Posted On July 22, 2009 by Print This Post

Got N.U.T.s?

Good morning and welcome to Romance University.  Our guest today is Wayne Levine, M.A.  Wayne is the director of the West Coast Men’s Center in Agoura Hills, CA, where he coaches and mentors men, and facilitates men’s groups. He also created the BetterMen Retreats for men, and for fathers and sons. In addition, Wayne is the founder of, a life coaching and mentoring resource for men.

I first heard about Wayne through an advice column on The Art of Manliness, a blog dedicated to men and the issues they face.  From the female perspective, I have found Wayne’s relationship advice to men to be spot-on.  If you want straight-talk, he’ll give it to you.  Even if he has to bust out his “police issue bullhorn.”

We thought it would be fun to unleash a bunch of romance writers on him and see how he holds up. Wayne, I bid you good luck.

Adrienne:  After reading your book I was fascinated by your explanation of why a man should be able to hold on to his N.U.T.s.  Please tell us what N.U.T.s stands for and why men want to hold on to them?

wayne-speakingcrop3Wayne :  N.U.T.s are Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms. N.U.T.s are the things a man is committed to, the things that matter more than anything else: his kids, his work, himself, his purpose, his spiritual practice, his hobbies, his integrity, his morals and psychological well-being.

N.U.T.s are the boundaries that define him as man, those things which, if repeatedly compromised, will gradually-but assuredly-turn him into a pissed-off, resentful man who will likely blame others-especially his wife-for his unhappiness.

A man’s N.U.T.s are uniquely his. They reflect who he is as a man and the man he wants to be. Compromise his N.U.T.s, and he’ll compromise himself. Compromise himself too often, and he’ll become an extremely unhappy man, husband and father.

So I think it’s clear why it’s imperative that each man maintain a firm grasp of his N.U.T.s-for his benefit and for the benefit of those he cares about.

Adrienne:  What prompted you to write Hold Onto Your N.U.T.s, The Relationship Manual for Men?

 Wayne:  While earning my master’s I discovered a significant void in the curriculum. There wasn’t a single class offered focusing on the specific needs of men. Though I had always intended to focus my practice on the needs of men, my purpose became clearer: men need to be mentored and taught the lessons they’ve not yet learned from their fathers.

Over the next several years, I reviewed my experiences-and those of the men I had encountered-compiled the many bits of wisdom I had received through my studies and from my mentors, and then began writing it all down.

It took about five years to finally finish the book. As many of you know, what you plan to write often becomes something very different along the way.

There’s so much that isn’t in this book. There are more books to write. But the process of writing, publishing, publicizing and trying to empty my storage unit of the last 6,000 copies, has given me pause. I suspect I’ll get back to it within a year or so. For now, I write columns, will launch a blog soon, and periodically allow myself to get dissected by romance writers.

AdrienneIs there a trend among men where the more they like each other, the more abuse they dish out?  It seems like men show affection by poking good-natured fun at each other.  Can you explain why this is?

Wayne:  Because they’re idiots, I’m smarter than they are, wittier than they are, and it’s fun to revel in my superiority. I think that just about sums it up.

 Ok, there’s probably more to it than that. Let me think…ah…well…no that’s not very intelligent…oh I think I’ve got something. It might have something to do with getting ourselves ready for battle. Is the guy next to me ready to have my back? Can I trust him? Can he take a hit and still have the courage to stay in the fight?

 The work we do at BetterMen is all about developing trusting relationships with each other so that we have the support we need when in the battle. The nature of the battle has changed since way back in the day, but it’s still quite real for us. Today’s battles are with doubt and fear, shame, living up to expectations, giving and receiving love and affection, becoming the men we were meant to be and learning the lessons from our fathers.

 And I don’t think this behavior among men is a trend. We’ve been busting each other’s balls, I suspect, since the dawn of…well…balls.

Adrienne: Women bond by sharing their most intimate thoughts, but men would probably rather take a sharp stick in the eye than talk about their feelings.  Here’s what we ladies want to know:  If men don’t “talk” to each other, how do they bond emotionally with other men?

Wayne:  They bond shoulder-to-shoulder. War, hunting, extreme sports, putting down a forest fire, building stuff, and blowing shit up. But men today need more than that. The men in our circle do talk. And once given permission, it might surprise you have quickly it becomes a natural way of being.

Many women have expressed a desire to be a fly on our men’s center wall. And for good reason. The discussions are as rich, revealing, and emotional as anything you’ve heard with your women friends. Although how we say things and what we’re revealing is quite different than women, we men absolutely have the capacity to bond through talk. But after a while, all we really want to do is blow some shit up! Then we become blood brothers, share the secret handshake, and welcome the new guys into the fort.

Adrienne: How does a man’s life change when he finds “the one”?

Wayne:  Well, I think it depends on the evolutionary state of the man. Most of the men I work with were not fully developed in their masculinity when they found what they thought was “the one.” As a result, she couldn’t be “the one” because he wasn’t fully baked and ready to cherish and protect her.

