Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alpha Move: Master Of The Hall

While the virtues of domesticity in a wife cannot be overstated, the ability to create and nurture a home is only one side of the equation.  The ability to share and express this carefully-wrought, cherished domesticity with others is also a key component of a good Red Pill marriage.  If your wife is domestic enough to make a comfortable and warm home for your family, then you have an obligation to properly present her accomplishment with a proper display of hospitality.

Hospitality as a virtue has been de-emphasized in most corners of the western world.  That’s a shame, as hospitality as a core masculine concept has been around since antiquity.  Zeus Pater was the god of hospitality in the ancient world.  Of course this was more important when a journey of a hundred miles might take months, and your survival might depend upon the hospitality of strangers.  A vow of hospitality made to Zeus between two men from different countries was sometimes symbolized by breaking a coin or votive disc and giving one half to each man.  To break hospitality with someone so sworn was to invite divine disaster.

Growing up in the American Southeast gave me an interesting perspective on hospitality, particularly around the holidays.  Thanksgiving and Christmas in the South are often elaborate affairs, excuses to flaunt prosperity and achievement, renew family ties, gossip, show off children and grandchildren, and generally affirm social position.  At the heart of this effort is the opening of your home to valued friends, family and colleagues and demonstrating your ability to be genuinely gracious and hospitable.

Many men consider this responsibility a chore, a tedious exercise in filial bullshit and social posturing that they too often come out the poorer for.  That is because they do not understand the full implications of this display, either socially or within their marriage.  They do not realize the valuable potential for buffing their Alpha through being perceived – by their wives and everyone else – as Master of the Hall.

When a couple opens up their home to entertain there are certain areas that must be seen to: food, drink, facilities, entertainment.  And while most dudes are content with a bag of chips and a keg, a big screen television, and a working toilet for their comfort, the goal of hospitality is not just feeding and entertaining people, it’s a high level social display.

As every wife knows (or should) when you have people over you are inviting them to inspect and judge you.  And as every wife knows, forestalling that judgment by not entertaining doesn’t postpone that judgment indefinitely, it cements it.  By entertaining well and demonstrating a sincere home and a gracious hospitality you help boost your wife’s position in the Matrix . . . and properly done that can raise your relative SR in her eyes tremendously.

How do you go about this?  Start by refusing to be a victim of the holidays and embrace your role as host.  Yes, that means a lot of ass-busting work on your part, but lazy isn’t ALPHA.  Pitch into the pre-event cleaning with dedication and thoroughness.  If nothing else, hearing how your wife spent a week cleaning and you didn’t lift a finger isn’t going to do you any favors in the bedroom.  Figure out what needs to be done in terms of repair and cleaning and handle your business.

Cultivating a proactive, not reactive attitude toward the event will give you an advantage.  If you know that the four areas of hospitality – food, drink, comfort and entertainment – are involved, you plan accordingly.


A bag of chips might be appropriate for a football game, but it’s actually quite easy to impress your guests with your table without expending dozens of hours in the kitchen.  If neither one of you cook, then relying on catering instead of serving a trainwreck of a buffet or dinner might be less dramatic of a presentation, but it does demonstrate class and attention to detail.  More importantly it places the comfort of your guests at the forefront.  Practically speaking, few of us can devote the time, knowledge, and resources to creating delicious, well-presented food from scratch and remain at all charming.  (I can, but I am an aberration).  In a pinch, you can focus on one or two signature dishes and buy the rest.

Your menu selection is important, regardless of whether you made it or bought it.  Ensure that there are at least a few all-vegetarian dishes available.  For bonus points or a diverse crowd, make certain you have at least one Kosher and Vegan dish prepared.  This need not be extensive.  A fruit or pickle plate and an all-vegetable casserole is easy enough to prepare or procure.

Presentation is at least as important.  Nothing demonstrates your dedication to hospitality more than your willingness to present your food in an attractive and pleasing manner.  “First we eat with our eyes”, so make sure your food is pretty, attractively displayed, and fresh.  At Stately Ironwood Manor we garnish.  Everything.  We’re just that way.

But the plate it’s on is as important to presentation as the scallions on top, so don’t hesitate to get out the good china for the occasion.  Hell, that’s what it is there for.  Use serving platters for meats, attractive serving bowls for food and wicker baskets for breads and such.  Invest in some cloth napkins to dress your table, and for the sake of all the gods of hospitality get a decent tablecloth.

Ensure that each dish has the appropriate serving utensil and make sure that the plates, napkins and silverware are in close proximity.  Also make certain there is a place for trash nearby and a clear spot for dirty dishes.  Never let any item on your table get below 1/3 empty before removing it, or moving it to a smaller container.  Make certain salt and pepper (and hot sauce, should the occasion demand) are also available.

If it is a full buffet, make sure that the traffic flow is managed and that everyone gets what they need in correct order.  If it is light hors d'oeuvres or snacks, keep the area from looking like a bomb went off by checking it regularly.  And keep the trash and dishes from piling up.  If that means you need to jump into the kitchen to wash a few real quick, everyone will understand.


Almost as important as the food at your event is your beverage selection.  The soft drink side of this is relatively easy: soda, diet soda, caffeine-free soda, water.  Add in lemonade if there will be children present and iced tea if you live in the South.  Coffee, tea, and hot cocoa should be available as well, as needed, particularly in cooler weather. Coffee should be freshly made with sugar, artificial sweetener, and cream available.  Making a pot of decaf, particularly late in the day, is often recommended.

Make sure you have enough glasses, and have extra disposable cups at hand just in case.  Stock napkins aplenty, and keep coasters at hand.  People will judge you about coasters, and you don’t want to hear about a tiny detail like that for the rest of the season.  Get some damn coasters.  Running out of ice is never a good sign, so make sure you have a cooler of it in reserve.

