There’s a heart-breaking story I hear over and over again from married men.
It sounds exactly like this.
I’ve been reading your stuff for a while now. The way you talk about confidence, masculine power and mojo has made me realize something. And it pisses me off!
Before I got married I WAS that guy. I was calm, relaxed and confident with women. I didn’t need women to make me feel good and I was totally comfortable in my own skin. I had my share of beautiful women and wild nights. I never worried what they thought of me. I didn’t get into arguments and I wasn’t rattled by anything. I slept great. I was in great shape. I was happy. I had my swagger!
And now…I’ve lost it. I’ve lost it all.
I don’t know how or why but I feel like I’m nervous as a cat and walking on eggshells all the time. I see myself bugging my wife for attention and reassurance and I hate what I see.
But I can’t stop. I’m feeling uncertain and insecure about my marriage and myself. And I wonder if she is creating new relationships.
I walk through the door and I turn into a “mush pile”.
I think I’m probably pushing her away and I don’t know how to stop.
I want the “old me” back.
Does This Sound Familiar?
If you’re reading this saying, “Damn, I could have written that word for word”, you are not alone.
It’s incredibly common for married men to feel like they’ve lost the mojo they once had.
Because the mojo they once had was a different kind of mojo!
The cocky confidence and self-reliance we feel before we’re in a committed romantic relationship comes from a different place. It comes from confidence in what we’re learning and the skills we are honing.
“Single man mojo” (never before married) is typically driven by feelings of competency and worthiness generated by what we know and what we do.
In other words, we feel smart, capable, competent and pleased with ourselves.
If the story above resonates with you, you’re not feeling very smart, capable, competent or pleased right now, are you?
In fact, you may be feeling the opposite.
Dazed, inadequate, clumsy and unhappy might be more like it. Then sprinkle on top a little bit of anger, resentment and blame.
It’s the perfect storm for making a guy wonder if it’s all worth it.
Life used to be so much easier.
The Missing Link in the Married Man’s Mojo
It’s easy to be fooled when we’re operating within our single man mojo. We are constantly validated with attention, praise, respect and appreciation for what we know and what we do.
This applies especially at work and on dates with women who are impressed by our status, our social and financial value and our obvious self-confidence. When we’re operating in this mode, we don’t have to think about who we are being.
This is because what we know and what we do has already earned us the toxic external validation we crave. This validation is our only measure of adequacy, desirability and “good enoughness”. It’s toxic because it is like cocaine for the insecure man.
Without an internal source of validation he will end up overdosing on the external validation which causes him to believe his own bullshit. He thinks he is better than he is.
Then he gets married. And he tries to play the same game.
His addiction to external validation then becomes a toxic neediness. His wife can’t stand it. And it makes him feel like a dazed and confused “mush pile”.
Here’s the missing link.
The only thing that will make you feel truly capable, competent and pleased is an indubitable awareness of your own value – that you are BEING the man you want to be without needing her to validate that for you.
Your romantic partner becomes quickly unimpressed by what you know and what you do. Those are slam dunks for you and she knows it.
If you continue your validation seeking behavior from her she will turn away. She will feel disgusted. Worse yet, she will feel uncertain about you. Even worse, she will lose her respect for you.
Your bad ass intelligence and mad money-making skills are no longer enough.
She wants to feel your unshaken commitment to being the man you’re proud of. This is the only path to her feeling genuine respect and appreciation for you.
That includes being present.
Being self-aware. Being empathetic.
Being considerate. Being firm in your values.
Being a man of your word. Being consistent.
Most importantly, it includes being a self-reliant man who operates to his own drummer no matter who is watching. He has non-negotiable boundaries and is willing to stand up for himself no matter the outcome.
Bottom Line – You Can’t Fill a Cup with Holes in the Bottom
Most men want attention, praise, respect and appreciation in their marriage. We want to feel like that “cup” is topped off frequently.
And while we are unapologetic about wanting our partner to contribute to that cup, she can’t be the primary provider.
If our cup is already “leaky” with holes of insecurity and self-doubt, she stands no chance of keeping it full. Her affection and appreciation runs out the bottom faster than she can fill it. So we’ll keep going back to her for a refill. And the effort will soon exhaust her.
We have to do the inner work necessary to provide a water-tight container of self-respect and self-affirmation. When that cup is always over half-full we feel less needy and we’re able to give respect and affirmation much easier. It’s the authentic giving from that cup that makes reciprocation effortless for our partner.
This is the kind of mojo I’m talking about. It’s self-propelled by living in accordance with our own values and our own rules.
It’s not sourced from our intellect or our skill set.
It comes from an unconditional, unapologetic and crystal clear intention of being the best version of ourselves first.
If you’re a man who is ready to build a strong container of self-respect and create the relationship you want, I wrote a free resource to help you. Download The Hard-to-Swallow Secret to Saving Your Marriage by clicking HERE now.
Photo: Nathan Colquhoun/Flickr