Relational

/Relational

Sex vol. 2

Last time we talked about sex (in Sex 1), I thought it’d be helpful to identify the different scenario-types of sex. But sometimes it’s easier to describe what is right, what is beneficial, and what is desirable only by describing what can go wrong, what the challenges are, and where the pitfalls occur. Such is the case with developing human sexuality. As a parent of 3 children, it’s a universal parent thing that we strongly desire our children meet a special someone and have a fantastic marriage (which we silently assume contains healthy satisfying sex which, as a parent, is a little awkward to think about). Since sex is private, it’s not talked about much in polite circles. The lone time when I asked my dad about sex, he replied “You just need to learn about it in the gutters where I did.” Ha ha. “Seriously, Dad…” “No seriously.” End of discussion. Okaaay. (Literally verbatim).

One of my Ironmen cohorts has 2 boys that illustrate today’s challenges for parents and for you. Much more forthcoming than my dad, my buddy and his wife are equipping their boys with knowledge. Understanding the landscape we all face in trying to create a healthy life in an unhealthy world it’s still uncomfortable to discuss in a straightforward manner. But for their boys health and well-being is critically important given the downsides that exist. My friend’s boys are in their mid teens, liked by girls for all the right reasons – great guys. They are entering the age when girls become more forward, peer pressure is ubiquitous, the internet is quicksand, and the urge to spurge is upon them. So what are the topics of conversation my friend should have with his boys? The same ones you should consider anew, particularly if your dad was like mine and didn’t cover it.

Masturbation: Yes it’s a reality. Every male does it. It’s not inherently bad, but it can lead to guilt and other problems if not managed properly. In my opinion, proper management is to “get ‘er done” and get back to your life. Don’t obsess over the mental images or the potential subsequent guilt. My high school girlfriend’s brother threw his stereo through the front window of their house due to the guilt of masturbating. Yeah, messed up. The main problems with flogging the dolphin is (a) the huge waste of time prior to climax, (b) the desire to supplement with visual stimulation (aka porn), and (c) the internal conflict about the recurring urge versus feeling guilty about not being able to control it. Plus the whole Bible ambiguity of God killing Onan is more about rebellion and seems a little messed up anyway with the law requiring him to sleep with his dead brother’s wife. But I don’t think it’s a biblical prohibition against masturbation. Bottom line: I think dads should discuss the normalcy of this, encourage management, and reassure family love. For you – self management.

Porn: Porn is a big deal. The effect porn has on the human brain is exactly similar to the gateway pleasures of drugs and alcohol. The first time feels good and what on earth could be the downside? The second confirms the thrill. Within no time, hours can be wasted alone surfing increasingly bizarre forms of sexual… intimacy?, no; expression?, no; adventure?, nope; perversion?, yep that’s it. What is known by good marriages to be a wonderful intimate expression of love has been perverted by marketers to make bank off of human nature’s requirement. Porn is not just an indulgent waste of time, it can prevent relationships from forming as described in this brilliant article: Don Jon – How porn is rewiring men’s brains. You need to read this article. Once a brain has been rewired, real life relationships can have a tough time becoming intimate. There is a real risk that you could become more “satisfied” with masturbating to porn rather than making love to a real woman. I know of several marriages that split up due to the guy’s inability to forego porn. Whether you’re married or not, read the article.

Girls: The historical barriers on sexuality are not only greatly reduced, but society thinks empowerment by women requires sexual aggressiveness. The hip part of society thinks that young girls should take control of their sex life and be promiscuous. The latest Madonna clone, Miley Cyrus, is targeting 14-19 years olds for lessons in twerking. The result of society’s dysfunction is evidenced in high school and college grinding, sexting, hook ups, and who knows what other new craze. I’m not saying women shouldn’t be empowered, but what is obvious is increased sexualization by both young men and young women has consequences. Those consequences are not obvious to the participants because sometimes people have to crash and burn a few times to come to understand that “free sex” isn’t free. An article today points out that 40%, 40%!, of all children are born out of wedlock. The majority of those new lives are born into poverty because of the difficulty of raising a child in one parent household.

Even if no babies are produced, sex too soon in a relationship results in shallow roots. It would be better for young people to forego sex until they’re more mature to handle its complexities. I say that from a practical standpoint and not a moral one because the link between casual sex, broken relationships, and childhood poverty is undeniable. I’ll leave the morality position to someone else. But to you who are unmarried, it would be wiser to show some restraint. I know logic doesn’t play a role at go time, but if you weigh the two paths between having sex and holding off, your life won’t turn on a dime if you held off one more time…even if you’re not a virgin. Whereas, if you follow the urge, it could change your life rather dramatically. Just sayin’. Don’t let Johnson or society tell you when you should have sex. You decide when you’re ready. Prior to the situation.