Hard drinks are another matter.  One can go broke with an open bar, particularly if one has my in-laws.  Ensuring that you have Scotch, Rum, Tequila, Bourbon, etc. is an expensive prospect.  What I usually do is mix up a big batch of a signature cocktail ahead of time and then provide a small but select number of other spirits for people who want something in particular.  Add one good beer and a few bottles each of red and white wine.  Keep the white chilled, the red at room temperature.


This realm involves the comfort of your guests.  That begins in the bathroom, where you have ensured that there is a goodly supply of toilet paper and all incriminating prescriptions have been removed from the
medicine cabinet.  Cotton balls, tissues, and an empty trash can, along with discreetly concealed feminine hygiene products, are all mandatory.  Towels and extra towels should be provided, and make sure you get out the good soap.  Clear away toothbrushes, deodorant and other personal items.

Make sure you have a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand, and for that matter get a cheap sewing kit, glasses repair kit, and that you have the following drugs on hand: Immodium, Benedryl, AZO Standard,  aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, pseudophedrine.  Ensure that you have a private place for someone to nurse or change a baby, a place for coats to be securely held, and that the thermostat is set at a decent level.  Having a quiet place someone can lay down is also recommended.

If possible, see to the ambiance of your place by starting a fire in the fireplace.  Nothing projects warmth like fire.  Candles, too, add to the effect.  If your guests smoke, make sure you have a decent place for them to do so outside, with a convenient place for their butts.

Never argue or fight in front of your guests.  When you are Master of the Hall, then you deal with your conflicts in private, or postpone them.  Do not undermine the appearance that you are the perfect couple by trying to enlist your guests in your private issues.  Nothing makes a guest more uncomfortable.


This is a bit more difficult, because it is subtle.  If your guests are sports oriented then having a game on in the background is going to make them feel more at home.  Just keep the volume low, unless the game is the focus of the evening.  If they are more arts oriented, then consider something with a broader appeal, if you have to have the television on at all.  Or, if you lack a fireplace of your own, consider putting a video of a fireplace on your television.  Even electronic fire projects the illusion of warmth.

Music is almost mandatory.  Keep the volume low and the tunes soft and non-distracting. Stay away from anything controversial or discordant.


If you have kids, this is a no-brainer.  If you don’t, be sure you have a few kid-oriented activities (coloring books, crayons, videogames, etc.) to occupy their time, and be sure to have kid-friendly snacks and beverages at hand.  And no, Bloody Mary Mix is not an acceptable child-friendly beverage.

Time Management

The temptation exists to either spend all of your time with your guests or all of your time keeping the party running, but you should alternate both in fifteen minute cycles.  Spend a quarter hour handling maintenance – toilet paper and ice check, dishes, glasses, trash, etc. Then spend a quarter hour greeting and mingling with guests by yourself.  A quarter-hour back on maintenance, and then a quarter-hour mingling at your wife’s side.

That’s an important point: a woman’s role in the Female Social Matrix is established in part by how secure her marriage is.  Being demonstrably affectionate and united in purpose, jovial and visibly happy in each others’ company, you build her position in the Matrix.  Ignoring your wife allows her to be targeted by unscrupulous guests, so don’t be afraid to mate-guard if necessary.


There comes a point where the party is decidedly over . . . but there are always one or two lingerers.  If they’re close friends, get them to help with the cleanup.  If they aren’t, offer to call them a cab.  In extreme situations you may offer them a place to crash and sleep it off, but try to avoid that unless you can’t in good conscience send them out into the world.

These are just a few suggestions for having a Very Alpha Holiday Season, if you’re a Red Pill husband.  Demonstrating your value through your ability to successfully host a social even can pay huge dividends on the marital front.

But every party also carries the risk of drama.  Don’t let that scare you.  How you deal with adversity is one of the things she admires about you . . . and it’s your damn house.  If you want to throw your  drunk-ass brother-in-law out, go ahead.

There’s nothing Beta about that.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Wife Test: Domesticity

It’s amazing how many women don’t really understand that “wife” is a job description, not a title.

One of the key components of being a wife is being a homemaker.  That isn’t to say that housework therefore is her responsibility, only that one of the things a man seeks and finds value in when he is looking for his wife is someone with whom he can make a home.  Even in our post-industrial take-out culture a man wants to feel that he’s coming home to his wife, not going to the apartment where he sleeps with his roommate.

Many women these days, thanks to feminism’s dark shadow, have equated domesticity with slavery, for some reason.  They look with disdain on their grandmothers and great-grandmothers who saw value in building a home fit to raise children in.  As women have entered and come to dominate the workforce, they proudly eschew the domestic skills that are their maternal legacy in favor of corporate achievement and “personal fulfillment”. 

But a man who is serious about taking a wife wants a wife worth taking.  And a woman who cannot manifest her domesticity is a poor bet for the position, regardless of how hot she is or how impressive her resume is.

What is domesticity?  Simply put, it’s the discipline and art of building and developing a comfortable and attractive home for your family.  It is a task shared between husband and wife, ideally speaking, but just as a husband’s primary duty is to secure the home, the wife’s primary duty is to make it worth securing.  That doesn’t mean scanning Pinterest for hours until you have just the right catalog numbers, that means investing the hours of study, planning, and execution necessary to slowly convert the house you live in into an enjoyable home.

So how does one measure domesticity?  How does one wrap a rule around warmth and charm?  Can modern men even recognize it for what it is when they see it, or appreciate it properly when it is called to
their attention?
As part of the vetting process for your future bride, pay careful attention to a few key factors that may indicate her domestic inclinations.  In particular, be on the lookout for the following:

·                    Houseplants.  Not everyone has a green thumb, but most domestically-inclined women tend to collect houseplants.  Their condition will tell you a lot about her domesticity.

·                    If she has a pet, look to see how well she cares for it.  While the Manosphere disparages the Cat Lady, kitties do have the advantage of showing you just how attentive a woman can be to the task of keeping it properly.  A woman without much domestic inclination will often have a messy litter box or feeding area.  Dogs are even better for judging this.

