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Improving Sexual Intimacy Part 2

When a couple is getting ready for bed and it’s been a handful of days since last being together, the guy is in play. Of that, there is no doubt. What is a question, however, is whether it’s going to happen or not because the woman, unquestionably, has the final say. He’s looking for the subtle winks and nods that would indicate that tonight’s the night. When she’s lying there, after the rubbing encouragement has begun, she bestows her verdict on sex, “Sorry, not tonight.” At that point, the guy’s chest goes tight, his anger swells, and the recurring argument ensues.

Maybe I alone in the universe have experienced this scenario. It is easy, and would be unwise and incorrect, to conclude that she is in the wrong here, that she is wielding her choice as some sort of manipulative power play. No, she is being honest. Honesty being a desirable virtue when it works in his favor can’t be deemed verboten when it doesn’t. No, the honesty she is displaying is that the stars are not aligned in her world to come regularly and fully to the marital bed. And if that is a high priority, then it’s up to the man to figure out how to line the stars up.

Yet, there is no reason for there to be a question about whether sex is going to happen or not that night. There’s absolutely no reason for something so foundationally important as sexual intimacy to come down to the last second. To do so only sets up extreme disappointment and frustration if it’s not going to happen. So, 2 things should happen to avoid this kind of confrontation.

Sex should be scheduled regularly. There should be a discussion about sex. This can be uncomfortable, so it can be taken over many encounters. But eventually, among the many potential discoveries in this long conversation, an agreement on frequency should emerge. “Sunday nights – No, because I work out on Monday mornings; so Monday nights – yes. Wednesday nights – yes, unless we have group night, then it would be Thursday night. And then either Friday night or Saturday night depending.” This plan equates to about 10-12 nights per month. This agreement sets up expectations that are reasonable.

The 2nd thing that should happen is that if something changes, then as soon as it’s known that the regularly agreed upon schedule isn’t going to happen, then communication immediately should occur. It takes time for a guy to adjust. Post dinner, she assesses and decides that tonight’s not going to happen for 1 of a dozen reasons given her day. She should let him know asap. Not postponing that key little bit of info will help him adjust over the next few hours. Since a guy’s been thinking about it 2-3 times per hour since breakfast, his energy momentum needs a head’s up. And you know the inevitable “why” is going to come up, so she should provide her reasons and he should accept them as such. Arguing is pointless and overcoming argument is the whole point of this discussion. Then the next reasonable request will arise, “How about the alternative?”

You see, a guy prefers the fulsome embrace of love. However, he will accept accommodation if that’s available. And, barring that too, he’ll take the next best thing with her just providing pleasurable release. As relationships evolve, as communication improves, as each looks to fill the other’s cup, then the above fallback of expectations is reasonable. And if the above sequence does not occur? If the situation unfolds where he thinks they’re going to be together and she informs him that it’s not going to happen, so he suggests an alternative, and she says nuh-uh. Then something’s amiss. Her cup doesn’t have in it what he wants poured out. This little bit of data certainly will be a catalyst for conversation. And if the next opportunity on the agreed upon schedule is fulfilled, then the missed day is a one-off. That’s commonplace. However, if after a couple of months where the agreement was 10-12 days and it’s been more like 5-6, then reality is misaligned to the agreed upon expectations. Then the opportunity to go deeper into one another’s intimate psyche is presented. God has presented this format for you to learn yourself, to learn her, to learn what it takes for a couple to couple, to learn how marriages grow stronger through communication and safety, to learn how to manage your own emotions and seek higher ground, to learn how to pour out for the sheer pleasure of filling her cup and watching over time how she unfolds her well-being to you, and to watching your children thrive living under the roof of intimate happiness. Yes, improving sexual intimacy can do all that.

But there’s more.

To your harmonious path,

Dave Marr

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By | July 28th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Improving Sexual Intimacy

I received a bit of feedback on my Letter, Sex and Divorce. The essence was that the state of sexual harmony was a long-term concern. To that end, let me continue into the discussion with thoughts on how to develop the relationship away from the chasm that leads to divorce.