My friend’s parenting life stage is about providing guidance to his boys in advance of their life situations. Those boys will likely take their dad’s advice because of their trust and faith that their dad (and mom) have their best interests at heart. Those boys will likely take that parental advice and navigate all the turbulent rapids of high school, college, post college, dating, and marriage. Of course the advice fades as experience takes over, but don’t miss the point – the boys will likely lean on their parents guidance in this tumultuous dawn of their sexuality. Absent parental guidance (or lack of faith in parents) leaves young men and women burdened with the heavy load of ignorance with which to navigate sex.

So where are you? Do you have a Dad like my friend who has provided valuable counsel over the years that has helped you develop self management and direction? Or was your sexual discussions like mine, non-existent? If the latter, the difference between you and me, however, is that I didn’t grow up in a world that is soooo sexually charged with porn on demand and aggressive women willing to give it up on the first date. There are real pitfalls where you can lose your future just as if you were a high school pot head that fell into harder things.

In your Ironmen group, discuss the parental education you received and how you’d do it differently. Even though you don’t have teenage kids now, you will. By reviewing your own teenage experiences, you can re-parent yourself and improve your own sex life by clearing out possible pitfalls that can get in the way. As a result, you’ll be happier, a much better father, a better husband, and maybe a better lover.

To your continued sexcess,

Dave

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | January 23rd, 2014|Relational|0 Comments

2014 Objectives

Over the last 30 years or so, I have written down my goals maybe half the time and the other half just had them in mind. In assessing the difference, I’d have to give the nod to writing them down, as you’d expect me to say. The years I reference back to my written goals, the greater likelihood I wouldn’t drift from them. My best year that saw the most economic gains was the year I worked my plan the most consistently. Which makes sense of course, plan your work and work your plan.

The path to creation is: Thought – Word – Deed. Rather Biblical, I’d say.

Thought
You identify what you want your life to look like by gathering all the images of success in family, business, health, personhood, and in your spiritual essence.

Word
You declare to yourself, to God, and to a few select others your desires through the written word.

Deed
Then you breathe those words into life through your actions. Consistent action alone will allow God, the Universe, your family and friends to see that you are serious about life and your direction. They will all get on board and cheer your purpose. Then, and only then, when your definiteness is declared through consistent action can results begin to manifest in reality.

Every year I used to write a couple of pages of goals that detailed all the things I wanted to accomplish. Year by year I cut back on the number of goals and now focus on 1 or 2 in each category. I save myself the irritation of looking at all the unaccomplished. Better to get one goal accomplished well than a dozen half assed.

 

So here are my 2014 public objectives:

Health: Tough Mudder in June. Sprint Triathlon in May and September.

Business: Double revenue through organic growth and strategic alliances. Introduce the CORE platform; FHLMC.

Relationships: Travel with wife quarterly to fun destinations.

Spiritual: Grow Ironmen five-fold. Volunteer at church for parenting classes.

Personal: Develop public speaking skills.

Other: Volunteer for Mike Kopp in CO Governor’s race.

Let me expand on the Ironmen objective because you can help me with it. I’d like to positively affect the lives of as many men as possible in order to improve the quality of marriages and parenting. My letters may have some positive effect, but the key is the continual encouragement of Ironmen groups. Being reminded by me every week to be on the lookout for one or two guys of similar circumstances, in which you can meet and delve into the infinitely subtle elements of growing up, that’s the big value of my letters. My 52 year old perspectives that drip into your life may occasionally hit a chord, but it’s small potatoes compared to having an Ironmen group.

You can help me do that by introducing Ironmen to some of your friends: by forwarding to them a quote or two, then a Letter, and then giving them your thoughts. I would appreciate the assistance and they might as well. If there’s 10 must-have thoughts per year, you’d be a good friend to make the recommendation.

As for 2014, there’s a lot to talk about. What are your goals for this year? How can you make this a pivotal year? In health? In business? In your relationships? In your spiritual life? Personally? How can you be bold and break out of taking small steps?

Send me a Letter on who you are and where you are going. What challenges do you face? What questions do you have?

Taylor G. writes: What books are worth reading? I’ll take that up soon.
Keenan S. asks: Why should I go to church? That’s a worthy topic.
I’ve got a couple of business topics written that you may find interesting.
I’ll revisit the father-son relationship again (and again).
Sex usually seems to be a worthwhile topic that I’ll address a few more times.
And since this is an election year, I’ll try and treat the issue fairly.

The weekly drip campaign is in its 4th quarter. What are your thoughts so far?