·                    Is the art and decoration in her place personal, professional, or commercial?  A woman with a well-founded sense of domesticity will often have art of a personal nature, or reflective of her domestic aspirations.  Professional art demonstrates taste and culture, but could also signal aspirations of affluent status that could be contra-indicative to domesticity.  Commercial or popular art shows an investment in her social presentation, which isn’t exactly non-domestic, but it does show that she’s subject to social pressures.  If she has a Twilight poster in her room, for instance, that is telling.  And not particularly domestic.  A good mixture of all three demonstrates balance, and how they are presented will tell you how she feels about herself and her home.  An ambitious display of aphorisms and affirmations demonstrates a low self esteem and idealism more suited to corporate life than domesticity. 

If her place lacks art entirely . . . go for a one-night stand and move on.  Nothing to see here.

·                    Décor.  It doesn’t have to look like a magazine article, but are you comfortable when you go to her place?  Are the colors jarring and discordant, or warm and comfort-building?  Does she even care about the décor, or is she blatantly utilitarian?  A couple of small touches that are designed to make a noticeable difference indicate a good domestic sense.  If she has brick-a-brack, what kind and how much?  Collections of clowns, angels, kittens, frogs or ducks are generally warning signs.  Displays of her childhood and teenage achievements, family photos, and tasteful presentation are all good signs.  If you don’t understand why something is there, ask her.  If she doesn’t have a funny story or anecdote about it, that doesn’t bode well.

·                    Does she cook?  While culinary skills are no guarantee of domesticity, and their lack does not mean a lack of domestic impulse, they are nonetheless a fair indicator of her inclinations.  Mrs. Ironwood hates cooking, but that doesn’t make her any less domestic.  If a woman has a decent set of cooking utensils, actual ingredients in her refrigerator, and a pantry that contains shortening, flour, and yeast, those are good signs.  Her offering to cook you a meal within the first three dates is also a good sign.  Even if you plan on cooking for your future family, as I do mine, ensuring your future bride knows her way around the kitchen is highly recommended.

·                    Does she have people over?  There is a decidedly social component to domesticity.  Women who build nice homes want to show them off and claim the points.  If your prospective wife doesn’t ever entertain, then one potential reason is her lack of domesticity.

   ·                 Does she know her neighbors and their names?  Corporate drones can live next to someone for ten years and never know their names.  Domestically-inclined women want to know who lives around them.

·                    How often does she change her sheets, and is her laundry up to date?  Do her towels match? Piles of dirty clothes and perpetually-drying laundry are bad signs.  Clean towels and sheets are good ones.

·                    Is she careful to lock up when she leaves and not leave windows unlocked?  If she is not that conscientious about her home, she’s not going to be about yours.  Being security conscious is a domestic ability.

·                    Is her trash and recycling in order, or is it overflowing? 

·                    Has she done anything toward the presentation of her front door?  Domestically-conscious women are as into making the entrance of their homes attractive as socially-conscious women are at making an entrance.

How can you actively challenge her domesticity?  Here’s a few ways:

1.                  Tell her to make you a pie . . . but don’t give her any more details than that.  See how she approaches the matter.  If she refuses outright, get used to a lot of take-out.  If she buys pre-paid shells and fills them out of a can, or buys frozen pie, then she might be teachable, but probably not.  If she sees it as a challenge and cranks out a homemade apple pie made with fresh Granny Smiths and lard, then you have a winner.  Make sex noises while eating pie.

2.                  Ask her how she would plan your sister’s/niece’s/cousin’s emergency wedding for sixty people next weekend with a budget of $2000.  See what she comes up with.  A corporate zombie will snort and say hire someone.  A domestic goddess will have a themed action-plan and budget projections put together in an hour.

3.                  On a whim, go see a house for sale together.  As you go from room to room ask her how she would decorate it.  Along the way find out whether she would prefer city or country life, and what style of house she wants.  If nothing else, the idea of seeing a house as a “just pretend” exercise will get her thinking about your potential as a husband and start the panty-dampening process.  Plus you’re there, in a big ol’ empty house with no one else around.  You’ve got a 50/50 shot at a quickie if you have decent Game.  More, if the house is affluent enough.

4.                  Check out her mother’s place.  Domesticity isn’t hereditary, but if her mother has a strong domestic streak, then it might just be dormant in her fit of corporate rebellion from gender stereotypes.  Put a ring on it and she often goes the way her mom did.  So see how comfy your potential future mother-in-law’s place is and keep that in mind.

Even a strong sense of domesticity is no guarantee of a happy life or a good wife, but without it your marriage will suffer.  Perhaps terminally.  Figure out in advance what levels of domesticity you crave in your future and then screen accordingly.  Or get used to Lean Cuisines around the television, bub, and occasional nights of lackluster sex.  Because in my experience there is a correlation between domesticity and approachability for lusty shenanigans. 

Once the dishes are done, of course.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Ironwood Rules Of Engagement

In celebration and acknowledgement of a Manospheran, Morpheus, taking the plunge into matrimony, Vox Day gave a beautiful list of instructions to him and all newly marred fellas.  I can heartily endorse all of what he said, when taken with a healthy dose of wisdom.  Badger followed up with an instructive commentary.  Athol Kay's post today is also helpful in determining when a fight is underway and when someone is just being a cranky-pants.   And as an OMG (Old Married Guy. "old" meaning you've managed to hit that ten-year anniversary without separation, divorce, or court-ordered rehabilitation) I am bound by custom to pass along my own insights on the institution.

Remember, advice is like a drink: it can only affect you if you accept it.  With that caveat in mind, one of the things that has been a pillar of the Ironwood marriage has been our Rules of Engagement for Fighting.

All couples fight.  It is inevitable that conflict arise between contrasting perspectives.  Even Commander Riker disagreed with Capt. Picard from time to time.  That being said, how you manage your conflict can make or break the stability of your union.  A lot of young couples find themselves in trouble very quickly because a) they didn't do a good job of mate selection or b) just don't know how to run a healthy relationship dynamic.