The stereotype is justified – Men have a fundamental requirement of sexual intimacy. It’s not just a desire, it’s a requirement. What gets lost with the early marital conflict is the reasonableness yet unending aspect of this requirement. Let me assert that it is reasonable to have sex 10-12 times per month and adventurous sex 1-2 times per month. This perspective of reasonableness does little to help the situation if a man is unable to articulate a harmonious vision of mutuality and can only express the desire for more sex. Merely quoting my assertion of reasonableness will do you no good.

A harmonious path must be the mindset – which means a man must have a vision of what harmony looks like for both participants, a commitment to the relationship, an openness toward understanding her needs and perspectives, yet maintain the resolve towards that vision in the face of conflict, and a willingness to make compromises along the way.

Let’s start with understanding. Below is not a comprehensive view towards a woman’s sexuality. It’s generic at best. A woman might not feel “sexual” for large portions of the month due to hormones. She might not think a sexual thought for days and days and not realize that a man might not think a sexual thought for dozens of seconds at a time. She might have been abused or been in a situation that made a deeply negative impression on her about men. That’s not something you just get over, rub some dirt on it. She may have negative thoughts about having to compete against a porn star’s body and aggressive style. She may not prefer the smell or the mess. A woman doesn’t turn on the juice like a man can. Her daily schedule of kids and work, meal prep and chores, may leave her empty of amorous energy. It may be as simple as having eaten too much dinner. Where a man is like a microwave, a woman is like a crockpot. Where she must get her ducks in a row in order to have meaningful sex, a man can have sex and in doing so gets his ducks in a row.

All the above leads to the understanding that sex is highly psychological, more so than a man’s. This idea that a woman can bring herself to the marital bed regularly and fully if something is amiss in her life is naïve at best. Here’s where a man must recognize that when there’s marital conflict around the quantity of making love and the quality of the engagement, the gap of perspectives is not permanent but a God intended opportunity to create intimacy. And because the man is the one that wants change, he must take responsibility to evolve things to bring about harmonious and therefore permanent change.

For example, when a man touches a woman, it sends a message. Does it send “I love you” or “I desire you”? Certainly, those ideas are correlated, desire and love, but a woman can feel objectified. If every time you touch her and it sends a sex message, then a woman man come to feel that that’s all you want her for. Now, if it’s been 4 days, then her perception may be largely accurate. But if sex were more regular, then you could normalize a loving touch without sexual intent. Or if touch were more normalized, then you might be able to have sex more regularly. Conflict starts in small ways and calcifies through miscommunication and frustration. If by your very act of expressing love she misinterprets it as your selfish need to get physical release, then it’s up to you to deal with her whole set of needs.

What are her needs that will lead to her feeling whole so that she can meet you along the harmonious path? First, you need to understand that there is a difference between intellectual understanding and visceral psychological understanding. You can’t just express yourself, have her understand, then expect that things will be immediately and permanently different. It doesn’t work that way. Verbal I love you’s and physical I love you’s don’t get you that far if she wants non-sexual quality time, some acts of service, and overall engagement. For example, if on the nights you don’t make love you get in bed while she’s brushing her hair and are snoring away by the time she gets to bed; whereas on sex nights you’re wide awake, then that sends the message bedtime isn’t about intimacy. Same subtle message on sex nights that after sex while she’s cleaning up, you turn over and are sound asleep when she returns – What’s the message? If giving her a bedtime back rub is only a ruse to explore her body, then touch is a taking and not a giving. If doing the dishes and cleaning up is considered by you to be foreplay and you expect a quid pro quo once the kids are in bed, then you’re sending the message that you don’t care about the house as much as she does. These messages are received – she is an object for your desire not an object of your desire.