To your continued success,

Dave

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | January 10th, 2014|Financial, Personal, Physical, Relational, Spiritual, Summaries|0 Comments

Santa and Family Traditions

Another Christmas. It really is a time of renewal and hope for people. And when life doesn’t go well, Christmas time lays bare the memories that could have been, the disconnnectedness one can feel from family and friends, and the spiritual deficit that is possible. Therefore, here at the fulcrum of your life you need to decide for yourself, regardless of what childhood memories were wrapped as your present, how you will create memories. Therefore, I thought I’d describe some of our family traditions that have made our life fantastic.

Our youngest was 2 years old when we suggested that they sleep under the Christmas tree and wait for Santa. All 3 kids still believed in Santa and as they lay looking up at the twinkling lights of the tree, they talked and squirmed at the excitement of Santa’s arrival. They whispered guesses as to what he was going to leave them, encouraged sleep so he would arrive sooner, pretended sleep to catch a glimpse, and flail arms and legs at uncontainable excitement. Eventually, when time and youth overcame and sleep was unavoidable, Santa would finally come and bring presents wrapped in special paper so as not to give doubts. He would bite the cookie and sip the milk. Presents were place around the children and some actually inside the sleeping bags. That would bring the most excitement. “How did he do that?!!!”

The rule was they couldn’t wake mommy and daddy up till 7. It taught patience, respect and self control. We would wake up and have the stocking presents before breakfast. Then make a big feast with banana pancakes, eggs, bacon, fresh squeezed orange juice, and fruit. We’d clean up and then gorge on the material haul. Each child expressing short term appreciation for each gift until the next was opened. My philosophy was that gifts should hit different categories: one for fun, one for the mind, one for the body, and the rest are practical – socks, underwear, pajamas, etc.

Traditions are so foundational to family culture. Traditions to dads aren’t what they are to kids. Maybe I’m being cynical not coming from an upbringing that had closely held traditions, but the kids own these annual events with a fierceness that surprised me. One tradition that I encourage is taking a family picture every year and sending it to your friends. Don’t send just the dog, that’s a little pathetic. Don’t send just the kids, that says there’s no family unity. The kids will look at the family evolution depicted by the Christmas cards taped on some door along with all the other cards you get. That ends up being pretty cool. Another tradition that we did was read a Christmas book “The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever”. We all loved it. We watched the greatest movie ever made: “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We’d go over to Aunt Sue’s for Christmas Eve. Some traditions were obligations, but most were not.

This little child phase is a period of your life that is idyllic on which you will look back as dreamland. Cherish it. Let all conflict pass by without escalation because this period goes quickly enough followed by a more complex period. This is the Santa era and is special. Santa represents an innocence and simplicity that is fun and should be treated lightly. He’ll fade like some ephemeral morning haze and the residual will remain as a love of Christmas time. A good trade-off. Some families struggle with the idea of Santa due to their spiritual beliefs, but I don’t think kids can make those principled distinctions. It’s fun and life needs to build that reservoir before you’re 8.

As the family leader, take the best of your and your wife’s Christmas past and make conscious decisions to play the games, trim the tree, drink the eggnog, sing the carols, pray with the family, read the stories, and immerse yourself in the season. You have something special that too few enjoy.

Discuss in your group, family traditions that you want to incorporate into your family life. Steal the best ones.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

To your continued success,

Dave

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | December 20th, 2013|Relational|0 Comments

The Baton

The sweat dripped from his brow as he scaled the hill. His muscles were fit but lean from the years of training. No longer carried by the meaty limbs of his youth that bounded with certainty among the rocky terrain, he picked his way with crafty precision with a mind toward efficiency sparing his remaining strength. The hill was a long one and the injuries of past events could be felt with every step. The many scrapes and scars stood out against his sinews as he pumped up the hill.

His breath was strong despite the slope, though his pace slowed a touch as his strength faded, the crest fast approaching. The race continued after his part was done; his job was nearing completion. The baton weighed more now than a short while ago, but he remembered when it weighed nothing at all. When the race started so long ago, the baton seemingly weighed nothing in actuality compared to what he thought it might. How he imagined the weight would cramp him and cause him to stumble. But in the end, he carried it well like so many before.

Looking up he could see the next runner waiting at the mile stone, running in place with fresh legs, the sun anointing him with a golden glow around his head. Squinting, he couldn’t see the next runner’s expression backlit against the sun. However, as he neared, an eager smile appeared. He firmed his pace down the stretch so the handoff would be on his terms; where he could look into the next runner’s eyes as an equal, not as one who had spent his last to gain the final yard. He would carry the baton at a solid pace running along side for but a short while. Then with an easy manner pass the baton to the next runner wanting so much to encourage him, to explain the course, to describe what meaning can be derived from the race itself. But in the end, after a few paces where the untested energy of the new contestant begged to be released, he handed off the baton.

