Irritable
Male
Syndrome
 

Jed Diamond is the internationally best-selling author of eight books including Male Menopause, now translated into 17 foreign languages and his latest book, The The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing. The 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression.

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 Men’s Health and has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men’s 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. E-Mail You can visit his website at www.menalive.com Take The Irritable Male Syndrome quiz.

Don’t Scapegoat President Obama for the Failure of Our Sick, Addictive, Economy


Let’s face it, no matter what the latest ups and downs we read in the news, the economy is still sick. And predictably President Obama’s approval ratings are dropping. When he was elected most of the world felt hopeful that Mr. Obama could make a difference and turn things around within the country and with our relationships around the world. Democrats were looking forward to major changes in health reform and an end to the dysfunctional economic policies of the Bush years. Republicans were worried that Obama would change America in a way not to their liking. All felt he was destined to have a major impact on our lives.

I think he has and he will. It’s great to have a man who is charismatic, intelligent, thoughtful, willing to work with disparate groups, and a man who seeks reconciliation rather than conflict. But I’m afraid the nature of the problems we face are not going to be solved by even the most intelligent, hard-working, and dedicated President. If we recognize that we can hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst, and resist the temptation to make the President the scapegoat for our unfilled expectations, we will be able to take responsibility for creating the kind of country and world we truly want and need.

For those a bit rusty on their biblical history, in Leviticus, the scapegoat is loaded own with the sins to which the ancient Israelites have confessed and then banished into the wilderness. The word "scapegoat" has come to mean a person, often innocent, who is blamed and punished for the sins, crimes, or sufferings of others, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes.

Most of us have been “scapegoated” in our lives and it’s not very comfortable. It order to prevent this from happening to President Obama (or anyone else) we have to get a clearer picture of the nature of our economic ills and what the true causes of failure might be.

So why are both the U.S. economy and the larger global economy ailing? Those in positions of power, i.e. the mainstream media, world leaders, and America’s chief economists, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Feberal Reserve Chairman Bernanke) offer near unanimity in their opinion: Those recent troubles are temporary and are primarily due to a combination of bad real estate loans and poor regulation of financial derivatives.

As a health-care practitioner, I know how important it is to have the correct diagnosis of an illness if treatment is to be most effective. If this conventional diagnosis is correct, then the treatment of our economic malady might logically include heavy doses of bailout money for beleaguered financial institutions, mortgage lenders, and car companies. Plus better regulation of derivatives and futures markets. And finally, stimulus programs to jumpstart consumer spending.

But Richard Heinberg, a fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, and a man I have learned to respect greatly over the years (not the least because he usually turns out to be right), has a different take on what ails us. “I am suggesting an Alternative Diagnosis,” says Heinberg. “This explanation for the economic crisis is not for the faint of heart because, if correct, it implies that the patient is far sicker than even the most pessimistic economists are telling us. But if it is correct, then by ignoring it we risk even greater peril.”

When James Howard Kunstler wrote The Long Emergency in 2005, he said that the greatest danger this society faced would be its inclination to gear up a campaign to sustain the unsustainable at all costs -- rather than face the need to make new arrangements for daily life. This seems to be what is happening at the top levels of power.

Peak Oil and the Limits of Growth

For several years, a swelling subculture of commentators (which includes Heinberg, Matt Savinar, Carolyn Baker, James Howard Kunstler, and others) have been forecasting a financial crash, basing this prognosis on the assessment that global oil production was about to peak. As summarized by Heinberg in his August, 2009 Museletter (www.RichardHeinberg.com), their reasoning went like this:

Continual increases in population and consumption cannot continue forever on a finite planet. This is an axiomatic observation with which everyone familiar with the mathematics of compounded arithmetic growth must agree, even if they hedge their agreement with vague references to "substitutability" and "demographic transitions."

Energy is the ultimate enabler of growth (again, this is axiomatic: physics and biology both tell us that without energy nothing happens). Industrial expansion throughout the past two centuries has in every instance been based on increased energy consumption. More specifically, industrialism has been inextricably tied to the availability and consumption of cheap energy from coal and oil (and more recently, natural gas). However, fossil fuels are by their very nature depleting, non-renewable resources. Therefore (according to the Peak Oil thesis), the eventual inability to continue increasing supplies of cheap fossil energy will likely lead to a cessation of economic growth in general, unless alternative energy sources and efficiency of energy use can be deployed rapidly and to a sufficient degree.

Of the three conventional fossil fuels, oil is arguably the most economically vital, since it supplies 95 percent of all transport energy. Further, petroleum is the fuel with which we are likely to encounter supply problems soonest, because global petroleum discoveries have been declining for decades, and most oil producing countries are already seeing production declines. So, by this logic, the end of economic growth (as conventionally defined) is inevitable, and Peak Oil is the likely trigger.

Increased Growth Leads to Increased Debt Which Can No Longer Be Serviced

Why would Peak Oil lead not just to problems for the transport industry, but a more general economic and financial crisis? During the past century growth has become institutionalized in the very sinews of our economic system. Every city and business wants to grow. This is understandable merely in terms of human nature: nearly everyone wants a competitive advantage over someone else, and growth provides the opportunity to achieve it.

But there is also a financial survival motive at work: without growth, businesses and governments are unable to service their debt. And debt has become endemic to the industrial system. During the past couple of decades, the financial services industry has grown faster than any other sector of the American economy, even outpacing the rise in health care expenditures, accounting for a third of all growth in the U.S. economy. From 1990 to the present, the ratio of debt-to-GDP expanded from 165 percent to over 350 percent. In essence, the present welfare of the economy rests on debt, and the collateral for that debt consists of a wager that next year's levels of production and consumption will be higher than this year's.

The Whole Growth/Debt Process is a Giant Ponzi Scheme About to Collapse

Given that growth cannot continue on a finite planet, this wager, and its embodiment in the institutions of finance, can be said to constitute history's greatest Ponzi scheme. We have justified present borrowing with the irrational belief that perpetual growth is possible, necessary, and inevitable. In effect we have borrowed from future generations so that we could gamble away their capital today.

Until recently, the Peak Oil argument has been framed as a forecast: the inevitable decline in world petroleum production, whenever it occurs, will kill growth. But here is where forecast becomes diagnosis: during the period from 2005 to 2008, energy stopped growing and oil prices rose to record levels. By July of 2008, the price of a barrel of oil was nudging close to $150—half again higher than any previous petroleum price in inflation-adjusted terms—and the global economy was beginning to topple. The auto and airline industries shuddered; ordinary consumers had trouble buying gasoline for their commute to work while still paying their mortgages. Consumer spending began to decline. By September the economic crisis was also a financial crisis, as banks trembled and imploded.

We Are Reaching Peak Everything and We Continue Our Addictive Compulsion for More

Although some would hope we can make the transition to non-fossil fuel options and keep our economy expanding, Heinberg believes this is not possible. “My conclusion from a careful survey of energy alternatives,” says Heinberg, “is that there is little likelihood that either conventional fossil fuels or alternative energy sources can be counted on to provide the amount and quality of energy that will be needed to sustain economic growth—or even current levels of economic activity—during the remainder of this century.”

He goes on to recognize that we are reaching our limits of more and more of the planets resources: The world's fresh water resources are strained to the point that billions of people may soon find themselves with only precarious access to water for drinking and irrigation. Biodiversity is declining rapidly. We are losing 24 billion tons of topsoil each year to erosion. And many economically significant minerals—from antimony to zinc—are depleting quickly, requiring the mining of ever lower-grade ores in ever more remote locations. Thus the Peak Oil crisis is really just the leading edge of a broader Peak Everything dilemma.

We Are Addicts on a Binge That Is Coming to An End

Mind-active drugs are used by people in every culture throughout the world as long as humans have been on the planet. The pleasure centers in our brains make us susceptible to wanting more of whatever substances or experiences trigger those critical brain centers. In their book, Craving for Ecstasy: The Consciousness & Chemistry of Escape, psychologists Harvey Milkman and Stanley Sunderwirth describe the universal tendency we all have to become addicted. “We spend much of our lives in relentless pursuit of fleeting moments of exalted delight. But the consequences of compulsive pleasure seeking—whether through activities or use of substances—are often devastating.”

Although most of us don’t immediately think of “oil” as an addictive substance, even though former President Bush declared that the nation was “addicted to oil.” However, when you recognize all the things we have become dependent upon during our fossil-fuel driven frenzy over the last 200 years, our dilemma becomes clearer.

Think of the human race on the planet for millions of years, subsisting on renewable energy from the sun and living in balance with nature. All of a sudden we discover a source of energy (oil) that gives us hundreds and thousand times the amount of pleasure that we could generate up to that point. It’s not surprising that we have gone on a 200 year binge that it inevitably coming to an end.

In his book, The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies, Heinberg, says, “It is as if part of the human race has been given a sudden windfall of wealth and decided to spend that wealth by throwing an extravagant party. The party has not been without its discontents or costs. From time to time, a lone voice issuing from here or there has called for the party to quiet down or cease altogether. The partiers have paid no attention. But soon the part itself will be a fading memory—not because anyone decided to heed the voice of moderation, but because the wine and food are gone and the harsh light of morning has come.

Every Addicts Dilemma: Get Clean or Die

In the 40 years I have treated addicts of every kind I know that no matter how destructive their addiction has been, they have within them a tremendous resiliency and desire to recover. Most addicts have to reach their own bottom. As long as there still drugs available, as long as they have some money to buy some form of escape, they keep trying. I say that addicts want to go home, but like confused homing pigeons, they continue to fly 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

But addicts do recover. Most of them do it by acknowledging that they have become addicted, and reaching out to other addicts for help and support, meeting in local groups in communities throughout the world. It would be nice if those in power paid more than lip service to our addiction to oil, but we don’t have to wait until they do to begin our own recovery program.

