Welcome back to the Art of Manliness Podcast! In this week’s episode I talk to Elliot Katz, author of the book Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man. We discuss the three traits women are looking for in a man, the difference between being strong versus being controlling, and what men can do today to improve their relationships with the women in their lives.
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Brett: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. So, what do women want in a man? Is it sensitivity? Is it being the bad boy? You know it can get really confusing because it seems like you read something different each month in all the different men’s magazines out there. But our guest today thinks he knows exactly what women want in a man and he has a written a book about it. His name is Elliot Katz and he is the author of the book Being The Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man. Mr. Katz is a professional speech writer and author of seven nonfiction books ranging from topics on travel to the economy and Elliot lives in Toronto, Canada. And Elliot, welcome to the show.
Elliot: Great to be here.
Brett: Well, thanks for being here. So Elliot, tell us what inspired you to write this book about what woman want in a man.
Elliot: Well, it really was my own journey like many books are type it’s person’s own journey. I was married for ten years then I got divorced. And like a lot of people at first I blamed the other person, right, it’s all their faults and then it come to the point, I think, what do I have learnt from this, I don’t want to go through this again and start really set out on a journey of what does it mean to be a man trying to learn what it means to be a man and first thing I learnt was a lot of men are confused. When you sort of talk to the men, you hear all these messages, you know, be sensitive, don’t be controlling, be you know a nice guy and it does not seem to be working. We are trying our best to so nice and so pleasing to women and they don’t seem to be happy and then I started reading books on relationships. I read like a mountain of books and it really didn’t say anything to be what does it mean to be a man and that’s only when I turned to the time with insight that fathers and other older male role models used to teach younger man about what it mean to be a man that has blown away, the thing it really blew me, right, was that a coincided with what I heard women complaint of lacking in men today. They don’t show leadership. They don’t make decision and they don’t take responsibility. This seems to be like this massive disconnect but men thinking oh don’t be controlling, don’t make any decisions, let her make her own decisions.
Brett: Hmm, yeah.
Elliot: And women are so frustrated with men who can’t make decisions.
Brett: Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, I mean going to back to your title, you know it’s called Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants. I mean how did you know that, you know, what you suggest is what woman really want. Did you just talk to woman, did you interview bunch of them or you just kind of observations on what they talk to you about?
Elliot: Well, I just talk to lot of women. It wasn’t like formal interview but just talking because really it was a journey. I was trying to learn and when you are trying to get answers to questions you listen to what people say. I remember hearing woman who are successful in business, they say, “I may be a boss at work but when I’m with a man I want to feel like a woman, I want him to take charge.” And I couldn’t count the number of single woman who would tell me that when I go on a date ––you know they’re just going out for a cup of coffee with the guy, guy can’t even decide where to go for a cup of coffee, he wants her to decide. And then when they finally get to a place he can’t even choose a table to where to sit and he wants her to choose.
Elliot: And I explained, you know to the woman she is looking at a man you know as a life-partner and life has many challenges, crisis, problems, we all know that and if you can’t even decide where to go for a cup of coffee, it is not a good impression at all.
Brett: Yeah, definitely. It’s always the… so what you want to do type of conversation.
Elliot: Right, right. You know what woman tell me they love a man, a man with a plan.
Brett: Yeah, exactly.
Elliot: If you ask a woman out, have a plan. Say, you know, I’ve made reservations at this restaurant, after that we can go to a show. I bought tickets for it and I will pick you up at 6 o’clock, please be ready. They love it.
Elliot: Note this–– Oh, you know, I heard some of the women will say the guy calls, ask me out would you like to go outside tonight, okay. What would like to do? What time should I pick you up. And we laugh. But like many men will argue with me that yeah, you know that’s good because I am showing I’m flexible, I am not controlling. It is not about being controlling, it is but showing leadership and it’s showing like––you know when it comes to a marriage situation the woman complained the man is oblivious. You know man thinks you know the home, the children are the woman’s domain but to the women she feels like what do I have here, this guy is a oblivious so there’s problem is going on. He leaves everything to me. It is like there’s massive disconnect.
Brett: Yeah. So, you know, you mentioned a few of those things like what you think women are looking for in a man, so what do you think are the three biggest things that women are looking for in a man today but many men are lacking?
Elliot: Well, there are three things, leadership, and what is leadership? It’s not being controlling. It’s really the opposite of being controlling. It’s, you know, a leader thinks about the greater good of his family, of his relationship, of his wife. He is being controlling as someone who is just… you know just thinking about themselves, you know not thinking about anybody else. Next thing is making decision. You know, so many you know––there is lots of decisions and there are many decisions that––you know the decision itself is not important but a decision has to be made and if you just leave everything, every decision to your wife, it’s very frustrating to her. So she wants a man who can make decisions. It does not mean he comes home from work and say, “Oh, you know what, I decided we are going to move to Australia.”
