THE PERFECT GIFT FOR ANY MAN

the secret to getting closer to any man 

Women are like this: We experience absolute JOY through the act of gift-giving. Forget Valentine's Day, we'd happily exchange jewelry and trinkets with our friends each and every day. What else is a "friendship" bracelet but a little girl's first expression of affection? This is how women bond with each other. We create connection through the exchange of gifts.

While men certainly enjoy receiving presents from loved ones, it is not a key part of male bonding. (You don’t see many friendship bracelets being exchanged in the man cave.) In fact, an emotional bond has to exist FIRST, before a man can truly relish receiving that carefully-researched antique whatsit you purchased for him on eBay. For you, receipt of such a precious gift would make you feel deeply connected to the giver. For him... not so much. That expensive token of affection is just not the path to his heart. (In fact, if he hints that his taste does run to expensive toys and timepieces, RUN the other way, because he is not your Mr. Right.)

A man has to be emotionally bonded, first, before a woman's gift really speaks to his heart.

With the gifting season upon us, let’s take a minute to focus on that difference in gender wiring:

  • When a woman receives a gift, she often feels more emotionally bonded to the giver. Her affections may actually grow over time, through the receipt of small presents. She is wired to appreciate this form of acknowledgment and to feel cherished through it.
  • A man has to be emotionally bonded, first, before a woman's gift really speaks to his heart. You can't coax him into loving you more by giving him things. As his love bond grows, a mature man takes far greater satisfaction in assuming the role of giver, rather than receiver. He feels cherished when a woman acknowledges and appreciates all that he gives to her.
Zales
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If you’re already in a deeply committed relationship, then you and your mate know best what that perfect present looks like — whether it’s a special experience, a “we” gift, or simply the celebration of another year together as a family.

But when you are newly dating, and don’t yet know quite where the relationship is headed, female instincts might incorrectly lead you into an over-giving frenzy. Given how men are wired, you now know that less is more when buying a present for your guy. Since I know it’s in your nature to splurge, and you don’t want to “just” buy him a hardcover about his favorite sports hero — here are 3 additional presents you are welcome to spoil him with as much as you wish:

  1. Appreciation — for all he gives you and all he does for you.
  2. Femininity — When you embrace and express your femininity, you give him permission to find joy in being male. There is no shaming or blaming for our intrinsic differences.
  3. Vulnerability — Stripping away the polished exterior you may need to wear at work, and relaxing into a softer, more authentic you.  
TIP: A man knows he is at his best, most masculine self, when he can protect and provide for others. Your vulnerability helps bring his best self to the surface.

Your vulnerability unlocks his loving, protective side.

FROM ZALES

Because there is a lot of confusion about what it means to be vulnerable in an emotionally healthy way, I want to leave you with some tips for bringing your vulnerability to the surface. (To be clear, this never involves placing yourself in an unsafe situation or relationship. Quite the opposite. An emotionally healthy woman requires a foundation of trust and respect before she can connect in a vulnerable way.)

TIP: A man simply can't fall in love with you — not in a deep, lasting way — if he doesn't first feel protective toward you.  

Bring your vulnerability to the surface with a man you trust.

To unlock your softer side, take off your hyper-responsible “professional” or “parent” mask, and don’t worry about earning an A+. You’re safe here. Go ahead and give yourself permission to:

  • Be at a loss for words
  • Be unprepared
  • Blush
  • Pass, instead of answering every question
  • Don’t think up a witty comeback
  • Be confused
  • Forget
  • Misplace your car keys
  • Laugh at yourself, at life, at him(!)
  • Be playful
  • Be irresponsible
  • Relax
  • Be real

Your authentic vulnerability may turn out to be the most exquisite present of all — a surprising gift that allows him to bond and connect with you in a powerful and lasting way.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter.

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY CREATED, WITH LOVE, FOR THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

3 STEPS TO RE-ANCHOR YOUR MARRIAGE (FOR WOMEN)

“You can have everything and still be depressed, until you learn that you are here as an offering. You are not here to get; you are here to give.”
— David Deida, Dear Lover

If you’ve been married to your man for many years, you know that getting to the altar was the easy part. It’s staying together for the long haul that is the challenge. Few of us would consider it a success to simply co-partner with a mate in a basic, tribal sense, nesting and raising young together. We humans crave and need passionate, emotional connection in a long-term union. If that feeling of connectedness weakens, loneliness can set in, and our commitment to each other will weaken in response.

