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What a Man Needs – Part 5

Ownership.

That’s a funny word – ownership. To one who has never known real ownership, the word conjures up imagery that might indicate mere possession of a thing whose fate is at the whim of the owner who has all the power of determination, like a slave owner. The owner can possess a thing and enjoy it while it’s pristine and new and discard it when the honeymoon has passed and utility worn down. No, ownership is deeper than the “belongs to” idea.

In this “What Men Need” series, I’ve discussed that men must vigorously spend themselves in labor in order to find/develop their highest and best contribution to society. This mental, physical, spiritual quest is a competition for limited resources which requires engagement and where God has established a platform to draw forth your best effort towards growth. In part 2, money is an accounting between a journey and a destination to be navigated, balanced between self interest and greed, and time managed like Odysseus between Scylla and Charybdis. So therefore, man must come to a useful relationship with money. Furthermore, in part 3, I described that men need other men to provide needed inputs – “No man is an island”, said John Donne. He continued that when the bell tolls to come to aid of your fellow man, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Which is to say, men need other men to grow. It is in the combination of these things that men endeavor in great strivings or in casual meanderings to find themselves. And in the finding, men can come to a peace and self respect that they have been a Good and Faithful Servant to God’s potential. This takes decades.
And if that were all, then that would be much. But there’s more.

Take each of the four elements mentioned and dash them to the rocks and what happens? Lose your job? Oh well, I’ll work at Starbucks and get a government food card. Get swamped with debt? Chapter 13 and laugh at creditors. Can’t gather friends? No big, I’ve still got a cyber-life. Self respect? For fools. These responses are nails on a chalkboard to one who cares, who’s engaged, one who sees that human potential must be challenged, expanded, and fulfilled.

Gentlemen, a man needs to take a stand in life, to own the risk of failure, to engage fully and be willing to get hurt, to extend love to another with the prospect it won’t be reciprocated, to take on responsibilities without assurance of its wisdom, to declare loyalty to men, to outcomes, to God. And risk of failure isn’t just a solitary thing. When you try and fail and your wife and children are negatively affected, then risk is a weighty thing. But regardless, man must risk, as TR says, “so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

The imagery of ownership that I hold is one of a tree that roots itself in life as a declaration: “I will stand here”. The tree strives for nutrients below while always reaching its arms ever upward. A tree that flexes in a storm while providing cover for those who need the stability. A tree provides food, shade, oxygen, and energy. It is a beacon, a place to meet, on whose arms a child swings.

Men need to take a stand in order to be counted. The love of a woman is earned by a man who owns himself, his relationships, his family, his outcomes. The self respect a man pursues can only be found on the other side of weighty responsibility. So gentlemen, to you I say…

Take root.

Dave Marr

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By | June 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What a Man Needs – Part 4

Self Respect.

Though this may seem obvious, a man needs to feel valued and can only find peace with enough data that affirms him, whereas lacking that he will pursue self destructive behaviors.

A young man passes by a window and looks at himself to maybe catch his own eye. Is he narcissistic? No, he’s looking for data. Data that will affirm that he’s doing ok, that he’s on the road to respect. Self respect? No, that’s too self absorbed and lacks context. No, he’s checking in the reflection to see if he’s respectable among men, desirable among women, so that then, and only then, can he find self respect. Charles Cooley introduced the idea of “Looking Glass Self”, a concept that essentially says a man’s self-concept is an aggregation of what he thinks others think about him.

The desire to win is a desire to be seen as a winner in the eyes of others. The competitive spirit is early and often a drive to best others and receive data that validates one’s worth. Later, the competitive spirit adds the desire to self-improve and grow – initially to be a better competitor and thereby receive more validating data of superiority, but hopefully eventually just for the sake of enjoying growth. Competition in sports, economics, women, material display, intellectual ability, academic credentials at early levels are efforts to rise up in esteem so that respect is reflected in the eyes of the beholder. Self respect is derived from the aggregation.

And yet for some, for many, it doesn’t remain. Competition is a state of the environment and is unceasing. A man must “compete” for everything. A woman won does not stay won. Sure, a man and woman may remain married for a lifetime, but to win her heart for that lifetime a man must grow. He can’t stay static. He therefore must compete against his own nature of procrastination, or obstinacy, or just plain youthfulness. He must become successful in any endeavor whether in ministry, military or social service, or economics to earn her respect. And that is what he needs to be content – her respect – without which that relationship cannot thrive.

