Category:

Mental Health

Valentine’s Day is celebrated as a day of love. For those who are in a loving, committed, relationship it is a time of special gifts, cards, and chocolates. For others, it is a time when we dream about real lasting love and hope it will be ours someday. Like many I grew up in a family with a mother and father who had serious wounds in their own families and the lessons I learned distorted my love map.

For more than fifty years I have been helping men and women learn from my mistakes as well as my successes as a marriage and family counselor. If you have visited me at www.MenAlive.com you have seen my welcome videos, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.” You also know that I finally learned the secrets of real lasting love and have been joyfully married to my wife, Carlin, for 43 years now.

I share what we learned in my book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative States of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come. This is the time of year where I get a lot of calls for private counseling. Women and men in a relationship where they have been struggling decide that this year things are going to get better, or I’m getting out. Single men and women decide, I’m going to find that special someone that I can spend my live loving and being loved.

I’ve developed a self-guided on-line course for those who don’t need, or can’t afford, private counseling but know that they want more from their love lives than they are getting and want to give more than they are currently giving.

We all want real, lasting love, whether we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or beyond. Yet too many relationships fall apart, just when the couple could be enjoying their marriage the most. Most people don’t know why. They become disillusioned, frustrated, and lost. They have fallen out of love and mistakenly believe that they have chosen the wrong partner. After going through the grieving process, they start looking again; but often, their efforts end up in disappointment.

Those who have been in a relationship that has gone bad still want love but don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.

I’ve counseled thousands of individuals and couples over the years. I’ve gathered together everything I would have liked to have learned when I was struggling in my past relationships and what I wished I had learned before I jumped into a second marriage. I put it all into a course, “Navigating the 5 Stages of Love.” You can learn more here. In this season of love and romance, many would like some real guidance to unlock the mysteries of love.

The 5 Secrets For Finding Real Lasting Love

            Have you ever wondered why finding the right partner and having a love life that is passionate, nurturing, loving, and joyful has been so difficult?

            Do you ever feel like you repeatedly pick the wrong person to fall in love with?

            Have you ever felt like you are looking for love in all the wrong places?

            Are you in a relationship that started off great, but seems to have lost something vital?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are not alone. I’ve been there myself. Here are five secrets I’ve discovered that helped me find real lasting love.  

~ Love Secret #1: There are 5 Stages of Love Not Just Two.

            Many of us have come to believe that finding the right person (Stage 1) is the most important stage (Hence all the programs and dating sites that promise to help you find your soul mate). Once you’ve found that special someone, Stage 2 begins and you build a life together. We are told we are then entitled to live happily ever after. But that is not the case for most of us. Here are the 5 Stages:

  • Stage 1: Falling In Love
  • Stage 2: Becoming a Couple
  • Stage 3: Disillusionment
  • Stage 4: Creating Real, Lasting Love
  • Stage 5: Using the Power of Two to Change the World

~ Love Secret #2: Stage 3, Disillusionment, is Not the Beginning of the End But the Entre to Real Lasting Love.

            If we believe there are only two stages for having the relationship we’ve always wanted when things start to go south we ignore the signs or try to fix what is wrong. When things don’t get fixed we often blame ourselves or our partner and real we must get out of the relationship because it seems that no matter what we do, things don’t get better.

            There is an old saying that can help us at this point, “When you’re going through hell, don’t stop.” Most people either stay stuck in their pain or bail out. What is called for here is to keep going. One of the most important things I teach people when they come to me for counseling is how to understand the value of Stage 3.

~ Love Secret #3: Stage 3 Teaches Us to Be Real.

            Falling in love is by necessity deceptive. We so want to find that right person, we all project our unmet needs and desires on them. We don’t see the real person, we see what we want and hope to see. We don’t fully share our real selves. We share the parts of ourselves we think will be most attractive to a potential partner.

            In Stage 3 we learn to recognize our projections and take the risk to slowly reveal who we really are and accept the gift of who our partner really is. We also recognize that there are unhealed wounds from our past relationships, most importantly from our first relationships—the ones we had growing up in our first family with our parents. We must get real with our past in order to have the future we all want.

            The famous psychiatrist Carl Jung said,

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

This is never an easy task. Stage 3 can help us release the illusions that keep us from our true selves.

~ Love Secret #4: We All Have Faulty Love Maps That Must Be Corrected.

            Most of us grew up in families where we got a distorted map of what real lasting love was all about. There were beliefs about ourselves and others that were implanted in our brains and became mostly unconscious. We were implanted with internalized messages that told us things like:

  • I am not safe.
  • I am worthless.
  • I am powerless.
  • I am not lovable.
  • I cannot trust anyone.
  • I am bad.
  • I am on my own.

As a result we become like confused homing pigeons always flying ever faster towards addictive and disastrous relationships and away from good people and potentially wonderful relationships. It is like having a compass that always seems to take us South when we want to go North. Does that sound familiar?

~ Love Secret #5: Real Lasting Love Requires Three Simple Ingredients.

            Most of us have no idea how to nourish a healthy relationship. It’s as though we are given a beautiful and rare flower, but me mistakenly give it too much water or not enough. I thought all I need to do when I got married was to be a good provider and refrain from being mean and nasty (Oh, and remember to shower regularly). But it took me a long time to learn the simple, yet necessary ingredients for real lasting love to flourish.

            Psychologist, Dr. Sue Johnson, offers guidance in her book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. She helps us remember these three ingredients with one simple word: ARE.

  • A is for Accessibility: Can we reach each other? This means staying open to your partner even when you are tired, hurt, or insecure. Answering “yes” to questions like: Can I get my partner’s attention easily? Is my partner easy to connect with emotionally?
  • R is for Responsiveness: Can we rely on each other to respond to our emotional needs?  Answering “yes” to questions like: If I need connection and comfort, will you be there for me? Does my partner respond positively to my signals that I need them to come close?
  • E is for Engagement: Do we trust our partner to value us and stay close even when we are out of sync with each other? Answering “yes” to questions like, Do I feel very comfortable being close to and trusting my partner? If we are apart, can I trust that we are still connected and cared for?

Most of us didn’t learn how to give and receive real lasting love. We forget that like food, we need these three types of nourishment often, many times a day. A big splurge on anniversaries and special occasions never makes up for what we miss if we don’t get these regular gifts of love every day.

I hope this was helpful to you. If you’d like to receive the gift of having my on-line course “Navigating the 5 Stages of Love,” I think you will find it’s a gift that keeps on giving long after you get it.

If you want to learn more about counseling or to subscribe to my free weekly newsletter, come visit me at www.MenAlive.com.

The post Navigating the 5 Stages of Love & Surviving the Turbulent  Waters of Stage 3 Disillusionment appeared first on MenAlive.

Part 1

“We’ve had a unisex vision of the human genome. Men and women are not equal in our genome and men and women are not equal in the face of disease.”

David C. Page, MD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

            In September 1965 checked into my room at U.C. San Francisco Medical School. I had just graduated with honors from U.C. Santa Barbara and had received a four-year, full-tuition, fellowship to study medicine. I had planned to become a psychiatrist and secretly hoped I would learn why my father took an overdose of sleeping pills when I was five years old and why my mother was preoccupied with death, hers as well as mine. Though neither my father nor my mother died back then (they have since passed on), I never lost my desire to understand men’s and women’s physical, emotional, and relational illness and health.

            However, medicine at the time was too restrictive for me. It assumed that the only differences between males and females had to do with our genitals and it totally neglected any psychosocial factors  that impacted our health and wellbeing. I soon dropped out of medical school, graduated from U.C. Berkeley’s school of Social Welfare, and began working in the healthcare field in 1968. I later returned to school and earned a PhD in International Health.

            Following the birth of our first son in 1969 and our daughter in 1972, I stared MenAlive.com as my “window to the world” for improving the health and well-being of men and their families. I read widely and shared what I was learning in books and articles. My first book, Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man was published in 1983. My seventeenth book, Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity will launch later this year.

The Emergence of Gender-Specific Medicine

            Marianne J. Legato, M.D. is regarded by both the medical and scientific communities as one of the foremost experts on gender differences in the world. I first became acquainted with Dr. Legato and her work in 2002 following the publication of her book, Eve’s Rib: The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine and How It Can Save Your Life. “Until now,” said Dr. Legato,

“we’ve acted as though men and women were essentially identical except for the differences in their reproductive function.”

