Less Rock, more Oak.
For the longest time I made a big mistake. My wife gets angry quickly, and I thought she is just a very bitter or angry person deep down and/or if things don’t go her way. And I never understood why stoicism doesn’t work with her.
Because it is what we’re told, right? Being the stoic rock women are attracted to. But if anything, that just pushed her away. And I realised that is because she is an anxious person.
Why stoicism doesn’t work with everyone
Anxious people often communicate their anxiety through anger.
Simply because it’s much easier to be angry than to admit you’re afraid. Plus, many people don’t understand their own emotions even on a base-level.
An example. If I am taking more time for myself in my marriage and communicate that, my (and maybe your wife) gets pissed because of it. “You only think about yourself” and all that.
And our first thought is, “Why the fuck are you trying to cage me?”
But the reality is, that deep down, she is anxious. Anxious that she might lose you. You two drifting apart. The marriage breaking apart. Or she simply not having her needs met (like being with the family).
And it would be nice if she could say it that way. But apart from women rarely – if ever – communicating overtly, she cannot admit that. And that is because she most likely doesn’t have much self-esteem. Which also makes her anxious.
Otherwise, she wouldn’t care if you moved away, it would be fine. She’ll find someone else, etc. Or even understanding that just because you take time for yourself, the marriage doesn’t break immediately.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Damn, why did I even get with an anxious woman with shitty self-esteem? I want a confident woman! Sex would also be better!”
You’re right. But the reason is that you probably also didn’t have much self-esteem when you two met. We always attract what we are.
Maybe you got your shit together, or reshaped your subconscious with subliminal messaging to build your confidence easily. And now you two are miles apart. So you have to decide, do you deal with an anxious person? Or do you find a confident woman? Your call.
How to deal with an Anxious wife
All of the above is why it’s not enough to be a Rock. The rock can withstand the anger, but she’s still left with the anxiety. If you’re being stoic, and stay in your frame, yes, you’re not weak, and you pass her shit-tests and are strong. Good.
But she is still left with the underlying anxiety which made it happen in the first place.
You will have a much less confrontational marriage if you respond in a way that does not just deflect her anger, but also deflects her anxiety.
And this is where you need to move from being the Rock (Stoicism) to being the Oak (A human lol, and I mentioned this mental model in “Own Your Shit, Make Her Submit.“)
Quick example: you managed taking over finances. A “rock move” is saying, “OK woman, I make the money, I’m gonna handle the bills. Don’t worry your pretty little head about that anymore.”
An “Oak move” is saying, “So it’s time to get serious about our finances. I’ve put together this financial plan for our short/medium/long-term goals. This is the money we need to save to buy a house/save for college/invest in retirement, etc. This is how much is leftover for discretionary money. So I’m going to take my paycheck and [set up some plan where money is allocated as per your plan, and your wife only has access to the discretionary money].”
You put in the work for a plan, a plan that included your family in the future, and you’re going to take the lead on executing that plan. There’s a lot less hamster food (her mind going crazy) with that approach.
Winning a shit-test, but still losing
Winning Shit Tests as a “rock” can sometimes leave your wife with lingering resentment. Let’s say you feel you deserve a raise at work. You storm into your boss’s office, yelling about how undercompensated you are, you’re pissed and you’re going to quit if you don’t get a raise. But realistically, you can’t quit, you need the income from this job.
In one scenario, your boss says, “Well if you quit, I can’t control that. I don’t want you to quit, but if you do, send me your letter of resignation by the end of today.” Your only move, knowing you can’t actually quit because you need the paycheck, is to sheepishly exit his office and go back to work. You CAN’T quit, you HAVE to keep working. But you’re going to have some lingering resentment. You definitely won’t be motivated to be a hard worker and feel appreciated by your boss and your company.
In another scenario, your boss says, “Do I want you to quit? Of course not. We hired you for a reason. We don’t want you to quit and I don’t think you want to quit either. But you’re asking me for a raise I can’t give you. If you do insist on quitting, I can’t do much about that.”
Clearly, Scenario 2 is going to leave you feeling better about things. In both scenarios, the boss did not give you a raise. But in Scenario 2, you go back to work and you’re still pretty happy. You COULD still quit, but you WANT to keep working.
And this is where being the Rock led you astray. It’s only half the battle. It works with a confident woman, because she sees the power in you and respects you for it. And make no mistake, your anxious wife will also respect you for what you did. But she is still left with the anxiety. And if anything, if you’re being TOO much of the rock, this will only increase her anxiety of you leaving.
Examples on why stoicism doesn’t work all the time
Let’s have more examples from a guy on the subreddit and his marriage to make it clearer:
Example No 1: No winning moves
We talked for a few more minutes about how she needed to slow down and we would spend some time apart by doing other things. Were not separating by any means but she wants to take a step back. I encouraged Her to take some time to find things that she enjoys doing cause that is what I am doing. She seems to be in shock about our conversation.
Why would she be in shock about taking time for each of you? This, by the way, also happened to me. The guy here is passing a shit-test but not because his wife is happily following her Alpha Husbands lead. He passes them by just being a rock and winning by default because he simply doesn’t budge.