A man must compete in economics because economics never ends. To start a career is only to learn the ABCs of business and to trade time for gas money. However, contribution is about value. It only takes a few years in the economic world to have learned enough ABCs to begin to “compete for success”. The quotes mean that it’s not all about caricature money chase and cutthroat climbing. It’s about figuring out what value the world needs and how you can contribute towards that end. For me that means not competing head to head, but trying to make a better mousetrap. All told, gaining success, climbing the ladder, adding more value, earning a larger paycheck, building an enjoyable lifestyle is aggregating data towards building self respect. The man born to wealth can be challenged because the data towards self respect is warped by a sycophantic mirror. The man born to scarcity can also be challenged because the data toward self respect is tainted with bias and disrespect. And so the wealthy man and poor man who cannot gather enough data to support feeling positive about himself develops self destructive behaviors. I knew a born-to-wealthy man who literally wet himself at a party as a joke. Sad joke. And the number of stories of poor men in self-destruction mode are legion. Certainly any man who cannot find positive data in the eyes of those who look upon him will struggle.

And so, as do so many of my posts, I am led to what I think is an inevitable relationship. Though I am not evangelical in the least, I conclude that some active idea that God exists and can provide manifest guidance in this regard towards self-acceptance and eventually to self-respect. There is a secular pull that is a competition for a man’s mind that he must overcome to gain himself. The competition is amidst distraction, cynicism and faith. But faith in itself is shallow and tenuous, so therefore faith must be directed towards a higher object. It is simultaneously an internal and external search that ultimately, hopefully, lands on a relationship with God and results in self-acceptance and respect.

Ultimately gentlemen, your successes in life will have meaning only in context to your relationship with others, and yet, all the success in the world will have no meaning unless you derive self-respect as a result.

A bit deep today, but I hope there was something in it for you.

Dave Marr

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By | June 16th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What Men Need – Part 3

As stated in part 1 and 2, men need work and need to be on a path to pour out your best value in exchange for the best return available. Return can mean money, certainly, but clearly isn’t the whole picture. But it is an important measuring stick on keeping up with external forces as viewed through an internal lens. Let me unpack that: One’s life is an internal (mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual) endeavor that exists in an external (biological, physical, economic, political) world. In Part 3, I’ll attempt to take a longer view of man in the external world viewed through his internal lens and conclude with the next element of what a man needs. 

In your 20’s you’re essentially spit out of your adolescence into the world with the beginnings of  self understanding. Your brain doesn’t even finish its development until around 25 which by that  time you’re slightly viewed as an adult. You’ve begun the long road of finding your way with a job and the economics of your life. You’ve got a little income, some debt, expenses, and a step or two forward on your career path. Hopefully, you’ve got positive feelings – hope, optimism, and energy – for your career. Initially you may know you’re not at the right job, but at least you believe in you and have a reasonable faith in God’s plan. 

By the time you get to 30, you should be solidly on a life path. Income should meet expenses. You should have found balance with your spending habits and income and debt. You should have more responsibilities with job, marriage, and children. In other words, your competence in external life is being rewarded with more responsibilities that stretch your internal skills to manage them.

By 35, you’re fully an adult. Fully engaged in work, fully engaged in family, and being pushed and pushing the parameters of both. You’ve had to trim some non essentials in order to focus on your priorities. You’re now 10 years solidly on your path. Time to assess. Are you on track with economics that you had naively imagined when in your 20’s? Had you made implicit promises to your wife as to the life you’d have? This is the beginning stage of Compressed Expectations.

Compressed Expectations is my made up term for the expectations you consciously or subconsciously set awhile ago that are coming up on some future deadline (maybe 40-45). If you’re not on trajectory, then pressure builds in the marital relationship and in the relationship you have with yourself. I’m not talking just economics, but lifestyle. This is the socio-economic expectations of a relationship that is deemed “satisfying”. However you define satisfying lifestyle, it is likely some ‘equal to or better than’ version of your childhood. As that unstated deadline looms and you aren’t meeting your expectations, those expectations compress and pressure builds. How you and your wife react to this pressure, particularly when there are other pressures – children, sex life, changing bodies, keeping up with the Joneses – will affect your marriage. This is the crucible of marriage and I believe unavoidable, in a sense.  Think of it as on a backpack trip where you’ve added lots of unwieldy items to your pack. Your mid-30’s is where you shift the weight through conflict, reestablishing new expectations, and discarding old items that don’t fit the journey. Yes, unfortunately divorce is a real possibility as you conclude incorrectly what the problem is.