            Research findings and Dr. Legato’s own experience as a clinician and scientist were showing that these assumptions were not true.

“In fact, information we’ve been gathering over the past ten years tells us that this is anything but true and that everywhere we look, the two sexes are startingly and unexpectedly different not only in their normal function but in the ways they experience illness.”

            Dr. Legato notes that it wasn’t only the medical and scientific communities that were challenging the old paradigms, but women were calling for changes as well.

“It has been women themselves,” says Dr. Legato, “who have demanded a change in the way American scientists and doctors do business. With an increasingly more coherent and powerful voice, women have forced the federal government and the biomedical establishment it supports to define the differences between males and females.”

There Are 10 Trillion Cells in Human Body and Every One is Sex Specific

            I learned in biology class that all humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. The first 22 are identical. The 23rd set are the sex chromosomes. If we are biologically male, our 23rd pair are XY. If we are biologically female they are XX. The scientific assumption until recently was that any differences between males (XY) and females (XX) were limited to differences related to our sex organs.

            Another biomedical researcher who has been working to better understand sex differences is David Page, M.D. Dr. Page is a biologist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After Dr. Page won the MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 1986, he was promoted to the faculty of the Whitehead Institute and the MIT Department of Biology in 1988. In 1990, Page was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. In 2005 he was named as director of the Whitehead Institute where he and his colleagues have been studying the genetic differences between men and women.

            His particular interest and expertise has been in studying the Y chromosome.

“There are 10 trillion cells in human body and every one of them is sex specific,”

says Dr. Page.

I first heard about Dr. Page’s research when I viewed a TED talk called “Why Sex Matters,” which has now been viewed by more than 2 million people. He contends that medical research is overlooking a fundamental fact with the assumption that male and female cells are equal and interchangeable in the lab, most notably because conventional wisdom holds that the X and Y chromosomes are relevant only within the reproductive tract.

“It has been said that our genomes are 99.9% identical from one person to the next,”

says Dr. Page.

“It turns out that this assertion is correct as long as the two individuals being compared are both men. It’s also correct if the two individuals being compared are both women. However, if you compare the genome of a man with the genome of a woman, you’ll find that they are only 98.5% identical. In other words, the genetic differences between a man and a woman are 15 times greater than the genetic difference between two men or between two women.”

            If we think that a 1.5% difference in our genomes, isn’t a big deal, think again. Dr. Page says I am as different from my wife genetically as I am from a male chimpanzee, and so are all other men. And my wife is as different from me genetically as she is from a female chimpanzee, and so are all other women. Being aware of our differences and similarities are important.

“Men and women are also not equal in the face of disease,”

says Dr. Page.

“For instance, take the case of rheumatoid arthritis. For every man with rheumatoid arthritis, there are two to three women that are affected by this disorder. Is rheumatoid arthritis a disease of the reproductive tract? No. Let’s flip the tables and consider Autism Spectrum Disorders. For every girl with this disorder there are about five boys. Let’s look at Lupus, a long term, autoimmune disorder with devastating consequences that can result in death. For every man suffering from Lupus there are six women suffering from this disorder.”

            Dr. Page goes on to say,

“Even when disease occurs in both men and women with equal frequency, that disease can have more severe consequences in one sex or the other.”

We know, for instance, that with the Covid epidemic, although both men and women could become infected, men were more likely to require hospitalization and more men died.

            “So, all your cells know on a molecular level whether they are XX or XY,” says Dr. Page.  “It is true that a great deal of the research going on today which seeks to understand the causes and treatments for disease is failing to account for this most fundamental difference between men and women. The study of disease is flawed.”

“We’ve had a unisex vision of the human genome,”

says Dr. Page. 

“Men and women are not equal in our genome and men and women are not equal in the face of disease.”

Dr. Page concludes saying,

“We need to build a better tool kit for researchers that is XX and XY informed rather than our current gender-neutral stance. We need a tool kit that recognizes the fundamental difference on a cellular, organ, system, and person level between XY and XX. I believe that if we do this, we will arrive at a fundamentally new paradigm for understanding and treating human disease.”

The Future of Healthcare:

            I believe that gender-specific health care will transform our world. I will be offering a training program later this year for healthcare practitioners who want to improve their skills and expand their practice. If you are interested in learning more, please send me an email to Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Gender-Specific Healthcare” in the subject line.

The post Saving Lives: Why Sex and Gender-Specific Medicine Will Transform Healthcare For Men and Women appeared first on MenAlive.

I have been a marriage and family therapist for more than fifty years. I help men and women address two areas that most everyone must deal with these days—Our love lives and our work lives. Sigmund Freud recognized the importance of these two areas many years ago when he famously said,

“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.”

            Over the years I have been in practice I have learned that we can’t heal individual lives without addressing issues that impact couples. Further, I have come to see that we can’t heal couples relationship without addressing family dynamics, including our wounding in our families of origin. We know, too, that families don’t exist in isolation, but are members of communities, countries, and members of the community of all life on planet Earth.

            I believe that all people, with the exception of those who refuse to accept the realities of life in today’s world, would agree that humans are out of balance with life on Earth. Existential problems such as the climate crisis, the loss of biodiversity, an economic system that is dependent on exponential growth, and the continuing threat of wars that could kill us all, are not being adequately addressed. 

            We all have experienced two forces working in each of us. One force is based on love, trust, and a belief that we can solve our problems. The other force is based on fear, anger, and a belief that nothing we do will succeed and we might as well just give up.

            The beginning of a solution to our dilemma comes from a Native American story that has many variations. It is a story of the two wolves and is an ancient tale that has been a part of traditional wisdom stories for generations. Historians typically attribute the tale to the Cherokee or the Lenape people.

            The story features two characters: a grandfather and his grandson. The grandfather says, “I have a fight going on in me between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, regret, and sorrow. The other one is good—he is joy, peace, hope, and love.

The grandson takes a moment to reflect on this. At last, he looks up at his grandfather and asks, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee grandfather gives a simple reply. “The one you feed.”

Domination and Partnership: Which One Will We Feed?

            I first met Riane Eisler in 1987 shortly after the publication of her book, The Chalice & the Blade: Our History, Our Future. I was moved by their simplicity, vision, and truth:

“Underlying the great surface diversity of human culture are two basic models of society. The first, which I call the dominator model, is what is popularly termed either patriarchy or matriarchy—the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The second, in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of linking rather than ranking, may best be described as the partnership model. In this model—beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female—diversity is not equated with either inferiority or superiority.”

            Eisler has written numerous books that have expanded on these ideas including her most recent, written with anthropologist, Douglas P. Fry, Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future. In their chapter, “The Original Partnership Societies,” they recognize that the roots of our partnership lives go back nearly two-million years to a time when we were all hunter-gatherers.

“Nomadic foragers—also called nomadic hunter-gatherers—constitute the oldest form of human social organization,” say Eisler and Fry, “predating by far the agricultural revolution of about 10,000 years ago as well as the rise of pastoralists, tribal horticulturalists, chiefdoms, kingdoms, and ancient states.”

            They go on to explore the reasons humanity shifted away from partnership towards a domination model.

“There are a number of theories about how and why domination systems originated,”

say Eisler and Fry.

“One theory, which recently seems to have received some support from DNA studies of prehistoric European populations, is based on the proposal of archeologist Marija Gimbutas that in Europe the shift was due to incursions of Indo-European pastoralists originating in the Eurasian steppes who brought with them strongman rule, male dominance, and warfare.”

            This theory is consistent with the work of historian and natural scientist, Dr. James DeMeo, whose research indicates that the origin of our disconnection and resulting alienation occurred 6,000 years ago in the Middle East.

The Original Dominator Societies Emerged in Middle-East as a Result of Environmental Trauma

            In his well-researched treatise, Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence in the Deserts of the Old World, Dr. DeMeo says,

“My research confirmed the existence of an ancient, worldwide period of relatively peaceful social conditions, where warfare, male domination, and destructive aggression were either absent, or at extremely minimal levels. Moreover, it has become possible to pinpoint both the exact times and places on Earth where human culture first transformed from peaceful, democratic, egalitarian conditions, to violent, warlike, despotic conditions.”

            Dr. DeMeo found that the trauma resulting from

“repeated drought and desertification, which promotes famine, starvation, and mass migrations among subsistence-level cultures, must have been a crucial factor”

in changing the way we related to the Earth and each other from one of partnership to one of domination.

