Tag Archives: men

How to Help Your Man When He is Depressed

Sometimes our greatest fears are realized. Sometimes that pit in our stomach actually means a great deal. Yes, we are men. Yes, we can be and are often strong, but many times we are one degree from emotional combustion.

Normal men struggle with confidence more often they will ever let on. We, men, wonder what you wonder about us. We burn out, feel left out, and sometimes when we are vulnerable we lash out. These are things we are not proud of nor do we want to be sponsors of for the next generation.

Men become depressed at rates that are still unknown and baffling to the health care community and the providers educated to treat them. Thankfully, there is a growing movement to better understand male depression, its origin, and proper methods for therapeutic inclusion and treatment. Too often men and their families are unaware of the signs and symptoms of depression. Men shrug off their blue feelings as just another struggle they have to endure alone. They struggle to access the health care community and at best only talk to their primary care physician who either dispels such “nonsense” or over prescribes outdated and temporary solutions. 

I will admit that I am quite tired of the temporary solution-based approach that America has taken with just about every social problem. Makes me wish I owned stock in Band-Aids. The issue of male depression reaches far and wide impacting millions of men and their families.

The solution(s) will not be fast acting, maximum strength, over-the-counter goodies. The solutions will have to start at home. They will have to be identified and approached by the very person who has seen this man at his best and worst.

The signs are there even if communication about them is a bit archaic. We are and have been in a funk, as a country, for a good long while. Many men and women have lost their jobs, homes, and self respect. That’s right self respect…meaning that too many folks have not responded to their adverse situation in the manner they thought they would. They, like the peanut in this ad, are wondering why they can’t get up off the curb and start anew.

And, it is during these times when men need their partners the most. This undoubtedly puts women in a very difficult position because the language used, verbally and non-verbally, greatly impacts the man early on. When tragic news hits or you see a series of little defeats mounting for your man you have to treat him in the first 72 hours. This is, of course, not an official number but it gets the point across that to be effective in helping your partner you need to move swiftly and deftly in the early hours.

Are You Ready to Respond?

Think of it like a legal defense. We have all seen “Law & Order” or the new smash hit which I love “The Good Wife.” We watch as the lawyers and officers strategically plan the response and subsequent actions…all of which have to be done early on if they are to get ahead of the charge etc.

So, in that vein let us look at some things to look out for when you think your husband/man is depressed:

  1. First and foremost know how YOU typically respond to him when he is down.
  2. Prepare yourself for statements that are nonsensical and reactionary because he too knows your typical response style.
  3. Think about how YOU would feel given his stressors and situation.
  4. Take YOURSELF out of the discussion–this is not the time to talk about your needs/wants.
  5. Use physical touch to caress and reassure him–difficult because you may feel inclined to “mother” him.
  6. Remember that, like you, he may not want solutions early on.
  7. Let him know that you love him, believe in him, and will stand by him.
  8. Do NOT say, “Life isn’t easy” or “You’ll find something” or “That’s just the way life is.” Statements like these minimize his current fears and distance you from the solution. The message you are sending is…”I will wait till you figure it out alone and in the meantime buck up, you’re a man.”
  9. Stay connected and engaged. Do not fall the way of so many women who yield to giving him “space.” Men may say they want that, but only for a short time and most often because it is safer. They do not trust their feelings with you.
  10. And last but certainly not least…continue to love and support him…encourage him when his spirits are increasing and support him if and when mental health intervention is needed.

It takes a team effort to assist anyone who is down on their luck. Knocking them down even further because they are vulnerable sounds horrific, but practiced more than your neighbors would admit.

You can be your own best friend if you approach your man in thoughtful ways. These are tough times for everyone not named Palin, Jordan, Lebron, Gosselin, or Steve Jobs…let us all use a little compassion as we support the ones we love.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

Bookmark and Share


Leave a comment

Filed under Fathers, finances, Good Men, head of household, Males, Marriage, men, Relationships, sex, women, Work

Does your Relationship Have a Hidden Agenda?

Have you ever stopped to think about your marriage or relationship and the original motivations for becoming a pair? Have you ever stepped back and said, “…hmm what was I thinking or why was my spouse appealing to me back then?”