Often times, men sell out their N.U.T.s when they find “the one” and eventually resent her for it. (Like not spending time with his buddies, letting a hobby go because he thinks he should go to the mall with her, etc.) And as he compromises his N.U.T.s and becomes bitter, he ceases to be the man she once wanted.

For the healthier or luckier of us (I am in the latter group), our lives become fuller and, for a time, more wonderful. Eventually, however, it becomes challenging as we try to be individuals while overwhelmed with the responsibilities of making a better living than the schmuck in the magazine ad, being a wonderful father like the baseball-coaching dad across the street, and still being the guy she happily said YES! to.

And then there’s the challenge of trying to actually grow up and become the man we want to be while in a relationship. She’s a constant reminder to us that we haven’t been that man. And these reminders aren’t necessarily overt or intentional. But it’s why we often take out our frustrations on her.

But if she is the one, she’ll inspire us to be better men. And if she’s a keeper, she’ll be patient with us and she’ll make us believe we’re better than we know we really are.

Adrienne: This question will probably cause a riot, but I think we have to go there.  The world is filled with strong, independent women who can take care of themselves.  With this in mind, do you think men want their strong, independent women to occasionally step back and let them “be the man”?  And, if so, why is it important to men?

Wayne:  It doesn’t matter how strong or independent a woman is. If she wants a good, healthy, masculine man, she should ALWAYS support him to be the man. Some women have lost their femininity in their quest for economic, social, and political equality. They’ve come to believe that they have to behave like men to succeed in this “man’s world.” Not true. And I think women discovered that the pendulum had swung too far in the hands of the radical feminists. But I digress.

No matter how strong and independent a woman might be, she’s still a woman. Does she not want to be swept off her feet by her knight? Does she not want to “be taken” by her man in bed? Does she not want to know that her man would gladly go to battle to defend her honor? Does she not want her man to be romantic? These are things men do for women, not the other way around. Of course, “being taken” by her every now and then could be just fine.

My wife clearly doesn’t need me to survive. She’s remarkably self-sufficient. She’s smart, strong, and doesn’t usually take shit from anyone. But when I act like a little boy and not a man, she’s not very pleased with me. It makes her feel less secure, less protected.

But in the end, it’s not about the woman “letting” her man be a man. If that’s what’s going on, she’s probably not with the man she wants. It’s our job to show up as the man. And it’s our responsibility to get the support we need to be that man in our relationships.

Adrienne:  In one of your advice columns you offered help regarding a wife’s refusal to initiate sex. In that column you talked a lot about the little boy.  What do you mean by that and how can/should men silence the little boy?

Wayne:  The little boy is:

  • The moody one who refuses to love or make love to his wife because she hurt his feelings.
  • The one who expects his wife to read his mind and understand what he needs, even though he’s done a terrible job of communicating those needs to her.
  • The one who goes to battle with his wife every time he hears her complain-or thinks she’s complaining-because he hears his mommy reprimanding him.
  • The little boy who wants what he wants when he wants it and refuses to understand that choices have to be made, and that sometimes it doesn’t work out the way he’d like.
  • The one who expects his wife to satisfy all of his needs.
  • The one who often leads the man to a quick fix, to seemingly more nurturing arms, or to divorce.
  • The one who hasn’t yet been initiated into manhood. He doesn’t know how to be a man. He’s stuck, as a little boy

He’s the one who didn’t get the love, attention, guidance, mothering, fathering or discipline he should have gotten-or thinks he should have gotten-when he was a boy. He’s also the real, wounded little boy who was abused and who never received the help he needed to heal and to grow up to be a healthy man.

 For a number of reasons, males in our society grow up without having a clear understanding of themselves as men, and they continue to act like needy little boys, especially when things aren’t going well and when being a strong man is just what the situation requires.

To be a strong, confident man in a healthy long-term relationship, a man must silence that little boy. He does that by developing a vision of the man he wants to be and getting the support to become that man. He can only effectively do that in the company of other men. Only the men can help him to be that man.

 A woman can give him a good reason to be that man, and she can certainly be supportive and contribute. But the real work is done with men. Only other men can hold a man accountable, kick his ass, and create a safe place where the healing can take place, especially the healing around our relationships with our fathers.

Hold Onto Your N.U.T.s A special thanks to Wayne for being here today.  For more information on Wayne’s book please visit  It’s a great read no matter what your gender.  To prove it, we are going to raffle off a copy.  Just leave a comment or question and your name will be included in the drawing. 

For added fun, the first person to ask a question that incites the use of Wayne’s bullhorn wins a leather RU pocket notepad.  

Let’s turn it over to Wayne.  Here’s your chance to get answers to those male related questions frying your brain.  Give him some good ones because I want to see–er hear–that bullhorn.

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46 Responses to “Got N.U.T.s?”