“Once so anchored into social institutions, the new draught-and feminine-derived behavior patterns reproduce themselves in each new generation, irrespective of subsequent turns in climate towards wetter conditions,”

says DeMeo.

            Once the domination system is introduced, it spreads. Violence begets violence. As social scientist, Andrew Bard Schmooker reminds us in his prophetic book, The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution,

“Power is like a contaminant, a disease, which once introduced will gradually yet inexorably become universal in the system of competing societies.”

            That is certainly what we have seen as Indigenous, partnership cultures, throughout the world have been wiped by the power of what we euphemistically refer to as “civilization.” Schmooker said it simply and powerfully:

“Civilized society in general has been like a rabid dog. Its bite infects the healthy even though it contains the germ of its own destruction.”

Similar views have been voiced by geography professor Jared Diamond and historian Yuval Noah Harari.

Restoring Our Partnership Future: Indigenous Wisdom and Worldview Can Guide Us

            Drawing on their own research and the wisdom of Indigenous people from around the world, Wahinkpe Tope (Four Arrows) and Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D, have written an important book, Restoring the Kinship Worldview: Indigenous Voices Introduce 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Planet Earth.

            In the book’s introduction, they draw on the experience of environmentalist and author Paul Shepard who said,

“When we grasp fully that the best expressions of our humanity were not invented by civilization but by cultures that preceded it, that the natural world is not only a set of constraints but of contexts within which we can more fully realize our dreams, we will be on the way to a long overdue reconciliation between opposites which are of our own making.”

            In Restoring The Kinship Worldview, Wahinkpe Tope and Darcia Narvaez share a chart by Wahinkpe Tope, originally published in The Red Road (chunku luta): Linking Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives to Indigenous Worldview. He contrasts what he calls the “Common Dominant Worldview Manifestation” and the “Common Indigenous Worldview Manifestation” which are very similar to the contrasts Riane Eisler describes between Dominator and Partnership systems and James DeMeo describes as Armored Patrist and Unarmored Matrist behaviors, attitudes, and social institutions.

            Winkpe Tope’s original chart had forty contrasting manifestations. I list the ones I feel are most relevant to this discussion:

Only the Partnership/Indigenous Worldview Can Save Humanity

            Thomas Berry was a priest, a “geologian,” and a historian of religions. He spoke eloquently to our connection to the Earth and the consequences of our failure to remember that our survival depends on accepting our place as one member, among many, in the community of life.

“We never knew enough. Nor were we sufficiently intimate with all our cousins in the great family of the earth. Nor could we listen to the various creatures of the earth, each telling its own story. The time has now come, however, when we will listen or we will die.”

            Our only way forward, I believe, is the Partnership/Indigenous pathway. Native Americans have long understood the destructive nature of the Dominator system that has infected our Dominant worldview. According to Native American scholar Jack D. Forbes, in his book, Columbus and other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism,

“For several thousands of years human beings have suffered from a plague, a disease worse than leprosy, a sickness worse than malaria, a malady much more terrible than smallpox.”

            Native peoples call the disease Wetiko and Forbes describes it as the cult of aggression.

“Indians are murdered,” he says, “in order to force impoverished mixed-Indians to gather rubber in the forest under conditions that doom the rubber-hunters themselves to miserable deaths. Small countries are invaded so that an entire people and their resources can be exploited. Human beings of all colors are seized or insnared in debts and are forced to live out their brief lives as slaves or serfs. Boys are raised to obey orders and serve as cannon-fodder, while girls are raised to give their children over to armies, factories or plantations.”

            Forbes says it is an insidious disease that has become so pervasive it is seen as normal.

“I call it cannibalism…but whatever we call it, this disease, this wetiko psychosis, is the greatest epidemic sickness known to man.”

            Indigenous peoples refuse to be wiped out. Their communities and the Indigenous wisdom, and worldview they embrace, may well be the hope for all humanity. As Thomas Berry reminds us, we will listen, learn, and act on that wisdom, or we will die.  Our Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity is bringing together leaders from around the world to help us all heal. Please join us.

The post The Two Competing Systems That Will Determine the Future of Our Love Lives, Work Lives, and the Survival of Our Children appeared first on MenAlive.

If you have been following my writing, you know that I am a marriage and family counselor who specializes in working with men. That reality is surprising to many. When we think of love and marriage, most people think, consciously or subconsciously, that this is the province of women. But here is a secret I’ve learned after more than 50 years working with men, women, and couples. Whether a relationship is successful and leads to real lasting love or crashes in disillusionment is primarily dependent on what the man does. That’s right guys, you can make or break your relationship.

            One of my colleagues, Dr. Marianne J. Legato, herself an expert on men’s and women’s relationship, says,

“What men do in relationships is, by a large margin, the crucial factor that separates a great relationship from a failed one. This does not mean that a woman doesn’t need to do her part, but the data proves that a man’s actions are the key variable that determines whether a relationship succeeds or fails, which is ironic, since most relationship books are for women. That’s kind of like doing open-heart surgery on the wrong patient.”

            I went through two marriages and divorces before I understood that having a successful relationship depended on me. Up until then, I assumed that if I found the right woman then worked hard to be a good breadwinner, that everything would take care of itself. Or at least that my wife would know what to do. I imagined that women, because of being women, knew the secrets of love. My job was to find the right one and then to live happily ever after.

            Relationships don’t just fall apart. There are always warning signs. But when we’re busy working and we assume that relationship success is women’s work, we miss the warning signs until it is too late. I talk about my own failures when people visit my website and see my introductory welcome “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.”

            Although marriages can end at any time, they are becoming increasingly common at mid-life. My colleagues Jeff Hamaoui and Kari Henley at the Modern Elder Academy have written a wonderful article, “Anatomy of a Transition,” that captures the craziness and confusion of what we go through when a relationship has ended.

            They describe 3 Stages: (1) The End, (2) Messy Middle, and (3) New Beginnings. In each stage there are three steps we must navigate. Together they constitute a map that can help us navigate the journey from an ending to a new beginning:

Stage 1: The End

  • External Kick or Internal Shift

Some relationships end when we are kicked in the teeth (or somewhat lower in our anatomy. “I’m no longer in love with you. It’s over. I want a divorce.” Or it can happen with a more gradual internal shift when the negative aspects of our love lives build up until we can no longer ignore them and we know we have to change or die inside.

  • Denial

We have invested a lot of our hearts, souls, hopes, and dreams in our relationship and we all go through a phase of denial as we try and convince ourselves that it isn’t as bad as we think or surely things will turn around soon.

  • Emotional Bath

Our feelings go up and down. One minute we’re sure its over, but something good happens and we’re sure things are turning around and everything is going to be all right. There is a line from a song that captured this time for me. “We’re walking the wire of pain and desire, looking for love in between.”

Stage 2: Messy Middle

            This is the period of being in between. It’s called liminal space. We know an important part of our old life has ended but don’t know what lies ahead.

  • Being drawn back to what is familiar

Even when we know a relationship has ended, we are drawn back to what we know. “Be it ever so shitty, there’s no place like home.” Even after I knew my relationship was over I kept being drawn back in. This is particularly true if we have children. They want us together, no matter what.

  • In The Soup

When we’re in the soup, we feel like we are coming apart. What we know has disappeared and who we are is frightening and unfathomable. It takes real courage, and more than a little help from our friends, to keep us afloat and moving ahead.

  • Find the Thread

This is the key to our survival. The thread is our connection to our True Selves which is connected to Source or Soul. When we are deeply connected to the Life Force, we can never get lost.  We never lose the thread, but it can be hard to find when we are in the soup.

Stage 3: New Beginnings

            Beginnings are exciting and fragile things. We are learning to get to know ourselves anew and are ready for a new relationship with ourselves and someone else.

  • Becoming

After the end of a relationship, we realize we are becoming a new person to ourselves and we need to take time to get to know ourselves. This often means reflecting on our lives, including our past relationships and understanding why we got in them and why we had to leave (even when we weren’t the ones who initiated the ending).

  • Taking Flight

You are in a new world. You’ve found your wings and you are flying. You feel more complete, whole, and healthy. You are in love with life and you’re ready to share your love with others. You’re in no hurry. You’re not starving for love. You have love in your life, but you know you want to share it.

  • Finding Flow

We’ve all had that feeling when you know everything is as it is supposed to be. There are no mistakes in our lives. Everything is part of the journey. What we thought was a disaster turns out to be the gift of rebirth.

