Who am I? What qualifies me to write a book on relationships for men? Why did I write Relationship Workout for Men in the first place? I get asked these questions a lot.
For starters, I’m not a psychologist, nor do I have any degrees in areas even remotely related to being a relationship expert. In fact, I have graduate degrees in business and computer engineering.
My career to date certainly hasn’t been one focused on counseling people on their relationships. In fact, my career has been in high tech, albeit more focused over the past decade on business-to-business storytelling.
So, why do I feel qualified to write this book?
Well, in many ways, I’m just a typical guy. My parents divorced when I was sixteen. I never spoke to my father nor mother about how to date or what makes for a good marriage. Over the years, I talked to friends as I was dating, but they were as clueless as I was, as we mostly focused just on how “hot” she was and what hobbies we shared.
Put simply, I had no idea what I was doing in the world of dating. In my twenties, I dated any woman that I was attracted to and who showed interest in me. In my thirties, I became more serious about finding my future wife. But with each relationship came the same cycle: Meet, develop feelings, build hopes of a future together and then (for a variety of reasons) breakup.
So even though I yearned to find the Hollywood ending, white picket fence family that I never experienced in my childhood, for over two decades I was stuck in this same cycle. I was a serial dater as I notched over a dozen four month to four year relationships that all ended in failure.
I then met a woman whom I was sure was “the One.” Now, in my late thirties, I thought I had finally found my Soulmate. I was ecstatic. My search was finally over – or so I thought. Two years later, this relationship crashed and burned and I was left wondering: “What just happened?” How could I have been so wrong about her and about us?
After licking my wounds for a few months, I came to the conclusion that either:
- I was choosing to date women who were not good partners for me, AND/OR
- I was not being a good partner for the women I was choosing (and were choosing me).
After all, if I was choosing a good partner for me, AND I was being a good partner for her, then I would think we’d have a good chance of having a good relationship that could actually last.
Of course, this begged the follow-up question: What does it mean to be good (versus bad) in a relationship? And what is a good (versus bad) relationship?
This led me to one of my first aha moments. By structuring these relationship questions around what is good and what is bad, I was really asking questions around quality. My line of thought then evolved into asking what are the core attributes important to having a high versus low quality relationship? As a simple example, being honest and maintaining trust seemed like an obvious core attribute that would increase the quality of a relationship.
In parallel, I could see that I wasn’t the only one struggling to find lasting love. Most of my married friends were either in unhappy marriages or divorced. And some of these divorces were absolutely brutal – filled with pain and fighting that lasted years and depleted bank accounts. Of course, one doesn’t have to look far to see that divorce is a broader social issue.
My single friends had it rough as well. I heard story after story from friends complaining about their relationships – happy and in love one moment, down right miserable the next. Many singles seemed to be struggling with the same fundamental question: “Should I stay or should I go?” And, of course, we were all tired of the cycle of yet again re-entering the dating scene.
Yes, there are certainly happy, long-term relationships out there; yet, even some of those seem like lucky rolls of the dice. One friend told me that he chose his wife of nineteen years back when he was twenty-two because of a book that she had recommended to him “just blew him away.” In his next breath, he admitted that he got lucky. Most of us aren’t so lucky.
In any case, in 2003, I knew I definitely didn’t have the answers to these questions of how to be a good partner, how to choose a good partner, and how to gauge the quality of my relationship.
So with broken heart, I gave in and went to the self-help, relationship shelves of the local bookstore. There, all I found was bookshelf after bookshelf of books filled with good advice but seemingly written for women – not in a voice written for me, a guy. On one hand, this seemed to make sense as the stereotype goes that guys don’t read relationship books. Seemed like a bit of a catch-22 to me. After all, it’s not that us guys can’t use help with our relationships, nor are we completely disinterested in having good long-term relationships. In fact, I’ve never met a guy who wasn’t interested in learning answers to these fundamental questions that I was asking. So although I did read many of these books written for women, along with many other articles on related subjects, I decided to also take a journey to answer these questions for myself, and then attempt to capture the resulting insights in a book written for men.
Now, fast forward to 2022 – I have a wonderful wife, Brenda, and we also have two amazing sons together. So, after spending three decades looking for “the One” and over fifteen years being with “the One” – experiencing a host of challenges as is typical of a married couple – I feel ready to share what I’ve learned through both direct experience and tireless research with others through Relationship Workout.
For me, Relationship Workout includes the information and insights I wish I had access to when I started dating seriously. It’s what I wish my parents had shared with me. It’s what I wish a friend had pointed me to when seeing me struggle yet again with heartache. It’s what I keep going back to for strengthening reminders when I contribute drama to my own marriage.
It’s the proverbial “if I had only known then what I know now.” If I had, I might have avoided a lot of my own emotional heartaches and no doubt broken fewer hearts.
My hope is early on in dating, and before they fall madly in love with each other, men and women will be more thoughtful in the questions they ask each other to reveal any potential obvious compatibility concerns. My hope is that men and women will seriously try to strengthen their weaknesses that may be contributing to drama into their relationship. Ultimately, I invite you to commit yourself to being the best and strongest partner you can be with the goal of experiencing perpetual fun, joy and love in the relationship you choose.