As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Elliott Katz, speaker and author of Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man, a book of relationship advice for men that has been translated into 24 languages around the world.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was married for ten years and then I got divorced. And like a lot of people, at first I blamed the other person.
Then I came to the point of asking myself: “What do I have to learn from all this? I don’t want to go through this again.”
So I set out on a journey to learn what it means to be a man in a relationship. I started by listening to other men. The more I listened, the more I realized we’re all confused.
I read books – but they said little to me. Then I turned to the teachings that for generations fathers and other older male role models taught younger men about being a man. I was blown away because what I learned coincided with what I heard women complain is lacking in men today – they don’t show leadership, they don’t make decisions and they don’t take responsibility.
It made me realize that what many men today do – thinking they’re making their wives happy — is actually damaging their relationships and can lead to divorce. So I set out to share these insights that helped me survive and thrive and wrote a book called Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about “divorce”?
By sharing this wisdom that has been lost to many men today, I’ve been able to help men become the kind of man that woman love and respect. I’ve also helped women motivate men to be that kind of man. For people who are divorced, these insights have helped make their next relationships so much better.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
When I started, I thought it was only men in North America who would benefit from learning these insights. But when foreign publishers wanted to translate the book – in countries like Brazil where the image of “machismo” originated, Japan where you think every man has a geisha and 20 other countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa, I realized that while cultures may be different, human nature is similar. And it is the nature of men to need to learn this wisdom.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When the book first came out, I focused on reaching out to divorced men. Then one day, the book was at a book sale at a conference I was attending. I wondered how women would react to it.
Once the sale started, women were grabbing the book and saying, “I’m getting this for my husband,” “My boyfriend needs to read this,” or “My son is starting to date. He needs to learn this.” The women’s reactions were the opposite of what I expected.
The lesson? I changed how I reach men. I now do a lot of interviews on relationship advice radio shows hosted by women who encourage the women in their audiences to tell their husbands and boyfriends to learn these insights. One host said she would give the book to her husband, tell him to read it and when he’s finished – it takes about an hour to read – she’s waiting for him in the bedroom in her negligee.
If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?
Stop badmouthing your ex. It prevents you from moving on. People will also see you as bitter – which is unattractive. They’ll wonder how you’d talk about them. I meet divorced people at social events and often after about ten minutes, they start badmouthing their ex. It is a turn-off. Sometimes I think I’d rather meet their ex.
- Stop being a victim. You were each 100 per cent responsible for what went on in your marriage. In the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, Adam blames Eve for pressuring him to eat the Forbidden Fruit. Like a lot of men today, Adam learned there is little sympathy for a man who complains he’s a victim of his wife.
- Focus on what you need to learn and how you need to grow as a person. This will help you go from surviving to thriving. How should you have been different? What should you have done to get the response you wanted from your spouse? The main lesson I learned, and that I share with men, is be a leader. For example, when I ask a woman out, I’m a man with a plan. I suggest what we can do on the date. I don’t ask her out and then expect her to plan the date. This is more important than many men realize. If a man can’t plan a date, a woman will wonder how he would handle the challenges of marriage.
- Stop trying to get other people to solve your problems. For many of the problems that come with divorce, you’re the only one who can solve them. When you realize this, challenges became opportunities for growth. I learned how to persuade others to go along with my solutions. This boosted my self-confidence to take on even bigger challenges.
- Think before you speak. Don’t just react emotionally. To thrive after divorce, communicate in the way the other people need to be communicated to — so they feel good about responding the way you want. Don’t think: What do I feel like saying? Ask yourself: What does the person need to hear to feel loved and respected? For example, your children now have a home with each parent. If you blow up at your children, they may blow you off.
What are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
Most common mistake? Thinking it’s all because they married the wrong person and were helpless to change anything in the marriage.
Taking responsibility and learning and growing as a person empowers you to become a new and improved you. If you don’t work on yourself and bring the same you into the next relationship, you may find your new partner responds to you the same way your ex did.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
A book that helped me on my journey was How to Argue and Win Every Time by Gerry Spence. It taught me how to be more persuasive.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that helped you in this work? Can you share how that was relevant in your real life?
Hillel, the great Jewish sage who lived two thousand years ago said, “Where there no leaders, strive to be a leader.”
This quote reminds me that it’s my responsibility to show leadership in situations in a relationship where leadership is needed – and not step back waiting for someone else to lead.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m developing workshops for men and women based on the insights in my book. The workshops will help men become the men women love and respect. They will also help women motivate men to become this kind of man. Each participant will develop a written Personal Action Plan to achieve their goal. It will be exciting!
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My goal is to create a movement that will reduce divorce by teaching men wisdom about being a man that many in this generation were not taught. The goal is to help men become the men that women love and respect and to teach women how to motivate men to be this kind of man.