“You can have everything and still be depressed, until you learn that you are here as an offering. You are not here to get; you are here to give.” —David Deida, Dear Lover

There is never a wrong time to practice openness, but it is especially important in a committed relationship. (Of course, I bring this idea to you with the assumption that your man is trustworthy, treats you with respect, and has made you a priority in his life. Those conditions must be met before we talk about emotionally surrendering ourselves to a mate.)

If you’ve been feeling like your connection needs strengthening—maybe he seems a little distant, or you just have a vague feeling that things are “off”—following these 3 steps will help to re-anchor feelings of love and attachment.

1.    Read Dear Lover by David Deida. This book celebrates feminine joy and sensuality, and offers a safe space for exploring ideas about surrender within a committed, loving relationship. If you struggle to relate to your man in an emotionally vulnerable way (or if you’re not sure what, exactly, that looks and feels like) Deida’s vivid, erotically charged language will help you “open in trust” to your mature, loving mate, and move past blocks and fears. Bringing this mindset into your relationship will fuel his passion and devotion.

2.   Give without expectation of any return. This generosity comes from a position of strength, and is a completely different perspective from the eager-to-please “doormat” who puts everyone else’s needs first. Actually, you have a deep need to give to those you love; it is only when we start keeping score that giving breeds resentment and poisons otherwise healthy impulses. Just for today, imagine that you are Queen of your household. You have unlimited resources at your disposal and it makes you happy to share your good fortune. When you see that your husband’s glass is empty, you graciously refill it—without waiting for him to acknowledge it, or even notice. This shift in perspective—from put-upon victim to magnanimous ruler—can help you feel energized and alive. It builds good will, the foundation of any healthy relationship.

3.   Remove the assumption that you “know” your man. This is hard to do. You think you know all there is to know about him—how he thinks and feels. But you have surely grown and evolved since you first met. Maybe you have new dreams and desires that he is unaware of. Certainly he does, too. So put on your safari gear and go observe him in the wild. Take notes. Ask him questions. What is his mission in life—has it changed since you were first dating and dying to know all about him? Pretend you just met. And don’t make the mistake of sharing all your dreams and desires first; to a man, that can feel like “dumping” if it is unexpected and out of context. Listen to him with respect, first. Your time will come, and he will return your interest ten-fold when you show that you trust him to do so. 

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON ROBYN'S BLOG @THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

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Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women, and a happily married mother of three. Need advice about your own relationship? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

UNDERSTANDING MEN — WHY HE CHOOSES SILENCE

You’d think that with all the gender-related research that has taken place over the last 20 years, modern men and women would be better equipped to just accept our differences and live together peacefully. Informed by all those studies, I should be able to accept my husband’s hard-wired behavior, and he should be able to embrace my innate femaleness — because as research shows, it’s nothing personal.

Understanding Men: Silence is a man's safe place. Respect his need to seek comfort his way.

And in truth, men usually do accept that some things just “are what they are” — wives and girlfriends included — and cut us plenty of slack for behavior and attitudes that can seem a bit odd from a male perspective. (My husband still can’t fathom why my daughters and I find pedicures relaxing — to him it would be the worst form of tickle torture — but he gracefully accepts that our experience is different from his.)

By contrast, women often have a harder time of letting go and just accepting some of the manly quirks that show up in long-term relationships — removing the personal, in other words. One of these is a man’s tendency to make like a turtle and retreat into his shell when conflict appears on the horizon. In fact, for some guys, going silent is simply a default setting — whether happy, depressed, angry, or worried. Meanwhile, women have a hard time believing that not talking about a problem might actually be a healthy and loving strategy. If you frequently get frustrated with your guy for clamming up just when you’d like him to open up, are these some of the adjectives you mentally apply to his behavior?

  • Stonewalling
  • Passive-Aggressive
  • Withholding
  • Out of touch
  • Rejecting

That list is made up of real complaints from married women I have coached over the years. 

What those adjectives imply is that for some unknown reason, your honey is choosing a behavior (going silent) that deliberately brings pain to the woman he supposedly loves (you!). Assuming yours is a reasonably healthy and harmonious relationship otherwise, that doesn’t sound very logical does it? How would it benefit him to drive you batty on purpose? And you know guys are all about logic... Men do what makes sense — from a male perspective.

