Dear Unhappily Married Men,

As you may know, I’ve spent a great deal of time talking to women about how they can change their behavior to get the love they want. But I’ve spent almost no time talking to men.

That’s because women are typically the relationship navigators: they determine which way the relationship will go.

That being said, the number of emails I receive from husbands is truly astounding. Thus, it seems only right that I address men directly.

After all, one of my arguments is that when one person changes his or her behavior, it upsets the apple cart enough to where the other person has no choice but to respond. So it’s reasonable to conclude that if husbands change, their wives will respond in kind. So on that note, here goes:

Dear Unhappily Married Men,

Many of your emails ask me how you can get your wives to read The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage, but you must know I can’t make your wife do anything. (That said, one husband told me he strategically placed it by his wife’s bedside table, but when I suggested that to another husband he told me that would start World War III! I also learned about another husband who brought the book with him on his anniversary trip. That didn’t go over so well, so I wouldn’t recommend it.)

But let’s back up a little first. I want to give you my backstory.

The marital/relationship dynamic I address in The Alpha Female’s Guide is one with which I’m intimately familiar. I watched it my entire life growing up with my parents, both of whom were wonderful people individually but who together were often combustible.

Their relationship dynamic has remained a fascination of mine, particularly since women today are very similar to my mother. (My mother was unusual for her time, but she would be commonplace today.) Throughout my life, it seemed as though my parents were always fighting (although of course they weren’t always fighting), and they even kept separate bedrooms. The reason for their conflicts would differ, but the source was almost always the same.

My mother couldn’t cede control.

It wasn’t that my mother didn’t respect my father – I know she did – but she was unable to properly demonstrate it. This would prove to be her fatal flaw and the source of my father’s frustration and sadness. In response to her lack of respect, he didn’t shower her with the love she felt she deserved.

I mention all this to adequately convey how deeply I understand the relationship between you and your wife. You cannot spend 18 years witnessing this dynamic and not come away with a visceral understanding of how it works.

I know all you want is for your wife to be happy. I also know that your needs are ridiculously simple, and that it seems like hers are over the top. They probably are. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about that.

But I can tell you this: When your wife is being difficult, or when she seems unhappy, agitated, or when she’s acting entirely different from the way she did when you and she first met, it’s almost always for the same reason.

In that moment, she perceives you as weak. And she wants you to be strong.

Whether you are weak or not is beside the point because that’s what your wife is thinking and feeling in that moment. What she wants is for you to step up to the plate and be a man, which can mean one of several things.

It can mean:

  • being true to your word, or doing what you promised
  • knowing your own mind (and not being easily swayed by others)
  • being assertive, capable and purpose-driven
  • being physically strong
  • being authoritative rather than a pushover

More than anything, it means being a man of action rather than a man of words. Your wife doesn’t want you to ask her where you should go for dinner; she wants you to decide where to go and then take her, just as you did when you were dating. She doesn’t want you to ask her what needs to be done in the house; she wants you to notice it and do it yourself. And when a conflict arises—with someone else in the family, or with a neighbor, or with the kids—she wants you to stand tall in the face of conflict. She wants you to exhibit strength and competence.

She wants you to be the man in the relationship so she doesn’t have to be.

I know that sounds odd considering the times in which we live. Women are supposed to be as strong and as capable as men! Women said they wanted to be in charge!

That may be true in the marketplace, but it’s not true at home. At home, women want to know they can let go of the reigns and rely on their man to get shit done.

Unfortunately, some women don’t know they want this because the culture has convinced them they need to be in control at all times. They want to let go, but they don’t know how.

So act in a manner that forces them to let go. Ask yourself if you’re bringing the things I listed above to the table. If you’re not, start bringing them to the table and see if your wife doesn’t respond positively to the new you.

I’ll be waiting for the emails.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne Venker is an author, speaker and cultural critic known as “The Feminist Fixer.” She has authored several books to help women win with men in life and in love. Her most recent, The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage, was published in February 2017.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Susan,

    Always enjoy your posts.

    I’ve been married to the same woman for almost 35 years.

    Unfortunately there are so many single moms out there and guys who refuse to marry them.

    Guys feel there’s no upside to being treated as an ATM and being a dad to a kid who may resent the guy for taking his biological dad’s place.

