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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting Married - Part 3 (The Wedding)

Robert Manni - Thursday, July 14, 2016


When it comes to weddings, I’m no expert. In fact, I avoided marriage like the plague for years until I met my wife.

However, throughout my decades of bachelorhood, I attended quite a few wedding ceremonies and have a few ideas to share about what I have seen working for the bride, the groom and the guests. There are thousands of resources you can tap and articles you can read about how to handle every aspect of your big day. So, I’m not going to get into picking out dresses and all of that. I’ll simply tackle the big picture from the perspective of a Guy’s Guy. This key to this special day is making sure the setting and ceremony are ideal for your bride and yourself. After all, if you’re lucky, you’ll only be doing this once, so why not make it a day to remember in a good way?

I got married later in life to a woman who was previously married for ten years. She told me that she didn't have fun at her first wedding because she allowed her Mom and sister to take charge of the process. In their zeal, they exceeded their duties and took over every aspect of the celebration. You may ask, “whose blame is it when this happens?” I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard this story before. I guess Mom and sis were given too much input on the venue, dress, food, photography, and just about everything else. In the end, my wife felt that the wedding was actually for the benefit of her mother and sister. The bottom line is that it was not a joyous day for her, and the marriage got off to a rocky start. So when it was our turn to tie the knot, my wife was looking forward to making her second wedding day something she could look back on with love. So with that, let’s begin our Guys’ Guy’s insights on wedding right here:

1. Start the marriage on a positive note. 

I had never been married or given much thought to the actual wedding beyond my showing up. But, I wanted to be there for my wife, be open to ideas, and show her support. And I am glad I did. She was super cool about every aspect of our wedding day and we had a great time. I believe that's one of the reasons our marriage has been successful to date.  

So when you are stressing the details of planning out your special day, keep in mind the love for your partner, the importance of keeping an open mind, and making sure that you do whatever is necessary to have a joyful wedding day. Consider your bride’s priorities and what will it take to make her day special. Whatever those things are, I suggest you go for it and don’t look back. Anything that gets your marriage off to a strong start is a wise investment.

2. Plan in advance.

This goes without saying. Venues get booked years in advance so you need to make a check list and get started early. Between the venue, food, booze, invitations, photographers, transportation, changes, etc., etc., etc., weddings can be incredibly time-consuming. I repeat; you need to plan your wedding well in advance.

3. No destinations, please.

I’ve attended a few destination weddings and they were fun, but I’ve also passed on a few of these affairs also. Nowadays, with time being such a premium and the cost of travel, it’s a lot to ask of people to hop on a plane to the Caribbean and invest a few grand and three days of their time devoted to your wedding. I know that sounds harsh, but is it possible to make your wedding somewhat accessible to the people attending? In some way, everyone has to travel to your wedding, but that does not have to include also jetting off to the islands. We’d all like to get married on the beach in Hawaii, but will you attend all the destination weddings you get invited to? This is something to consider. If you really feel it’s necessary and can pay for the guests’ rooms, then do it.

4. Keep it simple and think outside of the box.

Our wedding was very simple—we decided to get married at 11am on a Saturday morning in late June at a quaint chapel on the Jersey Shore. We keep the list of invitees to our closest friends and relatives to give the ceremony a sense of intimacy. We held our reception at a nearby restaurant. That night we held a barbeque on the beach and a blow out at our beach house with a larger group of friends and family. We were lucky. We had perfect weather, a wonderful ceremony, a great reception, a fun barbeque, and a party that lasted until 3am. It was a blast. We kept things simple, because it was what worked for us. I have been to a number of big weddings that were equally as fun; it’s really up to you and what will make you happy.

5. Go on your honeymoon right away.

I’ve heard of couples putting off their honeymoons for a few months due to work and other obligations. Try not to do this. Your marriage is a priority, and in my mind, part of the ceremony is the honeymoon. Do whatever it takes to get away with your bride within a week of the wedding. This keeps the momentum going and will pay off in spades when you look back on this milestone. The whole wedding enchilada counts, and that includes the honeymoon. As for where to go and what to do, I’ll leave that to you. After the stress of the wedding, and it is stressful, my wife and I wanted to chill at a resort with a beach. So it was off to Turks and Caicos. And we had an awesome time.

So that’s my three cents in a three-part series on when to get engaged, married, and having a great wedding. The key to success for all of these steps is to always remember the reason that you are tying the knot with this person. She or he is the one you love most and with whom you want to share your life. If you maintain this as your top priority and a major consideration in all decisions, you’re on your way to a successful engagement, wedding, and marriage. Good luck, amigos.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting Married - Part 2 (The Engagement)

Robert Manni - Saturday, July 09, 2016


I like to keep things simple and try things once. That includes getting engaged, being married, and having a kid.

Been there done that. I’ve read a lot about putting a ring on it, most of it from the female perspective. Women have invested lots of psychic energy into the details and finer points of popping the question and the wedding. And they should be applauded for all the articles and posts, and also for putting up with their guys throughout all the ceremonial hoopla. The actual process of getting engaged is the trickiest aspect to getting married because in most cases it’s the guy who is doing the asking. With that in mind, a few young bucks have asked me to write about managing this process, so I wanted to share my Guys’ Guy’s point of view about this important milestone.

Let’s begin by clearing stating that there is no set blueprint to getting engaged. There are a lot of ways to do it right and just as many to screw it up. You can post your intentions on the scoreboard of Yankee Stadium or get down on one knee on the beach at sunset. It doesn’t matter where or how you do it, as long as it feels romantic and holds meaning for both of you. Ultimately it’s about following your heart, and then using your mind to make getting engaged a memorable event. Here are a few considerations for each of the critical steps.

