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Is Your Relationship What You Want?

Many people struggle with a partner to recreate what was there when they first fell in love. We have great hopes when we start out… then things seem to fall apart. We might start out blaming another, only to realize that we are also part of the problem.

There is another cause; for many this is THE cause. It’s that we inherited a model that is limited, and we have no tools to build a better one. Who was taught the skills of connecting? Who had parents that modeled those skills?

A second problem comes from how boys are raised. Since fathers left the farm for the factory, boys were instructed how to be emotional from a feminine perspective. Women stepped up to do what they had to do. The consequence is that men lost the masculine perspective of emotionality.

As men, we want to succeed. We listen to our mothers, teachers, girlfriends and then wives on how to show up emotionally. We try our best, only to keep failing. Men give up. Women give up. We blame each other and ourselves.

The blame is not with us; it’s with our models of how to connect and how to be emotional as a man. But the responsibility to change what’s not working lies with us. We need to find a model that works and become proficient at it.

Through the work of people like Sue Johnston, Ph.D, we discovered a simple way to learn the skills of connecting. With these skills, we see failing relationships become passionate love affairs. The first step is understanding how, when under stress, we revert to our survival behaviors that protect us.  They might protect us, but they certainly will cause disconnection. Then, you need to risk being vulnerable to rekindle connection, which begins to turn around a struggling relationship. From there, you hone the skills and come up with a plan to reinforce them.

In 2005, I asked eleven men to join me in forming the Sandpoint Men’s Group. As of today, more than  200 men have participated in the group over the years. We have four current, active groups. We were featured in a documentary film. There’s a book about how to start your own group.

We found a model that works. This model is spreading around the world, teaching men Masculine Emotional Intelligence. Men in these free groups teach each other what none of us had taught to us as boys.

Start today, slow down, take a risk and connect. Tell your partner how you appreciate her or him. Even if you feel you don’t, start with something you at least did appreciate. Stop disconnecting around conflict and start connecting around what’s good.

Men, check out our free groups – We welcome new men. These groups are amazing—and a lot of fun. Many marriages were turned around because a man learned what was never taught to him.

Owen Marcus, MA, Rolfer, men’s trainer (, and couples workshop leader

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