What does she want? She wants to be safe. She wants to know that you want her, not just her body. She wants you to care about her desires and are willing to respect the fact that her rhythms are delicate, that she can be delicate. She wants you to lead in many ways. She wants you to figure her out, help her navigate life’s difficulties, and create an environment where her loving efforts are rewarded. If you do these things, you will get your harmonious sex life.

There’s more to this topic. Ha, yeah, there’s more. But we’ll have to take it next time.

To your fulfilled harmonious path,
Dave Marr

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By | July 21st, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Sex and Divorce

I was talking with a guy this week who was trying to capture me as a financial planning client while I was trying to capture him as a referral source for loans. Nice guy, good looking, athletic, about 47 years old. Our conversation went the normal route of set-up niceties before getting down to business – two boys in their teens, divorced for 13 years, career journey through various paths, landed in his current gig half a dozen years ago and is now settled and happy. Not remarried. In the 90 minutes we spent together his married life came up again. He divorced her. She wasn’t equally yoked to him spiritually and as we got down to it, didn’t fill his emotional cup by speaking his love language.

Hmm. Nice guy. Smart. Good looking and I would guess good-looking former wife who by any reasonable guess was normal and enjoyable. Divorced. Back 13 years ago, he had concluded in his 34 year old mind that his frustrations with her were irreconcilable and the path would be better for himself and his boys to call it quits. So I asked him, “In your maturity now with your current understanding of love languages (he took a seminar), your current ability to identify and articulate your feelings, and your knowledge of the last 13 years, do you think you could have navigated your difficulties back then?” He looked taken aback, looked down and said, “Absolutely”.

Every marriage has difficulties. It’s clear that the life God has created for mankind requires mental, emotional, and relational challenges if we are to become the individuals of our potential. The experience of conflict doesn’t feel so good, but the result on the other side of reconciliation is hugely beneficial. “Hey that wasn’t fun. What do we need to do to avoid feeling that way again?” In the above guy’s scenario, he was not able to avoid ‘feeling that way again’ as his marriage revisited their difficulty over and over again until the frustrations calcified into seemingly unbreakable patterns.

Here’s what I think occurred based on my hearing of his story. In effect, “Hey hon, can we be together tonight?” In effect, “No”. What she hears, “Hey, can I use your body for my physical release?” What he hears, “I don’t love you.” The ideal result of conflict resolution is to mature spiritually. What I mean by that is your marriage relationship is not just a series of transactions: I make the money; you clean the house. I cook the dinner; you mow the lawn. I manage the finances; you present your body when I need it. Marriage certainly has trades that are conveniences and efficiencies, sure, but at the core of marriage is the continuous opportunity to reconcile perspective differences and lift “we” over asserting “self”. Just because you get married, doesn’t mean you become a “we”, clearly. It takes lots of time, discussion, conflict, new situations, freedom, responsibility, and conflict. And working through that has benefits in relational cohesion, trust, and intimacy – aka spiritual maturity (even more so when God is intentionally invoked).

My understanding of this guy is superficial. But he agreed that his divorce was due to immaturity on his part. He didn’t say that, but that’s what I took away. Marital conflict is when through the transactions of life one or both people come away unfulfilled. Resolution comes when a reasonable understanding occurs and a path around the difficulty is navigated. That’s why sex, or lack of sex, is so challenging. A woman’s mind/body is a puzzle encased in an enigma wrapped in a conundrum. Very often she doesn’t know why she feels the way she feels about sex. Circumstances, hormones (particularly birth control pills), children, the relationship, food, monthly cycle, economics, and stated or unstated unwell-being in her world all play a role in her ability to fill one’s cup. It’s probably not desire at issue; it’s capacity. If he walks away from regular conflict with the ultimate conclusion that since she can’t figure out how to bring herself to the marital bed with an agreeable attitude, then he isn’t being fulfilled nor loved. Yes, I conclude that is immature.

