The reason that I wanted to address this today is that I see a lot of men who are in relationships with their significant other, who are acting as if they’re their wife’s child. It’s disturbing, to say the least. It’s pathetic, and I don’t believe that it’s conducive to a healthy, intimate relationship between a husband and a wife. I don’t know if it’s because these guys don’t recognize they’re behaving this way more like a child, a boy than they are a man. Or if it’s because they’ve been conditioned to behave this way. Maybe they grew up without a father figure in their life and there wasn’t a real masculine presence so they don’t quite know how to act like a man around women. Or maybe they think it’s cute and that it’s actually going to again, be conducive to some type of relationship that a wife would want. That’s not the case at all. In fact, I think it actually harms a relationship and it drives a wedge between you and your partner.
I’m going to talk to you today about why it’s so important that we behave like men. Some of these things I’m going to share with you today might seem a little counterintuitive, and I’m going to break down five steps and five strategies that you can use to ensure that you are being a husband. That you are leading inside the walls of your home as a husband, not behaving like a little boy. But let’s break these down before we get into the steps. I just think that there’s … and this is only going to get worse. There’s just this trend and it’s really upsetting to see men … boys, I should say, and girls growing up without this male father figure in their life. And sometimes I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when I talk about this, but it is only going to get worse.
I think because more and more boys are not being surrounded by these masculine presences, that it’s going to be difficult for these boys as they become men and step out into the workforce, and get married, and start families to actually behave the way that they’re supposed to. In addition to that, these guys who believe that maybe it’s cute to be dependent on or to make a woman feel like she’s needed, this is not going to work. I’m telling you it’s not going to work. Women might feel flattered and excited about all the attention, and the desire to be needed for a very, very short period of time. But when she realizes that she can’t get a mature discussion or a mature approach to life out of her husband, she’s going to be gone. And as much as I don’t want to cast blame, I really got to say that guys, we got to take a good hard look at ourselves in how we’re behaving and how we’re showing up.
Now, I will throw this disclaimer out there because I do talk quite a bit about this and I talked about it last week with these movements that you see sprouting up with regards to men ostracizing other individuals and even removing themselves completely from relationships with the opposite sex. Meng Tao, I believe is starting to go down that path. I think there are some noble intentions there, but I think it’s a breeding ground for some of these men who take it out of context and they start to believe that we are to operate individually of everybody else and not be part of society, or relationship, or whatever it may be. And then on the opposite, the far end of the extreme and the spectrum, you have these incels, involuntary celibates. These are the guys who believe that they’re victims of society and they’re victims of women. And rather than learning to take some measure of responsibility in their lives, decided that everybody is doing things to them. And if women wouldn’t do things to them or society wouldn’t do things to them, then everything would be perfect.
And of course, we know that these are guys who are unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, and frankly behave more like boys than they do men. So as I share with you these five strategies to ensure that you are being the kind of male presence that your wife and your family needs, please don’t misunderstand me and think that I’m talking about you going your own way, or you doing things in spite of her, or without her … not permission, but without her understanding or knowledge. That’s not what I’m saying. I want to throw this disclaimer out there because as I talk about some of these things, it may seem like that. It may sound like that. Throughout this conversation, I’m going to try to give you some context so that you understand, hopefully, that it’s not about going your own way. It’s about being a better husband, being a more capable father, and frankly stepping into the man that you want to become. I don’t think you’d be listening to this podcast if that weren’t the case. So let’s break this down. Again, this is about not becoming your wife’s child.
1. Establish Boundaries
I talk about this at length quite a bit, probably in every podcast I talk about this. So you’re going to get sick of hearing me say it, but the reason I bring it up so much is that so many men seem like they can’t do this effectively. And it very simply establishes boundaries. Guys, you have to establish boundaries. There have to be some limits that are clearly communicated and expected between you and your wife. If those boundaries are not there and she’s crossing into your space, physical or mental space, you’re crossing into her physical, mental or emotional space, then, of course, there’s going to be problems. And yet we don’t establish these boundaries because we want to play the nice guy, and this is part of the problem with the nice guy syndrome which is not really going to help. Although I think a lot of guys think that it is. That, “If I just am nice then everything will be great.” Well, women aren’t looking for nice guys.
They are not looking for nice guys, and that’s why we see a lot of these women who are attracted to the “bad boy” is because they’re rejecting the good little boy that tows the line and does everything that he’s told. So I’m not telling you that you need to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious, I’m telling you that you need to clearly establish boundaries, communicate those boundaries effectively, and then uphold those boundaries. So what might some of these look like? Well, they might be verbal boundaries or communication boundaries, the way in which your wife and you will communicate with each other. I know that I’ve had conversations with my wife who I have a great intimate loving relationship with, where we may get into a debate, or a discussion, or potentially even an argument. And I frankly had to come out and say, “I will not allow you to speak to me like that.” And you know what? She said the same thing.
