April 4, 2016
A workshop exploring the Masculine and Feminine in relationships. An experiential opportunity for singles and couples to reflect, to learn and to grow…
Facilitated by Wayne Levine and Molly Wavra
January 29, 2015
January 22, 2015
By Wayne M. Levine
In the wrong hands, firearms can be very dangerous. They must be handled with care. If not, the potential damage can be devastating and irreparable. That’s one of the reasons a license is required to carry one. One must be trained to know how to handle the weapon.
See where this is going?
We men must be trained, too, to know how to recognize, manage, and respond to our emotions. You see, unlike women, we weren’t born with that innate wisdom. The good news is that we can learn everything we need to know about our emotional world so we can exist and thrive as men—and as men in relationships with our women—without causing collateral damage.
Women live in the world of emotions. Show me a man who hasn’t seen proof of that! Men, on the other hand, tend to hang out in the world of reason, though what might seem reasonable to many men is anything but.
Nonetheless, whether her emotions are off the chart or his reasoning is flawed, our species tend to exist in vastly different environments—environments that can be quite hostile to each other. But if we want to have intimate relationships with our women, we’ve got some work to do.
Just Tell Me How You Feel
That’s all she needs. It’s so simple. And yet, for many of us, it isn’t. In fact, it can be downright terrifying. Why? Well, we may have been raised in homes where self-expression wasn’t honored—or worse, punished.
Plus, we grew up in a culture where boys were encouraged to stuff their feelings, get back on that field, and kill someone! For these and many other reasons, many men tend to stay clear of their emotions, at least with women.
I say this because I circle up with about 50 men each week who all have feelings. Though some can access them more easily than others, in time, and with some modeling and encouragement, they all learn to express their emotions. These men learn that it’s safe to do so in their confidential men’s groups.
But it doesn’t always feel so safe for them at home because, at some point in their lives, they had their feelings used as weapons against them by a disgruntled loved one.
Emotional Training for Men
In broad strokes, I’ll briefly describe the process our men go through in their training to become emotionally aware and capable of relating to a woman on her own turf.
• Clarify the Objective
Step one is to spell out the problem and clearly state the objective of the work. That’s not always easy because when men finally decide to sit and discuss their relationship challenges, they’re so emotionally twisted up inside they don’t know which end is up. It takes some time to calm them down so they can see their situations clearly, and then develop a vision of how they would like things to be with their wives, kids, parents, family members or co-workers.
• Identify the Wound
Once we identify the desired result, we look at what’s preventing him from connecting with his own feelings or communicating them effectively. It could be that every time his wife expresses her dissatisfaction, he actually hears his critical mother or father yelling at him, and shuts down emotionally. Or, perhaps, as a kid he learned to deny his own feelings to survive the wrath of his raging or abusive father. Whatever the cause, it’s important to understand that this behavior was learned, and once served a useful—if not lifesaving—purpose, but not anymore.
• Learn the Tools
Depending on the man, a number of tools can help him to become mentally and physically aware of his emotions. As we become conscious, we’re capable of making choices rather than being a slave and reacting to the unconscious fears of our own feelings.
• Practice with the Men
With tools in hand, and a clearer understanding of the problem and objective, it’s time to start practicing with the men. In our groups, men have free reign to say what’s on their minds without fear of hurting anyone’s feelings. And if someone did feel attacked or criticized in the process, we help that man figure out what buttons were pushed so he can learn more about himself.
• Bring it on Home
Each week men are able to take these lessons home and experiment. Over time, as relationships are built and strengthened in group, these new behaviors become second nature, and life at home begins to look more and more like the vision developed when this process began.
Having a license to carry home these emotions isn’t a law, but for everyone’s benefit, don’t you think a little training would make for a safer and more loving place to live?
June 25, 2014
Author of Hold On to Your N.U.T.S: The Relationship Manual For Men, and the founder of BetterMen Coaching, Wayne Levine is the go-to mentor for men and boys looking to find and transition into masculinity. Without shame basing, Wayne uses his background and own experience to help guide the masses of men who never went through their rites of passage. He facilitates and coaches men’s groups to encourage conversation and interaction with men. Especially in a society where men are increasingly told not to express their manliness. He also coaches youth and couples based out of the LA area.