    Your thoughts please.

    Scott

  2. I can draw some parallels from your list to 2 Corinthians 16:13-14 which says: 13 Be watchful. Stand firm in the faith. Act like men. Be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

    Biblically speaking, this sums up what we are to be as men. Think about those five directives. It really does. Be behaving the way God wants us to behave, we will cover Suzanne’s list of five things to do to make your wife love and respect you.

  3. Choosing the right spouse is critical. CRITICAL. ‘Cause, when the mask comes off, it’s happy days or …hellacious daze. A required-reading book for middle school boys and up, especially in the ‘dating’ years, is: Girls Gone Wise In A World Gone Wild, by Mary A. Kassian, Moody Publishers, publ. 2010. Written for women, it nevertheless is an ‘eye-opener,’ a ‘heart-opener,’ and a wisdom-treasure box for any young man. Or, perhaps too belatedly, for a saddened but ‘wiser-to-be’ older man. The book should have been entitled, ‘An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Lifetime of Cure.’ Read it. You will agree.

  4. Suzanne,

    Love much of what you write and I appreciate you understand the problems with modern feminism. But you are still lost in romantic ideals that are not fair to men and will not hold up. You cannot have chivalry without patriarchy. Those days are over. The main problem today is that women want their cake and eat it too. Deep down they want a man to be control, but ultimately they don’t want to give up control on the big stuff.

    You can suggest to men all day long that they should do this, but they aren’t going to.

    The way forward is true equality. That means men and women treat each other as true friends and partners. That means she can open her own door. That means she can plan 50% of nights out treat him the same way she wants to be treated. That means she can and should communicate to him at all times what she wants or doesn’t want in terms of sexual advances…its not acceptable to sit back and pretend to be stupid while the man takes a lucky guess at what she wants and a huge risk in doing so. While it may not be as fun for her to enjoy the pursuit of a man towards her, that is simply not an option nor an acceptable risk for any man to take. You say you want to fix feminism, well ok but there is a big dilemma there which you are still in denial about. You really can’t have it both ways. You’re asking for men to be the vulnerable ones, and yet to pretend to be the opposite so that their woman feels good with him. Nice fantasy, but it will never happen. Just look around. Men have had it.

  5. Rollo talks about this at length on Rational Male. The gist of it is, that women want a man who “just gets it” without having to be told and that if she has to tell him how to be a man, then he isn’t the man for her.

    The big issue of course, is a couple of generations of men who have been taught the nonsense that vulnerability is strength and that they should expect a woman will love them back in the same way they love her. This sets men up to fail spectacularly when they realize that they have married women who don’t really love them, or even find them attractive any more and there’s no real way to save the situation, as desire cannot be negotiated.

  6. It is hard to change our ways as women because we’ve been conditioned to believe that men are a disappointment and immature so we cannot trust them. Women are exhausting themselves trying to be both the man and the woman in relationships. So many of the men are confused because they have no clue what their role is.

    • G, you’ve said it so well and succinctly. You’re right!
      The problem about men not knowing their role is that we keep taking our ‘role’ definitions from women.
      Our roles have been established by God in His word, and our ‘main’ role, aim, purpose…is not to make our wives, children, family “happy”(a by-product), but to make them “FRUITFUL, PRODUCTIVE, to CULTIVATE them, to make them GROW!(Genesis 1:28). Its called and is “HUSBANDry”

    • There’s a large population of women who haven’t been told by people who matter (excluding media and entertainment industry) that men are disappointments. I know weak men exist, I have known them, but I married a man who has a strong identity and self-value, so I don’t have to be mother and father and the sole moral arbiter. I think there’s an unusual trend amongst many feminists to garner a semblance of equity by denigrating the other sex, to the point that they become nearly or wholly unnecessary.

      I particularly enjoy my husband’s masculinity and physical strength – it makes me find a very comfortable, natural niche where I can relax and be feminine not dominant.

  7. Suzanne, thank you for your article, but even more so for your back-story of your mother.

    You said that your mother was ‘unABLE’ to cede control’ like most women today.