  1. Hi Wayne,
    Thanks for joining us at RU! Above you stated, “Though I had always intended to focus my practice on the needs of men…”. I’m curious about what event in your life prompted you to walk down this path.

    Also, do you think there was ever a time in our past that men did have a clear understanding of themselves?

    Thanks again! Tracey

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | July 22, 2009, 5:50 am
  2. Hi Wayne,

    I love your explanation of why men poke fun at each other. It reminds me of the time when my husband and I were first dating and he asked me to answer the phone. When I did, this male voice growled, “Hey D***” I hung up it up, and told him it was a prank call. When the phone rang again, he said to pick it up. I did and the same male voice asked politely for him. When I handed the phone to him, they promptly insulted one another and laughed.

    I remember being shocked by this side of him, because it wasn’t a side he’d ever shown me. To this day, they still insult one another when we get together.

    Great Post!


    Posted by Di R | July 22, 2009, 6:40 am
  3. Wayne, I hope you can help with my dilemma. My husband is a carpenter. I know he can build things. I too like to build things. I know he has to be the MAN and do the building but it seems that whenever I want to build something I have to do it when he’s not at home. If I dare to do it when he’s there he always feels that he has to HELP me. If I don’t have him help me he gets MAD. Please tell me how I can get him to allow me to build things without him losing his manhoood over it?

    Posted by Elisa Hahn | July 22, 2009, 6:47 am
  4. I need that book! What a wealth of interesting information. I wish I knew what all my husband’s N.U.T.s were!

    I’ll restrict myself to three issues but first, backstory. We’re in our late forties (mine a little later than his) and have been married for eighteen years.

    I have teeth-marks in my tongue because I am NOT allowed to get upset about anything he did or (more likely) didn’t do, otherwise he pouts for hours. Little boy for sure! I guess he’s not going to change?

    Tell me – how can you MAKE a man find (and keep) a hobby? My husband’s job is stressful and he releases stress by telling me ALL about his day. I know more about his fellow workers than I do my own. We communicate during the day, but if I don’t listen and/or give him thirty minutes of undivided attention when I get in each evening, he pouts. I wish he would take up golf or something – anything!

    I work full-time (and write to de-stress) and am very well paid. Not as well-paid as he is, of course, I won’t make that mistake again! However, I spend 60 – 65 hours a week commuting/working to achieve that salary. I’d love to work closer to home or part-time, but my husband is paranoid about any reduction in our income. Do you think he’ll change when our youngest is done with college or am I stuck working until I drop?

    Thanks so much for your time!

    Posted by Elizabeth Pina | July 22, 2009, 7:49 am
  5. Hi Wayne and thank you for being here. As I was reading your book I realized I have my own set of N.U.T.s (something my husband would probably agree with! LOL.) Exercising is one of my N.U.T.s. It keeps me healthy and burns off stress. I was traveling all last week and came home with a sinus infection. Thus, I’ve gotten no substantial exercise in ten days and I am feeling a little crabby over it. It’s a minor example, but it makes me fully understand N.U.T.s and how not having them can effect someone.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | July 22, 2009, 8:17 am
  6. Hi Wayne…

    Thanks for posting…what a great read! My man is a non-communicator…I ask him to “just tell me!” and he thinks I should “just know”….but I don’t…most of the time I’m clueless when he finally snaps at there any way to make him a better communicator OR to make me a better mind reader? Do men send off subtle “clues” as to what they’re thinking that we women just don’t catch?


    Posted by carrie | July 22, 2009, 8:24 am
  7. Great blog. Thanks for sharing. This gives all of us a lot to think about and use in relationships, parenting boys, and for character development in our works of fiction. I hope I wind the book!!!
    Barb Longley

    Posted by Barbara Longley | July 22, 2009, 8:36 am
  8. Thanks for sharing. I plan on sharing your information with the men in my family – although I think they’ve turned out pretty good. What do you share with men who had no men to bond with or who had a dysfunctional grandfather?

    Posted by Linda | July 22, 2009, 9:45 am
  9. How would you help the little boy change into the man, when he won’t associate with others. All he does is go to work and come home to complain about his work, people, and the world in general. Nothing positive ever comes out of his mouth. He’s never had friends… I’ve tried bring home my friends with their husbands … but he’s anti-social. I understand he need other men around to help…should I force him to attend family functions? Would that help? I must get that book …. and leave it around for him to see.

    Posted by Carolyn Coles | July 22, 2009, 10:01 am
  10. Wow! What an insightful look into men. I’ve been with my guy for 33 years (married 25 of them) so we were one of he lucky few that managed the “growing up” transition. Some of the things you said were like a smack on the head. Excellent post. (And yeah … a secret peep hole into the men’s club would be awesome. *g*)

    Posted by Nina Pierce | July 22, 2009, 10:06 am
  11. Good morning, ladies. It’s early for me. I work late running the groups. But like any other good man, I’m willing to sacrifice for women. The trick is to not compromise my N.U.T.s in the process. I’ll do my best. I hope to get “smarter” as the day wears on, and I wake up.