We would all like to think that our nuptials signify purity and above all else–honesty. I, though, want to talk about relationships in terms of walking, breathing agendas that we all carry around—it is just that so few of us are willing to share them.

Maybe you began your relationship to spite your history of train wrecks or maybe you chose your partner because they were the opposite of your parent’s choice. Some of you might have had a list…and a man with a job, a spare tire and an excuse for every domestic request was just a part of that bucket list.

So many of us are sly. That is right…sly. We act one way during courtship and then do an about-face somewhere between the “I do’s” and, “What…we’re having a baby?” Agendas do not have to be wholeheartedly bad or negative or manipulative. Your agenda could be to be the best spouse, parent, friend, employee or boss there is. Others will present their agendas using morse code, winks, growls, uniquely placed books and do-dats that spark curiosity from their partner.

Sometimes agendas come from society, your friends, or television. Sometimes agendas can feel like they are closing in on you with no escape route in view. The pressure can be daunting to say the least. It can feel like no one understands the pressure you feel and nobody, especially your spouse, understands the long-term impact of such pressure.

Whose Agenda will Win out?

Men and women can often feel pressure to meet an agenda that the other has absolutely no idea exists. A man may be absolutely oblivious that his partner’s agenda includes kids at a certain age to meet her girlfriends requirements/peer pressure…she may be in the dark about his agenda at work that includes trophy-wife expectations and expensive suits to land the management position.

Agendas can kill a marriage. Agendas can make us feel less than. We can feel cheated by our spouse, our family, and friends. We can become accusatory and hateful when wronged by a perceived agenda and we can walk away wondering if we ever really knew our spouse.

So why is it that we hold our agendas so close to the vest? Because we all want to maintain a certain level of control for our current and future circumstances. If your spouse told you that you fit a need or a check-box on a list you might be mortified. Ben Stiller’s character in “Along Came Polly” wrote a little cost-benefit or should I say risk analysis to see which woman was better suited for his agenda which was to play it safe in life. Sounds corny when Hollywood tackles a very real-life marital issue, but the fact remains that agendas are a mainstay for most relationships.

Of course, the natural life-cycle of an agenda means that it will surface at some point in the relationship. Whether one is caught or openly shares their agenda…the couple can be impacted for the better or as agendas are publicized–for the worse. Infidelity is the most common of “dirty” agendas for the guys out there. Women, on the other hand, are often accused of having agendas that:

  1. Create a Domesticated Spouse
  2. Provide Children at a Specific Age
  3. Position the Family for Social Prominence

Now, of course, these are rooted in stereotypical renditions of the American Family this side of “Toddlers and Tiaras” on any reality network in this country. Do they have merit for either gender? Your guess is as good as mine. What I can tell you is that when I worked with couples…what would come up the most were their individual agendas and the failure of the other to lend credence to their wishes.  So many of these couples wanted the other to take part in what we call “2×4” therapy. They wanted the agenda “beaten” out of the other…figuratively speaking that is. They were tired of the game playing. They were tired of feeling like they were a mere character in their spouses self-written and directed play about themselves…I mean a narcissist…I mean themselves.

The news isn’t all bad…nor should it ever be when we think of the motivations and agendas that permeate our lives. Do our spouses and partners serve a purpose in our lives? Absolutely!

Hopefully for yourself and your relationship you have both grown and become better people because of the one you share your life with. Maybe your agenda in the beginning was borne out of a reaction to your family or life in general…but now it is a mutual agenda…dare I say plan…for mutual growth and admiration for the partners you have become.

Here’s to couples who aren’t afraid to share their hopes and dreams, their reality and their faults along the way without malice. If there ever was a human on this earth who would “cut you some slack”…let’s hope it is the one you call “Dear”.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

Bookmark and Share

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Marriage, men, Mothers, Relationships, Success Stories, women

Who Likes Angry, Sad, Crying Men?

Do Women Really Want More Complex Men?

Sometimes…and I am going to be completely honest here…I feel like men, Normal and abnormal, can’t win for tryin. I will admit that last night I turned on American Idol to see who had made it into the top 24. Beyond the cackles and snickers that the show has been known to garner…this was a very big deal for the participants. They are going after a dream and laying it on the line for all to see…

…and of course emotions became the Special Guest appearing alongside the contestants, their supporters, and the judges. So…why is it that when I turned on the radio this morning this first thing I heard about was the “unmanly” display of emotions from the male contestants?