1. Make sure she’s the one – There has never been a truer old adage than “fools rush in”. How many friends do you know who got married too soon to the wrong person only to find themselves in a divorce a few years later? There is always at least one broken heart and often kids involved. So what’s the hurry, people? I don’t believe in starter marriages. Instead I say wait. Wait and wait until you are sure you have found the right person to share your life with. You’ll need check marks for companionship, kindness, values, sex, and a shared sense of humor for when you’re both faced with life’s random occurrences. Then to be sure, double and triple check your heart again. If everything feels right, then go ahead, amigo, and make your move.

2. Buy a ring – If you have step one in order and you know that she is ready to commit to spending her life with you, then I suggest buying ring before asking for her hand in marriage. Some people still follow the tradition of asking her father ahead of time. If that works for you, then do it. But first ask yourself what you are going to do if he gives you the thumbs down. Hmmm. That’s tricky. In any case sniff around to see if you can sort out what type of rings she prefers. I’m not sure it’s wise to ask her friends or sisters because they might blab. But whatever you determine to be the right fit for her and your spending limit, add another twenty-five percent to your budget. You never want t take the chance of looking like a cheapskate for the rest of your life because you wanted to save some coin on the ring. Another tip is asking your married friends where they bought their rings. If you’re lucky, you might score a contact in your local Diamond District that could save you a few grand on your purchase.

3. Pop the question- She’s the one, check. Got the ring, check. Now it’s time to ask her for her hand. There are endless ways to do this, but make sure it feels romantic and special to the both of you. This way you’ll always share a great memory of when you got engaged. I asked my future wife out to dinner on a sultry summer night. We headed to an old school, cash only Italian joint in Brooklyn Heights. After our pasta and red wine, we took a walk along the Brooklyn Promenade. When we stopped to enjoy the lights of Manhattan I reached for the ring and dropped to one knee and proposed. I told her that I loved her and that she was the one for me, or something like that. Then I said, “How about it?” She laughed and said, “yes”. Okay, it wasn’t perfect, but we both have a funny memory of that wonderful evening. And she still loves her engagement and her wedding ring. We picked out the wedding band the following week.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is the way to do it, but it worked for us. There was great food and wine, a starry summer’s night and then me on my knees. So use your noggin’, come up with a plan, buy the ring, and be ready to look into her eyes and pop the question

4. Set a date and stick to it- How many young couples do you know who say they are engaged, but never seem to lock down a date to actually get married? My advice is to do your very best to find a date within a year of your engagement. If necessary, add a few months. But that’s it. If you guys really want to get married, you’ll make locking down that big date a priority. If your timeline keeps getting pushed back and back and back, it’s not a great sign.

5. Keep it fun- After dealing with all the pressure of deciding on the right person, picking out the perfect ring, coming up with a memorable way to pop the question, and then finding a date and all of the other wedding details, it’s important to remind yourselves that the reason you are going through all of this is because you love this person more than anything and you want to have a happy, fun life together. Don’t ever forget the fun factor. If you are finding that the process is more a chore than a pleasure, remind yourself to keep it light. If the whole thing becomes a total drag, then buyer beware. Because you ain’t seen nothing yet, and by that I mean the final step in the process— the wedding.

Until next week…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Online Dating (Part 2)

Robert Manni - Monday, May 16, 2016


It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. I couldn’t agree more.

Take my experience for instance in online dating. After being with a woman for five years, one day she said that the relationship was over. I’d always thought that when a woman had issues with the relationship, her guy would be the first person to know. I assumed that the woman would want to have, you know—the talk. But in this case, she packed up her bags and was gone. I found out a few weeks later that she had already moved in with another guy. I was blindsided and devastated. Man, I was pissed off. But once I had time to really think about our relationship, my emotions shifted from pain to relief. I realized our relationship really hadn’t been working and I owned up to my share of why it went wrong. I asked myself if I wanted to be with a woman who was unhappy and didn’t want to be with me. And the answer was, of course, I didn’t. I was glad it was over.

It took some time, but I licked my wounds and self-assessed. I definitely did not want to make the same mistakes again. When I felt I was ready to meet new women, I realized, most of my friends were married and had kids, so they were not going out to meet women with me. So, initially I returned to my old habits of trolling the bars, gyms, classes, and bookstores alone. Hunting as a lone wolf soon proved to be a tough world for a guy over forty, especially after years of being in a live-in relationship. So much had changed that soon, there was no fun going out on my own. After a few lonely Friday and Saturday nights, I had to do something new. I decided to give online dating a try.

I signed up at the most popular online dating site. Like most guys, I slapped together my profile and anxiously dove into the fray. At first, I perused only the women with pretty pictures and pursued dates solely based on women’s photos. As a result, I met a lot of attractive women. I’d sit across from them thinking, they’re nice looking, but where’s the ‘spark’? Something was definitely wrong. I was not using the head perched on my shoulders to make my decisions. I was wasting a lot of time and money meeting the wrong women. I needed a reboot. The best thing I did was to take a break and hide my profile. I reviewed my personal brand (who I was, what I was looking for, and what I had to offer) and reworked my profile making sure it had the right messaging and photos to attract the type of partner I was looking for. This was the first important step in developing an online routine that finally worked for me.

After reposting my profile with a new headline, photo, and bio I went back to the work of dating. I set a few directional rules for myself. I decided not to invest too much time with online connections I met online before deciding whether or not to move forward. I’d exchange a few emails, maybe starting with a compliment or question about something in her profile. Then, if I liked her response I’d decide to talk on the phone. The call was always helpful. Nowadays, after a text or a tweet, people meet up without having a call. I wouldn’t take that chance too readily. The energy exchanged when emailing or texting is quite different than what we experience on a call. I’ve had experiences where the emails would flow with wit and élan, then come to an awkward silence when I got them on the phone. And even if that first call lasted an hour it did not guarantee success. Very often the energy dramatically changes, again, when we meet someone in person for the first time. I’ve found that we can’t control chemistry, and it’s impossible to predict. I paid attention to how the energy felt at every touch point—from first contact online to email, then to a phone call before asking a woman for a date. All this saved a lot of time and disappointment.

