What do you mean each man must hold on to his N.U.T.s?
Before we can be the man we want to be, before we can move toward being a better father and husband and friend, we need to know who we are, what defines us as a man, what we’re committed to. For that we need to develop and hold on to our non-negotiable, unalterable terms or N.U.T.s.
What happens when men don’t hold on to their N.U.T.s?
When we don’t, we are likely to lose them, compromise them, give our power away, and then become angry. And we become resentful of those closest to us, blaming them for what we were willing to compromise. To have a successful long-term relationship, you’ve got to know and hold on to your N.U.T.s.
What are some examples of N.U.T.s?
Here are a few examples of what men in our BetterMen community have developed that define the men they want to be.
Compassion for my family trumps my need to be right.
I am faithful to my wife.
I seek validation only from men.
I do not ask for permission.
I do not indulge my addictions.
I exercise regularly.
I honor my daily spiritual practice.
I do not hide out at work to avoid issues at home.
In Hold On to Your N.U.T.s, you put forward eight tools to help men be happy in their successful, long-term relationships. Please share one with us.
The first thing men need to do is to silence their little boy. This is the sad, angry, resentful little guy who didn’t get what he needed or thought he needed as a little boy. Now he’s a grown man but behaving like that wounded, entitled little boy. Women in long-term relationships know what I’m talking about. Men need to stop stomping their feet as they make their way through life.
One of your tools is “Don’t argue.” Easier said than done?
Sure, but it’s easier to do than most men would first believe. There are reasons why men argue with their women. But in order for men to become aware of those reasons, they have to shut up first. Not arguing allows men the opportunity to feel what’s happening for them in that moment, that nanosecond between her saying something and his reacting. A lot is happening in that moment. When the arguing stops, something else has to take place. I encourage men to trust this piece of wisdom long enough to see what happens.
Why is this the right time to be a voice for a new men’s movement?
We need leaders. Men need leaders who can show them how to be better men, how to get the support they need, how to develop closer relationships with each other, and how to be better husbands and fathers. I don’t see this as a movement, this just needs to be an integral part of our culture. All of us need support. All of us need a voice. And so do men. When our men get what they need, they will be more available to be more loving, generous, caring, and supportive. And that will benefit everyone.
You also say men should run the sex and romantic departments. How so?
How so? I mean run it, own it, love it. It’s your job. Romance got you into the relationship and romance is what will keep you wanting to stay in and her wanting to be with you. This tool is so critical and it’s probably the hardest one for most men to integrate into their relationships. But once men accept responsibility for sex and romance, relationships turn around.
You say men should feel they can get help. Why don’t they feel this way?
Seems like the only available place for men to get help is at a therapist’s office. That suggests there’s something wrong with them, that they’re sick. What man wants that label? So, most men don’t reach out unless they’re clobbered. This shame keeps men isolated and just compounds everyone’s pain. As I say, men are stuck in their own stuff. It takes the help of other men to get them unstuck. That’s the purpose of our work.
You emphasize that men must develop trusting relationships with men. How would they go about doing this?
They can start with close buddies and share what’s REALLY going on and ask for their help. Seek out a men’s center or a male mentor or counselor. Or do a men’s weekend like our BetterMen Weekend. It’s a great way to kick-start the process. It’s not easy but it is vital for us to develop trusting relationships with other like-minded men if we want to be the best men, fathers and husbands we can be.
So this is different from having a drinking buddy or someone to play cards with?
Yeah, we initiate men into manhood. That’s what happens in this work. When we become initiated men, we take off the mask, we stop competing with each other and begin helping each other as only men can do for one another. Buddies are great. But imagine having buddies who can also be there for each other no matter what the circumstances. That’s what men need.
How can a man become a better father?
By becoming a better man. What primarily keeps us from being the best fathers we can be, is our own stuff, our unresolved issues with our dads, our resentments towards our mothers that leak out onto our wives and create tension in our homes. When men get fathered by other good men, they are able to then go home and give that fathering to their kids.
You suggest a man should take a N.A.P. when it comes to taking care of his wife. What’s that?
Notice, acknowledge and praise. We get complacent. Romance shouldn’t always begin and end at the florist. It can happen at anytime when we take a moment to let her know that we appreciate what she did, how she looks, how she was with the kids, and how loving she was with your folks, whatever. When we notice, acknowledge and praise, we’re just doing our jobs and letting her know that she’s our girl.