Tommy Hilfiger

So to better understand his tactics, it helps to understand the value of silence from your guy’s perspective:

  1. Silence is calming. Companionable silence can be among a man’s greatest pleasures in life, and well accompanies typical dude activities like chess, golf, fly fishing, and poker. By contrast, when a woman needs to self-sooth, her impulse is usually to talk about her concerns — verbal sharing is calming for her. In this respect, men and women truly have competing needs.
  2. Silence is safe. Even a modern husband feels the pull of primitive instincts. Ancestors who learned to hunt silently were more successful at providing food for their family and community. Silence offers protection. Both men and women seek safety during times of stress — for a man, silence is his safe place.
  3. Silence works in other areas of life. In his work life, and certainly in the company of other men, there is rarely a downside to silence. Talk, on the other hand, can be risky. Saying too much (or the wrong thing) can make someone vulnerable to attack. Men generally can point to a lifetime of experiences that support this approach. If your experience has been that silence is generally a winning strategy, with very little downside risk, it makes sense that it would be your go-to position as well.

The next time your well-meaning sweetie opts NOT to “talk things out,” try to see his behavior as a teeny bit chivalrous, like opening a door for you or carrying a heavy package. In adopting silence, his hard-wired impulses may be to:

a) Calm himself down.

b) Protect you and your relationship.

If you can look at it that way, you will generate loads more good will than if you immediately label his behavior in a negative way. And when you allow him to become emotionally restored and recharged—his way — he’ll be better able to give you what you need.

ROBYN ORIGINALLY CREATED THIS ARTICLE, WITH LOVE, FOR THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Need advice about your own dating situation? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

DON'T PLAY THE "GIMME FIRST" GAME IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

“To bring anything into your life,
imagine that it’s already there.” 

–Richard Bach

Here’s a destructive relationship cycle that many women have experienced—and it can occur whether you’ve been married to a man for decades or are on your very first date:

1. You feel like your guy isn’t giving you enough of something (his time, his attention, his affection, etc.)

2. As a result, your inner glow starts to dim. Instead of being warm and enticing, you send out signals that he is failing, big-time. That’s the kind of message men are hyper-sensitive to. (In fact, some men learn to simply expect that response from a woman and then tune it out because they assume they’ll never win.)

3. Now he feels even less motivated to figure out what would please you. So he withdraws further.

4. You feel even less understood and supported. You may even decide to “clear the air” and initiate a talk about all the ways in which he is disappointing you. (Does a high-pressure talk ever produce good, long-term results?) The negative spiral continues….

I call this the “Gimme First” cycle because you are waiting for him to give to you first before you give back to him (affection, affirmation—whatever it is). While I advocate letting a man lead the pace of a relationship—allowing him to initiate each new level of intimacy—he has to feel that he has plenty of “wins” along the way. Otherwise, he may simply dig in his heels, and no amount of pushing will get him to move forward.

How do you break out of this damaging cycle?

First: Don’t give him all that power. You are allowing his behavior to dim your sparkle and while that’s not good for him, it’s really not good for you.

Second: Switch on your abundance mindset. In practical terms, act “as if” your man is already giving you what you need.

I know, I know. It sounds like I’m suggesting that you let him off the hook and forget about your own needs.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. But you’re not going to get your needs met if your only strategy is “Gimme First.”

Next time you find yourself in a scenario where you are feeling unappreciated or unloved by your guy, practice acting “as if” you were really connected. Go into another room, if you need to, and imagine that you are getting what you need—enough—from him. Would you be feeling warm and cozy? Would you feel satisfied and relaxed and confident in his love? Allow yourself to experience the sensation of being loved and taken care of by him. Take that feeling with you, when you return to him.

Fortunately for all of us, positive energy is just as infectious as negative energy. When you come back to him—mentally and physically—he will feel the change in your attitude. Don’t rush into anything. Don’t have a talk or feel you must take action right away. Just let the good vibes percolate.

Once you’ve created an atmosphere of good will, I’d like you to also assume good intentions (they go hand in hand). If you’re in a committed relationship, assume that if he loves you he will ultimately want to figure out how to please you; talking about it may not be necessary to get the result you want. If you’re in a dating situation, and just beginning to know each other, having the ability to hit the reset button by acting “as if” will keep you from getting stuck.

Feel free to use this strategy in non-romantic relationships as well, such as at work or with family members. In a normal, emotionally healthy environment, acting “as if” can be a great way to take back control and set yourself and those around you on a more positive path.

READ NEXT: UNDERSTANDING MEN—WHY HE CHOOSES SILENCE

Robyn Wahlgast is a Rules Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Need advice about your own dating situation? Consider booking a private consultation with Robyn. Never miss a new blog post: subscribe to our FREE newsletter

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @THE WELLNESS UNIVERSE.

HOW TO STAY LIGHT AND BREEZY IN ANY SEASON

How A 1972 Hit Song Can Help You Keep Harmony With Your Man

Even as autumn chills the air, and you begin to search for that second glove…or those perfect boots…you can still hang onto a little bit of summer. And, in all honesty, we should try to practice that summery, sunny mindset all year, in all of our relationships.