In time, I learned that, like my initial foray into online dating, other people also charged in without figuring out what they wanted from the experience. There were a lot of lonely people out there. And many of them were over forty and desperate for love and attention. They’d sign up on a dating website in haste and plunge into the unchartered online dating waters like new members of the Polar Bear Club on January 1st. After a few failed dates and often the icy chill of rejection, many singles withdrew from these websites as quickly as they dove in.

Here’s an example of what happened while I was developing my online dating chops. I met a woman for a date at a bar in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. She was a senior-level television executive. She was attractive, successful, and immaculately dressed in a white designer suit. We’d exchanged two short emails and a quick phone call before agreeing to meet after work. Everything felt good and I was looking forward to our date. Over small talk and a glass of wine I sensed the tension in her voice and body. I asked her about her job, thinking that she’d had a tough day. She told me she worked in television ad sales and she was having a banner year. So I asked her how long she’d been dating online. She said I was her first date. She’d signed up for the service the day after her long-term boyfriend dumped her. Initially, I thought that was a favorable omen for rebound sex, but she was so out of sync that I didn’t want to get intimate with someone in her vulnerable state of mind. I asked her if she had considered taking some time for herself before jumping back into the dating scene. Her eyes welled up with tears. Then she said, “I don’t want to be alone.” Sadly, this attractive, high-powered television executive was an emotional shambles.

This was not the first time I met someone who was obviously not ready to date. I consoled her over a Chardonnay before grabbing the check and hailing her a cab. The following day, Ms. TV Executive sent me a lovely email, thanking me for being so understanding. But our short night was another reminder that I needed to do a better job when screening dates. I was still doing something wrong. Many of the women I had met were fun online and on the phone, but uptight and anxious in person. Between learning about their lists of must-haves or surviving first dates that felt like job interviews, this online dating thing was quickly lose its appeal. I realized that I kept going out with women who reminded me of my ex—corporate stars who were not enjoying the ride. It was time for another break from the site.

To be continued…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to When the Going Gets Tough...

Robert Manni - Thursday, March 24, 2016


Shit happens. What defines a person and a Guy’s Guy is how they handle things that don’t go right. We’ve all had hard times. Maybe you did not get that job or promotion, or maybe you just lost your job. Maybe your savings are dwindling while your prospects aren’t growing. Take comfort, amigos. Your Guy’s Guy has been there and done that. He has the physical and the emotional and psychological bruises and scars from living in what feels like a tough, unforgiving world.

When bad things happen, we can either curl up in a ball or take stock of the big picture before taking action. So the next time you get dumped, or your car breaks down, or that pipe under the sink breaks and causes a flood, or the size of your debt appears insurmountable, take heed. I’m going to share my best hacks for dealing with the pressure, one issue at a time and put you in position to not only deal with your troubles, but turn what on the surface are bad things into good things.

So here are three Guys’ Guy’s hacks for handling the curveballs life throws our way. Drum roll, please…

1. Breathe, focus, separate – In my personal experience I’ve found that bad things occur in bunches. A few weeks ago on a cold rainy morning I traveled by train for two hours to my beach house. I needed to explore contingences for repairing the fire escape and replacing of the housing for the exterior gas meters, which was brought to my attention by the gas company. These are things we take for granted.

Upon reaching my place I immediately noticed that my car was gone. Suddenly a cop pulled up. I gave him my info and he informed me that my vehicle had been towed two weeks earlier due to a gaseous odor. Unfortunately, no one made an effort to contact me by phone. As a result, the retrieval and repairs to the car cost me dearly. And of course no one involved in the process the cops, towing company, impound yard, or repair shop were empathetic. The process was painful at a time I was on a tight budget. I also found out the cost of the gas meter housing was in the five-figure range and the fire escape estimate was off the charts. This all happened over the course of one morning.

The avalanche of problems dumped on me felt like my system had been nuked. I started feeling hyper and had to do something to maintain my sanity. I decided to step away for a few minutes. I needed to breathe deeply, clear my mind, and re-set myself physically and emotionally. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary and I am glad I took those few minutes to regain my composure. In those few minutes I breathed, prayed, and asked my higher self for guidance were crucial to how I felt and how things worked out.

I realized I may have saved my family and my life by learning about the small leak in the tank this way instead of finding out while zooming down the highway and potentially bursting into flames. I also realized my tax refund will pay for the new gas tank. I convinced the impound yard to knock off the price of the tow, and my insurance company picked up most of the cost of the impound. Sure, I’m still faced with replacing the gas meter housing and fire escape repairs, and I am sure there will be more. I’m determined to deal with each issue individually as it comes up. Overall, I consider myself fortunate. I’m alive and in this case, things could have turned out far worse. And, I handled it as smooth and calmly as I could. Bottom line? I’m grateful.

2. Get out there – Recently I’ve found myself in a new situation where I am handling projects and building my personal brand while working from home. This is a major change for me after years of schlepping to an office and spending ten hours a day in the company of many colleagues over the past three decades. It’s really different and I’ve had to adjust to how I allocate my time, finances, and mentally dealing with most of my friends still being immersed in corporate jobs.

I’ve learned that lifestyle changes like this can be devastating form some folks if they are not aligned to a new realty and with new possibilities. It’s easy to stay inside and create content all day, but it is equally important to get out there and rub shoulders with people. They say action creates action, and it’s true. I’ve found that the more I interact with people, either face to face or by phone, the more opportunities arise and the more creative ideas spark inside my mind. So if you think things aren’t going so well for you and you begin shutting down, do yourself a favor and get out and face with the world. It helps.

3. Remember what we're here for - Many metaphysical teachers claim that our lives on Earth are primarily for learning and future ascension. And some even say that suffering is our greatest teacher. They might be right. I have found that whenever I come out of the end of a painful experience I am always a better version of myself due to experiencing the pain. Do you agree?

