The Pressure to Be “Manly”—How that Affects Our Relationships

What should you do with our culture’s pressure to be manly? The first step is to decide what really is manly instead of things we’re only told are so.

Manliness is the best thing for our relationships. True manliness, that is.

The problem is that much of what is packaged as manliness has nothing to do with what it means to be a real man.

Let’s look at a few examples of what has nothing to do with being a real man. Then, we’ll follow up with thoughts of what a real man looks like.

Manly? Uh, Maybe Not…

If you judge manliness by superficial things, you’ll strike out every time in coming up with the real thing.

Some men think being a complete jerk makes them manly. The art of being a jerk is the umbrella that virtually all fake manliness falls under.

There’s a saying that suits this occasion quite well:

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”

Cut-throat business deals, the flaunting of wealth, verbal abuse, sleeping around on your mate and similar things don’t make you a man.

They actually erode true manliness. Little by little, you become less of what you were meant to be.

If you spend any time in thought, there’s something in your heart you want to rebel against.

The superficial measuring stick of outward success, having the prettiest girl, or being physically tough isn’t really doing it for you.

If you’re feeling the pressure to be the sort of man described in this section, just walk the other way. That’s the kind of stuff that gives men a bad name.

My guess is that if you’ve read this far, you’re after more than being a jerk or superficial success.

You want something more and so do those around you.

People don’t want the Hollywood version of manliness. They want something that works in real life.

If you attempt the fake version, your relationships will struggle and it’s no small wonder why.

The Pursuit of True Manliness

Ready for a shocker? The truest form of a man has nothing to do with how fancy your car or house is or how “perfect” your family is.

If all those things were taken from you in a moment, what is left would either prove or disprove your manliness.

True manliness is strong, yes, but at its base, it boils down to a loving person fused with that toughness.

True manliness is character—something that couldn’t be taken from you even if you were locked in a concentration camp.

It’s the active love for humanity that lives in your soul. It is something you can continually grow and improve upon.

True manliness is visiting your mom in the nursing home when you’re busy, having integrity in business deals even when you lose money and staying faithful to your mate even when badly tempted not to be.

If you exercise true manliness, your relationships will grow.

Best of all, no one and nothing can take true manliness from you.

In Conclusion

If the pressure to be a man is grounded in reality, listen to that pressure. Don’t let it weigh you down. Just take small steps towards the goal.

If the pressures to be manly are rooted in fake manliness, take that junk and throw it in the dumpster. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Why What I Admire In You Also Says Something About Me

If you ask 100 different people who they admire most and why you’ll get dozens of different answers.

But did you know that what we admire in others tells us something about ourselves? And it’s not just superficial tidbits that can be unearthed through such an observation as we’ll see.

What You Admire in Friends

What you admire in friends tells you something about yourself.

Perhaps what you appreciate and admire isn’t exactly enduring. It could be simply that you’re drawn to and admire people who wear nice clothes and look a certain way. Or maybe you admire a certain socio-economic status.

Even with superficial admiration, you can learn something. We all are superficial to an extent so it doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person if you admire traits that are only “skin deep”.

But let’s dig a little further. Perhaps you admire friends who have grit. Friends who had to overcome significant adversity.

If so, it’s likely you had to persevere despite overwhelming obstacles or that you currently are doing your best to make an attempt at it. This likely causes you to appreciate music artists who make songs about overcoming obstacles and causes you to admire those artists.

Maybe you love fitness or adventure and you admire those who hold similar likes, desires and activities.

Regardless, when you discover what you admire you’ll understand yourself a lot better. These admirations aren’t mere coincidences.

Sometimes what you appreciate in someone could get you into trouble. Admiring traits that aren’t, in fact, admirable could tell you that you’ve strayed a bit from where you want to be.

The Components of Purpose

When we get into things like the greatest contribution you can make to humanity, things can get hazy.

Finding the big “why” to your existence isn’t easy for most people. Some never find it. Some compare finding this “calling” to digging it out from the rubble of a collapsed building.

To find such a purpose is frustrating and sometimes agonizing. There are a series of successes and failures along the way.

Sometimes, you may just long for someone to throw you a clue. If you want a clue in this painstaking process, stop and think about who you admire.

Could it be that you are supposed to become what you admire most in others?

No, not a re-creation of someone else. Just you at your very best.

That you are to become someone who others will admire. A signpost in the dark night of others finding their way.

So, when you look at others and admire them. Stop and take notice.

Sure, what you admire might be their hairstyle. But, then again, it could cut to the very core of who you are and who you’re supposed to become. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Can Stress Cause Physical Pain?

