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What Men (really) Need.

A variation of the ‘back single biceps” pose … on the beach. I love the interface between land+sea+sky. Brings me closer to my ‘home’ in my childhood … in the Beautiful Paradise Islands of Fiji.
The managed combination of chaos + order => Better Life.

We have all heard about ‘that relationship’ that broke down because there was a ‘break-down in communication.” Usually, when you dig a little deeper, you find that there was communication but it wasn’t ‘effective’ communication.

And how does communication become effective?

Well, it simply comes down to the ‘feedback loop.’ Yep, the feedback loop. I like to refer to it as ‘being on the same page’ as the person(s) you’re communicating with. Effectively, having clarity on what the other person(s) are saying and ‘seeing’ things from their viewpoint.

Not an easy thing to do.

So, what is the secret? Well, as I see it when it comes to relationships and what a man needs, what it really comes down to is – a man really needs someone who simply cares. Yep, it is as simple and as complex as that. The care factor.

Not an easy thing to find, yes because it requires that person to love him and this involves a lot of work, a lot of effort, from the care-giver. Men search far and wide for this care, in all kinds of places and all kinds of things and never stop searching because it is wired in to the very life-blood of all true-blooded males.

Men will never stop searching and will do all sorts of crazy shit to experience and do almost anything … for this love … this care, because that is what they really need and they will keep searching from the beginning til the end of time.

Let me explain …

Even though it sounds simple, it masks a lot of complexity. You see, most reasonably educated persons know how to communicate. You know how to talk, send e-mails and texts but very few people know how to communicate well. What I mean is communicate effectively.

Most children learn from their parents (who learned from their parents who learned from their parents  … ) but the thing is that a lot of parents don’t communicate well or effectively, to begin with. So, you end up with people who learn from people in the foundation years of their lives who are not the best communicators and so this ineffective communication skill is perpetuated through generations.

Until someone decides to question such practices and put forward a brave new way of communicating, a way that encourages communication to be made in an effective manner, with that feedback loop.

Like most good things, it takes work and being good at it takes practice. Not just practise but lots and lots of deliberate practise (because people could become good at communicating ineffectively. What one needs to do is learn the right way and then deliberately practice the right practise.

That is how you become better at your communication skills. Perfect practise.

It is hard work, hard YAKA! (Australian term that means ‘hard work!”). There is no easy way of going about this because you need to stubbornly change or un-learn years of imprinting of bad communication learned in your early years and then …

Now this is the hard part – learning and adopting the new communication method & skills in all your daily communication. All the time, not some of the time – all the time!

Attitude is key at winning in the Game of Life.

You see, from what I have observed so far in my life, communication between a woman and a man is very different from what happens when two women talk.

It seems that when two women get together, they do a lot of explaining and restating until the other person understands what is being said. They understand one another from each other’s point-of-view.

They seem to communicate more effectively than men.

A man may say something vague, like “I don’t know, I guess, I’m just having a tough day.” After making that short statement, it is very likely, he would not add any more words. He may just drop it, so to speak. His wife or partner assumes it must not be a big problem since he didn’t say more than two sentences. However, this is where the mistake arises.

You see, she needs to pick up on the little phrase that he did say and if she really, really knows him, pick up on what he did not say as well.

It is very likely he is feeling a great loss, but he is not expressing it. Women, I feel, need to listen to the small phrases that their husbands or partners are saying and then find the right response. She needs to generate a response that is sufficient and appropriate. ]

A response that is sufficient and not appropriate is not complete. And a response that is appropriate and not sufficient is less than adequate. Her response needs to have both present – appropriateness and sufficiency.

This is a huge challenge for any person, let alone a woman.

The challenge here is developing the life skill of the power of discernment and applying the right amount of appropriateness and sufficiency in one’s response. What a challenge.

A wise man once told me that “elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do.’ This applies to many things in life and would apply in this instance when a woman tries to understand how a man communicates.