And because I put my foot down, I’m clear about it, and on her side, she puts her foot down and she’s clear about it, we know exactly what those boundaries are. What’s the old adage? High fences make great neighbors. I’m not saying you need to put up a wall or a fence between you and your wife, but that’s the point of boundaries. So that people know what is expected, what you tolerate, what you will not tolerate. And as soon as those things are laid out, then you can make decisions about how your relationship is going to go forward. Other boundaries that I have in place, I happen to work at home, which is a great blessing in my family’s lives. But it’s also a challenge in that my wife can come up here while I’m working, my kids can bounce around and they can run around in the halls, they can come into my office. I have to clearly articulate and establish these boundaries so they don’t do that and they understand that I’m working, so I communicate these things with them. “Hey, when the door is closed in my office, that means I’m working.
If you hear me on a podcast or talking in here, that means it needs to be quiet outside.” When my wife might ask me, for example, to do a chore, to take out the trash, or some other item around the household, if it’s during the working day, she knows that I’m not going to do it because I’ve told her upfront I’m not going to do it. And when she’s asked me in the past, I say, “No. No, I will not take out the trash right now. But if that’s what you need to be done, I will happily do that this evening or tomorrow morning before or after my working hours.” So again, for the “recovering nice guy”, he might hear this and think, “Well Ryan, you’re just being a jerk. What’s the big deal with taking out the trash?” Guys, it’s not about taking out the trash. That will literally take me 60 seconds. It’s not a big deal when it comes to the time invested in being able to do that chore, it’s the principle of the thing. It’s the standard and the expectation that I have set.
And because I have clear expectations and clear boundaries around how we communicate with each other, what I will do and won’t do during working hours, and so many other facets, there’s no guesswork. And that’s the beauty because when people are left to guess, they’re going to start filling in the blanks. She’s going to start making assumptions. And more often than not, when people are guessing and making assumptions, it typically goes down a path, a negative path that it’s not. She jumps to the conclusion that I am a jerk, or maybe I’m trying to withhold information from her, or maybe she believes I’m stepping out on her because I’m not engaged the way I should be. No, that’s not it at all. We communicate that upfront. We have those expectations, and those great fences make great neighbors in a way. All right. So that’s number one, establish those boundaries.
2. Stop Asking For Permission
I made this comment or this post on Instagram several weeks ago, and I think a lot of people misunderstood me because what they believe when I said, “Stop asking permission.” Is the thought that I was just giving them a ticket to do whatever the hell they wanted to do, and that’s not at all what I’m saying. I’m not saying that you’re going to go out and do whatever you want to do, and you’re not going to include her in the decision-making process, or informing her about what’s going on. But I’m saying stop asking for permission. Be bold, be assertive. Let her know what you’re going to be doing. Of course, get her input, and her insight and direction. But if you go to your wife every time you want to do something and you say, “Please hun, can I do this? I’d really like to do this.” What you’re doing is you’re stripping away all of your masculine authority and credibility, and you’re behaving more like her child than you are her husband. I don’t ask my wife for permission to do things.
I inform her of things that I think are going to be good for me and the family. We consult, we make decisions together. But at the end of the day, I make those decisions. I don’t ask for permission. There was a time in our marriage where I would and I would run around asking her to do things, even trivial things. Every single time that one of those things came up, I would be asking her if I could do those things. That’s exhausting. Those of you have kids, you know. If your child comes up to you and asks every time … My two youngest, for example, one is just getting over being potty trained and occasionally he’ll come to me and he’ll say, “Dad, can I go to the bathroom?” It’s like, “Dude, you don’t have to ask me to go to the bathroom. Just go do it.” Or my daughter will ask, “Dad, can I play?” It’s like, “You don’t have to ask permission for that.” But that’s what we as men sometimes do with our wives. We ask over, and over, and over again and she’s like, “Good, hell. Just make a decision.
Be a man and go do your thing.” So again, this is a spectrum. All right? On one end, you have the guy who takes nothing into consideration with regards to his wife’s feelings and thoughts and decisions. And then on the other end, you have the guy who’s asking her for every little thing and every turn, and it becomes annoying and exhausting. Find that middle ground. Be assertive, be bold, include her in the decision-making process. But ultimately you’re not asking for permission, you’re informing so you can both make decisions together. That’s number two.
