Category Archives: woman’s side of whole parenting

Imagine a Man

Let’s talk about your (woman’s) side of the equation. I’m so focused on what I want, what about you? What does your ideal man look like? Please discuss.

Here my ten success factors for a relationship with a man.

  1. Mental fitness
  2. Physical fitness
  3. Spiritual fitness
  4. Emotionally available
  5. Financially stable
  6. Happiness scale
  7. Sexually attractive (chemistry)
  8. The way he walks in the world
  9. The way he approaches you/women/life
  10. Timing is everything

How does your vision for a man stack up? Could you put your list together for an ideal man? Have you done it? Have you done a vision board for the man you are dreaming of? Are you ready to meet him? If the man of your dreams shows up tomorrow are you really ready for him? What would it take to be swept off your feet? And it that really what you want? There are some dangerous aspects of getting too romantically, or too sexually, connected before the “relationship” part of the relationship has a chance to develop.

Sex is great. Chemistry is vital. But the rest of the relationship is more important. What happens if the sex is amazing on the 5th date? You still know very little about how this man lives his life. And you certainly don’t know how you would fit into his routine. Because you have not had a chance to figure out a routine together. You’ve just gotten hooked up on the love drug. And love/sex is a very powerful drug.

In the marriage to the mother of my children, I got physically connected, attracted, to her long before I was clear on what she was like. And this proved to be a problem later when I began to understand a bit more about her spiritual and mental makeup. I’m not going to say anything negative about her at this point, other than to say we had great chemistry and less relationship compatibility. How will you know about your new relationship if you don’t give the “relationship” time to develop. Once the sex-drive is connected, your ability to logically navigate the adventure of building a life together is compromised. Yes, it’s a great compromise. But it’s also a trap.

Sex too soon can lead to bad relationships based on sex and physical attraction. Make sure when you are thinking of having sex with someone (this is my relationship DNA – The 6-Step Relationship Strategy) that you are preparing the idea that you want to have a long-term relationship (LTR) with this person. If you are hooking up, you are reading the wrong blog. (grin)

Have fun out there. Get yourself a map of the man you want to find. Imagine the man, imagine a man, imagine your man, and then do the work to get yourself in the best shape (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) of your life, so that when he shows up he will notice you. That’s all it takes. If the magic is going to happen, it’s going to happen. Having sex too soon can derail the emotional and spiritual bonding that also needs to take place.

I’m not saying don’t have sex. I’m not saying wait 5 dates or 5 months before having sex with someone. I am saying, when you’re about to have sex with someone, ask the question, “Does this person have the potential to be the one?” If the answer is less than a resounding YES, you might be more interested in a hookup than a relationship. That’s okay, but notice your own feelings about the idea. And if you want to hookup, do it. But if you’re looking for a relationship to last the rest of your life, give your heart a chance to catch up with you and your man before you bring him into your bedroom.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

* If you are interested in meeting Daniel, or getting a coach in your life, please let me know.

More from The Whole Parent:

+++ imagine a man, by the who +++

Imagine a girl
You long for and have
And the body of chalky perfection and truth

Imagine a past
Where you wish you had lived
Full of heroes and villains and fools

And you will see the end
You will see the end
And you will see the end
You will see the end
Oh yeah

A Different Side of Boyhood: Celebrating Divorced Families

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 9.54.33 PM

[CONGRATULATIONS to Richard and the entire cast and crew of Boyhood for the massive showing tonight at the Golden Globes. You deserved it!]

Boyhood, Richard Linklater’s new movie, is beautiful and profound. One of the nicest things about it, as a tone poem of growing up, is that nothing dramatic really happens. It’s just life as usual, with the same usual suspects, divorced mom and dad, a few alcoholics sprinkled in for drama, and then life, the long haul, long view of life.

It’s really cool that both the dad (Ethan Hawke) and mom (Patricia Arquette) are lovable characters, just trying to do their best as parents of two growing kids. Both parents are doing their best at showing up, and at getting on with their own lives. Not since Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,  have we had a more romantic vision of the single mom doing her best to get by. And Arquette does a fantastic job at showing the struggles and epiphanies of the single mom.

I’m a bit closer to my ex-wife now, having seen a glimpse into her life. I know we’re both doing the best we can. And Boyhood celebrates that triumph both alone and together.

For me, the poem was a love letter to this single mom. Sure, the son is the “boy” of Boyhood, but the mom is the anchor that holds things together. She’s the one who tries to make a better life for her brood, even when the father has exited the scene. That’s what moms do. I get it.

And LInklater does a great job at showing us the grit of divorced life. There are so many scenes in our kids lives now, that we miss completely. There are celebrations we will never see, because our kids are with the other parent. It’s okay, we survive.

Divorce is a typical part of our landscape these days. I assume that the successful marriage, launching two kids off to college is more rare than the divorced melange we see in Boyhood.

We get a view into the secret lives of these kids as they make their way through growing up. Linklater gives us front row center seats for the awkwardness it all. We get to experience the feeling again, of what it was like, through the eyes of the characters.

Hat’s off to Linklater and his Boyhood movie. And to the cast who did the wonderful screenplay justice. I’m a bit closer to my ex-wife now, having seen a glimpse into her life. I know we’re both doing the best we can. And Boyhood celebrates that triumph both alone and together.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

back to positive divorce

related posts:

image: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Life + Crap + Time = Growth (guest post)

(The first guest post from Sharona of P.M. Zee – voices from the other side of the Whole Parent equation.)