A man needs a wife or partner who cares enough to listen to the brief, sometimes weak, signals that he gives off. And then, she needs to respond, I believe, with gentle questions to draw him out, not by taking the opportunity to describe her own struggles.

But to listen, really listen.

Education through a perception of the truth.
Increasing your awareness, taking sufficient and appropriate actions and adapting accordingly is key towards self-improvement.
Funny thing is that the process also applies to relationships and response.
Vv

In my experience with dealing with and helping people in the gyms and my line of work over the last two decades, when one spouse is drawn away by someone outside the marriage, it’s usually not that he’s being drawn away by love.

More often than not, I believe, he is drawn away because someone else show they cared.

Ask yourself how you show your man you care? Is it sufficient and appropriate for the phase of life you’re in? My grandfather used to always say “actions speaks louder than words.’ What do you think? I think it holds more than an element of truth to it.

Someone could think and say that they love someone else but not actually show or demonstrate/do the act of love. Is this love? I don’t think so.

Thinking and doing can be two different things.

What is your definition of love anyway? We tend to see acts of love all around us but what is love?

Who is the best listener you know? What is that person doing that works?

My tip: After nineteen years of being with the woman of my childhood dreams and marriage as well as helping people (couples) help themselves, help themselves over the years of owning my own gym and my keen observation in general life, I would remind you to – show you care in everything you say and most importantly, do.

Men are simple creatures, keep things simple – simply show your man you care for and about him. Don’t complicate things, keeping it simple aids greatly in contributing to more effective communication. And is ultimately the saviour of all relationships.

We have heard that love is effortless, I disagree … to love some one other yourself requires effort, a lot of effort.

Love is EFFORT-FULL!

Keep loving … it is worth it in the whole scheme of life.

 

Until next time,

Members of my ‘extended family’ when I used to own and manage my gym for seven years. Some of the best and hardest years of my life so far. I loved leading the members (predominantly males – 70%) and they allowed me to take them to unchartered territories for us all.
The gym was (unlike today’s) a social place. An ‘inbetween home’ between your place of work and your home.
Relationships based on fairness, trust, care and compassion.
A place where men could share stories, their aspirations, their fears and hopes …and be listened to … without fear of retribution or ridicule.
It was these group of Mens ‘last refuge’.
I hope to bring it back one day … to the world.

Explaining the fine points of re-engineering the physique and increased self-awareness through enhanced ‘mind-muscle’ connection..

Side Triceps in the gym. … in between sets.
Building a physique that is balanced and symmetrical takes years of toil in the gym and outside the gym. There is countless assessment of all the variables that go into it … a constant assessment of appropriateness and sufficiency in relation to the key inputs that go in to mastering the iron … the art … of knowing oneself .. of knowing life.
Better. Builds. Beauty. A
Always.

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Fairness in Love?

Fairness begins with Self. Side chest pose in my gym of seven years.

Do you believe in love?

Do you believe in lasting love?

You’d have to agree with me when I say that we don’t get lasting love by chance. Before I go any further, I want to let you know that I don’t believe in chance or coincidences.

Everything – good or bad, is meant to be, when you make decisions for the best and ultimately to not bring harm to anyone else in the long run. You may hurt someone in the short-term but foresight is a gift, and you may see the benefit for the person in the long-term.

Sometimes, as my grandfather used to remind me – you have to be ‘cruel to be ’kind’ or in his other words of wisdom, give ‘tough love’. People suffer a little bit in the short-term for lasting long-term benefit.

So, lasting love does not come by easily, it takes work – simple, pure hard work. In Australian lingo we say – “Hard YAKA!’, if you believe it is worth it.

Hard work strongly involves working at fairness.

How do I know?

Well, I believe in genuine, authentic relationships. I mean I have many, many acquaintances but only a few very good friends. People I can call friends for twenty, thirty or even forty years. And there are a few new ones too.

Friendship, real, genuine, long-term friendship of any kind takes time and work, hard work.

And really good friends, friends that ‘hear what you say but also hear what you don’t say’, now these are hard to come by. But, they do.