3. Don’t Throw Temper Tantrums
I know that sounds funny, but I can’t tell you how often I hear from men who have said things like, “Ryan, I blew up with my wife and I lost my cool.” Or, “I let my emotions get the better of me.” That’s boy-like behavior. And I’m not saying I’m above it. All right? I do it occasionally from now and then as well as you do. This is not something I’m above, but it’s something I’m conscious of. That men aren’t absent from emotions, but that we understand how to control our emotions. And when we lose our cool, and we get frustrated, and we yell or we throw things, or heaven forbid we decide to hit or become physical, that’s a problem. That’s a problem, and you’re using your emotions ineffectively. You’re allowing them to get the better of you. Instead, learn why you’re upset? Why do things bother you? Why are you freaking out? Why is this such a big deal? And it might come down to one of the two things I already mentioned, that somebody crossed a boundary that you failed to uphold and so you got upset because they crossed the boundary that you yourself couldn’t uphold. Or she didn’t give you the “permission” that you asked for. These are things that are going to trigger potentially some temper tantrums if you aren’t mature in the way that you handle yourself. So if I notice myself welling up with anger or frustration, or there’s some contention, I quite literally disengage from the situation as best I can.
It might be a ride, it might be going to shoot some arrows in the backyard, or going to physically train, or to do some jujitsu. But I have these outlets in place so that I can begin to separate myself from the thing that’s driving that emotion and then start thinking about it a little bit more logically so that I can come back into the relationship with a mature approach. So for example, if I’m upset about something my wife said or did, maybe she tried to cross a boundary and that upset me, now I come back into the relationship and I can very simply tell her, “Hey hun, you know what? What you said earlier, I really didn’t appreciate and I don’t appreciate being talked to like that. Here’s why that bothers me. Here’s how it upsets me. And here’s the expectation that I have moving forward, which is that you won’t talk to me like that. And instead, you’ll talk to me like …” fill in the blank. You can decide that for yourself. But again, temper tantrums guys, they aren’t going to get you anywhere. All right?
Number one, they’re not going to work. You’re not going to get what you want. And number two, and I think this is more important, is that you literally undermine everything that you’re trying to create. You’re cutting out the foundation out from underneath you, and now you’re operating as the patriarch … like I talked about in last week’s Friday field notes on shaky ground, on sand even. We want a shore solid footing, and in order to maintain that shore solid footing of the way that the patriarch stands and what he stands on, you can’t be emotional. You can’t be running around crying about things. You can’t be running around talking bad about her. You can’t be running around acting like a little child, and yelling, and shouting, or throwing, or potentially even hitting. Control those emotions. Use them for productive outcomes, don’t let them control you.
4. Make Decision
That’s it. Make decisions, that’s what men do. Men are decisive. They make decisions, they act upon those decisions. So when your wife comes to you and says, “Hey hun, I know we’re going out this weekend, where would you like to go?”
Don’t say, “Oh, I don’t know. Where would you like to go?” Just be bold. Just be assertive and say, “I would like to go to Morton’s.” Or whatever. Wherever you’re going to go. “This is where I’d like to go.” Now, if she has a problem with that, then she can inform you that that’s the problem. And that comes back to establishing boundaries and communication. But again, just make decisions. Where are we going to go? What are we going to leave? What should we bring? What are we going to do this weekend? What are you going to do for your career? There are these trivial things, and there are these more important matters. But the more that you learn to make decisions … And by the way guys, this is a skill. I realize that if you’re not accustomed to making decisions, it may be very hard for you too, when she asks, “Where would you like to go to dinner?” For you to say very sure that you have a place picked out. I realize that’s going to be a challenge for some of you.
It sounds silly to some of you who think, “Well, I’m great at making decisions.” But I’m telling you, there are guys out there who really, really struggle with this. And it might be you. And if it is you, the best way to overcome your inability to make decisions is … you guessed it, make decisions. So when people ask for your opinion or ask what you would like to do, then it is now your task and your challenge from me to answer that clearly, succinctly, and make that decision.
5. Cast Vision, Make A Plan, Act Accordingly
Guys, leaders have a vision. They have a direction. They know where they want to go. I look at my boys, they don’t have that yet. Right?
They’re young, they’re immature in a lot of ways and they’ve got a thousand thoughts a second running around in their minds, and they get distracted by the bright, shiny object. It’s like that movie, Up. It’s a cartoon. If you’re a father, you know what it is. Where that … I think it’s the dog. He gets distracted by the squirrel, right? Squirrel. He’s involved in something, focused. And then a squirrel runs by, and the squirrel … and he focuses attention on somewhere else. This is what boys do, but men don’t do that. They maintain a clear focus. They have a vision for the future. They know what they want to accomplish, they know in what direction they want to travel. And although they may not be there yet or super efficient at it, at least they’re starting to cast some vision. Your job as a man is to be able to communicate that effectively to your wife. What is your vision for your career? What is your vision for the family? What is your vision for the way this relationship is going to work out?
