Improve Your Relationship in Just 30 Seconds

(Lightly edited for readability)

Hi there, my name is Athol and I’m here to help you fix your relationship, improve your life and understand your personality. In this episode I have a really great tool that’s going to only take thirty seconds twice a day and can pay really big dividends.

What I want you to do is think about the transition points in your day. So pretty much when one or both of you are leaving to go to work and the other transition point in the day when one or both of you are coming home and you’re meeting up again. What I want you to think about is that last thirty seconds together and that first thirty seconds together. That little window of opportunity. What I find is that if you are consciously positive, upbeat, engaging, fun, friendly, outgoing and seeking out your partner to connect with those little thirty second windows, they set the tone for the whole remainder of the evening or the time apart during the day.

It’s almost like the opening move in a game of chess. There’s a few good opening moves that can set you up to have a good game, and there’s a whole bunch of moves that are terrible, that you will then be having to try and fight your way out of.

So that thirty second window, be conscious of I’m going to be friendly, upbeat, positive, engaging, and seek out my partner. That opening move of pleasantness and positivity is often reciprocated, or at the very least gets a neutral response, as opposed to a somewhat negative and disinterested response. Often you being positive means they become more positive back, and then suddenly we have this positive spiral that goes on for the rest of the evening.

I find this is particularly important for the guys. Especially if there is a stay at home mother, quite often with women they will wait and see exactly how their husband is in the first thirty seconds when he’s coming home.  They wait to see if he’s he coming home happy, coming home sad, coming home grumpy, or coming home excited.  That thirty second window informs them of how this whole rest of the evening is going to go, in no small part because they will tend to calibrate to him.

So just be conscious of it. It’s a really simple tip. You don’t have to think about your whole day. You don’t have to pretend to be a completely different person, but just be consciously upbeat and connective. So the whole hellos, goodbyes and connection is really important.

That’s about it. And I’m going to leave it there, and I will catch you next time.

Until then my name is Athol. Do that like, share, comment, subscribe and all that cool internet stuff.

Stop Being the Amazing Butler Chumpdaddy



I ran into a situation with one of my coaching clients, and I’ve seen this now a few times, where you’ve realized that you’re late to the party with the family structure and organization being chaotic. You do that thing where you go to work and you come home and the kids are basically running crazy, the house is a mess, there’s complete disorder, and the kids are rude and disrespectful. You realize, “Oh my god, I’ve let his all slip. I’ve given away any sense of power and control in this house. Nobody respects me. I’m being a complete chump. This is why my wife has no interest in me and doesn’t respect me either.”

You’re at that place where you realize you have to get that family structure back under control as part of the solution in fixing your marriage. The temptation is to go in like Dad the New Ogre and do a Shrek approach where you explode in a rage and suddenly everyone is well behaved, cleaning their rooms, talking to each other nicely and there is casual, polite, fun dinner conversation.

Unfortunately, what tends to happen when the situation is that far gone, you suddenly turning into the loud ogre type, leads to you just getting disrespected more, and everyone pushing back even harder on you when you try to create and enforce rules. Now you’re in a situation where you’re worse off because you’ve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they don’t do what you say.

You really can’t force them to do what you want. You can’t force them to follow the rules if they simply don’t see you have having any real ability to enforce the rules. You have to turn this into a situation where people decide to follow the rules and realize the rules are in their best interest, and there’s some sort of benefit or payoff to following the rules.

What you can do though, if you can’t just enforce the rules straight off the bat, is control yourself and start saying “no” to the ridiculous demands on your time, energy, money and effort. They are all running crazy, but they are likely coming to you to try and get you doing stupid things that are a waste of time, money, or effort. Or just simply they’re trying to get you to do their stuff for them. So while you can’t make them behave, and you can’t hold a gun to their head and have them clean their room, what you can do is say “no” to them trying to get you to do their stuff for them.

They want you to give them extra money for the movies? “No.” They want you to drive them all over town when they’re being complete brats? “No.” They want you to basically do all the dishes, cooking and cleaning and wait on them like you’re the butler? “No.” You don’t have to do all of this stuff. It is much easier to learn to say “no” than to try to get someone else to say “yes” to what you want.

Start at that point. Don’t start out with this giant ogre thing with a bunch of rules and “Smackdown Daddy is here!” That method is just going to explode in your face. You can say “no” to being the Amazing Butler Chumpdaddy though.