Everyone knows that excess stress isn’t good for you. But can stress cause physical pain?

Actually, yes. Stress can wreak havoc on your body in a wide variety of ways.

Most people have heard the saying “depression hurts.” Depression is a specific form of ongoing stress that is well known to cause physical pain and mimic other physical illnesses. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that ongoing, excess stress, regardless of the cause can lead to physical pain.

Although healthy levels of stress are normal, when you start feeling pain due to stress, things have crossed the line of what’s good.

When prolonged and significant stress isn’t properly managed it can lead to a negative stress reaction known as distress. A myriad of potential physical pains could result.

Stress can present itself in virtually every imaginable ache and pain. Some of the more common ways stress expresses itself in bodily pain include some of the following:

  • Upset stomach, stomach ulcers and pain
  • Migraines
  • Tightness of the muscles, especially in the neck
  • Chest pain
  • General aches and pains
  • Pain associated with digestive problems

The Dangers of Pain Caused by Stress

These aches and pains shouldn’t be ignored. They’re really a blessing in disguise.

Much like thunder and lightning serve as a warning to take cover as a storm approaches, these pains are indicators of bad things to come if not properly dealt with.

High levels of stress can literally kill you but that’s not the goal. The goal is for the sufferer to identify life stressors and then problem solve to resolve the stress.

Not only can stress lead to a shortened life, it can lead to the pursuit of risky behavior such as drugs and alcohol.

When you feel poorly on a consistent basis, there often is the attempt to feel better synthetically. This only compounds the problem.

Although escapes like substance abuse may cause short-term relief, the overall consequences obviously aren’t worth it.

I’m In Pain—What Should I Do?

You first want to rule out any physical problems by seeing a physician. Don’t just assume your pain is stress-related.

If you already know you’re under heavy amounts of stress and your physical-health diagnosis keeps coming back normal, your pain could be stress-related.

Do what you can to step away from stress whether that means a sick day (or two) or distancing yourself from people who increase your stress. Get good sleep, exercise and eat healthy and see if your problems resolve.

Also, consider therapy. A caring professional can help you identify stressors and what to do about them. Sometimes even simply admitting stressors can help immensely. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Are These Normal Relationship Issues Or Is It Time To Get Help?

Women are relational by nature. When your relationships hurt, you hurt deeply. Something we feel is a crisis may be viewed differently by our mate—at least at first.

When to seek help is a common question of many women. Women don’t want to make a problem out of something that isn’t a big deal. They also don’t want to wait until a relationship is in a death spiral.

So, when should you seek help? Although no one relationship is the same and there isn’t a blanket answer, here are some ideas.

Relational Emergency Room or Fitness Center?

Counselors and therapists are working hard to change thinking about how and when to seek out treatment.

For example, is there a better chance of survival if you regularly work out and exercise or if you let yourself become 200 pounds overweight and need to be rushed to the hospital with a massive heart attack?

The first option, of course. But many still view therapy as the last resort once a relationship that has been disintegrating for years and months finally goes into “cardiac arrest”.

Therapists do all they can in these cases but the success rate will be lower if you wait that long.

A better way to view therapy is maintenance to something that is already good but could always be better. You do all you can to strengthen your relationship with your mate and part of that healthful process is periodic therapy.

Both parties will be more involved in the process in this way.

When there are ongoing problems, it’s not uncommon for one person in the relationship to feel that going to counseling is the only way to save a relationship. That’s a lot of pressure and not all of that pressure is healthy.

Seeing a counselor early can help you do “preventative maintenance” just as you would through seeing a dentist (Although we hope your sessions are more enjoyable than going to the dentist!)

What are some specific reasons it couldn’t hurt to get help besides? Here are a few:

  • Ongoing communication difficulty
  • Impulsive spending that is damaging your relationship
  • Unfaithfulness
  • Sexual problems
  • Difficulty controlling anger and other emotions
  • Mental illness that is getting in the way of your relationship
  • You want to take your relationship from good to great!

Summing It Up

These potential reasons to get help are only a few possibilities. If you are unsure about whether to find a therapist, a great place to start is to call for an initial appointment. You can quickly get advice from a professional about what would be best given your unique situation.

Don’t let the need to “get help” scare you off as it does with too many people who could have relief. We all need help from time to time. To need help and to seek it out is completely normal and human. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

The Problem with Assuming Others Are Perfect

The primary problem with believing others are perfect is that you believe a lie. And believing lies about how life works can cause you to say and do things that aren’t in your best interest or the best interest of others.