With where I am in my relationship, and where I am personally and entrepreneurially, I’m pretty happy with where I am. But I cast this vision to my wife and she shared her visions as well. And because we have these open lines of communication, it’s very easy for us to get on the same page. We’re not always on the same page, but we can get on the same page when I cast vision. That’s not enough. It’s not enough to daydream. It’s not enough to be up in the clouds in Lalaland thinking about all the wonderful things that could be. Your next step is to make plans. What is your plan for turning that vision or that dream into a reality? If you use our 12 week Battle Planner, which you can find in the store or in my book Sovereignty, or if you use some other planning software or program … I don’t care what it is. I just want you to start articulating some plans to turn that vision into a reality.
So once you’ve cast the vision and you and your wife have talked about this, now it’s your job to start thinking about how you can make this work. What needs to be aligned, what resources do you need? What shortcomings need to be addressed? What could potentially get in the way of you creating the life that you’re after? But making these solid plans that you’re adjusting, and you’re tweaking, and you’re refining and honing along the way is going to separate you from being a little child to being the man that she wants you to be. I know she wants you to be this because not only do I get messages from men, I get messages from women as well. Some women are grateful for what we’ve created here because they see an assertive change in their husband, and others are asking how they can get their husbands to be more assertive, to be more like men than little boys. The topic of this conversation today.
I think if you learn to make plans and communicate those plans and take her thoughts, and her dreams, and her visions, and goals, and aspirations into consideration, and then start formulating a way to make that happen, she’s going to start to believe in you. But only, only if you implement the third step. And the third step is to act. Act accordingly. All right? You have the vision. You know what you guys want. You’ve started to make the plans for the future. But if it stops there, she’s going to stop believing in you. She’s going to believe you’re a dreamer. And a dream is great, but you got to act. You got to take it into consideration and figure out how you’re going to implement these things. So if you’re not a man of action, become a man of action. And again, guys will ask, “Well, how do you do that?” Guys, it’s simple. You act. How do you establish boundaries? You establish boundaries. How do you make sure people don’t step over those boundaries? You warn them when they do, and cut them off when they go over those lines.
How do you not ask for permission? You stop asking for permission. How do you make better decisions? You start making decisions. The answer is quite literally in the question itself. So guys, cast your vision, make your plans, and then act accordingly. And this is a cycle. Maybe not even a cycle. These are things that you should be doing all the time. I think at the root of what we’re talking about here today, if I was to sum this all up into a pretty package with a little bow on it, I would say communication. Communication. Very often I’m asked, “What’s one skill that you think would benefit everybody more if they were to implement?” You know, questions like that. And my answer is communication. You’re dealing with another human being. All of her dreams, and her ideas, and her aspirations, and her shortcomings, and her own character flaws just like you and I have. And because you’re dealing with another human being, it’s critical that you learn to communicate effectively. That when you’re establishing boundaries, you can’t withhold them or have these covert contracts that people aren’t aware of.
When we’re talking about not asking for permission, I’m not telling you to shut down. I’m telling her that you’re going to start informing her of what you’re going to be doing and taking her thoughts into consideration. When I’m talking about not throwing temper tantrums, I’m talking about opening up and sharing what’s on your mind, and what your perspective is rather than closing down or getting emotional over it because you’re not getting your way. Making decisions, casting vision, making plans, acting accordingly, all require a level of assertive communication. But I didn’t want to just say, “Assertive communication.” I wanted to give you a framework for how to make this work better. So as I part today, maybe what I’ll share with you … and perhaps I should’ve shared this in the beginning, I want to give you maybe some ideas or some warning signs that you are acting more like a child than the man that she wants you to be, and the man you’re capable of becoming. I think very simply, one red flag might be that you have lost an element of trust with her.
That she’s not asking for your input, or direction, or insight, or that when you say things, your words carry no weight to her. If you’re running into that, it might be because you’re lacking in one or more of the areas that I just shared with you today. If you notice that she’s undermining your authority, or she’s doing things behind your back, or not informing you of all the things that she has going on in her life, you might be falling short in some of these areas. I know it’s a challenge. I know it can’t be summed up in a 25-minute podcast. But guys, it’s critical that we learn how to be the men that we’re capable of becoming. And by the way, this doesn’t only apply to your wife, this applies to your clients. This applies to employees, and friends, and family members … other family members. This applies to your children. Everybody that you’re going to interact with on a daily basis, it’s critical that you establish these five strategies to help you improve who you are as a man, and that you’re behaving, and acting, and communicating effectively as that man.