I spent a lot of time with one of my many male mentors for the first 18 years of my life – my grandfather: Mr Garrett Bola William Valentine.

I used to sit there, when he was alive and listen to him (who was like a dad to me) and his one very good friend tell stories and reminiscing of their youthful days. I loved listening to those stories. I thought of my grandfather when writing this because it seems his loving friendship and bond he had with his friend to his last days were based on an enduring friendship.

A friendship that lasted over fifty years.

A relationship, a love-affair between two men, two humans, that, I can only assume, took a lot of work and Hard Yaka. It did not just happen by chance. Certainly not.

Side triceps in my gym of seven years.

A loving, lasting relationship of any kind, needs fairness.

In a romantic one, however, unlike my grandfather’s Bromance, the ‘romance’ can keep love alive for a shining season but unfair love will freeze by late autumn as the relationship goes through the seasons of life, so-to-speak.

Do you argue fairly?

One needs to remember to stick to the facts and don’t make personal attacks on your partner, especially ones that are generalised over a number of years? I believe fairness is at stake in every conversation, in every sharing of duties, in every argument.

In this day and age where there is an ‘opinion epidemic’ whereby people think offering their opinions willy-nilly, left, right and centre is acceptable. These opinions are heavily biased and are not thought out from ‘both sides of the argument. So, arguments are not done in a fair fashion.

We need fairness in our trust. Trust of one another.

In romantic love, we need fairness in our talk. Our communication. Experts say that our nonverbal communication accounts for almost 60 percent of the total message. Tone of voice, for example – the way we say things – makes up 35 percent of the message. The actual words we say account for only seven percent of the total message.

I know I can get very passionate and animated when I speak and so there is always fluctuations in my tone of voice and sometimes this can come across as aggressive. I do struggle with hiding my emotions sometimes and am still trying to manage and control them even now.

If I am angry, you will know it, just as sure as you will know when I am happy. My eyes and face are the windows to my heart, my soul.

So, as food-for-thought, think about the ways you and your spouse/partner communicate without using words. These are all important factors of communication but the most important question is how effective is your communication with your loved one/partner?

In my experience, it isn’t fair to use words that violate a person’s feelings or betray a person’s confidence. Refrain from saying things to personally attack the other. Stick to the facts and in saying that, the immediate or facts of a recent example.

We need fairness when we divide the chores in family life.

We need fairness when we decide who goes out to work for a living and who stays home to mind the children, in the different phases of family life. What phase of life are you or you and your partner/husband/wife in?

“So, when is love fair?” I hear you say.

Well, from my experience, I believe that –

  • Love is fair when it builds up both the lover and the beloved;
  • Love is fair when it increases both and diminishes neither;
  • Love is fair when it brings lovers close but still lets them separate when appropriate;
  • Love is fair when it nourishes both and leaves neither hungry for more;
  • Love is fair when it respects the boundaries of the other person’s selfhood;
  • Love is fair when it delays our most legitimate desires to meet our loved one’s needs;
  • Love is fair when it does not use ancient and forgiven wrongs against us;
  • Love is fair when we don’t selfishly accept current, immediate self-gratification at the price or expense of the other’s pain.

What do you think, is the above statements fair statements on what fair love is?

What do you think is a “fair” balance of closeness and separateness in your marriage?

What do you think is ‘fair’ behaviour when you are disagreeing?

Oh love … oh fairness fairy.

We seek your guidance.

Amen.

 

Until next time,

 

The Old Captain Viking Pirate Muscle Monk.

Members of my ‘extended family’ when I used to own and manage my gym for seven years. Some of the best and hardest years of my life so far. I loved leading the members (predominantly males – 70%) and they allowed me to take them to unchartered territories for us all. The gym was (unlike today’s) a social place. An ‘inbetween home’ between your place of work and your home.
Relationships based on fairness, trust, care and compassion.

Working out in my gym during a photo shoot

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The Grace of Seeds.

_MG_9765

I have been blessed with two very beautiful, healthy children. It is truly one of life’s blessings in my eyes – the Grace of Seeds.