Before you go beating yourself up about doing this, first realize that virtually everyone is tempted to believe that others are perfect at times.

What are some specific problems you might experience if you falsely conclude that others are perfect? Here are some possibilities.


Surprised by this one? I bet not. That’s because when you assume other people you know (or apparently don’t know that well) are perfect, you look at yourself and immediately put yourself down.

You know better than anyone how many flaws you have. But you hardly have a shred of evidence about the flaws of the person you’re measuring yourself by.

You conclude that you don’t measure up and in a big way. The specific things you compare to the “perfect” person may vary widely from the perfect relationship, house, kids, career, to education and on the list goes.

But the result is predictably the same. You want to go into your room and pull the covers over your head. The sun’s shining outside as you do so. You just don’t care, though.

You wrongly assumed someone was perfect who wasn’t and drew unfair and inaccurate conclusions about yourself. You decided for the moment that you are worthless.

That’s a big mistake and couldn’t be further from the truth.

Envy and Jealousy

Besides discouragement or even depression because of the comparison game, you may experience a very different emotion: jealousy, envy and maybe even hate.

You’re over your initial discouragement and now it’s time to retaliate. It’s time to fight.

And fight you should. You should fight every temptation to label yourself with words like useless, worthless and loser.

There’s just one problem with envy, jealousy and hate. You make an unsuspecting bystander the object of your bitterness and hurt.

False ideas are your real enemy, not people.

Ironically, that same person you’re jealous of may envy you and feel like you’re perfect. After all, they see all of their own flaws. But they have zero data about you.

You May Have an Affair

You may severely damage a committed relationship by imagining someone else is “perfect.”

You may regularly tell yourself how “perfect” a different person is and how flawed your old partner is. But the time will come when you see all the flaws of your new flame for what they really are.

Those flaws may, in fact, be greater with your new partner than if you’d just stayed put.

Summing Things Up

We’re all very imperfect people. It’s easier to admit that about ourselves than others. Don’t believe the “perfect people lie.”

It will only cause you unnecessary problems. You are far more valuable than your problems and imperfections. Be the best you that you can be.

That’s what the world needs most from you—a fully alive you! If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

3 Signs Your Woman Is Just Not that Into You

If you’re drawn to this article title, you’re not alone. Many partners have lurking doubts and questions about whether their woman is still interested in them or ever really was in the first place.

Sometimes, even the most committed relationships experience these fleeting fears. When these doubts persist, though, there could be a problem.

If you’re fearing the worst, here are some signs that your girl isn’t interested.

She Isn’t Laughing

This may sound superficial and it’s understandable why you may think so. But it goes deeper than that.

If your woman isn’t into you, she won’t find you funny anymore. She might not even smile when you do things that most others would find funny. These are signs that something could wrong.

It could be that the benefit scale of continuing the relationship is tipping the opposite way from what you want.

You may be doing everything right and treating her like a queen but that may not be enough. The mysterious chemistry of love just isn’t there.

If she doesn’t feel better with you, then she likely won’t be with you for long.

Lots of Excuses

If your girl is busy every time you ask to hang out, this is a tell-tale sign she’s not interested. There are exceptions but few.

Some exceptions may be that your woman is going through a short burst of busyness such as studying for finals, overwhelmed by her job or feeling depressed. She still may love you but is just maxed out.

Most of the time, though, if there are constant excuses why she can’t get together, that’s a not-so-subtle hint. If she was interested, she’d make time for you. In fact, she wouldn’t be able to help herself.

Some women will let you know very clearly if they’re not interested. Others won’t. They’re afraid to hurt your feelings so they make excuses to avoid time with you instead of being direct.

Your girl may need to vacuum her car, go shopping alone (again) or visit a family member she has never mentioned before.

The excuse possibilities are endless but one thing remains the same–She does her best to avoid you because she’s not into you anymore. The opposite would be true if your woman was interested

Trust Your Gut

Most of the time, you instinctively know there’s a problem before your “come-to-Jesus moment”.

As difficult as this realization is, it’s the best thing in the long run. If you get serious with the woman of your dreams but you’re not the one she dreams about, things will be miserable.

If you’re still unsure where your woman stands, work up the guts to come out and ask her. You can also ask your closest friends and family about what’s they’ve observed.

If your woman’s not into you, there is someone out there who will find you irresistible. It’s not the end of the road. Instead, it’s the beginning of a new and better road. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.


What Is Digital Detox?

Something some find harder to do than just about any else.

Digital detox is the act of refraining from electronic devices for a set amount of time.

