Train Your Man

There are a number of books on the market today, describing training a man as simply bribing him through a series of techniques used on animals. One such example is the interesting and insightful book by Amy Sutherland entitled, What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers.

As promising as such ideas may seem, this approach usually only receives temporary results for simple problems, as most men eventually catch on, turning this manipulation back on their partners. If you really want to train your man, you need to approach him with a plan designed to communicate your needs positively and in a non-threatening manner. Give him a clear picture about the benefits of changing. Here’s some good, practical relationship advice on how to train a man:

Animal Training – Reward vs. Punishment
Animal training should never be used to tackle big problems, like intimacy and cheating, but it does have its place for small annoyances. Men respond better to positive stimulus (a pat on the back, a kiss on the cheek) than negative (nagging, yelling). In order to influence good behavior, it’s most effective to praise him, such as when he puts the toilet seat down, rather than complain when he doesn’t.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, for bad behavior (telling an improper joke at the dinner table), simply ignore it. Most men will not change if they feel they’re being pushed. What you want to do is nudge him in the right direction, but let him think the idea to change was all his. In time, he will choose to put the seat down, because it makes him feel good about himself, unlike the tasteless jokes, which will only leave him feeling disconnected and ignored.

Show and Tell
Show and tell is an interesting concept, as it allows men to see exactly what it is you want from them. For instance, let’s say you wish he wouldn’t watch so much television in the evening. What some psychologists suggest is to show him other options that he may not have considered before, such as taking a walk after dinner, or hanging out at a bookstore. In time, he may see these as fun — and might even think of some of his own. This same technique also works for bringing out more romance. Instead of wishing he would be more romantic, try showing him how to do it, such as helping him put together a candlelit dinner or exchanging sensual massages.

Positive Influence
Research shows couples influence each other, and often even mimic speech patterns and facial expressions. This may or may not be something you have thought about, but if you do, you can probably think of a few ways in which you and your partner have either increased or decreased certain behaviors since you’ve been together.

For example, if one partner eats healthy, the other will probably do the same. However, the door swings both ways, and in the case of a potentially irritating trait, such as difficulty in making decisions, this could lead to increased annoyance if neither partner is willing to do the work. If you want to change something about your partner, look at yourself first. Sometimes it is you that must change, in order to receive the change you are seeking.

The Direct Approach
The direct approach is sometimes the best way to change a partner. Choose a time when you are both in a neutral mood. Never start a conversation when agitated or upset. Tell him what you are having difficulties with. Be honest, but don’t be mean. Describe the problem in its entirety, including how it makes you feel, and how you compensate for his actions, such as going to bed early when he’s watching television. This gives him a clear picture of the consequences.

Next, describe what you think might help, being as understanding to his needs as you can, such as requesting a ‘date night’ once a weekday, allowing him television privileges for the remainder of the week. Get his feedback on your idea. If he doesn’t like it, ask him why. This will help you better understand what motivates him, so you’ll be able to make better suggestions in the future.

Acceptance – Choose Your Battles
While this final method is more of a tip than a technique, it is very important. Changing someone is not an easy thing to do. For this reason it is important to choose your battles wisely. Sometimes it is easier to accept a behavior than try to change it. Sometimes the change you seek is best achieved by reducing your own annoyance, especially if it isn’t that harmful. By accepting certain faults, you will be able to better concentrate on the good of the relationship, rather than dwell on the bad, realizing he’s not such a bad guy after all.

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