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Relationships, Perceptions and Communication

The perception of reality is subjective. I have been aware of this for many years and am gradually understanding the deep effect this has on relationships. Very little in life is absolutely this way or absolutely that way. Recognizing this can be helpful for an individual who is struggling with the idea that anything must be perfectly this way or that. It becomes more complicated for two individuals and even more complex when a number of people are involved. It's actually quite healthy that we don't all perceive things exactly the same way. Remember the story of the five blind men describing an elephant. When each man's definition was put together with all the other's definitions, the group perception of an elephant was complete. When one individual perceives a situation to be one way and another individual perceives the same situation to be another way, communication skills become very important.

For instance, a friend of mine was told by her significant other, "there is not enough room in this relationship for two men". When she asked him what his definition of "man" was, an argument followed. "A man! Everyone knows what a man is!" No, there really is no standard definition that fits. How each of us perceives and defines what a man is will be different from how others perceive and define what a man is. Times have changed, men have changed, and we've all changed. That is real and, I believe, good.

It is, very important for us to define what we mean when we say something. When two different people, grow up in two different households their perceptions of reality and definitions of words are going to be very different. Even when two people grow up in the same home they will have different perceptions. For the sake of a relationship, even the dictionary cannot make the final decision. Dictionaries were written by people who do not live with us. Respect for ourselves and one another means that we take the time to define, explain in detail, what we mean by our words and how we perceive reality. Respect also means that we listen to and accept the other person's perceptions of reality and definitions of words.

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When Your Husband Becomes Your Father

When Ava - a tall, willowy, graphic artist in her late twenties - met Paul, she was immediately struck by how different he was from other guys she had dated -- particularly her father. After years of struggling with a powerful, authoritative father who treated everyone like an employee in his huge import-export company, Ava was utterly relieved by Paul's mellow nature and spontaneous life style. A professional musician who taught in a small private school, Paul played the guitar for her. They took long walks at the beach and he often brought her a much-cherished single rose.

"He won't even wear a jacket to dinner," Ava told her best friend Lee. "He says it confines him. He needs his freedom. Can I ever relate to that. His hair is rumpled, his eyes sparkle. What a pleasure." Ava and Lee smiled at the same moment, both knowing well the intense struggle Ava had waged for years to get out of her father's iron grip, to assert her own needs and values. Above all, she couldn't bear authoritative men who ordered her around. Up to now, most of her relationships with men had been short-circuited by her fear of being dominated again. The fact that her father was sure to dislike Paul made the match seem sweeter.

True to expectation, as soon as her father met Paul, he waged a full out war against him. There was nothing about him he liked. He even threatened to disinherit his only daughter, and, true to form, Ava's mother remained in the background, refusing to get involved. Her father's constant refusal to accept the match, and barrage of criticism, helped push the couple to set the big date much sooner than they would have otherwise.

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The Metrosexual Man vs. The Cowboy - What Do Women Want?

He always looks perfectly put together. He can be in a t-shirt and jeans or heading out to a black-tie event. His hair never has a bad day. His nails are clean and buffed. His clothes are perfectly pressed and exquisitely coordinated. He smells like flowers and spice. Is he gay? No, he's the new metrosexual man.

As many of you know by now, the term "metrosexual" was coined by a journalist (and gay man) named Mark Simpson, to describe a new kind of urban male who is straight, but in touch with his feminine side and not afraid to show it. Essentially, metrosexuals are guys who take on behaviors and show an interest in things that have traditionally belonged in the female domain.

You may have a metrosexual brother, male friend or boyfriend (ex). These are the guys you can shop till you drop with. They can discuss fashion, will notice your great new shoes, buy their grooming products from the same places you do and have no qualms about having a manicure, pedicure or facial. You can actually TALK to these guys about something other than sports, cars and other traditionally male interests. These are the guys you can take to the opera, symphony and ballet. The perfect man, right? Depends on whom you talk to.

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