And while you are at it, make sure that you don’t neglect every aspect of your health when you’re facing tough times. That means being mindful and taking care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Treat yourself well; eat clean, healthy foods and exercise. If you stay in top shape, mediate, and get enough rest so you can be at your very best regardless of the current circumstances you’ll feel a difference in your ability to deal with your troubles. Tomorrow is another day. Make sure you are in good health so you can enjoy it.

I could go on and on, but I think there are some things to help you deal with the tough times we all face. Breathe, deal with one issue at a time, and take care of yourself. You are worth it.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Abraham Lincoln, a man who faced some of the toughest circumstances of any leader in the history of our nation. Lincoln is the person who said, “This too, shall pass away.” 

Guys' Guy's Rules to Recharge Your Dating Life

Robert Manni - Thursday, March 03, 2016


Spring is right around the corner. Birds will chirp, bees buzz for honey and the animal kingdom gets frisky. It’s time for love, people.

But finding love can be a challenge. Every single person hunting for a partner faces obstacles and hurdles, even in springtime. They might overbook their schedules, get too jammed up with work, or simply be too tired and wiped out by the end of the week to go out. Men, women, it doesn’t matter. Every so often we need to take a step back and take stock of our dating life and how we’re performing based on our expectations. Think of it as your heart’s annual review. So this year, let’s get it done in time for spring.

For many daters it’s either feast or famine when it comes to love, with dates either coming in bunches or no action whatsoever. Maybe all that swiping left and right has led to digital dating app burnout or maybe they’re just stuck. The reasons are less important than the fact that every now and then we all need to step outside ourselves and take inventory of the possible things we may be doing that prevent us from making the right love connections.

With this in mind, your Guy’s Guy again dons his thinking cap and slips on his Cupid’s arrow quiver once again to help singles take stock of some dating do’s and don’ts before heading back onto the field. Think of it as a halftime pep talk where plays are discussed, strategies are tweaked and players are reminded of who they are and what they stand for before whooping, hollering and charging back to the field to kick some ass and take some names. Okay, maybe they're not literally kicking ass. It’s more like taking names and scoring digits before making a hot connection.

Here are seven tips to power up your dating life. Drum roll please…

1. Know your brand – The most successful daters know who they are, what they stand for, and how they stand out from their competition. It’s marketing 101. You establish an authentic personal brand based on an honest assessment of who you are inside and outside, what you have to offer, and why you are uniquely qualified to be a someone’s special someone. You don't have to be a supermodel to catch a great guy. But you do need to take a look deep inside and figure out who you are, what makes you tick, and why you are an awesome catch. And then show off your confident self.

This goes for men as well as the ladies. Too many guys drink beer on their couch, watching Rangers games and getting fat, thinking they should be banging models every night. Hint: it’s not going to happen unless your name is Leo or you have a Trump-sized bank account. And, even if you carry those assets, if you are a jerk, your dating triumphs will be short-lived. All daters need to be honest about who they are and what they have to offer. That’s not a bad thing; we are all different. We are all special and we are all deserving of love. Never forget that, amigos.

2. Re-establish your goals – Following your self-assessment, ask yourself what you really want out of dating and a partner. If you’re looking for a partner, remind yourself every so often while booking dates. Or maybe you want to have fun and play the field for a while. That’s cool too, as long as you don’t lead people on who are looking for something more than a hook up.

3. Don’t overbook your schedule – Let’s face it. Some people can’t bear the thought of spending even a few hours sitting quietly at home. They want to live, live, live until they die, or so they think. The reality is that being super busy all the time and double and triple booking your schedule does not make your life any more successful or meaningful. It just makes you busy, sometimes so busy that you can’t see the forest through the trees. Too many dates and activities can hinder your ability to get to know yourself and potential partners who you want to get to know on the inside so you can understand who they are. I’m not suggesting you stay home five nights a week and miss out on all that fun. I’m merely recommending that you make time for yourself so you don’t lose track of your personal brand and stated dating goals.

4. Be open-minded – Everyone has a “type”. That’s all well and good provided that you don’t get too wrapped up in the packaging. Let’s face it; too many single young ladies turn into middle-aged single ladies because they have an endlessly growing list of attributes and must-haves for the men they date. Sure, this can be the result of having real dating experience and knowing the types of guys to avoid. I get it, but at the same time there often is a direct relationship between the length of the list and the shortage of men who fit all the desired criteria. It’s tricky, but it’s important for singles to keep an open-mind if they expect to meet interesting people and make new connections. My most successful relationships did not begin with matching a list to a person. They all began by taking a chance on getting to know someone new who was smart, attractive and nice.

5. Be kind, but firm – Karma really is a bitch and it never hurts to do the right thing. So if you feel you have given someone a fair shot and it’s simply not working for you, then by all means, let him or her know that you are not feeling sparkles. Then move on. Sure, you could also just disappear and not respond to their texts, but how would you feel if someone treated you that way? Be firm, but do your best to treat people respectfully. At the same time, respect yourself and don't waste your precious time by trying to fix guys. It's not your job.

6. Online to offline, every time – Winters can get cold in the Northeast and Midwest, but if you don’t go out, your chances of making a love connection are diminished. You need to use your time wisely, and that’s where the online dating apps and websites come in handy. I know from my personal experience that I initially connected with lots of attractive and very cool women while I sat in front of my laptop in my tighty-whiteys. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, nowadays that seems to be the norm. The tricky part is migrating your online connections into the offline, or “real” world. This is a mission critical step to dating success. You want to meet your digital connections in person as soon as possible and not waste time with too many texts, apps, emails and other tools in the digital landscape. If you ultimately want a real life partner to rumple the sheets with, you need to get out and make a connection in person.

