How Women can Keep the Men in their Lives Happy
I’ve noticed that a lot of women read this site, and while they do so mostly in silence, I do get comments from women fairly frequently, most of which never see the light of day due to the obnoxious attitude they display. So I thought I’d offer some advice for the women who follow the site, including the feminists, some of whom are devoted regulars. Clearly, even these feminists see some value in the material, and I’m sure they sometimes incorporate the knowledge imparted here into their lives.
This is actually one of the great ironies of our time: it is the self-avowed liberals who tend to lead the most discerning, socially conservative lives. While there’s no doubt that many of these upper middle class and overeducated types are conservative by nature, I’m fairly certain that they also routinely follow conservative opinion and advice. Secretly, of course, but I know they do so all the same.
Without a doubt, many female readers are anxious at times about what they can do to keep things on an even keel with the men in their lives. While they probably can’t resist the temptation to sh*t test from time to time, with age they come to realize that men are no longer so tolerant of these self-indulgent outbursts, and they could be risking it all if they take it too far. Combine this with the growing stigma against divorcées and single mothers, and they have ample reason to avoid rocking the boat too much.
First, I’m going to state outright that there’s no point in teaching men how to keep women happy. Women are perfectly capable of demanding what they want with an energy and forcefulness that precious few straight men can muster. And men are bombarded with advice (mostly wrong-headed) about how to do so in any event. Even more importantly, men who try too hard to keep women happy – even through supposed red pill tactics – can only accomplish the opposite (same goes for women, but more on that later).
Let’s define a happy relationship. A happy relationship isn’t ecstatic, orgasmic or consumed with passion. Yes, this can sometimes be a feature of it, but the general character is one of moderation. The word that best captures this moderate type of relationship is “harmonious.” Like a well-crafted timepiece, the parts work together.
If you’re nineteen years old in the riotous springtime of life, you don’t have to worry about this yet, but you should pay attention for later reference. Your main job at this point is to try to exert some self-control so you don’t end up with an illegitimate child, a load of debt or some incurable disease. Also, avoid the naked selfies, but you should know that already.
If you’re a parent in her twenties, thirties or above, however, harmony is essential. Not only for your long-term well-being but also, even more importantly, for your kids’.
How does one achieve this elusive harmony? Perhaps counterintuitively, it doesn’t require a great deal of effort. In many cases it calls for less effort.
Today, I’ll focus on the concept of effortlessness, and how it can greatly enhance your relationship.
Effortlessness is an ideal that has inspired many great men and women, including ancient philosophers and contemporary athletes. It doesn’t mean lack of physical or mental work, but rather something like lack of resistance, or maximum efficiency. When one sees an elite athlete perform at the highest level, his heart may be beating at a high rate and pumping an enormous volume of blood, his perceptions processing a complex and dynamic environment, and his muscles consuming a great deal of oxygen and glucose, but his motions appear to be easy and free. It is the same when one sees a master pianist coordinating extraordinarily complex movements to give rise to sublime sounds, or a ballerina who performs technically extreme feats of athleticism to present us with the pinnacle of grace and beauty.
I’m not suggesting that we have to be such masters of perfection as these elite performers, but we should still hold their achievements as the ideal for the tasks of life.
Chuang Tzu, a renowned Daoist philosopher, described the work of a butcher to provide an example of effortlessness:
Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee – zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music
“Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Wen-hui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”
Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now — now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, glide the knife through the big openings, and follow things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.
“A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room — more than enough for the blade to play about in. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.
However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I’m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.”
So the key is not to try to hack or cut one’s way through the problems that inevitably arise, but instead to use a subtler, less forceful approach. This is an approach that I would recommend to men as well, but women are in some ways better suited to it, so it’s remarkable to see that so few women in contemporary society take advantage of their natural inclination. This is a testament to the masculinization imposed upon American girls from a young age, which stunts the development of their female strengths by demanding that they conform to standards originally set by and for men.
An example might be how to deal with a husband who is, for whatever reason, peevish and uncooperative. An American woman might confront him, nag and make threats or demands. This would be an example of hacking. Or she might use a somewhat less confrontational method and plead with him or try to get to the bottom of what’s “wrong” with him. Here, she is cutting.
Instead, she should choose the path of least resistance, and carefully go around the knots and sinews to get herself through the day without troubling herself or her husband, keeping the household calm and functional. Her husband will sense that his behavior and mood is out of place, and a more placid mood and agreeable behavior will return as he adjusts to the environment. This is the best response to the problem. It is not, as some would term it, avoidance, because she recognized and dealt with the problem. It is acceptance and adjustment, both of which greatly contribute to harmony in the household.
Another place where the ideal of effortlessness is helpful is in the desire to please a husband. A woman who tries too hard to please her husband will inevitably fail in one, or probably several, aspects of this task. He may not despise her for it, but she may come to despise him! The woman who puts great effort into her appearance for the sake of her man might find that he doesn’t appreciate her more for it, because this necessarily entails less effort in other matters, such as keeping house or childcare. By trying too hard in only one part of marriage to the neglect of others, she becomes like the basketball player who masters the free throw but can’t pass or defend well. She becomes a one-dimensional wife.
To avoid this, she should seek to make every part of her relationship as natural and effortless as possible, so that all can be accomplished with little frustration. When she does this, she is at peace with the natural world, and her health and mood improve, both of which are reflected in her appearance.
As an aside, I can say that as a man, there is something subtle about what makes one woman more attractive than another of roughly equal physical gifts. The woman who is graceful, at ease and satisfied with life has an appeal that is conspicuously absent in a woman who is frustrated and tense. I’ve seen technically “hot” women who, because of the hostility and dissatisfaction that emanates from them, have very little, if any, sex appeal. Makeup is designed to give a woman that healthy “glow” that characterizes the harmonious woman, but it’s a substitute that can’t make up for the real thing.
Finally, a woman should learn to put the world, by which I mean society, in its proper place. Do not be too concerned about what your peers, including your coworkers, think of you. Trying too hard for them could be disastrous to your relationship, and it could be destructive to your career and social life as well. Competing with other women will lead you right down the rabbit hole, and you might end up in a bad place. As in the other parts of your life, arrange your social life and work so that both are easily manageable and beneficial. If you find your efforts frustrating or unrewarded, instead of pushing harder, accept and adjust. Like cook Ting, move through open spaces with less resistance. It will be much less hassle to get through the day, and at its end it will be that much easier to tend to hearth and home.
In conclusion, one of the keys to happiness in your relationship lies in removing excess struggle and effort from your life. As you do so, you will find that everything you do is met with less resistance, and even those things that used to be great sources of frustration become parts of a satisfying, pleasurable life that makes an enormous contribution to a peaceful, harmonious household and a happy husband.