Shouldn’t a young man who wants something so bad feel safe enough to express emotions that have never been owned, outright, by females…but rather the human race? Shouldn’t a male of any age be able to share his emotions as they happen when they are appropriate for the situation?

I say YES! I applaud all of the contestants for handling themselves with more dignity and honesty than the pundits who find joy in raking them over the coals the morning after. We have seen this before. We have seen this with athletes who have won or lost a big game…with actors who have won the coveted Oscar. This should not be considered a revelation. There should not be even a trace of sarcasm.

So the question then needs to be asked of women…

“Do women really want men who are emotionally complex and Normal or men who display emotion with hand signals and grunts?”

It really is that simple. I will say it again…it really is that simple. Why do I say this? Well, because men are trained early on that the gender holding the carrot and the one chasing the carrot are set in stone. We chase the carrot of your affection even if we do so like a drunken monkey at times. We will swing through the trees of life in pursuit and, in most cases, abide by your “rules” of engagement. Those men who scoff and wait for women to come to them are lonely gents who are probably still living in their parent’s basement playing video games!

Take Heed Little Man For the Emotional Police are a Comin

We, men, play a significant role in determining appropriate emotional expressions. Those men who want to provide a better experience of life for ourselves and the next generation of males understand the gravity of the situation. It is those that think I am being trivial that disturb me. How many little boys heard the DJ belittle the Idol’s who were crying and thought, “Wait a minute…when I didn’t make the soccer team I was upset…did I do something wrong?” Further, how many caregivers heard the same message over the radio and said nothing but laugh. Never forget that we often say more with what we don’t say than with what we say. All children listen and take notes…we are just foolish enough to think they don’t.

It can be very easy to laugh at the stereotypical man and the ridiculous and detrimental manner with which he responds to life. It makes for “funny” sitcoms and reality shows. Who doesn’t like to say, “Yup, another dumb man!” What we should be doing, though, is thinking ahead…for the long-term implications. How will my son, my brother, my neighbor, my cousin feel about himself and how will he even know how to express himself?

Could Global Warming Actually Help Man-Kind?

The answers to these questions become quite important for future romantic relationships. There will be days, ladies, when your partner responds like a caveman and you will say, “If only I had married a man!” And, there will be times when he cries in your arms and you say, “If only I had married a man!”

We need assistance from you. Other men won’t agree with me out of some unfounded fear that they will appear weak. Other men…Normal Males…will agree, let down their ego and proceed with needed negotiations. We want to feel safe enough that if we want to display emotion—it will be received in a loving and safe environment. We promise to embrace this New World and we will put the time into understanding our fears and how to better express them. We just ask that you, too, think about this New World where men share feelings, both good and bad, and include you in their thought processes. It would help us immensely if you thought about how this new, relaxed version of ourselves would impact you—how you experience the world, where you will turn your frustrations now that we are open communicators, and if you truly understand the systematic changes that will occur.

So many of us wish for the greener pasture…for that green grass just outside of our reach yet fail to comprehend that if you actually land on the greener pasture, you actually have to mow it, tend to it, and water it on a regular basis just like the patch of grass you stand on today. Never underestimate the impact positive change in one area can have on another. If men actually take this seriously…women might find themselves in some uncomfortable situations very soon. It might feel odd at first to see your husband expressing emotion, discussing his feelings and asking about yours—you might even think that he was abducted by aliens…but give him a chance and give yourself a chance. You might find that winning the emotional jackpot is worth it to you, your marriage, and your kids.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

Bookmark and Share


Filed under Boys, Dumb Men, Fathers, Good Men, Males, Marriage, men, Mothers, Relationships, women

Why Women Change Their Tune when Jewelry is Involved

Feeling Loved?

Being a man can be many things…some good, some bad, some quite exciting and others quite costly. Recently, my fiance and I went out to shop for our wedding bands. I was aware that her band would be exponentially more than my ring and so I prepared myself.

