Read an Excerpt
Once upon a time, you knew a wonderful man. Maybe it was during those first few weeks of courtship; maybe it was while you were dating; maybe it was even for that first magical year or so of living together, of marriage. Then one day you turned around, and your prince had become a toad. Instead of wonderfulness, there was too much silence, too many fights, too many lonely evenings staring at the tube.
When you talked about it with your girlfriends, they all said, "That's just the way men are: great until they've caught you, and then it's 'Get me another beer' or 'Quit nagging!' They're just not ready for lifelong romance." Heck, even our Hollywood royalty can't sustain romance. They have humongous weddings and declare their undying love, but their marriages fail within months on beds of infidelity or with lukewarm declarations of "we're too different."
So you give up. There are no wonderful men, you think, just some men you can tolerate better than others. That wonderfulness you thought you saw was just an illusion, some fancy flash dance to get you into bed or to keep you wanting him regardless of his bad behavior.
How disappointing! How hurtful! How utterly unnecessary. You see, wonderful men are everywhere, and that's what this book is about: what a wonderful man is, how to recognize one, and how your prince can remain a prince throughout your relationship, not just during the honeymoon phase.
The little-known secret is that a wonderful man is probably sitting next to you right now. Somewhere inside that boyfriend or husband or that man you just met on a blind date is a wonderful man, just waiting to reveal himself. Finding a wonderful man isn't so much about looking for him out there somewhere, a needle in an impossible haystack, as about discovering how wonderful your man is.
First things first:
What is a wonderful man?
A wonderful man is a good person. When you look around you, you'll find that most people are basically good. People are, for the most part, honest, caring, and helpful, at least when asked. There are far more good people in the world than bad. It's just that more often than not, the bad demand more attention. When we women think about men, we forget about all those good ones, focusing instead on the attention-grabbing bad apples, and declare, "All the good men are taken."
They are not. Only a few men are spectacularly rich, good-looking, and successful, as well as caring and kind, but there is no shortage of men who are good people. One of them probably is your boyfriend, your husband, or that blind date.
This is not to say that there aren't bad apples. If you meet such a man, don't get involved with him, and if you are in a relationship with one, get out. These men are easily recognizable (see the appendix for warning signs of men to avoid).
The characteristics of a wonderful man are also easily recognizable. He is:
Reliable (he does what he says he's going to do most of the time)
Trustworthy (if he says something is so, then most likely it is so)
Responsive (he responds to the world about him appropriately, he participates in life and doesn't just sit on the sidelines)
Responsible (he takes responsibility for his thoughts and actions and is willingly accountable for both his successes and mistakes)
Appreciative of other people and caring about their welfare
That's it. He doesn't need to be tall, dark, and handsome, or wealthy, stylish, and ultracool. All the other qualities you may seek a good sense of humor, intelligence, a nice physique are certainly important and valid, but they do not necessarily make a man wonderful.
We have trouble recognizing wonderful guys because:
1. We don't realize how important and valuable these basic qualities, the building blocks of a wonderful relationship, are.
2. We pick (to death) at a man's superficial flaws.
3. We don't provide an emotional climate in which good qualities can flourish.
4. We demand things other than what they have to offer.
This book will help you discover how good your man is and show you how to nurture his wonderfulness so that it flourishes, bringing you the heaven on earth that a relationship with a wonderful man can be.
The foundation of this knowledge is the real-world wisdom imparted by a group of women whom I call the Ladies. They come from different walks of life but share an exceptional understanding of how to nurture wonderful qualities in their men. The Ladies came together to give us their thoughts on what makes a man wonderful over the course of a series of roundtable discussions. They came from different life experiences, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds. Some have been married for decades; others are newlyweds. Their only commonality is that they all felt they were either married to or in committed relationships with wonderful men. What they had to say about their relationships, their stories, are both the inspiration and the basis for this book.
I bring to the discussion my insights and findings that come from my twenty years as a psychologist working with couples. I have shown many women the way to relationships with wonderful men, and this book is structured to guide you along that journey over the course of five weeks. At the end of each chapter, you'll find that week's "35 Days to a Wonderful Man" day-by-day guide. Each chapter builds on the one that came before, so it's best to do the thirty-five days in sequence. A "How Did I Do?" chart follows each week's guide so you can see just how well you're doing, one day at a time.