Says Wayne, “Shy Man’s Dating School’s Steven Davis is a masterful interviewer. As a result, this is one of the most intelligent radio interviews I’ve ever done.”
The interview is also available at iTunes:
June 19, 2014
Your life just isn’t measuring up. You’re angry and frustrated because you know things should be better—you should be more successful by now—you should have the relationships you want—you should be happy.
Your conclusion? There’s something wrong with you.
What’s the point?
You’re not the first ill-informed man to come to this erroneous conclusion. In fact, you’re in very good company. To paraphrase that ridiculous commercial, “I’m not just the director of this men’s center, I’m a member, too!” I’ve been there. Let me tell you how it happened.
Many years ago I was in a men’s group. One week we met in a local park and circled up under a large eucalyptus tree. It was a beautiful day with a light ocean breeze and I was feeling like a champ. Our leader at the time ran us through a few exercises; we helped out a few of the men. And then—then the question, “What do you believe in?”
A couple of the Jewish guys believed in their God. Our Native American followed the red road. A couple of other men had their own strong spiritual beliefs unattached to anything organized. And then, “Levine, what do you believe in?” Silence.
I’m a Jew raised atheist. I was never a member of any club. Once again, I found myself on the outside looking in. Stunned. Untethered. “I believe in myself,” I said.
After I received some quizzical looks, one man suggested I read two books that helped him discover his spiritual path. Then it was suggested to me that while doing my daily dog walking, I start talking to God and sharing how grateful I am.
I can’t begin to tell you how extraordinarily uncomfortable this all was. Talk to God!? What!? But I trusted the men and I did it, daily, until it began to change me.
Here’s What I Learned
For most of my life, I relied on me—that’s it. And it worked most of the time. But when it didn’t work, when I couldn’t measure up, when my confidence failed me, I spiraled into anxiety and then depression.
But relying on me was all I knew. I had never learned to ask for help. There wasn’t much help around in my family. So, like every other kid in less than desirable surroundings, I adapted and developed some amazing coping skills. But they weren’t enough—at least they were no longer enough.
I had become completely self-centered. I was the center of my universe. That’s how I saw the world and how I addressed every challenge that crossed my path. I was the foundation upon which I stood. I was what grounded me. I counted on me!
But the foundation of that wounded little boy was not strong enough to support a man with mature responsibilities, questions and challenges.
My problems, if too challenging for me, caused me to feel completely overwhelmed. Being out of control scared me to death, and a few times my thoughts went to just that permanent solution to relieve my excruciating pain.
The good news is that I don’t go there anymore. I don’t get overwhelmed with anxiety. I no longer lose my sense of self in depression for days and weeks on end. Doubt doesn’t get the best of me for very long. And I’ve seen many men experience this same remarkable transformation.
Let Me Pay It Forward
Here’s what I suggest:
•Read “Conversations with God” and “Way of the Peaceful Warrior.”
•Take time each day to be grateful.
•Remind yourself it’s not just about you by volunteering and making it about someone else.
•Develop a connection with some sense of a higher power so you never forget you are not in charge.
•Ask for help every step of the way.
I’ve offered these same recommendations to men for years. And I’ve seen men make terrific progress. When they begin to look outward, their need for control diminishes. When they ask for help, they learn to rely on others and not just upon their own limited counsel. And when they become better men they’re so much more pleasant to be around.
In this process your definition of success evolves. How much money you thought you needed is revised. The changes you make attract and heal your relationships. And happiness, though looking quite different than you once imagined, is yours.
May 14, 2014
By Wayne M. Levine
“I’d love to be a fly on the wall at one of your men’s group meetings.” More than one woman has expressed this to me during the past 20 years. “I’ll bet you would,” I’ve replied, as we’ve shared a knowing glance that it would never happen.
