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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

10 Questions Guys Need to Ask Themselves Before Getting Married

Robert Manni - Sunday, July 30, 2017


I was single for so many years that no one bothered asking me anymore when I was getting married.

But then I got married, and I am glad I did. Marriage is one of, if not the most important, decisions you will ever make; yet many folks take this life-changing decision lightly. Nowadays the divorce rate exceeds fifty percent and until recent times who ever heard of a “starter marriage”? Take it from a Guy’s Guy. Don’t get married until you are absolutely certain that she is the one or you will pay a big price for your folly. I know so many guys who either married too young, grew apart from their spouses, or decided wanted to trade in their partner for a younger, hotter model. They all have one thing in common. They’re paying for it now.

Now, I’m not saying that when two people become partners in this fast paced modern world that it is always going to work out just fine. No sir, amigo. Shit happens and some of it hits you in the face when you least expect it. And it’s not necessarily your fault or that of your spouse. Life gets complicated, so unless you are a true risk taker, I suggest you do your homework and then think long and hard before getting married. If this sounds harrowing, it shouldn’t. Getting married to the right woman can be the best thing that ever happens to a guy. Take it from one who waited before finally hitting the jackpot. My experience confirmed what my gut told me. Do not get married until it feels right inside. And when you find that special woman, you’ll breeze through my list of ten questions guys needs to ask themselves before getting married. When it feels right inside and the stars are aligned, the answers come quick and they’re affirming. I hope they work for you the way they worked for me. Here goes… 

1. Am I truly ready to be a married man? Marriage is a lifelong commitment. And it’s no joke, so make damn sure you’re aware of what you’re signing up for before you take that leap. Marriage means you are entering a partnership built on a bond built on love, trust and respect. I strongly suggest that you look inside and ask yourself if getting married feels like the right decision. If there is any hesitation, take a deep breath and ask yourself again. If your underlying hesitation remains, you might want to reconsider your options. Ignore any outside pressures. This is your life, amigo. You hold the answers inside your heart.

2. What kind of future will I have with her? Do your best to peek into your shared future and visualize the kind of life that awaits the two of you. Where do you want to live, work, play, vacation, travel, settle down and buy a home, and spend your sunset days together? These questions can go on and on. Do your best to “see” your future with this lady. If you like what you see, proceed to the next question.

3. Will I be content not shagging other women for the rest of my life? This is usually an unspoken area, but in many ways for a guy, it becomes the issue. And if you are a horn dog like me, you’ll want a woman in total synch with your boning stylings. If she is the only one you’ll be rumpling the sheets with, you two better be simpatico about sex. Maybe, and this is a long shot, you both will be cool with an open marriage. It could happen, but don’t count on it. Unless you are a douche, once you tie the knot, your prowling nights are over. Yeah, you can always look at the menu, but ultimately the big dogs like to eat. Make sure you are cool with this.

4. What are her expectations? Guess what? It’s not all about you. If she’s going to invest her body, mind, and spirit in commune with you for what could be her entire life, she deserves to know what she’s getting into. If you think she’s the one for you, make sure you don’t hold back any creepy secrets that would give her pause. Let her know about your dreams and aspirations and how you’ll be there for her. And ask her what she expects from you along the way. It’s only fair that you are transparent and that you feel comfortable with her needs.

5. Do you both want kids? This can be a deal breaker. Everyone has their own vision of what their future family will look like, and not every woman wants to have kids, or wants to stay home and care for them. So if you want three kids and she wants none, or she wants to work and you want her to raise the kids, these issues could become a sore point as the years go by. Maybe you’ll have to take care of the kids! It happens a lot nowadays. Will she be cool with that? Will you? Get the details about children out in the open before walking to the altar. I was single for so long that I didn’t think I would ever become a father, and I was okay with it. That said—I kept an open mind in case the woman I married wanted to start a family. And here I am now, a doting father of a four year old. And I could not be happier.

6. Do I like her family? You might not think that this matters, but it does. In the vast majority of cases, you’re going to have quite a few interactions with your in-laws. So if you really can’t stand being around them, think twice before moving forward. Hey, you might find out that they don’t like you either. 

7. Does she make me laugh? The power of humor is underrated. When I think about it, most of my friends are funny, or at least know how to laugh. If you can’t make your future wife laugh, you are in trouble. And hopefully, she can get a rise out of you, too. This becomes important when you fight (which you will) and how you make up (which you will also do). I highly recommend finding a partner that laughs easily at your shenanigans. You want to make her laugh, don’t you? 