As Heinberg says, “Even if policy makers continue to ignore warnings, individuals and communities can take heed and begin the process of building resilience, and of detaching themselves from reliance on fossil fuels and institutions that are inextricably tied to the perpetual growth machine. We cannot sit passively by as world leaders squander opportunities to awaken and adapt to growth limits. We can make changes in our own lives, and we can join with our neighbors. And we can let policy makers know we disapprove of their allegiance to the status quo, but that there are other options.”

“Is it too late to begin a managed transition to a post-fossil fuel society?” Heinberg asks. “Perhaps, but we will not know unless we try. And if we are to make that effort, we must begin by acknowledging one simple, stark reality: growth as we have known it can no longer be our goal.”

As we begin our own recovery, we just reject the notion that someone else is to blame for our situation. It isn’t President Obama. It isn’t the Republicans. It isn’t foreign “terrorists.” As the great philosopher Pogo remarked, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We might remind ourselves, too, that we have met the hope for the future and that is us as well.

What Do Mid-Life Men Really Want?


On December 21st I celebrated my 62nd birthday and things didn’t seem quite right. Throughout my life I have had birthdays in the winter, in my case on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. However, this year my birthday was on the summer solstice. Carlin and I had been traveling in Australia and New Zealand since October 5th and had arrived at the southern tip of New Zealand for my birthday.

As we shared a glass of wine and watched the sunset around 9:30 PM, I began looking back on my life. I remembered the book Seasons of a Man’s Life by Daniel J. Levinson. His research, which was the basis for Gail Sheehy’s popular book, , suggested that the life cycle evolves through a sequence of eras each lasting roughly twenty-five years.

The eras are partially overlapping, so that a new one is getting under way as the previous one is being terminated. Levinson describes the sequence as follows:

1. Childhood and adolescence: Age 0-22
2. Early adulthood: Age 17-45
3. Middle adulthood: Age 40-65
4. Late adulthood: Age 60 -?

As a man entering late adulthood I thought back on my middle years and it seemed so much more complex than most people seemed to realize. The cliché for mid-life men is that all they want is a red sports car, a young blond to sit beside him, and enough Viagra to keep his erections rock hard forever.

On reflection, that didn’t summarize what I wanted as a mid-life male, yet like most clichés this one has a grain of truth. I never bought a red sports car, but for the first time in my life I thought about what kind of car I might like. I had always bought cars that would serve a function. When I was young, I wanted a car that was cheap and reliable. When I got married and had kids, I wanted one that was safe and got good mileage. Now I hankered for a car that I would have fun driving.

I settled on a white Toyota Rav4. I liked how it looked, how tall I felt sitting up in the cab, and how the seats folded down so I could hall lots of stuff. I never ran off with a young blond, but I did have my fantasies. I loved my wife and enjoyed our life, but sex wasn’t always as hot as I hoped.

However, even in my dreams, it wasn’t just hot sex I hungered for. I thought about women who were soft, gentle, kind, and considerate; women who admired me and thought I was Prince Charming even when I was irritable and grouchy. Now, the truth is, my wife often treated me that way. But it must be said that while I was being a mid-life man, my wife was being a mid-life woman.

She often had a sharp edge about her that both delighted and intimidated me. Based on cross-cultural studies throughout the world, Professor David Gutmann, author of Reclaimed Powers: Toward a New Psychology of Men and Women in Later Life, found that during the middle years, men and women experience a gender cross-over.

“Men begin to own, as part of themselves, the qualities of sensuality, affiliation, and maternal tendencies—in effect the ‘femininity’ that was previously repressed in the service of productivity and lived out vicariously though the wife.”

“By the same token, across societies,” Gutmann continued, “we see the opposite effect in women. They generally become more domineering, independent, unsentimental, and self-centered.”

Is it any wonder that mid-life men might fantasize and be drawn to a younger woman who was more yielding, dependent, sentimental, and nurturing?

OK now, let’s talk about Viagra and the other erection enhancing drugs now available. When I googled “Viagra,” I found over 13 million listings. “Cialis” showed over 7 million listings and “Levitra” nearly 5 million.

Is there anything new we can say? I think there is. The cliché is that men want rock hard erections so they can have intercourse longer and more often with a sexy partner. Yes, that’s certainly true, but here’s a truth most mid-life men won’t tell you.

We like to have erections even when we don’t have intercourse. Why? Because having erections is fun. I still remember how embarrassed I was when I first starting having spontaneous erections when I was 11 or 12 years old. But I soon learned to hide my embarrassment and enjoy the feeling of power, excitement, and that unpredictable rush of sexual energy that ran through me when my Levis began to bulge.

Erections don’t come as easy to me now. When I do get an erection, having sex definitely crosses my mind. But mostly I just like to enjoy the feeling of aliveness that ripples through me. I feel young again. Spring has sprung. Life is good. I’m alive and my one-eyed friend is feeling frisky.

So, what do mid-life men really want? I think there’s a whole lot more than meets the eye.

I’d like to hear from men who are approaching mid-life, going through it, or looking back from the other side. I’d like to hear from women who are close to these men. What do you think mid-life men really want?

7 Little Known Secrets For Making Money and Saving the World on SCRIBD


When a friend first told me about “Scribd” I didn’t quite get it. Although I use the internet, mostly for research, reading, and e-mail, I’m not very savvy about networking and “new technologies.” But when he told me you could easily upload just about anything—books, e-books, articles, research studies—to Scribd and sell them in the Scribd store, he got my attention.

I’m a writer, researcher, and psychotherapist and have been helping men and the women who love them for more than 40 years. I am founder of www.MenAlive.com, where I share information about male menopause, irritable male syndrome, male-type depression, and how to have successful relationships of all kinds. I’ve written 8 books including international best-sellers Male Menopause and The Irritable Male Syndrome.

Making money as a writer isn’t easy. Every time I write a book, I’m sure that it will sell a million copies. But the odds are against me. According to industry statistics there were 1.25 million books published last year. Of that number 850,000 sold fewer than 99 copies for the year. Only 1.2% of the total new titles sold over 1 million copies (Think Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham).

I do sell more than 99 copies a year and you can find me in most bookstores including Amazon. But when I sell something on Amazon, I may make 8% of the $20 cover price. And I have to give 15% of that to my agent. And I have to wait 6 months until I get my next royalty check. But, listen to this. Selling on Scribd, I make 80% of everything I sell and I get paid immediately.

You can’t believe how excited I was when I got my first e-mail from Scribd telling me that someone had purchased one of my e-booklets. I had uploaded it, just a few hours previously.

The e-mail said, “Your document “Six Simple Ways to Cure Depression: What Men and Women Need to Know” has been purchased for $1.99. The total earnings to date for this document is $1.34.” Now $1.34 may not seem like much, but it was my first sale and I was proud. Selling something you’ve written, hours after you’ve written it, is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I’ve gotten many more notices like this one and each one is a source of excitement and joy.

But wait, there’s more. Not only do I get quick cash from selling e-books and articles in the Scribd store, but I also get a chance to try out new ideas and see what people find most interesting. I wrote a two page summary of some research I was doing on relationship addictions. I titled it: Is It Love or Love Addiction? Within a week after posting, it has been read by over 1,000 people. My power point summary of a study I conducted on depression, Male vs. Female Depression: Why Men Act Out and Women Act In has gotten 642 reads in the last week.

Within two months after I joined I have developed a following of more than 2,000 people. Each time I post a new article or make a comment, they receive my post. It’s a great way to reach people who want to know more about the things I’m writing about. It’s also a great way for me to learn about other people’s work that relates to my own.

Here are the 7 Steps I followed. I’m still learning as I go, but wanted you to have the benefit of my experiences so far.

Learn about Scribd.

Like learning most things, I started with a Google search. The first link I checked was http://www.scribd.com/about where I got a quick summary from the Scribd site.

Scribd (It rhymes with "ad libbed.") began with a simple observation — that the desire for self-expression through the written word is as old as humanity itself. But even with the proliferation of blogs and other self-publishing tools, there was no easy way for average people to publish to a readership of millions. Scribd founders Jared Friedman and Trip Adler felt that everyone should be able to share what they know.

Today, Scribd is the largest social publishing company in the world — the website where more than 60 million people each month discover and share original writings and documents. Scribd’s vision is to liberate the written word — to turn everyone into a publisher and create the best possible reading experience on the web and mobile platforms.

With Scribd’s iPaper document reader, anyone can easily upload and immediately share their original works on Scribd.com or any other website. iPaper transforms "print" files like PDF, Word or PowerPoint into web document — with all the fonts, layout and artwork that makes your document unique.

Your work can be shared with Scribd's community of passionate readers, and because your document is indexed for search engine optimization, your screenplay, novel or even sheet music and recipes can be discovered by the world. At Scribd, we built a technology that’s broken barriers to traditional publishing and in the process also built one of the largest readerships in the world.

Look around and sign up.

Go to www.Scribd.com and check it out. You're free to browse Scribd and read as many documents as you like without an account, but if you want to download an e-book or leave a comment, you'll need to sign up and log in. But no worries - sign up is absolutely free! All you need is a valid email address.

Create a public profile.

This is how people will learn about who you are, how to reach you, and what your interests are. Upload a good picture. Write a biography that highlights your work. Provide website information. And describe your personal interests. As you get more involved with Scribd, your profile page aggregates information about you, your activity, and your documents. Here your readers can see and reply to your comments, favorites, and recent publications.

I check out my profile page every day ( www.scribd.com/JedDiamondPhD ). I can see at a glance what things I’ve recently posted and how many people have read the articles and e-books I’ve uploaded. Today I see that my last article, Love Addictions for Women Only (and the Men Who Truly Want to Understand), has been read by 99 people since it was posted 4 days ago.