The issue is, your expectations, motivations, intentions, ability to articulate your vision, the idea of even having a vision, setting goals, and all your actions towards creating a life that is satisfying to you and your family are mental constructs – the internal world lived out on an external plane. To help you with avoiding the echo chamber in your head, you need help. And so… 

Men need men. Men need other men to confide in, to practice internal articulation with, to measure by, to bond with, to define truth through, to brainstorm with, get counseling from, and to sharpen against. This is the idea of Ironmen. It is counter-intuitive to say that men need men in order to succeed fully in marriage and work, but that’s what I’m saying. Even if your economics and marriage are a 7, regularly engaging with an Ironmen group will push you towards a 10. Because a 7 today might compress into a 4 down the road. 

Shake it up men.  

Dave Marr

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By | June 9th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What Men Need – Part 2

Money.

Men need to have a positive relationship with money and it’s not sufficient to say that the more money a man has the more positive the relationship. No, the entire history of mankind is replete with stories of the highs and lows of this complex relationship. Obviously the concept of money is soaked in positive and negative overtones and implications. The world is constantly in a money chase with tremendous good and unspeakable evil as result. Insofar as I sell money for a living, I have thought long and hard about money. I’m in the mortgage business and help people buy homes. Except for maybe sex, money is typically the top driver in most people’s lives. While my perspective might not move the needle for you much, I have come to a few insights I think are worth sharing. Men need to understand themselves relative to money.

To Make More, Learn to Be Worth More

Money and value are highly correlated. Not perfectly 1:1, but very closely aligned. The best place to start when trying to gather money to yourself is through value. The more valuable you are, the more money you can make. (Sidebar: We’re talking economic value and not spiritual value or human value. A teacher may be more valuable to the human race than a second baseman, but has to work his/her entire life to generate the kind of income that a professional second baseman earns in one year.That is due to the economic value of rarity, supply and demand, in entertainment. Many people will pay a few dollars to watch a talented player catch a line drive whereas there are many people willing and able to teach in elementary school.)

The takeaway here is that you should align your desires with your value. I just talked with a bank employee this week and he asked my opinion on whether he should become a mortgage lender for a builder. He’ll make a lot more money in commission sales than he’ll earn as a bank manager. But…he’ll work different hours, longer hours, different challenges, and the risk of dry spells. I said that if he were to make the change, he should do it while he’s young rather than after he’s worked himself up the rung and become accustomed to slightly more money and a “more secure” situation where the choice will be harder. (For you young guys, The Defining Decade is a well-written and timely book that illuminates this dilemma.) If economic success is something you want, learn to make the decisions that will increase your value to the marketplace and potentially accrue you more wealth.

Time is Money

Oxygen, blood, electricity, water, and money are all currencies that flow through life to positive effect. You can store each of them to some degree and for limited purposes. They each contain vital elements of power. But only money can store something you can’t capture – time. It takes time to build value and time to exchange that value for money. The more money you can earn and store, the more things you can buy that take time to create. Therefore, in the exchange of your time for money, you only have so much time you can exchange. The more valuable you are, the more your time is worth. When you’re young time seems bountiful, therefore, it’s critical you build value in yourself so that eventually someone will pay you for that value. I used to gauge my income as a multiple of my age. At 24, I made $24,000 = $1000 x age.  At 28, I made $39,000 = $1392. At 35, $6400 x my age. Once I owned my own business, it grew from there (but not always a positive number!).

Your Attitude Attracts Money or Repels It

The third thing I observed about money is that there is a reasonably high correlation between a person’s success quotient and their personal philosophy. A person’s philosophy is the collection of conscious and subconscious beliefs about money, their degree of self love, the influence of their parents and upbringing, their choices about job, marriage, their display of wealth, and thoughts about victimhood vs. ownership.  I think this statement is pretty obvious. What isn’t so obvious is how to identify one’s subconscious beliefs and change them to positive if they’re negative. It’s not readily clear or easy on how to do this. But it’s important that you try because otherwise your marriage, parenting, and happiness could hit a big snag if you decide one day your job sucks because you don’t make enough money, or there’s too much pressure, or your kids’ teeth need straightening and you don’t have that in the budget. In other words, life will happen and you want to be prepared. How do you work on your self-understanding about money? An Ironmen group provides you a forum to hear other’s upbringing and thoughts about success and money and learn from them. It allows you to describe your unique experiences and get feedback. The forum helps you to connect the dots.

Your Understanding is Always Evolving

In summary, money and personal success is a long and complex discussion. No matter your age and maturity, the mountain goes high into the mists of understanding. There’s always more to learn because your needs change. My personal view is that life’s journey had better be valuable to you, that you enjoy becoming ever more valuable and enjoy pouring that value out to others because the pleasure that money brings (and there’s no fooling on this point, it does) doesn’t last.

