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What men feel

Alex Miller
Simon & Schuster Neil Chethik's new book, "VoiceMale," asks hundreds of real men how they feel about marriage.
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Look over the selection of relationship books in any bookstore and it’s easy to come to the conclusion that men are broken and in need of fixing. Most of the books are written by women from the female perspective, and even those by men such as the “Men Are From Mars” series – are tough for men to relate to since they come at issues from the “feelings” side of the aisle.With that in mind, journalist Neil Chethik set out to explore what it is men are really thinking. His new book, “VoiceMale,” details the results of a national survey of 300 American husbands, coupled with personal interviews with 70 married men of diverse backgrounds. The upshot is not a self-hel” book but a collection of narratives and snapshots about how men think and feel on a range of issues – from how they popped the question and the rigors of the wedding to the child-raising years and later stages of marriage.As Chethik says, it’s not a “how-to” but a “what-is” book.”What inspired me was the difference in the perception of men and the reality,” Chethik said, speaking from his office in Kentucky. “There’s all this stuff about how men are commitment-phobic, or that all they care about is sex. What I was trying to do was let men speak for themselves.”Most American husbands, Chethik said, are happy to be married. In fact, his survey revealed that 93 percent of men interviewed said they’d marry the same woman again.”That was a surprise, hearing just how much men seem to love being married,” Chethik said. “I thought the conventional wisdom is that we’re over there rolling our eyes, and we don’t want to talk about relationships.”The husbands in the book all acknowledge the challenges that accompany marriage, but overall, Chethik said, they want to stay married; they want it to work.”There’s a wellspring of happiness underneath the struggles and differences,” he said. “On balance, the American husband is pretty darn happy.”

What husbands sayReading “VoiceMale” is an interesting exercise for the simple reason that it’s rare to find several hundred pages based on what real men think and feel. As Chethik points out, girls are taught from an early age that it’s OK to talk about what they’re feeling, whereas boys are taught the opposite. But just because they’re not saying it doesn’t mean they’re not feeling it, and Chethik’s book takes a long stride in correcting that.While it’s not a typical self-help or advice book, men (and women) reading it can come away with a greater understanding of what a representative sample of men have to say about marriage. Also revealing are the things they do to demonstrate affection that don’t involve talking: making the bed, helping with chores, etc. And while women may say they’d like their husbands to open up more, the men in the book describe how their greatest happiness occurs when they’re doing things side-by-side with their wives.Chethik said getting this information out of men depended a lot on asking the right questions. You can’t, he said, barge in, ask men how they “feel” and expect to get much.”You have to make them feel like they’re going to be heard, and that what they have to say is valid,” he said. “Once they believe that you want to hear them and not judge, they’ll tell their story. The feelings come out naturally from that.”Perhaps more than anything, the men in “VoiceMale” explode the myth that guys are shallow goofballs who don’t know what’s going on. As Chethik says, men see the world differently than women do, but they’re highly attuned to what’s going on in their marriages.”Men are aware of which needs are being met and which are not,” he said. “I think people will be surprised to read about the level of depth most men have. It’s a lot different than the stereotypes we see in sitcoms or popular media.”

VoiceMaleThe new book “VoiceMale: What husbands really think about their marriages, their wives, sex, housework and commitment” was published Tuesday by Simon & Schuster. Author Neil Chethik is embarking on a publicity tour next week, and will appear to talk about his book Monday on Good Morning America. For more information, go to voicemalebook.com.Survey resultsSome of the findings from the national survey behind the “VoiceMale” book:-By a 3-to-1 margin, husbands said that their marriage got better after the birth of a child.-58 percent of husbands said their wives had changed them in a significant way since they married; 93 percent of those said it was for the better.



-More than three-quarters of husbands married more than 35 years say they are “very happy” in their marriage; 30 percent of these couples have no sexual intercourse.-Husbands say the top five areas of disagreement in marriage are, in this order: money, balancing work and family, raising children, housework and sex.-Those couples that work out a fair division of household duties are less likely to consider getting a divorce, more likely to be sexually satisfied and more likely to be happily married overall.-Men who say they were initially attracted to their wife by her physical attributes alone are less satisfied in their marriage than those for whom personality was key.-The top two personality traits men first found attractive in their wife are a positive outlook and self-confidence.Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or amiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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