The other thing you can do is start creating opportunities, things to do, places to go, fun to have…that is basically your “yes”, but it is “yes” on your terms. “Yes, we’re going to the movies, but these are the terms that have to be met before I drive you there and pull $10 per ticket out of my pocket. Yes we can go, but I’m not taking you unless your room is clean.” You see how that is different than “You must clean your room”? This is “We’re going to the movies when your room is clean.”

And of course if the rooms aren’t clean, you don’t go to the movies after you said you wouldn’t take them. Don’t keep training them to ignore you.

You can’t force the kids when they have no sense of respect, but you can say “no” to all the dumb stuff they’re trying to get you to do. You can create opportunities where you’ve said “yes” but you define the terms of what the “yes” is. So if it’s something like, “Clean your rooms and then we can go to the movies”, if the rooms aren’t clean, oh well no movie.

They will test you at first to see if you’re going to stick with this, and you’re going to have to weather the storm, but over the long run it does work. It starts generating that sense of respect without you having to turn into some over the top ogre. It’s “yes” on my terms and “no” on my terms. I can control me, and I’m not trying to directly control you.

If everything is mad chaos, doing this may take you three or four weeks to start getting true progress, but it will start working out over the long run.


(Post is an edited version of the video transcript)

Why One Dimensional Marriage Coaching Fails and Three Dimensional Succeeds

Most people who come to me, read my books, or watch the videos are looking for specific advice for a specific problem. They come in saying their relationship is at the bottom of the scale, and they want to get their relationship up a few levels. They have a specific problem and it exists only one dimension. My relationship is “down here” and I want it to be “up here”.

Because it’s easy to see that direct linear path from “bad” to “good”, it makes a lot of sense to go looking for advice specific to that one problem. That’s why people go to marriage counseling, why people read books on relationships, why you go to marriage retreats- because you want to fix this one problem.

So if you’re reading this post, you probably feel like you have a one dimensional problem, and you’re here in search of a one dimensional solution.

It’s no different than if you are broke or your finances are a wreck, you would want to do a money course. If you are seriously overweight, you want to do something about eating right and going to the gym. There are tons of one dimensional systems that are out there to fix a problem where you want to bring the issue from “it sucks” to “it’s good”.

When I started writing online, I too started with a one-dimensional approach. Everything was specific advice for marriage, relationships, sexuality- what you can do to fix that problem. But what I’ve learned over the years, is that very often blockages in that specific problem really exist somewhere else.

You can often feel like you have a relationship problem or a marriage problem, the sex is terrible, there’s fighting, no one is happy. On that level, it’s “obviously a relationship problem”. But your relationship might be tanking because the house you’re in is falling down around you, or your finances are messed up, or you’re fat, unattractive, and unappealing. You could be grumpy, miserable, stalled, sick, unhappy…whatever.

There’s this entire second dimension to solving your relationship issues. All sorts of things like health, finances, family dynamics, kids and illnesses play into your relationship. Very often, to get the relationship from “bad” to “good”, you almost have to take your focus off the relationship directly and start working on some of these additional things off on the second dimension.

Then as all these areas start changing and improving, the average level of energy in your life starts coming up and your relationship comes up with it. It can come up by working on your relationship in a very indirect way. This understanding of the second dimension is what has made my stuff significantly more powerful than when I taught a one-dimensional system.

Now let’s talk about the third dimension.

People have complex personalities and between the two people in a relationship, there are all kinds of interactions and energy exchanges between them. It’s really important to know exactly what your personality types are. Which is where the third dimension of the Enneagram personality typing comes into play. To summarize it very briefly, it breaks people into nine basic personality types, but what makes it so good is that it shows what each of those types looks like when they are at a bad level of happiness, an average level of happiness and a really good level of happiness. In addition to that, they show what each of the nine personality types are like in their interactions with each other.

Why is this third dimension so important? One word. Chemistry.

Very often when you started your relationship together, you were both at a high point in your individual lives- you were both happy, functional, giving out a lot of positive energy, and your two personality types together had a positive interaction with each other. That’s why you hear people say “We had good chemistry.”

But as the relationship gets worse, some of these interactions between the two of you start being really negative and it gets to the point where you think, “Why am I with this person? Everything I do with them fails. I’m not even sure if they like me. We have bad chemistry.”

What the Enneagram typing helps with, is you start seeing that chemical interaction between the two personality types, is a reflection of the overall energy and happiness in the relationship. Understanding helps take some of the sting out of the negative interactions you had together, or soften your view of the things you don’t like about them. You can start seeing better, what you’re doing to bring negativity into that interaction too. You can start to better understanding the ways they are trying to be positive as well.