Looking back I realize I went through these stages with my first two divorces. But I also have come to realize that in a long-term marriage, we can go through them with the same person. My wife, Carlin, and I have been together now for 43 years. We both realized that we change and become different people and so our relationship has to change.

We decided we needed to review and renew our relationship every 15 years. This allows us to let the old relation go and create a new one that fits who we are now. We’re coming up on our fourth marriage to each other. It is wonderful to know we can go through the stages together.

Starting Over: Create an Inspiring New Story After Your Relationship Ends

In March, I will be offering a 4-day retreat just for men. I’m excited to be joined by two colleagues and friends, Shana James and Mark Pirtle. This retreat is for men who have been through an ending and are ready to start anew. Your ending may have been the end of a marriage or it may have been the end of an old relationship, but one where you two are still together, but ready for renewal.

This four-day retreat is for any man who may be…

• In shock about what happened and why his relationship ended.

• Stuck in a loop and can’t stop thinking about his former partner.

• Grieving, feeling the intense pain of the ending of a cherished relationship.

• Trying to ground himself before he starts to think about dating again.

• Exploring a new relationship but being careful.

• Wanting to learn more about sex, love, and intimacy.

• In a relationship that needs to end or transform.

• Wanting to ensure that he has real lasting love in the future.

Are you a man who is ready to have the relationship of your dreams? Do you know a man who is ready to learn about real lasting love? If you are interested in knowing more about this retreat, I will answer all your questions. We are limiting the retreat to just 15 men and it is filling up fast. Drop me a note to Jed@MenAlive.com and put “men’s retreat” in the subject line. If you’d like to read more about it, you can click here.

The post Is Your Love Life in Transition? Make 2023 the Year of Real Lasting Love appeared first on MenAlive.

I was a junior in college at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1964 when I saw Anthony Quinn in the movie Zorba the Greek. I went to college to fulfill my parents dream that they never achieved, but really to learn the mysteries of life—in other words, sex, surfing, and what it meant to be a guy who could attract a girl who would be willing to have wild sex in the surf with him. Zorba was my role model. Let me confess at the outset, I failed at finding a girl who would have wild sex with me (that would come much later), but I never forgot what I learned from Zorba.

            There are four things Zorba loved more than anything: Life, women, music, and his latest scheme to succeed against all odds. At a time when most film heroes were characters like James Bond who killed bad guys and was only interested in women for one thing (his love interest in Goldfinger was named Pussy Galore. How did that get past the censors?). Zorba was refreshingly different.

            James Bond was one dimensional, Zorba was complex. He was the kind of man all women wanted, young, old, and in between. But he was also a man’s man, and genuinely wanted to help his stiff, young, English boss. Zorba (the character based on the book from Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis) offers wonderful bits of advice that have stuck with me for almost sixty years:

  • “Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes that see reality.”
  • “The only thing I know is this: I am full of wounds and still standing.”

And the one that still guides my life:

  • “A man needs a little madness, or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.”

Becoming the Man You Always Wanted to Be

            I fell in love and got engaged during my last year in college (I was 21, she was 18). We were both naïve (how could we not be?) believing that we had found everlasting happiness. Without thinking about it consciously, we assuming there were two stages for a successful relationship:

1. Fall in love.

2. Build a wonderful life together.

There was no need for more stages. We just assumed we would live happily ever after. Life had other ideas for me.

            We had two children and got divorced just before our tenth anniversary following three years of conflict and recriminations. I quickly remarried and was soon divorced again. Divorce is painful for everyone. Our hopes and dreams of love everlasting are dashed. For me, who had become a successful marriage and family counselor, it was devastating. How could I expect anyone who pay me for counseling when I couldn’t even keep my own relationship together? How could I keep saying I was a therapist if my own love live wasn’t working?

            I made a decision that changed my life. I decided to quit my job as a professional counselor, go back to basics and see if I could figure out what it really meant to be a man and to have the kind of relationship that I had dreamed of having. I needed to make a living while I was figuring it out, so I got a job at Howard Johnson’s restaurant doing the early morning shift that no one wanted.

            I stopped looking for women. What woman would be interested in having a man whose job was serving coffee and serving food to travelers who were still asleep when they stumbled in? I also went into therapy myself and read everything I could find from experts who actually were practicing what they preached to others.

            I also reflected on what Zorba taught me. After a lot of dark and depressing times feeling like a failure at the two things that Sigmund Freud said were the cornerstones of our humanness, “Love and Work,” I got back in touch with Life. I went for long walks on the beach and learned to meditate. I read “The Course in Miracles” and joined a weekly group of people who sang together. All of these things were a bit crazy for me.

            I was a city kid who was uncomfortable in nature. I thought meditation was boring and couldn’t keep my eyes closed for more than a few seconds, a racing mind, I believed, would somehow get me someplace worthwhile. I didn’t believe in miracles or God. My parents were Jewish by birth and culture, but political activists by inclination and atheists by training. If you can’t see him, touch him, prove him—believing in God or Goddess is unscientific and a waste of time.

            I began writing my thoughts and feelings in a journal, which really seemed crazy to me. It eventually turned into a book, my first, called Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man. Instead of going out looking for women, I joined a men’s group, which was really crazy. What heterosexual man would rather be in a men’s group than chase women? Being in the group changed my life and we’ve continued to meet regularly since we began in 1979.

Finding My Soul Mate Instead of a Playmate

            I was ten years old in 1953 when a twenty-seven-year-old nerdy sociology student at Northwestern University named Hugh Hefner started Playboy magazine. He put a racy picture of Marilyn Monroe on the cover and added some philosophy about sexual freedom. The first printing of 50,000 copies sold out overnight. Playboy bunnies and Playmates of the Month became the dream lovers of boys and Peter-Pan men who never wanted to grow up.

            By the time I met Carlin, I had gone through two marriages and divorces (Check out my “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor” at MenAlive.com). I had given up the search for the perfect partner, but I retained my vision of the kind of girl who had the right chemistry to turn me on—younger than me, shorter than me, if not a Playmate of the Month, at least one of the cute bunnies (I mean, if a nerd like Hugh Marston Hefner could spend his adult life surrounded by bunnies, I could find at least one for myself, I hoped).

            Carlin and I met at the dojo in Mill Valley. I had begun practicing the non-violent martial art of Aikido (most of my macho friends went in for more kick ass practices like karate or Kung Fu). She was introduced to me by a mutual friend. I was friendly, but clearly she wasn’t my type. She wasn’t cute or bunny-like. She was pretty in an exotic kind of way that was attractive, but confusing. But she had one quality that was clearly a deal-breaker. She was a few inches taller than me (and I found out later that she was also a few years older than me).

            But a very strange thing happened. We ended up going to the same retreat (turned out the friend who introduced us, knew I was going to this retreat and suggested it to Carlin). We kept running into each other and some crazy magic began happening. I put my conscious mind to sleep (really a crazy thing to do for me), quit ruminating, comparing her to others, comparing myself to some ideal, and just lived in the moment and enjoyed being alive.

            Without judgement about her or about me, whether she was sexy enough or if she was my type, or mine hers, we just got to know each other (and in the process ourselves). We even talked about our judgements and the stereotypes that told us who we should be attracted to and how we should feel. We stopped trying to be the people we were supposed to be and started enjoying being ourselves.

            We’ve been married now for 43 wonderful years. We’ve had our ups and downs, like all couples, and we are still learning about love. I wrote a book about our continuing journey. The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come.

            If you are a man, or know a man, who has been through a relationship breakup (or more than one) and is ready to explore and learn what it really means to become a man who can attract a true soul-partner, I will be leading a 4-day retreat in March, along with two colleagues, I’ve known for years.  If you are interested in learning more, let me know. It will be limited to a small group of men who are ready for real lasting love. It is for a few good men who aren’t afraid to explore their little bit of madness. If this sounds like it might be you, drop me a note to Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Soul-Mate Man” in the subject line. I’ll send you all the details.

            You might also enjoy my recent article, “Are You a Master and Work, But a Disaster at Love?” If you’d like to receive my regular weekly newsletter (Its free), you can do so here.

The post How to Become the Man All Women Wish They Had appeared first on MenAlive.