    To Tracey:

    What led me to the men, this path, was the death of my dad of pancreatic cancer when I was nine. I had been searching for him ever since. When I was introduced to men’s work at age 33, I knew I had found a home. After a lot of effort and time, I finally received the fathering I needed (still need it most of the time). Eventually, I became “father” to hundreds of men through the work I do. Fabulous irony, don’t you think?

    Yes, I think there was a time when men had a clear understanding of themselves as men…before the industrial revolution. Then, men boys were raised by the men, not the women. They worked near their homes, taught their sons a trade, and shared with the boys what it meant to be a man in their community. We’ve lost all of that.

    To Elisa:

    He’s not losing his manhood over this, he’s just demonstrating his fragile and misguided sense of masculinity. It’s the little boy who is getting MAD.

    I suggest you let him know that you’d prefer to build it yourself. If you need help, you know where to go. Stop feeling responsible for his feelings. Maybe when you quit being his mommy, he’ll be more motivated to figure out why he feels inadequate sometimes and finds it necessary to bully you into doing it his way. Perhaps this is sounding a bit harsh. But I’ve seen it all too often.

    This is one of the ways that men make it about themselves, instead of the women they love.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 10:22 am
  12. Hey,

    My wife just brought in my breakfast so I can keep writing. Married 25 years to a winner. Always makes me feel like I’m the greatest catch on earth.

    BTW, no time to proof all of this. I’ll do my best to respond to all. Love me, love my typos.

    To Elizabeth:

    You’re not stuck, you just think you are. I’m spotting a trend today: I can’t be the woman I want to be because he’s a little boy. As I mentioned a moment ago, stop being his mommy and be the woman you want to be.

    He’s leaning on you for all of his emotional support because he has no men in his life. It’s not a hobby he needs, he needs to be reminded that he has testicles and he needs to be with others who have them too!

    Look, hobbies are important, and it would move him in the right direction. But it’s no substitute for trusting relationships with men. Buy him a copy of my book. Then do what you need to do.

    Let him know you can’t be his only sounding board. It’s draining for you because you’ve been trying to help him, but know you can’t. Tell him he needs to seek out some masculine support. then leave it alone for a while. See if he tries to figure it out. If he makes moves in that direction, support him and let him know how proud you are.

    As for work, if you slave til you drop, don’t blame it on him!

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 10:30 am
  13. To Adrienne,

    Well, you look to cute to have N.U.T.s. But we do all need our terms, our boundaries. A lot of what I teach men applies to women. But men need to hear it a certain way for the wisdom to sink in. We have our own language.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 10:34 am
  14. To Carrie:

    You can”t make him and you aren’t responsible to mind read. Man, a lot of little boys out there!

    You know, most men need some of this work, but they’re so reluctant to seek it out. It’s the shame of needing help. It’s unacceptable in our culture for men to ask for help.

    Don’t accept his behavior. If he’s acting like a jerk, like a little boy, set him straight. Let him know that you’re not his mommy. If he needs or wants something, he should tell you.

    This issue often comes up around sex. “Doesn’t she realize I want a blow job EVERY day? What the hell is wrong with her.” Well, it is true, we do. The problem is that most men don’t run the romance departments, so they don’t get the sex they’d like.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 10:39 am
  15. To Barb:

    If you don’t win the book, buy a copy. I have two kids in college!

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 10:40 am
  16. To Linda:

    Most of the men I work with did not have the father they wanted, or thought they needed. Look, the last few generations of men have not had a great sense of their own masculinity. Their fathers weren’t around when they grew up, and they passed on that legacy to their boys. That’s why we need to father each other and seek out the fathering we need.

    It’s never too late to get what you need. And chances are, there are a lot of men who are in the same boat. Once men realize this, it’s a lot easier to open up to the wisdom, support and camaraderie.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 10:44 am
  17. To Carolyn:

    You can’t MAKE him do anything. Sounds very frustrating for you. Sounds as if you’ve tried everything you could. Do your best to enjoy your life. You married him, but you’re not responsible for his happiness. Go have fun. Be an example. It’s his journey…it’s his life.

    The book might help, but only if he’s tired of being miserable. It’s worth a shot.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 10:49 am
  18. Wayne,
    I enjoyed reading your comments. You presented a very interesting point of view and offered a thought provoking perspective on being a man. After reading the blog, I found myself thinking about my N.U.T.s and came to the conclusion that I’m, at the very least, missing some pieces. I also believe that my N.U.T.s, taken as a whole, have been smaller and larger at different times in my life. I would like to think that I compromised pieces of my N.U.T.s for the greater good; keeping my job, managing the people that work for me, maintaining friendships, sustaining relationships with family, etc. Without compromise, it would seem to be extremely difficult to interact in a positive manner with all the “others” we come into contact with throughout our lives, especially those who also have N.U.T.s that are configured differently than ours. My question for you is this: If you establish your terms as non-negotiable and uncompromising, how do you maintain the integrity of your N.U.T.s without being labeled a “prick” (pun intended, but nonetheless a serious question)?

