What Screws Us Up Most in Life

There’s at least one missing child. A beautiful little thing I would love intensely. Maybe this would be the first holidays where she was old enough to be excited about a visit from Santa. Maybe she looks like her mom.

Of course, maybe she’s not a girl at all. Maybe my third-grader has a little brother instead. Three little boys, even if one of us is disguised as an almost-40-year-old.

The house is different. The plan was to move.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Day plans are different too. What was supposed to be busy and filled with family will be something else.

Maybe my imaginary daughter or son would have just been disappointed anyway.

I always had an idea in my head about what Life would look like. It never occurred to me it would be anything but that. But then Real Life happened.

We’d always talked about two kids. But after abandoning my wife in the hospital five hours after she delivered our son via emergency C-section, and then leaving the creation and management of baby logistics to her throughout most of our first year as parents, I think I sapped her desire to go through anything like that again.

I once asked her if I was the reason she chose not to have more children.

She said yes.

. . .

What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.

. . .

I read that yesterday in MBTTTR commenter Drew’s excellent blog post about marital affairs.

This is a Life Thing I had picked up on when I was still young. I always said: “Expectations are everything.”

And what I mean by that is, my enjoyment or disappointment in something—or rather, my initial perception of something’s quality—was based entirely on my expectations prior to the experience.

Things like movies and books taught me this.

I can go to the theater to see two movies of approximately equal quality, say Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Avatar; or I can listen to two new albums for the first time—say AWOLNATION’s Run and Brian Fallon’s Painkillers—and my feelings about all of them are predicated entirely on what I thought heading in.

I thought Avatar was going to be the greatest achievement in cinematic history. It didn’t achieve that for me. The Force Awakens met my expectations entirely. Both movies, in my estimation, are of equal quality, but I like Force Awakens quite a bit more, and I think that’s why.

Same with AWOL and Brian Fallon. I expected to like the AWOL album. And I did.

I didn’t have any expectations whatsoever for Brian Fallon (front man for The Gaslight Anthem). And that album kicks ass. I don’t know whether I think it’s better than AWOL’s or not. But BECAUSE it was an out-of-nowhere pleasant surprise for me, I have a major fondness for it.

Maybe everyone does this.

Maybe I’m a little extreme. Or maybe some people are much better at accurately predicting their emotional responses to things, and maybe those people have much happier and healthier relationships and lives as a result.

I only know that pretty much all of my life experiences are impacted greatly by whether Real Life meets, exceeds, or falls short of, my prior expectations.

This has implications for my human relationships I’ve yet to wrap my head around.

This Isn’t Where I Thought I’d Be

Divorce changed everything.

That’s a MAJOR reset-button push when you don’t see it coming, or are in denial about its inevitability once a certain amount of breakage and ugliness has poisoned the marriage.

Everything in the very beginning is a blur.

When everything is broken on the inside of you, the world looks skewed and it’s impossible to tell whether what you’re seeing is wrong because it’s actually wrong, or because your brain’s Reality Calibration is busted.

I had just turned 34 when Everything became Something Else.

After a lifetime of companionship and/or reliable care from loving and responsible adults, I woke up to silence and a reflection in the mirror I hardly recognized.

Everything felt unsteady and out of balance, and even now, I can’t be sure how much of that to attribute to the psychological and emotional trauma of ending a nine-year marriage and losing half of my son’s childhood, and how much was simply the radical change in environment.

Where there used to be a person making noise in the house—Being a mom. Eating dinner with me. Talking on the phone. Watching TV. Walking around.

Where there used to be life and conversation and full calendars and partnership and the pitter-pattering of little feet and the stability and reliability and comfort that comes from waking up to This Is Normal And Right… there was nothing.

A void.

. . .

I was obsessed with dating at first. Not actually doing it, per se because I wasn’t very good at it and it all felt so, just, off. Wrong.

But at age 34 the ticking clock was louder than I’d realized. And I felt like filling the new void in my life quickly should be a priority.

After all, I was clearly the kind of guy who got married and lived that kind of life. Which meant, I faced the monumental task of finding someone who fit what is probably an impossible list of criteria, that I then loved along with any children she might have, and was loved by her (as would my son be), and felt secure enough in all of that to get married again.

When you’ve never been single and divorced before, it’s easy to imagine that happening in a three- to five-year window (which I did).

But then Real Life happened.

The clock ticks.

The calendar pages flip.

The seasons change.

You mark another line higher on the wall where you measure your child’s height.

You tell him to put on a pair of pants only to discover they no longer fit.