Elliot: You know obviously major decisions, yeah, have to be you know agreed upon together but so many things like you know what restaurant you want to go tonight. So if you are going out for dinner, you know, you have a plan. Think about the restaurant you like to go to. Like all these things like making activities for the children, don’t just leave everything to her. Like participate, like look into things, try to find solutions, in everything you’re taking responsibility. You know so many men, especially I meet the worse men they would complain that you know ‘Oh my wife, she has let me broke, you know, it’s all her fault,’ and like nobody have any sympathy for them. They don’t understand like people except the man to take responsibility. You know as much as we talk about gender equality, people expect that a man will take responsibility. If there’s a problem going on he will handle it, you know he will take measures to put an end to it. Nobody wants to hear a man say he is a victim of a woman. It’s a big, big turnoff.
Brett: So, why do you think men today lack these traits? Or has this been a problem for men for going back ages?
Elliot: Right. Well, I think, you know, a lot of people … to blame the feminist, so lot of men that’s what they’ll do right they’ll blame the feminist but really I say to them all you know there’s a lot families having these ideas but why did we as men not know that’s not how we should be as men. I think a lot of it really is like things changes that happen in our society. You know a lot of men, like a lot of boys that grew up in families without father, they were you know divorced or else the father used to work long hours and then they went to school and most teachers were women and they really didn’t have a strong male role model and for that reason you can blame the feminist but really we weren’t taught what in previous generations fathers and other older male role models used to teach younger man.
Brett: Hmm, it’s basically a lack of male mentorship is the big, big one.
Elliot: I think so, I think so. You know I think your daily e-mails those I see that like a male mentor to a lot of people.
Brett: Well, we hope it that helps. That’s why we do it. So, you talk a lot in your book how women are looking for men to lead in their relationship and they are looking for a strong masculine presence in their life, but it seems if you listened to pop culture, you know, it seems like the messages that women are looking for the sensitive and soft, you know, new-age guy, why do we had this contradictory views?
Elliot: It’s a very good question. You know we see on TV like the way men are portrayed on TV, I mean that’s another thing that influences young man, right. The guys on TV they’re portrayed as buffoons and idiots. You know it’s interesting, I don’t really know why you know there are so much of that in the media and in reality as you can see you know men who are sensitive and develop their feminine side, they really don’t do well with women like they have a lot of women friends and they are interested in getting romantically involved with the women but women will say you know I see you are a nice guy, I see you as a good friend. I don’t see you as someone I would get involve with because really it is almost like he has made himself one of the girls, so that’s all comes from the media. I just don’t know why the media is putting out these bad ideas. I think it’s like gone to an extreme, we have this image of men domineering and controlling and so they have gone to other extreme and really it is really in the middle, you know, nobody wants somebody domineering or controlling but they don’t want to push a little either. Sometimes it’s a tragedy that so many men are getting ideas in television that are just not beneficial to the range of thing, I mean if we go back to the 1950s and 1960s they were shows like Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver, you know they were kind of idyllic and not really realistic. But still in Father Knows Best there was a problem, the father came home, he showed leadership, he dealt with the problem. He wasn’t the buffoon. He wasn’t an idiot. It is–– and think that this has changed.
Elliot: It’s gone too far to the other extreme.
Brett: Yeah. Alright, so what advise do you have for a man who feels like he is constantly getting henpecked by his wife, you know, he feels like his wife is totally dominating the relationship, that he doesn’t really have a say? Is there any timeless wisdom from the ages that a man can use for that situation?
Elliot: Well, it’s a common situation. So, what I recommend is show leadership. But I say what–– first, what no to do. Don’t, if you know your wife is making all the decisions and you start saying well, I am going to show I am the leader, I am going to make this… you know she says we’re going to do this, I am going to say we’re going to do the complete opposite. Also I am the leader, we’re not doing that, we’re going to do the complete opposite. Well, that’s just kind of more conflict because you are undermining her and it is like out of the blue. So, what I told men is look for situations in your home and your family that need to be dealt. Look for problems, look for, you know, things that are not being done, that you know that she is not doing that she does not have the time to do or something with the kids and show leadership. Step forward and find the solution and implement it. And at first it might become a shock like you know she is taken back that you’re actually doing something, but just keep doing that, look for more problems, more situations, and you will be her hero. I guess that which she wants. She wants somebody who is stepping forward and handling things. She is frustrated with men who just leave everything to her. You know like I said in the beginning that’s the amazing thing like men think you know on being this nice non-controlling sensitive guy and leaving her to make the decisions but really she is totally frustrated with that. She wants the guy who’s going to make decisions. I talk to so many women they said yeah, we want men who can make decisions. We don’t want to make all the decisions, we don’t want to be dominated but we don’t want this passive oblivious guy who’s just leaving everything to us.