It was a little like looking through a microscope for the very first time; nothing… nothing…fuzzy…, and then, a shockingly sharp picture springing into focus.  On a Tuesday morning in April 2011, I suddenly understood that my husband of twenty-five years was in love with another woman, and that I would be getting divorced.

Divorced.  I had never even dreamed of such a thing.  This couldn’t be happening…surely it was just a good old, common-as-dirt, stereotypical mid-life crisis?  Wouldn’t a new motorcycle be less dangerous?

Our daughter was a few weeks away from an early high-school graduation, just approaching her seventeenth birthday.  She planned to take a gap year before college to compete seriously in horse shows.  We lived in a large-lot subdivision in suburbia with her three horses, and in addition to the heart-ache and general existential crisis that is divorce, I was panicky and uncertain about our immediate future.

I feared that the father of my children had completely lost his cotton-picking mind.  Would he also walk away from the business we had spent eighteen years building?  Would he move to Nashville and start playing music on the street corner, collecting tips in his open guitar case?  Does he realize that we are about to have two kids in college?  The man I knew was a faithful husband, a great father, and a hard worker.  He was our rock.

Who the hell was this guy???

I’ve heard divorce described as “another damned opportunity for growth”, and that has certainly been my experience.  I’m the least mechanically minded person you’ll ever meet (I’m not proud to say that I once had to be shown how to operate a gas can).  I knew nothing about the mysterious ways of lawnmowers, pool cleaners and septic drain fields.  Had a long marriage made me dumb, or just lazy?

One particularly discouraging Sunday morning I awoke to find that the fridge leak that I had been ignoring had ruined the beautiful walnut floor in the kitchen.  I stepped outside to feed dogs and witnessed a jet of water shooting out of the side of my house.  An ominous grinding/dry-sucking noise distracted me briefly, and drew me over to stare helplessly at the pool pump.  I wanted to throw myself into the grass and cry (but there was still the matter of Old Faithful erupting a few feet away).

I felt abandoned, and completely in over my head.  I wanted to call my husband and shriek at him about the unfairness of leaving me alone to deal with our kids, seven pets, and all of this frickin’ broken crap.  I was afraid to call him too…afraid that he’d be sharing coffee and the Sunday papers (or worse) with his girl-friend on this beautiful morning.  I choked down my fear and pride and sent a text message to say that I was having problems with the house.

He immediately called, and I took a breath and started by thanking him for taking care of everything for so many years.  “I’m sorry that I took you for granted.  I didn’t even know that you were doing it all”.  He patiently talked me through the solutions.  The pool pump was burning up because I had let the water level drop below the skimmer (expensive lesson).  The geyser was our elderly water softener running amok, and he directed me to the cut-off valve.  The freezer had a clogged drain, and I kept the phone clued to my ear while I applied hot water and a pipe cleaner, (no fix for the floor except to cover with a rag rug).  Another damned opportunity for growth.

I learned a lot of new things that summer, including how to drive the tractor without dumping buckets of dung onto my own head (mostly).  It’s like a life-sized Tonka toy, and I actually enjoyed tooling around on it, moving horse manure out to the giant compost pile.  When your world goes to crap, it’s very good to have a tractor.

PMZee crap pile

My fears about my ex-to-be’s mental state were somewhat allayed by the fact that he was working harder than ever in our business, healing his relationship with our children, and willingly helping me out with the daunting task of keeping the “tiny farm” running.  He was starting to at least vaguely remind me of the man I thought I had married.

Unfortunately, as we were healing, our daughter was falling apart.  She spiraled down into a dark place of anxiety and depression.  She moved away to a dorm and was back at home after only a few days, over-whelmed and anxious.  She would seem to be gaining traction, only to have another emotional or medical setback.  Her dad and I communicated regularly and honestly, with her and about her.  She needed to know that we are still on her team.

The love of horses has fed my daughter’s soul for over fifteen years.  She has a natural talent for riding, and her emotional bond with the horse creates a partnership which is truly moving to witness.  They dance together around the show-ring as if they were one graceful and beautiful beast.  I believe that, for her, riding is so much more than a hobby or sport; it is the thing that keeps her life worth living.

The downside is that horses are expensive to keep, and they live a long, long time.  They need feed and shoes and visits to the vet, even when they are older and no longer useful for competition.

PMZee Horses
(She better not be talking about us)

I’m grateful that my daughter’s father supports her with me, not only financially, but with his presence.  He and I aren’t lovers, not even really friends, but we are still parents. That’s the most critical partnership we ever shared, and today we are rocking it! That’s the guy I married, and the universe feels just a little more in order when I realize that (in this one important way) he hasn’t changed at all.

I’m even more grateful for those “damned opportunities for growth”.  I’ve learned that to insert a drill bit, you must turn the ring until it dilates, like a cervix.  (Why don’t they just say that in the instructions?).  I’ve re-discovered romance, blues music and social dancing; also the fact that I really don’t have much interest in television.  After a lifetime of conflict avoidance, my kids and I have found (to our surprise) that we could have a big dish-throwing fight, make up, and still love each other.  Our relationship is deeper, and more authentic than ever before. In the midst of our pain, we have gotten to know each other as real people (not only as our parent-child roles).  They like this honest version of Mom a hell of a lot better, and so do I!

Written by   I am a native Texan, a writer, a mother of two young adults, and love slave to various other mammals (dogs, cats, horses). Trying figure out what it looks like to be suddenly single and with an empty nest. Visit PMZee! Rebooting after 50 for more of her story.