I thought of the cost of the engagement ring, my checking account balance, my credit limit…said a few prayers and had a couple of sips of my coffee before we met at the jewelry store. As we proceeded through the “security” doors our sales associate peered up with that, “I know them ;)” look and I knew I was in trouble.

You see the one thing I didn’t take into consideration was that when you buy an engagement ring of a certain quality you HAVE to buy a band that equals that quality…and yes I do know the famous 4 C’s of a diamond and if you don’t, guys, you need to quickly. The world revolves around 4 C’s and the irony is that we were all taught that coming home with 4 quality C’s on our report card was average—at best. I shudder to think what 4 A’s would cost you and me if they were a part of the equation.

Now before some of you wonder if my fiance is one of the famous or infamous Bridezillas…you couldn’t be further from the truth. What we both are is practical…at least we strive for that. And, with that in mind it becomes very easy to look at your ring(s) as investments…as both an investment in love and commitment and in the value it holds on the open market. So…what happens is this—you find that you cannot just place an average band with an above-average engagement ring. It would be like buying a nice car and treating it like a contractors truck…both equally valued when kept separate.

Are YOU the Joker in your OWN Life?

And…who is kidding who? Both of us want the rings to look complimentary to each other and I want the ole ego stroked when she fawns over my choice…and it doesn’t hurt when her friends do the same ;). Which brings us to the overarching challenge of jewelry for men and women—men get hosed and women get the riches. We know it. You know it and we can only hope that when we want something that is a tad flashy like a riding lawnmower or season tickets to our favorite team—you understand the value we see in the purchase. Otherwise, the couple runs the risk of playing tit-for-tat with everything from material possessions to sex. Nobody wins and assuredly each party loses. The relationship loses overall focus, commitment to what brought you together loses focus…with the end result being two depressed individuals who look at their relationship like a failing stock that was given to them years ago by a less than normal relative.

Playing Games with your Love Meter?

So the next time you think of purchasing something for yourself or your family think twice about the message it can send your bank and your family. Yes we all want to have hand like George Costanza so famously stated on Seinfeld, but having hand without the one you love…well you get the point.

Please understand that we, the male species, struggle to understand the cues you give us and struggle even more to communicate beyond the material goods we purchase. We want you to know we care and that you are that special someone.

We also ask that you return the favor and express support for those other purchases that you might not necessarily deem important for your family. Yes jewelery and the purchasing of special jewelry is fun and expensive, but the look on your face fuels us to want to be the best and provide the best opportunities for the entire family. So many of us learned that men, and primarily from our fathers, communicate love through giving and doing and while we adjust to the new and Normal approaches to relationships we still might dip into the well a time-or-two.

Would a Ring Help?

We both know that if we are to call a spade a spade we would say that spending any amount of money on a ring is ridiculous when we take into account what truly matters in life. To some degree the purchase is a frivolous one…and that is ok. Sometimes being  like or exceeding the Jones’s feels good and other times it doesn’t even come into the picture. Openly communicate what you can and cannot spend for your display of commitment and you will set yourself up for emotionally prosperous communication.

All the best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

Bookmark and Share


Filed under finances, Good Men, head of household, Marriage, men, Relationships, sex

Do Women Feel Pressure to be Intimate on Valentines Day?

Intimate Expectations are a Killer!

Are you ready? Have you geared up? Have you truly thought about how you will act and respond to your partners overtures this weekend? Remember this is the weekend of love…the weekend where couples have to be reminded to make one another special. Even if for just a day or night we are told to put our partner up on a pedestal.

For some men and women the best in creativity and expression come out in a magical way. For others, the holiday highlights all that is wrong with our relationships and emphasizes the clunker of a sex life you actually have. And though you might have gotten your hopes up that you could trade your clunker in for cash this year…you quickly realize that Valentines Day is one of your least favorite holidays.

Valentines Day is the only holiday where sex and intimacy are actually promoted, kids are demoted from activities, and dinner is most often prepared by others at a restaurant and not grandma Sue. This is a holiday that promotes procreation, separates the nuclear family, and lightens the checking accounts of millions of Americans on gifts and gadgets meant to be stored in cool-dark out of the way set of dresser drawers.

Pressure? For whom? Men? Women? Both? YES! An astounding number of sexless marriages exist and the number has probably skyrocketed since the recession. A mandatory holiday can be just the thing that sends us to divorce court.