He kept pace for a couple of strides and caught the eyes for but a glance. And what a glance. Optimistic and full of light, the new runner smiled with a wide grin and unknowing but heartfelt appreciation. With a slight wave of his hand that held the baton, the young runner eased his stride respectfully, but certainly. He moved smoothly away. The older runner, without baton, running no longer had meaning. But after such a long race, stopping didn’t seem right either. He carried on for a bit till the baton runner melted into the sun. At that point, when he could see the other runner wasn’t going to fall or drop the baton or need anything whatsoever, he slowed his pace to a walk. The race continued, but not for him. He had run to the best of his ability and now that he had passed the baton, it was time to rest. The baton ran ever towards the sun, but here, evening had already begun to set. It would be nighttime soon. Time to get off the hill and rest.
To grandpa and morfar. With love.

I wrote this when I went to my wife’s father’s funeral. This week my Dad would have been 82. You Ironmen, time moves faster than you can possibly imagine. Make sure you place honor on those whose shoulders you stand. Reach out this weekend and tell them how much you appreciate them.

To your continued success,

Dave

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | November 15th, 2013|Relational|0 Comments

Sex (vol 1)

Sex is a central issue, both a cause and effect, in the health or ill health of families because it is a foundational element in the male/female relationship and therefore creates or fails to create well-being for the entire family. As a core element of the relationship, a couple’s sex life can be generalized as a barometer of well-being. If there is mutual happiness and satisfaction in sex, so goes the relationship. If sex is not mutually satisfying, there are issues afoot. So bedroom issues don’t stay just in the bedroom.

This Letter is the start of one guy’s non-clinical views on what a healthy sex life is and how to get there. The hope here is that this introduction can lead to discussions where men can exchange perspectives in a positive forum that leads to increased growth towards a happy, healthy sex life and greater family well-being. In all my years of talking with other guys, I’ve rarely, rarely discussed sex in a salacious manner. Despite what the media might portray, guys just don’t do that. As uncomfortable though as this topic may be, we should cover anything worthy of discussion as long as we’re heading leading toward the goal of greater family well-being. Sex topics certainly fit that criteria.

For example,
* How do men and women reconcile different sexual drives?
* What role does fantasy play in sex?
* How does family leadership affect your sex life?
* Do children affect sexual intimacy?
* What is sexual intimacy?
* Is porn destructive to the family?

Sex is viewed differently as people age and mature, as relationships change, as children enter the scene, as economics change, as stress is introduced, as marriage is challenged and as those challenges are surmounted or not, and as hormones fluctuate. Fortunately society handles the whole thing with dignity and delicacy. Oh wait, strike that. Society does a horrible job regarding sex.

I guess the best place to start when trying to communicate something that has many meanings is to define terms. Sex is generically used as a term to reference interaction between body parts of two people. But that definition is pretty limiting. Between a husband and wife, sex is more commonly used to reference the act of coitus, making love. However, sex has so many facets and nuances that it might make sense to identify the many scenarios of sex to draw out the meaningful elements that inhibit or enhance a couple’s sex life.

Discovery Sex is an introduction into sex acts or of a new relationship. Enjoying the pleasures of one’s own body and providing pleasure to someone else’s seems like the nirvana of sex. Newness can last years as God’s ever refreshing batteries seek discharge. However, for some, the psychological aspects of sex quickly emerge. Newness wears off and chasing frontiers of exploration often separate men from women as different comfort zones develop. Furthermore, women’s connection to sex is significantly more emotional than men’s; therefore, men appear to pursue the physical act of sex while women pursue the relational. The thrill of Discovery Sex can be mistaken for love. Lust is confused with love which sometimes leads individuals to seek that newness elsewhere in order to recreate that thrill rather than do the heavy lifting of recreating the relationship.

Love Making – Let’s call this our base line. It’s the intimate act where husband and wife share intercourse in order to give and get mutually. Each partner pursues pleasure in a balance of selfishness and selflessness that establishes sharing and intimacy not found in other aspects of the relationship. The fore play and after play aspects of sex establish important relational ritual. This type of sex is the heart and soul of a healthy sex life in marriage. A balanced exchange of all life’s elements provides context for Love Making. For the man, sex is a precursor to harmony; whereas for women, harmony is a precursor to sex.
Pre Travel Sex is sex before one heads out of town for a night. The relational reason ostensibly is to wish him well with an act of love. If a multi-night stay away, it’s an opportunity to be together before a long absence. At some level, it could be a reminder of what awaits at home with a faithful return and a subtle request to be faithful.
Fantasy Sex in mature relationships is more akin to Discovery Sex than normal Love Making. A more prolonged time together where sex is the objective and the normal routine is set aside for more variety. In younger relationships Discovery and Fantasy may be synonymous, but as time passes, more factors become part of the equation can leave Fantasy outside the bedroom door. Fantasy is a outward exhibition of passion and desire and is an important psychological element in sex, primarily for men, but requires a delicate relational balance to maintain. It likely requires more focus and intentionality from the woman’s part when hormonal input that is lacking during segments of the menstrual cycle. Though a man likely can participate in an instant’s notice, Fantasy Sex is a relational objective that takes a great deal more than just showing up. Therefore being an intentional family leader is key to a successful Fantasy Sex life.