However, in interactions with men of all ages in gyms for over two decades now, for some men, the responsibilities of fatherhood are simply more than they bargained for. It could be due to many things.

It seems, it is not only the intrusion of a newborn child’s demands; not just the scary anticipation of financial burdens (some men tend to view it this way) – from cot to college.

Maybe, it is the realization that the ‘honey-moon’ period has finally come to an end. Things will never be the same as they imagined it to be. This can be a stark reality indeed for some men.

In addition to this, some men probably have an increased fear of the onset of family life as this would entail responsibilities of parenthood. This would ultimately mean, the feast of love with his wife will grow stale. That the wine of their love will lose its bouquet.

That their love life will fizzle out.

But this is where interpretation of what married love means to Real Men differs.

Often when a man is insecure about himself, afraid of his personal characteristics and strengths as a husband and lover, he is unable to find a reliable and relevant version of the truth about love within a marriage.

And that it is this version of truth of married love:

The love between a married couple has a special ingredient that allows for the inclusion of the love of others.

But, it seems that there are many examples all around us in today’s modern living that tell us that countless couples disagree with this position or interpretation of what married love is.

The expectation gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what they imagined’ is just too big. I have met quite a few couples over the years who choose to not have children. Very sad indeed.

I will argue one point regarding this and one point only and it is this: if the Bible makes it clear that God our Creator, made us in his image and likeness, then I believe that he (God) intended and hoped that we would be ‘fruitful and increase in number”.

So, if you choose to give life and love whether by birth or adoption, you become more of what God meant by ‘in God’s image’. This is our real slice of the ‘essence of life’, our closest chance to share – if only to a small degree – the highest attributes of God the Father himself.

This is as close to “God-like” as any person could become.

To not do so and take another path, to not offer love to our own children, the seeds that will bloom in the future. Well, personally, I cannot fathom this decision.

This is to miss one of the true meanings of what life is about. To go down this path deprives you of a taste of eternity, that is ….

The Grace of Seeds.

It is a sacrament of everlasting life.

Nourish those seeds with all the love you can muster as they will be your future – our future.

They will be the World’s Future.

And, thank God every single day for blessing you with the grace of seeds!

For posterity.

 

Until next time,

Me and my children. Children gives you a hint of eternity. A true blessing to be graced with seeds. Vv.

Me and my children.
Children gives you a hint of eternity.
A true blessing – the grace of seeds.
Vv.

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Adam needed Eve.

My son and I. Time with your children will be one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life. Choose to make it.

My son and I.
Time with your children will be one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life.
Choose to make it.

Not sure what you remember about the start of the greatest stories that were ever told but I do remember the story of the creation. Matter of fact my kids pick a story each night before bed from the bible and inevitably, they choose the story of the garden of eden at least once a month.

Adam and Eve was part of this creation story.

Most of you will know that.

One version of the beginning of life as we know it involved a man and a woman, created by God. Adam, on his own, I believe would not have worked. It may have lasted short-term at best. You and I may not have come in to existence.

It is evident Adam needed Eve!

Operating alone in life is a little unnatural. What do you think? Wasn’t there a philosopher that stated once that –

“no man is an island”. There is some truth in this.

Okay, your definition of what is natural and unnatural may be different to mine and that is fine.

I think that is how most of life should be operated – a collaboration between a man and woman, between men and women, whether it be in the corporate world on in every-day life. However, it appears that most of life has been structured in such a way that it is biased to the comfort and convenience of men.

Made for men. By men.

But I believe that the system that has worked for centuries – a system that was and has been dictated by men, for the convenience of men, may become extinct in the near future. The industrial age, the one that established our schooling, our work day, our economy and our expectations and dreams is dying.

I believe it is dying but it dying faster than you and I think but there is evidence all around us of this funeral. Look around at the various industries – the music industry, the media outlets, newspapers and journalism to name a few.

And I think that is a good thing for man-kind.

The system and protocols set up for society, for the convenience and comfort of men, whilst excellent for the Industrial Era is not appropriate for now and the future.