When I began medical school in 1965 I had a vague notion that I wanted to become a healer and a subconscious desire to help men. It soon became clear that the medical education at U.C. San Francisco was more  limited than I had hoped and I transferred to U.C. Berkeley where I eventually received a master’s degree in social work. During my three years in graduate school, I not only broadened by knowledge of the psychological, interpersonal, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of health, I also better understood my interest in men’s health.

            I was five years old when my father took an overdose of sleeping pills because, as I would learn later, he had become increasingly depressed because he couldn’t make a living doing what he loved to support his family. He was committed to the state mental hospital in Camarillo, north of our home in Los Angeles. It is the same hospital where the 1948 movie, The Snake Pit starring Olivia de Havilland, was filmed. I still remember the terror I felt going every Sunday with my uncle to visit my father in the mental hospital beginning in 1949. I watched as his depression worsened and his mental health declined.

            I grew up wondering what happened to my father, whether it would happen to me and what I could do to help other men and their families. I graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 1968 and started MenAlive in 1969 following the birth of our first son. I became a psychotherapist and soon specialized in working with men and their families. After practicing for 34 years, I returned to graduate school and earned a PhD in International Health in 2008, at age 65 (we joked that my “retirement” party was also my coming-out party as a doctor.) My dissertation study, published with the title, Male vs. Female Depression: How Men Act Out and Women Act In, answered many of the questions I had been wrestling with since childhood and expanded my focus on gender-specific health care.

The Emerging Field of Gender-Specific Medicine and Health Care

            Marianne J. Legato, MD, is an internationally renowned academic, physician, author and lecturer. She pioneered the new field of gender-specific medicine. She is a Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Dr. Legato also the founder and director of the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, which she created in 2006.

            In her 2002 book, Eve’s Rib: The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine and How It Can Save Our Life, she says,

Eve’s Rib is not just about women’s health, but about the health of both sexes and the new science of gender-specific medicine. Until now, we’ve acted as though men and women are essentially identical except for the differences in reproductive function. In fact, information we’ve been gathering over the past ten years tells us that this is anything but true, and that everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their normal function but in the ways they experience illness.”

            Although Dr. Legato’s first book focused more on women’s health, her subsequent books expanded her focus to men. Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget was published in 2008 and explored the ways men and women are different and how those differences impact our relationships. She acknowledges the ways in which discussing sex and gender differences can be misunderstood.

“I have taken a number of risks in writing this book,”

says Dr. Legato,

“and I wish to acknowledge them right at the outset. For instance, there is a tremendous risk in categorizing certain behaviors as ‘male’ or ‘female,’ as I do throughout the book. There is a cautionary skit in Free to Be You and Me in which two babies (played to great effect by Marlo Thomas and Mel Brooks) argue about whether they’re boys or girls. Boys can keep secrets, and they’re not afraid of mice, so the Mel Brooks baby, who can’t and is, must definitely be a girl—right? The debate continues until the nurse comes to change their diapers, which settles the matter once and for all.”

            Legato obviously was willing to take the risks. She concluded in the book’s introduction,

“Whatever speculation I have engaged in over the course of the pages that follow is in the service of a larger concept: the ideas that, whatever our differences, there is much that men and women can learn from one another.”

            Dr. Legato is not the only clinician and researcher to take the risk to tackle sex and gender issues. There are many, including David C. Page, MD. Dr. Page is professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and director of the Whitehead Institute, where he has a laboratory devoted to the study of the Y-chromosome. 

“It has been said that our genomes are 99.9% identical from one person to the next,”

says Dr. Page.

“It turns out that this assertion is correct as long as the two individuals being compared are both men. It’s also correct if the two individuals being compared are both women. However, if you compare the genome of a man with the genome of a woman, you’ll find that they are only 98.5% identical. In other words, the genetic difference between a man and a woman are 15 times greater than the genetic difference between two men or between two women.” 

Dr. Page, like Dr. Legato, demonstrates that even small differences can be important.

“There are 10 trillion cells in human body and every one of them is sex specific,”

says Dr. Page.  

“So, all your cells know on a molecular level whether they are XX or XY. It is true that a great deal of the research going on today which seeks to understand the causes and treatments for disease is failing to account for this most fundamental difference between men and women. The study of disease is flawed.”

            In looking ahead to the future of gender-specific healthcare, Dr. Paige is hopeful.

“Here’s what I think. We need to build a better tool kit for researchers that is XX and XY informed rather than our current gender-neutral stance. We need a tool kit that recognizes the fundamental difference on a cellular, organ, system, and person level between XY and XX. I believe that if we do this, we will arrive at a fundamentally new paradigm for understanding and treating human disease.”

The Moonshot Mission for Mankind and Humanity

            Our Moonshot Mission for Mankind and Humanity launched in November 2021 when I invited seven colleagues who lead programs focused on men’s health to join me and work together to improve men’s health. The mission was inspired by the research of two colleagues, Randolph Nesse, MD and Daniel Kruger, PhD examined premature deaths among men in 20 countries. They found that in every country, men died sooner and lived sicker than women and their shortened health and life-span harmed the men and their families.

            Based on their research Drs. Nesse and Kruger concluded with four powerful statements:

  • “Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death.”
  • “Over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the U.S. alone if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.”
  • “If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.”

Drawing on my  own clinical experience and research over the last fifty-plus years, I wrote, Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity. In it I detail the reasons why I think improving men’s health is not only good for men, but also good for the well-being of women and children. In order to achieve our Moonshot Mission, I believe we will need to train 1,000,000 more practitioners who are skilled in treating men’s mental, emotional, and relational health. Here are some of the courses that I would hope would be included in such a training.

  • How to Be A Good Man In Today’s World.
  • The World We Live In: Chaos, Collapse or Transformation.
  • Why Men Live Sicker and Die Sooner Than Women and How We Can All Live Fully Healthy Lives.
  • Keeping Your Balance in a World Turned Upside Down.
  • Tipping the Scale Towards Partnership and Away From Domination.
  • Man Therapy: A New Gender-Specific Approach For Healing Men’s Mental, Emotional, and Relational Problems.
  • Breaking Free From the Man Box of Restricted Beliefs About Being Male.
  • Accepting the Gift of Maleness in a World Confused About Sex and Gender.
  • Why Men Are the Weaker Sex and How Our Strength Comes From Accepting Our Vulnerabilities.
  • Testosterone: The Holy Grail of Manhood For Better or Worse.
  • Accepting the Biological Differences Between Males and Females Can Liberate and Empower Us All.
  • Loneliness: The Male Malady That is Killing Millions Every Day and How to Heal.
  • Joining a Men’s Group: The First Step For Reconnecting With Our Manhood.
  • Healing Our Anger Towards Women and Recognizing Our Fear of the Feminine.
  • Embracing the 5 Stages of Love and Why Too Many Men Get Lost at Stage 3.
  • Recognizing Our Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Addressing Old Wounds.
  • Healing Our Inner Trauma as We Heal The Environmental Trauma We Have Created.
  • Understanding and Healing the Father Wound and Becoming the Father and Man We Were Meant to Be.
  • Warriors Without War: Finding the Path of Courageous Action For Good.
  • Accepting the Increasing Pain and Suffering of Many as We Continue to Do Our Part to Heal Ourselves and Others.
  • Embracing Our Unique Mission in Life at This Time in Our Evolutionary History.

If you would like more information about upcoming trainings for practitioners working in the field of men’s health, drop me an email to Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Man Therapy” in the subject line. If you’d like to read more articles, please join our free newsletter here.

The post Man Therapy: Training Health Practitioners For the Future appeared first on MenAlive.

For more than fifty years, I have had one goal: Healing men and the families who love them. I founded MenAlive in 1972 following the birth of our son Jemal and our daughter Angela. Like all parents I wanted my children to grow up in a world where fathers were fully healed and involved with their children throughout their lives. In 2019 I invited a small group of colleagues to join me in creating a Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity.

            When I began my work there were very few programs that specialized in gender-specific health care and we the information we had about how to help men was limited. That has changed. There are literally thousands of programs that specialize in helping men and their families and we know a great deal about how to address many of the major problems facing humanity.

            In a recent article, “The Man Kind Challenge: Why Healing Men Will Do More Good Than Curing Cancer,” I said that male violence was one of the most significant problems facing humanity and preventing male violence was one of the most important things we could do to improve our world and make it safer for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.

            There is an African proverb that says,

“The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”

We don’t have to wait for the next mass shooting to be reported in the news to know that there are a lot of wounded, angry, and violent males who don’t feel hope, love, and support from their society.