7. Don’t settle or give up. Dating is not for the faint of heart. It can feel tough, cold, and heartless. But when two people click, it can be blissful and make all of your previous longing, loneliness and heartache worthwhile. The key is never giving up and never settling for less than your worth. You are a special person. You deserve love. If love emanates from you, you will attract love. If you get dumped or get hurt, brush yourself off and claim your worth. No one with self-esteem wants to be with someone who doesn't want to be with him or her. It’s that simple.

Be the light. Raise your vibration and the energy grid to meet the one who is worthy of you from that purview. Forget what’s passed and never be hard on yourself. Love yourself. Love the world. Be love. It can happen. It will happen.

This weeks GUY’S GUYS, AND GAL’S GALS OF THE WEEK are all the daters who were rewarded for their patience when a special someone finally came into their lives. Staying positive and keeping an open heart are the keys to dating successfully and making lasting connections.

The Guys' Guy's Secrets to a Successful Marriage

Robert Manni - Thursday, February 04, 2016


It took a long time for me to get married…a really long time.

In fact, I waited so long that family members didn’t badger me about this sensitive topic during holiday get-togethers. My fate appeared sealed so no one even bothered asking me any more, not even my mother. Although I had never taken the leap, I didn't have a firm stance against the institution. In fact, I looked forward to marrying and experiencing that watershed life stage. But it could only take place with one caveat. It had to feel right. Us Guy’s Guys don’t believe in half steps like starter marriages, whatever that is. Marriage is a sacrament, so unless I went all in, I wasn’t going in at all. Sure, I had a number of long-term relationships with women that I loved. But deep down I never felt right about any of those situations, so I waited and waited and waited. Of course I was at fault for not cutting things off once I knew these relationships were not going any further. I was wrong and both my partners and me paid a price in lost time because of my indecision and lollygagging. That said, I enjoyed all those relationships and did not feel a sense of failure once the window closed. I got dumped every time and you could say I deserved to learn my lessons the hard way.

After numerous forays into the online dating pool, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t getting any younger and if I was ever going to get married, it had to happen soon. There was no panic or anxiety though. I realized that I was mentally, spiritually, and physically ready to take the next step. All I needed to do was meet the right woman for me. And even though I was not dating at the time, deep down I was intuitively aware that I’d get married soon. I just felt it in my bones. One Thanksgiving Day, after dinner I told my Mom I was planning on get married the following year. She was delighted and asked me who was the lucky lady (her words, not mine). I told her I had no idea, but I knew I was ready because I had made room for the right person to come into my life. Six months later I met my future wife. We were engaged exactly one year later to the day and were married very close to one year after that. We are now closing in on six happy years of marriage and are the proud parents of a wonderful little boy. So today, your Guy’s Guy is offering his insights, limited as they may be compared to those who’ve been married way longer than me, on the things that have made my transition to married life joyful and successful.

Drum roll, please…

1. Hold out for the right partner.

This was my most important learning. I paid a price due to my age by waiting so long to get married and having a child. But I feel it was meant to be and ultimately for the best. My heart has never wavered and I have no doubts about my making the right choice. I probably would have been relatively happy if I’d have married one of my former lovers, but would I have the knowing peace of mind a man needs after making the big commitment? I’m not sure about that.

My future wife sent me a card after a few dates with a hand written inscription stating, “I believe in you.” That flipped the switch for me. Sure everything else was working out nicely, but those words every man yearns to hear from his partner. I keep the card tucked in a drawer as a reminder, although my wife frequently reminds me of her sentiments, even when the going gets tough. This made all the waiting worthwhile.

I’m sure some of you singles are questioning my simplistic purview. Finding true love is never easy and it may not happen for everyone in this lifetime. But don’t settle. Loving yourself, making room for someone, and keeping an open mind are the keys to finding the right partner. Remember that if you compromise, will you end up asking yourself if you did the right thing? Will you burn even more time in an unfulfilling relationship?

2. Know when you’re ready and then let go.

As mentioned, I created space in my heart and the right consciousness to allow a new person to come into my life. In retrospect, this was a very important aspect of making my connection. In order attract and bring the right things into our loves we need to rid ourselves of the internal clutter that bogs us down psychologically and create a warm and inviting space for new love to grow. Keep your heart open. It really works in attracting love and in many areas of our lives. Make room for what you want and have faith that you are exactly where you need to be right now. Don’t press. Let it happen.

3. Find someone who shares your values.

Some people think this means making sure you and your partner are simpatico about money and that’s really important, but values are more than just money. Values include many other aspects of partnering including how they treat people and their extended family. And not every couple is in synch with their visions concerning lifestyle, sex, children, family, work, where and how to live, and even politics. If partners disagree on core values, they’ll need to be addressed with clear, honest communication or a chasm will grow.

4. Don’t turn small stuff into big problems.

There are two things on television that I despise—real estate fixer upper shows and those damn housewives. And although my wife has two masters and is the smartest person I know, she loves watching those programs. So what’s a Guy’s Guy to do? After being single for decades I became accustomed to getting my own way all the time, so this created a potential dilemma. This was certainly more of an annoyance than a problem, but some of small stuff can blow up if people do not compromise. I thought about how generous my wife is and realized that she deserves her minor indulgence without my sniping over her shoulder while she watched her favorite housewives in Beverly Hills and Orange County. So on Tuesday nights, I retire to my study and work on my content. The real estate shows can be more of an issue because they are ubiquitous, but I tune them out, knowing that the next installment of ESPN Sports Center is only a few short hours away. Which leads me to…

5. Put your partner’s needs first.

Minor sacrifices as I described above are only the beginning to forging a fruitful marriage built on respect. I urge my wife to take break from our kid and go out with her friends. And I make it my priority to take care of the dishes, empty the garbage, recycling, and do the laundry. After all, she really takes great care of my son and me. I should do more, but I’m spoiled and bad habits don’t die easily. Being mindful of your partner is a process, but we all have to make modest sacrifices for the greater good. Which brings us to our next point…

5. Keep dating your partner.

A romantic brunch (even though I hate brunch), a movie, flowers, or a vacation are obvious ways to keep stoking the romantic fires. So are keeping up with the chores and not complaining. It’s easy to take your marriage for granted and use your partner as a sounding board and psychic dumping ground for the shitty things in your life. Try not to be that guy. You want to share your feelings and concerns with your partner, but try to also include your dreams and aspirations as well as the things you’d like to do together as part of your verbal intimacy. And keep surprising your partner. That includes you too, ladies. Make him feel like Mr. Big now and then, especially after a tough day of changing diapers and being domestic.

