LoveWorks Podcast

Ep 18: How Men Use Or Lose Power In Relationship Part 1

Here’s the quick summary, but remember to listen to the podcast for the full content.

“Men, you have the power to make or break a relationship … Research shows that what men do in a relationship is, by a large margin, the crucial factor that separates a great relationship from a failed one …. The data proves that a man’s actions are the key variable that determines whether a relationship succeeds or fails”. Said Dr. John Gottman, et al, in the book A Man’s Guide To Women.

That’s worth repeating: Men have the power to make or break a relationship.

I recorded this episode as I was gearing up for a small private retreat for men called Power and Heart. At the retreat, men got to explore how to express their masculine power in their relationships and lives. They got to discover what their personal version of being powerful looks like. Not what society, or Hollywood, or their partner say they should be.

In preparing for this retreat, I was talking to men and women about what it means for a man to show up powerfully in relationship, about what happens when he does, and what happens when he doesn’t.

Because we have seen thousands of men and women, couples and individuals, both in individual coaching and the workshops we lead ( meaning Sonika and myself) we have a lot of insight into men’s relationships; insight about what works well, what doesn’t work, and what can be done differently to make things better.

My intention with this podcast episode it to support my fellow brothers to have an experience of being powerful and confident and open, in their lives in general, and in their intimate relationships in particular. It’s also my intention that this episode helps those who are in relationship with men, wives, girlfriends, husbands, partners or others, to better understand why their men do what they do, and how they can more loving, satisfying relationships with the men in their lives.

Even though we are all unique humans beings, based on my experience there are near-universal complaints from partners about their men, and there are near-universal complaints men have about their partners.

The #1 complaint about men: He’s not there for me, I don’t feel safe, I can’t trust him.

The #1 complaint from men: It doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t win. She’s never happy

A man told me, “I feel like a second rate citizen in my house” . Ouch. That should never be the case.

He was a classic Mr Nice Guy, works hard, provides, works some more, gets a promotion to keep up with the increasing costs of the good life he wants his wife and kids to enjoy: but somehow, his wife never feels he gives anything. And he just keeps accommodating, trying to provide more and work harder.

That’s one common example of a man working really hard, but somehow not being in his power and achieving the success in his marriage that he’s striving for.

There are many ways we might define power and being a powerful man.

A recent definition I heard states that a man who owns his shadow as well as his gifts; a man who is accountable for his actions, and a man who keeps his agreements and promises; that is a man in his power.

When it comes to relationships, there are certain qualities a powerful man has:

  • Be present with what is happening in the moment
  • Be honest and open about what you want and need
  • Having the courage and the skill to create what you want together with your partner
  • Know and Express the full range of your emotional life
  • Owns his radiance. Embodies sexuality. Has fire in the belly.

A powerful man holds certain beliefs as well (or some version of these):

  • My wants and needs are okay
  • I’m going to get what I want (not at anyone’s expense)
  • I’m worth being loved
  • My masculine force, including my sex drive, are natural and good

Some of the ways you as a man can watch for losing your power in relationship. These “symptoms” always create trouble for you and/or your partner:

  1. You hate it when your wife/girlfriend/partner gets upset and emotional about something. Especially when it’s about you or something you did. When that happens, you just want to get the hell out of there, or make it stop.
  2. You don’t dare share your vulnerability, your fears, and your insecurities.
  3. You say Yes when you mean No, or No when you really wanted to say Yes. In other words, you “bend” too much away from your own knowing of what is right and true.
  4. You simply avoid engaging with her about emotional or triggering stuff. You don’t talk, you check out, you find reasons to be elsewhere, you stay busy with work or projects.
  5. You feel you can’t speak your truth. You can’t say what’s REALLY on your mind. You don’t want to hurt her and cause another stir, so you keep it to yourself.
  6. You’re afraid of her anger … or your own.
    1. Man who said, “Gimme a band of robbers anytime. But when my 5-ft-1 wife gets mad, I run”
  7. Try to dominate her with logic and reason; making her arguments less valid.
  8. Wimp out, fold, bend, “under the slippers”. Resign to your “fate”

Some of what you as a man can do to be grounded in your power and get what you want.

  1. Own your wants and needs, and speak them. Dare to go directly for what you want. Don’t second guess your desires, thinking stuff like, “Naa, it’s not that important, I’ll get by, never mind”, when in actuality it’s important to you.
  2. Know and communicate how you feel. Get to know you own emotional landscape, and tell your partner how you feel about … anything, really.
  3. Stay present and engaged, even when things get emotionally heated or intense. Don’t check out – don’t back off. Remain open even the face of ferocious feelings and outbursts, your partner’s or your own. (Shutting down in the face of emotions is a prime way to destroy intimacy).
  4. Take space consciously and powerfully. It’s ok to need space or silence. You don’t need to come up with important reasons/excuses, or make up stories (“I really HAVE TO finish this project so I have to go my office”) in order to take space. Simply do it, but consciously. Communicate what you’re doing.
  5. Be willing to take an interest in stuff that isn’t your highest priority. More details on the podcast.
  6. Make connection a priority. It may or may not be on your priority list, but 9 times of out 10, it’s in your partner’s top 2! Take time to connect, in words, touch, activities, shared spaces.
  7. Keep your promises. Integrity. Trustworthiness is the #1 quality women want in a man (according to Dr. Gottman’s research, quoted above). Heck, it’s the #1 quality I want in my male friends. And when you don’t keep your word, you create distrust in yourself; you lose trust in your own word, hence in your own power.
  8. Connect your heart to your sex. This a development which more than anything grounds a man in his power. Power is not just physical prowess, but access to your love, your heart. When you connect your love and your sex, then truly magical stuff happens in your for yourself, your partner, and your relationship.

Turned out this episode has so much material I decided to make this episode Part 1 of 2. In Part 2 I will share more details about what a man’s partner can do to help him ground in his power and create more satisfying relationships.