In terms of my work, the first dimension is the differences between men and women, understanding sexual attraction, the seductive process and Relationship Momentum. The second dimension is your whole life and energy. The third dimension is the understanding the chemistry of the two personality types inside the relationship.

So, you come to me and say you have that one specific problem of your relationship being at a low level and you want to improve it. I’ll say, yes you can work on that directly, yes you can go to marriage counseling and talk about the relationship. But again, if the problem is off to the side and it’s physical health, finances, family dynamics, or that someone is completely exhausted and overwhelmed, you need to fix these. If you end up just talking about the relationship, it’s going to be talking about more negative stuff and making it worse.

Likewise, if the problem is rooted in two differing styles of personality, neither of which are wrong or defective, and we can now step around the negative interactions and understand why they happen. We can consciously start creating positive interactions that will raise the overall energy, contentment and happiness in the relationship.

That’s what I mean by a three dimensional system. It’s not just talking about the relationship. It’s not just trying to do a few tips and tricks to tide things over and get you on your way.

I get that a one-dimensional approach seems easier. Often when you start working a one-dimensional system you start with a sense of excitement and hope, and that in itself can give you an energy boost that feels like it raises things up. You can enjoy being in a coaching situation, reading self-help books or going to seminars. It can feel good…but very often it’s a short term fix. Instead, you have to fix the structural stuff in your life. You have to figure out the two personalities interacting with each other, and take that information and feed it into the relationship and let the relationship rise back up to where it should be.

So that’s why I coach with a three dimensional approach. It’s a simple set of ideas once you get used to them. It’s completely doable and can be kind of fun once you get it going and it’s super effective. It’s often a lot faster to get success than a one-dimensional system and the success actually sticks.

But if you want to shop around and try some tips and tricks with a one dimensional approach first though, I’ll still be here when you’re done.


Post copy is the video transcript edited for readability.

Active Trust vs Passive Trust and Post-Affair Marriage Recovery

In this video I’m going to talk about the difference between Passive Trust and Active Trust, with special reference to what it’s like after an affair situation, and why the difference between the two of them is so important to know.

Passive Trust is sort of the default setting where you just trust someone. They go off to work and you don’t sit there and wonder if they are talking to anyone at work, are they texting anyone, are there any inappropriate emails? They just go off to work and you don’t think about it. They come home, all is fine. They go out to the grocery store or to watch a movie by themselves and it’s no big deal. For lack of a better term, when they’re not “being supervised ” you don’t worry about what they’re up to. It’s a passive, low key trust.

Active Trust happens when you see or hear something, or you discover something that really is a red flag that something isn’t right. Something like their ex-affair partner sending them a friend request on Facebook and they accepted the friend request. For some of you reading that last sentence, you immediately felt triggered. You’re experiencing Active Trust, where your pulse and blood pressure go up, and you have that sense of dread and anxiety that something really isn’t right. But at the same time, you don’t want to blow up the relationship just yet over this one thing that you’ve discovered.

Now you’re in a position where you convince yourself to trust your partner, you don’t immediately blow the relationship up, you convince yourself things aren’t as bad as they potentially are. You go into a state of actively, consciously trusting. You may talk to your partner and figure out what is going on, but when you are in that state you are Actively Trusting. You are actively forcing yourself not to end the relationship over what you’ve seen.

This is incredibly stressful. It’s so stressful that once you talk yourself down from what you’ve discovered, which may or may not be something completely innocent, the Passive Trust takes a while to come back. If you have a moment of Active Trust, once you get through it, then the ability to trust goes on cooldown where it’s not effective any more before the Passive Trust reasserts itself.

While the trust is on cooldown, you become paranoid and hair-trigger about anything and everything that your partner may or may not be doing. So two days ago, they went off to the grocery store by themselves and you didn’t really think about it. Then yesterday there was some sort of contact that you discovered between them and their old affair partner and Active Trust kicked in. So today they’re going out to the grocery store and now the Passive Trust doesn’t work because it’s on cooldown. You’re starting to wonder if they’re just going out to be by themselves so they can call the affair partner. Are they going to be thinking about them? Are they even going to the grocery store or are the two of them meeting somewhere?

Everything can in a sense start triggering you. Again, there may be nothing you can particularly do about it. There may be nothing they are doing wrong, it’s just them going off to work. But you may still be sitting at home wondering what your partner is doing all day- is there a burner phone, a secret email account? The dark thoughts can cycle around and around.

