Note: This is a 3 part email sequence, all the 3 parts have been compiled in this blog post. Each email is separately labeled.
I hope this email finds you well.
It's that time of the month again where we dive into a core male subject, solve the world's problems, and hopefully have a chuckle or two along the way.
This month's series is titled "Gentle Giant"...
Today's email specifically is titled "The Elephant In The Room"...
And yet, somehow, this series is not about penis health 😂.
Instead, we are talking about an issue that EVERY SINGLE PERSON on the planet deals with.
You've dealt with it pretty much since day 1.
Then you became a teenager and dealt with it a lot more.
Then you got married – and at first it seemed like the problem had gone away.
But several months later (and ever since then), this issue comes up more and more.
Sure it comes in waves, but it's there with some kind of regularity no matter how you slice it.
It is the #1 issue among human beings, bar none.
This issue arises at home, work, and church.
Athletes deal with it, actors cause it, and addicts have a whole bunch of it too.
And you know what the crazy part is?
The principles and practicals for solving this issue are pretty much the same no matter your age, race, location, occupation or addiction.
Somehow, this issue comes up again and again.
Oh and there's one more thing you should know about this issue before we end this game of digital charades.
You cannot escape it.
No matter what you do, or how great of a person you become, this issue will persist for the rest of your life.
So today, and for the next 2 days, we are not looking at how to eliminate this issue, but rather how to master it.
We're talking, of course, about...
R = Relationship
C = Conflict
Yep. That's right – the #1 issue among all of humanity is relationship conflict.
Go back and read the description above, and you'll see how obvious it was!
My goal in this series is to teach you how to become a "Gentle Giant".
That is – one who can handle conflict effectively "like a man" (Giant) while still exhibiting the fruit of the spirit (gentleness is in that list).
Okay, so that explains the not-so-phallic nature of the series title.
Now for the "Elephant In The Room"...
Here's the thing.
Nobody inherently likes conflict.
Some handle it better than others, but if they do – it's because they learned how to do so.
By nature, conflict is triggering and scary for most. And no human is naturally good at it.
I wish there was a nice way to say this but I'm just going to come out with it...
In today's culture, a lot of men are becoming cowards.
We read all these pump-me-up messages online about manhood and masculinity.
We get inspired by David who killed bears and lions with his bare hands as a shepherd boy.
And then we get into a fight with our wife and either act like a raging lunatic or shut down completely and administer an unnecessarily large dose of silent treatment.
We must learn how to handle conflict in a way that is healthy and effective.
And it starts with addressing the "elephant in the room"...
We have to NAME the conflict.
This is problem solving 101. The better you can articulate the issue, the easier and more effective your solution will be.
Too many guys rush into conflict trying to fix the problem, instead of first labeling what the problem really is.
And in most cases, your perception of the problem is rarely the same as the person on the other side.
Tomorrow, I'm going to give you a powerful framework for resolving relationship conflict so that even if you are not eloquent with speech or aren't good with the "touchy feely stuff" you can still be successful in this area.
But in case you're like me and you get super impatient waiting a whole 24 hours for an email...
Here's a podcast where I talk about a HUGE mistake most make trying to solve relationship conflicts. If you're observing the same issues arising over and over again in your relationships, this would be worth a listen.
OH! By the way - this podcast of mine is the #1 daily podcast for addiction recovery. We've had people like Jon Gordon, Dr. Trish Leigh, and Dr. Robert Glover (author of No More Mr Nice Guy) on there. Check it out here.
Part 2 of our Gentle Giant series starts with a story.
It's February 17, 2009.
I just finished my shift at Wendy's.
Yep that's right - in high school and university I worked at Wendy's, where our burgers were square because we don't cut corners.
I worked there for 5 years. Even won employee of the month a couple of times.
Sorry to intimidate you with all my teenage accolades.
Wendy's is also where I met my first real girlfriend. We'll call her Gertrude.
The minute Gertrude saw me flipping burgers on that sizzling flat top grill she knew she needed a little brown sugar in her life.
That's mostly untrue but I'm telling the story so you get my version.
Gertrude and I had been together for around a year, and had just finished celebrating our first Valentine's Day as a couple.
I opened my flip phone in -25°C weather (it's a miracle the screen didn't just snap off) to see I had 5 new messages from big G.
I was excited! A couple messages from my sweetheart after a greasy shift at Wendy's was just what I needed.
My excitement quickly turned into disappointment as I saw that these messages were all one big long tirade about how terrible I am and how much I don't care.