8. Do I really want to grow old with her? Fast forward thirty or forty years. She no longer rocks a black bikini the way she used to, and maybe she’s put on a few pounds. And you have less hair, worse eyesight, and a belly. Can you handle that? I actually weigh less than I did thirty years ago and I still run the same times. Why? Because I give a shit and I invest time in taking care of myself. And, frankly I expect the same of my partner. Think about how you will handle her looks and health three decades from now. Can you handle the variables? My advice is that you set the example by taking care of your health and fitness as a matter of lifestyle and pride. There is nothing wrong with a little pride when it’s for the greater good.

9. Does she fight fair? Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are like an old married couple. They fight, they avoid one another, and yet they still make wonderful music when they come together. Be like Mick and Keith. You can fight, but don’t hit below the belt. And always forgive. That doesn’t mean you become a doormat. You may not instantly forget shit they may have done, but it means that you don’t allow your partner’s behavior or your anger eat you up from the inside. The point is, marriage is a like long dance when it comes to managing emotions. Take the lead and make it a waltz. 

10a. Do we share the same values? Another underrated, but important thing to consider. By values, I’m referring to what you value you as people. It’s not about money. We’ll get to that. It’s more about how you both see humanity, and your role in making this world a better place. Do you both care about this, or is she the only one who cares about clean water, feeding the poor, education, and health care. What if she prefers country life and you dig the big city? Think about all of your values or you may end up marrying someone with a completely different set of beliefs. Can you imagine a Trump loyalist married to a Bernie supporter? You think that would work out?

10b. Are we in synch on financial issues? To solve a mystery, they often say, “follow the money”. When it comes to marriage, you best be in synch when it comes to how you view and handle the cash. If not, you could be in deep shit, and it could happen quickly. Nowadays, many couples have separate bank accounts. I think this is a good practice, but it doesn’t guarantee that financial issues won’t beguile your marriage. Money problems are near the top of every divorce hearing. There is a reason for it. People have their individual relationships to money, many times formulated during their upbringing. If you like to save and she likes to spend, good luck, champ.

11. BONUS QUESTION - What’s in it for her?  Why should she marry you? Think about it. What do you have to offer her that would inspire her to spend the rest of her life listening to you snore and watching the Jets lose? She can give you love, emotional support, children, and the kind of love that only a woman can share. What are you going to do for her? If it all boils down to is you making a paycheck, you are skating on thin ice, amigo. Think long and hard about how you can add to her life emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. She deserves it. So do you.

With marriage there is a lot to consider, but then again, if it’s meant to be, you’ll breeze through these questions. If you have to think long and hard about any of the points I raised, then you might want to think hard and possibly reconsider your options. After all, you want to be fair to yourself and your partner. If deep down, it really doesn’t feel right, no matter how much pressure you may be under, don’t do it. After all, who wants to spend their life with someone who may secretly not feel the same about them?

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is my father, Serge Manni. He was twenty-five when he married my mother, who was 21. They have been married for 67 years now. Sure, they have had their arguments and they are very different people, but underneath it all they have consistently maintained their love for one another. And ultimately, love is the fuel that drives a marriage. Good luck, amigo. I hope you make the right decision. It will change your life. Just ask any Guy’s Guy.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Staying the Course and Pursuing Your Dreams

Robert Manni - Monday, July 24, 2017


The great Charles Bukowski once wrote, “Slavery was never abolished. It was expanded to include everyone.”

One of the toughest challenges we face is remaining steadfast in pursuit of our aspirations while living in a dysfunctional culture built on the back on the common man and his debt and servitude. Here’s a typical scenario: It’s mid-July, it’s a sunny ninety degrees outside and you’re trapped in a high-rise office toiling away as usual. You emerge from your cubicle and stare out the window down to the street below, wondering where everyone is going and why you’re chained to your desk grinding away on another post-buy analysis spreadsheet coupled with an unrealistic timetable from your boss.

Welcome to the junior-level work life in New York. You want to follow your passion and be a rock star, a writer, or an actor and create something that will hold value and have meaning, but right now it feels like the core of your existence revolves around that lengthy report on a bathroom cleaner that smells like bleach. You ask yourself, “How do I find the time to pursue my dream while I’m working like a drone in bee colony?” On top of this challenge is how easily distracted we get, especially when living in a massive city filled with…lots of distractions. So, despite how focused you are, staying the course is not always easy.