What do I mean?

If you want to know what a man’s fantasy of commitment and marriage feels like, just listen to the song "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Crofts. (I've linked to the sexiest cover version ever by The Isley Brothers.) 

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day's work
And you're waiting there, not a care in the world...

  A sunny attitude doesn't always happen for us naturally. It may take some practice and mindfulness. Take baby steps toward the sunshine!

A sunny attitude doesn't always happen for us naturally. It may take some practice and mindfulness. Take baby steps toward the sunshine!

Now, of course you—the “you” that is the woman in the song—aren't lounging around without a care in the world. That’s pretty much the opposite of your experience right now at work or in your home life. But that simplified version of domestic life, and breezy, carefree imagery is an ideal any of us could crave, especially when life is so complicated, and continually throwing curve-balls. That vision is especially powerful because such a “lite” mindset can be used to positively affect your actions and interactions with your partner. After all, cultivating peace and rapport in your relationships is a day by day commitment. At any moment, one can feel like sinking from the pressures and expectations that exist in any long-term situation. Creating an aura of ease and lightness can seem completely out of reach.

As with vocal harmony, choosing to spread sunshine is a skill you can practice and get better at over time. When you’re practically crackling with stress, you may think it’s your man’s job to somehow take away the pain. Maybe it’s your secret desire that he can read your mind (nope), relieve you of your burden (only you can do that, doll), and give you a hug (yes, that’s reasonable). If your guy appears to be upbeat or oblivious to your mood, it can be infuriating. “If he really loved me,” you think, “he’d pick up on my mood and fix this.” Your instinct may even be to pull him down down down into the Wicked Witch’s vortex of doom, with you. You know it’s childish and selfish, but still you have this impulse. The next thing you know, you’ve picked a fight or dumped your issues and complaints onto a somewhat innocent bystander. Now his mood is soured and the negative chain reaction continues. And if you have kids, their little antennae are likely to transmit and amplify the distress signals.     

So pause and remember summer breeze….  That’s what he hoped he was getting when he fell in love with you. That’s the you of your early dates. And, truth be told, that’s the you that you like best. Like a child on a swing, soaring up toward the sky. She’s still in there, and she’s maybe a truer reflection of your self than the stressed-out version. So what can you do to keep the peace, both within your head and in your home?

1. Refrain from “sharing” all the bad things that happened today. (If you’re already unloading, it’s o.k. to stop mid-sentence. Really, he won’t mind.) Sometimes these types of conversations are best left to your friends or other family members—if, after sleeping on it, you still feel like venting.

2. Refresh and reset. Can you try to muster up one good thing that happened during your day? Or something you’re looking forward to in the near future? When all else fails, spend 7 minutes on YouTube watching silly cat videos or that #TBT Sister Sledge video, or anything inspirational to you. When the screen freezes, mentally high-five the millions of other stressed souls who’ve chosen this in lieu of picking a fight with their honey.

3. Make a quick plan to deal with your #1 issue. Tonight is not the time to tackle all 99 of your problems, but you can make a baby step in the right direction. After all, being breezy doesn’t mean being irresponsible. Identify your most pressing issue and come up with one next step that you can take to make things better for yourself. Write it down and place it in a keepsake box or a jar. Close the container and set it aside with intention. You will reopen it in the morning, after a good night's rest.

4. Appreciate him as he is. It sounds so simple, but when you learn to stop "grading" your partner, you will relax and connect with him more completely. Comparing him to other, more perfect specimens of manhood may artificially motivate him at first (when the competitive instinct kicks in), but over time he will simply tune you out. Making comparisons is not an effective means for motivating anyone over the long term, and the habit may drive a wedge between you. Instead, think about one of his recent successes—something you know he values and is proud of—and mention it. 

5. O.k., about that hug. Just ask him for one! You don’t need to overwhelm him with lengthy explanations and details—your snuggle will be that much sweeter as a result.

When I was younger, the wifey, domestic tranquility portrayed in this song seemed to me embarrassingly retro and sexist; I cringed every time it came on the radio. But now that I’m married, I get it. Because in the grown-up world, summer breeze is mostly a dream anyway. It’s a serene state of mind we all long for. So, go on—let him have his fantasy. Try to share a little bit of summer with those you love—including yourself—all year long. 

Robyn Wahlgast is a Certified Dating and Relationship Coach for Women. Book a private consultation or subscribe to her FREE dating and relationship newsletter and get priority access to all new content.