One Christmas turns into two, and then three with a fourth fast-approaching.

And then you wake up, and it’s today.

Divorced and Single Four Holiday Seasons Later

There was a part of me during the early days of this blog that believed I’d eventually have a relationship to tell you about.

Not all the nitty-gritty. I keep too much private for that.

But at least a birds-eye view of giving Round 2 a genuine shot while armed with what I believe I’ve learned about life and love and relationships. I thought maybe that would help people. I thought maybe that would help me.

But that’s not where things are.

That’s not Real Life.

In actuality, I’m just a guy who read a crap-ton of New Zealand travel guides so I can tell you all about the country, but I’ve never actually forked over the money nor invested the time to experience it myself.

(That was a metaphor. I haven’t actually read a bunch of New Zealand travel guides.)

But I’m not even sure that’s right.

That suggests fear. And I’m not afraid.

I guess I feel more like the tired old man coaching basketball (even though I certainly don’t think of myself as a “coach,” or that I’m qualified to instruct others in any way). I know what good basketball is supposed to look like, but am not inclined to get back out on the floor to play in any games.

Maybe I feel too tired. Or too old. Or too busy.

I don’t know.

I also don’t know whether to feel good, bad or indifferent about it.

As in all things, there’s some good and some bad.

But I’m learning to have fewer expectations. Less disappointment, you know? Maybe less joy, too.

I wouldn’t know.

. . .

I’m trying to remember what my daughter’s name would have been. The one I never had.

Julianne? Julie Anne? A J-name that stopped mattering the second I held my son.

Or did it?

I think about that little girl a lot. The one who never was.

And the family that isn’t. The one I used to know. And the one I’d imagined with them. And the one I was forced to imagine for a reimagined world.

But I wish I would stop. Because in The Way Things Are vs. The Way They Should Be, I’m not sure we’re always smart enough to know the difference.

And with these little ones involved, real or imagined, how much can we afford to get disillusioned by reality falling short of what we’d expected or hoped for?

. . .

Thank God she didn’t die after birth or from miscarriage.

Or that she didn’t fall ill.

Or that she never ran away or went missing.

Or that the courts never said I couldn’t see her.

Or that her family never lost her precious life.

Or that my son never lost his little sister.

And that we never had to sob over that too.

Maybe I don’t make it to today, had that not been the case.

But there’s still a bit of tragedy in Never Was.

And I can’t help but wonder sometimes about an alternative life where I chose other options and turned to different Choose Your Own Adventure pages with entirely different outcomes.

Because that would have been cute, right? Watching the Thanksgiving Day parade? Showing her massive balloons? Reminding my eldest to be kind to his sister? Putting up the Christmas tree and watching her face as we plugged in the lights for the first time?

I’d have liked that, even if the real-life version would have gone an entirely different way.

I’d have especially liked the part where I told her about that first night in the hospital where I stayed awake all night holding her so mommy could sleep.

Many years later, we’d teach older children how things that seem innocuous in a moment can redefine everything in the future.

We’d talk about having expectations. About the bad. And the good.

About regrets. And triumphs.

About fear. And hope.

We’d all show up, and just be.

Because that’s everything, really. Showing up. Being present. And being invested.

The reason my life is as it is today is virtually 100% because I failed to show up because I was too ignorant to know I was supposed to, too irresponsible to actually do it, or too selfish to actually want to.

It’s not always Life and Death, but maybe just Life and Never Was.

But sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference.

This post was previously published on Must Be This Tall To Ride and is republished here with permission from the author.

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What Men Must Learn from Women Choosing Different Women

I believe women, with increasing frequency, are picking intimate relationships with other women over men because of how badly men perform the connection serves women value most.

1. Yes. I meant to type that.

2. “…with increasing frequency” is tough to quantify. Perhaps we just hear about it more than we used to due to a diminished fear of judgment, or due to the broad reach of the net. University-based research from 2009 through now suggest more females are self-identifying as lesbian or bisexual (15-ishpercent ) than men are as homosexual (5-ishpercent ), which 60-ishpercent of females, irrespective of sexual labels, find other women attractive (at a more-than-a-friend manner ).

3. When I talk about”girls” or”guys” as groups, I am referring to overall, observable behaviors. I’m by no means taking the stance that all women or all men fit into a specific stereotype.