    That would be like saying someone is ‘unABLE’ to repent. But the truth is, its not about ‘ability’, its about ‘will’

    Your mother like most women today in relation to a healthy marriage are beautiful, charming, shapely, boobsie rebels like Eve – rebels to the will and command of God,

    ‘Wives, submit YOURSELVES unto your husbands ‘AS’ unto The LORD’ – Eph.5:22

    “YOURSELVES” is an act of the ‘will’

    And husbands, though imperfect, in relation to being “head” of the wife is used synonymously with ‘The LORD.’

    So men, in quelling this seetheing insurrection rightly resist, withdraw their love and affection like employees withdraw their labor in a strike vote, and the man builds his invisible, mobile fortress of resistance right in the center of the relationship.

    Wives then beat on the fortress walls SHOUTING that he either ‘Come out!’ or ‘Tear down the walls!’

    But he’s looking at the sword and the other instruments of manipulating torture and control still in her hand.

    Yet, these ‘Unhappy Married Men’ are the ones being lobbied and encouraged to change and adapt, while leaving the rebels entrenched as they are in their insurrection – then given a lifetime free-pass. This is wrong. Unfruitful. Unproductive. And Unhealthy for the relationship and family.

    Since wives are commanded to submit THEMSELVES to their husbands “AS” unto The LORD’, I don’t imagine The LORD Jesus making the adjustment.

    In the same portion of scripture quoted, men are commanded to love their wives “AS” Christ loves the Church, HIS bride.

    Yet, I find it interesting that a wife’s submission is placed first. I don’t imagine love is sustainable for an imperfect husband in the face and confrontation of constant insurrection.

    Unhappy Married Men might be the reality, but a rebellious wife is kicking against the pricks/giant thorns of his rightful resistance.

    No. If she wants love and affection again, “SHE” must initiate the change.

    • Re your last comment: I don’t disagree at all. That’s why my work is really for women. I just felt compelled to respond to these husbands’ emails in a way that gives THEM some agency, since they’re effectively trapped until their wives get the message. This at least allows them to feel less stuck.

  8. Hi Suzanne,

    I see a lot of truth in what your wrote, but I want to nit-pick one thing. You wrote,

    “And she wants you to be strong.”

    Not exactly. If she “wanted” her man to be strong and have control, then she would welcome him ceasing control. She certainly wont. If she’s used to making all the decisions and suddenly he’s deciding where they go eat, etc, she will feel challenged, threatened, disrespected, hurt, and VERY pissed off. At some point down the road, she will hopefully have regained some respect for him, and find him attractive again, but the road to that point is NOT easy for the man, and it is a battle that will likely never end, as women are pretty relentless. (If they werent, we wouldnt be having this discussion.)
    Women evolved to challenge and be difficult for men.

    I think that the concept of what women “want” is an absurdity in the context of attraction and relationships. There is what women think they want, and what they actually respond to, and those are usually two different things.

    Phil

  9. Hi Ivan

    Wow, what wisdom!! I live with that exact reality, she claims to be a ‘believer’ and devours the word of God daily yet treats me like a servant, makes arrangements without consulting me (and then expects me to participate anyway), speaks to me like I have no education and conducts herself like a goddess, a place she has appointed herself to and any attempts to convince her to step down and meet me halfway are met with rolled eyes, sighing, folded arms and then the ultimate insult, the walk-out. I am then left to grovel and slide back or leave her to carry on regardless and suffer the utter humiliation of seeing her making arrangements with her daughter, her family and her friends without me. Dominant, aggressive and argumentative women MUST step down and surrender their stubborn wills, no real man will ever choose face-to-face combat with the woman he loves over reasoning and debate. As a man, I have absolutely no tools or weapons with which to fight a woman, it is so counter-intuitive to me to fight her, my strongest instinct is to talk, ask, debate, maybe plead and then quit if there is no sign of softening on her part. After countless failed attempts, I have stopped talking, my romantic side is dead, I could care less to rescue her anymore, I don’t suggest outings anymore, I am ashamed to admit that I drink much more to dull the pain, I am lonely and I am excluded from all of her plans, she just finds other people to fulfil my role and make a point of showing me how well her life works without me. It is a cruelty I have no words for. The few times I have displayed my anger and my desperation, albeit too loudly, I was labelled ‘abusive, having an anger issue’, accused of hating her, told she needs to ‘avoid me for a couple of weeks because she feels unsafe’ and other disgusting remarks. Being a man in the face of this constant emasculation is crushing.

    Karl

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