Family Talk: The man’s guide to women, Part 3
This is the third in a series of columns that explores the truths found in the book "The Man's Guide to Women" by Drs. John and Julie Gottman.
When last we left the good Drs. Gottmans, they were explaining to us mere mortals the concept of “Attunement,” tips for men who want to connect with, and listen well to, their women. This week we turn to the Gottmans' research about commitment.
Commitment!? Yikes! I've seen grown men faint at the sound of that word. There is an urban legend that men are afraid of commitment and, with respect to a relationship with a woman, men supposedly avoid it with all their heart. But is that true? Author and relationship counselor James Bauer doesn't think so and on his website, Be Irresistible, says this:
Men don't really have issues with commitment in general. The real fear men harbor is committing before he feels ready to fulfill his side of the commitment. And really, that makes sense. Or, at least it does to men.
That's because men have a strong aversion to failing. He doesn't want to commit to something unless he feels he can “win” and gain your approval. Many men avoid taking on the role of “boyfriend,” “husband,” “father,” and other roles until they feel certain they can “succeed” in those roles.
But what if men were convinced they could succeed? What if they were aware they would succeed in a relationship and in life if they made a real deal relationship commitment? That's where the Drs. Gottmans' research comes in. Here's what their evidence-based relationship research shows:
• If you want to ensure your health and a long life, connect emotionally with the people closest to you, especially with the woman in your life.
• Marriage, not living together, gives men the most health and longevity benefits.
• The kind of commitment that comes with being married adds an average eight years to a man's life. “For many men, being connected to a woman guarantees that they will have an active and healthy social life and will be healthier than if they were single.”
This research (and more) led Drs. Gottman to compile a list called Cheat Sheet for Heroes. Here are a few of their conclusions:
1. Men want commitment just as much as women do.
2. Married men live longer, make more money and are healthier than men who choose to live with a woman but stay unmarried.
3. You don't have to have similar likes and dislikes to succeed as a couple, but you do need to be compatible in how you handle conflict and express emotions and affection.
4. You will know she (or he) is the one if they make you feel like you are your best self and you feel more alive, adventurous, joyful and loved when you are with her.
I see a pattern here. Commitment in marriage is not a confining, dangerous thing. It can be a healthy, productive, success inducing thing if — and it's a big “if” — you take the time to carefully prepare for marriage and make the right kind of commitment. Next week, we'll tackle marriage prep.
Jim Priest is CEO of Sunbeam Family Services and can be reached at email@example.com.