Brett: Yeah. So, you mentioned in the intro the name of your––title of your book also has just that. You went to like the wisdom from the ages going back your centuries, sometimes millennia to get your advice on what it means to be a man. So, who are some of the people that you encounter, or some of the man you encounter that had some really good things to say on what it means to be a man?
Elliot: Well, you know interesting thing is one of the first that comes to mind really is when I read his book really changed me was Dr. Benjamin Spock, right. He wrote book on parenting. It was one of the bestselling books of the twentieth century and he wrote it amazingly. You also know Dr. Spock?
Brett: Yeah, definitely.
Elliot: During his time people consider him very permissive, you know he was against Vietnam War and people said all, you know, but today if you read his book you would say he is like middle of the road or even slightly to the right of the middle of the road because he said and he said the biggest complaints he heard from women is that their husbands don’t showed their shared leadership at home. When I read that I said well like I was blown away because I never really thought of that, you know, that I am here on this journey to try to learn you know what I needed to learn to be a better man and the relationship and he said that and it was really –– he started to turn me around, I said well, I have to go find out what leadership means and he says he it is like training the children, guiding, managing them. It is being you know not just a friend because you know you don’t see yourself as your child’s friend. Your child got many friends. He only has one father..
Elliot: And really–– It was really that reading that was one thing I read that just turned me around, just turned my whole way of looking at things around. It is amazing to think how far you know we have come from that today.
Brett: Yeah. And one of the interesting things about your book, Elliot, is the format you decided to put in. It is the how to, I guess, a book it gives dispensing advice, but it’s not written in the typical nonfiction format and it’s actually a narrative. Why did you to choose to go with a kind of a fictional story to you know dispense this advice you had for men?
Elliot: Well, I wrote that–– it’s in the form of story of a grandfather teaching his grandson these insights and it’s almost to show that it’s the teaching the missed generation like the grandson did not learn it from his father, so he goes to his grandfather because that is the connection that this timeless wisdom that can been passed on from generation to generation and it really shows that you know so many problems that men face today like I know I felt this way, I thought nobody has gone through, I’m the only one in the world like this is craziness you know that I am going through with you know during my marriage I think and then his grandfather don’t know that you know men has been going through this for hundreds of years, thousands of year and he quote somebody that you know from a thousand years ago that say something like wow, like it is so fresh as if it is written today and yet it was written like hundreds of years ago or thousands of years ago. It’s really to realize which is what it means to be a man. Men have to learn these things, they have learnt to leadership. They can’t just be passive or oblivious and let things go on and then complain. Nobody has any sympathy for them. It’s really stepping forward, taking charge, dealing with situations. Really being the man is a leader of the home, you know and that’s the woman want. They don’t want things passive guys. I mean, you know… I mean many think of woman today and you know there is a lot of things our adults today in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and especially woman who are complaining about the lack of quality men and what do they say about the man that the immobility, they seem like so passive. We don’t see them as partners like someone is going to be a man in relationship with them.
Brett: Yeah. So, what do you think men can do to become the strong man that woman want? What can they do today?
Elliot: Well, first thing is to catch yourself, you know, when you start falling back into old patterns of you know you are going out with a girl, you say “Oh, where would you like to go to eat?” Like things like just simple steps, start with those things. Don’t ask where she would like to go to eat. Think about it, think about a place you would both enjoy doing. I remember talking to one fellow he says I guess, I mean you know I’m just going to call my girl friend, say make some plans for this weekend. And I say, “No, why don’t you make some plan.” Be a man with a plan and really extend that to other things. You know like in your relationship you see situations that need to be dealt with. Don’t leave it to her. Step forward and deal with that. You know if you are married and living in a home, you see things that in the home need to be done. Step forward, take charge you know. Like so many men they just think Oh, I’ll just do whatever my wife tells me to do. I am such a great husband like you know wash the dishes, I take the garbage out, I mow the lawn, I change diapers, I give the kids bath. That’s great. It’s great you know to do all those things but it is almost like you are the nanny. You got to step forward to what are the situations so then it can be dealt with. What are the decisions that have to be made and what is going on like… and be the leader. Really, women really want that. It’s over and over women are telling this is what they want and when they can find a man like that they are happy.
Brett: Excellent. Well, Elliot, thank you for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Elliot: It’s been great time with you, Brett.
Brett: Our guest today was Elliot Katz. Elliot is the author of the book Being the Strong Man a Woman: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man. And you can pick up Elliot’s book at Amazon.com.