    Posted by Tim | July 22, 2009, 10:53 am
  19. To Tim:

    What’s wrong with someone labeling you a prick? Sometimes when you’re the man you want to be, others won’t be pleased. Does that mean you alter who you are to keep them pleased? That’s a slippery slope. That’s how men grow resentful.

    Compromise is fine. We have to do it all the time. But compromising what defines you, what you’re committed to, is unacceptable. It can be tricky thing sometimes to figure out how to honor your competing commitments, and those of others, without compromising yourself. But there is always a way. That’s why having men in your life is so important. They can help you get out of your head and into your heart so you can find the solution. That’s the sort of work I do with men all day. It ain’t brain surgery, but it is a muscle most of us need a little coaching to develop.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 11:02 am
  20. Thanks, Wayne, for sharing so much interesting information on the male psyche. I’ll be looking for your book today at Barnes and Noble. I know it will help me to better define my male characters.

    lucie j.

    Posted by Lucie J. Charles | July 22, 2009, 11:33 am
  21. Hi Wayne,

    Here’s what I think you’re saying to those of us who have husbands that don’t have friends/hobbies/what not that put them in touch with other guys:

    Women can’t make them do it. We’re responsible for our own stuff – doing what we feel is our work, our responsibility and support our men in the best way we can without being or feeling responsible for their feelings.

    Do I pretty much have that right?

    Are there men who are unredeemable in your opinion? Men who refuse to let go of the anger and blame and grow a pair?

    And here’s another question (I’m full of them!) My husband uses the kids, finances, whatever as an excuse not to go and do things with guys. Is there a way to get beyond what sound like legitimate reasons but are keeping him from connecting with men?

    Thanks for being with us today. I’m finding your thoughts very interesting.

    Posted by Kate George | July 22, 2009, 11:56 am
  22. To Kate:

    That about sums it up.

    Unredeemable? Well, there are a lot of men who refuse to grow up, to be responsible for themselves, who insist on blaming others. But you never know. I continue to encourage men to bring this work to the men in their lives. Sometimes the men who seem hardest to reach, are just WAITING to be given permission to tell the truth and to ask for help.

    Send your husband to our site. There’s quite a bit to read. Maybe hearing about other like himself will enable him to stop being so full of shit!

    We believe our own bullshit. One way that presents itself is by believing our own lies and rationalizations. If we say it often enough, we start believing it’s true.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 12:03 pm
  23. To Kate:

    That pretty much sums it up.

    Unredeemable? Well, there are a lot of men who can’t—or refuse—to grow up, take full responsibility for themselves, and want to blame others for their miserable lives.

    We men tend to believe our own bullshit. One way that presents itself is by believing the excuses and rationalizations we come up with because we’re scared, full of doubt, or consumed by shame.

    Suggest that he visit our site. He just might find himself in some of what the men have to say. Maybe that’ll tip him.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 12:18 pm
  24. Hi Wayne –

    Welcome to RU! We’re excited to have you with us today. As the mother of an almost-tween son, what can I do (besides making sure he and his dad have plenty of time together) to encourage his development of his NUTs?

    Also – I’ve noticed a lot more butting heads between my son and husband in the past couple of years. I’m not a great peacemaker. Should I just stay out of it?

    Thanks so much,

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | July 22, 2009, 12:51 pm
  25. To Kelsey:

    Good question. You’re mom. He needs more dad now. You obviously get that. Whatever you do to support their time together is the best thing you can do. Shows me that you’re a secure, solid chick. Lucky them.

    You husband sounds as if he can use a little coaching. Sons are going to challenge dad. That’s their job. Dad’s job is to remain the rock, the teacher, the mentor, without getting upset. The degree to which he gets upset and engages in arguments with his son is directly related to his progress on the journey of manhood. If he were able to get a little input around his feelings and interaction with the kid, he’d be much happier with himself.

    Being dad is tough. We’ve come to believe that we’re supposed to raise our sons alone. Meaning, we have to father by ourselves. That’s not the way it used to be. It used to be that uncles, grandpas, neighbors, etc., all chipped in to teach the boys how to be good men.

    The work done in our BetterMen circle, and circles of men like ours, is that we all father each other. and when we have the opportunity, like on father-son overnights or when the men bring their sons to their group meetings, we father the boys. It’s powerful to see and a blessing to be a part of.

    share this with your man. Sometimes it’s necessary to play peacemaker IF the situation is out of hand. But it’s best to just be supportive of dad after the fact and suggest that there is some great support out there…if he has the courage to ask for help. And what’s his motivation? To be the best father he can be and to be an example to his son. After all, your boy is going to be a man just like dad.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 1:08 pm
    • Wayne –

      Thanks for the feedback, and I agree with your thoughts on the dads being responsible for all the “fathering” these days. Our situation is exacerbated by the fact that we live overseas and our son only sees his other male family members in the summer. Perhaps we need to encourage his relationship development with other men. For example, he’s had a great baseball coach the last couple of years (who has now moved back to the US).