I’m scratching the surface to what makes a marriage work. And marriage is not always a picnic. Job stress, money, and sex become elephants in the room if we are not mindful and open to discussions. The most important question to answer is if your marriage is making you happy. If you are not happy, look into your heart and ask why. Then have a talk with your partner and see if you can reclaim the common ground that brought you together. We grow and people change. And not every marriage is going to work. But we want to respect our relationship and give it our best shot.

Marriage can be joyful. It can be fulfilling. If you keep love at the core of your marriage, you’ve give yourself the best opportunity to make it work.

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are Serge and Carol Manni. My dad and mom have been married for 65 years. But they are not always in the same page. However their marriage was built on a solid foundation of love for one another. Thank you, Mom and Dad for teaching me the value of love.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Anger Management (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Thursday, January 14, 2016


Lots of guys are angry. Just look at the current popularity of Donald Trump.

That orange-haired dude is banking his entire campaign on negativity and anger. And guess what? It’s working. That’s because people are pissed off.

Anyone who knows me knows I get angry, too. Like most people, I think I only get pissed off when people are screwing with me. Over the past few years I’ve focused on doing a better job at anger management. Through reading and practicing meditation I’ve learned some things that could help you too, even if you’re not a guy. Women get teed off also…usually at guys. Just ask my wife.

Let’s face it. People pull shit all the time. They turn left when they’re in the right lane. They play their music really loud so you have to hear it also. They backstab you at work, just because you are outperforming them. And you can forget about handshake agreements. A person’s word is rarely good these days. Even when you have something in writing, they’ll fight like hell to find a way to avoid paying up. That’s just how things are, amigo. So what’s a Guy’s Guy to do? Don’t despair. There are ways of dealing with anger that can help you, the other guy, and humanity.

When someone does something wrong to us we have a choice. We can either step into the muck and slug it out with them or eschew immediate action, knowing that this person is aligned to the frequency they need to be at now so they can learn whatever it is they need to experience for growth. That’s God’s will. We all have lessons to learn, but it doesn’t mean we need to be a doormat. Yes, protect yourselves and your loved ones, but understand that our reactive, anger-based behavior comes at the bidding of the small self. We may win the fight, but what have we really accomplished?

“Hey Guy’s Guy. You’re giving me a headache. Just tell me about dealing with that guy who cut me off and took my parking space at Shop Rite?” Okay, I hear you, amigo. We’ll share more about the big picture next time, but it’s something to keep in mind.

For now, here are a handful of surefire ways of preventing your anger from getting the best of you. Next time someone presses your buttons consider the following before reacting.

1. Breathe - You know the old saying about counting to ten? It’s the same thing as breathing. When the shit hits the fan take a moment to collect yourself and recognize your anger. That means; if at all possible don’t respond right away. The great spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh, suggested that anger is like a howling baby that needs to be attended to immediately. The first step is recognition of that anger. Then take eight to ten deep breaths. Just those few moments can make a huge difference between success and failure in addressing the situation.

2. I repeat, don’t respond immediately – Have you ever received a text or email that made your blood boil? Again, before writing a sarcastic note back and hitting send, acknowledge that you’re pissed off and why before doing anything. It could save you a heap of trouble in the long run, especially in business situations where people deploy digital baiting to goad you into battle. Don’t do anything hasty like a snotty email or text without considering the entire scenario and potential consequences of your actions.

3. Consider the big picture – How important will that parking space at Shop Rite be a year from now? See what I mean? We all have things that set us off. When certain people know that, they may try to tweak you. Don’t take the bait until you process the true importance of the situation and bad behavior by the other guy. It may turn out to be a big deal over nothing. Wait.

4. Be thankful for the knowledge and the lesson – Situations that piss us off often provide opportunities to learn. So again, before overreacting to a situation, think about what insights you might glean from it, even if it’s simply mastering your temper and tempering your response. You might start to keep the people who like to mess with you off balance. Never lead with your chin, amigo

5. Heal – Cool those heated thoughts with a walk in nature, a good workout, or a quiet meditation. My preference to work off anger is a long run, a hearty meal, and good sex. Of course the sex needs to be loving, not angry, but you know what I mean. Work it out, baby.

The moral of the story is don’t overreact when someone acts like an a-hole. It will happen, but you don’t need to lower yourself. Stake out the high ground, deploy your sense of humor and be the one known for diffusing tense situations, not instigating or fueling them. Peace.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Thich Nhat Hanh, author of a series of spiritual books, including many on anger management and how to sooth the fires that burn us inside. Check out his book, ANGER, for some tasty lessons in mindfulness in the face of adversity.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Thanksgiving

Robert Manni - Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Why am I thankful that my ex broke up with me?

Life is a trickster. It always seems like it’s running two steps ahead. By the time we catch up and process what’s happened, it’s already off making more mischief that we don’t understand. That’s why along with the great food and family sharing, Thanksgiving is a great time to take a half step back to review our lives and be thankful for all of our experiences. The trick is finding the lesson to be learned from what is happening in our lives.

Getting back to the headline, no one likes being dumped. And like most guys, I’ve been dumped a number of times. At the time it seemed like my world was crashing down. But now, although I wish nothing but the best for all of my ex-girlfriends, I’m glad that they are my ex’s. Over time I realized that there was a missing component in each and every one of these relationships. Should either of us have known about this missing link and moved on sooner? Probably, but we didn’t.  We shared some good times and hopefully learned something about ourselves from our time together. I’m sure you have been there and I know it can be daunting for the heart to look into the endless abyss. But there is a reason for hope. That reason is you. 