Vacation Sex is the carefree opportunity to return to a life of adventure in an environment outside of the norm. Fantasy Sex during a vacation is more likely if enough of the other boxes are checked, children taken care of, hormones available, no time crunch, and time together is maximized.

Assistance Sex is when a woman is on her period, but a man would prefer to ‘be together’ anyway. It’s a substitute for Love Making. The couple must navigate the rocky terrain of Assistance due to a woman feeling ‘unclean’ during her period, unsexy, unhelpful, and possibly unloved. If Assistance is routinely requested without reciprocating physical touch, the woman will build up a belief her main purpose in life is to provide a man physical release. The reciprocation (back rubs, hair stroking, foot rubs, etc,) must be genuine and untethered to Assistance or it will be seen as manipulation and given no credence.

Accommodation Sex is when one party, typically the woman, provides her body while half heartedly engaging emotionally or psychologically. She submits to a man’s physical drives without participating fully. There is a subtle but meaningful difference between participating without the ability or intent to orgasm for the woman and just submitting physically in order to avoid conflict. If she’s filing her nails or reading a book, solid clues you’re having Accommodation Sex. Intimacy requires two people, so Accommodation Sex is a woman’s partial retreat from the relationship when something within the relationship is amiss, but not so broken that a full withdrawal from sex is required. Or, if the relationship is so imbalanced the woman feels she must submit out of duty, for the children’s sake, for economics, or for safety. If any of those reasons exist, intimacy is not on the menu.

Physical Touch is intimate contact throughout the daily relationship. It doesn’t have to be sexual in nature, and likely shouldn’t be, but is critical for developing a loving relationship for those who relate to world physically. Holding hands, making contact whenever you pass by with loving intent while avoiding groping is quality physical touch.
No doubt there are other scenarios that provide meaningful distinctions. By providing these different definitions, the idea is to show that there are commonalities within all our marriages that sex evolves and follows common paths as men and women age, as children enter the scene, as relationships mature or are challenged by the many circumstances of life. Sex seems to be a barometer of health, but not always in a straightforward manner.

There is much more to say and I will say it, but for now…

To your continued success,

Dave

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | October 4th, 2013|Relational|0 Comments

Women, Continued

The softness of her skin, the feel of her hand in mine, the taste of her lips,  the laughter in her eyes, the sway of her waist, the roundness of her breasts, the response of her body to my touch, the tickle she feels at the nape of her neck, the comfort she coos in the crook of my arm, and the smell of her fills me with desire. It is because she is woman that I am man.  The sight of her affects me. The companionship with her fills me.  The feel of her arouses me.  The idea of her motivates me. The engagement with her changes me. The partnering with her defines me.  

The impact women have on our lives cannot be overstated.  They love us; nurture us; motivate us; console us; care for us; organize us; give us feedback that supports us or brings us back to reality.  Women, due to their nature, confuse us; anger us; demand of us; temper us; sharpen us; reconcile with us; and are loyal to us sometimes beyond reason.  It has been so from the beginning because they are our suitable helpers.  

Suitable is an interesting word.  Having observed many marriages for a couple of decades, I can safely say that pretty much every couple I know is suitably matched, though not always harmoniously.  I think God has created something incredibly brilliant here.  He leads with lust and sexual attraction which I’m cool with, then he follows up with this increasingly complex thing called a relationship.  Then comes children and responsibility.  Wow, what a brilliant system to draw you in with candy and sweets then harness your male abilities to “provide and protect”.  This has been going on for thousands of years.  Unfortunately lately, “No Fault Divorce” seems to give men and women a door to escape which is almost off its hinges from overuse.

Let’s start with the ideal and work backwards.  A suitable helper ideally is an ally that satisfies relationally, physically, emotionally, socially, psychologically, functionally and financially which ultimately lifts each person to new levels of well-being.  Good enough.  So why is the divorce rate around 50%?