This topic is highly charged and not likely to gain me friends in the world of the politically correct. Nevertheless, I choose to go where smarter men dare not. If you can’t handle the truth, or at least my truth, please feel free to turn the page now.
Can anyone out there tell me why women are verboten at a men’s group meeting? Well, yes, then it wouldn’t truly be a men’s group meeting. But let’s dig a little deeper.
As a man, and as a leader of men, I would like to reveal something about men that may shock you. Yet however shocking, trust me when I say that what I’m about to share is an absolute, universal truth.
The Shocking Truth
Women ruin everything! —Just kidding.
But when it comes to the focus men have while participating in a men’s group, the appearance of a single female will derail—and I mean every single time—whatever the men are doing.
Let me give you an example. I was once leading a men’s group as we were focusing our attention on one man who was trying to figure out how to properly parent his teenage son who was being rather defiant. It was a serious topic and he had the attention of every man in the room.
Suddenly, a fairly attractive woman opened the door to our room mistakenly thinking it was her destination. Within a second or two, she realized her mistake, excused herself and closed the door.
This entire interaction took perhaps three seconds. How long do you think it took for me to get the men to redirect their attention back to this guy who was in the middle of getting some fathering advice? Too long. And here’s why.
When we men see a woman who is even remotely attractive to us, our minds immediately go to imagining what we might do with her if we had the opportunity. There, I’ve said it. Terrible, isn’t it? But I’m not making it up. It’s the truth. Say what you will about our tendency to objectify, but this process isn’t going away.
Plenty of men deny this. But experience has shown me that those men are either lying to you or are so disconnected from their true feelings, they’re lying to themselves.
This isn’t something men are necessarily happy about. It can be a terrible distraction. But it also is not something to be ashamed of. We can’t dictate how we feel. The best we can do is to choose to behave appropriately.
This dynamic does not only happen—as you may have guessed—exclusively at men’s group meetings. This is simply what happens—everywhere. Tell me, ladies, that you haven’t been aware of this in bars, restaurants or in the boardroom.
This biological phenomenon is one of the reasons it’s very difficult for some men to share the workplace with women. Many men do act in a mature fashion and productively work side by side with women. But some men lack a level of impulse control.
Combine that with everyone’s personal issues, competing agendas, professional pressures, etc., and you can begin to understand why some unfortunate interactions take place.
I’m not angling for sympathy for us men. But it is indeed, on occasion, a hostile environment for men. Biology can be a bitch!
Back to our men’s groups.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of what I’ll call (tongue in cheek) our male attention deficit disorder, I hope it now makes sense why we must protect a male-only environment for our groups.
During the last couple generations, men have not seen many examples of men-only activities, fraternal organizations or even witnessed their dads spending quality time with other men on a regular basis. Men talking with each other, trusting each other, and helping one another with our most challenging issues, has essentially disappeared from our daily lives.
Fortunately, more and more men are now gathering in groups and fighting for a place to support one another to be better men, fathers and husbands.
So ladies, although we can’t allow any flies on our walls, I hope you’ll support your man to spend this kind of quality time with other men. Don’t ask him what was said or done. Just be grateful that your man is one of the fortunate few who are benefitting from the wisdom, camaraderie and accountability available only from a circle of good men.
men’s life coach advice for men relationship coaching
April 22, 2014
Congratulations. You’ve found your soul mate. She’s lovely. I hope the two of you will have a wonderful time sharing your lives together, building a home, raising fabulous children, and enjoying every inch of each other on your journey.
And I mean it. But there’s more. Here’s what you don’t want to hear, what you may think, in your current honeymoon haze, wouldn’t apply to you. But I assure you that any veteran couple would have my back on this.
If you’re man enough to make that all-important decision to get married, then you ought to be man enough to prepare for the inevitable trials and tribulations, pain and suffering, frustration and resentment that are part and parcel of a long-term, committed relationship.
I don’t want to rain on your parade. But I do want you to have your eyes wide open so that you have the greatest chance possible to build the relationship you now envision, and not one that’s passionless or broken, like many relationships you’ve seen in your lifetime.