My son made me aware of this not too long ago.

You see, we tried to get him to go to early music lessons taught by one of the Sydney (and Australia’s) best early child-hood music teachers when he was about 3. Turned out, he was a very different child in those classes. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t reason with him.

From the moment he entered that room, he took on a different personality – a very difficult personality. I felt that the room somehow triggered this abnormal behaviour. You see, Zachary is a little bit of a ‘stirrer’ by nature but this half hour of music was very difficult for either Cathy, my wife or me. We tried many things to manage his behaviour but nothing seemed to work.

I thought deeply about why this was happening because it only seemed to happen in that class.

Then it dawned on me that he felt reminded too much that he was a ‘kid’ when he was in those classes. The games and some of the activities were too ‘kid-like’ if you know what I mean and Zachary didn’t like to be treated like a ‘kid’. Even I felt like a kid when I was in those classes!

Because we refer to and treat Zachary like an individual and not like a ‘kid’, he expected to be treated like an individual. You see, from what he has observed in his short life so far, he loves everything about being an adult – doing work with me around the house like an adult, wearing my adult shoes, going shopping like an adult and being spoken to like an adult or at least an older child.

The Result: he behaves like an adult! Zachary likes being treated like a man or a grown-up boy. And I have to say that Olivia, my daughter loves to be treated like an older girl too. And those music classes did exactly the opposite.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other. Choose to spend time with your kids, not 'quality time'.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other.
Choose to spend time with your kids, not ‘quality time’.

So, it got me thinking about life and society in general.

Everything seems to be geared to the adults, isn’t it? Actually – most of life, matter of fact almost everything you can think of, for a very long time now has been organized for the convenience of adults, in particular – the comfort and suitability to men!

Give it some thought and let it sink in …

Work hours is structured that way and has been like that for centuries. The hours set is very suitable for men, isn’t it? The system of the industrial era allows one to have a ‘work-home-from-home’ that conveniently makes men unavailable at home for forty to eighty hours.

And when are these hours structured? During those moments at home where help is needed most. Those waking hours, where men are needed for cleaning, cooking and caring for children. Your children! So, the system still predominantly excludes one person from the ‘work-home’ and who do you think that is?

There are no prizes for guessing who that person is!

Yes, it is the woman. The mum. The female that is representing “EVE”. This is still the majority of cases in today’s world.

The question I ask is ‘why?!’ It is a choice after all, a choice every man, every woman, every family has to make. No one is going to ask you to make that choice for you. Be brave and make it yourself! Its not about whether you have what it takes; it’s about whether you choose to pursue it. Of course it is difficult to overcome a lifetime of education (and brainwashing). New habits will have to be created, and new dreams/expectations to go with them.

I believe with the exponential growth of technology and the embracing of more balanced philosophies, it is not necessary that individuals (particularly men) should be locked away in office places at the same time for hours a day.

What do you think?

I don’t think it is healthy for one thing. It is not necessary to be in the same vicinity as all your office colleagues every day of the week. You can be just as productive if not more, if you focused on what you were paid to do in the convenience of your own home. When will society realize that a lot of that ‘office time’, whilst relevant for the previous industrial era, is not necessary now and was put in place mainly for the convenience and needs of men.

It would be highly likely that ‘hours at work’ would have been very different today if it was us, men, who had to also run a home, clean, cook and take and pick up kids from school. It is not easy, believe me, it isn’t. But I believe it is a necessary and arguably the most important investment a man can make in his life: Time (not ‘quality time’) with his kids and home-life.

My children - Olivia and Zachary striking a 'front double-biceps' pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

My children – Olivia and Zachary striking a ‘front double-biceps’ pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

More of society, more of life should be geared toward the ‘Eve’ of the relationship.

More should be given to the woman. More should be given for the woman’s comfort, for her convenience.

More of society should be organized from a woman’s point-of-view, with more love, more care, more compassion, more flexibility. More importantly, more control over where and when one does one’s work.