Upload helpful information to share with people.

When I looked at all the files I had stored on my computer I found had some pretty interesting and helpful information. I had research studies, e-books, articles, blog posts, power point presentations. I found that uploading was amazingly easy. Every page on Scrib has a tab that says, “Upload.” When you click on the tab, it asks if you want to “upload to share” or “upload to sell.” I’ve done both. I want people to have information that will be helpful. If I can give it away that’s great. If I decide to put a price and sell it, that’s fine as well.

It’s easy to search your computer and upload the files you want. You can even upload multiple files at once. Once uploaded you can write a description and pick “tag words” so that it is easy to find. If you’re selling your document, you write in the retail price as well as the sale price (and Scribd automatically calculates how much a person will save and posts that on the books sales page). If you’re not sure what price to set, Scribd will suggest a price based on what others are charging.

Enjoy your Scribd home.

The old saying, there’s no place like home, is true. Your “home page” is your window to the world of Scribd. From here I can manage my documents. I can see how many new people have subscribed to the Jed Diamond, Ph.D community (So far 38 new people have joined). It also tells me that as of today 2,038 people have subscribed.

I learned that there have been 8100 reads of my various documents since I joined Scribd. This has been in less than two months. It still amazes me that so many people read what I have written so quickly. Since I have a modest desire to help people and save the world, I feel good when I see that number go up each day.

I posted a chapter from my new book, As Civilization Sinks: Making the Transition to a Better World and in quick order 200 people had read it. Introducing people to my new material helps me get information out quickly and also builds an advance readership. My other book project, Mr. Mean: Saving Yourself and Rescuing Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome is also generating interest and comments on Scribd.

I can also check my “stats” from my home page. For those of us who like immediate reinforcement (and who doesn’t) clicking on stats tells me how many people have viewed my documents each day. Yesterday it was 385. Today it is 772. Each day it varies, but generally it keeps going up as more people hear about my work and share their interest with others.

Make connections with others in the Scribd community and other social networks.

One of the most interesting and useful aspects of Scrib is the ease at which we can connect with others in the community. Clicking on the “Community” link takes me to a host of interesting people and organizations. Some of the most popular are MIT Press, The World Bank, World Economic Forum, Harvard Press, Lonely Planet, Berrett-Kohler, and Simon & Schuster. But there are also regular people like you and me who have something to say and want to use Scribd to reach out to the world.

You can learn about who they are, what they’re doing, what resources they have available on Scribd. You can subscribe to their feed and learn about their latest ideas and the things they think are important. It’s a great way to expand your focus and see where your work connects with what others are doing.

There are also hundreds of groups you can join where like-minded people share resources, ask questions, post comments, and learn about new and interesting subjects. Groups are small micro-communities dedicated to documents and discussions around a particular topic, user, publication, or event. Any user can create a group, and there's no limit to the number of groups users can create. I created a group for people interested in Male Menopause and Irritable Male Syndrome. I joined groups on Men’s Health, Psychology, E-Medical Books and Articles, Health & Fitness, Personal Development, and Developing Small Businesses.

Ever wished you could publish a document online and have it automatically shared across all your social networks? With Scribd’s new social networking integration, you can publish to Scribd, Twitter, and (soon) Facebook with a single click. It’s a great way to get your ideas out the those who want to know them. You can automatically sync your Scribd and Twitter profile settings. Choose whether to tweet every time you publish a document, every time you scribble, or both.

Explore the wide world of Scribd

Some people like to stay within the bounds of what they know. Others like to explore new worlds. If you’re an explorer like me you want to see what else is going on outside the bounds of our own experience. Who knows I might get an idea for my next book or entrepreneurial enterprise. Today, Scribd is featuring the following: Basic Handbook of Human Rights, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, Blacksmithing Basics, and Religions View Religions.

I can also search the following categories: Books, Brochures & Catalogues, Business & Law, Creative Writing, How-to-Guides and Manuals, Illustrations & Maps,

Magazines & Newspapers, Presentations & Slide Shows, Puzzles & Games, Recipes & Menus, Research, Resumes & CVs, School Work, Sheet Music & Lyrics, Spreadsheets, and the Scribd store.

Put these steps together and you have a plan for success. If you have something useful to share with the world (and yes, I believe everyone does), this is the place for you. The community draws 50 million people a month and this is growing every day. Come join the fun.

Is It Healthy Love or “Love” Addiction?


Since we all have grown up in a society that confuses healthy love with “love” addiction, many of us find it difficult to know whether our feelings are based on healthy intimacy or addictive desire. Based on my work over the last 45 year’s as a psychotherapist specializing in helping people develop and maintain healthy relationships, I offer the following comparison.

1. Healthy Love develops after we feel secure. Addictive Love tries to create love even though we feel frightened and insecure.

2. Healthy Love comes from feeling full. We overflow with love. Addictive Love is always trying to fill an inner void.

3. Healthy Love begins with self love. Addictive Love always seeks love “out there” from that “special someone.”

4. Healthy Love comes to us once we’ve given up the search. Addictive Love is compulsively sought after.

5. Healthy Love comes from inside. It wants to give. Addictive Love comes from outside. It wants to take.

6. Healthy Love grows slowly, like a tree. Addictive Love grows fast, as if by magic, like those children’s animals that expand instantly when we add water.

7. Healthy Love thrives on time alone as well as time with our partner. Addictive Love is frightened of being alone and afraid of being close.

8. Healthy Love is unique. There is no “ideal lover” that we seek. Addictive Love is stereotyped. There is always a certain type that attracts us.

9. Healthy Love is gentle and comfortable. Addictive Love is tense and combative.

10. Healthy Love is based on a deep knowing of ourselves and our lover. Addictive Love is based on hiding from ourselves and falling in love with an ideal “image” not a person.

11. Healthy Love encourages us to be ourselves, to be honest from the beginning with who we are, including our faults. Addictive Love encourages secrets. We want to look good and put on an attractive mask.

12. Healthy Love flows out. Addictive Love caves in.

13. Healthy Love creates a deeper sense of ourselves the longer we are together. Addictive Love creates a loss of self the longer we are together.

14. Healthy Love gets easier as time goes on. Addictive Love requires more effort as time goes on.

15. Healthy Love is like rowing across a gentle lake. Addictive Love is like being swept away down a raging river.

16. Healthy Love grows stronger as fear decreases. Addictive Love expands as fear increases.

17. Healthy Love is satisfied with what we have. Addictive Love is always looking for more or better.

18. Healthy Love encourages interests to expand in the world. Addictive Love encourages outside interests to contract.

19. Healthy Love is based on the belief that we want to be together. Addictive Love is based on the belief that we have to be together.

20. Healthy Love teaches that we can only make ourselves happy. Addictive Love expects the other person to make us happy and demands that we try to make them happy.

21. Healthy Love creates life. Addictive Love creates melodramas.

I value your thoughts and comments.

Be Stress-Free Forever! 5 Simple Steps


“PEACE. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.

It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” — unknown

Dear Dr. Jed,

I just received your newsletter. It really sounds like my husband is getting stressed out. Three months ago he told me he hasn't been happy for 2 or 3 years. He has been extremely irritable, short-tempered, and mean. We’ve both been under a lot of stress lately and I know it has had an effect on our relationship.

We’re both busy professionals. He’s a physician and I’m an emergency room nurse. We love our work, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to practice. Budget cuts at the hospital put pressure on everyone. He also had major surgery on his shoulder two years ago and he hasn’t been the same since. Physically, he’s fully recovered, but he seems frightened that something else will happen. He tells me he feels like his body is falling apart, even though he’s perfectly healthy.

In addition my mother has been sick and I have spent a lot of time trying to take care of her. Both she and my Dad are getting older and I’m worried that their medical bills are going to wipe them out financially and they’ll be dependent on us.

Well, I’m rambling on here. You get the idea. I feel that if we could reduce the stress in our lives or deal with it better, we could get back to our old selves where we were a team. Now it’s like we’re always fighting each other all the time. Help! RT.

Stress is when you are worried about getting laid off from your job, or worried about having enough money to pay your bills, or worried about what kind of future your children will have, or whether your parents will be dependent on you as they age. In fact, for most of us, stress is synonymous with worry. If it is something that makes us worry, then it is stressful.

However, our bodies have a much broader definition of stress. To our body, stress is synonymous with change. It doesn't matter if it is a "good" change, or a "bad" change, they are both stressful. When you find you find your dream home and get ready to move, that is stress. If you get a divorce, that also is stress. Good or bad, if it is a change in your life, it is stress as far as your body is concerned.

Even imagined change is stress. If you fear that you will not have enough money to pay your rent, that is stress. If you worry that you may get fired, that is stress. If you think that you may receive a promotion at work, that is also stress (even though this would be a good change). Whether the event is good or bad, imagining changes in your life is stressful.

Stress is part of life. If there were no changes in our lives, we’d either be dead or wish we were. The problem with stress is when we have too much change, in too short a time, with too few ways to release and relax. For most of human history stresses were few and far between. Occasionally, the wild animal would leap out of the forest and we’d have to run for our lives or fight for our lives. Our bodies, minds, and spirit are built for fight or flight.

But modern-day stress is primarily psychological, not physical. We are bombarded by worries. We are frightened by angry drivers who wave their fists and fingers at us. We are frustrated at the state of the economy and the inability of our government to provide decent health-care.

However, the body doesn’t know the difference between an attacking leopard and a criticizing husband. It can’t even tell the difference between a real threat and an imagined one. When stress strikes, whatever the source, the body mobilizes, thinking it’s under attack. The body reacts with an outpouring of hormones (i.e. adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol) that increases heart rate and respiration, sends more blood to skeletal muscles, dulls pain, stimulates the immune system, and turns sugar and fat into energy.