Have you actually ever thought about that? Forced intimacy with the person you are supposed to be in love with can be one of the most treacherous endeavors this side of sanitation work. No one wants to make their partner feel bad, less than, and/or not loved unconditionally even if you are mired in a marital pothole. And the devastating part is that most couples know that they really don’t want to be intimate but both parties feel pressured to be intimate. It becomes a challenge of immense proportions to discuss your fears with your partner when you are supposed to be celebrating your union.

How do you go from arguing a majority of the time to making love the next? You could be one of those couples that lets sex communicate for you. You could be one of those couples who are collaborating on the hoax of your love by saying, “…he/she is my partner and sex really isn’t a big part of our relationship.”

Either way most men and women dry heave at the thought of forced expressions of love. Nobody wants to be told when to hug, to caress, say the right things, act the right way, and/or pray that this year will be different when you haven’t seen the proof in over ten years. We all want love to be and feel organic, spontaneous and wrought with explosions of passion. Life happens though, we choose partners that we are only lukewarm to, and fantasize about characters in books and movies that live a life filled with excitement and passion.

What we want is to feel like we did when we were teenagers. We want to bubble up with excitement…with pride for the surprises we have planned for this glorious day. But we aren’t 15 anymore and the memories of yesteryear dissipate…for some they even bring back all of the terrible Valentines Day’s of the past. I remember asking out and breaking up was actually planned around Valentines Day. You see, many men might not share this with you, but a great many have and continue into adulthood to think about the financial costs of the holiday and the commitment it implies.

Men think in practical terms, are guided by thoughts of sexual prowess and conquest, and ultimately weigh their romantic options on a financial scale. If you are new to us and we just met you in January then we might think twice about the gift we give and the sappiness displayed. So many men worry about what messages will be sent and the commitment we think you expect from us.

On the flip side…a number of boys and men breakup with their girlfriends prior to Valentines Day for the exact same reasons.

The Breakup Girl can Help!

They are broke and are afraid to ask for forgiveness. They are not keen on re-upping their love commitment and fear another Valentines Day will send the relationship up another tier on the ladder of love…and some are foolish enough to desire freedom to date another women and spend the money they didn’t want to spend on you.  Yes…we men are ridiculous.

So on this, the weekend of love I hope that you have done your due diligence and expressed your concerns to your partner prior to the big day. I hope that you have shared your fears of inflated expectations and demonstrated compassion for your relationship. If you haven’t and are deathly afraid of waking up the day after Valentines day in puddles, then I suggest you sit down and think about your relationship—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Due a status report on where your love meter is at and what you have or have not done to contribute to today’s challenges. You and your spouse probably aren’t as bad as you might think and probably not as great as you might think either. Love takes work, compassion for your self and your partner, and a commitment to service it more regularly than Jiffy Lube suggests. Shouldn’t you service the check engine light of your relationship?

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

Bookmark and Share


Filed under Marriage, men, Relationships, sex, women

Do Women Want a Father or a Man for a Spouse?

Marry Me?

We have all heard the wives tale that women like the bad boy or the rebel. We have all gone through the the riggers of middle school/junior high where the skater was the hip and cool guy often leaving the nice guys to finish last. But just like a prevailing wind stirs up dust and debris…women discover that once the dust settles what they really want in a man is someone who resembles a caretaker more than a rebel.

This of course may cause some of my female readers to scoff or even curse my name…you wouldn’t be the first ;)…but this is a reality that permeates a great number of marriages. Many women want to marry someone safe…someone like their father. The challenges to this scenario are obvious yet quite elusive to cure.

How is it that a woman can look at her husband and desire him sexually if she sees her father? How can a woman reconcile the fact that she not only despises her associations to dad, but knows that she has been a significant contributor to the problem?

Does Father Know Best in Marriage?

One could argue that we are truly battling ingrained evolutionary commodities. For thousands of years our genders have had pretty basic roles for the successful continuation of our species. Men hunt and protect…women bear and raise children. Others could take that premise and add a dose of social norms and practices to demonstrate the evolution of expected roles and responsibilities.