4. I am fully aware that certain groups of individuals believe homosexuality to be gravely sinful. I have as much respect for individuals adhering to their religion and personal values as I do for people in their intimate relationships, no matter who they love. I do not take kindly to the ethical judgment of strangers, ESPECIALLY on matters of homosexuality due to the nauseating levels of hypocrisy from those who turn a blind eye to”straight-sex sinfulness.” I will be totally cool with widespread outspoken condemnation of homosexuality just when the morally righteous outcry toward sinful heterosexual behaviour matches it. Because only hypocrites such as hypocrisy.

5. I think this trend will continue until guys jointly commit to not doing all {} Shitty Husband things most people (accidentally! ) do, OR reject relationships with girls, forsake family life, and move all-in on A.I. Ex Machina-such as sexbots or anything.

Girls Know What Girls Want

An fantastic author and speaker called Glennon Doyle Melton had a comparatively high-profile separation from her husband lately, only days before her second bestselling book Love Warrior (much of which focused on her marriage to her husband) hit store shelves.

FYI.”

To which I answered:”Shut the eff up.

Glennon is currently in a relationship with U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach, who became a national celebrity when the U.S. women’s team won the 2015 World Cup.

I was amazed because it feels unexpected for me to see or hear news that a long-time married mother with kids is in a romantic relationship with another girl, but out of this, I find it completely unsurprising.

Throughout some cursory Googling, I stumbled on this 2010 article from Psychology Today informs me that Katy Perry, Lindsay Lohan, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Anna Paquin, Megan Fox, and Drew Barrymore have publically identified themselves as bisexual.

You would have thought the world had ended in 1997 when Ellen DeGeneres declared her relationship with actress Anne Heche.

Now, nobody cares. Maybe that is why these episodes are more common now. I don’t pretend to understand.

However, I DO pretend to understand that girls generally demonstrate infinitely more understanding about what girls want in their romantic relationships than men do.

And given how much I’m bombarded with stories of wives in complete agony from how their husbands make them feel, and just how much Google traffic this site gets from women looking for answers to things like “Why doesn’t my husband love me?”  or “Why doesn’t my husband care about my feelings? ,” it makes a good deal of sense to me.

Here is the hard fact most of these men need to hear:

There is absolutely not any amount of money or material goods you may provide to satisfy her wants.

There’s absolutely not any amount of physical fitness, strength, or life skills you may have to make her feel secure.

There’s absolutely not any quantity of penis length or girth, or sexual art it is possible to have to make her forget how awful she feels the rest of the time.

All your money and your badass-ness and your porn-star-ness can easily make you a big, fat “Umm, I like women better than you” if you continue to fail all of the things she says she wants.

I have terrible news.

You thinking or feeling that her said needs are irrelevant, try as you may, will NOT magically make them insignificant. The things that matter to her, MATTER to her, even if they do not matter to you. It’s surprisingly simple to float through life not realizing or denying that, and then getting divorced for it.

Another Important Note: No one–certainly not me{} what an individual human being desires. I am just some divorced idiot who got all {} stuff wrong when I was married.

The most-effective means of studying the”secrets,” would be to respect the very first item on this list like it’ll ultimately dictate the health of your connection. Because something easy like LISTENING will.

To Feel Seen and Heard

This mostly means “to be listened to.” Not obeyed. Men like me have an awesome capacity for caring about anything we happen to care about in the moment, which leads to us appearing disinterested or dismissive of something our partners are discussing. Global history is full of stories of individuals who would not endure their voices going unheard. They either revolted or fled. Divorce functions that way too.

You know how a lot of U.S. residents said they were planning to move to Canada or Europe if Donald Trump won the election? Well, your miserable wives are like the disgruntled citizens, and Canada and Europe represent a lesbian oasis of like-minded relaxation and acceptance.

2.

This doesn’t mean that you can beat up the guy who receives handsy with her at a crowded pub, or you can skillfully defend your home from intruders.

It means she feels secure in every way one can. You can reliably be counted on to have her back and become a continuous presence in good times and in bad. Not only with sexual fidelity, but all of Life’s activities and hardships over time. You can be a fantastic parent to her children, who she loves intensely and strives to protect. That it’s possible to provide financially, or at least NOT be a fiscal strain on the long-term stability of your household.

It’s a lot more than just physical security.

And to that end, you ought to be a safe refuge for her to explore the things which thing in her life, including her relationship with you. She must have the ability to clarify her hopes and dreams and anxieties and anxieties WITHOUT you mocking or judging her for it. She must have the ability to inform you what you do and say occasionally increase her stresses or anxieties without you attacking her from defensiveness.

