Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beta Move: The Five Year Rule

Mrs. Ironwood and I have a very important ritual we've evolved over the years, dating from our first big "it's been five years, are we gonna get married or what?" discussion.  As it has evolved it has been an important tool to provide much-needed perspective about the state of the marriage.

Very simply, you ask yourselves -- and each other -- how your lives now compare to how they were five years ago.  For instance, five years after we met Mrs. Ironwood and I both had relatively stable jobs, a decent roof over our heads, health insurance, cordial relationships with each others' parents, and an assload more security in ourselves and each other than we did when we met.  Just on paper that was big.  We had to agree that both of our lives were measurably better then than they were five years before.  All of the ups and down of our initial courtship and commitment, moving in together, surviving my younger brother move in with us, the requisite family and friend drama, all of it was utterly bearable, and we were better people and happier people for being together. We both wanted kids and thought we'd be good parents.  So the next logical step was to get married.  I'd more or less already decided that, but it was nice to hear she was open to the possibility.  I told her point-blank I would only ask her once, and made it clear I was serious.  And then I thought about it furiously for another six months before I asked her.

But since that time we've been able to pull out the Five Year Rule when either one of us has felt depressed or overwhelmed by life.  It provides an important gut-check for the marriage and gives us a clear, mutually-understandable benchmark.  Of such rituals are good marriages made.

It's essentially a Beta Move, in a very good way.  By invoking the Five Year Rule you are providing context and comfort for your wife/girlfriend.  You are demonstrating that you are aware of the development of the relationship in context, and that you appreciate the growth you've both demonstrated.  It's non-threatening and supportive.  It's emotionally uplifting.  It's easier than mowing the lawn.  By seeing things in a five-year context we understand that whatever issues we face today are part of a larger continuum of our existence together.  And we re-iterate that we plan on being here in five more years, and will look back at these low points as the places where we figured it out or soldiered on or did whatever it was we did that got us through it.  It helps, it really does.

So much of Single Game is about seduction and pursuit that it's easy to loose sight of the nuances of Married Game.  Being able to provide good Beta when necessary is always helpful, and the romantic, nostalgic overtones of the Five Year Rule gives you a big juicy shot of Beta almost instantly.  It's also backhanded Alpha, if you insist strongly enough that she appreciate the Five Year Rule (attempting to blow off an important ritual can be a Fitness Test in a stressful situation).  Sometimes when a woman is freaking out about something, being able to provide some strong, steady perspective is what she wants from you more than a sympathetic ear or a hot beverage.

Of course the danger is that things may have actually gotten worse in five years.  If that's the case, then you should count that as valuable information as well.

At that first discussion


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