Some reading this will immediately think doing so sounds fantastic. Others will decide it’s impossible either due to work pressure, because of their love of technology or both.

So, did this term come about from a bunch of technology hating people? Hardly. Technology can take over your life if you’re not careful.

Digital Detox to De-Stress

We’re not talking about snail mail here. We’re talking about what can feel like the need to be available 24/7.

From smart phones to emails, video conference calls, social media and more, it can be like a persistent heavy weight that’s always there.

You may feel pressure to answer emails while on vacation (Seriously? Who’s idea was that?)

You may also feel pressure to quickly answer yet another text message instead of interacting in a meaningful way with your significant other, children and friends.

The stress only compounds in many cases. Those living in real time become resentful and feel neglected, thus increasing your stress exponentially.

The number-one reason people practice digital detox is to minimize stress.

Sure, some do it to connect with people in a way that matters. But even for a reason like that, the underlying purpose is to decrease stress to make life manageable and, hopefully, fulfilling on a deeper level.

I’m Struggling. What Can I Do?

First, know that you aren’t odd if you have this struggle. Many, many people all around the world are having an increasingly difficult time.

Here are a few ideas to regain control of your life and feel better:

Set Boundaries—Talk to your supervisor or clients and let them know that you aren’t available any hour of the day but that you will get with them as soon as you can. Most people will completely understand.

Practice Long-Term Digital Detox—Leave technology for as long as you can. Vacation is a perfect time to try this. If you’re extremely pressured, pick somewhere so remote that you can’t use any kind of technology so you have a good excuse.

Short-Term Digital Detox—Most of the time, an extended time away from technology isn’t possible. Still, there’s a lot you can do including the following:

  • Pick certain hours or days out of the week that you don’t use technology. Replace that time with physical exercise and time with people.
  • Step away from your “fun stuff” that falls under technology. That could mean backing away from the news, social media, television or video games. Again, get out and do something else during that time.

In summary, it’s not that technology is bad. We all can be very thankful it exists. We just need to be careful we’re not “overdosing” on it. Balance is key. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

Your Parents Need More Help—Now What?

There must’ve been a trigger for you to take interest in this article. Likely, there were several. Maybe your parent fell in their home, is confused or is isolating.

Either way, the signs are starting to add up. Your parents need more help. And you’re not quite sure what to do.

Although no one solution to this problem is exactly the same, here are some thoughts.

Find Some Emotional Support

If it was just attacking an everyday problem, that’d be one thing. But this isn’t an everyday problem.

Your parents made unusual sacrifices for you and built memories you’ll never forget.

Your parents are declining and that is sad to watch. It’s emotional and you likely feel overwhelmed. That’s completely normal.

Solving the problem is harder because of the strong feelings tied to it. One of the best first steps is to talk with a trusted friend, seek out some advice from a therapist or both.

You don’t need to walk this path alone. You’ll feel much better after getting out your fears, anger, sadness and feelings of not knowing what to do.

By doing so, coming up with the right choices to solve your parents’ problems will be easier.

The Least-Restrictive Solution

Your goal is to provide exactly what your parent needs without infringing on their independence.

No matter how old your parents are, their need and desire for independence will always be there.

Maybe all you need is someone to come in and clean periodically or to provide some meals. That may not mean that your parent shouldn’t drive anymore or needs to move to an assisted-living home. But, then again, it may.

By finding the least restrictive option you’ll save time and money. But more importantly, you’ll empower your parents to remain as independent as possible.

This will strengthen your relationship with your parents. It will build trust and give your parents the hope and courage they need to go forward.

They’ll stay more purposeful and happy as a result.

Delegate Responsibilities

You can’t always do everything you want for your parents. If you’re trying, you probably wrestle with feelings of guilt at times.

You may feel that you need to do everything yourself because your parents did most everything for you.

However, there are times when you just can’t do everything. That’s when you need to delegate some of those responsibilities.

Maybe you can find people from your community or family to provide meals, help with shopping or to regularly check up on your parents when you can’t.

Or it could be time to pay someone to offer services that will help your parents with everyday tasks around the house.

Although it’s hard for anyone to see a decline in their parents, it isn’t the loss of your relationship.

If it’s the right time to get extra help, everyone involved will feel relieved though it may take a while for your parents to see the value in the changes. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

How to Balance Dating When You Have Kids

If you have kiddos in addition to a developing relationship, you know firsthand the challenge this can be.

Sometimes it feels like a tug-of-war match. The only thing is, you feel that if both sides don’t win, then everyone loses.