If she does not feel as though it’s safe to talk to you, she won’t. Finally, she’ll find somebody who will. Sometimes, that individual will be another girl who knows–in her heart –how dangerous and vulnerable it seems to live with somebody who regularly creates negative life experiences as opposed to positive ones.

To Feel Sexually Desired

This is extremely simple. When you first got together, you said and did things that conveyed appreciation for how she made you feel, how appealing you believed she was, and that you’re interested in her sexually.

The thoughtful actions you took and phrases you mentioned authentically and transparently demonstrated that sexual appetite.

The emotional and mental damage adults take on or accidentally inflict on each other during the course of a union and the trials of maturity can not be overstated. Husbands and wives are similar to two states who sign a Peace Accord with the best of intentions, but through the course of ordinary life, unintentionally fire heavy artillery at one another which sometimes lead to short lived, but damn, invasions.

We ACCIDENTALLY switch our partners sexually only by being ourselves and not realizing certain activities cause the deterioration of these feelings in another individual. Nobody would like to be unattractive for their spouses.

But when folks are MINDFUL of the, and intentionally do things to make our partners feel loved and desired, much, if not all, of the bad stuff goes off.

Because women often demonstrate more thoughtfulness and psychological awareness than men, it is not surprising to me that other women more efficiently communicate feelings of desire than many guys do.

4. To Feel Appreciated

Everyone likes feeling valued. Demonstrating authentic gratitude is a fairly strong Life tip, across the board. But there’s a lively in male-female relationships that rears its head with excellent frequency, and is in charge of a lot of the broken families scattered out there. And that is the dynamic where wives are forced to the position of handling most Life Tasks round the home. Keeping track of programs. Making doctor appointments and hauling the kids there. Responding to party invitations. Purchasing the gifts. Planning meals. Acquiring groceries. Paying bills on time. Orchestrating social calendars and vacation plans. Handling school-related matters. Keeping the home clean. Managing laundry. Cooking meals. Washing and putting dishes away. And often likely to work as many hours as her husband.

Sometimes, after all {} , he leaves a dirty dish from the sink for her to wash up even after she has asked him nicely not to. From time to time, he proceeds to do it anyhow, and calls her a little nag for getting upset about it. Often, that man ends up divorced.

Some wives want more ACTUAL aid and to be admired when these orders are made.

But occasionally, wives are not even asking for more attempt. From time to time, wives and moms enjoy the skillful management and support of the families and household.

And sometimes the only thing they crave in return is real appreciation.

Not to be taken for granted and treated like a housemaid.

Perhaps other women who’ve walked a mile in the same”housemaid” shoes know how to not make the person they love feel like that.

Nope.

I would like you to understand how to anticipate other people’s requirements and adjust your behaviour on a case-by-case basis REGARDLESS of the individual’s sex, or some other born-this-way quality they have.

That is what Life’s most prosperous people do in every conceivable scenario.

Ladies, for reasons I will not pretend to understand, demonstrate greater ability and proficiency at anticipating and meeting the needs of others than men do.

Period.

And THAT skill is a remarkably important element in relationship success.

Learn and create it, and I believe Life gets better because I think the quality of our relationships affect our lives more than anything out of particular health conditions.

Ignore it? And I think you’ll spend the rest of your life or in and from unpleasant relationships awaiting Life to bend to your will, only to finally realize, it never actually does.

Maybe a few of those women always liked women over men, and only now feel secure to pursue these relationships.

Maybe a few of those women woke up one day after years of heterosexual attraction only to detect those ideas and feelings were replaced by fresh ones.

Or just maybe, a critical mass of women have tried over and over and over again to obtain a life of contentment and peace with assorted men through time, just to have the couple they trusted entirely, disappoint, betray, or neglect them.

And just maybe that pain was so good, that it is simply not worth it anymore.

And just perhaps, while we continue to desperately cling to our Man Cards, girls will continue to pursue the comfort and security of other girls while we complain to our friends about their petty wants and delicate emotions as the dust collects on our furniture and we awkwardly fold another load of laundry.

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Women appear to be choosing different women over men with increased frequency. Men must try to understand why.

The article What Men Must Learn from Women Selecting Different Girls appeared on The Great Men Project.

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The Magic of Boundaries: Date Well, Marry the Perfect Person and Enjoy Hard Forever

Yep. We are talking about bounds again. They are THAT important.

Because I am a hack author (or perhaps just because each and every individual on earth has not read or does not remember all of my articles ), our discussions about boundaries are becoming gray and cloudy like a sucky winter in Cleveland.