A number of years ago, The World Health Organization issued a report, “World Report on Violence and Health” that took a comprehensive look at violence world-wide. In the Foreword to the report Nelson Mandela says,

“Many who live with violence day in and day out assume that it is an intrinsic part of the human condition. But this is not so. Violence can be prevented. Violent cultures can be turned around. In my own country and around the world, we have shining examples of how violence has been countered.”

            The report breaks down violence into three main categories:

  • Self-directed violence.
  • Interpersonal violence.
  • Collective violence.

            Self-directed violence primary involves death by suicide. Interpersonal violence occurs most often in families, but also includes violence in communities. Collective violence involves conflicts between groups and includes genocide, terrorism, and war. Women certainly can be driven to violence, but violence is primarily a problem for men. Males do most of the killing and males are the majority of those killed.

Male Violence and Mass Shootings in America

            Although mass shootings constitute a small part of the violence in the world, understanding them is important because they can help us better understand violence of all types. Perhaps more than any man, Mark Follman can help us understand male violence. He is a longtime journalist and the national affairs editor for Mother Jones magazine and author of the influential book, Trigger Points: Inside The Mission to Stop Mass Shootings in America.

            I recently interviewed Follman and gained new insights about what how we can prevent male violence. You can watch the full interview here.

            Follman just wrote a new article, “The Truth About Stopping Mass Shootings, From Sandy Hook to Uvalde” which offers new insights that can help us create a more peaceful world in the coming years. He says,

“Progress begins with rejecting the longstanding narrative that mass shootings are inevitable and will never cease, a theme reliably delivered after each horrific tragedy with the political cri de coeur that ‘nothing ever changes.’ The assertion that mass shootings are an inherent feature of our reality is in its own right fueling the problem, in part by validating this form of violence in the eyes of its perpetrators, who seek justification and notoriety for their actions.”

            He goes on to say,

“Now, a decade after Sandy Hook, a spate of gun massacres in 2022—including another nightmare at an elementary school—has only further clarified how America can and should think more broadly about confronting this distressing problem.”

Preventing Male Violence Begins With New Hope and Real Facts

“A decade after Sandy Hook, a spate of gun massacres in 2022—including another nightmare at an elementary school—has only further clarified how America can and should think more broadly about confronting this distressing problem,”

says Follman.

            If we think mass shootings are an inevitable part of life and nothing can be done to prevent them, we will mourn our dead, look for someone to blame, and go back to business as usual. If we refuse to see violence as a male problem, we will fail to address issues of male hopelessness, depression, and rage.

            Mark Follman offers the following facts and some specific solutions.

  • There have been five devastating gun massacres since May 2022.
  • All five attacks—in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; Highland Park, Illinois; Colorado Springs; and at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville—were carried out by deeply troubled and aggrieved young offenders, ages 18 to 22.
  • All showed various combinations of the following warning signs ahead of time:

                                 Aggression and other behavioral and mental health troubles.

         Observable deterioration in life circumstances.

          Various forms of communicated threats.

          Focus on graphic violence, misogyny, and ideological extremism.

           Planning and preparation for the attacks.

            Follman offers following solutions:

  1. Shift away from the heavy overemphasis on active shooter response—lockdown drills and the various “target hardening” measures of physical security—to a greater emphasis on active shooter prevention.
  • Invest in mental health care and community-based violence prevention, including behavioral threat assessment programs, which can have a broader benefit of helping foster a climate of safety and well-being, from corporate and college campuses to K-12 classrooms.
  • Raise the age requirement for gun buyers from 18 to 21.
  • Expand the use of extreme risk protection orders, a policy known as red flag laws, for temporarily disarming individuals deemed through a civil court process to pose a danger to themselves or others.

Man Therapy: An Innovative Community Mental Health Program

            Man Therapy is a unique and innovative program that addresses these issues. I first heard about the work of Man Therapy when I met its founder and creator, Joe Conrad in November, 2021.

“We realized early on that if we waited until men were in crisis, we would be too late,”

says Grit Digital Health Founder and CEO, Joe Conrad.

“I have always felt that creativity, innovation, and communication could solve any challenge. From the beginning, our team set three goals for Man Therapy:

1) Break through the stigma surrounding mental health by making it approachable.

2) Encourage help-seeking behavior.

3) Reduce suicidal ideation.

“Through research, men told us to just give them the information they needed to fix themselves, so we built a website that provides a broad range of information, resources, and tools to do just that. It is extremely rewarding to know that we are accomplishing our goal of positively impacting and changing men’s lives.”

Those of us who work in the field of men’s mental health, know there is a strong relationship between violence turned outward that leads to problems like mass shootings and the violence turned inward that leads to suicide.

Man Therapy has been doing great work for some time.

“Man Therapy was launched in 2010,”

says Joe Conrad,

“and has had more than 1.5 million visits to the site. Visitors have completed 400,000 ‘head inspections’ and there have been 40,000 clicks to the crisis line.” 

A recent A CDC-funded study shows that men who access Man Therapy, as a digital mental health intervention, experience a decrease in depression and suicidal ideation, a reduction in poor mental health days, and an increase in help-seeking behavior. Additionally, this study shows that men in the Man Therapy control group reported statistically significant improved rates of engaging in formal help-seeking behaviors through tools like online treatment locator systems, making or attending a mental health treatment appointment, or attending a professionally led support group.

For more information: Man Therapy:  https://mantherapy.org/,  Mark Follman’s work: https://markfollman.com/, my free weekly newsletter, https://menalive.com/email-newsletter/.

The post If Your New Year’s Resolution Includes More Peace in the World Help Us Heal The Males appeared first on MenAlive.

Sigmund Freud said,

“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.”

I’ve always been successful in my work life, but my love life has been a challenge. I had my first job when I was eight years old. I recognized that everyone I knew sent out Christmas or holiday cards in December and I figured that I could make some money selling cards to my neighbors. I found a company that sent me a book of sample cards that people could choose from, fill in the personalized greeting they wanted, and pay me for the quantity of cards they wanted. I sent half the money to the card company and got to keep the other half. I made enough money to buy presents for family and friends and have a little left over to start the new year off right.

That led to bigger and better jobs, first as a paperboy and later I learned that I could make money buying and selling coins. At age nine I took the bus from our home in the San Fernando Valley into Hollywood to go to coin shows. When I learned that coin dealers at the shows got a discount buying coins from other dealers, I had business cards printed. “Jed Diamond, Dealer in Rare Coins” and demanded my dealer discount when I attended the next coin show.

I could go on and on about my business ventures including becoming a successful marriage and family therapist and author of seventeen books on various aspects of relationship health including international best-sellers such as Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions, my first widely read book that spoke to problems I had gone through in my personal life and what I had learned that would help others.

In Looking for Love, I said:

“When we find that our romantic relationships are a series of disappointments yet we continue to pursue them, we are looking for love in all the wrong places. When we are overwhelmed by our physical attraction to a new person, when the chemistry feels ‘fantastic,’ and we are sure that this time we have found someone who will make us whole, we are looking for love in all the wrong places. When we are in a committed relationship but find ourselves constantly attracted to others, we are looking for love in all the wrong places. When our desire for more sex, different sex, or hotter sex, keeps us looking on-line for our latest fix, we are looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Like many of you, I did my share of looking for love in all the wrong places. I even developed a mathematical representation of it. We often view marriage as a way to make us whole and complete. The formula is ½ to ½ = 1. But I learned that trying to get another person to complete you actually creates a formula for disaster: ½ x ½ = ¼.

When you visit my website you’ll see my introductory video, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.” I share what I went through with a first marriage and couldn’t survive the stresses of raising children and attempting to stimulate our flagging sex lives by exploring the world of polyamory and open marriage. My second marriage was to a woman who slept with a gun under her pillow…”to protect myself from men,” she told me, should have been a tip off to run the other way. But when you become addicted to the rush of excitement and danger, we become like confused homing pigeons flying headlong in the opposite direction and soon crash.

The 5 Stages of Love and Why Too Many Relationships Crash at Stage 3

            Rather than follow my old pattern of going through the grief of an ending, burying myself in my work, eventually getting lonely, and going out looking for love again; I tried something new. I decided to do some serious reflecting on my love life. I found a good therapist, attended a number of retreats on trauma, healing, and how we can find real lasting love, and took the time I needed to sort things out.