Let’s talk about those three states and what it does for the relationship. When you are in those moments of Active Trust, the relationship is getting worse. You are less happy about the relationship, you like your partner less, you are incredibly stressed out and very unhappy, and you’re basically convincing yourself not to leave. When you’re Actively Trusting, the relationship is getting worse.

When you are Passively Trusting, the relationship has the chance of getting better. You’re relaxed, you’re calm, you’re not worrying about anything too much in particular. All the good things that happen in the relationship make you like your partner more, you’re happier, and things are improving.

When trust is on cooldown, you’re not actually seeing anything that is making the relationship worse, but you’re in that state where things might actually be happening but you can’t prove it. The relationship neither gets better nor gets worse; it’s in a limbo state. It doesn’t take much to throw it back into that Active Trust moment.

Now here’s the important thing for post-affair cleanup. Every single time that there is some sense of triggering about the affair- whether it is mention of the affair partner, going back to a place where some of the affair started, seeing people who had something to do with covering it up, anything that reminds the cheated on person of the affair- the cheated on person is going to go back into a state of Active Trust. This means it’s incredibly important to not keep having the affair come back in some way, which sets off the person who was cheated on. It’s almost the reverse of the person who had the affair seeing their affair partner and getting re-triggered with that sense of “Oh my goodness, yummy, yummy dopamine” where all those thoughts and feelings come back.

This is why you can get these paradoxical blowups, sometimes years after an affair. It can be something fairly small and incidental, but whatever it is, it’s a reminder that the affair happened. For the person who was cheated on, it puts them right back into that same emotional state that they were in when they first discovered the cheating. It’s incredibly important to find ways to work around not having the cheated on person triggered and thrown back into that state of having to Actively Trust.

When they’re in that state, they are talking themselves into staying in the relationship as opposed to just calling it quits. This is why things like an accepted Facebook friend request ten years after the affair becomes an explosive thing. You really have to watch what these triggers are. This is the difference between Passive Trust and Active Trust and why trust goes on cooldown between those two.

If you are the partner who cheated, and the cheated on partner is triggered into Active Trust, you have to bend over backwards to reassure them and get them through that moment of dread and terror. Reassert that you care for them and love them, that nothing is going on. Be that open book, open up your communication devices, do whatever it takes to convince your partner that nothing is happening.

You can get past an affair. It is not an automatic death sentence to a relationship necessarily, but it will always be a sore spot.

So TL:DR… Don’t poke the sore spot.

The Three Ways You Must Mate Guard

 (This is the video transcript with a minor editing pass for readability)

In this video we are going to talk about mate guarding…what it is, how you do it, how not to do it and clean up some of the confusion that’s out there. I see a lot of different advice on mate guarding that tends to focus on one way of doing it and I think you need a fluid strategy.

The first thing to understand is that attraction isn’t controllable. People are just attracted to who they are attracted to, and we are all scanning the opposite sex (or same sex for some people) to see who is hot and who is not, and who is really appealing to us. If you’re with a attractive partner, there are going to be members of the opposite sex who are interested in them and who will strike up conversations and hit on them.

This is all normal and to be expected. When you’re noticing that someone is interested in your partner and it’s that routine attraction, just interested and having a good conversation, you’re coming into what I call the Green area of mate guarding. Think of it as a traffic light system: red, yellow and green. So this requires Green mate guarding, meaning you are across the room, and there’s a conversation that may be a little flirty between your wife and someone who is into her, she may be enjoying it, but there’s no really implicit threat. There is no immediate danger that she’s going to fall on her back with her legs apart and the sex is going to happen.

Because this is all routine and expected, you mate guard this with a passive approach. Meaning that you’re simply going to be the most attractive person you can. You’re going to be the highest value person you can be. You’re going to be relaxed and confident because there’s obviously nothing really happening over there that’s going to go anywhere, and that’s about it. You cannot mate guard your spouse 24/7. You can’t follow them around like some sort of surveillance van ensuring that no one is ever attracted to them. That becomes incredibly toxic, boring, and a giant display of low value if you’re always doing that. As long as what you’re seeing is just that your wife is attractive, that’s all it is. You’re creating high value by simply being as attractive as you can so your wife has a relationship with you, sunk costs, a shared life and history, and there’s no reason to do anything with anyone else because you’re as good as you are.

