Friday, February 5, 2010

Being Shaped By Her, Part Two

The reshaping, or retraining, of the husband/boyfriend is foundational to the female-led lifestyle, whether the regimen is self-imposed by the man or at the behest of the woman.

But hubby makeovers, whether mild or extreme, are part of most marriages, not just the wife-led variety. What bride doesn’t envision at least tinkering with the big lug she’s hitched to her wagon? Which bride hasn’t a list of guy things that need fixing (or nixing altogether) post-nupt?

After all, most guys need whipping into shape by women, since we come clueless, by and large, first into the state of matrimony, then into father- and family-hood. We are clueless, too (if I may generalize), about social etiquette and other refinements of civilized society outside of tailgating and guy-talk.

This renders most males, as far as eligible females are concerned, as works in progress, or fixer-upper houses with possibilities but plenty of problems.

So “Changing Male Behavior,” as discussed in other posts, is not just one feature of the female-led relationship. It is at the very core, written into the founding documents, either figuratively or literally. The process may be incremental and insidious, or dramatic and sudden. But it will take place.

“Females are taught by society that it is not right to want to change the male, and that even if it were ethical, it can't be done anyway,” one such wife wrote. “This is a lie, foisted upon females by our prevailing patriarchal society. Male behavior will change and improve dramatically when the woman…”

When the woman does what exactly? Well, we’ll get to what a woman might do to facilitate those little improvements in a moment. But first let’s look at all this female tinkering under hubby’s hood from the staunchly male point of view. Typically, or stereotypically, guys are supposed to resent this kind of female meddling with their personalities, or habits, or behaviors, or quirks, or taste in casual clothes, or favorite adolescent breakfast cereal. And many guys do resent this female litany of their shortcomings, and fight it tooth and nail, while giving ground, inch by inch and mile by mile, like a vanquished army in slow retreat.

But men in wife-led marriages , or working toward that blissful state, do not resist the invasive or pervasive influence of their wives, or at least try not to resist. They have decided to let the reshaping process proceed—according to her design and her timetable.

Maybe more husbands should adopt this point of view. Here’s a cautionary tale, told me by a middle-aged Latina about her own father, who resisted for decades his wife’s attempts to make him go to Mass with the family.

Then this devout lady got an inoperable cancer in her late ‘40s and was suddenly taken from him and her children. After burying his wife, the woman told me, her father has never once missed Sunday Mass. It is there, in church, praying and taking Communion, that he feels her presence most near.

A touching story. And the moral, I would say, is don’t wait for it to be too late to do the right thing. Or, even more specific, to do what your wife asks or pleads with you to do. Do what she says now!

The reshaping process works, as Napoleon Hill commented (in his book Think and Grow Rich, and it works for self-improvement like no other incentive. Women have the “power which has done more to help men achieve success than all other forces combined.”

In Chapter 7 of my book, “Bonus Points: Motivational Magic,” I quote husbands and wives on the success of these wife-inspired marital makeovers—guys losing weight, stopping smoking, getting fit, getting promotions, sometimes with positive, sometimes with negative incentives (yes, punishments involved).

Nowadays you can find FLR blogs where hubby’s progress is documented, where Coach Wife is helping him get to goal weight, kick a nasty habit (smoking, net porn, “wanking in the loo,” etc.).

There are wives who up the ante on their hubby training in various ways (far beyond the purview of this blog), and husbands who willingly submit to these intense regimens. Think Rocky Balboa, out doing his predawn roadwork, with Adrian driving alongside, shouting in a megaphone.

As one wife comments, “Modifying his behavior can take months or even years of loving manipulation, but it is SO worth it!”

A deeper level of male behavior modification is espoused on the DreamLover Laborataories site, a process they call “Identity Reframing.” The idea, explained elsewhere in these pages, is to “get the man to feel pride, rather than shame, in serving his wife, in private or public.”
As the author, Kathrin Cohen, explains it: “No male expects you to deliberately try to change his self image. After all, all his subsequent actions will be self-directed and require no intervention from you. He will never suspect that you have been ‘customizing’ the mental mechanisms that are making all the decisions for him.”

If this smacks somewhat of getting Rover to roll over, you’re getting the message. Many female-authored FLR websites you will see links to various books and articles on how animal training techniques can be successfully employed on husbands and boyfriends. You’ll find no-nonsense titles like these:
How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less Using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers by Karen Salmansohn
The Boyfriend Training Kit by Tanya Sassoon
Husband-ry 101, How to Train Your Husband to Be the Spouse You've Always Wanted Him to Be by Michael H. McCann
Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor
The New Bride’s Guide to Training Her Husband by Emily and Ken Addison
What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers by Amy Sutherland

And, of course, the sagacious Fumika Misato, goes into considerable depth on behavioral or operant conditioning of the male on her seminal website, Real Women Don’t Do Housework.

Does this sort of wife-administered Pavlovian regimen work? Apparently so, at least according to this guy: “It is strange that, while I don't really want the various kinds of punishment my wife delivers, at the same time I can't think of a better feedback mechanism to improve my general behavior and performance of my duties.”

End of Part Two (one more to go!)


Peter said...

A fascinating and useful essay! Looking forward to part three!

The Empress and Bobbi

Mark Remond said...

Peter, Thanks for your supportive comment. I just took a look at your book page of Lulu, The Empress Arises ( and can't wait to download it. Clearly you and the Empress are far ahead on the Wife-Led Marriage path, but I hope I can learn. I hope to hear more from you and the Empress... and, yes, I'll be sure to post Part 3 even more quickly now.