I’m attempting to write my first book.
I’ve been treating the project somewhat like I do my blog posts. I get an idea and just run with it with little forethought or planning. I just wing this stuff. Sometimes it turns out. Sometimes it doesn’t.
In the end, this project will require infinitely more organization than I’m accustomed to. I’m not a very organized person. The day I’m holding an actual finished product in my hand will be something akin to a miracle. But it must happen.
I believe that human relationships—not counting the deeply personal spiritual relationships many people have—are the most-important and most-impactful things we experience in our lives.
I believe adulthood is more difficult than we’re generally led to believe growing up. And I believe marriage, or committed relationships like marriage, are even more difficult.
I think people have expectations for how things are going to be. Then we grow up and things are nothing like what we thought they were going to be. Our partners don’t act like we thought they would. They don’t make us feel as loved or safe or good as we thought they would. We change into people different than who we thought we were going to be. Our partners do, too.
All of that builds and stews and compounds and complicates. Before you know it, people are sleeping with other people, or wishing they were. Homes and bedrooms that used to represent sanctuary become hostile territory.
We feel like we’re losing everything. We hurt. We cry. We’re afraid. Because the future is uncertain and now we know just how horrible it can be. Now our minds can conjure up frightening and painful outcomes much easier than before, back when life was simple and happy and easy and we had our entire lives ahead of us.
Before the scars. Before the brokenness. Before the fear.
Divorce is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I believe it’s the worst thing many people experience.
In addition to all of the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual strain everyone going through it feels, a bunch of other things also break along the way.
Children’s lives are completely changed.
Friendships evolve uncomfortably or break altogether.
Family relationships fracture.
Divorce is shitty and horrible. And I don’t think it needs to happen as frequently as it does.
A Higher Calling
I think we all have the capability of having healthy, sustainable relationships. By “we,” I mean people like you and me. People who have the mental and emotional awareness to participate in conversations like the ones we have. People who care enough. People who want to grow and contribute to making this world just a little bit better than it is.
I cannot build a house or fix a car. I don’t know how.
But I believe if I spent time with capable contractors and mechanics interested in helping me learn, that I could. I COULD be a guy who builds houses and fixes cars.
Some people are good at relationships. Most often, they’re women. Women are better at relationships than men. Not always. But most of the time.
Which is why I believe men have the most power in this world to stem the tide of divorce and all the shit storms it causes in the lives of so many of us.
We can’t do much about the super-selfish or apathetic ones. They are who they are. They must choose unselfishness. They must choose to care.
But there are A LOT of good men out there. A lot. And they WANT to be good husbands and fathers. Deep within their hearts, minds and souls. A lot of guys don’t know that being nice isn’t enough. A lot of guys don’t know that good men can be shitty husbands.
They don’t have the tools or knowledge to build the house or fix the car. But with those tools and a little help, they could.
A Book with No Genre
I’m not proposing a self-help book here. My bachelor’s degree and judge-stamped dissolution of marriage documents DO NOT qualify me to pontificate on how to do things right.
But here’s what I believe—and most of it is predicated on my experiences since launching this blog:
1. My stories about my failed marriage ACCIDENTALLY help people. They either relate emotionally so they don’t feel alone OR sometimes cause people to rethink some of their beliefs about what it takes to make relationships work.
2. My days as a newspaper reporter make me decent at finding good informational resources that teach me things. I like sharing those resources with others.
3. I believe men (and perhaps many women) don’t understand just how different (and potentially complementary) men and women are from one another. Gender differences. In our chemistry. In our mental and emotional genetic makeup. I think if all men truly understood these interpersonal dynamics between the genders—and respected them enough to alter their behavior accordingly—we’d start winning the fight against divorce and broken relationships. Like, make-divorce-our-bitch-style winning.
A husband doing things the right way will:
- Never leave his wife feeling emotionally abandoned and unsafe.
- Set a great example for sons and daughters (and other friends and family) about what successful marriage is supposed to look like, making it more likely they will have healthy relationships in the future.