The statistics on marriage are questionable. Although it’s been reported for years that over 50% of marriages end in divorce, researchers disagree on the veracity of the numbers. Nevertheless, anecdotally I can tell you that successful marriages (which I’ll define in a moment) are not a sure thing. In fact, if you’re not conscious, you’re likely to end up not particularly satisfied in your long-term relationship, at least based on the fear, ignorance, and resentment that have brought men and couples into my office to work on their unhappy unions.
Before and After
So what’s a successful marriage? Well, let’s start where you are right now and list what’s great about your relationship:
• You have fun.
• You can talk easily.
• Sex is great.
• You never or rarely argue.
• You easily work through problems.
• You love spending all of your time together sharing the same interests.
OK, that’s a good start. Now let me share a comparable list from a man who’s been married for a while:
• I can’t remember the last time I had real fun.
• She doesn’t listen.
• Sex is infrequent and routine, or almost non-existent.
• We argue all the time.
• Everything’s a problem with her.
• I have no guy friends and I’m bored, numb, or lazy.
This list is not an exaggeration. These words actually come out of the mouths of many men. And sometimes these men have not been married very long. That’s why it’s critical to pay attention NOW, and to do what’s necessary to be prepared to have a successful, fulfilling, loving and vibrant marriage.
Are you ready to hear what you’ll need to do to have that successful relationship you want? I ask because it takes work. Sit in a circle with a group of men, which I do several times a week, and you will hear just how challenging it is for them to be in their relationships. You’ll hear about their frustration, anxiety, fear, doubt and arguments over money, kids, sex, career, his time, her demands and much more.
So let’s get out of this problem and focus on the solution.
Here are a few suggestions:
It’s an inside job.
Most of the conflict you’ll experience in your relationship will reflect your personal unresolved issues. That means the sadness, resentment and anger you’re still carrying from your childhood. You can try to push it down, deny it or distract yourself with all sorts of activities, substances and other addictions. But it ain’t goin’ away!
Do you find yourself avoiding conflict and being a pleaser because it feels easier that way? Is she going along with you because it’s easier for her when you tend to act like a bully, because you’re so smart and have all the answers?
It’s worth every penny to get the support from a counselor/coach/therapist who will help you recognize how your behavior today is connected to your past, and what to do to make positive changes so you can be the best man, father and husband possible.
Have those difficult conversations.
Talking now may be rather easy for the two of you. But are you having the tough talks? For instance, have you shared all of your sexual fantasies? Or are you holding back because you know she wouldn’t approve? Trust me, these desires WILL NOT go away. And if you don’t find a way to work them out with her, you will either act them out with another woman or women, build resentment that’ll poison your relationship, or sexually turn off, which will kill your relationship. It happens all the time.
Let men support you.
Spending less time with your buddies? Don’t have close male friends? Getting nervous about being a dad because you didn’t have a great example? Feel uncomfortable around men because you’ve tended to hang around women all your life? These are all excellent reasons to develop trusting relationships with men.
To be the best man you can be, I firmly believe you need to be in the company of other men. These guys will hold you accountable, tell you the truth about what it’s like being with you when you’re selfish, angry or defensive, and they’ll share their wisdom with you about sex and romance, fathering, and growing older with the woman you love.
Marriage can be a wonderful experience. But it takes work. The good news is what awaits you when you’re willing to do that work. You’ll have a woman who feels safe, secure, cherished, and adored. And when you have that, you’ll be able to build upon what is now a glorious relationship.
keywords: The husband and wife relationship.
April 15, 2014
Check out Wayne’s interview with Clark Danger on the “What Makes a Man” Podcast at
This young, enthusiastic interviewer inspires Wayne to, in a very candid way, tackle relationship questions for young men in need of guy advice. Wayne’s an intuitive life coach and this podcast makes for some good listening for men of all ages and women who love them.
February 5, 2010
Last Wednesday, the men of BetterMen were featured in a satirical look at men in our culture.
Though we felt it was a great opportunity to gain exposure for our circle, and for men’s work in general, not everyone agrees.