We used to get physical in response to stress, whether running away or chasing the animal out of the camp. Now stress is almost constant and we stew in our own juices. It’s no wonder we get irritable and angry. So, what can we do? Here are some tried and true ways for dealing with stress.

Get moving immediately.

For millions of years of human history we got moving in response to stress. The best stress-reduction technique we have is movement. It’s a simple formula: If you have stress every day (and we all do), you must move every day. Start walking, jogging, dancing, playing ball—anything, but get moving. Find some activity or group of activities you will commit to doing every day of your life.

Reduce the stress in your mind.

In the world our bodies and mind were designed for, the things to worry about were limited: Wild animals, snakes, poison plants, jealous husbands (yes, we had them back then, too). Now, our worries are endless: Nuclear threat, terrorist attacks, global warming, economic collapse, losing our jobs, our children getting sick, our grandkids getting into drugs, our health deteriorating, and on and on.

Here are two simple techniques to reduce the stress in your mind. First, ask yourself “How are things now?” You’ll find the answer is always, “Fine” or “Pretty good.” Worry is always in the future. Stay in the present and you’ll eliminate a lot of stress.

Second, ask yourself, “Do I plan to do anything about this today?” Most of us worry about things that will never happen or aren’t really that important to us. If you’re not going to do something about the nuclear threat, or global warming, or your kids, or parents, today, quit worrying about it. If there is something you can do, do it. When we’re doing, we’re not worrying.

Control the changes in your life.

We live in a world of “a million changes a minute.” But the truth is we can control a lot of it. Here’s what you can do. Turn off the T.V. You don’t need a thousand new images bombarding your brain. Take a break. Do something else. Walk in your garden. Play cards. Read a book.

Stop buying new “stuff” and get rid of the clutter. Look around your house. What do you see? If you’re like me, too much stuff. Keep the things that truly bring you pleasure and get rid of the rest. Each thing you look your stuff it makes your brain go through changes. Cart it out, give it away, toss it. Next time you think of buying something new, ask yourself this question, “Will I still think this thing is wonderful a year from now?” Probably not! Resist the corporate exhortations to buy, buy, buy. Remind yourself you don’t need more change.

Learn to breathe.

I know you don’t think much about breathing. You just do it. But most of us breathe too quickly and too shallowly, particularly when we are under stress. Conscious breathing is a great stress-reducer. Here are two techniques I learned from Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the world’s leading experts on holistic health.

Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.

  • To begin the exercise, count "one" to yourself as you exhale.
  • The next time you exhale, count "two," and so on up to "five."
  • Then begin a new cycle, counting "one" on the next exhalation.
  • Never count higher than "five," and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to "eight," "12," even "19."

Try to do 10 minutes of this form of meditation.

Here is another breathing exercise from Dr. Weil that you can do anywhere at any time.

Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. It’s simple, but takes some practice.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens - before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep.

Remember, “You Are Not the Target.”

In 1963 Laura Archera Huxley, wife of Aldous Huxley, wrote a wonderful book, You Are Not the Target. If offers one of the most helpful techniques I’ve ever found for reducing stress and turning negative energy into positive. I’ve given many copies away over the years, but keep my original. Her technique is simple, but effective. I have been using this 4 step process for the last 45 years:

Step 1: Remind yourself that you are not the target.

  • When your husband complains—
  • When your boss is irritating—
  • When your friends are neglectful—
  • When your business partner is difficult—
  • When your child is unmanageable—

Stop! Realize that their irritability, irrationality, lack of consideration, coolness—in other words, their disagreeable and wounding behavior is not really aimed at you. You may feel as though it were, but in the majority of cases it is not. You are not the target. You just happen to be there.

Step 2: Decide which part of your body you wish to beautify and strengthen. We all could use some body toning. Pick a spot--Abdomen, buttocks, genitals, chest, thighs, upper arms? Where would you like to use the negative energy coming your way to create a positive change in your body?

Step 3: Move your muscles. Moving from here to there is helpful, but so is making our muscles move while we’re standing still. Contract and relax the muscles of the chosen part of your body in regular rhythms until you find the rhythm which is most comfortable for you. Now, contract and relax the muscles in your abdomen, buttocks, or wherever, while repeating to yourself, “I am not the target, I am not the target.”

Step 4: Heal the past. The reason the words from our spouse, boss, or friend hurt so much is that they stimulate memories (often unconscious) from the past. After the unpleasantness in the present has passed and you can take some time alone, see if you can remember an incident from the past that was triggered by your present situation. You may remember something your father or mother said or did, for instance. Relive the moment of unpleasantness, and as you feel the bolt of energy flying in your direction, immediately convert it into that rhythmical contraction and relaxation.

Please share your own thoughts and feelings. What are the things that are causing stress in your life? What can you do to better handle these stresses?

Women: Dealing with Mr. Mean


Dear ,

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 TV.

"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 think.

With thanks,

Tracy"

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 letters?

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 practice.

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. Mean

In response to the thousands of e-mails I have been receiving I've decided to write a new book, tentatively titled:

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 as:

  • 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 myself?

I'd like your input and feedback:

  • How do you like the title?
  • Do you have other ideas for a good title?
  • 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.

Thanks,

The Real Reason Oprah, You, and I Keep Getting Fat and What We Must Do


Oprah is mad as hell and she isn’t going to take it anymore. Once again she lost a bunch of weight, looked good, and felt great. And once again she put on a bunch of weight, looked fat, and felt awful. She’s certainly not alone. Studies show that in our lifetime 7 and of 10 women and 9 out of 10 men will become overweight. We’ve all been on the latest diet, taken off some poundage and promptly put it back on again. But if Oprah, with all her high-tech trainers can’t keep the weight off, what hope is there for us?

I was watching Larry King last night as Oprah’s personal “dream” team of experts talked about the courage Oprah has shown in being open about her weight gain and frustration that “weight” is still an issue for her. We heard from her personal trainer, Bob Greene. We heard from her personal physician, Dr. Mehmet Oz. We heard from her personal spiritual advisor Michael Bernard Beckwith. All three are absolutely tops in their field. If this team can’t help Oprah keep her weight under control, two conclusions seem logical.

First, weight-gain is inevitable and we should stop trying to lose weight and accept the fact that we’re all destined to become fat.

Second, the dream team is missing the real reason Oprah, you, and I keep getting fat in spite of all we do to lose weight.

I’m convinced that the second conclusion is the right one. The key to understanding what’s been missing is to take a closer look at the approach that Oprah, you, and I have been taking to weight gain and weight loss. We all believe the problem is “personal.” Since Oprah can afford the best help money can buy, she is able to hire the best “personal” physician, the best “personal” trainer, and the best “personal” spiritual advisor. For those of us on a more limited budget we settle for the latest “personal” diet program.

But what if the real problem we face is “social” not “personal”? What if all our personal efforts will be for naught, without a change in our social understanding of food? What if the missing person on the dream team is a London born economist who worked at the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations? His name is Raj Patel.

I first met Raj in Mendocino, California when he was on tour for his book, Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Though he started out as a card-carrying member of the corporate-dominated economic system, he has since become an outspoken and noted critic of all of these organizations, and has been tear gassed on four continents protesting against his former employers.

Patel believes that the reason we are overweight has less to do with our personal practices as it has to do with corporate practices. And there’s something we can do about it. Here’s how he begins his book:

“Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight.”

He goes on to say that the reason the world is both “starved” and “stuffed” is social rather than personal. “Global hunger and obesity,” he says, “are symptoms of the same problem, and what’s more, the route to eradicating world hunger is also the way to prevent global epidemics of diabetes and heart disease, and to address a host of environmental and social ills.”

I’m convinced that the second conclusion is the right one. The key to understanding what’s been missing is to take a closer look at the approach that Oprah, you, and I have been taking to weight gain and weight loss. We all believe the problem is “personal.” Since Oprah can afford the best help money can buy, she is able to hire the best “personal” physician, the best “personal” trainer, and the best “personal” spiritual advisor. For those of us on a more limited budget we settle for the latest “personal” diet program.

But what if the real problem we face is “social” not “personal”? What if all our personal efforts will be for naught, without a change in our social understanding of food? What if the missing person on the dream team is a London born economist who worked at the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations? His name is Raj Patel.

I first met Raj in Mendocino, California when he was on tour for his book, Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Though he started out as a card-carrying member of the corporate-dominated economic system, he has since become an outspoken and noted critic of all of these organizations, and has been tear gassed on four continents protesting against his former employers.

Patel believes that the reason we are overweight has less to do with our personal practices as it has to do with corporate practices. And there’s something we can do about it. Here’s how he begins his book:

“Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight.”

He goes on to say that the reason the world is both “starved” and “stuffed” is social rather than personal. “Global hunger and obesity,” he says, “are symptoms of the same problem, and what’s more, the route to eradicating world hunger is also the way to prevent global epidemics of diabetes and heart disease, and to address a host of environmental and social ills.”

If you’d like to learn more about the real reasons Oprah, you, me, and 1 billion others are getting fat, I suggest you check out Raj Patel at www.rajpatel.org or www.StuffedAndStarved.org.

Irritable Out-of-Work Men and the Women Who Love Them


Dear Dr. Diamond,

Three months ago my husband lost his job. I’ve done my best to be understanding and supportive, but he’s getting more irritable, angry, and withdrawn. I try and let him know I don’t blame him, that it’s the economy not something he’s done wrong, but he just snaps my had off. It’s hard enough not having his paycheck, but what’s even worse is the strain this is putting on our relationship. I don’t want our marriage to fall apart. What can I do? As a psychotherapist, specializing in men’s health, I get letters like these every day.

