Chances are good that you came to the Order of Man because there was something in your life that was lacking; a blind spot or area of your life that you had decided wasn’t good enough.
And, if you’ve been here for any amount of time and have put into action the practices and principles that the men within the Order talk about, you’re probably well on your way to leveling up in all aspects of your life.
In fact, I’d bet you’re seeing improvements all over the place and it feels really good. The people around you are starting to see it too. With this new sense of confidence and an awareness of a whole new world of success and fulfillment you didn’t realize was out there, naturally you want to encourage those around you to feel just as good as you do. You likely share what’s been working, and you might even push a little – because who doesn’t need a nudge right? Then, if you’re like the majority of the men in the Order, you’ll experience the nearly inevitable backfire of that plan. They resist – and might even get angry or scared.
Stumped, you turn to your brothers for advice.
It happens like clockwork. A new round of guys join the Order of Man and usually within about a month the question is posted to the Facebook group, “Guys, how do you deal with it when your wife/girlfriend doesn’t want to get motivated like I am?” or “have you seen your wife get mad/threatened/jealous (you name it) at the progress you’re making?” They nearly all end with the same request “how do I make her get motivated to make the same changes I am?”
If this isn’t you, count yourself lucky and move on. If this is starting to ring true (as it did for me – I posted the same inevitable question about a month after I joined) then this is for you. I’ve decided to preempt the most common concerns/questions you might ask on this topic and distill the wisdom the group is inevitably going bestow here for you. There is no way I’ll cover off all of the potential circumstances or scenarios, but listen to the theme of the messages (and there will be a theme), to develop a toolbox of tactics you can use to fit your own scenario. Don’t go hunting for solution X to problem Y – it probably won’t work. Life rarely does.
Just about all of the questions can be summarized in four main categories.
“My wife isn’t motivated to make the changes I’ve made and it’s frustrating me. Obviously it’s in her best interest.”
Of course she isn’t. You’ve spent a lifetime getting to the point in your life where you felt like you needed to reach out for help or support. It probably took some life-altering event to finally push you to the point where you were compelled quite profoundly to make a change. It might be the birth of a child, a health scare, a time you lost your temper in a bad way or had to go out and buy a bigger size of pant. Whatever it was, it was profound to you and probably jarring. Good!
You’re trying to take your experience and impose it on someone else. However well-intentioned, it will not work. If it worked liked that, you’d have changed your life the first time you read an inspiring fitness article or watched a documentary about someone overcoming a life changing event. We don’t get involved in life sitting on the sidelines watching others experience life; we have to live it ourselves. The same is true for your spouse.
They need to have their own “moment” and you need to be patient so that they discover it on their own. Anything else isn’t their moment. It is artificial and will not last.
Remember also that what works for you might not work for them. Their “moment” may lead them down a different path to self-discovery and improvement. That’s okay. Be as supportive with them as you’d like them to be for you.
“My wife is acting strangely around me. She doesn’t seem happy at the changes I’m making.”
Change is hard for everyone and when you see people leveling up around you, it can create a sense of panic and fear. Fear you’ll leave them behind. Fear you’ll no longer love them. Fear they won’t be worthy. It can also reinforce the things about themselves they wish they could change.
While it is true that much of what we do here is for ourselves (and that’s not a bad thing at all), I’ve been around this group of men long enough to know nearly all are here to be better for the people around them. Where many struggle is in their ability to communicate this to their spouses in an empathetic and caring way.
Unless she’s directly expressed her fears to you, you don’t need to tackle them head on. What you can do however is express your love and gratitude to her and explain your motivation in a non-threatening, genuine way.
“I’m so grateful for all you do for me and our family. It’s important that I be able to be the best I can be for you. You motivate me to be better and as I get stronger and more patient (or whatever you’re working on) I feel I’m able to be a better husband and father, and that brings me so much closer to you and the family. I want you to know that I am doing what I’m doing for you and our family – and that I love you.”
It’s hard for most of us to communicate this way and it might feel like I’m laying it on a bit thick but remember this isn’t about us. It is unlikely to be how we were raised. The truth however is this is an integral part of being a better man; having the tough conversations and making those around us feel safe and comfortable. You’ll likely find that this type of statement will encourage her to open up and she’ll discuss some of the reasons she may have been reacting they way she has.
Listen, intently, and be empathetic.
This is the start of the journey and now is the time to address her fears head-on. Not only will this stop the gap that might be forming from getting bigger, it will bring you closer.
Lastly, this isn’t a one-off conversation. Back up your words and remind her as often as necessary.
“I feel amazing and I don’t understand why she won’t even try. She won’t work out or even go for a walk with me.”
These are all essentially derivatives of the same problem (themes!) and they build on each other. If you haven’t stumbled on it yet, one of the important character traits we try to embody in the Order of Man is one of being a Lighthouse and not a Tug-Boat. You can’t live your life dragging people around, rescuing them from themselves. It’s exhausting and won’t achieve the desired outcome.
We can’t change other people.
All we can do is to live our lives in a way that sets an example and demonstrates to the world what we can accomplish with some planning, dedication and execution. You shine the light and others can choose to follow your lead – or not. As the people around you are left to have their own “moment”, and if they are secure in the knowledge that you won’t leave them behind, all you need to do is to continue to set the example. Be steadfast in your commitment to self-improvement and be aware of the people around you. I think you’ll be amazed at the results.
“She’s doing everything in her power to cause me to fail. She wants me to quit and come ‘back’ to her.”
Now I wish it weren’t the case but there are some instances where those around you may seek to actively sabotage your progress. If you see this happening, do not react hastily. The overwhelming majority of the time it can be addressed by using the tactics outlined above – notably through communication and reassuring your spouse of your intentions. These actions are almost always driven by fear and are happening subconsciously. If it continues, and you feel like it might put your relationship in jeopardy, do not be too proud to seek professional help like a marriage counselor or spiritual leader you trust.
Giving in however, and settling back into your “old ways” is not a solution to anyone’s problems.
It may take some time and many of us struggle with patience, but if you approach your relationships with a little more intentionality, empathy and awareness you’ll find that you can overcome these challenges and in no time, she’ll be right there by your side keeping pace.
You’ll find so many amazing resources, mentors, and discussions taking place within the Order of Man that you’ll soon look back and think “what a great problem to have had” as it not only means you’re making meaningful progress, but that you are able to use the things you’ve learned and experienced to really and truly bring yourself and those around you up to a whole new level.
Enjoy the journey and tackle your challenges head on with confidence.