Why men struggle with love and what to do about it

Many of our fathers, uncles and grandfathers knew very little about what it takes to create and sustain love and intimacy. For the most part, they didn’t need to know. For generations, perhaps from time immemorial, marriage was about “security, stability and raising kids.” Contrary to many beautiful poems and love stories, whether or not couples loved, or even liked each other, may not have been important.

But as women gained more freedoms over the years leading up to and into the 21st century, the basis of marriage changed.

In many parts of the world that change is still evolving.

Intimate relationships, especially marriages, became about meeting each other’s needs for “love and intimacy.”


You could spend months studying the how’s, when’s and why’s of that significant social and cultural change. And while there are many dimensions, for the most part, it’s because women were no longer trapped in unhappy relationships – unlike so many generations of women before them.

Increasingly, women had the freedom and resources to leave relationships and marriages in which they didn’t feel valued, respected, and loved.

But very few men naturally had the skills to sustain love and intimacy. That’s not because there was or is anything wrong with them; it’s just that these are skills few men ever had a chance to learn.

You can’t expect yourself or someone else to know something that was rarely, if ever, taught or modeled anymore than expecting someone to get dressed in an outfit they don’t have. (Good intentions are a valuable beginning. Adding practical, proven skills for sustaining intimacy is an invaluable addition.)

When you think about it, it makes sense that many men have struggled in love and marriage.

Men learn about marriage and relationships from what they saw from their own parents and grandparents. Men learned about being husbands mostly from their own fathers, uncles, and grandfathers.


Skills for sustaining love and intimacy also weren’t taught in school. More often, opposite skills were taught to help prepare men to succeed in their careers. Those skills are typically very different from the ones that prepare men to succeed in love.

The good news is that the skills for sustaining love and intimacy are not difficult to learn.

PAIRS Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1983 with the mission of creating a safer, saner, more loving world, has helped tens of thousands of men (and women) learn to become better listeners, confide in loved ones, resolve differences so the relationship wins, understand emotions in themselves and others, and much more that offers opportunities for love, pleasure, happiness and success that earlier generations likely could not have imagined.

You may wonder, what do relationship skills have to do with creating a “safer, saner, more loving world.”

For us, the answer is clear.

When we have peace and love within ourselves and with the people closest to us, we have a better chance of being creative, productive, happy and successful in the areas of life that matter most. That offers a lifetime of meaningful, priceless rewards few of us would ever want to sacrifice.

Start learning tools for sustaining love and intimacy now by testing and developing your skills at apps.pairs.com. If you’re in a new relationship, PAIRS offers a guided self-discovery program to help couples learn more about themselves, each other, and strengthen their potential for lasting love.

Is Fighting Over the Remote Ruining Your Relationship?

(Excerpted from Chicago Tribune, March 26, 2013)

Seth Eisenberg of the PAIRS Foundation suggests that instead of stewing as Honey Boo Boo lights up a TV screen, couples and families could sharpen relationship-building skills:

Talking tips: This exercise lets one person express different aspects of a concern, say what he or she wants instead, and say it to someone who listens with empathy. Later they can talk about it, reverse roles or just thank each other for the new information.

Emptying the emotional jug: If someone is letting feelings show through sarcasm, criticism or withdrawing, that person is encouraged to express what is really going on. The listener asks a series of questions and thanks the speaker for confiding.

Daily temperature reading: Take 15 minutes each day to touch on five areas, in order: appreciations, new information, puzzles (things you’re wondering about), concerns with recommendations (focus on a behavior, and include a specific request for what you want instead), and wishes, hopes and dreams.

Dating Fatherhood Lifestyle/Leisure Long Distance Relationships News

PAIRS Foundation View All →

What is PAIRS?

Intimacy is critical to the process of developing and sustaining close relationships, now a major concern in our culture. Modernization has shifted the primary function of marriage from providing security, stability, and raising children to developing a lifetime of love and intimacy. In previous generations successful marriages depended upon duty and role competence. Modern marriages require greater interpersonal competence as well as equality between partners. Relationships are sought that not only create stable families but also provide partners with a lifetime of love and companionship.

The PAIRS (Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills) programs, developed by Lori H. Gordon, Ph.D., provide a comprehensive system to enhance self-knowledge and to develop the ability to sustain pleasurable intimate relationships. Gordon's approach integrates a wide range of theories and methods from psychology, education and psychotherapy and presents them in an educational format. PAIRS acts to bridge therapy, marital enrichment, and marriage and family development.

Programs: Courses and Workshops

PAIRS offers programs to the public led by PAIRS Trained Professionals (licensed health care professionals), and PAIRS Instructors (certified clergy and educators), trained under the auspices and supervision of Gordon and the PAIRS Foundation, the organization that officially oversees PAIRS programs, products and licensing worldwide. There are PTPs and facilitators around the world. Check “Finding an Educator” to find one near you or near one you love who may need PAIRS.

PAIRS is effective in all populations for which it has been adapted. PAIRS has relationship skills training programs for children and youth, PAIRS for PEERS, that are taught in schools, churches and agencies. PAIRS has programs for the Military, for use by chaplains and family service workers. PAIRS has faith-based programs for the Jewish, Catholic, and Christian church communities. PAIRS is currently developing programs and program delivery systems for disadvantaged youth, unmarried families, single parents, domestic violence, prison parolees, and related groups who can benefit from relationship skills training. PAIRS provides a vital ingredient to build stable marriages and healthy families with more hopeful futures for children. These programs for special groups will be taught by local agency workers and by specially trained community teachers and mentors. Research on PAIRS has demonstrated that PAIRS works for all groups under all circumstances evaluated. PAIRS is a modern technology adapted to our rapidly changing society in behalf of creating a saner, safer more loving world.

What you will learn in PAIRS

Sustaining a pleasurable intimate relationship does not work by magic. It depends upon a set of skills and understanding that can be learned. We learned most of what we know about intimate relationships through our early experiences in our families. Our personal history has a great deal of influence on what happens in our current relationships - on our behavior, our feelings, our expectations. We can change these influences if we become aware of them and wish to. It is well worthwhile to sort through what we inherited, keeping what fits for today and changing what does not.

PAIRS Competencies are specific skills that you will learn from PAIRS. These competencies focus in three areas: 1) emotional literacy; 2) conjoint partner skills for building and maintaining intimacy; and 3) practical knowledge, strategies and attitudes for sustaining positive marriage and family life. You may click on the above links to see a listing of the skills taught in PAIRS.

The Goal of PAIRS is a relationship that both partners can live with joyfully. For this to happen, each partner must become able to identify his or her own feelings and needs, and learn to communicate them in such a way that they can get met. This means communicating one's needs and desires without making the other partner feel resentful, smothered, burdened, manipulated, or inadequate. Easily and fully meeting each others' needs is the foundation of intimacy, fulfillment, and happiness.

PAIRS teaches specific easily learnable tools for successful communication such as confiding, complaining, and clarifying and for effective problems solving such as managing anger, expressing anger safely, fighting fairly for change and eliminating dirty fighting. PAIRS also guides the vast deepening of self-knowledge and develops emotional literacy. PAIRS addresses pleasure and satisfaction by teaching skills to enhance bonding, sensuality and sexuality in marriage. PAIRS teaches a profound but simple model, the Relationship Roadmap, to understand relationship success and to understand relationship mishaps and know what to do about them. PAIRS teaches over 60 skills that, after PAIRS, become the participants' PAIRS Tool Box for ongoing relationship maintenance.