As the recession puts more and more men out of work, the wives increasingly feel the impact. Time magazine’s Erin Davies reports on how male job loss is affecting the women. Sarah Janosek, a 47-year old hospice nurse and mother of three teenagers living in Austin, Texas, spoke about how she felt when her husband told her he had been laid off. “There was a sinking in the pit of my stomach--and tears," she says. "It was just devastating. It's completely outside your power and now you're responsible for the entire family."

Often men become more irritable and angry, while the women become more anxious and worried. “You worry about losing everything. It's just overwhelmingly scary--and there are no resources for spouses," Janosek says. She was fortunate in being able to increase her work hours, and her husband now has some contract work, which has helped--but it hardly solves the problem. "I am still angry about it," she says.

So are many other women--wives of the 4.2 million men who have been laid off since the recession began. In fact, according to recent data, it is likely that more than 2 million American women are married to someone who has been handed a pink slip during this recession. Compare that to the approximately 1.4 million women who have lost a job themselves and it appears that the majority of women may be experiencing our Great Recession's mass job losses not as a laid off worker herself but as the spouse of one.

For many women, it’s a lot more difficult to deal with their husband’s job loss than it is their own. “Although it hit me hard when I lost my job three years ago, says Mary Richmond, of Glendale, California, “I didn’t blame myself or question my womanhood. But when my husband, Jerry, got laid off, it was like the wind was knocked out of him and he still hasn’t recovered. No matter what I say he blames himself and I don’t know what to do to help him.”

Donna Koehn, writing in the Tampa Tribune, reports on the family stress caused by job losses in hard-hit Florida. Since losing his job in March, Colin Flood, a longtime technical writer, does odd jobs for friends. He's happy to be useful, but he longs to return to work he loves. "My family and friends have tried to be helpful, but it's devastating," Flood says. "I should be at my peak earning potential, in a stable career. Now I'm waiting on unemployment."

Even when he sought a simple restaurant employment, there were barriers for the 51 year-old Flood. "I go for a waiter job, and there's some young chickie-poo who's going to get the job instead," he says. When a man can’t work to his potential and support his family it can be devastating.

"Men are used to fulfilling the masculine ideal that has been ingrained in them that if they do things the right way, they will be rewarded," says Marie Gray, a psychologist in Pennsylvania, a state that has also been hard it by unemployment. "Many of them feel at a total loss," says Gray, who specializes in trauma studies at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa. "They feel powerless, stuck, useless, hopeless--and many feel great shame."

Some men turn the pain inward and become listless and preoccupied. They withdraw and spend more time watching television or surfing the internet. This often compounds the problem and makes it more difficult for them to reach out for the support services that would help them find a new job. Other men turn their pain outward and blame others, particularly their spouses. They become hypersensitive and controlling. The women feel like they are walking on egg-shells and feel pummeled by his anger.

I call this behavior, “Irritable Male Syndrome,” or IMS. Although it can occur at any age, it is particularly prevalent at mid-life when hormone levels are dropping and stress is on the rise. Job loss contributes greatly to the stress. But even those men who are still employed are often terrified of losing their jobs and are impacted. And one of the most unfortunate casualties of IMS is the relationship the couple has worked so hard to develop over the years. The couple can often survive the loss of a job, but cannot survive the loss of trust and love that may result when anger and blame take over the family.

I have been doing research on IMS for the last eight years and know that it can be understood and treated. I developed a questionnaire which you can access at www.IMSquiz.com to determine if IMS is causing problems in your relationship. Over 60,000 men have taken it, as well as several thousand women. If you feel IMS is causing your family harm, whether from job loss or any other cause, I encourage you to seek help.

Why Men Leave? What Every Woman (and Man) Needs to Know.


Dear Dr. Jed,

I was in my doctor’s waiting room and just so happened to read an article in the grapevine magazine about “The Irritable Male Syndrome.” This described my husband to a T. He’s started to take things out on my children getting very angry at them and bringing their confidence down. He would also degrade me about my weight and appearance and would call me names. He said that everything was my fault. I finally decided to take my kids away for a week to get away from him. We had a great time and I began to find myself again.

When I got back I felt a lot better about myself and I had more faith that we could work out our problems. It seemed things were going better for awhile, but his dark moods returned and one day he just announced that he was leaving. He got himself an apartment not far from here and he still comes around to see the kids, but he still bristles when I try and talk to him about us. He doesn’t seem happy. How do I get him to see what he is doing? It seems so obvious to me and everybody else, but he is just not willing to listen and still thinks I am the problem.

What makes it even harder is that I still love him and I think he loves me. I pray and hope we can get through this for each other and our children but I don't know what to do. If I wait until he comes to me he may never return. Every time I reach out to him he tells me I’m the problem. I wonder if I just have to move on with my life. Maybe my husband has to figure things out for himself. But it doesn't seem fair that my children and I have to go through this pain. I just don't know what to do. You are my last hope. Can you help me, my husband and our family? JP.

Many people spend a good part of their lives worrying about whether a spouse might leave. Some must actually deal with the consequences of a man’s moving out. Although there are endless discussions and many books written about why men leave, few people get at the heart of the matter. For you to make the right decision you need to understand the secret reasons, that even most men never come to learn, about why they leave.

The first thing you need to know is that men are inherently more insecure than women, though you wouldn’t know it by the way men posture their self-sufficiency. But consider these facts about male vulnerability:

More male than female embryos are conceived, possibly because the spermatozoa carrying the Y chromosome swim faster than those carry the X.

External maternal stress around the time of conception is associated with a reduction in the male-to-female sex ratio, suggesting that the male embryo is more vulnerable than the female.

The male fetus is at greatest risk of death or damage from almost all the obstetric catastrophes that can happen before birth. Perinatal brain damage, cerebral palsy, congenital deformities of the genitalia and limbs, premature birth, and still birth are all more common in boys.

Boy’s brains are slower to develop. According to studies, a newborn girl is the physiological equivalent of a 4- to 6-week old boy.

According Dr. William S. Pollock in the Department of psychiatry at Harvard medical school, “Although boys have the same emotional potential as girls, their emotional range is soon limited to a menu of three related feelings: rage, triumph, and lust.” Anything else and they risk being seen as a sissy, says Dr. Pollack.

Male vulnerability and our need to act like men can be deadly. When asked if the American man was endangered species, Dr. Herb Goldberg, the author of The Hazards of Being Male, replied, “Absolutely! The male has paid a heavy price for his masculine ‘privilege’ and power. He is out of touch with his emotions and his body. He is playing by the rules of the male game plan and with lemming-like purpose he is destroying himself—emotionally, psychologically, and physically.”

The second thing you need to know about males is that we long to be touched, loved, and nurtured, but we are afraid of it as well. Why is that? A number of studies show that mothers talk to, cuddle, and breastfeed male infants significantly less than female infants.

So boys experience a nurturing deficit from the very beginning and long to make up for what we didn’t get. However, as boys get older we are taught to be tough and not to need the “tender loving care” that most girls more often get from their parents, relatives, and friends. These conflicting desires create a huge ambivalence inside most men. Inside we know we need extra nurturing. But we are told that it isn’t manly to need it. If we act too “needy,” we will be rejected by the very women who long to get nurtured by. Do you get a sense of the bind we feel?

The third thing you need to know about men is that we have an unconscious compulsion to get our spouse to give us the “mothering” we missed growing up. According to John W. Travis, M.D., author of Why Men Leave, “It's no surprise, then, that most of the unbonded boys in our culture grow into men who spend a good deal of their lives unconsciously seeking a mommy-figure to provide them with the nurturing they were denied as infants/children (fueled by advertising that prominently features the breasts they were denied.)”

The forth thing you need to know about men is that we may do all right early on in the relationship when a lot of focus is on us and our needs. We may appear to be “perfect gentlemen” giving the woman all the signs of love she is needs. In fact, we are giving her the things we know will get us the love and care we desperately need.

However, as the relationship matures and children are born and grow up, we increasingly lose our special position with the woman. As she matures, she expresses more of her own needs. Work and other demands make her less available. We may initially compensate for the loss by getting involved with work ourselves, drink, use drugs, etc, but deep inside a time-bomb is ticking. One little loss, disappointment, or threat to our stability and the whole house of cards begins to fall.

The fifth thing you need to know is that no matter how much a woman gives to the man, it will never be enough. The love of a good woman can never make up for the losses a man suffered growing up. But he doesn’t know that. He believes that she could, would, and must give him what he needs. If she doesn’t, his love suddenly turns to hate. Is this making sense to you?

From her perspective, her wonderful, loving mate has suddenly gone from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, from Mr. Nice to Mr. Mean. From his perspective, all the love and nurture he was promised when he met and married this woman, has systematically been taken away from him. He feels he’s been set up and betrayed.

In his mind he deserved to be treated special, that his needs are more important than anyone else’s. Unconsciously he believes that his spouse has promised to take care of him and now she’s abandoning him. At this stage he may become violently angry, jealous, or withdrawn. He may see his children as competitors for his spouse’s affections and criticize them for real or imagined transgressions. Outwardly he appears mean and controlling. Inwardly is in a panic. He’s like an infant who has lost his mommy and he thinks he will die.

The sixth thing you need to know is that most men don’t leave for the reason you (or they) think. They are not leaving because they are not “in love” with you like they used to be, or because they’re trying to “find themselves,” or “need their space,” or for the endless transgressions they may accuse you of perpetuating. These may be secondary reasons. But the primary reason men leave is that they are overwhelmed with shame. They feel ashamed that they feel so needy for love and nurture. They feel ashamed that they are acting in hurtful ways towards those they love. They feel ashamed of the rage that engulfs them. And most deeply, they feel ashamed for feeling ashamed over things that seem so trivial on the surface (I’m leaving because I don’t feel the romantic attraction I did when we met 30 years ago?). They have built their manhood (and the hoped for love and nurture they thought it would bring them) on being clear, strong and decisive. Now they feel clouded, weak, and ambivalent. The very foundation of their existence seems to be crumbling under them.