            Looking back, I realize I had taken the skills that allowed me to be successful at work—Learning from experts, engaging what I learned, getting support, and creating a new way of looking at my life—and applying them to my love life. I’m more than happy to report that “the third time was the charm.” Carlin and I have been together for 42 wonderful years. I wrote about what we learned in my book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come.

            We all want real, lasting love, whether we are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or beyond. Yet too many marriages fall apart and most people don’t know why. They mistakenly believe that they have chosen the wrong partner. After going through the grieving process, they start looking again. But after more than forty years as a marriage and family counselor I have found that most people are looking for love in all the wrong places. They don’t understand that Stage 3 is not the end, but the real beginning for achieving real, lasting love:

  • Stage 1: Falling In Love
  • Stage 2: Becoming a Couple
  • Stage 3: Disillusionment
  • Stage 4: Creating Real, Lasting Love
  • Stage 5: Using the Power of Two to Change the World

Like many people I grew up thinking that love and marriage were easy and straightforward. You had fun dating until you met that special someone and magically fell in love. You became a couple and lived happily ever after. Clearly, real-life wasn’t like that. After a certain amount of time, we become disillusioned with our partner and the way we are in the relationship, eventually become more distant, and eventually things break down.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way.

A Retreat for Men Who Have Gone Through a Breakup, But Want to Learn the Secrets of Real Lasting Love

            For years, I offered counseling for men who had gone through a breakup and wanted to come through the grieving process with new understandings about what went wrong and what they could do to create a better future. I also counseled women, but I seemed to attract many men. They were mostly over 40 and pretty successful in their work lives but were struggling in their love lives.

            I also offered retreats for guys who wanted to give themselves a true gift of love: Learning from one who has been there the secrets of creating an intimate partnership that not only lasts through the years but becomes better and better.

            Then Covid came to visit our world and we couldn’t do our retreats. Now, for the first time in a while, I will be offering a retreat for a small group of men. And I will be joined by two experienced colleagues, one male and one female, to give the men an experience they have never had, in a beautiful, and relaxed setting where they can learn the skills they will need to have the relationship they’ve always dreamed of having.

            The retreat will take place March 16-19, 2023 and will be for men who:

  • Have been through a breakup, which could be recent, or sometime in the past.
  • May still be going through the disorientation, pain, and confusion or may be coming through to the other side.
  • Are starting to reach out again or may even be in a new relationship.

What you have in common is that you still believe in love, but don’t have a lot of time to waste. If this sounds like you, drop me a note to Jed@Menalive.com and put “retreat” in the subject line. I will get back to you and set up a time to talk in person, to hear more about your needs, and tell you more about the retreat. We are limiting the group to 12 men so you will get the personal attention you deserve.

If this sounds like something you’d like to do or if you know someone who might like to join us, please pass this on. I look forward to hearing from you. If you are thinking “next year, I’m going to have the relationship I need and want,” 2023 could be the year for you.

The post Are You a Master at Work but a Disaster at Love? appeared first on MenAlive.

I’ve been a psychotherapist specializing in men’s mental, emotional, and relational health for more than fifty years. Until November 13, 2022 I had never heard of Dr. Phil Stutz. That was the day I received an email from my colleague, Brian Johnson, creator of Optimize and the Founder + CEO of Heroic. Brian shared information about a new documentary film called Stutz by well-known actor Jonah Hill (Moneyball and The Wolf of Wallstreet.) Brian said,

“I love Phil Stutz. He’s my coach, my Yoda, and my spiritual godfather.”

            I learned that Phil Stutz is one of the world’s leading psychiatrists and coaches—working with some of Hollywood’s most elite actors and executives over a 40+ year career. He’s also the creator of, and the bestselling author of, The Tools and Coming Alive. I bought the book and  watched the Netflix documentary. Although the film and the work of Dr. Stutz is not focused exclusively on men, I believe his approach is uniquely suited to the mental, emotional, and relational needs of men.

            “Why are you here?”  That’s the first question psychotherapist Phil Stutz asks every single one of his patients, including Jonah Hill, whose documentary focuses on the therapist he says changed his life. Unlike many therapists whose primary approach is to sit back and listen, Stutz prefers to take a more active role in the process: He says his goal is to find out what his patients truly want and give them tangible steps to get there.

            Watching the film for the first time introduced me to a man who is clearly a master therapist, but is also a man who is all too human and isn’t afraid to share his vulnerabilities as well as his wisdom with the world. I felt like I was meeting a soulmate, one who has been practicing his therapeutic artistry as long as I have, but one who has refined his art into practical tools that everyone can use to improve their lives, particularly men.

            My business card reads, “Jed Diamond, PhD: Helping men and the women who love them since 1969.” However, like Phil Stutz my work with men began much earlier. In my case, it began in 1949 when I was five years old. My father had been committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital north of our home in Los Angeles as a result of his taking an overdose of sleeping pills. My mother insisted that I accompany my Uncle Harry every Sunday to visit my father. “Your father needs you,” she said.

Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I knew, deep down inside, that it was my sacred duty to fix my father and bring him home. Of course, I failed miserably. I dutifully visited my father every Sunday for a year until it was obvious he was getting worse, not better. I still remember the last visit. As usual, my uncle took my father and me to sit in the garden outside the chaos of the “nut house.” But this time my father was agitated and afraid and wanted to go back inside. He turned to me and looked back at my uncle. “Who’s the kid Harry?” He looked pained and confused. I was crushed. Not only hadn’t I helped me, but I he didn’t even know who I was.

I grew up wondering what happened to my father and worrying constantly about when it would happen to me. I pushed my fears away, went to school, eventually earning a master’s degree in social work and a PhD in international health. My dissertation study, not surprisingly, involved preventing and treating male-type depression.

For more than fifty years I have developed a different kind of approach to healing that I believe is more conducive to helping men and their families than what is practiced by most therapists. Here is a summary of my approach:

1. Asking “what happened to you?” is a better question to guide therapy than “what is wrong with you?

Even as a child visiting my father, I heard the medical staff discussing my father’s diagnosis. Is he psychotic? Is he manic or depressive? I heard one doctor offer a diagnosis of “PPP.” It was only as an adult that I heard the term again and asked the doctor what it meant. I was told, “Piss, poor, protoplasm. Some people just have bad genes that causes their brains to malfunction.”

I’ve come to recognize that what happened to a person, the trauma and wounds we experience, and the beliefs that we form, are much more important than the diagnosis we apply to a problem.

In my father’s case, and for many men that I treat, he had become increasingly depressed because he couldn’t make a living in his chosen profession to support me and my mother. He believed that a man who couldn’t support his family isn’t a man at all.

2. Searching the past for what happened to us can uncover the source of our wounding, but insight about causes does little to change beliefs and behavior.

My first job after completing my graduate studies in 1968 was working in a drug and alcohol treatment program. The men and women we treated had a whole host of what are called “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)” and traumas. But knowledge was useless in helping a person to stop using drugs, to get connected to a higher power and tap the Life Force energies they needed, and develop healthy practices for living.

The tools we used originated with Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935 in Akron, Ohio. Deep sharing from the heart opened both up to the actions that needed to be put into practice for both to stay clean and sober.

3. The wounding that causes our problems occurs in an unhealthy human relationship and the power of healing must occur in a healthy human relationship.

During my training as a psychotherapist I remember watching an “expert psychiatrist” through a one-way mirror working with a patient in a mental hospital. After the demonstration the students met with the doctor where we were able to ask questions and receive guidance for our own eventual practice as therapists. I wanted to know why the doctor maintained rigid boundaries, would not look at the patient directly, and wouldn’t even shake his hand. The doctor explained that it was his job to allow the patient to project the problems with his past relationships with his family on to the doctor who should act as a blank screen for the patient’s troubled feelings.

In my mind this artificial structure took away any kind of human healing that could occur and was a lousy model for a healthy relationship. The rigid separation between the “doctor” and the “patient” needed to be bridged. Both needed to share their story and be listened to with an open mind and heart.

4. Healing is most effective when there is a three-part relationship between two human beings and the infinite healing power of the universe.

Even today most psychotherapy is seen as occurring between an “expert” healer and the “patient” or “client” who comes to get healed. Over the years, it is evident to me that healing is a team sport. I may be the designated healer, the one who gets paid, but the healing process occurs for both of us. I learn as much from my clients as they learn from me, maybe more. Together we are able to tap into a third healing forth, I think about as “Source,” “Higher Power,” or what Phil Stutz calls the “Life Force.” Together, we can make change for good.