Seems correct, right?
His wife is a Stay at home mom. She also has issues with her parents. So she feels isolated. He has a job. She doesn’t. He has hobbies. She doesn’t (or doesn’t have the time because life is stressful for her because you don’t make enough money you chump). He has a good relationship with his parents, she doesn’t. This is manifesting as an enormous amount of anxiety. A TON of dread, without even doing anything.
And then he comes in and wants even more free time, so she feels MORE isolated, etc.
She then calls him controlling. But he’s probably not controlling, it’s just that she doesn’t have any winning moves she can play. She is stuck in her anxiety. In her life. Unless he’s FULLY capitulating to any request she has, she just has to live with it and feel like shit.
So it’s not that he is controlling, it’s that she has zero control.
When she says, “you can’t control me,” she’s really saying, “you need to stop constantly acting in ways that remind me that I have no control.”
So the issue is, as long as he (or you) keeps playing the “rock,” he’s literally just rubbing his huge rock-cock in her face, reminding her that she has zero control in her life. So she never comes to the conclusion that, “I could be sweet or I could be a bitch — hmm, it seems like my husband responds a lot better, and my family functions a lot better, when I’m sweet. I’ll COULD be a bitch, but I WANT to be sweet.”
Instead, she just keeps coming to this conclusion: “I COULD be sweet or I could be a bitch — although if I’m a bitch, then my husband just reacts like an even bigger asshole. So I CAN’T be a bitch, I guess I HAVE to be sweet.”
Want to vs. Have to.
People are much more likely to do things if they WANT to do them themselves, as opposed to if they HAVE to do them. Especially sex. What do you think is better? Sex she wants? Or sex she HAS to give you?
Spain and Portugal
There is this old story about the Spanish approach vs the Portuguese in Brasil.
When the Spaniard came to that land, swinging their swords, they just killed everyone who didn’t obey and virtually forced them to follow their lead and enslaving everyone. This worked until people were so pissed they just killed the Spanish conquerors.
The Portuguese on the other hand gave the Brazilians shelter, clean water, food. They came as friends and gave them something they would miss. So when the people didn’t do what the Portuguese wanted, they took away the luxuries and the people did as they were told. Without violence.
This is why the Brazilians these days speak Portuguese.
And it’s the difference between the Rock (Spanish) and the Oak (Portuguese).
As Sun-Tzu said in his book The Art of War, “You always want to leave your enemy a possibility for retreat. If they have no other option that to fight, you increase your chances of losing the battle.”
Example No 2: How you say it
Sometimes it’s just HOW you say it.
Me: no, I am making changes to myself and they will continue no matter the outcome.
He is right in saying that. It is his right to do and if anything, his wife would want him to conquer himself and take charge of his life. However, this is again rubbing his huge schlong right in here face.
Compare that versus, “I want more out of my life and you and our daughter are part of that life. I want to be 95 years old and hosting a Christmas Eve party where our great grandchildren are there. We can’t do that if we’re not making the right choices with our health and our money. If that’s ‘controlling’ then maybe we do have different ideas about what we want in our future, but I can’t do anything about that.”
She’d probably reply: “No, I want those things too, I just don’t understand why you have to be so mean about it…”
You: “Well, those things require work and discipline. So yeah, discipline isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. I want you to trust me and follow my lead. Maybe I haven’t been clear about this, and this is why I seem ‘mean.’ But I can’t stop you if you don’t want to follow my lead.”
She’ll probably melt in his (your) arms right away and you two will have great sex.
Example No 3: No sex and the Hot Blonde
Well it was sex time this evening and she suddenly goes dark on me and says she can’t get that blonde off her mind. I tell her her “whatever, that blonde is envying you right now cause you have me for tonight.” She says she is going to bed and I tell her she is being childish and that blonde is keeping her from taking care of her husband. She’s gone.
Why do you think that blonde was on her mind? Because, deep down she had some anxiety that all it would take would be a sideways glance at a different woman, and he’s gone, and she’s a 30-something year old single mom with no job and few friends or hobbies. That anxiety manifested as anger.
Anxiety, even if it manifests as anger REALLY isn’t a great state to have sex. Him just shutting up there did nothing other than increase her anxiety, if so.
He could reply with something like, “Does that blonde know how to mix my favorite cocktail?” or something else sweet that your wife does that you do, genuinely, appreciate. Again, key word is that the comparison your wife does that you consider particularly special. The blue beta bitch response is to say, “no honey, you’re way more beautiful than that blonde,” and that will just earn you more contempt. But tying your attraction to her behavior is a positive reinforcement you can do here. You can turn some Shit Tests into a response that will cause your wife to think: “ACT sweet -> GET comfort.”
And if you’re now thinking, “Damn, my wife never does anything exceptional for me” then well, you shouldn’t have married a bitch.
I hope these helped to understand that sometimes being the rock-hard Alpha Stoic Guy doesn’t work. Specifically if your wife is an anxious person.
So look at times when you’re wife is angry and ask yourself where that anger is coming from. Is it because she is afraid? Is her life shit and she has no outs? If so, you should use the Oak and be a bit more understanding, without whining like a beta boy.