You say that it wasn’t until you developed trusting relationships with men that you truly began to heal and to understand what your pain was about. Why?
There was a longing I felt. I would see other men and I’d feel lonely. I would go through bouts of sadness or doubt and have no one but my wife to talk to about it. She loves me and has listened more than any wife should have to, but her good wishes weren’t enough to guide me, to help me see what I had to do to move past a tough spot. When I finally did my first men’s event and began meeting weekly with men, everything changed.
Why do you believe men fear their women?
I’ve worked with a lot of men who are seemingly fighting for their lives in their relationships. They’ll either argue to protect themselves, or they’ll run and hide to avoid confrontation. They don’t know how to be men in their relationships and so they’re afraid of losing themselves, of either getting angry again, or hearing once more how they’re not measuring up. This runs deep in men, but it can change when they get support from other men.
What world does modern day man face today-what are his challenges and burdens?
When each man gets the mentoring he needs, he’s better equipped to be a better and more loving father and husband; he’s more capable of being a more understanding and productive employee or boss. When men do this work and have the courage to ask for help, only good things come from it. All I know is that when more men find their N.U.T.s and do this important work, it’ll be a better world.
Do you think men need rehabilitation?
That sounds as if men are damaged. I don’t think most men are damaged or in need of a diagnosis. What men are missing are some very important tools needed to be happy as men and successful in their relationships. Hold On to Your N.U.T.s is a relationship manual for men that gives them the mentoring and the guidance most of us didn’t receive from our dads. The work we do is really about fathering each other. That’s what we men need, to be fathered.
Do men live in a woman’s world?
I can tell you that if men don’t have a firm grasp of their N.U.T.s, their non-negotiable, unalterable terms, it’ll feel as if they’re living by someone else’s rules. And that’s a recipe for resentment and anger. Men who are not clear about who they are as men, what they’re committed to and what they stand for, will easily acquiesce to others, giving away their power. Most often, they give their power away to women.
How can men take back control of their lives?
Although men feel out of control, it isn’t really about control. It’s about getting comfortable with themselves as men and allowing themselves the opportunity to define their terms, their N.U.T.s. When a man has a firm grasp of his N.U.T.s, he’s being more the man he wants to be. When that happens, he’s more available for his family, more capable of making good decisions, and better at not allowing his little boy emotions to run the show.
Why do most men resist coaching or fail to get the help they seek?
We men have been socialized to handle it ourselves. We compete and that competition encourages us to be strong, to not show weakness. Vulnerability has become a bad word to men. But being vulnerable with each other—other men—is precisely what we need to be. When we do the work and build trust with other men who are equally committed to doing this important work, we begin to change. Men stop feeling like little boys and start feeling like the men they are.
Why are men unhappy, even when successful?
We’ve been conditioned to believe that success means money, possessions, and status. Eventually, men realize that money isn’t doing the trick. Something’s missing. They feel it as resentment, loneliness, anger, sadness, numbness, anxiety and depression. Men are missing that close connection with other men. With those strong relationships, men are able to figure out what they need to do next to be better fathers, husbands and happier men.
You say some men need to be “fathered.” How so?
We all need to be fathered. Being sons of fathers is something we all have in common. And no matter what our relationship is or was with our dads, it has informed our attitudes about ourselves, about women and about other men. I think most men have that sense of needing to be fathered, but have no idea where to go to get it.
Why do women try to “fix” the men they are with?
Good women can see what their men need. I can’t tell you how many times when working with men that I hear, “Oh, my wife has told me that for years.” It’s frustrating for our women. But sometimes men can’t hear what their wives want them to hear, what they need to hear. That’s why we need the men. It’s easier for us to take in the wisdom, advice and even ass-kicking from men we trust. And then we can take it home and do a better job.
You lost your dad at a young age. How did this impact you?
At the time, not much attention was paid to the potential impact on my life. But looking back, I can see that my dad’s death, and my need to heal that wound, has led me to the work I do. I didn’t have a father so I had to ask for help. That’s how I’ve made progress in healing that wound. And that’s what we teach men to do for each other because whether our dads were there, not there, living or dead, we all have that father wound to confront. It’s something that connects us all as men.
He quickly helped me see how the things that were going wrong in my life were really things I could put under my control. – Art