They feel they need to leave the relationship to keep the core of their identity from being destroyed. They feel they need to leave the relationship to keep from destroying the people they love the most. In their state of mind, leaving is the most kind and loving thing they can do to protect their spouse and children from the rage that is building up inside. They leave because they feel the long repressed childhood traumas coming to the surface, which many men would rather die than confront.

So, given all of this “secret” knowledge, what can you do?

Let this sink in for awhile.

When I tell women the truth about the secret reasons men leave, it is disorienting. It shakes the foundations of their own world, how they have come to understand their own identity as a woman, wife, and mother. It also rings true for them and a lot of what has been going on makes sense and falls into place.

Have compassion for yourself.

No one really knows what they are getting themselves into when they say “I do.” If we knew, perhaps fewer of us would make this kind of life-time commitment. Or perhaps we wouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when we’re not able to be the kind of spouse that we dreamed we would be. Few women really understand the inner life of men, just as few men understand what really goes on inside the heart and mind of a woman. So, if you’ve felt inadequate to the task, have some compassion for yourself. Recognize that you have been doing the best you could and with new knowledge you’ll be able to do even better.

Have compassion for the man.

Once you recognize how vulnerable men are and how much time they spend trying to deny their weakness and act like the men they imagine women want them to be, you can have more understanding of what’s really driving him. You can let go of your negative beliefs about men--that they are arrogant, aggressive, stupid, sex-crazed, mean, etc. You can let in the reality that they are really just confused, wounded human beings doing their best to love and be loved in a world that has deprived us all of getting what we need the most.

Let the whole question of “staying or leaving” be held within a larger container of “how can we truly heal our wounds, nurture our relationship, and take care of each other.”

Once you know what is really going on, his desire to leave can be seen as part of the healing process. Even if he leaves, that doesn’t have to be the end. Leaving can be seen as another step along the way to understand the past, reclaim the present, and build a new and better future.

Commit to working with a guide.

Because these issues are so important and the journey so new and confusing for many, I recommend you find a knowledgeable therapist or counselor to help guide you through this process. Finding the right guide isn’t easy. Just because a person has the right credential doesn’t mean they’ve been over this territory enough to guide others. Be tenacious. Be creative. Be willing to make mistakes. But never give up.


What Is IMS?


As a therapist who has been helping men and women for more than 42 years, I have been surprised at the number of people who are confronting a problem that has only recently been identified and understood. I call it, Irritable Male Syndrome or IMS. I am contacted daily by individuals and couples who are worried that IMS is harming their health and wrecking their relationship.

Is IMS A Problem In Your Relationship?

If the man has 5 or more of the following symptoms, IMS is likely a problem:

1. Grumpy
2. Angry
3. Gloomy
4. Impatient
5. Tense
6. Blaming
7. Lonely
8. Stressed
9. Jealous
10. Withdrawn.

If you’re still not sure, you can take the IMS assessment quiz at http://theirritablemale.com/quiz.htm

It has been taken by more than 30,000 men (and thousands of women who take the quiz based on how they see the man in their life). Here’s what your score means.

  • 0–25: None or few signs of IMS. You probably don’t need the program.
  • 26-49: Some indication of IMS. You may want to join to prevent future problems.
  • 50-75: IMS is likely and you would definitely benefit from joining the program.
  • 76 and above: IMS is serious and joining the program could help rescue your relationship and could even save your life.

What Kind of Help is Available?

Since my book, Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression was published in 2004, I have been deluged by women and men all over the world seeking help. If you want one-on-one, professional counseling, contact me at Jed@MenAlive.com for details. I can work with 10 people at a time and there is normally a one month waiting list for sessions with me.

To help the many thousands of men and women suffering the effects of IMS, I’ve also created an interactive, practical, guide for treating IMS and a supporting community where you can interact with me and others concerned about the impact of IMS on their lives. It is designed for men and the women who love them.

What’s a Good Relationship Worth?

Studies show that a good marriage brings the same amount of happiness as an additional $132,000 of annual income and it would take an additional $250,000 in annual income to balance what you’d lose in a divorce. Only you can decide how important it is to heal IMS.

A Note to Men: As someone who has dealt with IMS in his own life and worked with thousands of men over the last 42 years, I know that guys want help but are resistant to traditional counseling. We want to work at our own pace, solve our own problems, have our privacy protected, stop whenever we want, and know we are getting real results for our efforts. This program is designed with your needs in mind.

A Note to Women: Although it is the men who have IMS, it is often the women who suffer the effects of his irritability, anger, and withdrawal. Most women recognize that there is something wrong in their relationship before the man does. I know you need to understand IMS so you can help the man you love. You also need support getting through what, for many, is the most difficult time in their lives. Often women start the program and the men then follow.

Help Us Save The Males


As those of you who have followed my work are aware, depression runs in my family. My father tried to commit suicide when I was five. Though he didn't die, he was hospitalized for many years and our lives were never the same. I'm sure my experiences have something to do with my professional journey. For the last 42 years I have focused my efforts on helping men and the women who love them. I am conducting a study which I hope can give us the information to help men who may be depressed. Here's how you can help.

I have developed a questionnaire to help us better understand how men and women deal with stress and experience depression. The questionnaire takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Please go to this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?ud5393528624 fill in your answers. We're hoping to get a large sample of men and women, depressed and non-depressed.

"Women seek help--men die." This conclusion was drawn from a recent study of suicide prevention by Professor J. Angst (yes that really is his name) and C. Ernst. They found that 75% of those who sought professional help in an institution for suicide prevention were female. Conversely 75% of those who committed suicide in the same year were male.

Since depression is a significant risk factor for suicide and men receive less treatment for depression than do women, it is vitally important that we have a better understanding of the way depression manifests itself in males. This is particularly critical for those over the age of 50. The suicide rate for men in their 50s is 400% higher than for women of the same age. For men in their 60s it is 500% higher. For men in their 70s it is 800% higher. And for men over 80 it is 1300% higher.

Though suicide is the most tragic outcome of untreated depression, it isn't the only problem. Men and women know only too well how irritability, withdrawal, alcohol consumption, and fatigue--all symptoms of male depression--can sap the energy of any relationship. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability world-wide among persons age five and older.

This was certainly true for James Early and his wife Rita. "I would become irritable and angry at the drop of a hat," he told me in one of our first counseling sessions. "I'd yell at the kids and it seemed that Rita was always doing things to bug me. It never occurred to me that I might be depressed until my wife insisted that I get an evaluation from someone who specializes in men's health issues."

Although most major studies have found that women experience depression at twice the rate of males, many clinicians and researchers believe that depression in men is seriously under-diagnosed. Harvard psychologist William Pollack, PhD, is leading the charge against the well-entrenched depression gender gap. Director of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital, Pollack argues that men's rate of depression may be nearly equal to women's.

Pollack and others contend that male depression goes unrecognized because, unlike the female version, it often doesn't fit the textbook signs-- at least in the early stages, when it's easiest to intervene. A full-bore clinical depression looks much the same in both sexes. But in the prelude to a breakdown, that deepening despair is often expressed in very different ways. Unlike women, "men don't come in talking about feeling sad or depressed per se," says Sam Cochran, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Iowa and co-author of Deepening Psychotherapy With Men. "They come in complaining about problems at work or their performance on the job." Instead of being weepy, men are more apt to be irritable and angry -- moods that aren't included in the classic diagnostic tests."

In a major study with nearly 30,000 men and reported in my book, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression, I found the following responses were most common in depressed men:

  • I believe that things are stacked against me and others disappoint me.
  • I have felt gloomy, negative, or hopeless.
  • I am more irritable, restless, and frustrated.
  • I feel hostile even though I don't always let it show.
  • My feelings are blunted and I often feel numb.
  • I am becoming more withdrawn from family and friends.

In order to better understand the different ways men and women experience depression, I have developed a research questionnaire that will give us the answers we need to help men and women and save lives. We are looking for males and females who may be suffering from depression as well as men and women who are not.

If you would be willing to help with this study simply click on the following link: www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?ud5393528624 (If the link isn't "hot" simply cut and paste it into your browser.) Please take the test yourself and pass on the information to others. If everyone who is interested passes this information on we will have a large sample which will give us the information we need to help millions. Thank you for helping.

Ten Things You Must Do To Save Your Mid-Life Marriage and Live Happily Ever After, Part I


Developing a successful mid-life marriage is one of the most difficult tasks human beings ever engage. It’s also the most rewarding. Whether we are straight or gay, legally married or living together, these are difficult times for long-term relationships. In 1996 the census bureau recorded a significant spike in divorce rates among leading-edge Baby Boomers born between 1945 and 1954. Although we think of mid-life men leaving their middle-aged wives for a younger woman, it is actually the women who are leaving in increasing numbers.

According to Gail Sheehy’s new book, Sex and the Seasoned Woman, among women who left their first marriages sometime between the ages of 40 and 74, almost three-quarters left in their 40s. A 2004 AARP study found the following surprising facts about mid-life divorce:

  • Two-thirds of divorces among couples over age 40 are initiated by the wives.
  • One-third of divorced or single women over 40 are dating younger men—a reversal of past behavior.
  • The single woman in their 50s is much more likely to be divorced or never married than widowed.

But most of us would still prefer to find a good partner, get married, have a relationship that continues to grow closer and more intimate as we age, and remain together until at death we do part. So how do we accomplish this seemingly impossible task? Here are my suggestions:

1. Recognize the hidden stressors that keep us hypersensitive and irritable.

There is a reality we learned in biology class. If you put a frog in boiling water, he immediately jumps out. However, if you put him in cool water and slowly heat it up, he swims around until he cooks to death. The truth is we live in a world that is slowly (well, not so slowly any more) heating up. Global warming and all the attendant stresses of modern life are building up in us. We often aren’t consciously aware of the “heat,” but deep inside, we know. We become more sensitive and irritable, frustrated and worried. Not realizing it is our deteriorating environment that is stressing us, we often get down on our partner. When we recognize the real source of the problem, we can focus our energies in the right direction and quit blaming each other for our unhappiness.