The gift here is to figure this out. It’s not easy, but it’s important. Yes, their boys will acclimate to divorce, as they no doubt have. Divorce is not abnormal these days, so there’s no social stigma, but there is a generational impact. Look, I’m not looking to hammer this guy or any guy on deciding to divorce. It’s “understandable”. As humans, we are deep into life well before we have the maturity to easily navigate our circumstances.

In order to have a strong marriage, in my opinion, you must deal with those issues while they’re small and not calcified frustrations, because by then it may be too late. You should ask, “How are we doing? I’m feeling very good about where we are, how about you?” These are questions to ask one another when times are good. Any weeds in your garden get pulled early when they are small. For Lis and I, we didn’t always do that. Sometimes some bugger grew underground for a while and erupted like Jack’s beanstalk. Yet we persevered and cut that sucker down and got to a deep intimacy.

Today’s Letter may have been a bit preachy. Here’s the takeaway: If your relationship is going well, it won’t always, so build good relational habits now. If your relationship is challenged here or there, that’s good. Take heart. This situation is designed specifically for you to mature in heart, mind, and in God’s ways.

To your marital intimacy,

Dave Marr

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By | July 14th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Audience or Actor

At the peak of my business life (so far), I had 1500 salespeople working for my company. Every year we had an industry event where we would gather vendors to push their wares to our sales people at our own convention. It was fun and offered us the opportunity to design the events to our sales people’s specific needs and interests. I learned a bit about human nature during this time. Our salespeople were 100% commissioned and ate what they killed. Therefore, their motivations correlated to their actions which I conclude determined their income success. You’d think they would be interested in learning how to dramatically increase their income by just tweaking their efforts (not a massive overhaul) and market more effectively. Well, I thought so. So we got our top loan producer who was methodical in his marketing and induced him to create a presentation on his proven methodologies. We heavily promoted this seminar for our event.

The event overall was attended by about 400 people. Huge success. Our presenter had three sold out sessions totaling 120 people. Those interested in a FREE one on one follow up had only to write down his email address and contact him. Ok: Top salesman, proven system, easy to do, subsidized by company, nothing in the way to success but effort. How many followed up with an email? How many? Proven system…FREE, hmm?

Did you guess 13?

Yup, 13 people sent the email. 13!…And only 1 followed up to get the training. That 1 went on to become a top producer which resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional commissions to her.

This story is classic human nature. There are 119 reasons why those in attendance didn’t take the initiative. Let me propose one big reason: It is human nature to not get involved and instead live on existing momentum. It’s momentum that has a person remain in the audience. It’s easier to stay seated in the crowd and not stick out and look foolish, waste one’s time, commit to an idea not your own, risk being conned or consumed, to re-prioritize one’s calendar, or risk being bold and deal with the consequences of success or failure. In other words, it’s easier to do the same things tomorrow as you did yesterday than to motivate yourself to a new trajectory.

Granted, a few of the 119 were doing ok financially, but the vast majority weren’t. They could have changed their behavior, gotten themselves motivated, and ACTED!!, and reaped more from the same 24 hours in a day. It seemed to me to be a no-brainer. Yet, for them it was more comfortable to be in the audience than being on stage and giving the presentation. They were passive in business and I surmise passive in life.

As you think about your life, how can you take the initiative to disrupt your existing momentum and get out of the anonymity of the audience and onto the stage of your life. Here’s a more direct question: What can you do this month to get on stage and be the star actor in your life?

To disrupting momentum success,

Dave Marr

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By | July 7th, 2017|Economic, Getting Started, Personal|0 Comments

Re-Parenting Yourself

I love my Dad – still.  He died many years ago now, but I think of him often and wish he were still a part of my life, that he could see my family grow, could see my accomplishments and be proud of me. I still very much long for his approval.
 