And that is bad. Because bounds are magical. Just like when the sun comes out through the rain and presents you a candy rainbow to frolic on, or how God does not strike me dead when I purchase groceries online and an underpaid high school child loads them in my Jeep for me curbside while elsewhere deserving men and women starve.

The best thing I’ve ever read on borders was composed by Mark Manson (who coincidentally published a new book this week AND graciously consented to some Q&A with me that you should clearly read).

For the 90 percent of you who won’t read Mark’s piece, I will share a little part as it’s crucial. From Mark:

  • Would you feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions to their own profit?
  • Would you feel as if you’re always having to’rescue’ people near you and fix their problems all of the time?
  • Can you end up sucked into unnecessary fighting or debating frequently?
  • Can you end up faaaaar more spent or attracted to a person than you should be for how long you have known them?
  • In your relationships, does it feel like things are constantly either amazing or horrible without a in-between? Or maybe you go through the break-up/reunion routine every couple of months?
  • Can you spend a whole lot of time defending yourself for things you think are not your fault?

“If you answered’yes’ to {} of the above, then you probably place and maintain bad boundaries in your relationships. If you answered a resounding’yes’ to most or all the items above, you do not just have a significant boundary problem on your relationships, but you also probably have some other personal issues going on in your life.”

If you are like me, you nodded your head’yes’ a few too many times as it hits a little too close to home, or as you recall how the younger you did all of those things and maybe that is why lots of shitty things happened.

Emotionally healthy individuals have and apply strong boundaries. And ALSO, having and implementing strong boundaries makes you mentally healthier.

Having strong bounds means that you don’t take responsibility for other people’s crap, and you ALWAYS take responsibility for your own.

I think we have to vigilantly enforce our bounds (and respect others’ vigilantly enforced boundaries) in order to have high-functioning, healthy, mutually beneficial, and ultimately successful, human relationships.

And what that means is, when people knowingly violate our boundaries, we will need to be ready to walk away and cut them out of our own lives, which is a very hard thing to do.

You can not always just walk away from individuals to enforce boundaries without innocents (like your children or other family members or friends) becoming casualties of this choice.

1 thing we can be certain of is that if we are in this spot, it is because at some time previously, we failed to enforce our bounds in healthy ways, and after we suffer the consequences.

We are going to leave the household and friendship play for another time.

For now, I am focused exclusively on enforcing boundaries while relationship. And then afterwards, during marriage.

Let’s discuss why.

Girl meets Boy. It is all flowers and Facebook status changes and sexting and climaxes.

But Hedonic Adaptation does exactly what it ALWAYS does, and the lovey-dovey stuff wears off to the Boy.

Communicating infrequently. Spending more time with friends or maybe other women.

Boy’s behaviour makes her feel awful. She tells her friends and her journal, but she does not tell the Boy.

Meal planning, domestic housework, calendar scheduling, and sharing tools comes more into play.

Boy’s behaviour forces Girl to take on lion’s share of the work because he is totally disengaged out of the date-ish time together.

Girl finally informs Boy that she is upset, possibly because he eventually asks her what is wrong, or because she works up the courage to say something even though she is afraid of the possible struggle or making him feel helpless and pushing him off.

Boy tells her she is delusional. That she is imagining things. That she is crazy. “OF COURSE I adore you!” he says.

But no matter how much he tells her she is being too emotional or misreading the circumstance, she continues to feel unhappy and anxious about his behaviour. He says her feelings are not real.

Girl keeps feeling uncomfortable, but she does not want to split up.

Maybe he will change one day, she believes.

Perhaps she talks to her mother about it. “Oh that’s just how men are, honey,” Mom tells her while cleaning up after a weekend dinner while Dad goes to another room to watch TV. He’s a fantastic man. This is just the way it is.”

It appears a bit depressing to Girl. But she has spent two or three years at the connection, all of her girlfriends are getting married, and all the men do things to upset them once in a while.

I guess this is really just the way life is, she believes.

Girl marries Boy.

Five to seven decades later, they are miserable because the identical behavior that hurt her feelings while relationship hurts even more now that he promised to love and care for her forever, but she does not feel loved, nor cared for, nor emotionally safe or protected at all.

Girl gets a telephone call. Her mom had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

She feels responsible for caring for her father who does not know how to cook and clean for himself. She wants to grieve but it’s hard because there’s no one else around to take care of Life Things.

Girl takes care of Life Matters till she eventually collapses emotionally.