Some enjoyed the entertainment value and could appreciate the format of the show. Others objected to placing our work up to ridicule.
Here’s a link to the segment. Tell us what you think.
November 11, 2009
Friend and writer, Bruce Sallan, of A Dad’s Point-of-View, offers his thoughts on how the support of men has saved, and continues to save him, from himself. Great insight for all men. Enjoy and let us know how YOU feel.
Do men really have good support for emotional issues, on a regular basis? When a man reaches a certain age and he’s depressed, he’s struggling with his place in the world, he’s going through family problems or a divorce, or financial and job worries, etc., where can he turn? Add into the mix that he’s a single dad and has no immediate family around and you have my situation, a few years ago.
When my marriage first broke up, I was blessed to find a circle of men that supported and guided me through the horrible ups and downs that followed. No, it wasn’t some beer-drinking group of women-haters, nor a drumming in Indian war paint Robert Bly-type of thing. It was regular men, with regular problems, getting together and talking about the real stuff.
I’ve stayed with this group, through various incarnations of men leaving and joining, for going on eight years now. Unlike the stereotype beliefs of men’s groups, ours completely supports parenting and a man’s relationship with his spouse and children. But, unfortunately, this is unusual, as men don’t tend to maintain their close male relationships after they marry, have children, and get further into their careers.
This is a classic case where the men and women differ greatly, since women, even if they’re working, tend to maintain their female friends which provides a regular outlet, in which to vent, to discuss, to get feedback, and to get help. It isn’t always healthy to go to your spouse with every question or concern you might have. As women tend to be influenced more by their feelings, it’s really helpful to us male slugs, that they can bounce something off their friends, before hitting us with it.
Let’s say, for instance, that one spouse has gained a considerable amount of weight. This is clearly a delicate subject and how the thinner spouse approaches this completely determines whether there’s any chance for success. Let’s face it; certain subjects always seem difficult, like talking about one’s sexual intimacy or money issues. Our communication can often be based on assumptions and things that have nothing to do with the other spouse. This is where the feedback from the men in my group often seems to save me from myself before I swallow my foot whole, in the process of making a fool of myself with my wife or boys.
As this relates to parenting, I believe it becomes equally important for men to have other men to turn to. Dads and moms are role models for their children. Study after study confirms the importance of both mothers and fathers in their children’s lives. We teach our children how to be the best men and women they can be. Support from our same-sex friends is a useful form of checks and balances that our own instincts won’t always get right.
Also, and this is key to my marriage, I have these men to talk to before I allow a feeling to erupt into saying something or taking an action that I’ll regret afterward. More often than not, the men will help me to see that whatever I think is such a big deal just as often is in my head or unrelated to me altogether. This sort of help, in which my group sees clearly what I can’t see, is invaluable. It is the classic case of being too close to the situation to be objective.
To be clear guys, I mean same-sex friends, not female friends. Women friends will tend to tell us what we want to hear, to nurture us, when what we really need is a kick in the butt and a tongue-lashing. That’s where men with men make a real difference.
It’s natural to react to our spouses and take it personally, but it’s better to talk it out with your male friends before doing something rash or impulsive. In this regard, I credit the men in my circle with saving my dating relationship, during the rocky times, with my wife, getting me to the altar before she completely blew me off, and improving my relationship with my boys.
So, this post is a call to men out there to seek more male friendships, apart from male friends within other couples, foursomes at golf, other sporting associations, or via your work. How many of those men really open up to you or vice versa?
I know in my previous work-life, within the corporate and cutthroat world of showbiz, that reacting off-the-cuff was usually suicidal. Waiting another day and reflecting, seeking outside counsel, became essential to making good decisions and taking the right action. I equally believe that we need to look at our personal relationships in the same light.
If you men don’t have men friends that you can really talk to about your life, then get out there and find them. Start your own group at a local coffee house, away from the women, or through your church or synagogue. Make the topics of discussion personal and don’t talk just business, which is the fallback talk position, after sports, for most men. The men in my life support me, but they don’t coddle me or tell me what I want to hear; they tell me what I need to hear. We all need that.