I have been a marriage and family counselor for over fifty years. My work began in 1969 when I was holding my newborn son in my hand and vowing to be a different kind of father than my father could be and to do everything possible to create a world in which fathers fully agree their families occupied throughout their lives.
My business card has a picture of me and my wife, Carlin, and it says, "Jed Diamond Ph.D, helping men find the women they have loved since 1969." Although my work is focused on men, my clients are approximately 50-50 men and women. I know women have a keen interest in understanding men and what both of them can do to have lasting and loving relationships that will nurture both partners and their families.
If you're reading this, you might also be interested in my companion article, "The 5 Levels of Love and Why Most Relationships Hit the Wall in Phase 3: What a Man Must Do to Save His Marriage."
Old stereotypes lead us to believe that women are more focused on relationships than men, but I've found that this is not the case even though men and women see marriage through different lenses. A loving, intimate, and joyous marriage is just as important for men as it is for women. It is just as painful and heartbreaking for men when a marriage ends. I know I've been a marriage counselor for over fifty years, specializing in helping men and women who love them.
Before I tell you about the five stages of love, I need to tell you about the different lenses through which men and women see themselves, each other, and the world. But before I do that, I have to say something about "generalizations". When I say that women are shorter than men, most people will realize that I am not saying that all women are shorter than all men. As a man who is five feet, 5 inches tall, I am very much aware of this fact. So please keep this in mind when I talk about women and men.
I must also say that gender differences have often been used to denigrate or restrict one gender, usually the woman. This doesn't have to be the case. There is good science and research that can identify gender differences without putting one gender above or below the other or indicating that women are unsuitable for certain roles, such as: B. as a soldier, professional baseball player or president. or that a man shouldn't be a kindergarten teacher, a nurse, or a first gentleman.
I wrote a book, 12 Rules for Good Men, along with "The Good Men's Manifesto" about men, who we are and what we need. Therefore, I am only going to address a few key differences here that are especially important in order to: a Man understands the five levels of love, why most relationships end in level 3, and what a man must do to save his troubled marriage.
Louann Brizendine, M.D., is an American scientist, neuropsychiatrist who is both researcher and clinician and professor at the University of California at San Francisco. She has written two books, The Male Brain and The Female Brain, and notes significant differences, including the following:
- Mirror neuron system. The emotional empathy system “I feel what you feel”. Synchronizes with other people's emotions by reading facial expressions and interpreting tone of voice and other non-verbal emotional cues. It's bigger and more active in the female brain.
- Anterior cingulated cortex. It is the area of the worry wart, fear of punishment, and the center of fear of sexual performance. It's bigger in the female brain.
- Hippocampus. The elephant who never forgets a fight, a romantic encounter or a mistake, no matter how old he is – and does not let him forget either. It's bigger and more active in the female brain.
- Medial preoptic area. This is the realm of sexual persecution and is 2.5 times larger in the male brain.
- Amygdala. The alert system for threats, fears and dangers is greater in the male brain.
Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Cambridge University, has conducted a number of research studies on brain differences. In the first few lines of his book The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain, he says simply: “The subject of the major gender differences in the mind is clearly very sensitive. I could be walking around on tiptoe, but I suspect you want to be clear about the theory of the book. So here it is:
“The female brain is primarily hardwired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired to understand and build systems. "
The 5 stages of love and why most relationships end in stage 3
In my book The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages Of Relationships And Why The Best Is To Come, I describe the following stages:
- Fall in love.
- To become a couple.
- Creating real, lasting love.
- Find your calling as a couple.
Like many people, I thought there were only two stages to having a great relationship. First, the magical moment when we meet that special someone and fall in love. Second, we become a couple and live happily ever after. Like many whose marriages shook us and whose disenchantment overwhelmed us, I divorced, became depressed, decided I had chosen the wrong partner, and finally tried again.
Unfortunately, like many, I have not yet understood the five stages of love and my second marriage also ended in divorce. But I finally got wise, I mean wise, in really understanding the hidden truths about sex, love, relationships, and marriage. My wife, Carlin, and I have been married for 40 years now and understanding the five stages is key.
In my article "The 5 Levels of Love: Why Too Many Stop at Level 3" I highlight important points in the book. Here I am going to touch on some subtle but critically important distinctions that most people do not understand.
- Falling in love is a ploy to deceive us.
When we fall in love we think we have found our dream lover, who we have been looking for all our lives, who we can build a life with and who will make us happy. The truth of falling in love is nature's trick of getting people to choose a partner so that our species can move on. It feels so wonderful because we are full of hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, testosterone and estrogen. Evolution has no interest in making us happy, just making us pass on our genes.
- We first build a life together on a wrong foundation.
Once we find the right partner, we imagine that we will have the regular ups and downs of life, but that we can now relax and focus on careers, children, livelihoods, and living together. We think we're creating real, lasting love. Instead, we prepare for disillusionment.
- Disenchantment is not a sign that something is wrong. It is a wake up call to the journey of the true hero in our lives.
Most people who have been together for more than a few years will be disaffected. "Is that all there is" we ask ourselves. "This is not the person I married. What happened? Where did you go?" We blame our partner or we try to fix ourselves. What we seldom do is understand that disenchantment is the third and most important level of love, and those who have the courage to be true love warriors are called to the greatest challenge of their lives.
What a woman must do to save her marriage
- Face your fears about the end of the marriage.
Most of the women who come to me for help are afraid that their marriage will end. There are several reasons for their fear, but it immobilizes them or causes them to do just the wrong thing. Take a deep breath. Your first step is to tell yourself the truth. The end of your marriage is not the end of the world. In fact, the only way to save your marriage is to be willing to let it go and focus on yourself. Loving yourself more is the first step in bringing love back into your marriage.
- Stop trying to fix it. It's not broken.
Women often turn to me for reading an article like "Why is my husband so angry?" They imagine if they could just fix it, or get me to fix it, everything would be fine. Most men are angry because they can't make you happy. Trying to fix it won't make you happy. Loving yourself better and taking control of your own happiness is your next step.
- Accept his anger, but not his guilt.
Of course he's angry. He has a lot to be angry with. His life doesn't work the way he wants it to. Empathy with his anger, but stand up for yourself if he accuses you or puts you down. Think, feel, act on these words (or those you create yourself). "Hey, my friend and lover, I know that you feel miserable. The world has gotten out of hand. But stop taking it from me. I am your wife and i love you. Stop doing that. "
- Expect more from him. He's actually good at fixing relationships.
For too long we have placed the burden of keeping our relationship life on the shoulders of women. Women are good at empathy, so naturally you will adjust to anyone who is hurt. But men are good at understanding and fixing systems. Modern marriage is a complex system and requires both a woman's empathy and the skills a man can bring.
Use his strengths and appreciate the good things he does to improve the marriage. Stop fixing him and encourage him to take the lead in repairing the complex system you call "married life."
Without the presence of a loving, dedicated, and caring father, men "grow up with a hole in the soul in the form of their father," said Roland Warren, past president of the National Fatherhood Initiative.
My wife, Carlin, and I have been married for 40 years. She attributes much of the success of our marriage to my 41-year participation in a men's group. The poet Robert Bly said, "Young men must be in the presence of older men to hear the sound that male cells are singing." Whether or not your husband had an engaged father, he must be in the company of other men who can help him teach and guide him. Unsurprisingly, the first rule in 12 Rules for Good Men is to join a men's group.
Men cannot be fully alive for themselves, for the women they love, for their families and friends, unless they understand and embrace their manhood. Encourage him to join a men's group.
Hope you find these ideas helpful. You can read more of my work here.
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