2. Run for your life and give thanks.

For most of human history stresses came from such things as wild animals coming into the camp to eat us. We dealt with those crises by running away and climbing a tree or chasing after the animal and killing him if we could. Either way, we got our body moving, burned up the stress chemicals in our systems and our body/mind/spirit returned to normal. We sat around the fire at night and told stories about how lucky we were to still be alive. The stressors are different today, but the need to run off the tension and give thanks every day for being alive hasn’t changed.

3. Tend and befriend for a long life and joyous relationship.

A landmark UCLA study conducted by Drs. Shelly Taylor and Laura Klein found that the classic fight/flight response, thought to be a universal reaction to stress, was how men responded to stress. They found that women usually responded quite differently. Under conditions of stress they reached out to other women and children. The researchers called this the “tend and befriend” response. As we get older and the world becomes ever more complex, the fight/flight response doesn’t work so well. Men need to learn how to make and maintain deep friendships if we are to have successful marriages. Carlin and I are both convinced that one of the main reasons we have a wonderful relationship after being together for over 25 years is that we are each in a gender-specific support group. She is in a women’s group and I have been in a men’s group for over 26 years.

4. Give up being right and begin being happy.

If you’ve lived more than 40 years you know that we develop a sense of what’s right and wrong. Life teaches us many lessons and we believe we have a pretty good idea of what’s right, right? Wrong! I can’t tell you how many fights Carlin and I have had when one of us was sure we were right and felt it our marital duty (for the other’s own good, of course) to point out the error of their ways. The longer I live, the less sure I am of what is right or wrong. I can tell you what feels right for me in this moment, what I believe will make me happy. When I tell you “my truth” not “the truth” and listen to your truth, I find I am much happier and enjoy our relationship much more fully.

5. Know that no one else can make you happy.

This is one that has taken me a long time to learn. For most of my marital life I was convinced that the only way I could be happily married was if my wife did things that made be happy. I wasn’t asking for the moon. Just basic things that any good wife would want to do for the man she loved. Like have sex whenever I wanted. O.K., I didn’t need it whenever I wanted, but most of the time.

It would make me happy if she would get ready so that we could leave on time for the party. She knows how I hate to be late. It would make me happy if she would rub my back without having to be asked. She knows how much I like my back rubbed and after all, I rub her back a lot more than she rubs mine. I “knew” if she didn’t do these kind of simple things to make me happy, she probably didn’t really love me, or at least not in the way I needed to be loved. It was a great revelation to me when I discovered that there were times that she would do all the right things and I still wasn’t happy and times when she didn’t do the things I wanted her to do and I was happy anyway.

What have you found that is most helpful in enhancing mid-life marriages? Stay tuned next week for my other 5 suggestions including why I think you should stop having sex.

What Are Mid-Men Looking For When They Leave Their Partners?


In my previous posts I began to explore what mid-life men really want and why men (and many women) leave a partnership just when it seems that they could begin to enjoy the fruits of their labors. In order to understand what men are really searching for, you have to understand the impact of the thinking that began in the 1970s that was reflected in the phrase, “A woman needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle.”

Many, including Time Magazine, credit Gloria Steinem with coining the phrase about what a woman needs. It certainly was consistent with the thinking of many Feminist women in the U.S. who were awakening from lives of dependency and recognizing the fact that they were powerful women. In the euphoric emergence of this wonderful feminine spirit some women concluded that men were superfluous and unnecessary. I’ll come back to this point in a minute, because it is crucial in helping us understand the dilemma faced by many men of this era.

First though, we need to give credit where credit is due. On my recent trip to Australia I learned that this famous phrase was coined by Irina Dunn, a distinguished Australian educator, journalist and politician, back in 1970 when she was a student at the University of Sydney. “My inspiration arose from being involved in the renascent women’s movement at the time,” says Dunn, “and from being a bit if a smart-arse. I scribbled the phrase on the backs of two toilet doors, would you believe, one at Sydney University where I was a student, and the other at Soren’s Wine Bar at Woolloomooloo, a seedy suburb in south Sydney.”

The 1970s was a difficult time for us. Like many men I grew up without the presence of a strong, loving, involved Dad. My father became depressed and tried to commit suicide shortly before my 6th birthday. He was hospitalized and I didn’t see him again until I graduated college. My mother raised me. She was a very independent, dominant woman who seemed to get along fine without a man in her life.

Although she was never overtly hostile towards men, she saw most men as vulnerable, weak and untrustworthy (a holdover from her broken marriage and a father who had died when she was young). I’m sure the belief that men are unnecessary, fit the experience of many women of my generation as well as many men.

Poet and writer, Robert Bly recognized the damage that these beliefs were having on young men of the times. In his now famous New Age Magazine interview with Keith Thompson in May, 1982 he talked with sadness and concern about was going on with young men in the world. “I see the phenomenon of what I would call the ‘soft male’ all over the country today. Sometimes when I look out at my audiences, perhaps half the young males are what I’d call soft. . . . Many of these men are unhappy. There’s not much energy in them. They are life-preserving but not exactly life-giving. And why is it you often see these men with strong women who positively radiate energy?”

I think that phrase captures the way I was back then, as were many of my contemporaries. We were, indeed, lacking in dynamic energy. We were life-preserving but not exactly life-giving. I believe we had lost confidence in our ability to be generative, to give something to our families and communities that was valuable and unique. The Viet Nam War had disabled many of us, whether we fought or protested. The death of the Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King caused us to wonder whether taking risks for the betterment of the world was worthwhile.

But most of all, I think we wondered whether men were really necessary at all. More and more women entered the workforce and men wondered whether we were needed as bread-winners. Women learned self-defense and we wondered whether we were needed as protectors. Women bought vibrators and learned to pleasure themselves and we wondered whether we were needed for sex. Women used birth-control and decided if they wanted to have children. When they did have them, they often decided to raise the children without the involvement of a man. We wondered whether we were needed as fathers.

Now it’s 2006 and these “soft” men, the superfluous-feeling men of the 1970s and 80s have reached mid-life. We often feel trapped in a family where we increasingly feel that we are not needed. The kids, if we had them, are moving out on their own. The grandchildren ask to speak to grandma when they call. “Grandpa” is a word that seems foreign to them. Our partner seems content to get whatever sexual pleasure she needs from somewhere other than our starving loins. Perhaps she can take in what she needs from the air, like a fern. She’s got her own job which may be more secure than ours and often her own bank account and assets.

Some men don’t leave. They stay and die slowly of boredom or keep themselves drugged on marijuana, booze, and T.V. sports, with a little internet sex thrown in occasionally to prove they can still get it up. Other men confront their feelings of uselessness, hopelessness, and helplessness and begin to make constructive changes in their personal lives and in their relationships. They want more and are willing to work for it.

Then there are the guys who leave. What are they looking for? Well, for starters I think they’re looking for a reason to go on living. They want to find out if there is a place for them in the world of the 21st century. Are we dinosaurs just waiting to fall over and become extinct, or do we have some important purpose here that we have yet to discover. Are we as useless and ludicrous as a fish on a bicycle? Or is there a greatness in men that we have yet to uncover. It’s an exciting time to be alive today. But it is also terrifying. We truly are living in a new world, with new rules, and new dangers.

I believe the number one reason that mid-life men are leaving is to find out whether they have a reason to live. What do you think? How do you feel? Is there something mid-life men have to offer the world?

Hard is Good and Not So Hard is Good Too: Discovering the Wisdom of the Penis


When we talk about what mid-life men really want, sex is certainly a topic we cannot ignore. Now I know it’s politically correct these days to acknowledge that men’s most important sex organ is the brain, but I’d like to put in a vote for the penis. I always thought the penis had a lot to say if we ever took the time to listen properly. But we’ve lately fallen into the habit of denigrating the penis, something we’ve also been doing to their owners. For instance,

Let’s talk about this phrase “premature ejaculation,” a terrible term that we often inflict on young male penises. If we listened to the wisdom of the penis, what might he be trying to tell us? I think we’d hear something like this: “I want to get this over with as quickly as possible.” Now why would Mr. P want to get it over with as quickly as possible? Well, I can think of a few reasons. “I’m scared. I’m anxious. I’m over-stimulated. I’m embarrassed. I come from a long line of successful men who ejaculated quickly before a wild animal could catch him with his pants down and end his reproductive life forever.” Listen to the wisdom of the penis. “Premature ejaculation” is a derogatory label that tells us nothing useful. “I want to get this over with as quickly as possible” is a neutral description and tells us a good deal about what Mr. P might be wanting us to understand.

Here’s another word that I hate–“Impotence.” Oh, wait. Let’s be medically correct. The current term is “erectile dysfunction,” or “ED” for short. Of course now that we have Mr. P’s communication labeled as a medical problem, we can offer a medical solution. Viagra to the rescue! And let’s face it, Mr. P and a lot of his compatriots have accepted the medical definition of his communication. Viagra sales declined 2 percent to only $1.6 billion in 2005. Of course Viagra had some stiff (OK, pun intended) competition from other ED drugs like Cialis and Levitra.

But what might we discover if we listened more closely to what Mr. P is saying. Is he really saying, “I’ve got a medical problem and need a drug to give me (as one ad on Google proclaimed) hard erections, quick?” Or could he be saying, “I don’t want to have intercourse with you just now.” Now, why in the world wouldn’t Mr. P want to have intercourse with you just now? Isn’t Mr. P always ready to rock and roll? Doesn’t he want to have intercourse whenever he can? Well, no.