I'll spare you the details, but at the peak of this tirade was something to the effect of "If you gave a flying f#*$ about this relationship you would XYZ".
Why was Gertrude so mad?
Because her parents named her Gertrude.
No seriously, why was Gertrude so mad?
Well – I did something dumb.
That year, the NBA All-Star game happened to fall on Valentine's Day.
You can see where this is going real quick, can't you?!
My dumb 18-year-old self FAILED to make plans for Valentine's Day other than spending the evening together watching TV.
And by watching TV, I mean watching the all-star game.
So did I deserve the wrath of big G?
Like King Solomon deserved an STI.
But you know what's funny?
When she sent me that 5 message tirade, she wasn't actually upset about Valentine's Day (although admittedly it is what triggered this series of events).
Why was Gertrude actually mad?
She was miserable in the relationship because she and I were T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E at resolving conflict.
Every time we had a fight, argument, disagreement, etc., we would basically default into utter dysfunction.
We were both afraid of conflict and lacked the skills to properly solve it.
I would get SUPER defensive and "put my armor on" trying to protect myself.
She would get aggressive, or sometimes she would become SUPER passive. That was even worse.
So every time a problem arose – we would try to fix the problem without telling the truth or discussing the issue properly, sweep it under the rug, and then wait until one of us erupted again so we could repeat the cycle.
We put the "fun" in dysfunctional.
A few months after the NBA All-Star Game/Valentine's Day fiasco she cheated on me with her ex and we split up.
It hurt real good.
But it was a wake up call – I needed to get better at solving relationship conflict (and planning Valentine's Day).
I don't have it mastered, but I want to share with you some things that I've learned along the way.
First and foremost, conflicts are OPPORTUNITIES.
"Thanks for the positive psychology tip, Sathiya, appreciate it."
No no, don't write this off.
Instead, the question is, "Opportunities for what?"
Growth? Maybe, but too vague.
Learning? Sure, but that's kind of a cop out, don't you think?
Conflicts are opportunities for CONNECTION.
If you try to resolve conflict to "restore peace" or escape the discomfort, your solution will suck.
Instead, goal numero uno is to CONNECT.
That reframe alone eliminates 90% of most guys' methods for solving conflict lol.
You can raise your voice, you can make the "if you say that one more time" threats, but the question now becomes...
Will that help the two of you connect?
And the answer of course, is..no.
Only settle for solutions that contribute to your one and only goal: Connection.
Secondly, keep your armor off.
It's impossible to move forward playing defence.
And since the goal is for you and your wife to move forward and CONNECT...
That means you will have to stop being so darn defensive.
How do you practically do this? You'll have to wait another 24 hours to find out.
In yesterday's email I mentioned that conflict cannot be avoided. No matter where you go or how you slice it, conflict will arise.
BUT – there is actually one thing you can do that eliminates 75% of conflicts.
It is unbelievably effective, but VERY hard to pull off. And it is a very practical way to reduce/eliminate defensiveness as well.
Only a masterful, gentle giant like yourself would even have a fighting chance of executing this well.
I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Let's see if you have what it takes.
In the meantime...a couple big takeaways:
-Plan Valentine's dates. Don't be like 18 year-old, burger-flipping, NBA-obsessed Sathiya.
-Solomon had 700+ wives and 300+ concubines so he likely had an STI
-Conflicts are opportunities for CONNECTION
-Defence is for chumps
Alright bro, last one in this sequence on relationship conflict. Here we go!
Last night, my wife got upset with me because when I came home from work i started fixing the ceiling fan in our bedroom. This was only supposed to take 10 minutes but wound up taking 45.
I'm sure you can't relate.
This delayed us ordering food for dinner.
She is pregnant, so waiting for food is like waiting in line to use the urinal after a 4 hour flight where the cabin was super so you wound up chugging a bunch of water and the airport for some reason has a waterfall display once you exit the plane so you feel super triggered to "go" but you can't because of the freaking line at the urinal of the tiny bathroom airport!!!
(To use a metaphor that is definitely not based on a recent personal experience. Thanks for nothing Buffalo Airport).
Point is – when she's hungry, she wants food in her belly. Pronto. And who can blame her? That little chocolate chip is growing at record speed these days.
Here's the thing – I was fixing the ceiling fan because for the last 2 weeks, the light randomly turns on at 3am and it wakes us up (Usually her. I'm a pretty deep sleeper).
She's already struggling to get sleep because she's 32 weeks pregnant so this light has been causing a lot of unnecessary fatigue and I had enough. I should've fixed it earlier, to be honest.