I'm not faulting them - in all honestly, realistic portrayals of well-functioning married couples in popular culture are pretty thin on the ground, and its unlikely they can look to their parent's generation for insight.  But part of managing a relationship is understanding how to manage conflict.  And in marital conflict, like any other conflict, there can be agreed-upon and religiously-adhered-to Rules of Engagement to keep things productive.

I've blogged about these before, back in the mists of time, but they bear repeating, and I'm not above stealing from myself when I think it is timely.  And no, not because Mrs. I and I have been fighting recently.  I just know a lot of newly married people.

All couples fight.  You can't avoid it.  But you can choose how you fight.

Mrs. Ironwood and I  came up with these before we ever got married (we lived together for 6 years first.  I was pretty sure I wanted to marry her 4 years into the relationship, but when you're planning on only marrying one girl . . . better to wait two more years and be sure.).  We had the help of a highly skilled marriage counselor, one of the very, very few I've known worth the money.   These Rules were mutually understood and agreed-upon before we got married. They are designed to keep things productive.  

They are:

1) No yelling. Reasonable tones only.  Over-shouting the other person is rude and does not lend weight to your argument.  NO YELLING is the very first rule. Yelling is a clear attempt to establish dominance without having
won an argument. That's disrespectful not just to your partner, but to the marriage as a whole. Worse, when a man yells in an argument it demonstrates he has lost his cool.  (Yelling at your children to get their attention, or increasing your tone to denote emotional emphasis of a particular point, is different than yelling in a fight with your wife).  As an axiom to this, I'll add "No interrupting".  Interrupting is as much of an attempt at conversational dominance as yelling.  Indeed, just as yelling is the masculine preferred method of establishing social dominance, interrupting is how women usually do it.  Maintaining reasonable tones and allowing your partner to finish their thought without your input is fundamental.

2) No name calling. That's disrespectful. This is your spouse, and calling them names is hurtful and unproductive.  If some behavior is unacceptable, call it out as such.  Don't just say "You're such a cunt!", because you shouldn't let anyone call your wife a cunt without repercussions.  That includes you.

3) Stick to one topic at a time. Don't fight about that thing you did last week.  Or last vacation.  Or last year.  Or on your wedding day.  The conflict is here-and-now, and unless there is a reason to bring the past in as
prologue, expanding the scope of your argument does no one any favors.

4) No ultimatums. That's contrary to the spirit of the discussion. You are having an argument.  It doesn't mean the end of your love for each other, the end of your relationship, or the end of your marriage.  It's a fucking argument.  Keep your emotions under control and deal with things productively and move on.  It's not a sign of the end, or a reason to say "I'm unhappy".  Married people fight.  Happily married people fight.  Hell, happily married people fight the most, sometimes.  Allowing your ego and your feelings to be a springboard to some bullshit ultimatum that can't be un-said is in no one's best interest.  If you feel like throwing out an ultimatum, give yourself 24 hours to think about it.  If you still feel that way, start a separate discussion about it.

5) No chase-and-follow. Handle your business face to face in your own home without involving other people.  
No running to your mother, your brother, your sister, your best friend, a hotel, a bar, or a brothel.  It's twice as bad if you expect someone to follow you there, and see a failure to do so as a lack of endorsement in the relationship.  That's attention-getting bullshit game playing, not mature and thoughtful attention to your responsibilities as a spouse.  Sure, we all need support, respite, and refuge from time to time, but if you flee in the face of an argument, you are abrogating your responsibilities to the relationship.  That's not to say you can't call a time out.  But a time-out is a cool-down period, not an excuse to flee.

6) No involving other people. This is between us.  Trying to get other people to support your position against your spouse is a recipe for a general social shit-storm, and repercussions that last far beyond the argument itself.  When the Female Social Matrix gets involved in your marriage, you have problems far in excess of what you asked for.  Keep private things private, by mutual consent.  Unless someone needs to affirm or deny as a witness - in which case you have some trust issues to work out - your argument is your argument, no one else's.

7) No ad hominem attacks. They are rude and intellectually dishonest. As a man it is a good example of a loss of control - DLV.  As a woman, it is a demonstration of disrespect contrary to the spirit of the discussion - DLV.  You may disagree with their behavior or their perspective, that does not make them less of a person or unworthy of your respect and love. Even if the problem is habitual, it is not usually indicative of a flaw in someone's character.  

8) No kidney punches, i.e. hitting the other person's acknowledged weak spots. After nearly 20 years, we know where those are. If your husband/wife had an alcoholic parent, for example, comparing them to that parent would be considered a kidney punch.

9) No involving the children. This is a debate between adults.  It should not be held in the presence of children, nor should children be privy to the after-effects.  Your first responsibility as parents is to ensure a safe and happy childhood for your kids, and watching parents fight is rarely a good thing.  Especially in an age where their friends' parents are divorcing so rapidly, it is unfair of you to inflict your sophisticated adult discussions on minds who lack the adult context to understand them properly.  All they know is that mommy and daddy are fighting, and they're anxious, and they're worried that they'll have to take sides.  Do your fighting in a room with the door closed.  Like your love making, it doesn't require witnesses.

10) No profane language. If you can help it.  Emotions get high, and invective will of course be used in an adult discussion.  But don't go overboard.  Emphasizing a point with a calmly-delivered f-bomb is one thing; having "motherfucker" fall too oft from your lips undermines your credibility.  And it detracts from your point, whatever that is.

That's the general guideline. 

Our friends think we never fight, but we do -- we just agreed to the rules ahead of time. We've managed to stick to this set of rules for two decades, and maintaining them has helped us get through some dark times, even when the Rules worked against us, personally.  And that's not to say that both of us haven't occasionally violated one of the less-important of the above rules at various points, including Yelling. When that happens, it's time to call a "time out" and walk away for some silent contemplation, marshal your resources, etc.. It stretches out the fight, but it's better than a trip to the emergency room.