But take heart. There is good news. First, you are not alone. There are thousands of other young bucks just like you in the big bad city putting their dreams on hold while toiling away at junior level positions. But I’m hear to tell you that if you play your cards right you can find the time to stay the course and make your mark on the world.

In over three decades fighting the good fight at corporations and agencies across the city, I often felt that I did not have enough time to pursue dreams that were slowly fading away. But because of my passion and belief in my message and myself, I found time to keep that dream train rolling down the tracks no matter how much day-to-day business needed my attention.

Your Guy’s Guy wants to share a few tricks he’s learned about staying focused on one’s passions in the face of an omnipresence clock and the realities of survival in the big city. So here are my tips for staying the course, surviving and thriving while following your dreams. That’s the idea, right?

1. Become an early riser – I recently read an article about the success secrets of a number of well-known entrepreneurs and successes in business including Elon Musk and Warren Buffet. They all shared one trait. They all got up every day at 4:45am. That’s pretty early if you ask me, but these visionaries know the importance of carving out time each day to focus on their passion, dreams, and some me-time to gather their thoughts before tackling the day. I’ve found getting up earlier has become easier with each passing year and I whole-heartedly endorse this practice. I use these early hours for affirmations, creatively, and to map out the day and how I’ll allocate the ensuing hours to my passions, my work, and all the usual day-to-day tasks.

2. Burn the midnight oil – If you can’t handle getting up early then consider staying up later to focus on your passions. And by your passions I don’t mean the blonde next to you in bed. My mind is clearer in the morning, but I have come up with a number of out-of-the-box ideas while burning the midnight oil. Whether you make time early or late in the day, the goal is to use these precious hours to stay on course and move your personal projects along. Write a song, map out a “what if” idea for a book or screenplay, or focus an hour or two on whatever inspires you to dream.

3. Meditate to keep your mind fresh – Speaking of keeping your mind clear and open to your creative passions, there is no better way to stay mentally and spiritually fresh than a brief meditation. I do my best to put at least fifteen minutes aside for the sole purpose of quieting my mind and allowing it to empty all my garbage thoughts and monkey chatter, like what team Kylie Irving should play for next year or when will the Rolling Stones will drop a new album. All this mental small talk chatter results in wasting valuable time that could be use to focus on what you really want to focus on.

4. Use your workouts creatively – If there was ever a reason for multitasking it’s using your workouts to think creatively and solve problems. I realize that pushing iron and playing golf require a tight focus, but cardio sessions are great for zoning out and getting in touch with your inner voice. I mapped out and mentally constructed most of my novel, The Guys Guy’s Guide to Love, during my long runs. Now I also use the time on the road to come up with ideas for blog posts, memes, book ideas, and tweaks to my screenplay and adapted TV series. I get my workout in and figure things out at the same time. That’s a win-win.

5. Find work relative to your true passion – Although my background is in marketing and brand management, I always held an interest in advertising because I wanted to be close to the creative process during my work. I choose account management because I did not want to use up all of my psychic energy coming up with ads for canned ravioli or cooking spray. But, I wanted to be surrounded by creative people and use my creativity to solve brand issues without having to write the ads. It turned out pretty well. I learned the creative process and cleared a wide path for my teams to excel. And the things I’m most proud from my advertising career are the great campaigns I’ve been part of that bolstered the sales of mega brands I worked on including Bacardi rum, Stolichnaya vodka and 1800 tequila to name a few. Of course it doesn’t hurt when you’re working on image brands. But during this time I never lost sight of my own projects and creative goals and used my free time to pursue my passions.

6. Learn to prioritize – Finding the time to stay the course for your long term goals and creative projects is a balancing act. The best way to keep all the balls in the air is by prioritizing your projects within the amount of time you can allocate for them throughout the day. Time flashes by but if you are mentally organized you can identify those tasks most important to your survival and can still set enough time aside to take care of business and your goals. Don’t forget, you almost always have the weekends to carve out some time for your personal projects.