Okay, it took me an extra decade or two, but I stayed focused and optimistic and continued to work on myself to be a better partner and a better man. I remain a work in progress, but things are coming together and I’ve never been happier. I’m very appreciative this Thanksgiving and accountable for my choices. And, I’m alive and have a new opportunity each and every day. That’s all I can ask for.

Here are a few reasons live in a state of constant appreciation.

No one else can make you happy.
Happiness comes from within. I think you’d agree that it is difficult to love another if you do not first love who and what you are. At times this is easier said than done, but it’s sagely advice that we’ve all heard a thousand times. And, it’s true. Loving yourself does not mean being selfish, but knowing who you are and what you are makes a difference in how you celebrate each day. We are all one consciousness.

Letting go can give you a better handle on your life.
Sometimes a setback can be a step forward. Living in New York is a trip. There are so many super-intelligent, talented, and successful individuals here, yet many of them walk around looking quite displeased. You can see it in their faces. People invest a lot of their energy trying to control every aspect of their experience. Although we are responsible for our actions, we cannot control everything that happens to us. We all know that shit happens. If you loosen up that death grip on your day-to-day world, you’ll probably be in a better position to shake off and move on from the setbacks that inevitably occur. Maybe you didn’t get that guy you thought was right for you, but you ended up with another dude that suits you far better. Or you are blessed with the time to get to know yourself better. When we can relax and have faith in ourselves things work out for us in a way that allows us to grow. If you’re not feeling it, try digging down deep to find what you need to learn. It’s there for you if you can let go, quiet your mind, and ask for it. And when you get that insight, be thankful and keep moving.

Make every day Thanksgiving.
Everyone has to do what works for them. I’m no Dr. Phil, but I’ve found that when I begin each day in a state of appreciation and end each night the same way, I feel blessed and sleep like a baby. We all have to find our own methods and path, but being thankful works for me.

I thank you all for being in my life and for the lessons our connection is bringing forward.  Have a great, restful weekend. I’ll be back at you with more Guy’s Guy musings next week.   

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.

5 Lessons I've Learned in Five Years of Marriage

Robert Manni - Tuesday, June 16, 2015


If life is like a box of chocolates, then marriage is a pizza pie. Every pie has the same basic ingredients, but you and your partner add distinct flavors and spices. I married later than most. In fact, I was single so long that on holidays my family stopped asking me when I was getting married. I was a happy bachelor. Although I shared a few live-in relationships and learned a thing or two about love from my partners, nothing prepared me for the commitment that comes with marriage. Maybe I’m old school because I could not ask for a woman’s hand in marriage until I was absolutely certain she was the only one for me. It’s been five years now and the time has flashed by like a blur. I’ve been up, down and all around in this short period of time and I’m glad I was lucky enough to wait for the right person to come into my life. And I was even luckier that she said yes.

I know everyone has a different experience in marriage. Some succeed and just as many fail. I also acknowledge that I am no expert, and much of what I include in this post may seem obvious to some. But here goes anyway. These are my lessons learned from five years of marriage, Guy’s Guy style.

1. Everyone is different. When you live with someone, over time you get a first hand perspective about their habits and how they roll. My wife has two masters’ degrees and is arguably the smartest person I know. So, at first I was surprised to learn that she loves to kick back and wallow in reality television and those hideous real estate fixer upper shows. And unfortunately, most of this drivel is on at the same time as my beloved Yankees and Knicks games. I usually skulk to my office and work on the computer. I never imagined such an intelligent person would consume this trash TV, but I’ve learned that this is simply her way to relax. Sigh. This is an example of how couples learn about and then deal with minor, but potentially annoying differences in lifestyles. Over time, I’ve adjusted my attitude and my routine, and once or twice I’ve even sat through “The Housewives of Beverly Hills”.

2. Change can be a good thing. To a certain extent, we are all creatures of habit. When you're single, you come and go as you please. You sleep in when you want to, watch movies until the earlier hours of the morning, and basically do whatever the hell you want to whenever you want to do it. And in a city like New York, that can be interesting, to say the least. After a few months of marriage though, you factor in how your behavioral quirks might affect your partner. So, over time, you realize that going out for a meal and drinks at 2AM is no longer such a great idea. You adjust your schedule to sync with your partner’s, and if you're a guy, it’s not a bad thing. Although I have always stayed in shape, my bachelor lifestyle was not the healthiest. Late night drinking and binging on bad food and falling asleep in front of the television were not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Now I’m in the sack by midnight and I wake up in a good mood after a restful sleep next to my wife. And, she doesn’t even steal the covers.

3. Kids basically blow up your lifestyle. Holy shit. I had no idea that having a kid would create such a drastic change in my day-to day existence. Kids gobble up your time and continually up the ante. Just when you think you’ve got a routine set, they shift into a new phase of unpredictable behavior. And when they are young, you can never let them out of your sight. Man, that can be tiring. For a longtime bachelor, this has been a sea of change that I totally underestimated. Kids really do change everything. The good news is that you will never feel more unconditional love from another human than you do from your child. It’s a beautiful thing, and I had no idea.

4. Don’t take your partner for granted. Once you’ve been married for a year or so it’s easy to settle into a routine. Don’t do it, especially if you are a guy. Guys fall into patterns of comfort quickly and it’s easy to take what your partner does for you for granted. Big mistake, amigo. Big mistake. Marriage forces a lot of guys, myself included, to man up and stop being such selfish a-holes. I’m a work in progress, so as I evolve from a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal into a Guy's Guy, I at least make sure to tackle an increasing number of mundane tasks so my wife doesn't have to do them. When I was single, I could ignore most of this stuff for weeks, but now I am a table-clearing, dish swishing, vacuuming, garbage hauling, laundry loving, recycling, sheet changing, waste basket emptying, poop cleaning, diaper changing machine. I seek out and destroy every boring-ass menial job that comes along so I don’t leave them on my partner’s plate. It’s the least I can do for her.