To your journey towards monetary success,

Dave Marr

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By | June 2nd, 2017|Economic, Financial, Relational|0 Comments

What Men Need – Part 1

Men are fairly simple creatures. Our “needs” are straightforward if we are “in” them; rather, if we have those “need” elements actively working in our life, then our life is moving forward. However, if those elements are not present, our life becomes more complicated, angst ridden, and lacking in direction. I suppose then I must define “needs” as I mean them so as to separate them from mere wants and desires. A man’s need is something that must be present in order for him to fulfill himself without which a man cannot become what he is capable of. It doesn’t mean though that a man WILL fulfill himself just because some need element is present. It just means that if it is not present, he is incapable of fulfilling his potential. Ergo the idea of need.

Like, for example, work; Man must work. And not just get up every day and participate in labor, though that’s a step in the right direction. And certainly not living a life of leisure because economics are already met. That is a recipe for self destruction. No, a guy has to spend himself on multiple levels. The word “spend” is appropriate – Man must pour out his energies regularly in work. It is a fundamental need that man must truly endeavor towards some end. Rest very little. What is the point of weekend? To escape from the drudgery of one’s job? No, the weekend is an interval to rest and restore so that you may go again and spend your your mental, emotional, psychological, relational, and perhaps spiritual capital towards some worthy endeavor. Those men who think TGIF is an escape from the burden of work are woefully misled. Those are the kind of guys that work to retire some day, whose lives are on hold until…until some unknown thing happens. Then, within 1 year after retiring, they will be dead, surprised at their death because they were waiting for life to begin. No gentlemen, work is a God-given blessing that fulfills a fundamental aspect of man’s being. Man needs work.

Does that mean that all work is equal? Is digging a ditch the same as brain surgery? I suppose in a Buddhist way you could make that case, but here in the Western world that’d be a tough argument. Each man’s potential capacities must be challenged through work. So in fairness, a ditch digger could be challenged to the same degree as a brain surgeon given their capacities. There is the notion of “Highest and Best Use” where a man’s efforts are more valuable to himself and God being poured out in alignment with his gifts and interests, i.e., the area of his greatest potential. So some men’s potential are more aligned with physical labor, some musical labor, others mathematical labor, and some evangelical labor. I, for one, could be more fulfilled digging a ditch than leading a choral ensemble, but not as much as building a business.

So the idea of “Highest and Best Use” is a step closer to understanding another fundamental need – Reason. Man must have a reason to work, a reason to get up energized for the day to spend his energies, a reason that engages his full being towards some directional end. It’s not enough to just work – man must have underlying his work a compelling reason to work. And this is where is gets complicated. There are economic reasons, psychological reasons, and there are spiritual reasons – Body, MInd, and Spirit. These reasons for working are dynamic, layered, hidden, and somewhat elusive. A man needs a compelling reason, a vision, to spend his energies that will define the “Why?” of his life. Pursuit of the answer to that question is to hold a compass and set out on the journey of life. Man must work in order to find out why he works and what are the motivating qualities of his life.

Men are designed to work, but we are not pack animals. It is these Body, Mind, Spirit elements that inspirit us to work harder, smarter, and more effectively. In my future What Men Need letters, we’ll discuss money and freedom, respect and competition, love and passion, and societal and Godly contribution as compelling reasons.

To fulfilling your needs,

Dave Marr

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By | May 26th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Don’t let Your Frog Boil

You all have heard about Boiled Frog Syndrome right?  Put a frog in a pan of boiling water and it jumps out immediately because of the immediate pain.  But put it in tepid water and slowly turn up the heat and the frog will cook to death because it won’t notice the gradual changes in temperature.  I’m not sure if it’s true, but The Syndrome is universally acknowledged as an analogy worth knowing.  You don’t want to be caught unaware that you’re boiling to death and one day wake up and your metaphorically-mixed goose is cooked.

I remember coming back from vacation one year.  We had purchased a new video recorder. We took videos of our young family frolicking in the surf, we were new parents with our little kiddies and “HOLY CRAP!!! Who’s THAT FAT TUB?!!!”  I couldn’t believe I had gained so much weight. We were in our 30’s and inactivity had snuck up on us. The busy days and exhausting nights of constant management of the lives of little people. But that video, what an eye opener! From that point on we turned it around. Keep in mind, you may recall I had run marathons, competed in triathlons, at one point was a black belt in karate, and felt like I was still a young stud. Ahem, the facts didn’t support my self image. I had become near boiled and, fortunately for me, got going again before my lifestyle calcified. I thought I was doing great because when I looked around and saw some really overweight people, I looked good. I was delusional. Interestingly, this period was one of the few times I wasn’t in an Ironmen group.