The second type of mate guarding is Yellow mate guarding. This is when you’re seeing something that was in the Green zone start crossing the line. The other guy is now getting some target lock on your wife or girlfriend. He’s really starting to focus and he’s obviously starting to consciously try and gain points with her. He’s trying to start a seduction. He may be nowhere near getting to the bedroom with her, but he very obviously has that target lock and he’s now purposely starting to try and build a greater attraction and rapport with your wife or girlfriend.

So with Yellow mate guarding, you’re seeing this is going on and what you do is called cock blocking . This is where you go over and make it clear that you’re in her life, you’re present and paying attention. You’re communicating that you see what he’s doing and you’re not going to be oblivious to him making further inroads in building attraction. This can all be done in a casual, low-key, friendly sort of a way. He’s not really doing anything wrong if he’s interested in her. She’s attractive, it is what it is, but you don’t want to see things escalate any further.

All you need to do for the most part is be present and observable, and obviously not someone who is going to be weak if he goes further. More often than not this is all that it takes. Once the other guy sees that the husband or boyfriend is paying attention and will actually do something… suddenly it’s going to take a lot more effort, skill and cleverness to ever get anywhere with this particular woman. There are probably easier targets out there. 9 times out of 10 they will simply go on to chat somebody else up. These men are not so much looking for women who will sleep with them, so much as they are looking for weak husbands. You just have to prove that you’re not a weak husband and 9 times out of 10 that’s the last you see of them.

Sometimes in Yellow mate guarding the wife or girlfriend knows the game. Sometimes they don’t necessarily realize what is going on. There are a number of times I’ve had women say “oh, this was nothing” while all the guys agree that it was something. So there’s a grey area there, but essentially you just cock block. Show up, say hi, make eye contact, and that’s usually where it ends.

The third type of mate guarding is Red mate guarding. You are now seeing something truly starting to get nefarious. The other guy is very clearly targeting your wife or girlfriend, is consciously starting to build attraction, and is actually starting to make some headway with it to the point where she is starting to get either somewhat interested, attracted, or tempted…and this is the one where you really do need to intervene directly. You have to do this because if you do nothing, you’re basically giving this other guy free reign to move, and after a certain point it looks like a giant display of weakness that you’re too much of a coward to get up, stand up, protect, claim and own what is for a lack of a better term, yours. This is your relationship, your life, your history.

The sooner you do it the better. It never gets better if you sit there and do nothing. The longer you do nothing the deeper this particular rabbit hole can go. The more time he has to work on your wife or girlfriend, the more time he has to create a rapport, to create attraction, and create comfort. After that the next step is trying to isolate her from you. You have to do the opposite…you can’t let the isolation happen. You have to be a little more direct.
When you’re discovering truly inappropriate things, you’re discovering the beginning parts of affairs or actual affairs, you really do have to do a strong intervention. What I see far more often than not is that the wife or girlfriend will end up with the guy who makes the strongest, most dominant play for her attention. The guy that puffs up his chest and actually makes a move.

Almost invariably when a husband or long-term boyfriend makes a really solid defensive play and tells the other man, “I’m on to you. I see what’s happening. You need to get the hell out” the other guy says, “Oh, my bad” and exits stage left. Very rarely do they actually stick around and put up any kind of a fight for the attentions of the woman. This is old school Lizard Brain stuff, because the husband who thinks some guy is about to bang his wife, is usually pretty pissed off and can become rather aggressive. Bad things can happen in the moment. Almost invariably the other man takes off. I’m not saying to be physically violent, I’m just saying that making a direct contact and telling him to get the hell out usually is all it takes. Often the other man is freaked out. Maybe one time in ten do they put up resistance, and usually they are truly hoping for a relationship and in love with the wife. That only makes it more important to be direct with them.

The problem that I see online is the notion that you should only do the Green mate guarding. You should only display high value. You should only be confident. If she’s going to do something, you can’t prevent it. Well, yes and no. She does have her own free will, but the truth is that attractiveness, dominance, Game, being cocky and funny, instigation, isolation, escalation…all these things work to generate attraction. If you just let another guy have completely free reign to run his Game while you do nothing, he’s going to build attraction. At some point you have to stop him, and that’s what mate guarding is. You’re allowed to do it. You don’t have to be an over the top asshole, but you should mate guard if you see your relationship facing a true threat.

You don’t really have to worry about your wife so much as you have to worry about the guys with the target lock. Then if it really gets beyond that you’ve got to tell them to get lost.

(And yes the opposite all holds true as well ladies. If some woman is making direct plays for your husband, you don’t have to be polite about dealing with it.)