I work with guys between the ages of 23-55. The younger clients — the Millennials — are indeed demonstrating more sensitivity toward the “idea” that women should be valued rather than objectified. The issue is that their dads never modeled appropriate male behavior demonstrating what that looks like, so they are on stage without a script. Worse, many times their moms, wives, girlfriends, sisters, or just femininity itself as a concept are nasty, verbally abusive critics who are de-maculating them on a constant basis.
Despite their correct understanding and respect for women, these are still clueless men. By the time they find Man-UP! Life Coaching, they’re willing to admit that and actually want to do something about it. And that’s where coach-mentors come in. Most guys don’t want the therapy of yesteryear. They want a bro-coach. A bro-coach employs the vernacular, and casually but authoritatively offers them instruction, accountability, and motivation. The motivation comes from validation. That’s it. But instead of continual validation, guys criticize themselves. As men, we hold ourselves to very high standards and punish ourselves mercilessly for failures.
The number one problem in relationships is a failure for men to understand how to validate women, as well as how to validate themselves so that they don’t create dependency. That’s where she fails to get her needs met, and either represses her resentment or states it outright. It feeds a vicious cycle, because he won’t give her what she needs until she’s validated, and he literally cannot function without her validation. So they develop pathological workarounds based on sacrifice and resent.
In my coaching, I often have to explain to men that it’s okay to recognize that — in the common culture — men and women are both biologically and emotionally different. Of course there is a gender-identification spectrum that challenges the assumptions of absolute terms like “men” and “women”, so obviously I am speaking to the majority with no intention of invalidating those on the fringe statistically.
I ask my guys to read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus for a basic insight into the ways we tend to process ideas and communicate them differently. The guys are often amazed to learn that the book is literally instructive. If you follow the rules and apply them, she is happy and validates you rather then complaining or judging.
In addition to learning to validate her, he has to also learn to validate himself. I have my guys validate all day every day. We learn that all judgment is self-judgment; and all validation is self-validation. We practice saying kind things to ourselves and aloud, about ourselves and others. We learn to identify judgmental language and behavior, and to simply replace it with validation. In conjunction with this he is also doing an art-based meditation for 30 minus to an hour each day. They also play chess to give the problem-solving mind something to do so it doesn’t create problems to solve in their daily life, and I teach them to use their devices to make todo lists and calendar events so they aren’t using wife as mommy.
I have guys take their wives/girlfriends to dinner regularly, write her notes, give her compliments, and do they things that validate and reassure women *in their language* so that she in turn validates him and BAM…. romance. Intimacy. She feels like there’s hope.
I also explain that at some point as you are validating her and yourself (and everyone else), she’s going to realize that she is now propping herself up on *your* energy, and will at some point need to validate herself, motivate herself, and achieve her goals rather than blaming him or using him as an emotional tampon.
I teach my clients NEVER to sacrifice NOR to accept a sacrifice from their partner, but rather to negotiate everything. Everything is negotiable. The couples who learn this also learn that every single interaction is deal-or-no-deal; and that like any other business relationship, if they can’t work something out then I guess they have to abandon the relationship. Like Abraham and Isaac, you have to be willing to take anything you love to the altar. And sometimes, you have to kill it. But surprisingly less often, you don’t.