There should be more personal responsibility and less ‘looking-over-your-shoulder’ work environments that still exists in many industries and in particular, the corporate world, where grown-ups are still made to feel like children in an ‘adult-like’ environment. How suffocating is that?!

How can grown adults be expected to work productively and do what is expected of an responsible adult if they are meant to feel like a ‘kid’ when at work because of the old-fashioned culture still in existence?

Over a hundred years of indoctrination of industrialism has changed the way we dream. The industrialist needs you to dream of security and the benefits of compliance. The industrialist works to sell you on a cycle of consumption (which requires more compliance) and the industrialist benefits of moving up the corporate ladder – his ladder!

But the society now is very different to what it was a millennia ago. Times have changed dramatically.

I believe that this is what society wants more of – a more balanced, more equal approach to life in all areas for both real men and women. And I also believe that this is what most men reading this and out there wants too. The winds of change has already been happening. Men and women are moving towards more of a “Adam and Eve” relationship and I believe it is very healthy and is necessary for this period in history.

If you are already in such a relationship, you are blessed.

Organizations need women more and more and should start changing archaic systems that are no longer relevant in today’s world. Women provide the balance to men, the balance that men need. This should be reflected in all areas of life – a genuine Adam and Eve approach. An approach that respects the importance and power of connection – between human beings, in particular the equal time-sharing both parents have in raising their children.

It began that way many, many years ago in beautiful story-telling about a garden of Eden – with Adam and Eve. We, society, need to return to this but this time with the understanding that Adam needed Eve. 

I am blessed I have my Eve – my wife, with equal Captaincy on our ship in the journey through our sea of life. I know I need my wife like Adam needed Eve.

Here’s hope to a better future … by turning back to the future.

All the best for 2016!

 

Until next time,

Me and my children - carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Me and my children – carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Find what you love to do. Then, go do it!

Find what you love to do.
Then, go do it!

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My E.T surprises.

It’s odd and funny at the same time, when I think about it, that my wife still remains extra-terrestrial (E.T) or alien-enough to surprise me. Even after living together for almost fifteen years.

Do you feel the same about your wife? Does she remain alien-like?

I mean you would think you know her by now and can see through all her tricks right? You know her walk, her talk, her favourite foods and which foods she would find disgusting. You know when she isn’t really in a good mood and needs some space. You think you know her – right?

And then one day, she surprises you!

Wow, isn’t that a beautiful thing – to be surprised by the woman you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with. This surprise, this seemingly small thing can have such a significant effect on you. This appreciation can literally increase your awareness, not only of you and your environment but more importantly of your woman. This little surprise has the power to ‘wake you up’ and make you realize what you may have forgotten for a while.

“And what is that?” I hear you say.

The surprise this alien-like person has given you makes you realize that she is her own person. She is NOT an extension of you. She is not a supporting actress of you in a private drama you have written, starring in, producing and directing. No, she is a distinct, unique individual with unique, individual dreams and aspirations and hopes. She is starring in her own movie of her own life, in which she is directing.

Sometimes, like right now when I look at my wife, Cathy sleeping, unaware of me, as beautiful and peaceful as the prettiest sun-rise you can imagine. The face of a sleeping woman, in particular – the face of this sleeping woman, is profound and surreal. Truly a thing of beauty to observe and experience. This face with its natural beauty and balance, with it’s soft lines and delicate symmetry. With it’s hidden eyes and shut lips and amazing curves. A true blessing to witness.

These shut lips are saying to me “fifteen years are barely enough to get beneathe the skin, let alone to the heart – of the mystery that is a woman.”

This mystery woman is my wife. Somehow after fifteen years together, I don’t think a life-time is enough time to understand this mystery, alien-like woman. She is a sweet stranger, beyond the knowing of a lifetime and that is ok with me. It should be ok for you too, when it comes to your wife.

I just love this photo of my wife. My E.T.

I just love this photo of my wife.
My loving E.T who still surprises me.

And do you want to know why that is ok?

Well, because this E.T beautiful being simply surprises me even after all these years. I am glad for that because it renews our marriage. In most important things in life, it is the little things that matter.