Boy is absolutely zero relaxation. She did not understand it right now–but he does not feel steady like her mother did. He can not comfort her when he tries.

One or both of these seek comfort in the arms and privates of somebody they are not married to.

More breakage.

And though it is not her fault, it’s her duty .

This occurred because she did not enforce her personal boundaries while relationship.

I work in advertising.

It’s a total waste of time and detrimental to promotion programs to attempt and sell services and products to individuals unlikely to want or need them.

You don’t need to open a fishing lure store in the middle of the desert. You need to start one by waters used for fishing.

You don’t need to market”Make America Great Again” hats at Hillary Clinton political rallies. You need to sell them to fans of her political competition.

For marketing programs to be successful, we have to target customers intelligently.

And so it goes in relationship.

I have written repeatedly that I believe folks should vigilantly enforce their bounds while relationship .

That doesn’t mean that you cut somebody off the very first time that they upset you. Nobody would EVER stay together if this was the case.

However, what if Girl made different choices from the above example? Imagine if, when she began exhibiting behaviours she had been uncomfortable with, she just communicated that to him?

What if she said: “Hey. I truly care about you and want to see where this can go, but you will need to understand that I felt really crappy when X happened before. Maybe I am misunderstanding, or getting something wrong. But I have loads of things in Life that hurt and will hurt me later on. The person I will devote the rest of my life with WILL NOT be one of them when I could do anything about it. I just want you to know what occurred crosses a hardline border with me”?

One of three things occur afterward.

He can act like he does and try to describe to her {} wrong and her feelings are dumb, then she can walk away toward a future where she gives someone else a chance to show actual love and esteem.
He can promise to try harder and neglect. She averts a sad divorce afterwards.
He can promise to try harder and triumph. They’ve a healthy marriage.

When folks enforce their bounds vigilantly while relationship, ONLY people who have a high probability for success could ever wind up exchanging wedding vows with one another.

Are there a shit-ton more break-ups? Absolutely. But explain to me what the issue is. If all the people destined for divorce or shitty unions do not wind up getting married, how does that make the world a worse place?

In the perfect scenario where everybody is making great Life choices, two assholes incapable of healthy marriage do not wind up marrying each other in the first location.

That means border enforcement during marriage rarely rises to the level of inducing divorce. Two individuals vigilantly enforcing their relationship boundaries are WELL PREPARED for the sorts of unselfishness and communication required to thrive.

But we do not live in a perfect world. And nobody owns a kick-ass DeLorean time machine. And that means many people find ourselves in shitty relationships where the standards for being prepared to walk away in the connection can not be just like that of the unattached dater with choices.

There is a basic difference between two individuals that are dating, and two individuals that are married.

When you are dating, you are able to throw somebody over something petty like how loudly they chew their food, or how they root for a sports team you hate. When you are dating, you’re permitted to have any personal boundaries you want. It isn’t important what someone else believes is reasonable. You’re not beholden to anybody.

You’re free to create or remove any border you need, for any reason, at any time.

The main thing is that when someone crosses your line and inflicts pain, when they KNOW they did, they display guilt and a desire to avoid causing future pain.

If they dismiss what you are saying and feeling, signaling this shitty thing will continue to happen over and over again? We ought to walk away.

Our union boundaries should not be superficial.

And our vigilance ought to be restricted to major vow-breaking offenses, rather than just a struggle over what to put on the TV that night or if you are going to attend the household get-together next weekend.

And that’s because if we get married, we vow–VOW–to love generously. Forever.

We promise to forfeit. To forgive. To lift up another when they have fallen. To choose love each and every day irrespective of how inconvenient it may feel.

That is exactly what it means when we say”I do.”

Our unions are shit now because the younger, dumber versions of ourselves did not know what we did not know. And today we have some hard choices to make. Choose to love, though it isn’t straightforward? Or divorce, though it isn’t straightforward?

Not straightforward.

People today will need to do what they have to do. People today will need to make mistakes and figure out things. That is how human beings learned that water and fire –two amazing, life-giving things–may also kill us.

Marriages suspended in poor border enforcement will be difficult and dysfunctional.

However, the conversation about border enforcement changes between people that are dating and people that are married.

We apply boundaries while dating so as to attain a healthy and productive relationship.

Not because we feel like it daily. Since we choose it every day.

We choose it now. And then tomorrow. And then the following day.

And when our partners do the same in return, Forever happens.

Rarely straightforward.

Often worth it.

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Have you read the first anthology which was the catalyst for Your Great Men Project? Purchase here: The Great Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood

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