So when she started to get upset with me for taking too long, it would have been so easy to say, "I'm doing this for you! Remember?! You wanted me to do this! You're welcome!"
But, I remembered to keep my armor off (like we talked about yesterday).
Rather than defending, I thought about things from her perspective and realized she had every right to be upset.
"Sorry sweetheart, you're totally right. I'm going to be over there in a minute."
That minute gave me a chance to remind myself that my wife is pregnant, her anger is not as personal as it feels, and that I probably should've been a bit more communicative when it was becoming clear this 10 minute project was no longer a 10 minute project.
So I put the tools down, came over and apologized. She started crying.
"I'm just so hungry. I can't stand it. Why did you take so long? You know I need food quickly when I'm hungry."
If I hadn't taken that moment to re-center and regain perspective, a statement like that could've easily sent me into a tailspin.
But because I had even a tiny chance to take a step back and recalibrate, I was able to offer empathy, compassion, and an apology to my wife.
THEN I was able to reminder her that the little project I was working on was so that she could sleep better for the remainder of pregnancy, and she was able to acknowledge that and thank me for it.
She saw my heart, and I saw hers.
So what was the magic in all of this?
Eloquent speech? No.
Empathy? Not even that (although it is very powerful in conflict resolution).
Sometimes – you just need a bit of space.
I have a pretty good radar for when a conflict is escalating beyond what I call the "red line".
Once you cross the red line, you or the other person are more likely to say/do things that cause unnecessary pain and tons regret.
We often fall for the lie that we just need to "hash it out" thinking that if we push just a bit further maybe we'll get to a resolve.
Usually those pushes end up making things worse.
Disengaging amidst a conflict is usually very difficult for at least one person in the relationship (maybe both, rarely neither).
But it is incredibly powerful.
Specifically, a pause amidst conflict allows you to:
-Cool down emotionally (very very very important)
-Forgive if necessary
-Think about what you're going to say before you say it
So here's my challenge to you.
The next time you are in a conflict and tensions are rising, ask for a pause.
Now this is the catch...
If you do this improperly, you're going to make things worse. So read this carefully.
1) Explain The WHY – remember, conflicts are opportunities for CONNECTION.
"Hey, can we pause? I'm afraid that if we continue we're going to say/do things that are going to be harmful for our connection. I would really benefit from a small pause to cool down so we can talk about this properly and reconnect."
You should memorize that! It will SAVE you again and again.
Bonus points if you provide this explanation in advance so that your significant other has a heads up.
2) Establish A Return Time – admittedly, I still forget this half the time and my wife has to prompt me. I'm a work in progress.
But it's important that you are not just pushing pause indefinitely, otherwise this just becomes another tactic that furthers the dysfunction.
Sooner than later.
3) Learn Your Needs – You should have a system, checklist, protocol, etc., to follow when you need to cool off.
Everyone is different.
Whether you need to splash cold water on your face, do breath work, go for a walk, journal, meditate, listen to music, play music, bake bread or whatever floats your conflict-busting-boat, figure out what you need to do to regulate.
If you can execute the 3 things I just showed you above on a consistent basis for the next 4 months, I GUARANTEE you will see a shift in your relationship.
The real question is...
Why does this matter?
Well, as you probably know by now, s*xual struggles like p*rn addiction are intimacy disorders.
If we were in perfect relationship with one another, we wouldn't even feel tempted to watch p*rn.
Which means that learning to resolve conflicts effectively is a very important part of your recovery.
Not only will it help you achieve recovery more quickly, it will keep you stay recovered a lot longer.
Having healthier relationships reduces the draw of things like p*rn.
Having dysfunctional relationships increases it.
If I can help you resolve relationship issues, I know that your temptations, triggers and relapses will go down.
And that alone would make this email series worth it.
But let me be clear – resolving relationship issues does not cure p*rn addiction, rather it better positions you to make a full recovery.
If you want more direct help quitting p*rn, then book a time in my calendar and we can see if you're a good fit for my program, DeepClean.
Our focus is helping men like you get to the roots of the issue so they can quit watching p*rn in 120 days or less.
We have 100+ active clients right now who are doing exactly that. If you want to find out more, click here.
PS. If there aren't any available time slots in the booking link, please reply to this email and we'll get you in once there are openings again. Here's the link in case you want to book now and avoid the hassle.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest on addiction recovery including success stories, FAQs, clinical findings, and practical tools you can apply TODAY.