Life is short, but there are lots of hours, days, weeks and years available to us if we take care of ourselves and stay organized. Of course, if you want to follow your dreams and you have a dismal job, make sure you keep your spirits up, think creatively, and find the time to follow your dreams. It’s up to you amigo, and I know you can do it.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is the great writer Charles Bukowski whom I mentioned in the opening of this post. Bukowski worked for years in a series of menial odd jobs before becoming a professional writer at the age of forty-nine. In fact, one of his most successful novels is Post Office a hilarious, sad and poignant chronicle about his twelve-year stint at the USPS.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Conquering Anxiety

Robert Manni - Thursday, July 13, 2017


Unless you’re entering an actual lion’s den, fear is a fleeting emotion created in the mind. But in these uncertain times of fear-based news and media, many folks live with an omnipresent feeling of anxiety.

Even the word “anxiety” sounds uncomfortable. Wikipedia defines it as an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, like pacing back and forth, somatic complaints, and rumination. Shit, I feel nervous already. So how can we manage our nervous pangs and the feelings of dread that can creep into our consciousness? Let me tell you a story…

I recently had a bout with anxiety that had been triggered years ago when I was trapped alone in an office elevator for close to an hour. Before this occurred, I had never had any thoughts of discomfort about tight spaces. But after that incident, I realized that the mind could play tricks and allow fear to grab hold of our consciousness. In most cases, the old adage “there is nothing to fear except fear itself” rings true, but we all have triggers that cause mental and physical discomfort, and waves of anxiety. It might be a fear of heights, tight spaces, spiders, snakes, clowns, or situations like losing a job, money, or your lover. Today, your Guy’s Guy is drawing on his personal experiences and bouts of anxiety to serve up a few tips that may help you deal with that nasty stuff in your head. Here goes…

Ever since I was trapped alone in an elevator for close to an hour, my mind has played games on me when I’m faced with really tight spaces. Being a certified advanced clinical hypnotist, after the elevator incident, I made sure I practiced what I preached and got help from one of my teachers. It made a huge difference, but like all hypnosis, the patient needs to take an active role in overcoming his issues.

Although hypnosis wiped away most of the residual claustrophobia, I did a double take the first time I saw an MRI machine online. I was due for back-to-back robotic surgeries and needed MRI’s prior to and after both operations. After that, I would need annual MRI’s for the next five years. The first time I saw that tube on my computer I was hit with a wave of anxiety. Requiring two robotic surgeries on my kidneys was stressful enough without adding multiple stints in the MRI tube. None of this had ever been in my purview. My world had been turned upside down when I was diagnosed. I needed to get a grip on my mental, physical, and spiritual facilities, pronto.

I thought I had moved past any discomfort with tight spaces—I took the subway almost every day—but the thought of sliding into that tube was troubling. I was expecting to be in there for about five minutes, but I was wrong. The first time I was in the tube it would be for forty-five minutes.

Inside the tube, I laid with my eyes closed listening to the distant voice of the technician telling me to breathe in, hold my breath, and breathe out while disturbingly loud noises from the machine clanged through my head. It was awful and it was just the beginning. What could I do?

I looked inside myself and I asked for help. I had to get a handle on this quick and take charge of my emotions. So, after the first session, I reviewed the details of my entrance form and realized I had foolishly agreed to take part in a research study. I said, sure, without inquiring what this entailed, only to discover that my participation in the test required me to spend twice the amount of time in the tube. Even though I had checked the box for claustrophobia on my form, I let myself be convinced to be part of a study to help other patients.

So I called the test center, raised hell, and got out of the test. Based on my claustrophobia, they never should have asked me to participate in the first place. But, I learned that as a patient, you have to fully participate in the process and all of the decisions you make concerning your care. Fortunately, the next test was only twenty minutes. And I was better mentally prepared for the series of MRI’s that were in my immediate future.

How did I handle my anxiety? I asked myself what else I could do and then realized that I’d done my best. What I needed most at this juncture was to stay alert and trust the process. Six weeks and two robotic surgeries later, I set out to heal and learn from the experience. And I really did. I had faced the abyss, not even knowing the fate of my right kidney when I went under the anesthesia, and came out fine. What I learned from my fear and anxiety had ultimately made me stronger.

A year went by and I forgot about the MRI until about a month before it was time to slide back in the tube again. I was caught off guard by new pangs of anxiety, but this time I felt more prepared. I placed a call to the center and made sure I had been eliminated from the test study. But the day of the test, when I saw the tube, I took a step back. It looked way smaller than the tube used the previous year. I took a deep breath and slid in dutifully. I choose classical music for my earphones, kept my eyes closed, and repeated The Violet Flame Invocation— “ I am a being of violet fire. I am the purity God desires” as I listened to the tech’s directions. Although in my mind the tube felt tight, I was handling it okay until the machine malfunctioned. I didn’t know what was going on, but it felt like something wasn’t right. I called out to the technician, but no answer. Waves of anxiety poured enveloped me. I squeezed the ball they gave me to signal the techs to slide me out of the machine. At first, even that did not work. Then, finally I was moving.