      Thanks again!

      Posted by KelseyBrowning | July 22, 2009, 1:16 pm
  26. Interesting posts (no time to read them all) this past week at the RWA conference, a very interesting presentation was one on Body Language…and how the Limbic brain comes into play…especially with men and competition…ah…vive les différences.

    Posted by Chris | July 22, 2009, 1:33 pm
  27. Wayne, this is a terrific discussion. I’ve seen elements here that I think are right on target with where my husband is…and also at times, where I’ve had to reign in my own “mommy” tendencies.

    My husband has decided on his own, with his buds, that they need to spend more time together. I jumped for joy when I heard that, because he needs his friends as much as I need mine. And it feels at times like a full time job being his only support system…and I never realized that’s exactly what I was feeling until you mentioned it above. So thank you for that.

    Here’s my question. The guys have a weekend planned in a few weeks. I’m fully supportive of him going, I think it will be great for him. When he does spend time with his friends, he comes home different. More of a “guy.” and less of a little boy.

    But it seems like he’s already talking himself out of enjoying this upcoming weekend or, God help me, going at all. They are going to be doing THIS, and he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to stay the night…. this and that. It seems like he’s coming up with excuses not to be there or not to enjoy it if he is. WHY? Shouldn’t he want to spend time with them?

    I’m off to find your book. As a writer, it’s fabulous info for writing men…but as a wife, I’m hopeful my husband will find it in the obvious place on my desk I plan on putting it. 🙂

    Posted by Amelia | July 22, 2009, 1:38 pm
  28. Good grief! Virtually every stereotype attributed to a gender in this thread can be applied to the the other. Ladies, make your characters real and fresh.

    Posted by Wes | July 22, 2009, 3:35 pm
    • Stereotypes exist for a reason — I imagine everyone in the world fits into some stereotype somewhere. Ignoring them isn’t always good writing, IMO.

      As a writer, it would be impossible to come up with characters that didn’t exist in some stereotype, that didn’t behave in ways many others of the same gender behave. It’s part of what separates men and women, and it’s also part of what makes us relate to our characters.

      Men like to “blow shit up” and women like to “watch chick flicks.” Stereotype? You betcha, but every guy has a motivation and a reward for that action. Every woman has a motivation and reward for her action — it’s those motivations and the rewards that drive people that make them fresh and real, in my opinion.

      And some men watch chick flicks. Some women like to blow stuff up. It all boils down to motivation…even in stereotypes.

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | July 22, 2009, 5:03 pm
  29. Wayne,

    You stated that “N.U.T.s are Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms”. This is a very strong statement in theory, yet we live in the real world with outside influences that change constantly – whether it be at home, at work, with friends or with our family. My question – how do you try to balance maintaing your N.U.T.s while also not becoming “set in your ways” or a hardass while things are changing around you?


    Posted by msl | July 22, 2009, 3:48 pm
  30. Wayne, your book sounds like a wonderful resource for men, wives and writers. I hope I can find it down here in New Zealand.

    Question: Sometimes males communicate in grunts, and I don’t have a clue. How do we learn this language, or do we just smile and leave them to it?

    Posted by Shelley Munro | July 22, 2009, 3:49 pm
  31. To Wes:


    First, I have now idea what your post is about. Second, these women have been talking about their REAL men, husbands, fathers and sons. What thread have you been reading today?

    But I thank you, Wes, for validating a suspicion I’ve had all day: somewhere, in the darkness live a number of unconscious, feminized men. Are you one of them?

    Feminized men see the world through their mothers’ eyes, primarily because their fathers weren’t around or they simply didn’t get the masculine energy they need as they were growing up. A lot of these fathers were drunk, abusive or just absent. As a result, their sons resent men, hate men, or have never been initiated into manhood.

    So we now have generations of these feminized men, men who refuse to acknowledge the differences between men and women? Why, because it’s too scary to look within. These men are the biggest obstacles for the work we do. Women appreciate the differences—for the most part—and want to see their men BE men, happy men, fulfilled men. Unfortunately, its pretty terrifying for the feminized members of our gender.

    So, Wes, what is it that you really have to say here? Instead of a meaningless criitcism, have you got anything real, authentic, masculine to add?

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 4:31 pm
  32. To msl:

    Excellent question.

    It comes up all of the time with the men, especially when they’re new to the work. It’s almost impossible to imagine taking a strong stand when their entire life experience has shown them that it’s painful to do so. Meaning, the women in their lives will kick their asses if the men disagree, have a conflicting opinion, etc. And it’s something they learned from watching their mother’s beat the shit out of their cowardly fathers.

