Generalizations can Fuel your Curiosity with Brent Dowlen a men’s coach – Love Vitamins for Relationships
Brent Dowlen is a men’s coach & podcaster. He hosts the Fallible Man Podcast. His journey started from a desire to become the best husband, Father, and Man he can be. The Fallible Man is a Lifestyle of Personal Development aimed specifically at Men’s self-improvement and growth.
Brent joined us to share his experience, learnings and stories of working in personal development with men who want to grow as men.
Honest gut-check for your relationships
To share more about what Brent and his wife do to build a healthy relationship, he explains how they started with a gut-check.
The first step in that is we had a real honest gut check about four or five years into our marriage and realized that while we thought we were perfect. We just weren’t talking, there were some problems under the surface and we just weren’t talking about it or dealing with it. I don’t think it was a purposeful thing that we were avoiding it. It just didn’t occur to us that we should be talking about these things. Once we got past that point of honesty with ourselves and stopped pretending we were perfect and started giving ourselves some room to breathe on that. Then we started getting focused.
One of the things we do, we like, we actually continue to do like marriage seminars whenever possible. We’ve been married for 21 plus years and we focus every chance we get to go do like a marriage class. This is part of it is we make a purposeful, intentional choice to go. We still got a lot to learn. Let’s see what they have. It’s also really fun because we look at some of the questions that come up from like the different classes that we go to or whatever, and it makes us laugh because we look back at our marriage and go, yeah, we used to do that.
Communication on Real Issues
Brent explains that one of the problems in their relationship early on in terms of communication was just there wasn’t any communication on real issues.
it was just there wasn’t communication on real issues. Both of us saw and encountered issues in our marriage and just personalized that. We went, oh, that’s my problem fix. I need to take care of this. We didn’t talk about it, and if she was frustrated with me, she didn’t tell me, Hey, I’m frustrated with you, or, I don’t like the fact that you did this, or it was, oh, well, I must be reacting to him badly. We just kind of pretended everything was perfect and kept going and kept going.
Brent goes on to share more about some of the other problems during that time like they were in the middle of a job change and had lost their home. He had lost this job and were behind on everything. Money was just coming in hardly. They were sleeping in a friend’s couch. He explains how everything just got bad and there wasn’t that polite space anymore because we had nowhere to go at that point. And one of the most beneficial things of their marriage early on, was they moved away from their families.
I had one family member in the area that I worked with and, and we’re very close. But when you’re away from everybody, all of your friends, all of your comfort spaces, well, when you start to fight or when you start to have a problem, You got nowhere to go and you got no one to cry to. All you gotta is each other when you don’t know anybody else. You need to go somewhere where neither of you know. Y’all can find good work. You can find a community to plug into, but where you know, no one start over with just you two, all of the space to run away. There’s no shoulder to cry on where you can go back to mom’s house or nope, no, no. Best friends, you can talk to ’em on the phone, but there’s no buddies to go out and, man, I can’t believe she did this right. Get away, get some space where all you have is each. And I mean that, probably carried us through the first several years. We were so focused on that.
Our takeaway – Marriage is not only the journey of two people, but it’s also the journey of the individual willing to do the work and show up to grow themselves so that the “we” can benefit from it. It’s a true testament of the two-part nature of being in a relationship. There is the, the showing up for the we and taking care and being able to listen and communicate and grow with your partner. But there’s a lot of work that happens behind the scene as an individual in your own life that you have to be accountable and responsible for.
Touch Base Communication
Brent explains more about their style of touch based communication and what it means for them
We’re very touch base in our communication to the point where I’ve actually had friends tease us because, It’s not even like a sexual touch, it’s I’m constantly touching my wife. She’s constantly touching me, right? If I’m by her, my hand is on her hip or on her shoulder or close to her touching her hand. I want to physically connect. And for us, a lot of times that’s where the communication starts is just that little touch. There may not be any words being said, but that little touch betrays how we’re feeling at the moment. She knows I might not have the right thing to say cuz I’m good at that. I’m gonna stick my foot in my mouth. But when I lead in with walking up behind her at her computer and putting my hand on her shoulder and just being there for a minute, it changes the pace and helps fill in the words. I don’t know what correctly to say.
Our takeaway – Non-verbal communication is a very important concept and physical touch, even non-sexual, but just intimate physical touch, lets your partner know, I’m here for you. Sometimes there isn’t the right thing to say or we just don’t know what is the right thing to say. But we can still express I’m here. I’ve literally got your back in this moment, and I want you to know that I am that person that you can lean on and take support from, even if I might not always have the right thing to say. So yes, we firmly believe in the value of non-verbal communication.
Generalizations for Men and Women
Brent explains how in general, men and women all tend to flow in a state of reactivity most of the time.
Very little of your day is actually constructed of intentional, purposeful decisions. We’re just reacting from one moment to the next moment to the next problem. Very seldom do we actually stop and get intentional in the moment and stop reacting to things. You actually have to actually put the brakes on. We don’t like to do that. So men and women both just flow in this just state of reactivity. If you can break that cycle, you can open up communication. If you can get them to be intentional instead of reactive, you can disrupt a lot of the small problems we run into.
The other thing we do is we make assumptions about what the other person should do based on how we feel and think.
Guys want to have downtime. Well, that’s fact we do because there’s actually a difference in the way men need to unplug versus the way women need to unplug psychologically. Like our brains actually need, men need that blank space for us to unplug.
Our takeaway – Generalizations are a great place to start getting curious. They give you a way to start that conversation on – Hey, what are these differences? And when you’re getting curious, then you’re starting to dive deeper and really get to the bottom of your individual truth. But you have to start somewhere, which is what I think the value of generalizations and stereotypes actually tends to be. There is a faulty understanding that we should start and stop with stereotypes and generalizations, but that I think is an incomplete journey and just one part of a much larger story.
Evolution of the relationship with Parenthood
Brent how children change everything, going from hormonal changes, body changes, emotions running up and down both for men and women. Brent shares his own stories and stories from his friends on how men get protective of their kids and try to be the provider for the family. He also shares his advice to couples
I try and tell couples they should always wait at least three years before they have children because you need that time to build you and to solidify you. Because the minute you have a baby, the next 20 years is theirs. The number one divorce rate is right after kids leave. It’s not in the first couple years. That’s the second highest. That first two to three year period is number two. The highest divorce rate is right after the kids leave the house, because after 20 years, if you only have one kid, all of a sudden you’re living with a stranger. It’s been all about the kid for 20 years, unless you’ve been really, really active. About your marriage and prioritizing that marriage. It becomes all about the kid. And so that’s one of the things that we have learned and tried to do is we try to prioritize our marriage in front of our daughters.
You have to be more proactive once there are children. You have to be very proactive in your preventative maintenance because it is so easy and it’s not usually intentional. It’s so easy to become so ingrained in the child or in the children if there’s more than one that you, your relationship takes third, fourth, or even fifth priority.
My message to men is just be intentional. you invested in this relationship, so be intentional with every part of this relationship. It’s so important to be intentional every moment you don’t get that back. Every moment, every conversation, be present, be intentional, and guys don’t ever stop growing. Marriage takes work every single day, grow you. Don’t try and change your wife. Just grow. You become the best you and your marriage will grow with that.
Connect with Brent
Website – https://www.thefallibleman.com/
Podcast – https://www.thefalliblemanpodcast.com/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thefallibleman/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fallibleman
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@TheFallibleMan