It seems to me there are 3 relationships in a single man/woman relationship: The man with himself; the woman with herself; and the man and woman with each other.  Each of these relationships must develop by resolving life’s issues in order to be suitable for the other.  As a young man, you need to be reasonably mature in order to enter into a successful lifelong relationship.  A man can’t have the maturity of a moody and frustrated 17 year old, can’t lack reasonable ambition, can’t be selfish and lazy, and can’t procrastinate at meaningful forks in the road.   If so, the relationship doesn’t work out very well for the woman.  A man can’t have major mom and dad issues.  For example, if his parents were divorced and he grew up without a good model of what loving conversations look like, how to treat a woman, how to eat at the dinner table, how to resolve conflict amicably, how to divvy up responsibilities during the week, how to effectively use languages of love, how to reasonably delay gratification, and how to create a household that fosters growth.  If a guy doesn’t have these things in his conscious or subconscious, then it could be a major problem in building something he has no experience in.  And then there’s the comfort or discomfort a young man has with his spiritual and religious life.  Will this blend harmoniously with her upbringing and take the family to a life of well-being?   

All these elements are the base from which a man engages a woman and begins to sort through life’s challenges. Of course, same thing for her.  The reason I think the divorce rate is so high is because if one or both of the two have unresolved issues, the relationship has extra unstated challenges.  All the divorces that I know enough about to draw conclusions from I’d say were due to unstated base issues.  These issues were not addressed early and often and therefore problems grew out of proportion to the point of being unmanageable.

The idea of suitability gets tricky here.  In order to grow into a man that has a balanced life and the respect of his peers, a man must identify and resolve the issues of his mind and soul.  He can only do that within an exclusive, intimate relationship of a woman.  Without this exclusive intimacy, a man cannot resolve the conflicts of inner/outer realities.  A woman suitably creates a contrast that must be resolved in order to reestablish harmony.  This results in growth.  I’m sure there will be plenty of disagreement on this.  The degree and depth to which a couple becomes intimate can only occur as a result of continual engagement and resolution of life’s many issues.  To think divorce is not a possibility in one’s life is foolish when 1 of 2 marriages end that way. Enjoy the good times; prepare for difficulty.

The Irommen’s design is to get together with two other men and discuss success in all areas of life, particularly relationships.  Though this may sound trite, if you have tremendous success in business, but lack someone to deeply and meaningfully share it with, success can feel pretty empty.  Conversely, if you don’t achieve business success but have a deep abiding love of a woman, your life will still have meaning.  Of course, it’s nice to have both.  Ironmen enhances a relationship with a woman by practicing the qualities of intentionality, transparency, and accountability, not to mention having loyal men to brainstorm solutions to current relationship challenges.

The takeaways here are thus:

  • You can’t become a larger more mature adult without having a quality exclusive relationship with a woman. Don’t miss this point because it intones conflict resolution.

  • The woman you end up choosing to be with will end up being suitable to your development.

  • In an Ironmen group you gain insights and maturity, skills and character, vision and discipline, initiative and intentionality.  All of which will help your growing life of well-being with a woman.

In your Ironmen Group, you should identify what you’re looking for in your future wife whether you’re married now or not even dating.  Also talk about how did your parent’s marriage was and how you’d improve on it?  Lastly, I’ve already written a discussion on sex.  It’ll be a multi part series.

To your future success,

Dave

 

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | August 23rd, 2013|Relational|0 Comments

Women

Women

“My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely lady lumps…..”

Yeah, ok, so let’s call that one way to describe it.  However women may be described, one thing is inescapable; they fill our thoughts, our passions, our days and our dreams.  Men are irresistibly drawn to women on many levels.  Let’s agree that after 10,000+ years of this, it’s complicated and seemingly getting more so.

Each human is layered with spiritual DNA, biological DNA, personality, and upbringing.  Each layer contributes to our unique approach to life and importantly how we relate to women.  Biologically, we are driven to have sex and ultimately to procreate.  It’s marginally controllable, we’re not cavemen that take sex by force, but it’s a major factor in our lives.  From a spiritual standpoint, we desire intimacy, to know and be known.  This relational feature develops over time and is critically important as relationships develop.  The nurturing we received as children plays a role in what we find attractive.  For example, it didn’t occur to me till late in my relationship that my wife (blonde haired, blue-eyed, Lis) is similar in disposition to my mom (one time blonde, blued-eyed, Liz).  Did I have some sort of Freudian desire for my mom? Gross.  But it likely influenced what I thought was attractive.  God took care of the rest.

Women have certain imperatives as well which can be harmonious with those of men, given enough work between the two. Young girls have been described as mean and manipulative.  That biological trait is designed as a mechanism for women to develop the skill of competing against other women for men’s attention and then, as the “weaker sex”, be able to manage a stronger, potentially volatile mate.  Is it a conscious act to be manipulative?  I doubt it.  It’s a gift.  At some level, her objective is to find a suitable mate that can provide her with babies, then provide and protect her and the babies.  Let’s agree that level is largely below the surface.  Not entirely, but largely.