Remember: Elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do. Marriage, like all other complex dynamical systems in nature is extremely sensitive to the little things in life, like these E.T surprises.

These complex dynamical systems (like marriage) are highly sensitive because they are always changing, always on the move, never static, never returning to its original or initial states. The woman and man’s individual complex and dynamic selves are like the changing river of time, changing and adapting within the umbrella of the union of marriage.

As the great Greek philosopher Heraclitus stipulated:

“You can never step into the river of time twice, though it is the same river.”

So, step well my friends.

My E.T surprises that my wife gives me unsettles the regularity and order of the complex dynamical system that is the marriage, providing a wave of chaos or disorder. This is not a bad thing, it is a good thing.

Indeed, I believe it is part of the richness of life.  My life is enriched in every sense of the word with her in it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My love for this E.T never stops increasing.

All the best in your love for your alien E.T too.

 

Until next time,

Sharing the snow with my E.T.

Sharing the snow with my loving E.T.

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Keep the fire burning.

Providing a little bit of assistance. My pupil here 'feeling the essence' of the exercise. All relationships require work and time . Sometimes, its the little things, that determine your success in pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

Providing a little bit of assistance. My pupil here ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise.
All relationships require work, patience and time .
Sometimes, its the little things, that determine your success in pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

All relationships have their ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ and we all hope that the relationships that we value the most have more ups than downs. Relationships like marriages. This blog tries to share thoughts on how one can keep the fire burning in a marriage.

In my twenty plus years of helping people in the gym, including the 7 years I owned and managed a gym, I met people of all ages, backgrounds, professions and class in society. From the very richest to the very poorest, in every sense of the word: financially, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically.

In those years I have helped many couples stay together and also helped individuals transition through a divorce to being a single again. Most of the time, children are involved. A very difficult phase of life for all parties involved. I have experienced some of the pain (through a women’s eyes and through the man’s) of the devastation of such an event. Sometimes it is quick and sometimes it is long and messy.

I learned early on that there are always 3 sides to every story – yours, the other person’s and the right one!

I was fortunate during my 7 years owning and managing my gym, I had a retired female client who was special. Her name was Margaret and was one of Sydney’s top family counsellors. She was lovely and I helped her with her health and fitness goals for almost 6 years. I gave her increased strength, health and vitality and lots of laughter and she shared some of her wisdom with me. I learned a lot from her. I asked her what was the success rate of a couple staying together when they finally saw her. She said it was a little over 30%. Very low indeed.

I’ll share one such story of a divorce in which I helped a lovely lady. Let’s call her Susan.

When I asked Susan, what was the reason for getting a divorce, she just said “The flame went out. It was as simple as that!”

“What?!” I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Was that her way of “explaining away” the death of a 30-year marriage? There had been no bitter argument or disagreement, no extramarital affair. This female client/friend and her husband simply drifted apart – bored, indifferent, uncommitted.

Results with care. Here, Brad is 'feeling the essence' of the exercise and is loading his guns(biceps. Through a loving teacher/student relationship, both parties benefit. Practise does not make perfect - Perfect practise makes perfect! Vv

Results with care.
Here, Brad is ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise and is loading his guns(biceps.
Through a loving teacher/student relationship, both parties benefit.
Practise does not make perfect – Perfect practise makes perfect!
Vv

Susan and her soon-to-be ‘ex-husband’ were definitely getting a divorce and there was nothing I could do about it. They were beyond repair and some of what Margaret shared with me about her experience in marriage counselling, I used to help Susan in her time of extra-need.

One thing I have learned is that without commitment, no marriage can succeed. As I see it, like all Christians reading this blog, when we were married, we made an unconditional commitment to each other and the wedding vow was not a promise “if”, it was a promise “always”.

I think many forget this small but very important point.

There are certainly many hurdles in life and most of you have experienced your fair share to date – crisis, disappointments, failure. These can all put a strain on even the strongest relationships. However, I believe one thing: success in marriage MUST BE a conscious choice, not a thing left to chance.

