Women: Dealing with Mr. Mean
As we move into the heat of Summer, I'm reminded
of how many people, both men and women, are
affected by Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS). Here's a
letter I received recently which is typical of many
I get every day from around the world:
"My name is Tracy. I have been trying to get
hold of your book Irritable Male Syndrome and it is
totally sold out in Australia. I was lucky enough
to get it on eBay from America.
"My partner and I were together for 11 years and
actually had a really good relationship as well as
being best friends. In March we bought a house
together. He was so excited and had so many plans
that he wanted to do to the garden. In April he
turned 50. He became withdrawn, started drinking
every night and would just sit in front of the
"He would not talk to me at all. He spent a
couple of weekends going out with mates, which is
completely out of character for him and then he
didn't come home during the week. When he did turn
up after a couple of days he just exploded at me.
He was like a kettle that had lost its lid and all
the steam needed to escape. This was completely out
of character for him.
"He told me he hated me, did not want anything
to do with me and couldn't stand the sight of me.
He said he was moving in with his adult son and his
fiancée and never wanted to see me again. It
has now been five weeks. The only contact I have
had is when he told me to take the house payments
out of his bank account. I have always done all his
paperwork and banking. He only took his clothes,
everything else is still here. He will not answer
my calls or messages. My problem is that I do not
have closure. It is very frustrating as a woman not
to have answers. My life is in limbo. I would just
like to know what he is thinking or is unable to
Much has changed since The Irritable Male
Syndrome was first published in 2004. More people
know about IMS and are reaching out for help.
However, the world has become a more stressful
place to live and more men are suffering from IMS.
Economic implosion, job losses, global warming, war
and the threats of more war, rising food prices,
increasing levels of depression--are just a few of
the changes that are causing more of us to become
frightened, frustrated, irritable, and angry.
Here's another letter I recently received:
"Last month a man came home from work with my
husbands face but he did not act at all like the
man I married," says Marie, a 48 year-old wife and
mother of three. "I've known this man for 30 years,
married 22 of them and have never met this guy
before. Angry, nasty, and cruel are just a few
words to describe him. He used to be the most
upbeat, happy person I knew. Now he's gone from Mr.
Nice to Mr. Mean. In spite of how he treats me I
still love my husband and want to save our
marriage. Please, can you help me?"
Have you had experiences similar to these women?
If you're a man, do you recognize yourself in these
Why Do Men So Often Blame Their Partners When
They Are Suffering From IMS?
In the last 5 years I have worked with thousands
of men and women who were dealing with IMS in their
lives. One of most common questions women ask is,
"Why does he blame me? I haven't done anything to
him. Here's what I've learned. There are four
primary causes of IMS:
1. Hormonal fluctuations
2. Changes in brain chemistry
3. Increased stress.
4. Male identity confusion.
Most men are quite unaware of these life
changes. They are, for the most part, hidden from
them. The men know they are in pain and it makes
them angry. However, they mistakenly blame the
women. She is close by. He often feels dependent on
her for his emotional well-being. He needs her, but
is afraid of his dependency.
One of the first things I tell the men is that
"It isn't your wife that's the problem. It's your
life. Stop blaming her for your pain and let's get
at the real cause of your suffering." I tell the
women that "It's not your fault that he's angry and
upset. He's hurting and you are getting the brunt
of his attack. You can help him, but you have to
start by taking care of yourself."
(Maddy, Jed's assistant here) I wanted to share
some things I've learned as a woman in the world to
the women reading this newsletter. How do we "take
care of ourselves", as Jed suggests? Here are a few
of my own ideas on how to do better self-care:
Set clear boundaries and stick to them. If you
aren't well versed in boundary setting, a good
therapist can help you learn how. If you've never
learned how to set healthy boundaries, this can be
a scary thing at first. One thing I have learned on
my boundary setting journey is that when I state my
needs before they are critical, before I am scared
or angry, it is easier to do.
Find things in your life that are about your own
personal growth and bump them higher up on the
priority list. Examples could be to take a class in
something that you've always wanted to learn, join
the gym or prioritize a fitness program in any way
that works for you, or start a meditation
Make sure you have a good support system in
place: Friends, family, therapist, clergy are
possible support team members. A key place to focus
is on your own part of the relationship dance,
rather than putting all your energy and brain power
into trying to figure out your man's behavior.
Stop blaming yourself for another person's
behavior and actions. Blame and shame are the great
paralyzers. They keep us stuck and they keep us
small. You are good and right and beautiful. Know
that that is true, even if you have to take it on
faith. Do your best to make your decisions for your
life from that place.
Real Help For Those Who Are Living With Mr.
In response to the thousands of e-mails I have
been receiving I've decided to write a new book,
Mr. Mean: How to Save Your Man and Rescue Your
Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome.
The book will be organized around 30 of the most
important questions people (particularly women) are
asking about Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS) such
- Why has he suddenly changed?
- How can I get through to him when he denies
there is a problem?
- What do I do if he threatens to leave?
- Where do I find help for him and for
I'd like your input and feedback:
- How do you like the title?
- Do you have other ideas for a good
- What are the most important questions for
which you'd like answers?
Everyone who replies to me at Jed@MenAlive.com
(Please put "new book" in the subject line) will be
eligible to win a free, autographed copy of the
book before it is officially on the market.
* * *
Wealth can't buy health, but health can buy
wealth. - Henry David Thoreau
is the internationally best-selling author of nine
books including Male
Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing. The 4 Key Causes
of Depression and
Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable
Male Syndrome. His
upcoming book, Tapping Power: A Mans Guide to
Eliminating Pain, Stress, Anger, Depression and
Other Ills Using the Revolutionary Tools of Energy
Psychology will be available next year. For over 38
years he has been a leader in the field of men's
health. He is a member of the International
Scientific Board of the World Congress on
Mens Health and has been on the Board of
Advisors of the Mens Health Network since its
founding in 1992. His work has been featured in
major newspapers throughout the United States
including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall
Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and USA
Today. He has been featured on more than 1,000
radio and T.V. programs including The View with
Barbara Walters, Good Morning America, Inside
Edition, CBS, NBC, and Fox News, To Tell the Truth,
Extra, Leeza, Geraldo, and Joan Rivers. He also did
a nationally televised special on Male Menopause
for PBS. He looks forward to your feedback.
You can visit his website at www.menalive.com
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