It didn’t have to be that way.  Since then I’ve learned that leading the family is more about how you model family identity rather than providing and protecting. Family character is about trust, honesty, openness, adventure-mindedness, integrity, perseverance, and HEALTH. How do you want your family to be characterized? It starts with you and your mindset. By leading in physical exercise, by devising a family plan for being active, you are actively choosing to be a healthy family. This leadership has no downside: Your kids will absolutely learn about themselves, about their own limits, based on how you model behavior and lead them in activity. Your wife will benefit by having a husband who leads in creating outdoor activities. You’ll be conscious about eating habits and hypocrisy. By modeling health, you’ll be establishing a pattern for your kids that will be their baseline.

Bike rides, hikes, camping, health events (I had my entire family enter a 5k).  Even though we mostly walked, it was great. In addition, the kids played soccer and I played in the backyard with them. We played football in the street and got other families and played at the park. To my regret, there were too many times when I turned my kids down for going outside and playing. Major mistake. I could have and should have done a lot more.

What if your wife isn’t into the physical stuff? Do you just leave her behind? No clear answer here. But I would sell her on the vision of a happy, healthy, active family and how her behavior will model how your daughters are going to grow and which kind of woman the boys will be attracted to. Leadership doesn’t condemn, but encourages small successes. So take the kids to the park and invite small participations and respond without guilt if the answer is no(t now).

So for you Dads, setting goals about losing 5 pounds by running 3 times a week is good, don’t get me wrong. But figuring out how you can design a plan so that your family name is synonymous with health and activities is a magnitude better.  Be strategic about health. It’ll pay dividends for you over and over again.  1) you’ll be different than just about everyone else in the country; 2) you’ll push your known boundaries; and 3) you’ll be establishing for yourself, your (future) mate, and your (future) kids that you are characterized by creative health. Better to be intentional than boiled.

To your healthy abundance,

Dave Marr

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By | May 19th, 2017|Personal, Physical|0 Comments

Feel the Fear

I asked Ironman Lou “Why do you hesitate?” with respect to his girlfriend. He replied:

“Fear…Fear that there is someone better out there for me, fear that it will end in divorce, fear that I’m taking on a liability and not an asset. Concerned that I do not have that head over heels feeling (which I’ve never really had with anyone), concerned that I am not 100% and they say you need to be 100% or that you’ll know when the time is right.”

Ironman Adam sent me this to an email exchange about fear and excuses:

“When I encounter a barrier, I often think about what I am afraid of; what is the fear.  For example, I have been doing a great job with planning out my work/life to meet my goals; such that, when I plan a week and do it, I have a really fantastic week. I move things forward substantially. However, I don’t always execute. I would say 1/3 of the weeks I kill it with doing 90% of my tasks. 1/3 of the weeks I do terrible with maybe 20-30% of the tasks. 1/3 of the weeks I do maybe half. I haven’t figured out this execution piece, but it caused me to think of what is my fear in this excuse of not doing it. One thought was fearing what state I would be in if I do 100% execute and then I didn’t get what wanted. By not giving it my all, I always have an out of: “well I didn’t really want it, otherwise I would have given it my best; like I always do”. Even though I have only given my best in a very small subset of my life. I hope to start asking myself more explicitly: did I do my best today?”

Fear, we all have it in one or more of its many expressions. Fear of failure. Fear of Success. Fear of making permanent mistakes. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of lost opportunity. Fear of incompetence. Fear of being thought less of. Fear of becoming someone not desired.  I won’t waste your time on discussions of how a healthy fear can save your life by not jumping off the cliff or staying out of the bull ring. There’s a difference between feeling a rush of adrenaline and being an idiot. Alcohol blurs that line. Fear is a God-given tool to help us pause and reflect since there are no mountain lions chasing us anymore. Today’s discussion is about the balance between healthy and unhealthy fear in everyday life.

Because fear makes us pause, it can also freeze us in place which can be a general problem. Take Lou’s dilemma. He doesn’t want to make a permanent mistake that he’ll come to regret later. Fair enough. Will he find someone else after he marries that could have been a better fit? Maybe. The grass always seems greener elsewhere. But importantly grass grows where you water it. There are thousands of women Lou could love, but for some reason God has placed this one in his midst. The issue could be hesitation over growing up and moving to the next level. Lou has no idea who he’ll be in 5 years, what challenges he’ll face, and how competent he’ll be when the time comes. It would be great to have a partner that will grow with him suitably sharing the load. In all the unknowns of tomorrow, a degree of faith is required. Faith in God helps. Faith in self is always good.