“So, what does it take to make a marriage work?” you may be thinking.

Well, from what I have learned in helping many couples (not just the ones going through divorces), a successful marriage is successful because of hard work, compromise, patience and a willingness to grow. This also applies to any valued relationship you may have – friend or business.

Both individuals in the marriage or relationship must make the conscious choice to make it work. Each person learns to raise their tolerance levels.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder. Plan the work - to work the plan. Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with retired legend of rugby - Phil Waugh. All relationships require time, sharing and effort on both sides.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder.
Plan the work – to work the plan.
Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with retired legend of rugby – Phil Waugh.
All relationships require time, sharing and effort on both sides.

Before the fire goes out, each party to the marriage must try to keep the flame alive and the marriage relationship must be nurtured, if there is still a glimmer of hope. If it doesn’t then it will flicker out – as it did for Susan in this story.

Couples need to make their marriage the top priority and should not put it second to anything else – your work, your career or your children. Too many couples over-invest in their children at the expense of their marriage. This is dangerous because the children suffer in the long run, as a result.

One of the things that my lovely friend, Margaret the ex-family counsellor taught me about making marriages ‘work’ and keeping the flame burning was by –

feeding it the right kind of firewood”, she would say.

I asked her what she meant by this and she said that an example of the ‘wrong kind of firewood” was that – too many couples try to meet every one of their child’s needs at the expense of their relationship (this was damp/wet firewood according to Margaret – will not keep the fire burning).

“That was not the way”, Margaret said, regarding parents trying so hard to meet every one of their children’s needs.

Couples should always make time for themselves and they should make their children know the importance of their time.

I have never forgotten this and have offered this bit of advice to couples in the past. Now that I have children of my own, my wife and I regularly let our children know that “mummy and daddy’ are enjoying a conversation and need 30 minutes.

As my children grow, they are starting to truly respect and somewhat accept this, indirectly embedding in their minds that my love for my wife and her love for me comes first above all else.

I believe this is very important for the childrens’ state of mind, mainly in their adult years and their perception of an aspect of love. It is quite clear that parents can’t help their child(ren) unless they first step back and get their marriage relationship right. So, ask yourself if you’ve honestly done this.

Helping Chris close the gap between how he imagines himself to be and what he sees in the mirror. Or in other words: Manifesting the 'unfolding universe' of his 'enfolded' invisible universe (what he imagines/dreams) Trust is a big part of any successful long-term relationship. Vv

Helping Chris close the gap between how he imagines himself to be and what he sees in the mirror.
Or in other words: Manifesting the ‘unfolding universe’ of his ‘enfolded’ invisible universe (what he imagines/dreams)
Trust is a big part of any successful long-term relationship.
Vv

If you’re not already doing so, make your marriage a top priority before it is too late. However, making your marriage to be top priority shouldn’t and cannot be motivated by a desire to do what’s best for the children. You need to work on your marriage because it’s what you want to do and that is it.

If you’re a Christian, it’s what God wants you to do too. Ultimately, each party to a marriage is made to need each other.

And what is a ‘need’? It is simply something we cannot do without to survive – like water, like food, like shelter. This view of each other’s love is exactly the fuel needed to keep the fire burning in a marriage.

For those of you reading this that are married or in a long-term relationship, all the very best to you.

Remember though: use the right type of firewood to keep the fire burning and keep your marriage top priority. Always.

Until next time,

Training in my Old School Gym adopting Old School Training techniques with a modern twist. Know the basics. Apply the basics. Adapt to the basics. Keep it simple and keep it continuous. Its the most efficient, most effective and safe approach to building a muscular physique in the gym. Find a gym with minimum distraction if you desire results. Focus! Paul.

Training in my Old School Gym adopting Old School Training techniques with a modern twist. Life is like muscle – it relies on 2 principles: 1) Simplicity 2)Continuity. Ultimately, your relationship with yourself determines your relationships with others. Work on YOU first. Focus! Paul.

Paul V2 (1)

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