to carry his share of making the relationship work. They want a man to participate in balancing each of their needs. They want a man to share his feelings, to be empathic, and to show interest in their life, not just talk about himself.

Sarah, a mid-30 year old pediatrician, complains about the man she has been dating for 6 months, “I work real hard at making this work with Brendon. He doesn’t seem to appreciate my efforts – and he sure as hell doesn’t make any effort for me. If I can’t get him to respond more to me, then I don’t want to be with him. Yet, I’ve dated enough to know there aren’t that many men out there I even want to consider being with. I feel stuck – either put up with less than I want or be alone.”

This smacks too closely to the old message that women have been nursed on: Don’t be so fussy.  Don’t be so choosy.

Marilyn, on the other hand, takes a different perspective. She just turned 40. “In my 20s and 30s, I did all the things I was suppose to do – the on-lines, the blind dates, the bars; I joined groups hoping to meet men with mutual interests. Oh, I got dates, alright. But, I always came home horribly depressed. I don’t know why it took me so long to see how I was making myself miserable. So, yeah, I’ll probably remain single, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be an ‘old maid.’ It means I won’t be abusing myself and my self-esteem with men who aren’t worthy of being with me.”

Women really don’t have many choices. In fact, in my research for With or Without A Man: Single Women Taking Control of Their Lives, I learned when asked if women were single by choice that about 50% said yes and 50% said no. The curious aspect, though, were the comments – which were identical: Both groups said they didn’t like their choices.

What annoys women about today’s men?  Men haven’t grown in ways that make them ready for a healthy mutual relationship. So, rather than ask, “Where are the men?” the more accurate question for a woman to ask is, “Why aren’t men working as hard as women to make themselves emotionally ready for a good relationship?” 

I have found that men’s relationship problems focus on either one of two things: a) men simply accept that their needs won’t get met and they feel unappreciated, or b) they leave – without a discussion. Too often, they do not look at their part in why a relationship is not going well. They don’t look for patterns from prior relationships to see what they can learn about themselves. Self-awareness is not a strong suit for too many men. 

In my office, I seldom have men seek counseling because they are in a bad relationship or have had a string of them. They come when the woman they love drags them or threatens to leave if they won’t get therapy. Or, they come after she has already left and they are broken hearted.

This is not to say that all women do a great job at relationships. But, at least women talk about what they are doing, should have done, or could have done to make a relationship better.

For the most part, the biggest problem for women is not their self-reflection but their self-blame. Even though they know the man is not doing his part to sort out their troubles, they fall back on thinking, “It’s my fault.” By blaming themselves, though, they don’t have to face the reality that they alone can’t make a relationship go well. They need the man’s participation.

In one group of single women, Elaine shared a new insight I now call the Fix-It Solution. She said, “If the problem lies within you, you may view it as a personal failure, but at least you can tell yourself you have a chance to fix the problem. If it’s the man’s problem, there is nothing you can do about it. It’s out of your control.”  Anna Beth counters, “Well, frankly, I’d rather think it’s my problem. Then I can do something about it.”

That is the dilemma for women – accept you can’t change a man or take the blame on yourself.

Women – Here are two ways to avoid the Fix-It Solution.

  1. Do your own personal growth work; understand your part in why relationships don’t work. Read self-help books, go to therapy, and talk with friends. See patterns from prior relationship and avoid repeating them.
  2.  Learn the specific gender differences that may be contributing to your dissatisfaction. Learn them, and then … QTIP: Quit Taking It Personally.

 Men – Here are some suggestions to avoid hearing “What’s wrong with men?”  

  1. Women like to be asked about themselves – and then have you listen when they respond, and then have you ask more about what they’ve just told you. This is to say that women like to have a back and forth conversation, not a question and answer session.
  2. The best aphrodisiac for women is talking about your feelings. 
  3. When there is tension, as happens in all relationships, don’t ignore it and don’t disappear. There really is no such thing as avoiding conflict. There is only putting off dealing with it – when it’ll be much worse. 
  4. Don’t just hold a book on relationships or put it under your pillow. Read it, and then most importantly, apply what you read.

 Finally, for both men and women, learn to deal with tension and conflict in healthy, appropriate ways – ways that lead to resolution, with each of you feeling better about yourself and each other. It can and has to be done to have a satisfying relationship.

A good relationship takes work – with continual tweaking. So, whether it’s Low Stress Romance, by Dr. Billy Kidd, or my own Why Don’t You Understand? Gender Relationship Dictionary, or the myriad of books on dealing with conflict, as the old ad said, “Just do it!” Then, feature yourself in the new movie, Here’s Where the Men Are!