At the surface women are infinitely more complex.  Their desires are varyingly mature or immature depending on the time of day or month.  In the end, “most” women will succumb to their long-term desires.   To the degree that a man lines up with those desires of being physically fit, filled with purpose and direction, and is a reasonable social partner, he will be acceptable to women…many women.  However, if that man continues to pursue ‘many women’ after finding one woman (infidelity), he will forego one of the true satisfying pleasures of life – intimacy.  It takes persistence to work through the skill development necessary to navigate power sharing and harmonization in order to get through to the higher levels of intimacy.

Humps and lumps will never lose their allure for men and therefore remain part of her power base to maintain safety, but as men mature toward self-governance, a more mutual power sharing arrangement can be had.   

Yeah, like I said, it’s complicated.

 

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | August 16th, 2013|Relational|0 Comments

Engaging in Your Life

There has been a lot of new people join the Ironmen project.  On Fridays I send out a thought or two regarding Physical, Economic, Relational, Spiritual, Personal,  and then a Summary recontextualizing those topics.  I have spoken personally with many of you who have started an Ironmen group and we are all in agreement that there isn’t enough time to read everything that comes across your screen, so I want to keep these Letters short and digestible.  Some of the feedback has been positively critical (like on when one becomes an adult) of one thing or another to which I am very grateful that you’d care enough to take the time to respond.  The goal here is to pierce the noise so that you who are on the front end of your adult lives stop for a couple of hours and work on your plan, work on your lives rather than only working in your plan and lives. This is an important distinction in business and in life.  You need to spend important and valuable time thinking about thinking, discussing which perspectives to hold, which hill to climb and which hill to die on.

In talking with Mario, he re-started his workout regime because he recognized it’s so easy to get caught up in starting a business and dealing with a newborn that you can easily become boiled.  Kudos. (Don’t Let Your Frog Boil)

I got quite a bit of feedback on the discussion on Money (The Truth About Money).  Understanding that money is directly tied to your economic value and indirectly related to your attitudes about money and wealth is very important for you to come to grips with in your life.  Start a conversation about how your parents lived their life (non judgmentally of course) and note what stands out.  

I didn’t get much feedback on the Father/Son discussion. (Re-Parenting: Father and Son) though I think this is a key to a successful life.  The Sins of the Father (Exodus 20:5) will be visited on subsequent generations unless you put a stake in the ground and decide as, for example, my father did, “I WILL NOT HIT MY WIFE! “  Who you are is significantly a consequence of the choices made by your parents of which you may not even aware.  Becoming aware, evaluating, forgiving, and choosing anew can instead establish the Blessings of the Father being visited upon the third and fourth generation.

Starting a discussion about Spiritual Truth is like being in the middle of the Sahara.  The only way to contemplate progress is to put a stake in the ground somewhere and begin.  Searching for Spiritual Truth is an endless conversation no matter which path you take.  The reason parables are so effective is because every time you come to contemplate it, you are different and so the message is richer and speaks to where you are at the time.  Your view of what IS is and what TRUTH is will affect how your relationship with your wife develops, what kind of father you will be, how you will succeed in economics, and developing a healthy sense of well-being.  TRUTH (Reality) and PURPOSE are inextricably linked (unless you’re a nihilist or atheist).; PURPOSE (the Why of your life) and PROCESS (the How of your life) are also connected.

Finally, last week’s Letter was about engaging in your life, owning full responsibility for all aspects of your circumstances, and having the mindset that you have power to positively affect your life. Don’t Be a Victim to Victimhood.  It’s very easy to dismiss this warning as not applicable to you.  I would say that everyone has some degree of victimhood as a part of their current makeup.  It’s a natural defense mechanism designed to protect one’s self esteem.  But this weed left untended can overrun the garden.  The sooner you engage with the notion that you are solely responsible for your life, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the outcome, the better off you’ll be.  It’s actually a much more secure path in the long run than getting someone else to take care of you like your parents or the government because ultimately they will let you down.  It’s the way of the world.  You may find this debateable, so check around.  And a somewhat advanced thought that is very debatable is that you should not be a victim to someone else’s victimhood.  Engagement solves that, but I’ll cover this in one of my marriage topics.

So the formula is: Intention – perspectives – vicarious experience – nuance – awareness – different perspective – increased maturity =  the Ironmen idea.  If you’re reading this and haven’t started a group, I promise you with all my heart and soul, do it and you’ll be glad you did.