(If you want to improve the efficacy of employing these rules, you may gain considerable leverage by fighting naked.)

Oh, and the unofficial #11?

Make-up sex. Righteous.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Wife Test: A Good Worker

Once upon the time, during the glories of the old Patriarchy, one of the astute measures of a woman’s worthiness as a wife was her ability to be a “good worker”.

That rankles the tender ears of feminists who see traditional matrimony as little more than chattle slavery (though quite a few have entered into the institution themselves, although not always successfully or gracefully), but at one time it was recognized that a woman came to a marriage to work, and part of her value to her husband and his family was her willingness and capability to do so.

Understand that at the time agriculture reigned supreme, and that before the Industrial Revolution the sheer amount of labor required to keep both farm and home running was impressive.  It required the combined and complementary efforts of both husband and wife to keep it going.  As this was usually done in the context of a greater community of kin, such labor could be shared commonly.  That meant that a woman who came to her husband’s family’s farm would not only be expected to tend her husband, but join in the general work-pool of his female kin.  Therefore a woman wasn’t judged as much by the men in her life on her ambition and industry, but by the women.

When industrialization and urbanization transformed the role of farm wife to urban housewife, she retained the need for industry merely because urban living before electricity still mandated a lot of labor.  Add to that the social expectations implicit in urban life, and the wife as “homemaker” became the 1920s standard that hardened into the 1950s ideal. 

As electricity and innovation and pre-prepared foods reduced the amount of time required for actual housework, that time was frequently filled by an increase in social obligations.  She continued to be judged, but no longer on how hard she worked, but how effortlessly and tastefully she decorated and entertained.

As the ideal shifted away from wife as a “good worker” and toward wife as “homemaker”, the social pressure increased.  Nascent feminism sneered at the bourgeois ideal of suburban living and attacked the traditional wife as a slave and a prostitute.  Seeking to “liberate” these women, the successfully changed divorce laws and family courts into social weapons – against their own “oppressive” husbands.

In the 1960s and 1970s calling a wife a “good worker” in an admiring, Old World agricultural sort of way was to invite an estrogen-filled savaging from all corners.  Feminism dictated that a woman have value outside of her sexuality in a marriage, yet they riled when hearing praise a given woman’s industry because such views were seen as “patriarchal”. 

Men who ignored that Old World advice in the post-feminist world have reaped the consequences of their folly.  Ignoring a woman’s capacity and willingness to work has frequently been a tragic mis-step in a marriage, and usually one of many on the road to divorce.  Yet to verbalize a desire for a woman who is ambitious about her life without being arrogant and industrious without succumbing to career burnout or workoholism is to invite just such an attack by misguided women and feminists.  If we even think such things – as too few of us do – then we keep them to ourselves.

But the truth is we value ambition and industriousness in a woman, among other traits.  A woman who won’t work is a curse on a hard-working man.  Far from being an “equal” relationship, a wife who suddenly becomes unemployed, under-employed, or unemployable after the wedding is going to hang around the neck of the marriage like a boat anchor.  Unfortunately, such lack of industry usually comes in tandem with a higher desire for material signs of her “success”, almost always at her husband’s expense. 

On the other side of the coin, a woman who doesn’t know when to stop working, or forgets sight of why she is working, is also a danger.  Pledging your life to someone who is already married to their job is a recipe for marital disaster.  And some women feel about their jobs the way they do about their relationships and treat them with similar gravity.  If she’s unwilling to shift her career to accommodate the needs of the marriage, then that’s a serious down-grade.

Being “a good worker” isn’t just an evaluation about her employment status and potential, it’s an evaluation of her character when you broaden your scope to include old-fashioned housework and industry in general.  If she cannot plan, start, persevere through and finish a job, and then clean up her materials, then that is not a good sign.  If she is unwilling to learn or display this skill, doubly so.

It is hard to judge how good a worker your prospective bride is without significant acquaintance.  The fact is, it’s as easy to fake the perception of being a good worker in the short term, but after a few months of hanging around you should be able to spot some trends one way or another.

Here are a few things to look for:

Does she ask for help even if she doesn’t need it? 
Does she try to get you to do her work for her?
Does she have a hard time planning the project?
Does she have a hard time starting the project?
Does she have a hard time finishing the project?
Does she clean up after herself?
Does she take breaks . . . and how many?
Can she stop the job short of perfection?
Can she do the job without invoking nasty self-criticism?
Does she take pride in the work she does?
Does she seek your approval for her work?
Does she doubt herself and look for validation from you?
Can she accept constructive criticism when it is invited?
Does she need you to watch and/or act as a cheerleader for her efforts?
Does she know when to stop, or does she insist on continuing long after she was finished?
Does she work efficiently?  How long did it take her?

There are other things you can glean about a woman by the way she works.  How ambitious she is, for instance.  If she's not ambitious enough to even want to impress you, then she's unlikely to be ambitious on your behalf.  You should not judge her the same way you would judge a man, for women and men take different approaches to work, in aggregate. But you can judge her on demonstrating her mastery of the basic elements of work and prosecuting a project through to its conclusion.  

So how do you judge how well a woman works?  Have her paint a room.

This is the simplest method of determining how she approaches the mundane but necessary tasks of normal life.  Painting does not require a high skill level, it has a very common-sense set of instructions, it has a definite preparation and clean-up, and unlike the challenge to bake or clean, it is safely gender-neutral. 

But you can tell a lot about a woman by how she paints a room.  To conduct this test, pick a fairly small room, select the paint, and acquire the tools.  The next time you have some time to “hang out”, instead of rewatching Walking Dead on DVD, pull out the bucket, brushes, rollers and tarps and ask her to paint the room.  If she tries to plan something, tell her that you plan to paint that day and invite her over to help.  If she tries to avoid the work all together, then she's not serious - a woman who wants to spend time with you won't care much what you will be doing.

