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No matter how well you perform as a loving and attentive boyfriend or husband, you’re bound by the universal laws of relationships—a space governed by forces such as forgetfulness and failed promises. When you screw up, your woman will rightly cast you into the doghouse. (What can we say? To echo Tupac: That’s just the way it is.) But, assuming you’re not the kind of guy who enjoys life in the metaphorical backyard, you’ll want to bounce back not only fast but also with a stronger relationship than before. Thanks to psychologist and relationship expert Seth Meyers, Psy.D., and Steve Santagati, author of The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date, and Mate, here’s how to rebound from the clumsiest of behavior.
1) You forgot your anniversary: Don’t pretend that UPS lost the great gift you carefully selected. This is 2014, and she could ask you for a tracking number. Own your oversight and select a new date—not just a make-up dinner—to celebrate the day you forgot, Santagati says. “She may balk at first, so you’d better get creative to convince her.” Pick a day when you’re both free and make sure the schedule includes at least one surprise. Meyers adds, “Plan something that so thoughtfully suits her specific interests and tastes, she’ll pray you forget again next year.”
2) You stayed out too late with the guys: Remember what your mother told you when you still had a curfew? “Nothing good happens after midnight.” Well, your girlfriend’s mother told her that, too. She’s not worried about you getting into a bar fight or even driving home drunk; she’s worried that you weren’t with the guys at all. “Hear her out, then let her know that while you love her, you also need time with your friends without feeling guilty for things you didn’t do,” Meyers says. “If she gets paranoid that you’re sinking into debauchery every time you chill out with your buddies, you have to think about whether the relationship is going to work. You want her to be your girlfriend or wife—not a nagging mom.”
3) You lied to her: Maybe you lied to protect her, or because you were embarrassed by the truth, but whatever the reason, she’ll be hurt when she finds out. The only way to regain her trust is to confess your sins and promise it will never happen again. (Unless, of course, it might happen again, in which case you should evaluate the relationship.) Open up the floor to questions about whatever she wants to know. “Be prepared to honestly answer her tough questions,” Santagati says. If you’re truthful, the conversation will more than likely end in a good laugh.
4) You were a slob after you promised to pick up after yourself: For her, this is less about your mess and more about respect. If you routinely leave a trail of destruction in your wake and expect her to pick up after you, she’ll start to feel like your servant. “Do short term damage control by hiring someone to do the dirty work,” Meyers says. “Bring in a cleaning service for a one-time visit, or, better yet, find a way to build it into the monthly budget. Better to solve the problem once and for all than argue every day about the same annoying issues.”
5) You forgot to “Clear History”: For most guys, porn is simply a reality. (And it’s about to get even more real, as some leading online porn auteurs begin to make the transition to 4K Ultra HD equipment. Just saying.) But if your spouse catches you—ahem—clearing your cache at the computer, she’s probably going to wonder why she’s not enough for you. “Unless it’s an unhealthy addiction, porn can offer guys a quick and uncomplicated way to relax,” Meyers says. To persuade her that she’s not competing with the screen for your affection, prepare for a thorough tongue-lashing—and I’m not talking about a yelling match. Hey, you must’ve learned a new trick or two from the Interwebs—it’s time to show her.
6) You noted her weight gain: The key to surviving a week on the sofa is a comfortable pillow. Remove the sofa’s backrest for more space, and foam roll in the morning to stay limber. And fold up your damn sheets!