If you’re looking for some tips to help, here are a few.

Good Enough is Good Enough

The first thing to realize is that you won’t magically find the perfect, ideal balance. As bad as it sounds, you’re looking for good enough–Good enough with all its rugged edges.

This will be roughest at the start of your relationship. That’s because there should be a healthy distance of your potential mate from your children.

Because you do so much separately, either your date, children or both will feel left out at times.

You want to protect your children and rightly so.

What if they grow attached to your date faster than you do and the relationship abruptly ends?

What if you “make” your kids abruptly accept your date as a part of the family when the date hasn’t earned that honor yet?

Sometimes it will seem like one side is more of a priority. Just work at making a balance.

As the relationship progresses, this will become easier once the time is right to spend time with your significant other and children at the same time which leads us to our next point.

Just Ask Them

We all can be good at feeding “the elephant in the room.” You know, the nagging fear that your kids or date aren’t getting enough quality time. We tend to avoid touchy subjects instead of tackling them straight on.

Ironically, this usually makes more work for us in the long term.

Ask your date and kids if they’re getting enough time with you. Sometimes the responses you get will be emotionally charged and leave you scratching your head.

You’ll wonder if they are accurate assessments or just feelings. You’ll have to decide that for yourself.

But at least you won’t be playing the guessing game.

One caution with this: be prepared that you may receive an answer you don’t want.
Prepare yourself beforehand not to become angry or defensive in that case.

You want to keep lines of communication open. You also want to make sure that you don’t discourage transparency and honesty from your date or kids.

Do Things Together

If your date and children start doing things together at the proper stage in the relationship, things will gradually become easier.

As the level of commitment increases, so should the time you all spend together. At first, you’ll have to decide when to even introduce your date. Then, you’ll get to decide how to slowly include everyone.

Dating emotions can be strong. You know that already. Don’t make these decisions on the highs and lows of emotions. Ask the opinion of those closest to you or a skilled therapist.

This likely won’t give you an exact answer. But you won’t be shooting in the dark anymore. You’ll likely hit close to where you should be. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

We Aren’t Connecting—3 Things Women Want from Their Partners

You aren’t connecting with your girl like you know you should. Now you’re wondering what she wants and why you’re not enough.

Oh, boy. Where do we start?

That could be what you’re thinking because women can be complicated. But they also are easy to figure out on a certain level.

After all, economics is a complicated subject but it’s also simple—Just make more than you spend.

For most men, the problem isn’t in understanding what to do. It’s actively doing what they already understand. Let’s give you the simple version of what your woman wants from you.

To Feel Safe

Your woman needs you to be her protector. This has nothing to do with your girl being weak. As you already know, that isn’t the case.

But your girl needs you to hold her hand when she loses a loved one, stick up for her when others don’t and hold her when she’s crying (even if you don’t understand).

She needs you to be her calm during the storm instead of adding to the turbulence.

The Most Beautiful

Beauty means a lot of different things to people. Everyone can look at a sunset and agree that it’s beautiful. And the reasons people find sunsets beautiful would be pretty much the same.

But there are way more complexities in determining the beauty of a woman. Yes, a segment of our culture would have you believe that beauty is only how hot a woman looks in a bikini.

Physical attraction is important but there are plenty of more enduring qualities that make your woman beautiful. Physical beauty wanes and quite quickly in more than enough cases.

So, given that fact, here’s a good question to ask:

If my woman lost her physical beauty, what about her would still be beautiful?

Those other positive qualities you come up with make up the entire beauty of your girl. Those traits you came up with were always there. They’re just easy to take for granted.

By making a conscious effort to appreciate the full beauty of your woman, you’ll see that she’s far more beautiful than you give her credit for.

At this point, it’s time to tell her she’s the most beautiful. Besides her physical traits, she may have a great sense of humor, be self-sacrificing, intelligent and generous among other things.

Guys, the most beautiful thing about your woman is that she’s willing to put up with someone like you. No matter how much of a stud you think you are, not many women would be willing to do that!

If you treat your wife like the most beautiful woman in the world, the funny thing is she’ll become exactly that. If you try to do it the opposite way, things won’t go well. You can’t build someone up by running them down.

A Marathon Runner

Yep. Sprinters need not apply. Your woman needs you there for the long haul.

Your woman needs someone to grow old with. Someone who resolves never to leave her even when times become absurdly difficult.

It isn’t so bad giving the most beautiful woman in the world what she wants. Trust me. You’ll be handsomely rewarded and your difficulty connecting with her will quickly become less of a problem. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.