    I’m not judging, just reporting. I’ve heard about it again and again. And now the sons are repeating these ways and a while new generation of women are unhappy and feel forced to be the men of the house. Meanwhile, the boys and girls are not receiving very healthy role models for what a relationship can be.

    So, it is difficult for each man to find that balance. He does it by experimenting and then getting support from other men who will give him the feedback he needs to know whether he did a good job, or whether he blew and needs to get back in the game with a clearer vision of the man he wants to be.

    It’s a process. the earlier in life you come to it, the easier it is. That’ why I think what we teach ought to be taught to all high school boys. It’s in high school where many of the poor habits begin, especially when the boys discover the girls. That’s when the N.U.T.s begin to get compromised.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 4:40 pm
  33. To Shelley:

    You can always order the book from our web site. We’ll gladly ship to Kiwis.

    As for the grunts, I suppose over the years women get to know their men. But a lot of men haven’t developed their communication skills, that’s for sure. At the same time, many men have learned to NOT communicate because of the bad experiences they’ve had over the years.

    If you don’t understand what he wants, ask him. Perhaps he’ll learn over time that he’s more likely to get what he wants when he asks for it.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 4:45 pm
  34. To Amelia:

    Perhaps the only thing you can do is to not respond to the little boy, to his complaints, etc. Just say, “All I know is that when you spend time with the men, you’re a hellavu lot more attractive to me, more the man I married.”

    See if that gets his attention. then let it go.

    Good luck.

    Posted by Wayne | July 22, 2009, 5:04 pm
  35. Wayne, really enjoyed reading your observations. I sure could have used you and your advice a really long time ago. I was married (widowed now) to a man who was all man (by his standards with no disrespect) who thought his way was the only way — so now I understand the concept of Non-negotiable Unalterable Terms.

    Posted by joan giordano | July 22, 2009, 7:27 pm
  36. Hi Wayne,
    I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts and observations and the comments back and forth and agree with you about the importance and the benefits men receive from their relationships with other men at all different times of their lives, through good times and bad times, and that these relationships can help keep them “‘grounded”. My son recently finished active duty in the Marine Corps and he and his Marine brothers have very deep relationships that sometimes don’t even require talk….it really is a wonderful thing, that unspoken and spoken communication. Some of each person rubs off on the next, and the males are exposed to so many different backgrounds and views which impact their lives and our son hugs us and tells us he loves us!

    Thanks for your writings. Enjoyed reading this.

    Posted by Karen | July 22, 2009, 8:45 pm
  37. Very interesting topic, today. I’ve enjoyed reading the posts and replies, too.
    My husband and I’ve been married over 40 years, raised six incredible kids, now all adults that we are proud of. My husband started his own small business over 20 years ago, and now all three sons and one daughter work there.
    It’s been an incredibly difficult time to keep a small business afloat, first with 9/11, now with this economic recession/depression, whatever you want to call it.
    Years ago, he had a very strong, spiritual support group of men he met with each Saturday morning at church, and this was incredibly fulfilling for him. Then one close friend moved away, and another. Soon he was not going to Group because of one thing and another. He doesn’t have close male confidants like he used to. He’s going the Macho Male Alone route now, keeping in all these worries about work, etc. to shield me.
    I had major surgeries earlier this year, with some complications. I’m doing well now, but it terrified him. I was kept unconscious for five days after the second surgery for medical reasons) He’s now more protective of me than ever.
    I’m not complaining, but I wish I could do more to help him. He does play some golf to destress, works out and rides his bike on the weekend, but works long hours six days a week, with the only exception being golf.
    I try as much as I can to be sensitive to his emotional state, we are close in most areas. I wish I could help out financially, but am still in physical therapy and that’s not a reasonable goal.
    I’d like him to find another male confidant, but I can’t force him. I’ve tried to get him to call his former close buddies and once in awhile they do talk, but he glosses over how work is doing. “It’s fine . . .”
    Any suggestions?

    Posted by Sherry Weddle | July 22, 2009, 9:15 pm
  38. Hi Wayne,

    I’ve been reading all the posts and I can’t help commenting again. Is it just me, or are a lot of us women clueless as to how to get through to our guys. We want to help them, we don’t want to emasculate them, we want our sons to grow up strong and happy – but we don’t know what we should be doing, not doing, saying, not saying.

    It’s difficult to let our men flounder, but not much we do or say has the desired effect. I don’t know about other women but I often feel as if it doesn’t matter what I do, it won’t be helpful.

    It’s amazing to me that communication is such a huge obstacles in our relationships.

    Thanks for being willing to respond to our confusion.

