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I recently had dinner with a young friend who has been married for about a year. When he said that he and his wife were hoping to have a child, I knew it was time for The Talk.
An older friend gave me The Talk twenty-eight years ago when Pennie was pregnant with Rex, our oldest. Since then, I’ve never failed to pass it along when I hear that a man is about to become a first-time father.
“Everything you hear about the joys of fatherhood are true,” I said, “but if you’re not ready for the backlash it can knock you off your feet and screw up the rest of your life.” He gave me a quizzical look so I continued. “Men who cheat on their wives usually do so for the first time shortly after the birth of their first child.”
His quizzical look intensified. “But that doesn’t make any sense.”
I spoke to him matter-of-factly, like a judge pronouncing judgment on the accused. “You become invisible on the day your baby is born. You remain invisible for nearly a year. You exist only for carrying things. All conversations revolve around the baby. No one asks you about your day. Friends and family walk past you to get to the baby. You’re effectively an outcast. You can’t complain that the baby gets all the attention. That would make you look like a jerk. Your wife is always tired and distracted. Days turn into weeks. You feel like you’ve been dumped by your girlfriend. You’re lonely. Then a girl smiles at you at work. You haven’t seen that in awhile. And she laughs at all your witty remarks. She pays attention to you…”
My friend’s mouth opened a little as his jaw slackened. “Wow.”
And that, dear reader, is what’s known among men as The Talk.
Helping a young man past the crisis of his first child is easy. What’s tough is counseling a mature husband who finds himself attracted to another woman.
Dr. Richard D. Grant is a clinical psychologist on the board of directors at Wizard Academy. Here’s some advice he gave a roomful of men recently in Tuscan Hall:
“When you find yourself attracted to a woman who is not your wife, sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of the things you like best about the woman. Then look at those attributes as action items on a ‘To Do’ list for self-improvement. It’s never really about the woman. It’s about what’s missing in your own life.”
Dr. Grant then told a story about taking his sons to get a haircut when they were young. “…out of the backroom comes a young woman with scissors in her hand, tan, taut, perky, athletic, windblown, outdoorsy. I was spellbound. So I grabbed a pen and starting writing like mad. Then, looking at the list of her attributes, it hit me: 'I've been working feverishly on a book for months, buried in a manuscript. I'm in need of exercise, sunshine, the outdoors.' So I made a commitment to myself to pursue those things aggressively. Thirty minutes later I left that barbershop with two freshly groomed sons and a To Do list for self-improvement. I never looked back.”
Among the 40,000 readers of the Monday Morning Memo there are certain to be many for whom today’s memo brought back memories of past heartaches. For this, I apologize.
My goal is not to turn your eyes to the past, but to the future.
SUMMARY: Guys, we’re always attracted to what’s missing in our lives. And the thing we miss most will sometimes show up in the form of a woman.
So if you are married but attracted to another woman, grab a pen and paper. Make a list. Get to work on yourself. This is the path that leads to lasting satisfaction.
Roy H. Williams
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