If she looks like you are crazy, tell her that you want to see if she can do it.  Be honest that this will be an assessment.  If she presses, admit that it is a test, and if you feel confident enough to pull it off, go ahead and call it a Wife Test.  Sure, it will put her on her guard, but she will also – hopefully – understand the utility of the test, and jump to the question of why you might be evaluating her for such a position.  If she doesn’t, that, too, is valuable data for you to have.

Don’t judge her too harshly on the ultimate job.  The test is not of her painting ability, but her ability to start and finish a job, preferably without your help.  If she needs you to do everything from open the can to showing her how to use the brush, then you know she will likely not work diligently without oversight. 

If she tries to bribe you into doing it, or tries to change the plan to do something else, then you know she isn’t eager to tackle a real bit of work.  If she complains bitterly about it every step of the way, sloshes paint on everything, does a half-hearted job and tries to make it everything else’s fault – from the brush to the roller to the kind of paint you selected – then you know that you will be bearing the brunt of the responsibilities for the rest of the relationship.

If she doesn’t think painting a room is indicative of her wifely skills, and acts indignant about it, then she doesn’t understand what marriage is about yet.  She might not ever. 

But if she presents you with a well-painted room without any splashes of paint, a cleaned-up work area and put-away tools, then you may just have a winner.  If she does so without complaint or the need for direction or hand-holding, then move her to the head of the line.

It’s the little things like this that make proper vetting so vital.  A man who knows what he’s getting has no excuses later on.  A man who thinks that his “helpless” girlfriend will suddenly transform into a hard worker with the application of a little wedding cake is a fool. 

Ambition & Industriousness are two of the most important elements that a man looks for in a woman, according to recent polls.  That doesn’t mean he wants a corporate warrior who never has time for a husband, but it also doesn’t mean he wants a fainting flower who can’t make the bed without management.  Good wives know that a working on their relationship implies a fair amount of good, old-fashioned work.  

If they aren’t willing to do that, what makes you think they’re going to treat their husbands right later on, when he’s the only one who knows how to work?

Any other ideas about how to judge a woman's industry and ambition?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Breaking Beta: Play Tag

My brother Andy clued me in to one of the most innovative and thoughtful efforts at masculine bonding I think I’ve ever seen.  This report on CBS Sunday Morning on a group of guys who have maintained a close friendship since high school . . . through an annual game of Tag.

Essentially, these ten friends from a Catholic high school used to play Tag . . . and they never stopped.
The rules are simple: The game lasts for the entire month of February.  If one of the members asks if you are “it”, you must answer honestly and promptly.  And you can’t tag-back.

It sounds juvenile, and it is.  It's supposed to be.

Tag is one of two human universal games, that is, every human culture plays tag (the other one is Hide N Seek).  It’s likely left over from our Paleolithic forebears, a hunting exercise that helps children develop the skills to both stalk and evade, both important things for a young human in the wild.  The fact that these men haven’t given it up for all of these years has transformed the simple game into a complex, sophisticated exercise in male bonding and friendly competition.

That's a key point to a man trying to break his Beta.  If he's suffered in a relationship with a domineering woman, or even just one that keeps him too busy to cultivate good male friends, then he misses the kind of refreshing masculine competition and camaraderie implicit in play.  A friend of mine has a pick-up basket ball game he's gone to pretty much every Wednesday for the last ten years.  It's where he forgets about his stress and renews himself through sweat, competition, and tactical thinking.  When he gets home he's sweaty and nasty and his wife can't keep her hands off of him.  

Many of us have launched the Paleo diet to one extent or another, but while we’re usually pretty good about the bacon-and-eggs portion of the diet, when it comes to the recommended one daily hour of play, we either burn that off in the gym or postpone it for a more convenient time.  Yet the emphasis on play in the Paleo diet isn’t merely to encourage you to exercise the way that Alley Oop did . . . it’s to remind you of both your need for child-like indulgence in pure physical entertainment and your need to hone the vestigial warrior/hunter skills we gave up with agriculture.

Tag fits the bill for this in a lot of ways.  The men of the Tag Brothers are clearly dear friends, even if they are separated by continents, family, and employment.  That does not stop them from being hyper-competitive about the game.  No one, of course, wants to be “it” on the last day of February, and therefore bear the shameful title for the other 11 months.   So they scheme, plot, stalk, and spring.  They dress in drag.  They dress as homeless bums.  They dress as old ladies (for the coveted  “hag tag”). 

There is no shame or regret or dignity involved – these men are playing to win, and they’re playing hard.  Juvenile?  Perhaps . . . but who really gives a shit?  In our electronics-focused world the idea that you can play a sophisticated game without the use of anything but three rules and your ingenuity is a huge challenge to your masculine abilities.  And it doesn’t give anyone hard feelings, one of the perpetual issues with most competitive endeavors.   

Tag is a beautiful game.  In its purest form on the playground, we see children playing it as a means to improve their speed, stamina, hand-eye-coordination, alacrity, endurance, and all of those other skills that were so important to the pre-muffin world.    Of course over time we lose both the willingness to run around like a fool and the desire to submit to such base entertainments when civilization has provided so many more sophisticated outlets. 

But starting a game of tag among a dozen or so of your friends in your town, or from your old unit, or from that really cool job you had where everyone got along great before everyone got laid off could be an exciting and important way to re-energize a flagging sense of masculinity.  It has the manifold masculine virtues of being strategic, competitive, and – clearly – a huge amount of pure good-natured boyish fun.  It emphasizes stealth, surprise, intelligence gathering, and quick-thinking.

The specifics and variations which you could add to this are infinite.   Perhaps “it” for the year has to buy everyone dinner.  Perhaps they have to keep charge of some particular trophy if they are unlucky enough to be the last one tagged in the month.  But the game suggests an opportunity for the formation and maintenance of some close and strong masculine relationships. 

So . . tag.  Find a group of guys, figure out the rules . . . and go play with your friends.