No? Hell, no. “Let me tell you why I might not want to have intercourse with you,” I heard Mr. P shout to anyone who would listen. “I’m tired. I’ve had a bit to drink and I’d just like to sleep. I know I’m supposed to see your inner beauty and all that, and I’m not supposed to be so shallow as to be fixated on your physical appearance, but (and I know you don’t want to hear this) I’m not turned on to you since you’ve gotten fat. And another thing, while we’re on the subject, I’m sick and tired of being the one who is always asking for sex and being turned down. It would be nice, if you initiated sex once in a while. And, one more thing…”

Damn, I can see why some of us don’t want to listen to Mr. P. He’s pissed off and he’s not going to take it anymore. But, then maybe that’s the problem. When we refuse to listen, the pressure builds up, and when he gets the chance, he explodes. Perhaps if we listened more closely, more honestly, with more compassion and respect, Mr. P would talk to us in a more gentle tone of voice.

Now, I know there are a few of you out there, who have some familiarity with Mr. P. What do you think he’s trying to say to you? What does Mr. P really want?

Ten Things You Must Do To Save Your Mid-Life Marriage and Live Happily Ever After, Part II


1. When you hunger for your partner to do something for you, do something for them.

I made an interesting discovery. When I am hungry for love and affection or want my partner to treat me better, I lock myself into a quandary. The more I want and don’t get, the more resentful I become and the less likely it is that my partner is going to want to give me anything good. The more resentful I become, the more needy and hungry I get, and the more miserable I am. I’ve found when I am the most in need, it is the best time to put my needs aside and give her something that will bring joy to her life. I used to think that when I was nice to her when she wasn’t being nice to me, it would encourage her to withhold her affection. I’ve found when I give, even when I don’t get, I feel better inside. The better I feel, the more joy I exude, and the more likely I am to get an unexpected gift of warmth and love.

2. Learn about the science of happiness.

Are you living a productive and meaningful life? Do you work on a cause that is important to you? Are you really passionate about something and are you bringing your personal strengths to bear on it? Do you know why you are here? Do you feel you are going somewhere wholeheartedly?

According to the psychologist Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness, if you answer these questions in the affirmative, chances are that you are already a happy person.

Recent studies have shown that subjective well-being depends little on such "good things" of life as health, wealth, good looks or social status. Happiness seems to relate more directly to how you live your life with what you have. So if you want to have a happy marriage, forget about trying to improve your marriage (i.e. get the other person to change) and learn to improve your happiness.

3. Slow down, you move to fast. You’ve got to let the moment last.

I know it sounds like an old Simon and Garfunkle song, and the advice is good. We all know we are living life too fast. But like the frog in the water, the speed of life has increased slow enough that most of us aren’t aware of how fast we are going.

A number of years ago I found out I had an adrenal tumor. After having it removed, I asked the doctors why I got it. I received the traditional medical answer, “who knows, you just got it.” That wasn’t good enough for me, so I consulted my 2 million year old, inner doctor. When I asked Guntar (that’s what he calls himself), he told me that I needed to slow down. Adenal tumor, adrenaline, speed—I was beginning to get the picture.

I protested to Guntar that I had slowed down. I had moved from New York City to Los Angeles, a clear move to the slower lane, and had then moved to mellow Marin, a large detour around the fast lane. Guntar answered, “Yes, Jed, that’s great. You changed your speed-o-meter from 100 down to 94 and then to 86. Not bad. But what you need to do is get it down to about 9.” “Nine,” I sputtered and screamed back. “I’d have to…change my whole life.” Guntar’s only reply was “yep!” A month later, Carlin and I moved to Willits.

4. Talk less, listen more, sit close, and watch the stars.

After spending 2 months in Australia and 5 weeks in New Zealand, I realized that Carlin and I had stopped talking to each other. Well, not totally stopped, but we spent long times together in silence. For most of my life, silence scared me. My parents got silent when their marriage was in trouble. My mother got silent when I did something wrong. My father got silent just before he left. Silence was never my friend.

My friends will tell you that I can talk up a storm, anywhere at any time. I embarrass them often talking about the most personal things in public, usually too loudly. I like to talk and writing is just talking with my fingers. But “down under” I learned the joys of quietude. Listening to the sounds of the wind and the bell birds and breeze gave me great joy I had never known. With my mouth shut my mind was allowed to quiet down as well. I could enjoy my thoughts without the pressure of having to say something. Carlin and I found ourselves glancing at each other and smiling with such warmth, it melted our hearts. We enjoyed the stars in the southern sky and the look of light we were seeing in each other’s eyes.

5. Stop having sex and begin enjoying sensual pleasure.

One of my major complaints through the years, and the complaint I hear from many men, is that we’re not getting enough sex. As I’ve gotten older and erections are a bit harder to come by, I found Viagra was a helpful aid. Carlin and I made an interesting discovery when we had time to go slow. Although Viagra was helping with erections, it didn’t seem to be enhancing our enjoyment of each other. As soon as I’d take the little blue pill, it felt like I was on a time clock. All our attention seemed to be directed to Mr. P. Is he hard yet? Shall we start having intercourse now or play around longer? If we wait too long, will I lose my erection?

We finally decided to get off the pill. When we did, we discovered something quite amazing. When erections weren’t the primary focus, “sex” wasn’t the outcome we were after. For me, sex and intercourse were always synonymous. Everything else was either foreplay or after-play, sandwiched around the main event.

Lately we’ve been having a lot more fun doing whatever we think would give us sensual pleasure. This has ranged from rubbing Carlin’s feet each night, to sensual massage, touch, tongue, and yes, intercourse is still part of the mix. It’s just not the main event. If we don’t have intercourse I don’t feel like a failure or frustrated because “we’re not having sex.” We’re just enjoying each other’s bodies a whole lot more. We are more like playful adolescents than serious adults. Maybe we’ll grow out of it. But I hope not.

Sex, Love, and Intimacy: How Much is It Worth?


Carlin and I just returned from a retreat in Hawaii with 18 other couples led by Joyce and Barry Vissell. We had known about the Vissell's work for many years, but had never attended any of their offerings. Prior to attending the gathering there were two things that recommended them to us. First, they have excellent people skills. Joyce is a nurse and Barry is a psychiatrist whose main interest since 1972 has been counseling, healing, and teaching. They are the authors of five deeply-moving books on relationship, family, and healing.

The second thing that encouraged us to attend was the success of their own marriage and the emphasis they place on family and community life. "We have not only been married since 1968 and have three children," they tell us, "but we have made these relationships a sacred priority. We feel our work reflects our love of each other and family."

They live with their three children, four golden retrievers, five cats and one horse, at their home and center on a hilltop near Santa Cruz, California. Like all of us they have had their struggles, but they have come through them with a loving and intimate relationship that is intact and growing ever deeper.

Carlin and I have been together for 25 years. We've had our ups and downs and felt we were entering a new phase of our relationship. We wanted support and specific tools we could use to break free of old, unhelpful, patterns and develop new skills for loving and living. But the workshop was expensive, both in time and money. We talked long and hard about whether we could afford it. How does one put a value on such things as a "relationship workshop" or "couple's counseling" or "psychotherapy"? More about that shortly.

We decided to go and sent in our money before we could change our minds. We were not disappointed. We spent a week with other couples learning to love ourselves and each other. We realized that so much of our time as a couple had been spent working out our issues in isolation from other couples. Being with Joyce and Barry and the other couples, along with Charley Thweatt who provided wonderful, heart-inspiring music, brought us to new depths of caring and love.

For couples or individuals who would like to learn about the Vissell's work you can visit their website at www.sharedheart.org. You can reach them directly at barryandjoyce@sharedheart.org or phone 1-800-766-0629.

So, back to the question of money. How do we decide how we spend it? Do we invest in the stock-market, a retirement account, gold coins? Should we send it to people who say they can improve our relationships? With an investment like the stockmarket we are putting in money and hoping to get back more money in return. Its easy to measure success. Do we get back more than we invest?

But how to we measure the value of intangibles like love, marriage, and sex? As a social scientist I've often wondered whether we could do a study and get some answers. Well the study has been done and it's quite enlightening. Conducted by Andrew J. Oswald of the University of Warwick in England and David G. Blanchflower of Dartmouth College, their research paper is titled Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study. Using data from surveys of 16,000 Americans, they were able to determine the economic value of such things as marriage, divorce, and sex.

Despite popular opinion, the study found that having more money doesn't mean you get more sex. No differences were found between income levels and the frequency of sex. And the Sex in the City view of life is not supported by the research. Married people report 30% more between-the-sheets action than single folks.

What's the economic value of more sex? According to the study findings, they estimate increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is equivalent to the amount of happiness generated by getting an additional $50,000 in income for the average American. Tell that to your partner when they're too busy making money to make love.

All of a sudden the few thousand dollars we spent on the couples retreat sounded like an extremely wise investment. A number of the couples were struggling to keep their marriages together. Was it worth the cost of attending? Well, the study showed that divorce translates to a happiness depletion of $66,000 annually.

Many of the couples at the Vissell's retreat were middle-age and older. Most of us weren't having intercourse as often as we did when we were younger. Were we left out of the economic bonus pool? Not a bit. The biggest economic bonus of all was for deepening our relationships. In fact, the economists calculate that a lasting marriage equates to happiness generated by getting an extra $100,000 each year.

So next time you're thinking that you can't afford to work on your relationship, remember the numbers:

Divorce = -$66,000

More sex = +$50,000

Enduring marriage = +$100,000

Happy Valentine's.

©2009 Jed Diamond

See Books, Issues

*    *    *

Wealth can't buy health, but health can buy wealth. - Henry David Thoreau



Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2017, Gordon Clay