Shopping/Cruising/Grumpy Old Men - 9/04

Smart Marriages ® cmfce
Sat Sep 4 17:42:52 EDT 2004

subject: Shopping/Cruising/Grumpy Old Men - 9/04



> Diane, just adjacent to Grapevine Mills Mall is the huge Bass Pro Shop,
> consisting of acres of sports' gear---with a predominent focus on fishing,
> hunting, etc. So while the ladies are touring Neiman's, the men (and
> sports-minded ladies) could visit this "attraction." - Larry B.
- - - -
> Diane,
> About the Neiman's clearance center, I confess --I knew. My husband and I flew
> in a day early to check out the Grapevine Outlet Mall. While Neiman's was
> tempting, most of my dollars went to purchase bluebonnet decor for my kitchen
> at a cute "Texana shop". (Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower and it's hard
> to find these anywhere else.) The mall is huge--comfortable shoes are a must!
> I encourage people to add a day or two for couple fun time when at Smart
> Marriages, and certainly bring children to enjoy Six Flags, water parks,
> interactive museums and Fort Worth stockyards. We also visited West End
> marketplace and historical district, the Galleria (too bad the ice rink was
> being reconstructed) and cruised the streets to enjoy the beautiful
> architecture and yards of the old homes of Dallas. Next year, a trip to the
> Dallas Botanical Gardens is a must and if time allows, a drive to Fort Worth
> for their Japanese gardens.
> Vernetta Mickey
- - - - -
> Diane, maybe you could organize taxi-pools for those that want to go shopping.
> Split the cost of the taxi. - Liz

That's a great idea, but I think you'll have to do that at the conference -
use the message boards. Or, maybe as we get closer I can figure a way to
connect you through the web site. I match up roommates - why not shopmates?
And/or, maybe those that don't drive to Dallas, should plan to rent a car,
at least for a few days before and after the conference for places like Six
Flags and Grapevine. We'll arrange conf rental discounts and post them on
the website. - diane
holidaze and for "marriage cruises' or classes. Surprise your honey with a
warm getaway that includes marriage ed classes - see the web site for tons
of additional ideas. All the classes will provide gift certificates.
- diane

> Mexican Riviera Cruise for Ministry-Minded Marriages: Jan 16-23
> Pam and Bill Farrel, authors of Men are like Waffles,Women are like Spaghetti,
> will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary by hosting a cruise designed to
> celebrate, encourage and enhance those in ministry-minded marriages. (Marriage
> educators, pastors, lay couples, writers & speakers.)
> 800-810-4449
> Email: mliving at
> Web:
> PAIRS: Passage to Intimacy - Western Carribean Cruise
> Nov 15 - 20, New Orleans - Cozumel - Costa Maya.
> Want a great reason to give thanks this year? Join us for fun in the sun
> before the holidays. Take home a new set of healthy relationship skills to
> strengthen your marriage and family. Melissa Peck 225-266-2301 or
> Email: mlpeck41 at

> In the article by Roxanne Roberts, Greg Behrendt states:
> "I'm hoping this starts a revolution that gets everyone to step up and
> behave better," he says. "I want women to honor themselves, and I want men
> to honor women."
> And, lest we forget, we should also say, "...and I want women to honor men."
> Jim Cook
Too many men are, but a guy expert says they don?t have to be
By Brad Edmondson
September 2004

Before assuming a relatively low profile of late, Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, noted for his testy exchanges with the press, was generally
thought to be the most irritable man in Washington. In the realm of sports
there?s no contest: Nobody is more irritable than college basketball coach
Bobby Knight, best known for flinging chairs across the court but recently
in the news for accosting his university chancellor over a salad bar.

Why are these guys so grumpy?

Maybe they just need a hug. Or maybe they?re suffering from a condition we
all recognize that finally has a name: irritable male syndrome. It?s the
subject and title of a new book by psychotherapist Jed Diamond. Diamond made
a name for himself with the 1997 book Male Menopause, in which he argued
that "andropause," or the decline in testosterone that accompanies aging,
can really bring a guy down. In The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing the
Four Key Causes of Depression and Aggression (Rodale), scheduled for
bookstores in October, Diamond broadens his scope of hormonal changes that
can make men, old or not, grumpy. And hormones are just one element in a mix
of internal and external forces that can turn a happy, healthy stud into a
sour, sick spud.