It beats playing with yourself.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Alpha Move: Change Your Underwear

“If you were a man who loved sex . . .”

That statement sounds oxymoronic, I know . . . but I threw it out there for the express purpose of making you snort.  A similar phrase, “If you were a woman who loved sex,” was recently used by a feminist sex blogger to elicit interesting metaphors.  I found the exercise interesting because it a) validated pretty much everything I’ve learned about Game and female sexuality and b) the fact that she had to phrase the question with an IF demonstrates quite a lot about the state of American female sexual psychology. 

But like many things in the murky frontier of feminist sex advice, I thought I’d turn it around a little and, indeed, ask the same question of my male readers.  Why?  Mostly for giggles . . . but also because I think one major component of Betacization, both generally and in marriage, is the point at which a man stops thinking of himself as sexy – which means both “attractive to others” and “comfortably aware of his own sexual desires”. 

Athol touches on this a lot, as part of the Male Action Plan (and the Mindful Attraction Plan).  But I think it bears a post on its own, because it is such a prevalent issue.

Men are not trained to think of themselves as sexy, the way women are.  There are reasons for that.  They are not always good reasons, especially in a post-industrial society.

Female sexuality remains context-based, and female attraction runs toward a context that pulls her toward both security (during menstruation) and excitement (during ovulation).  Indeed, one could say female sexuality is fulcrum between security and excitement.  While that fulcrum moves with occasionally-predictable regularity, it is constantly moving.  What a woman finds “sexy” is going to wax and wane like the inconstant moon.  And it’s going to change as she ages.

One thing that isn’t going to change, however, is that her sexuality will always be primarily responsive in nature.  As in, ‘she’s responding to you’.  And as we all know, the fawning, begging-for-sex-because-I’ve-been-a-good-boy Beta play in marriage leads to bed death and eventual divorce or misery.  If you want sex with your woman, you have to be sexy.

Unfortunately, that tinny little word has some negative connotations in the masculine world.  Women are sexy.  Men are attractive.  Women use their sexuality to attract high-quality men.  Men use their context – their social status, position, and charisma – to attract sexy women.  If you want to bang a bunch of hot babes, being cute and well-built never hurts.  But a Ferrari can close a deal even if you look like John Lovitz.

What men forget is that the “sexy” component that they shy away from as “unmanly” is one of the things that women respond to.  And while women are attracted to context, being adept at recognizing which end of the see-saw her fulcrum is situated and responding accordingly is vital.  To do that, a man has to recognize, cultivate, and appreciate the value of his own sexuality, and the effect it can have on the woman in his life.

And that’s just not something we usually encourage in our young men without the aid of ethanol and cannabis.  Even then, there is a lingering sense of shame that sometimes accompanies the idea that Yes, I’m A Sexy Dude. 

As men, we rarely invest in valuing our sexuality – we spend most of our lives trying to give it away.  By the time we get married or settle into a committed LTR, we walk away from whatever tentative appreciation of our own sexuality we’d cultivated by accident, because we make the mistake of thinking that wedding cake is an aphrodisiac.

All too soon the reality sets in.  Hence the need for Married Game.

A big part of breaking that Betacization is getting back to that I’m A Sexy Dude attitude that manifests itself in confidence.  Allowing our own insecurities and fears of rejection to take over the joint without the validation of sex creates a horrific self-fulfilling prophecy. 

In essence, if you don’t think of yourself as sexy . . . why should your wife?

The MAP is essentially a roadmap back to Sexyland, but it begins by breaking the bad BETA habits of a lifetime.  Diminishing your own sexuality or undervaluing it, for instance.  Mistaking your wife’s jealousy over the attention other women sometimes pay you into an excuse to let yourself go.  A desire for masculine conformity that ends up keeping you from distinguishing yourself – from the Beer Shield of extended adolescence to the corporate and casual uniforms that shroud our aggressive sexuality.

Think of it this way: being sexy is scary.  You have to step out of your comfort zone and be willing to be dangerous . . . and for a Betacized OMG, that can be a daunting prospect.  Yet a man who isn’t willing to consider himself sexually valuable is going to have a hard time achieving his objective, i.e. more and better sex.

What’s worse, your wife uses your lack of appreciation of your own sexual value against you, if you let her.  It starts in subtle ways, as you attempt to establish long-term dominance in the relationship.  But in the process of mutual-domesticization, she starts undercutting your masculine displays.  When she buys you clothes, she’ll start buying more conservatively after a few years.  She’ll tell you how cute she thinks your belly is.  She’ll assure you that you’re sexy when, in fact, she’s actually thinking ‘adorable’. 

What she’s actually doing here is a form of mate guarding.  She wants to decrease your physical attractiveness, the sort of thing that might attract the raw animal passions of an opportunistic stalker (or her sister), while playing up your contextual attractiveness – your success in business or career.  For the first few years of marriage, being married to a dorky-looking over-achiever is a good way to keep her marriage safe.

Unfortunately, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  As she becomes less physically attracted to him, and starts to crave novelty, the Betacized Dude mistakenly thinks that she wants yet more comfort and stability, because that’s what she’s been playing up.  So he makes sure the lawn looks extra-spiffy, he watches Dancing With The Stars with her, and he stops initiating sex as much . . . or stops pushing sexual boundaries as the supply starts to dry up.

From this stage, it isn’t long before she’s totally un-attracted to him, stops putting any effort into sex, and has to start taking over the reins of the relationship by default.  He’s too confused about why he’s not getting laid as much anymore to assert himself, and while she loves the control she feels in the relationship, it’s a hollow victory.  He’s folded up, ready to concede to whatever she wants. 

Of course, what she really wants is a lot more ALPHA in her diet.  The comfort and security of a good BETA dude has made her complacent, and that’s made her restless.  And when her man stops being ALPHA, she starts to resent him.  No matter how supportive he is of her, it is a woman’s nature to find fault with the BETA in ways that an ALPHA-presenting man won’t stand.