You may find that you're more comfortable working the thirty-five-day plan at a slower pace, choosing to do just a couple of items a week, and that's fine. You may find that some of the week's items are already second nature to you, and that's great. Congratulate yourself, and move on to items that may be more challenging. The best approach for you may be to read the whole book first and then begin the plan. What's important isn't that you religiously adhere to the thirty-five-day plan on that specific time line. The week's guide provides a framework within which you can develop your ability to reveal and nourish the wonderful in your man, so work at the pace at which you feel comfortable.
You can have fun with it too! Get a girlfriend to work her thirty-five-day plan with you so you can laugh, cry, or groan together over what you learn about yourselves in the process. Discovering what's wonderful in your man is a guaranteed way to find out what's wonderful in you, and sharing that with a friend can be delightful.
Maybe you're not sure that your guy really is as wonderful as I'm telling you he is. If he were, wouldn't you know it? And if his wonderful traits are hiding, why is it your job to usher them into the world? Why can't he just wake up, smell the coffee, and be that wonderful man? He's not revealing himself as a wonderful man because, for whatever reason, you're not allowing him to. If you want the joy and fulfillment of a relationship with a wonderful man, the ball is in your court. As you read this book, you'll see that it's actually easy to reveal the wonderfulness in your man.
This plan will play out differently in your life depending at least in part on where you are in your relationship. Here are some guidelines that will allow you to adapt the plan to your relationship, whether you're dating or have been married for decades.
First Phase: You Want a Relationship with a Wonderful Man
You aren't in a relationship, but you would like to be, so you're dating. You've probably experienced some not-so-wonderful men, so you want to be in a relationship with a wonderful man.
Great! The information in the book will serve you well. Take note of the bad apples to avoid (described in the appendix) and then use the criteria in Chapter 1 to determine whether someone you're interested in is basically a good man. In brief, is he honest, reliable, trustworthy, responsive, and responsible, and does he like other people and care about the welfare of others? Don't just say, "Yeah, yeah," to this list. Pay attention to how this man leads his life, tends to his work and other interests, interacts with the people, animals, and things in his life, as well as his attitude and behavior toward the people and things on the periphery of his life: waiters, salespeople, people suffering on the other side of the globe, our planet, our environment. You will learn a great deal about the man's honesty, reliability, trustworthiness, responsiveness, responsibility, and compassion from patient and diligent observation.
As you're observing the man you're interested in for his "good guy" qualities (or lack thereof ), practice what you've discovered in reading this book. Use whatever items in the thirty-five-day plan that make sense to you as you go along. Start by looking at the differences between the two of you as valuable (Chapter 1), praise what you legitimately believe is praiseworthy (Chapter 2), and practice accepting (not necessarily approving!) who this person is (Chapter 3). As you do so, notice what you're getting in return. Does this man respond by looking at the differences between you as valuable? Does he praise you to yourself and to others? Is he accepting of who you really are?
Give it time. Pretty much everyone looks and acts wonderful for the first three months of a budding relationship, sometimes referred to as "the ninety-day wonder." Don't race from practicing acceptance to embracing complete best friendship in the heady rush of the first few weeks just because you feel so utterly compatible. The proof that he's a good guy will emerge in six months, one year, and onward. Remember that you're seeking to build a lifelong relationship here, so putting in the time is well worth it.
Meanwhile, you're developing and honing your ability to reveal the wonderful within the man who eventually will be your prince as you work your way through the thirty-five-day plan. Even if it takes a few tries before you attract a good man who is for real (he makes it past the ninety days), you'll be that much readier and better able to sustain the emotional climate that allows the wonderful to emerge when he comes along.
Second Phase: You Want Your Honeymoon Bliss to Last
Let's take the next step along the relationship journey: you're in a committed relationship, either newly married or at the start of living together. You're in that glorious honeymoon phase where all's well in your world: he loves you, you love him, and what more could you ask? Well, that the honeymoon will last and last and last.