Does this sound like someone you know? "He blames me for everything these
days," says a middle-aged woman describing her spouse in Diamond?s new book.
"If his socks or underwear are missing, I must have put them somewhere or
done something with them to [make him mad] - that?s what he tells me. The
thing that bothers me the most is how unaffectionate he has become. My
husband used to be the most positive, upbeat, funny person I knew. Now, it?s
like living with an angry brick!"

That guy really is irritable, as cranky as Archie Bunker or almost any Jack
Nicholson character.

"The stereotype of the old codger says that men will naturally become
cynical, angry and frustrated as they age," says Diamond. "But many of the
things we used to accept as inevitable are now recognized as disease states.
We used to say that someone was dotty x now we know it as Alzheimer?s. We
used to accept a lack of sexual function. We used to accept these things,
and now we treat them."

Some of the fault clearly lies with hormones. Every parent knows that
hormone spikes turn teenagers into moody monsters. When surgery alters a
man?s hormone mix, doctors expect mood swings. With testosterone likely to
start taking a header in men between ages 40 and 55, Diamond has observed
irritability in 80 percent of his patients in this group, a figure many
women may find low.

Blame other biochemical factors as well, starting with differences in
gender. Research has shown that men can take longer than women to process
complex emotions, so they can get cranky when they?re pushed to talk about
something they don?t yet understand. Some people are born with genes that
simply make them more prone to anxiety, depression and hostility. You can?t
blame them for that, but their parents were supposed to have taught them to
control and channel negative emotions; instead they learned to respond to
hard times by repressing their emotions and either acting out or turning
inward. Either way, they end up irritable males.

While hormones and genes might tee a guy up, it?s usually the outside world
that tees him off. Think about Clint Eastwood?s characters: They?re always
peevish but don?t explode until they feel insulted. For today?s guy in his
50s or 60s, the insult might be frustrated ambition, the promise of the
"man?s world" that once dangled before him but that now he will never
inherit. Women?s incomes and education levels have been rising while men?s
have been stagnant or falling. Guys may be stuck in a job they dislike, or
laid off, or forced to take early retirement. That?s depressing.


Diamond?s interest in the mental health of men began during childhood. "My
father was manic-depressive and ultimately attempted suicide," he says, "so
I knew growing up how complicated male depression is." Diamond himself
endured a bout of depression severe enough to endanger his own marriage, he

"A lot of people weren?t convinced by the idea of male menopause when that
book first came out," he says. "There were a few articles and a lot of
jokes. But I got an ?aha? reaction from therapists who have been seeing this
in their work. So these ideas gradually work their way in."

Diamond suggests several ways an irritable male can treat his body and mind.

First, get healthy. Forget the low-carb fad: Only a diet that includes both
protein and carbohydrates allows the body to produce enough of the
neurotransmitter called serotonin, "the male hormone of bliss," one doctor
calls it. An unbalanced diet can depress serotonin levels?and bingo, you?re
a grouch. Alcohol gives serotonin a temporary bump but then dramatically
lowers it, so it pays to go easy on the sauce.

To maximize testosterone, Diamond says, stay away from coffee, licorice and
diet sweeteners. Zinc pumps testosterone up, and some irritable men even get
mellower by taking testosterone the way some women take estrogen. Diamond
doesn?t endorse this in all cases, but he says it?s worth asking a doctor
about. Men naturally generate estrogen, too. Ten pounds of extra weight
increases estrogen levels in a man?s system and can make him irritable, if
not busty.

Men should also stop defining themselves in terms of their job titles and
start searching for a purpose that comes from within, Diamond says. "The
question I?d put to an older man is, ?Now that you?ve done what you were
supposed to do, what were you put here on earth to do?? " he says. "Other
cultures have rites of passage for men that help define their purpose. We
tend to ignore that, which leads to men feeling useless."

A relationship with an irritable male will improve when both partners learn
what Diamond calls the art of nonviolent communication. That means ignoring
who is right or wrong and focusing instead on each partner?s needs. If that
sounds a little touchy-feely, you won?t be surprised to learn that Diamond
lives in Willits, Calif., land of redwoods and hot tubs.

Of course, there?s no sure-fire cure for irritability. And, if it comes down
to telling grumpy guys to chill out x hey, nobody said this would be easy.

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