1. Don't schedule it - If both of you are often too busy or tired for sex, try putting it off until...whenever.
2. Watch TV in bed - Let's see what's on Netflix.
3. Don't talk about it - If you've gotten used to not bringing it up, it's going to be much easier to keep it that way.
4. Complain/ Blame - But....you....never....😫
5. Bargain - Okay, we can do it if you go visit my family with me. "Perfect! I'll get my coat."
6. Watch a lot of porn - Nothing can kill a sex life quite like fantasizing about other people, erectile dysfunction, and compartmentalized sexuality.
7. Don't get help - Have you tried crossing your fingers or wishing upon a star?
In couples work, people tend to come to us after things have really gone off the rails. The story is almost always the same. One person is fearing that the relationship is failing and the other is avoiding facing this fact. Basically, one partner feels like they’re chasing after love and the other seems to have lost it all together. Usually, the Avoider is caught up with work or family and is feeling overwhelmed and the Anxious person is feeling very alone. Sound familiar?
It’s rare that both people are willing to step up to the plate, at the same time and with the same level of commitment. And, if they are in that place, it’s usually because they’ve already done some work to lay the foundation for what’s next.
So, if each partner is in a different place, this is where things get tricky. This polarization gives each person ample evidence that the other is the problem. The Avoider gets to say that they are feeling overwhelmed because there is so much being asked of them. They may be the one who works long hours or piles on innumerable responsibilities to avoid being without something to do. When their partner asks them for more time, connection, or affection, they point to their schedule and say, “Don’t you see how busy I am?”
The Anxious person may also be busy, but their life consistently revolves around what their partner or they're family is doing. They carry the emotional weight, they try to make the plans, and they are the ones who appear to be the most disappointed when things don’t work out. These are the folks that are most concerned about the survival of the relationship and these are the people that we get the calls from. They get to point at their partner and say, “I’m trying so hard to make this work and they don’t seem to care like I do.”
Left alone, this partnership could still last a lifetime. The Pursuer-Avoider dynamic could evolve into an Employee-Boss, Boss-Boss, or Employee-Employee relationship. This automated type of partnership would require that each person fall into a designated role and stay there. Even though both people may not like how it feels, they will choose to stay in the relationship because it is less scary than questioning it and possibly ending up alone. This doesn’t tend to feel good when it is brought into the awareness. However, no awareness, no problem.
An Employee-Boss relationship will require the employee to give up more control to the boss, in exchange for the connection. As this happens the boss will relax some and they will begin to organize things in the way they want them. They are afraid to lose their autonomy so they agree to take on the burden of the work or decisions in exchange for connection. Both people do get some of what they want, but they are also required to take on or give up something in return.
Odds are that they come from families where both the boss and employee roles were treated as necessary and noble. This tends to run across gender lines with the older population, men being the boss and women being the employees. They can be one of the easier types to deal with, if they operate out of respect, because they can use each other’s strengths and triggers to come deeper into alignment.
The Boss-Boss relationship will be noticeable from a mile away because this is the type of couple that is often at war. This battle requires that both sides keep score and do their best to never get down too many points. Both parties live with a lot of fear and they get barely enough crumbs of connection, notoriety, or self-fulfillment to keep the partnership afloat.
They are both the independent type and they may come from homes where there was a fight for attention, autonomy, or general survival. They can be a very difficult couple to work with because both may have hair-triggers around letting their guard down. Trust is of the utmost importance in dealing with these types and it can take a while to build assurance within the Coach-Client relationship and, especially within the partnership itself. Although difficult, this type is also more likely than the employee-employee to reach out for help because controlling and fixing are correlated with getting support and that’s what is most on both people’s minds.
The Employee-Employee relationship is often the most difficult to spot because it can look so much like a conscious partnership. Both parties somehow find a way to subordinate to each other and it’s almost like it’s a race to not score any points. Neither one wants to win for fear of upsetting the other so they constantly tip toe the line between getting “just enough” while also making sure their partner is happy.
Employee-Employee relationships are usually looking for a boss so they are more likely to subordinate to an authority like a church or an organized group where they are told how to be. They could also just fall into a role of how they believe their family or community believes they should be, without explicit direction. These couples are probably the least likely to reach out for help and they can be the most difficult to work with. They may never reach the point where they are open to questioning because they develop such complex strategies to keep the real stuff hidden.
Usually, it takes a big wave, in the form of a major life disturbance, for either one of them to reach of for help. In working with them, the first order of business is usually to poke around until someone can begin to access their anger or sadness. This is tedious work when someone has spent a lifetime sweeping those feelings under the rug.
They often come from families where there was a similar dynamic or, more often than not, a huge loss of connection through divorce or trauma. To compensate and to keep things safe, they will seek out a partner who agrees to said conditions. This requires them to trade in their authenticity for connection. Again, these couples can go on to raise beautiful families and have laid back households.
Bottom line, there is nothing wrong with these dynamics and they tend to stop feeling good. The work of the conscious person or couple is to begin to question where they are and where they want to go. When this is clear, the actions tend to arise organically and you are on your way towards showing up more authentically.
Our brains tend to process our reality based on a combination of what is happening now and the scattered memory of our life. We rarely think back to what it may have been like for our parents, our parent's parents, or much beyond that. It’s difficult to see any link because we have a difficult time contemplating anything beyond our own existence.