    Posted by Kate George | July 22, 2009, 9:39 pm
  39. I almost never click on URLS in my digest form of my writer lists, but the subject intrigued me. I’m 82 and have been legally associated with two men, one now dead, and am now not legally associated with another. My first huisband had an overbearing father who I’m sure transmitted the message to his son that he never did anything right–never mind that his son became an MD. When, with five kids, I decided to try to fulfill my lifetime dream of writing, he became so threatned by this that he essentially told me it was the writing or him and nobody else would want me with five kids, because they’d go with me if I left. When I decided I didn’t care if that was true and chose writing, we divorced. In a writing class I met another man, who totally understood the need to write, even though he was successful in his own line of work. We evenually married, adding two stepchildren (his wife had died) to my five. What I divcovered about him was yes, my writing was fine, but otherwise I was not. After all the children were on their own, we did get along better and as far as writing was concerned, perfectly (we both sold everything we wrote). But every friendship I had with anyone, man or woman, threatened him. He died unexpectedly. Out of the blue an old high school classmate of mine called me from another state, saying he’d read one of my books and could I possibly have based my Swedish hero, in part, on him? I hadn’t consciously thought so, but he had been the only Swedish male I ever knew very well. Since we both were on our own, we got together and haven’t parted since then. I know why we do so well together is partly based on past acquaintance, but we do mesh unusally well, He’s not threatened by anything I do, for one thing, and is proud of my ability to write. But reading your comments, I understand what’s bothering him now. At 83, so many of his male friends have died that he has only one left and that man isn’t well. His three older brothers are all dead as well. So there are no longer any men to do something with, plus the problems age brings has stopped him from enjoying so many of the activities he once was able to do. Thanks for enlightening me on how much this meant to him. Understanding will increase my patience. Jane

    Posted by Jane Toombs | July 23, 2009, 9:03 am
  40. Wayne,

    You’ve definitely given me food for thought! I’m looking forward to reading your book. Sarah

    Posted by Sarah McDermed | July 23, 2009, 3:15 pm
  41. To Sarah:

    Thanks. Enjoy.

    To Kate:

    Your confusion is our confusion. It ain’t easy, this relationship thing. But let’s all keep doing our best to be the authentic people our spirits have sent us here to be. Suppose no one’s expecting anything spiritual from this blue-collar guy! We’re all here to learn. Sounds like this group is engaged in that process. I enjoyed our time together yesterday. So, thank YOU!

    To Joan:

    I know the N.U.T.s concept can sound, initially, like a chauvinistic trip back to the cave. I’m glad you can see that’s it’s not. The idea is to be the best men we can be so that we can cherish, protect, and respect our women and kids.

    To Sherry:

    A familiar spot for many women. You’ve got to let go of the “financial guilt” you’re holding on to. That’s not the source of your problem. You care about your husband and you can see he isn’t taking care of himself. My suggestion is that when you get back to 100%, live your life and be an example to him. Don’t allow the co-dependancy to strengthen. Perhaps when he sees you “moving on” a bit, he’ll get the hint. In the meantime, I wish you a full recovery.

    To Jane:

    I’m so glad you shared your story. Though your man has lost most of his men, he has a valuable gift to give younger men. If I had his ear, I’d encourage him to find a circle of men and to be an elder, to share his wisdom, to be father and grandfather to others. There are so many men thirsty for “father.” Perhaps this might light his fire. Though our culture, as a whole, doesn’t honor our elders, I think there are enough of us out there who do. Keep on writing, my dear!


    The most obvious contender is Wes. And had he stepped up and returned to the “ring,” he might have been the winner. Wes, if it’s ever your choice to open up to this discussion, this work, please chime in.



    The balance question is such an important one, so I award msl—whoever he or she is.

    Bye for now.


    Posted by Wayne | July 23, 2009, 4:48 pm
  42. Bravo – great column. I have always believed that there’s plenty of room for men to be men and women to be women, AND for us all to get along. Historically, too many things become classified for women only or for men only and I think both the genders have suffered as a result. Just ask a male nurse or a female firefighter, or a stay-at-home dad, or a female in the military. I promise I won’t break out in a chorus of “What the World Needs Now,” but I hope we can keep edging towards a world where people can be who they want and are meant to be regardless of race, gender or geograhpic location.

    Again, great column – thanks to all at Romance University and Mr. Levine.

    Posted by Terri Stone | July 24, 2009, 9:55 am
  43. Sorry I came late to the party, but reading through the post, comments, and responses has been enlightening. Thank Wayne for me! (I was, in fact, dealing with men the last three days but they’ve been air conditioning service men and installers and one of them talks ALL THE TIME.) Interesting to think about my husband, my son — even my father, now gone (who grew up surrounded by sisters, as has my son, but seemed to have survived the deprivation).

    Posted by Beppie Harrison | July 24, 2009, 11:59 am
  44. I appreciate what you are saying about N.U.T.S. and I think it is important… my question is what does a guy do who is for the most part making his NUTS a priority but then his partner decides she wants to turn mid stream in the relationship and take a completely different approach and direction in life? I feel like I have to chose between my NUTS and my marriage… although I dont really like the direction she is going I do love her and dont want to lose her…

    Posted by mp | August 4, 2009, 2:46 am

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