So too, in life’s many decision points it would be nice to have a conviction that your actions are destined to turn out great. Lacking that feeling, it’s easy to interpret uncertainty as fear. And with that uncertain feeling as a starting point, you try and put words to it and come up with reasons. Feelings first, rationale later. But the essence remains “Do you have faith that it will work out?” Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway is a great book I read in my 30’s that helped me overcome hesitancy.  Should Lou marry this girl? I don’t know. I think one’s partner should be a great friend and enjoyable partner; but putting the question into context of faith in his future and in himself that he can create a great partnership would be an important starting point. In the end, no matter which woman is in front of him, Lou will need this as a starting point.

Adam’s situation is every man’s plight. The Apostle Paul (Rom 7:19) struggled with this 2000 years ago in not doing what he sets out to do, but instead does lesser things. Adam is ahead of the game by making a plan, but he is inconsistent. Anyone relate to that? Are his expectations too high? Or does he fear success so therefore is inconsistent? Probably a little of each and more. However, how is he characterized? If he is performing 50% of his tasks, then he’s on a trajectory of being…what? — Average? So in that sense, Adam is also at a fork in the road yet to decide if he’s going to be that guy that just misses opportunities because he’s not fully prepared or that guy who is well prepared because he was harder on himself when he had the chance. That’s what’s key about this time in all your lives; now’s the easiest part of your life to grow and get ready for the next level. Do it now because later won’t be easier. I had the same feelings, but step by step was able to overcome.

In the end, fear was my friend because it provided useful information from my subconscious and God about who I wanted to be. And importantly it provided useful motivation to keep me on track. As did my Ironmen group.

To feeling the fear and doing it anyway,

Dave Marr

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By | May 12th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What a Woman Needs part 3

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

This 3-part discussion, “What a Woman Needs”, is intended to provide you insights into the woman you have taken to become your suitable helper, the one you’ve empowered to speak into your life, and who you’ve promised to love, honor, and cherish till death do you part. Those words, * love * honor * cherish, generally are taken as feelings and perspectives – where you look upon your wife through loving eyes; you honor her with a gentle touch; you cherish every word brought to your ears, or some such thing. Yes, it’s wise to do those things.

But if that’s all you do, you could have difficulty. Those actions on your part to love her, honor, her and cherish her are vital, but they’re not enough if taken as passive. You must take careful steps to lead her in bringing forth the spiritual qualities listed as the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – and you can’t do that without fully engaging in them yourself.

Whoever said “Women are the weaker sex” lived in a cave. Women are strong. And even the strongest of them would prefer to be with a man who leads. Yes, a nod to the smallest portion of the populace who think men are a waste of space, but for the most part, women want men to lead. A strong woman would rather be a strong wing man than on point.

Ok, you’ve heard that before. So what’s new with this post that isn’t obvious?. As I said you must take careful steps, particularly with a strong-willed woman, to lead in bringing forth qualities in her. Careful steps because you’re not going to be just handed over leadership in the areas that need leading. Each of you must grow and therefore you must solve the question “Why can’t you accept me for who I am?”. Speaking of careful, I need to be delicate in my words here, directional but not condescending. So these examples are caricatures in answering that question.

Here’s one hypothetical: Let’s assume she engages in gossip, or saying negative things about other people; for example when she tells a story, the way she represents her side is all sunshine and light and the way she characterizes the other side is snide and bitchy. Does that trait serve you and your family to have a wife who does that? No, because it does not build up people or friendships. It forms cliques and is competitive. Her storytelling is an actual representation of the way she thinks. So you decide to “lead” her out of that catty trait. How should you do that?

Or she worries. She agonizes over the kids, money, health, relatives, friends. It’s not like there isn’t reason to have concern over the factors of life, but that’s life. The issue though here is she fixates beyond reason and is not fully able to release. Her nature is to nurture and that somehow justifies all worry. If she worries, she’s not at peace and her anxiety energy replaces her love energy. How do you lead her out of that trait?

These are spiritual qualities. Life is a spiritual endeavor. To lead is to create a vision of a better world and then work to bring that world about – A better environment, a better marriage, a better you, and a better her. And because you may not have a clear idea of what that might look like or how you do that, you should go somewhere where that is discussed and on display, maybe not perfectly, but available. The statistics are overwhelmingly one-sided on this. The divorce rate on average is about 51%. For those who go to church it drops to 31%. And for those who pray regularly it drops to the low teens.