Did Father really Know Best or are we all experiencing self-inflicted wounds? We think battling debt collectors is tough…how about battling the entirety of a species groomed for procreation and protection from villains? I guess if extinction were our goal then we might all approach marriage like Liz Taylor. But, we don’t and so we look for men who will excite us during the initial chapters, console in the middle, and protect throughout the duration of our life’s story. Quite a lot to juggle. Quite a lot to comprehend on a random Friday night when he wants to be intimate and all you can think about is how long it has been since he took out the recycling.

Nobody teaches, men or women, that love evolves just like our greater species does. That love blossoms into appreciation and back to love like a fantastic yo-yo trick. We wish we knew how to manipulate love to coincide with our moods, dreams, desires, and fears…but that is the beauty of love and why we KNOW it when we feel it. Thus the challenge is to better prepare ourselves for the curves ahead even if the road may be winding to an unknown location. What we don’t want is to come to a pass where we are lost for words, pay attention to mundane things not related to love, and forget the reasons we found our spouse so exciting and sexy during the courting phase.

“I feel like my husband is my father more than he is my best friend.”

her confessions Her Magazine Nashville February 2010

Her Magazine February 2010

It can become quite sad…quite fast when a marriage has reached the fatherly-friendship phase. A phase marked by rigidity and ingrained roles that suit neither party. The woman and the man are unhappy yet feel torn. A man, for instance, likes the feeling of responsibility and safety he provides his family. He gains great satisfaction from knowing what is right and wrong. He relished the times when his opinion is sought over all others. That is how he was raised…either by a real, in the home father or by movies and t.v. There can be a great sense of pride for a man who knows he provides his wife and children such protection.

Normal Males do not want to feel alone or isolated as the Grand Pubah all of the time. They want to feel the great duality of humanity…that they can be the protector and recipient of protection and guidance too. Normal Males want their wives to feel safe, sexy, and secure. And thus we struggle to understand the delicate balance between knowing everything (which we do not but act like we do or should) and seeking the arms of our partners…making us a lot like you. Just as much as some women want to be married to a father figure…men too want to be married to a mother figure.

A Mother's Love...A Woman's Touch

And, so goes the pendulum…swinging back-and-forth between controlling…I mean parenting our spouse and loving and desiring our spouse. Both genders are guilty and maybe men are to blame even more because there are currently so few good men representing fathers and husbands. I would imagine women feel like we push them to mother us because we play dumb so often.

It truly speaks to the notion that we are what we are when we enter marriage with another human being. We are that lonely child wondering where dad is. We are that young person that desperately wants guidance from the parent of the other gender only to be disappointed with every missed visitation. We are that scorned lover who went bad only to miss the caress of a protector.

We are all of these things and more, and our challenge as men and women is to understand the ebb and flow of romantic love, know that it won’t cure the ills of a lost or jaded rearing, and that you too will change your wants and needs throughout your marital union.

After a series of setbacks myself, I am of the mindset that we, adults, can actually learn a thing or two from our younger generations. You see…when we all were experiencing the great rush of hormones we selected mates on attributes that excited and thrilled us. As we got older we begin to select mates out of a need to complete a Checklist. We did so after seeing our own caretakers and assumed that that was what love and marriage were all about–becoming friends whose greatest affection came after work and before dinner with a symbolic peck on the cheek.

We forgot that love symbolizes living. That to select a mate means that we are compatible on a number of levels…not just lust and not just protection. Nobody wants to be pegged as someone’s parental savior…you don’t want that for yourself because you will be forever disappointed…and you don’t want that for your partner because the only love you will get will be on February 14th in the form of a, “I couldn’t have written it better” card.

If you are married currently…communicate with your spouse the challenges of your wants and needs and I bet you will get a sigh of relief in return…because they are experiencing the same Normal feelings as you.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

Bookmark and Share


Filed under Fathers, Girls, Good Men, Males, Marriage, men, Mothers, Relationships, women

Why Do Men Treat Women Like a Love Transaction?

Honey...I mean CFO...I mean...

Why do men treat women they court as a deal, a transaction, a competition? Can we trace it back to the days on the savanna? Can we blame Chuck Woolery for forcing competition on The Love Connection? What about Hallmark? Should we blame them for creating holiday after holiday to supplement dumb men who forget to communicate their love on a regular basis?