Cultivating an active and potent sexuality is part of that presentation.  That’s very, very difficult for a Betacized man to accomplish without some guidance.  If he listens to the advice of the women in his life, which he is likely to do under the mistaken assumption that they know what they’re talking about, then he’s going to get a nice haircut, dress up more, do more housework, and essentially kiss her ass until she’s forced by the power of expectation to reward him, often un-enthusiastically.  He dresses up, takes her out, spends a lot of money, and yeah, she feels obligated to put out for him.  Not wildly fuck him, like they were teenagers in heat, but she’ll do her wifely duty and he’ll assume that things are grand because, hey, he had sex.

But he knows the difference.  When you are quietly laying there thinking of something else other than him and your mutual passion, he knows.  It’s not that it isn’t enjoyable, but there is a difference.  And that difference starts with his presentation.  This poor Betacized man has stopped thinking of himself as sexy, stopped thinking of himself as having sexual value, because his commitment to the marriage and its security, coupled with the subtextual messages his wife has been sending him, have convinced him that that’s not what she wants.

When in fact that’s precisely what she wants. 

How do you break the bad BETA habits and find your mojo again?  The MAP will give you the practical answers to that, but philosophically it starts when you start valuing your sexuality enough to invest in it.  That means moving out of the marriage-of-appeasement that eventually turns into a bad sitcom, where you’re constantly looking stupid while she makes sarcastic comments about your masculinity and you whine about sex.  It means creating a marriage in which the power of your masculinity, particularly your masculine sexuality, can continue to elicit delight and surprise, not boredom and anxiety.

Where to start?  A new suit a threads can help, as can a good haircut, but that’s window dressing any reality show could tell you.  Being a well-dressed dork still means you’re a dork.  You need to up your Married Game, which means you need to change your approach from the ground up.  

So start with your underwear.

No, really.  Men rarely (only 30-40% of the time) buy their own underwear, and they will hang on to beloved pairs far, far in excess of their expiration date.  Most of the underwear they get in their lives will be a present from one woman or another.  Or if you’re a die-hard tighty-whitey fan, you can get your undergarments in packs of three at Walmart . . . not exactly an Alpha Move.

So before you rush out and invest in a new suit, start with your drawers.  Spend some dough on some quality, and experiment with styles and fabrics. 

Does that make you sneer in contempt at the thought of something so unmanly?

Get over it.  That’s the point.  Unless your preferred style is Commando, then stuffing your junk into something you like, instead of what someone else thought you should like, is going to be empowering.

I was a tighty-whitey man for decades, largely out of necessity and habit.  In a working-class house with three boys, the one-size-fits-all approach to undies was understandable.  It wasn’t until I followed some advice and tried on a pair of boxers that I realized I’d been in the wrong underwear for years.  Boxers were manly in a classical sense and they came in endless fabrics and styles and designs. 

To each their own, and it’s quite possible you may decide to go the other direction, from boxers to briefs.  But regardless of the change, try a change.  Buy some new, different, underwear on your own, without consulting your wife.  Don’t even mention it afterward.  Just start wearing them.

This will have a couple of effects: first, it will call attention to your nether regions, never a bad thing in a relationship.  But second, it will raise a few alarm bells in her mind, based on the fact that every woman’s magazine article for the last fifty years has listed “buys new underwear” as one of the unmistakable signs that your man is cheating on you.  Dudes don’t buy new underwear when they are in a secure, stable, happy relationship.  They do buy new underwear when they’re trying to impress someone.

When she does notice, she’ll make a comment either in favor or against it.  If she makes a comment in favor, chalk it up as a success and segue into initiating sex.  She’ll be on it for the novelty, if nothing else.  If she makes a critical comment, listen very carefully to just what and why she objects to the change.

First, if she demands to know why you changed, merely shrug and say “I needed new underwear.  These make me feel sexy.”  Grin boyishly.

If she asks you point-blank if you’re having an affair, not only do you have her worried, but you’ll be backing into a little Dread Game.  Assure her you aren’t, but that you wanted to try something new. 

If she makes a disparaging or emasculating remark . . . shove it in her face.   A wife who is willing to cut down her husband’s sincere attempt at cultivating his sexuality – for her benefit – in a way that’s designed to undercut his confidence is well on her way to shrew-hood.  Making a crack about your new shorts is designed to hurt your feelings for no other reason.  It's a micro shit-test, and the only way to deal with it is a strong counter, along the lines of, 'Criticize much?  What if I said your new bra made you look like your mother?" or something similar.  Then walk away, fuming.

Unless it is made in a teasing and openly sexual way (ladies, here’s a hint: if you aren’t smiling and giggling, we’re not going to see it as teasing or sexual, but as critical and hurtful) then you know that she’s trying to dominate the relationship from the bedroom.

Buying new skivvies is a very small, very minor way to assert your ALPHA, but it puts her on notice that you, not she, is in control of your business.  When you actively pick you what kind of cloth you want next to your junk, and don’t depend on her to decide that for you, you’re establishing some territorial bounds.

That isn’t to say that she can’t buy you new underwear, too, or that you shouldn’t wear them.  But a brand-new pair of underwear that you selected for no better reason than you liked them lets her know that you have establish a boundary to your masculinity, a boundary she should be wary of crossing.

Now, if you’re worried about her not liking them . . . don’t.  It doesn’t matter if she likes them.  Indeed, it might work better if she doesn’t.  That isn’t to say you should stop wearing them; on the contrary, wear them often and proudly.  But it will get her attention and it will get her notice.  It’s novel, it’s vaguely sexual, how could it not?

But “if you’re a man who loves sex” (duh) then you should invest some time and attention to what you wrap your ass in.  Remember, your sexuality is a gift, and it deserves an appropriate wrapping.  One that reminds you that you are, indeed, not just a sexual creature – but that your explosive male sexuality has value.  Value that only increases over time.  

And if she is unwilling to see that . . . there are plenty of ladies out there who will.