I am in the process of conducting an involuntary experiment on unknowing test subjects. Seriously. Here's what I am up to.
I contacted 12 of the best guys I know. These are guys I would trust with my family. Guys who I would trust with my wallet. People I know stuff about and have been through stuff with. Some of them could be, and are, considered brothers to me. You get the point. These are 12 of my best friends.
I didn't set out to find guinea pigs for a social experiment. I was trying to do them a favor. They all know most of my story. They all know most of the details of my three year fight to keep my family. Many of them watched as I experienced panic attacks, breakdowns, nosebleeds from hysterical crying, bad decisions like picking cigarettes back up and many more wonderful fits of misery. They saw me crumble as everything that really mattered was hanging in the balance of a back and forth marriage. They saw me angry, sad, hurt, rejected, terrified, immature, pathetic and useless. Yep. Didn't even try to act cool during the worst part. So, what's the experiment?
Knowing what we went through. Knowing that we not only survived but are doing great. Knowing that my wife is happier with me than in our first year. Knowing how far we are from the divorce papers I was handed a year and a half ago. Would they be willing to listen to any advice I had. So far the answer is "no."
During our 5 day marriage intensive with Joel and Kathy, we were introduced to some books. Two that they wrote and several that they recommended. (Joel and Kathy's books) One was by Robert Alter, called "Good husband, great marriage." That's the one that woke me up and shook me up the most. Joel and Kathy are pastors and ministers, their stuff is amazing and I read them first. I learned more about being a Christian man and husband from those two books than 20 years in church. Read them. The Good husband book, is written in a straightforward style from a tough talking veteran marriage counsellor. After 25 years of Counselling, he figured out how to coach the husbands and totally change the marriage. Awesome book. Read it twice already. Keep it with me. It was written directly for guys like me and my friends. So, the experiment.
I wanted to put this book in the hands of all my friends, starting with these guys. No surprises or blindsiding from me. I contacted every one of them first. Told them about the book and how it had affected me. Told them why I wanted them to read it. Told them I couldn't stand the idea of them ever going through what we have. Told them they were just as likely to end up facing an angry wife who was done with their crap.... Just like me. I told them I had gotten a case of books, wanted them to read it. Told them not to wasted my time or money if they were not going to read it. Told them to be honest, if you don't want it, tell me, someone else will. All said to send it.
The last copy went out six weeks ago. Not a peep. No response. I have spoken with a few wives, the books are all sitting where they left them. Nobody has read a single page. So, what does all this tell me? My friends are all knuckleheads like me? Nobody gives a crap about my advice? Men don't care enough about their marriage and family to invest 3-4 hours reading a book? Even one recommended by their closest friends? Do I need to apologize for my entire gender?
What I keep seeing, and experiencing, is this. Men generally don't see any reason to change or grow up without some type of trauma as motivation. That sucks. I thought I was the perfect husband until I found out she was leaving. Then I was all kinds of motivated to get my act straight. Really, when do we change? After the doctor tells us we have cancer? After we lose our job? When someone close dies and makes us consider our mortality? When the divorce papers land in front of us?
I know I am not going to create a bunch of perfect little soldiers who wake up and start doing good from this. But, it makes me really wonder how much good I can really do. If the guys closest to me refuse to take me serious, who else will listen? Do me a favor, visit Joel and Kathy's site, read a little. Order some books. Go to a marriage intensive. Invest in your family. Become a better man. I don't get paid to send people there. I am repaying them for what they did for me. They saved my family and got me past a lot of what was holding me back. Let me know how it turns out.