Those stats are incredible!! My proposition is that the qualities of a good marriage are discussed at church and in the Bible. At church spiritual fruits are watered and nourished regularly. Divorce is lower among church attendees not because of societal pressure, that’s absurd; no, those who attend church regularly are given the opportunity to be self aware where the fruits of the spirit are traits of maturity. What is the answer to not accepting her the way she is? Her potential is so much greater to bring her love and nurturing to the world. Don’t get me wrong, church is not de facto spirituality, heavens no. But it’s directionally a clear way to create the environment and relationship for meaningful spiritual growth.

A woman wants to be wingman to a man who will pick a direction and go there and not get caught in his own bound up struggles. A woman can be trapped in character traits that diminish her capability to nurture and love and needs a partner who will lead in spiritual development and accept wingman feedback. This mutuality is at the heart of being a suitable helper. Loving, honoring, and cherishing the woman who she is capable of becoming is where you should be leading.

To an abundant harvest,

Dave Marr

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By | May 5th, 2017|Personal, Relational, Spiritual|0 Comments

What a Woman Needs part 2

Today I tackle the easy discussion of psychological security as the main driver of a woman’s needs because there is no better word to describe a woman’s psyche than “Easy”. Am I right?

Man is not meant to be alone. Nor is woman. In the discussion on the security needs of a woman, psychological security is all encompassing. What I mean by that is a woman’s sense of well-being, when she is the most able to pour out and feel good about her life, is when she feels connected – connected her family, her friends, her work, and connected to her marriage in partnership in creating a life. When you think about security, what are the implications of feeling secure if not the deep seated comfort of expressing yourself in various situations, feeling competent, feeling accepted, and being a team? Isn’t that what you want for your mate? For yourself?

A woman is designed to be more sensitive to the environment than a man. It is a blessing to be so, but that blessing comes with the corresponding challenges inherent with a nurturing composition. A woman’s nature is geared toward care. Obviously caring for children is at the top of the priority list, but the list is likely long. Pouring out in care isn’t a hobby but rather a function of her nature. And so pouring out, expending energy for the welfare of others, is expensive. She must be rejuvenated. In order to provide nurturing energy to others, she is restored by connecting with others. Primary in that restoration is the connection she has with her mate.

The optimal scenario is when a relationship pours and restores mutually at the same time. Young love does that. The acts of selfless love are immediately restored with appreciation and an array of love languages set the standard for a person’s life – this is the way it’s supposed to be. But when children arrive, they require an endless physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual pouring out, so other relationships that are less demanding, move down. The demands can be so great that women can by and by empty out. Men, whose ability to compartmentalize and who do not spend their emotional energy in the same way, do not pour out to the same degree. It is this reason that men can be more strategic and global in their perspectives. Men are not to just share the load, but to importantly lead the family out of the low points in family development. A man must look at the entire mix of factors to guide the family – physical, psychological, social, relational, economic – and be engaged in the effort. It’s this engagement that is a restorative connection, where a woman doesn’t feel alone when she is most vulnerable, that a man earns the trust in a woman’s psyche.

Maybe this sounds like psychobabble from some paternalistic, traditionalist, know-nothing. Ok, granted. But the number of times Lis was at her wits end calling me to talk her off the ledge because the kids had drained her last ounce of reserves; or the number of times I’d come home to a wife needing to tag out; or the times our evening plans were immediately changed because the kids were sick; or the number of times I was looking for some lovin’, but there was no more asymmetric energy in the cup – clearly established the hierarchy for Lis’ energy. Regardless of her overall desires, the demands on her caring, the energy she poured out, left me strategically needing to figure out how to restore her for her sake as well as my own.

This next comment requires a bit of delicacy. It’s beyond obvious that when a young man and young woman connect and become a couple, the journey together will require personal growth. Growth isn’t just learning facts, it’s about change, letting go of less mature perspectives and developing more mature ones. Change, for the most part, is a reluctant endeavor. Sometimes change comes as a result of hot coffee and a warm muffin discussion, but not usually. It’s usually on the back end of conflict. As described above, men have different perspectives than women. It’s not easy for men to articulate global perspectives that win over a woman’s psychological energy if there’s ongoing conflict or pressing needs.

And so it’s not uncommon that men abdicate their position in order to placate the situation. If a woman’s concern is easily articulated because of pressing needs and a man is not able to articulate a vision that may be less pressing but overall a better direction, then a man is providing a disservice to the woman and family by just giving in. A man must grow up in order to figure out how to navigate a woman’s insistence and become the trusted leader of the family. Leadership doesn’t come just because you’re male. Leadership figures out the timing and method to jointly take the family in the best direction, overcoming smaller versions of family well-being in favor of a grander vision. You’ve seen dysfunctional extremes where either the man or woman is totally cowed and little balance between the two exists. Leadership is about engagement, not domineering.