I describe the healing process as a partnership between three Ss (Source, Self, Someone else).

Man Therapy and The Moonshot for Mankind

            A year ago I invited a group of colleagues who had been working in the field of men’s mental, emotional, and relational health to join me in creating a Moonshot for Mankind. One of the men I invited was Joe Conrad, who had created an innovative healing program called “Man Therapy.” Together we’ve been meeting this year to bring the issues of men’s health to the forefront of awareness and to share programs for change with the world.

Man Therapy in an innovative suicide prevention and mental health program for working-aged men. Designed as a comprehensive public awareness campaign, Man Therapy uses humor to connect with men, break through stigma, and take action with life-saving tools. The innovative campaign and 24/7 digital platform encourage men to think differently about mental health and take action before ever reaching a point of crisis.

We need more programs like Man Therapy and the work that Dr. Stutz is leading. Healing men is good for men, women, children, and the planet we all share. You can learn more about the work at MenAlive.com. You can join our mailing list to receive our free weekly newsletter and get weekly articles on men’s, women’s, and community health.  

The post Man Therapy, Dr. Phil Stutz, and a New Healing for Mankind appeared first on MenAlive.

When I began medical school in 1965 I had a vague notion that I wanted to become a healer and a subconscious desire to help men. It soon became clear that the medical education at U.C. San Francisco was more  limited than I had hoped and I transferred to U.C. Berkeley where I eventually received a master’s degree in social work. During my three years in graduate school, I not only broadened by knowledge of the psychological, interpersonal, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of health, I also better understood my interest in men’s health.

            I was five years old when my father took an overdose of sleeping pills because, as I would learn later, he had become increasingly depressed because he couldn’t make a living doing what he loved to support his family. He was committed to the state mental hospital in Camarillo, north of our home in Los Angeles. It is the same hospital where the 1948 movie, The Snake Pit, starring Olivia de Havilland, was filmed. I still remember the terror I felt going every Sunday with my uncle to visit my father in 1949. Over the year I went, I watched as his depression worsened and his mental health declined.

            I grew up wondering what happened to my father, whether it would happen to me and what I could do to help other men and their families. I graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 1968 and started MenAlive in 1969 following the birth of our first son. I became a psychotherapist and soon specialized in working with men and their families. After practicing for 34 years, I returned to graduate school and earned a PhD in International Health in 2008, at age 65 (we joked that my “retirement” party was also my coming-out party as a doctor.) My dissertation study, published with the title, Male vs. Female Depression: How Men Act Out and Women Act In, answered many of the questions I had been wrestling with since childhood and expanded my focus on gender-specific health care.

The Emerging Field of Gender-Specific Medicine and Health Care

            Marianne J. Legato, MD, is an internationally renowned academic, physician, author and lecturer. She pioneered the new field of gender-specific medicine. She is a Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Dr. Legato is also the founder and director of the Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, which she created in 2006.

            In her 2002 book, Eve’s Rib: The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine and How It Can Save Our Life, she says,

Eve’s Rib is not just about women’s health, but about the health of both sexes and the new science of gender-specific medicine. Until now, we’ve acted as though men and women are essentially identical except for the differences in reproductive function. In fact, information we’ve been gathering over the past ten years tells us that this is anything but true, and that everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their normal function but in the ways they experience illness.”

            Although Dr. Legato’s first book focused more on women’s health, her subsequent books expanded her focus to men. Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget was published in 2008 and explored the ways men and women are different and how those differences impact our relationships. She acknowledges the ways in which discussing sex and gender differences can be misunderstood.

“I have taken a number of risks in writing this book,”

says Dr. Legato,

“and I wish to acknowledge them right at the outset. For instance, there is a tremendous risk in categorizing certain behaviors as ‘male’ or ‘female,’ as I do throughout the book. There is a cautionary skit in Free to Be You and Me in which two babies (played to great effect by Marlo Thomas and Mel Brooks) argue about whether they’re boys or girls. Boys can keep secrets, and they’re not afraid of mice, so the Mel Brooks baby, who can’t and is, must definitely be a girl—right? The debate continues until the nurse comes to change their diapers, which settles the matter once and for all.”

            Legato obviously was willing to take the risks. She concluded in the book’s introduction,

“Whatever speculation I have engaged in over the course of the pages that follow is in the service of a larger concept: the ideas that, whatever our differences, there is much that men and women can learn from one another.”

            Dr. Legato is not the only clinician and researcher to take the risk to tackle sex and gender issues. There are many, including David C. Page, MD. Dr. Page is professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and director of the Whitehead Institute, where he has a laboratory devoted to the study of the Y-chromosome. 

“It has been said that our genomes are 99.9% identical from one person to the next,”

says Dr. Page.

“It turns out that this assertion is correct as long as the two individuals being compared are both men. It’s also correct if the two individuals being compared are both women. However, if you compare the genome of a man with the genome of a woman, you’ll find that they are only 98.5% identical. In other words, the genetic difference between a man and a woman are 15 times greater than the genetic difference between two men or between two women.” 

            Dr. Page, like Dr. Legato, demonstrates that even small differences can be important.

“There are 10 trillion cells in human body and every one of them is sex specific,”

says Dr. Page.  

“So, all your cells know on a molecular level whether they are XX or XY. It is true that a great deal of the research going on today which seeks to understand the causes and treatments for disease is failing to account for this most fundamental difference between men and women. The study of disease is flawed.”

            In looking ahead to the future of gender-specific healthcare, Dr. Paige is hopeful.

“Here’s what I think. We need to build a better tool kit for researchers that is XX and XY informed rather than our current gender-neutral stance. We need a tool kit that recognizes the fundamental difference on a cellular, organ, system, and person level between XY and XX. I believe that if we do this, we will arrive at a fundamentally new paradigm for understanding and treating human disease.”

Man Therapy: A New Approach For Addressing Men’s Health Issues

            When I began working in the field of Gender-Specific Medicine and Men’s Health, there were very few programs that addressed the unique health issues facing males. Now there are many. One of the new programs that I feel is making a positive difference in the world is Man Therapy. I first heard about the work of Man Therapy when I met its founder and creator, Joe Conrad in November, 2021.

“We realized early on that if we waited until men were in crisis, we would be too late,”

says Grit Digital Health Founder and CEO, Joe Conrad.

“I have always felt that creativity, innovation, and communication could solve any challenge. From the beginning, our team set three goals for Man Therapy:

1) Break through the stigma surrounding mental health by making it approachable.

2) Encourage help-seeking behavior.

3) Reduce suicidal ideation.

“Through research, men told us to just give them the information they needed to fix themselves, so we built a website that provides a broad range of information, resources, and tools to do just that. It is extremely rewarding to know that we are accomplishing our goal of positively impacting and changing men’s lives.”

Man Therapy has been doing great work for some time.

“Man Therapy was launched in 2010,”

says Joe Conrad,

“and has had more than 1.5 million visits to the site. Visitors have completed 400,000 ‘head inspections’ and there have been 40,000 clicks to the crisis line.” 

A recent A CDC-funded study shows that men who access Man Therapy, as a digital mental health intervention, experience a decrease in depression and suicidal ideation, a reduction in poor mental health days, and an increase in help-seeking behavior. Additionally, this study shows that men in the Man Therapy control group reported statistically significant improved rates of engaging in formal help-seeking behaviors through tools like online treatment locator systems, making or attending a mental health treatment appointment, or attending a professionally led support group.

Dr. Jodi Frey, chief investigator of the study, concluded,

“Interventions that can be offered online and scaled up to reach men throughout communities, including workplaces, are important additions to comprehensive suicide prevention programming.”

Dr. Frey goes on to say,

“Web-based resources, such as Man Therapy, can play an important role in suicide prevention to engage men in considering risk and help-seeking, and this study shows that programs like Man Therapy should be part of a comprehensive, community-based intervention to reduce suicide and depression risk and increase resilience.”

The world needs better approaches to health care for both men and women. A gender-specific approach, I believe, will become standard care for men and women throughout the world.

You can learn more about Man Therapy at https://mantherapy.org/.  You can learn more about my own trainings and upcoming events at https://menalive.com/.

The post Man Therapy: Why Gender-Specific Health Care is Good for Men, Women and The World appeared first on MenAlive.

Newer Posts