However, our DNA and our psychology go back millennia. We are the culmination of all of our ancestor’s biology and experience. Therefore, it’s important to explore not only what is happening now, in this life, but what has shaped us throughout time. Let’s go back to the beginning.
According to the earliest fossil records, most scientists believe that we (Homo Sapiens), have been on Earth for about 200,000 years but, we didn’t fully transition out of the Stone Age until about 5,000 years ago. Prior to this, we mostly lived in very small communities while adhering to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
To put this in perspective, if we were to say that the average age for reproduction of our ancestors was 25 years, we are looking at only 200 generations between now and the Stone Age. Isn’t that crazy?! If you were to line up your ancestor’s shoulder to shoulder, you could potentially be talking to a Caveman in no more than 200 conversations.
So, why does this matter? It matters because we haven’t had much time to figure out how to adapt to the complexity of modern life. We now live in a world where we don’t have to struggle to survive, where our partners are looking for more than just “food on the table”, and where we are told to prepare for things like retirement, owning a home, and “our child’s education”. WTF just happened?
This is why the old saying, “All a man needs is sex and a sandwich” makes so much sense. For thousands of years, our job was to go get food and reproduce. That’s it. But fellas, I believe that in this day and age, not only are we capable of more but, that we truly do want more than our antiquated, uneducated, barbarian predecessors. Here are the 4 struggles of the Modern Man.
👨💼 Comparing to Others 👨💼
In our earlier years of existence, we lived in small tribes where the hierarchy was simple. The bigger, stronger men, caught more of the food, mated with more of the women, and beat down anyone who challenged them. If you wanted to move up, you basically had to kill or severely injure your opponent while risking your own life in the process. As we became more sophisticated, the struggle for power became larger and battles were fought, not by one man, but by armies. Still, the results were the same. You had to fight for your place or you risked losing all your freedom and possessions.
Today, there are still parts of the world that work like this but, not in the modern-day society that we live in. However, we still tend to think and behave as though everything we value is attached to our social status. Having the big house, nice, car, and “trophy wife” are stereotypical desires that underscore much of how we function as men. Let’s be honest, we are constantly comparing ourselves to the other men around us. We are “comparers” by nature.
❤️ Romantic Relationships ❤️
Way back when, emotions were not of much use to men. Our job was to feed and protect and that was it. If we fed our family, fought for our women, and taught our sons a few things about being a man, we were successful. Women were in charge of raising the children and tending to their emotional needs. As many of the women tended to group together to raise their offspring, they inevitable began to learn tools to support each other emotionally. This dance has been going on for thousands of years.
According to an article published in Psychology Today (Who is More Likely to Leave a Bad Relationship by Elizabeth McClintock Ph.D.), women end marriages in about two-thirds of divorces. Deeper research suggests that men are more emotionally dependent on women because women give more emotional support than they receive versus men who receive more than they give. Women tend to have other people in their life who support them emotionally while men often rely solely on their partner.
It’s not that men are just selfish, emotional leeches. We often aren’t parented in a way that supports emotional growth and our culture certainly doesn’t support emotional sensitivity in men. Even our cartoon superheroes tend to “go at it alone”, pick themselves up by their bootstraps, and portray immense physical and emotional durability. Many men’s emotional growth is stunted at childhood and we are left with mad, good, stressed, and sometimes sad (if it’s bad enough). We tend to deal with things on our own and through distraction. Porn, sex, alcohol, nicotine, eating, and raging at the gym can usually get men through most situations in the short-term.
🤷♂️ Finding a Purpose 🤷♂️
In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the pyramid is built from bottom to top as follows: Physical, Security, Social, Ego, and Self-Actualization. In our earlier years of development as a species, physical and security needs took up the majority of our time. Our purpose was essentially to stay alive and the reason could have been as simple as us wanting to avoid the pain of starvation and hypothermia. As our society grew, it became more complex and we started to have more time to explore social, egoic, and self-actualization needs.
We already have several purposes in life. That’s what gets us up in the morning and drives most of our daily activity.
However, why do we fall into anxious and depressive cycles if all of our external needs are being met? It’s because our need for creativity and self-development is not known or being honored. Whether we are “successful” or not by society’s standards makes no difference if we are not feeling fulfilled and purposeful. This can start to affect us at any stage of our life and it usually shows up most in our career, relationships, and health. If we discover what we truly want in each of these areas, we will begin to live a life full of purpose.
🙋♂️ Asking for Help 🙋♂️
Surviving the plains of ancient Africa with only rocks and sticks was no small feat. There was no 911, Google, or assault rifles. We were left all alone to protect our tribe and ourselves. It was a kill or be killed kind of world and it came from all angles. Between our neighbors, apex predators, illness, and the weather, just about anything could take us out. Only the strong survived and there wasn’t anyone around to ask for help. Leaders emerged and they were worshipped for their ability to solve problems and take care of themselves.
This is still much the attitude of the modern man. If you are hurt, if you don’t know something, or if someone else needs help, you are supposed to figure it out. If you don’t you are weak, stupid, or selfish. You are not a man.
Ironically, feminine insults are often implicated as a way to demean and belittle ourselves and our associates. If you ask for help then that means you have given up and that any newfound success cannot be owned. It is somehow honorable to carry our burdens with us through life as if we are a martyr for this false identity of manhood.