Here's where putting all the information and insights you've gleaned from working your thirty-five-day plan come into play. If you start right now, from your joyful beginning onward, to value your differences, praise your beloved, accept him fully and make it safe for him to be himself, support him enthusiastically in his desires and goals (Chapter 4), forgive him with a generous heart (Chapter 5), engage in his life and what matters to him (Chapter 6), and allow that best friendship to develop (Chapter 7), you will truly live your honeymoon all your days as your love deepens, matures, and grows.
Read the Ladies' stories for examples of how they lived their relationships, nurturing the wonderfulness in their men and letting their good qualities shine through the challenges of everyday life. Use their stories to inspire you with the knowledge that anything the Ladies can do, you can do. These Ladies are women like you and me, ordinary people, but they were able to create extraordinary relationships using the principles described in this book and so can you.
Third Phase: You Want Your Mid- to Long-Term Relationship to Be Wonderful
Let's continue our journey down the relationship path. You're in a mid- to long-term relationship. You've had your ups and downs, but you're still together, whether out of love or habit. You're anywhere from content to mildly dissatisfied to downright unhappy, but your man is basically a good person and you want to remain in the relationship.
Mid- to Long-Term Scenario 1
Let's say you're unhappy. You're in a perfect place to use this book to get your relationship back on track. You may have to buckle down and arm yourself with a major dose of self-discipline, however. It can be a formidable challenge to make the effort to value someone's differences when you're miserable, praise him when you're feeling ignored, cheer him on when you're depressed, and forgive him when you'd rather get revenge. However, you're up to it, or you would never have picked this book up in the first place.
Follow the thirty-five-day items assiduously. Do your best not to argue with your man or engage in criticism (whether out loud or internally) as you work on these new ways of thinking and behaving. Appreciate and praise yourself for the process you're engaged in. Make notes for yourself of any positive response your man offers to what you are doing.
Since like attracts like, as you develop and nurture an emotional climate that allows the wonderfulness to reveal itself, you make it possible for your man to become, once again, the wonderful man he was when you were first together. It does require patience, however, because the trust in your relationship may be considerably eroded, and healing may need to take place for both of you.
You may find it useful to share what you are doing with your man, especially after you've been working with the concepts for a few weeks and have seen his response to your changed behavior. You may find that he becomes interested in the process himself and is willing to work on it with you. This would be terrific, for working together to reestablish what was wonderful in your union is a way of partnering, which brings you closer together.
Mid- to Long-Term Scenario 2
If your relationship is generally good but you're currently experiencing some problems or going through a rough patch, you will find this book highly useful as you go through these challenging times, whatever the nature of the challenge. Pay particular attention to the thirty-five-day-plan items, and apply your newfound understanding of yourself and how you view your man to the situation at hand, so you make it through this difficult time with your relationship deeper and stronger at the end of it.
Mid- to Long-Term Scenario 3
If you are content or even quite satisfied with your relationship, you can use this book to create an even better, stronger, and more lasting relationship. Nothing in the universe stands still. If you take your relationship for granted or don't tend to it, over time it may deteriorate, no matter how wonderful it is, just as a beautiful garden does with lack of care. As you focus on the wonderful in your man and delight in the many ways you can graciously provide an emotional environment that supports his wonderfulness, you continue to develop your relationship. As you review and remind yourself of the thirty-five-day-plan items, you make sure that your relationship grows in joy and richness, that it is true to the changing individuals you both are as you make your way through life.
The Wonderful in Him, the Wonderful in You
Working the thirty-five-day-plan week by week gives you a window into the very soul of your relationship, of how you think and feel about yourself in your relationship, about men in general, and about how you behave toward your man. More than that, it gives you a new perspective into your own amazing self.
So let's agree on something. As you go on this journey, whenever that little voice inside your head says, "Why do I have to do this?!" tell it quietly and firmly, or loudly and hysterically whatever suits your mood: "Because I want a wonderful man in my life!" and let it be.
Okay? Good. Let's begin. Copyright © 2009 by Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D.