…and we haven’t even talked about competition between men for women! Are my muscles bigger than his? What does he drive? Do? Where does he live? I have a better head of hair! He has bad teeth, manners, hygiene, and is a sloppy drunk! I listen, shop when I don’t feel like it, mow the lawn regularly, know about and take care of both nose and ear hair…pick me!

How Can You NOT Call it a Transaction?

It can be very competitive for men and we, as a gender, have been trained to understand the value of money and the art of the transaction in the sea of love. We are pretty good at scoping out the future value..i.e. what it will be like to be in a relationship with you after successfully navigating the gauntlet. And, it is for this reason and the right to be the Silver-Back of the group that we allow some pretty odd and outdated traditions to take place…

Why else would we allow ourselves to be poked and prodded by your family and friends? From getting approval from dad, to polygraphs for Raymond Focker, the landscape may have changed but the supporting characters and media fodder have not when it comes to pursuing love. We have been shaken by centuries of doubt, judgment, and gossiping. The impact has been significant…

Mrs. Degree? How Much Will That Cost?

In fact, we are actually quite dainty hunters…even a tad moody. We don’t like to feel pressure. We don’t like to feel rushed or told how to hunt. We want to be celebrated for every effort we make because…well…quite frankly we have very thin skin. Men of all dispositions, Normal and Nut-Job, hear the calls from women and their mothers wondering when they will step up to the plate. We have been conditioned to think that money and material goods are the way to your heart. Are we wrong? Should we take another approach?

Maybe…maybe not. Women…if I might say…you have also played a role in the manner with which we court you.

We pay attention even if for a brief moment between video games, belching, and adult kickball games meant for males to recapture their testosterone crown and understand the seriousness with which you approach love and commitment…shoot, we even hear some women talk of getting their Mrs. degree.

An actual Marriage-Hunting Bra?

We see commercials that spew messages like cold weather, blustery nights, diamonds…and then hugs. We get it. You get it…and the struggle is breaking the transactional approach once we both have committed to each other.

Normal Males understand the barren wasteland of actual good men or should I say candidates for women today. We will concede to our other halves. The question I pose is this:

What role do women play in transactional love?

How can we keep the notion of value and competition for something precious while also valuing the effort and the man for who he is and not what he can do for you?

Trust me when I say that most Normal Males would be just fine if the expectations and practices of courtship changed…even slightly. It can be overwhelming to even the best men. And, I believe that the current system actually sets couples up for failure. Women are led to believe, from media and those around them, that love is something you buy and it is about both quality and quantity. I have heard this over and over with the couples I used to work with…”John used to buy me flowers, buy me gifts, etc.” The woman has every reason to feel let down and the man every reason to feel under water. She fell in love with a man who understood the currency of courtship, equated it to land ownership and attainment of goods, and brushed off his hands as if to say, “ok…what now?” She felt beautiful and special. He felt like a winner…and each waited for their gold medal ceremony to begin and never end.

Love is a One Step-at-a-Time Venture

He felt like he had earned something. Something akin to buying instead of renting. This may sound crude or brash, but men’s brains think and act like this. To rent means to constantly pay or fear being kicked out…i.e. “What have you done for me lately?” Owning a home symbolizes hard work, a history, and fruits of his labor. Why would a man want to subscribe to a relationship where, in his mind, he has to constantly prove himself for fear that he isn’t good enough.

It is no wonder why men fear commitment. Many men peer into their future and fear an unwieldiness of love, money, proof of life, and bottom-line economics. Daunting to be sure when you add in the little tidbit that males struggle to share their feelings and experiences with other males–we often fail to see that we are not alone and that what we are thinking, feeling, and experiencing has been felt by other males for centuries.

Both genders contribute to the problems associated with transactional love and it will take a constant and steady flow of thoughtfulness to break fear-based love, negative gender stereotypes, and family patterns. As we approach Valentines day, I wish all of the women well and hope that your days are filled with romance, conversation, and activities not based on money, but honest appreciation for each others lives. Guys…leave some flowers and a clever card for yours truly as I have yet to purchase the holiday necessities. 😉

Remember the TRUE meaning of love?

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

Bookmark and Share


Filed under men, Relationships, women