5. Never stop dating. You know what I mean, and it’s easier said than done. When you’re married and have a kid, you’re pretty burned out by the end of the week. It’s hard to pull a real date together, and too often I find myself sprawled out on the couch next to my wife watching Bill Maher on Friday night instead of going out for dinner and cocktails. For now, since our little guy is a toddler and we are older parents, we regulate our “date time” to weekend lunches or earlier dinners with the little guy in tow. I guess that’s romantic in it’s own way, but I know I have to do more.

Those are just a few tidbits from what I’ve learned in five short years of marriage. I know I’m glad that I enjoyed my single life and I’m glad that I decided to wait. I also know that I need to keep improving, but at least I’m making progress.

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are my parents, Serge and Carole Manni, who recently celebrated their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary (That’s a tough act to follow!). And of course, my lovely wife, Uni. God bless them.

Back to Basics: How to Make your Relationship Work

Robert Manni - Thursday, December 18, 2014


With the multitude of dating sites and coaches available, if you’ve got a pulse and can clean up nice, you’ll get a date.

And every so often one of those dates turns into a relationship. That’s where things get tricky. We spend so much time focused on dating that many of us are not prepared to address the slippery slope of a partnership and how to make it work.

Enter Guy’s Guy. I’ve been there and done that by way of many dates, a few educational long-term relationships, and a marriage that’s going on five years. Along the way, and as my partners would aptly point out, I’ve made more mistakes than I can count. But I’ve learned, and in most cases I learned the hard way. And each time I got knocked on my butt, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again. Now I’ve got a partner who is my friend, lover, and teacher. With that in mind, here are my building blocks for maintaining a successful relationship.

1. Pay attention.

If you’re a guy, you probably suck at this. Women pay attention to everything, at times to the point of madness. But ultimately, paying attention is a good thing. We’re all super busy and focused on ourselves. I get it. But if we want to succeed in love, we need to see it as a two way street and behave in a respectful manner to our partner. That means always checking in with them on a regular basis. A simple, “How was your day?” is a good start. And mean it. And listen to what she says without feeling that you have to solve all of her problems for her. Just listen.

That’s a good start, but it’s not that simple. If you are guy in a relationship eventually you will get called on your shit. Let’s say your partner points out your selfishness too often, and it bugs you. But maybe she has a point. And maybe the reason she told you is she thinks you’re worth the trouble. If she didn’t care, she’d bide her time before dumping you. Most guys have been blindsided and dumped, and many times they don’t know why. This is why. So don’t take her criticism personally. She’s paying attention and she cares about the relationship. But, don’t think you can point out all of her peccadilloes in the same way. She’s already well aware of them. That’s because she pays attention.

2. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

If you’re female, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of constantly criticizing your partner’s faults. He probably doesn’t pay attention enough and as a result is prone to repeating his mistakes. But I’ll bet he’s trying. So lighten up if you can. If you believe in your relationship and your partner, it’s paramount to take a deep breath before going on the offensive. Ask him what he was thinking when he does something that defies logic. Like, when he took the bed apart and left all the pieces on the floor and then went out for two hours. Maybe he went to the hardware store to buy new bolts. Whatever. Just give him an opportunity to explain and you might be surprised by his response. If you value your relationship, listen before pointing your finger.

3. Share values.

Long lasting relationships are usually built on a foundation of shared values. That means how both of you view the world and the people who inhabit it. Yes, opposites attract and can provide a nice counterbalance personality-wise, but when it comes to values, it helps if you are seeing the picture through a similar lens. How you view people, friends, family, and even money are important factors to consider when wading into deeper relationships waters.

Let’s take money. When one partner is a free spender and comfortable with debt, how does it impact their partner if he or she comes from the school of “if I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it”? Problems can quickly ensue and many times divergent money values cause irreconcilable harm to a relationship. Think about your successful and failed relationships and I’m sure you’ll see a pattern between longer-term compatibility and shared values. When values match up, there is a much better chance for success. Think about it.

4. Keep the lines of communication open.

When you are in committed relationship there will be times when no one feels like talking. Maybe one partner has become resentful while the other has no idea about those feelings. Eventually the repressed toxins build up and explode. Things are said. Feelings are hurt. Damage is done. If only you knew how he or she felt. But, that’s how many relationships fail. If this sounds familiar, remember, no one can read your mind. If there is something bothering you, discuss it. If you hold your feelings in and suffer silently, your relationship is at risk. Always maintain a healthy dialogue.

5. Always be dating.

It’s easy to take our relationships for granted. Over time, the thrill of new love evolves. This can actually be a good thing. Sure, you want the sight of your partner to be a source of joy and you want the sex to get better and better. It can, although there will have to be some adjustments. The key is keeping things fresh, like when you started dating. And that means never taking your lover for granted. I’ve been married for a few years now and I’ve learned that nothing is a sure thing, even a marriage. You have to constantly learn about your partner and up your game if you want to keep them happy with the direction of the relationship. Nowadays, people don’t settle. Not in life, not in jobs, not in marriage. We want what we want, and that’s not a bad thing. The key to keeping things fresh is romancing your partner. Little surprises, lots of love and affection, and a genuine smile when you see their face are all recommended. I know it’s not that easy, but if you keep this in mind, I’m sure you’ll stay ahead of the game.

There is more, lots more when it comes to keeping a relationship rolling, but the bottom line is to respect yourself, your partner, and your relationship. It all flows from there. What you decide to do is your business, but please keep love in mind whenever you are thinking about your relationship. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

This week's Guy's Guy and Gal of the Week are Serge and Carole Manni, my folks, who have been married for 64 years. 


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