Once out of the tube, I was told the machine had malfunctioned and I’d have to wait outside until another machine became available. WTF!? I sat waiting nervously in my gown and socks for the next half hour. I was totally off my game when they summoned me the second time. This time, the machine looked bigger. (Later I found out that it actually was.) I lay down, did my best to get into my zone, and got through it. Afterwards, I let out a sigh of relief and headed home. Fortunately my results were once again clear and I was free for another year.

Fast-forward to 2017. I had only three more MRI’s to go before shifting to an annual ultrasound. For some reason, about a month before my test, I began having anxiety about my upcoming procedure. I needed to get my shit together and get ahead of the game. I recalled what had occurred the prior two years and wondered what screw-ups and dread awaited me this time. I went through my mental checklist and made the necessary adjustments. This time I would wear boxer shorts because they were more comfortable in the tube. Check. I also got my blood test and results ahead of time. Check. Then, remembering what seemed to me to be varying sizes of the MRI tubes, I called the center and asked if I was scheduled for the larger tube I had the previous year, following the first tube’s malfunction. The administrator informed me that I was scheduled for the small tube again.

“What is wrong with these people?” I thought. After all, the previous year I had again checked the box for claustrophobia. I had assumed that people are mindful about their jobs. Nope. Finally management switched me to one of the big tubes. I knew which one to request in subsequent years. Check. The morning of the test I asked myself what the hell I was so concerned about. After all, there was really no way I could be harmed during the test. There were aides and technicians everywhere, and I had the signal ball to squeeze if I was freaking out and needed to come out of the tube for a break. Although I may have had reason for my mental anguish, I realized that my anxiety self-induced and all in my head. As soon as I got through to my subconscious, I was ready to go.

This time the test went as smooth as silk. I repeated my violet flame affirmation, but I also asked my guides and angels to be there with me. In fact, I could feel their presence and felt light and protected as a cool breeze from the machine blew up my boxer shorts. The twenty minutes flew by, and the results were all clear. I also picked up one more trick—instead of using the cumbersome headphones next time I’ll ask for the ear buds during the test because they’re lighter and less restricting. So now I know that, too.

Okay, this has been a long story, and thanks for hanging in there. The point is that there are ways to deal with anxiety. Want proof? Here I am, alive, healed, and stronger than ever. In fact, I’m running my usual 6.2-mile loop of Central Park in the same time as I did prior to my surgeries three years ago. I’m sure you will have your own challenges to face, but when you do, consider these steps to power through the situation and come up better than ever.

1. Be prepared – The more you learn about and know the practical aspects about what you’re facing, the less uncertainty there is and the better off you’ll be. Putting the randomness of human error aside, at least you’ll know you did what you could to address your fears and the scenarios you’re facing.

2. Ask what’s the worst that can happen? – If you’re really freaked out, take a few deep breaths, calm down and ask your higher self, what’s the worst scenario you might be facing. Then consider the best possible outcome. I’ll bet that the worst outcome is highly unlikely and in many cases not that probable, or that awful. Keeping a positive frame of mind helps create a positive outcome. When we think about only the bad stuff, that’s what happens. Manage your energy and your vibe. It matters.

3. Learn from your experience – Having a painful kidney stone, two robotic surgeries, and all the follow up procedures, including the dreaded MRI’s, has, in a crazy way, actually been a blessing. I am a different person now, and hopefully a stronger and better person. I’m not as fearful, and I now realize I have more power than I previously believed.

4. Ask for help – Despite the loneliness we all experience from time to time, we are not alone. Not only are we all connected, but we also have spiritual entities looking out for us. If you’re a believer, don’t be afraid to call on them.

5. Say WTF and go for it – After you have done your research, considered the possibilities, gotten your head together, and asked for help, the only thing left to do is to be like Nike and just do it. It’s called life, amigo, and we all have to face some shit. Believe me, adversity can make you stronger and more resilient. Believe in yourself.

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Daniel. You know, the guy from the Old Testament who had his faith tested when asked to enter the lion’s den. Now that’s major anxiety. But as he demonstrated, faith and love can conquer fear.


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