And so, what is the point of all this? Regardless of which stage of a relationship you are in, you have more to grow, both personally and as a couple. A woman’s psychological needs don’t end when children stop being 24/7 energy consumers because a woman’s nature remains the same. Her need to pour out in care and her need to restore in connection with others doesn’t change. You honoring her nature and welcoming the blessings that come from that as long as it’s channeled to the family’s overall well-being is a form of leadership and will create a marital environment of security for you both. In this way, at the deepest psychological level, neither of you will be alone.

Next week, Spiritual Security.

To your psychological abundance,

Dave Marr

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By | April 29th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

What a Woman Needs part 1

I can think of nothing more dangerous to my health than addressing this topic. I feel like a conservative speaking at Berkeley. The hubris of the idea that I can summarize a woman’s needs in a page and a half is laughable. But here I go. Wish me luck.

With no data to support my thoughts other than my observations in life, I say that most women fall within a couple standard deviations of this idea (I say “standard deviation” with tongue in cheek) – Women need security. There are different kinds and varying levels of security which is what this Letter is about because you are the one who will be asked to supply said security. So you better know what the game is about.

Physical security is obviously paramount. One Christmas a long time ago, Lis said something to me in front of the kids that I interpreted as dishonoring and I went ballistic. I was irrationally angry. Lis reacted to my anger with some confrontation and I pushed her. Adrenaline-filled physicality is a dangerous thing. My push resulted in no physical damage to her whatsoever, but the strength of it caused her deep concern for her own security. I left for a while and when I returned, we fully discussed what happened, reconciled the misunderstanding, and came back together. But, and a big but, I was capable of being THAT guy. Since that time, I’ve grown up to the point where nothing relationally gets me upset. Nothing. Maturity, in general, is such that you respond to stimuli relative to who you are inside instead of react to circumstances that don’t suit your ego. The locus of control is internal instead of external. I matured that day and Lis has ever since felt physically secure in our relationship.

Emotional security in a relationship at its core is about power sharing and trust. Each person has a role to play to develop a life together and gain efficiencies. In that role you are expected to take ownership and therefore initiate action, i.e. lead, and are entrusted to consider what is best for the relationship versus just the individual. Once roles are established, often along traditional and gender lines, power is gained through specialization. My role was to go out into the marketplace and figure out how to make money and bring it home. Lis’ role was to manage the household and take the tactical lead with the kids. Each of us trusted one another to subordinate our individual urges to our relational health. So I didn’t go to the movies at lunch or take Saturdays to play golf. Lis didn’t squander family finances on shoes and kids’ events nor did she try to gain prominence in the kid’s love. She never talked poorly of me to the kids. With power comes ability to use or misuse. Therefore to misuse power in order to gain the upper hand is to manipulate, deflect, lie, and act selfishly. Any sustained action that highlights the self over the relationship violates the implicit agreement, loosens the bonds of trust, and creates a state of emotional insecurity. Clearly, it’s not simple. A man that excessively spends time at work can rationalize that he does so for the family. A woman that does not bring her whole being to the sexual relationship can easily point to a dozen reasons for not doing so. These two examples are grey examples in the dynamic of relational ill health where emotional security is weak.

Relational security answers the question: “How are we doing?” or “I”m happy with us. How about you?”. The answer that says: “I told you I loved you when we got married. If it changes, I’ll let you know!” somehow just doesn’t quite satisfy relational security. Silence is deadly to relationships because it violates security needs. Words, actions, touches, gifts, and time together are all forms of relational engagement. There has to be a good mix of all the love languages for a woman to feel relationally secure. A man too. It wasn’t until Lis and I got this part right that our relationship went from a 7 to a 10. It was good, but not great. I didn’t need sex every day. I needed Lis to touch me as she walked by me. I didn’t need her to say “I love you” constantly, I needed her to say “I am proud to be your wife.” Those were my relational needs. As for Lis, she needed me to notice what was important to her and engage her there. Yes, she liked it when I said she was pretty and that I loved her, but what affected her feeling of security was when I helped around the house, played with the kids, spent time one on one with her, and led the family strategically. The difference between a 7 marriage and a 10 marriage is the difference between a glass half full and a cup that runneth over.

A woman that feels secure physically, emotionally, and relationally is a woman that can risk pouring herself out fully. But there’s more, of course there’s more. Next week: Psychological and Spiritual Security.

To your abundant life with a woman.

Dave Marr

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By | April 21st, 2017|Relational|0 Comments