Dr. Karen Gail Lewis has been a marriage and family therapist for 39 years. She has authored numerous books and articles on relationships – for married couples, singles, and adult siblings. She also runs Unique Retreats For Women. She has offices in Washington, DC and Cincinnati, plus she offers phone consultations.

Women Love Strong Men

Posted on 26. Dec, 2010 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

By Elliott Katz          What’s happened to modern men? Why are women so frustrated with them? Why is it that when a man takes a woman out on a date he can’t even decide where to go for a cup of coffee? What is going on with men that causes women initiate most divorces?

Today’s man often thinks he’s being sensitive and non-controlling by letting a woman take the lead and make the decisions. He thinks he’s pleasing her. He doesn’t realize that to the woman, he is shirking his responsibility to show leadership and make decisions, and depriving her and their children of the leader and guide they expect from a man.  

Single women have told me that when they marry a man they are trusting him with their lives and that they cannot trust their lives to a man who won’t show leadership and make decisions. One divorced woman said that if her husband of 38 years had understood these basic but crucial truths, her marriage would not have disintegrated.

Why do so many men not know that women want strong men?

Many men today grew up without strong male role models. They came from divorced families or their fathers worked long hours. At school most of their teachers were women and on television they saw men portrayed as incapable buffoons.

Here are Key Traits of Being a Strong Man:

Show leadership
When a man sees a situation that needs to be dealt with, he should step forward and handle it. People admire those who step forward to handle difficult situations – and don’t wait for others to solve the problem.

Make decisions
To avoid accusations of being controlling, a lot of men have gone to the other extreme – they leave most decisions to the woman. A man needs to make his share of decisions and take responsibility for the outcome. One of the meanings of the word “manly” is being decisive.

Take responsibility
Take responsibility for improving the situation. Don’t blame others. There is little sympathy for a man who blames a woman – even when he thinks she pushed him into it. People will say, “You’re the man. Why did you let it go on?” 

Here are Tips for Women on Encouraging Men to Take the Lead:

Let him decide

If he asks you to make a decision, say: “You decide.” Then don’t say anything else.

Ask him to handle it

Ask him to take charge of handling a problem, but don’t tell him what to do. If he asks, say: “If you’re not sure, do research. That’s what I do.” Avoid contradicting him unless what he wants to do is damaging.

Encourage him

Tell him he made a good decision and how you appreciate when he takes charge and handles a problem. If he made a mistake, tell him what you learned from it.

Elliott Katz is the author of  Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants, which is being translated into 21 languages in Europe, Asia and Latin America. When he discusses these ideas with women, they often ask how can they get their husbands, boyfriends and sons to read the book. One woman said she would tell her husband—read it and she’s waiting for him in the bedroom in her negligee.

Do you recognize the need for men to be strong in your relationships? Please share your thoughts Bethestrongman@aol.com

Submitting Women and Intimidated Men – What Are You Talking About?

Posted on 23. Dec, 2010 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

By Dr. Cornelia Gibson          Believe it or not, women—well, most of us, or let’s say, some of us—would not mind submitting to the man in our life. What we are really afraid of is the man abusing that power or leading us down a dead end street. The expression “a happy wife, a happy life” is so true. We would give anything to the man in our life if the giving was mutual. However, so often once the man is happy then that is the end of the giving.

Dr Cornelia Gibson

Dr Cornelia Gibson

Who’s intimidating who?

 I would not necessarily say that men are intimidated by us successful women. Rather, I would say that men believe they have to do more, make more, and be more than us. In reality, we are not trying to change men. Surprise, surprise! But men start feeling they are valued less, while at the same time, feeling pressure to do more. However, I have secretly been told that the pressure comes from within themselves and from their friends. When a man is comfortable with who he is and what he is—and I might add, whose he is—then the intimidation factor does not come in to play. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Real friends?

 I have personal experience with a relationship in which he, the man of the house, felt pressure to do what I was doing. When I started to continue my education, so did he. He took two classes and dropped out. Both starting and stopping was his choice. I supported him and stood behind him in both of these decisions. His friends however taunted him in the beginning. They told him that he was just trying to keep up with me. Then these friends told him that he was going to lose me to someone more educated. I loved him for who he was, but he started believing all the idiotic outside influences.  Let’s face it, he needed new friends. They were not very supportive. I have other examples about friendship, but you can only find them in my novel, Surviving Broken Promises. I know—I’m such a tease!

Questions and Answers

Q:  Where are all the men?

A:  That’s what we want to know.

Q:  Are you intimidated by us?

A:  We think not.

Q:  Do you want us to slow down and be less than our full potential?

A:  We won’t.

Q:  You want us to submit?

A:  We will if you’re worth it and you understand it’s a two-way street.