- Significantly reduce the likelihood of a wife looking for greener pastures because she feels loved and respected and wanted by her husband. In turn, the husband will feel loved and respected. He won’t feel SHAME—an absolute relationship killer for men. They will have a healthy and vibrant sex life. This will greatly reduce occurrences of emotional and physical infidelity.
4. The average man is not going to read The Five Love Languages or Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus. They’re just not. My wife asked me to read “Men are from Mars…” several years ago in an attempt to help me understand why she would get upset with things I said and did, or didn’t do. I read three chapters and never opened it again. And that right there is the kind of shit I’m talking about. I wasn’t a bad guy. I was just a shitty husband. What if I read that book and respected my wife’s emotional needs way back then? Isn’t it possible we’d still be married today? Isn’t it possible we could have avoided all this brokenness? Isn’t it possible we’d both feel safe and loved and optimistic about our future, and have our five-year-old son at home with us all the time, instead of just half?
OF COURSE, it’s possible. I’d argue, likely. I’m really talented at breaking shit and figuring out how I broke it. I’m reasonably good at not making the same mistake twice. At least not the really big ones.
So, I’m always thinking: There MUST be a bunch of other guys out there like me. There must! Guys who still have time. Who haven’t broken their relationships yet, or are early enough in the process where they can turn it around. Or, better yet? Guys who are in the very early stages of laying the foundation for their lives with their significant others. If they knew what I knew, wouldn’t they have a MUCH better chance of making it?
Yes, they would.
And I want them to. I’m not even almost as smart as John Gray or Gary Chapman, the authors of Men are from Mars… and The 5 Love Languages, respectively.
But I have an advantage over those guys. I don’t have “Dr.” in front of my name. I say bad words and watch football and play golf and air hump random stuff after one too many drinks at a Saturday night party.
In other words, I’m just a totally average, regular guy. And maybe a small percentage of other regular guys will read something I write whereas they won’t read some “girl book” their wives or girlfriends wanted them to read.
Maybe. I don’t know.
I hope so.
The Book’s Framework
I’m making broad generalizations here. I know this.
But men tend not to read much. We have subpar attention spans. Already, this blog post has WAY exceeded the average person’s TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) threshold. Most dudes stopped after the third paragraph because it didn’t have the word “boobs” in it.
This is the part where I ask you for advice and feedback.
Currently, I’m planning to make the book something in the general vein of “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married.” We will come up with a better title. I promise.
I want each chapter to cover each of the following things.
I would REALLY appreciate any and all feedback and/or suggestions as to how I can make this list better.
Here’s the current chapter list, subject to change, and in no particular order:
1. Getting married is NOT like having a permanent girlfriend.
2. Yes, it can happen to you. (Don’t get too comfortable, married guy.)
3. Love is a choice.
4. Know your role. (The importance of gender differences.)
5. Your parents might have done it wrong. (As far as these gender roles and telling us the truth about marriage.)
6. Don’t keep secrets. (Big and small. This will cover sex and lots of mind, body, spirit stuff.)
7. Monogamy can be hot. (Have lots of sex. Make it dirty if you want to. If everyone is honest with one another, this can work fabulously. I think this is one of the ways we cut down on instances of infidelity.)
8. Being good at marriage is a learned skill. (Men are often naturally competitive creatures. It’s a huge mystery to me why men aren’t competitive about being studs at marriage. They should WANT to be amazing husbands and fathers to stoke their fiery competitiveness. Perhaps those desires can be drawn out with the right language? Seems worth exploring.)
And there will be more. Or less. Whatever. This is a fluid work in progress.
Each chapter will be written a lot like how I write blog posts—present-day thoughts with back-story personal anecdotes that apply to each topic sprinkled in between.
I have no idea what the end result might look like. But I hope it can matter to someone. And I hope I come out the back end a more-confident, capable writer. One who contributed a few ideas to the world.
Only time will tell.
Thank you for being a part of it.