Psychologist Dr. Tony Ferretti asks the question, “Why can’t high achievers, who are so adept at solving problems at work, fix the problems in their relationships?” In his article, Successful People, Unsuccessful Relationships, he explains that the first step to fixing a problem is being able to recognize it.
As a men’s coach, I help men recognize the difference between their successful problem solving skills at work and their unsuccessful relationship skills at home.
A successful professional typically becomes that way by mastering what he knows and how he does it. He is an expert problem solver, decision maker and action taker.
However, in nurturing his romantic relationship, the last thing his partner cares about is his professional prowess. She isn’t attracted to what he knows. And she isn’t inspired by how he does it.
She connects with him by how he makes her feel.
And that comes from who he is being when he is with her.
Being the “There, I fixed it” Guy at Home?
One of the biggest mindset challenges for men is changing how they see their role at home vs. work.
Seeing your work as a series of challenges to be conquered and problems to be fixed is to be expected. You are highly valued and rewarded for courageously taking on all obstacles to success. You might want to continue that mindset at home. Sure, go for it with leaky faucets and peeling paint.
If you view your relationship as just another set of problems, you’ll never get out of your head. If you consider your partner just another challenge that needs to be fixed, she will never be able to feel your heart. And creating a successful relationship always starts in your heart.
You may think that arguments, complaints or unhappiness are problems to be “fixed”. You would then expect them to have a solution based in rational discussion, logical planning and clear agreements.
It should be that easy, right? But it is rarely true.
Arguing, complaining and unhappiness almost never come from a failure in what you have done. They come from a lack of awareness of who you are being when you do them.
When you try to fix her complaints with unwavering logic, you are being a good technician.
But when you try to address those concerns with calm compassion, you are being a good listener.
When you try to fix her unhappiness with a battery of questions, you are being a good troubleshooter.
But when you try to understand her unhappiness with empathy, you are being a good lover.
Work skills and relationships skills are very different and often incompatible.
The former requires 80% head energy and 20% heart energy. The latter is just the opposite.
Being able to consciously make this switch at home is the Achilles Heel for a lot of men.
It took me the better part of 28 years to figure this out.
Being the “Daddy’s home, what’s for supper?” Guy Doesn’t Work Either
There’s another ineffective mindset high-achieving men adopt in their relationships.
I call this one the, “Daddy’s home, what’s for supper?” mindset. In this mindset you are constantly being a follower in the relationship. You are deferring all decisions to her. You have surrendered your balls. And she really doesn’t want them.
In this mode you will think:
- You are the main breadwinner, provider and dragon slayer
- She wants to take care of everything else…everything
Some guys will even tell me, “Hey, she doesn’t want my input on anything and actually prefers to take care of everything else. I just stay out of her way.”
I know it’s tempting to believe she actually loves owning everything that is finance, child care, vacation planning, holiday planning, social life planning, birthday planning and even romance planning. It’s tempting to say, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it!”
This mode of operation can kill your relationship as quickly as the “There, I fixed it” mode can.
Don’t be this guy. Not only will she lose respect and attraction for you, I happen to know you don’t like it much either.
You may even be afraid to step into her world for fear of the consequences.
It’s that fear that makes you feel a little insecure and walking on eggshells all the time. You look for her approval and directions. She is the holder of your mojo.
And the effect this has on your relationship is painfully obvious.
Okay, Then Who Shall I Be?
That’s the elephant in the room, isn’t it?
Who do you want to be?
What role would you prefer to play in your romantic relationship?
If you could be any man you wanted to be, what values would he bring? What is his energy like?
What does he believe? What does he stand for?
How is his relationship going? How does she treat him and vice-versa?
What’s the sex like?
You see, the problem here is we men can’t wait for anyone else to tell us the answers to these questions. We must do the work to find our own answers.
Then we must make the decision to BE that man without asking for permission or directions from anyone else on how to do that.
It is only that man who can feel truly “successful” in every part of his life.