To your continued success,

Dave

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | July 26th, 2013|Economic, Personal, Physical, Relational, Spiritual, Summaries|0 Comments

Re-Parenting Father and Son

I love my Dad.  He died a few years ago, but I think of him all the time 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 over to the Rassmussen’s.  As I was crying with my belongings in a suitcase walking out 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.  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 was joking about the trade and the baseball “encouragement”.  He thought it would toughen me up.  The no “I Love You”’s?  He really didn’t know 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 love my Dad and thought he was a great guy, but he was…human.

Here’s the thing: The BEST parents in the world will make mistakes.  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 guy to do?  Re-parent.

It’s important that you recall your upbringing, keep the good, toss out the bad.  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, alcoholism, 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 shitty 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 shit heads to kids because they’re mean.  They’re that way usually because, given the circumstances, it’s the best they could do.  We’ll 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 balls 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 (more on this later).  The earlier you dig into it and deal with all the issues, the better your life. I would put this as the number one factor in a healthy marriage since it is bound in your self esteem.  This topic in your Ironmen group will certainly create a bond amongst you.

To your continued success.

Dave

 

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | July 5th, 2013|Relational|0 Comments

Strategic Thinking

Ten weeks ago, I approached many of you and requested that you participate in this Ironmen initiative.  Since then, we’ve sent out 60 quotes and 10 letters.  I hope you have at least one takeaway thus far.  Chances are, depending on where you are in life, there will be a few worthy takeaways per section.  The point of Ironmen is that you are the one whose success is impacted. Everyone is currently on a growth trajectory regardless of Ironman; but my goal is to positively influence the trajectory just a bit.  Having you create a well lived life of abundance is the goal.  Ironmen is but a tool designed to remind you that you need to be strategic in your thinking and your life.  Strategic thinking about the big issues in your life is to figure yourself out, to gain confidence in your thoughts and actions, to develop stronger leadership in your relationships, career, and health, and to radiate well being to your family, friends, and community.  Be the ball Danny.

There’s a parable that I like about the sower of seeds.  

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  – Matthew 13.

Of the many ways to look at this parable, the reason I like this and why this is relevant to your story is it captures the essence of your life.  Seeds represent your efforts, your plans, the opportunities that come your way, the relationship you have (or will have) with your wife, your strength, your maturity, your ability to produce an abundant garden of well-being.  Those are the seeds of your life that you want to plant and nurture into a beautiful garden that will bring you respect and happiness.  You are the strategic farmer.  Ironmen is the hoe.  (No boats and hoe jokes, please).

So far the letters have only talked about your internal development.  The post on The Physical discussed how you can get out of your comfort zone by pushing yourself physically which will build character that will give you insight into other aspects of your life.  The Career/Economics discussion was about Habits and observing how you think.  It discussed the reality that we are linked, if not bound, to our upbringing and that our habits are tied to our past. To succeed you must evaluate that past and substitute where necessary to build daily success habits.  The Relationships section discussed that creating a life with someone takes time and perseverance.  Conflict is a beneficial and necessary requirement to a successful relationship.  Without it (shallow soil), your roots don’t go very deep.  The Spiritual post discussed that you have a God-given magic jar that expands as you push yourself forward––emphasis on push.  And The Personal discussed the need to check yourself for arrogance and a closed mind.  Each of these posts say essentially the same thing like hoeing different rows in the same garden – it’s the quality of your character that will determine the quality of your life.

Going back to my thought above, the difference between tactical and strategic can be described this way: Tactical deals with efficiency and effectiveness (A salesman that wants to increase his income would go on sales calls, get increasingly better at interpersonal skills, learn more about the product, group his meetings in geographic areas so as to not waste time).  Strategic thinking deals with factors that are of a different category or of a greater magnitude (Salesman wants to start his own company some day, so learns everything he can about his industry, his company, goes to school at night to get a higher degree, looks for opportunities).

Ironmen is a strategic decision to dedicate 2 hours per week on thinking about your life both tactically and strategically.  The emails I send out are trivial compared to the rich discussions you have with your mates.  You need to strip away the less mature aspects of your youth, focus on who you are in the process of becoming, own the beneficial and detrimental of your past,  be serious about learning to bring forth your God provided talents and spirit, and engage fully into all aspects of your life.  That is what Ironmen is for. If you haven’t started your group yet, your future awaits.

 

To your continued success,

 

Dave

 

In addition to feedback on how you like the emails, format, frequency, and idea, can you send me some issues in your life that I can integrate (anonymously of course) into my discussions?  We’ve started 5 topics that we’ll be developing going forward, so your questions, comments, insights would be welcome.

 

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | June 14th, 2013|Financial, Personal, Physical, Relational, Spiritual, Summaries|0 Comments