My Dad had his shortcomings to say the least.  When I was around 4, he traded me to our neighbors. Told me to pack up and head next door.  As I was crying with my belongings in a suitcase walking to the door, he said that they didn’t want me and I had to stay.  Pretty funny stuff there.  When I was in my teens, he told me that even though I wasn’t much of a baseball player, I was the best dressed on the team.  Hmmm, that was a huge shot of encouragement.  In Dad’s entire parenting life, he never once told me he loved me.  When I got my MBA, my wife invited my parents out to Denver for the graduation ceremony.  They declined.
 
Ok, I’m an adult now and the sting of those things aren’t painful to me anymore even though the baggage was a drag on my self esteem for quite a while.  I’m a father with three adult children and I understand my Dad a lot more now than then.  When I was 4, he was 34.  He had grown up on the farm with 4 brothers and an alcoholic, wife-beating Dad. As soon as he could he left and went into the Navy.  He got a scholarship to the Naval Academy and entered the Air Force afterwards – flew F-100’s.  His life was hard and not filled with lots of emotional development.  So Dad had to figure things out on his own.

Was he trying to be mean to me?  Of course not, he loved me. He was joking about the trade and the baseball “encouragement”.  He thought it would toughen me up.  Not saying “I Love You”?  I don’t think he knew how to say it.  The skipped graduation? He’d fallen on hard times and couldn’t afford it and wouldn’t take money from me.  I loved my Dad then and thought he was a great guy and love him to this day, but he was…human.
 
Here’s the thing: The BEST parents in the world will make mistakes and inadvertently hurt a child’s psyche. In the best cases, children will hear something incorrectly or misinterpret something or make incorrect assumptions.  Every child grows up in a different family than his siblings. Each child has his own personality, unique qualities, and birth order. These things make the family experience very different. So much so that two similar aged brothers can walk away from childhood with very, very different results.  Parents say one thing and each child hears something different. Tough crowd sometimes. So what is a young man to do?

Re-parent. You gotta fix yourself.

It’s important that you recall your upbringing, keep the good, toss out the bad. Toss it all the way out and replace it with grace. If you’re stuck on something particularly painful, at some point you might bring it up and get clarity. But don’t hang on to bitterness or the feeling of being victimized by a horrible upbringing. No matter how bad it was, someone else had it worse. My buddy’s father told him “Marrying your mother was a huge mistake. I don’t want you in my life. How much money will it take to never see you again?” Pretty tough on a teenager. This sent him into a major tailspin with drugs, alcohol, and attempted suicide. But eventually, with God’s help, he overcame.

At some point in your life you have to accept the cards you were dealt, forgive, and move to improve. You can’t whine about it, just decide to be bigger, forgive, learn, and don’t repeat. The forgiveness thing is a pretty big deal. It helps the pain subside faster.  Sure you may have truly had a terrible Dad and it would have been nice if things were different, but they weren’t. So by working on forgiving and letting it go, you can move on and not let it ruin the rest of your life. People aren’t cruel to kids because they’re mean. They’re that way usually because, given the circumstances, it’s just about all they can do. I talk about forgiveness a bit because it colors just about every waking perspective you have. Without it, good luck in your marriage, climbing the corporate ladder, keeping any success you achieve, and enjoying your kids. Forgiveness is huge.

Should you decide to confront your parents with something that’s bothering you, you might want to be prepared to be disappointed all over again, but at least you’ve got the courage to seek a mature engagement. Accusations won’t be a great plan, but seeking understanding can be worthwhile. “Dear Father, Dear Son” by Larry Elder is a great example of a black kid reconciling with his dad. Quick worthwhile read.
 
The real key in re-parenting is to figure out how you would have done it better and work on your heart. Your wife and kids will benefit tremendously from this heavy lifting. And it IS heavy lifting. The Father-Son dynamic absolutely affects who you are, how you love yourself and others, and how your life manifests before you. The earlier you dig into it and deal with all the issues, the better your life will be. I would put this as the number one factor in a healthy marriage since it is bound in your self esteem. This is a great topic in your Ironmen group and will certainly create a bond amongst you.

To your continued psychological success,

Dave Marr

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By | June 30th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

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