Q:  Where are all the women?

A:  Sitting at home because a man has not asked us out. However, some of us have no problem asking the man out, we just choose not because it’s easier that way.

 Dr. Cornelia Gibson holds doctorate degrees in counseling psychology and education. She has written a fiction novel about relationship issues that both men and women have found interesting, funny, entertaining. It also has initiated many relationship debates.

 Dr. Gibson’s ten-plus years of education taught her how to listen to both sides of a story and make both sides feel comfortable rather than attacked. Many of her male friends have told her that she is a good listener and that she doesn’t talk too much. She tells men, “Please don’t compare me with the women in your lives—humph—because with over $100,000 in student loans. I would hope I have learned something useful, non-intimating, and—delicious!”

 Dr. Gibson is currently working on a stage play called Surviving Broken Promises. Her web site is Surviving Broken Promises.

I’m Successful – So Where’s My Man?

Posted on 23. Dec, 2010 by in Guest Posts: Relationships

By Randy Gilchrist, Psy.D.          As a licensed clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist, I’ve noticed a trend in my therapy office that goes like this:

A woman, between 25 and 40, comes in for help. She has done well in college and has a successful career. She generally keeps herself in shape and has a lot to offer the world. She has friends, ties with her family, and interesting hobbies. She seems to have everything going for her except one thing: She would like to have a man in her life—but she keeps running out of luck when it comes to meaningful and exciting relationships.

Either no one is asking her out, or she does the asking and pursuing, but has little success. This has led many women to ask me things like, “Where have all of the men gone?” and “What’s wrong with men today?” or “What’s wrong with me?”

The women I see show signs of confusion, frustration, and even depression. They ask, “How could a woman be successful in every way today except with men? Are men just insecure and intimidated today by a successful woman—especially if she earns more money? Or, have many men just lost interest in women? What is it with men today?” There are a number of possible answers to these questions and I don’t pretend to have all of them. However, I do have a few ideas that may be of help.

In today’s post-feminist world, there isn’t anywhere for a woman to go to learn about men’s wants, needs, and feelings. What she gets from TV and movies doesn’t work in the real world, and what she learned growing up is often out-dated. As a consequence, many women have become focused on defining and demanding that their needs be met. So they sometimes do not know how to switch focus in order to understand the emotional needs of the men in their lives.

I believe that this helps to explain the most common complaint I hear from men. It involves the attitudes some women exude. The story I hear goes something like this: “She has this attitude that `I make my own money, and I look good and act sexy, so that’s basically the end of my job in the relationship. Now, it’s your job to cater to my many wants, feelings, and needs with patience, giving, supportive listening, and romance.’”

Granted, it’s only a small minority of women who have this one-directional entitlement approach. But it only takes a few experiences with it for a young man to adopt relationship expectations that are limited to sex and “whatever.”

Another complaint I hear from men today is they simply want a woman to be happy and in a good mood most of the time. But they say that is tough to find. In addition, there are still a lot of traditional men out there who want to feel important to a woman, believe that they are needed, and that they are their woman’s hero.

I know, modern women often don’t want to role play this traditional stuff. But all it really takes is a smile, a thank you, and the showing of appreciation and admiration of the efforts he puts into the relationship. The secret here is that this makes a guy feel like a hero, that he has actually accomplished something. It’s not that he’s simple-minded, but that’s the way his reward system works.

However, if the man can’t ever seem to do things right or good enough in a woman’s eyes, he’ll feel inadequate, incompetent, and think that he’s doing a bad job in the relationship. If this is the case, he’s not going to feel wanted or needed and is going to be put off.

Yes, I’m a psychotherapist, so I know there are two sides to this story. But I think it’s important to hear what men are saying. Lots of today’s men are not experiencing enough positive feelings in their relationships for them to get serious about it.

So if a woman really wants a man in her life, it helps if she focuses on the few things he needs most. If he’s a good, solid guy who treats you well, fulfilling these few needs should be pretty simple. Give a him your good mood and compliments, and he’ll give you the world. Conversely, expect the world but give little, and few men will be interested in sticking around.

On the positive side, it’s important to remember that happy, healthy relationships with decent men still do occur. When you apply this formula—pick well, nurture well—you’ll be in good shape. Remember, men approach relationships like a job: If you let him know he’s doing well with some perks and praise, he’ll want to keep up the good work.

By the way, do you need a solid reference book on what makes for a good relationship? I suggest anything from the world-renown relationship and marriage expert, John Gottman. A good example of his work is The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work.

Take care, and happy hunting!

Dr. Randy Gilchrist is a licensed clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist in Roseville, CA. He is also the creator of The Weight Loss Mindset™ audio hypnosis program.