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Have a Backbone, and You’ll Reap the Rewards

This is a guest post from…a girl!

My friend Iris approached me about doing a guest post. She falls under the “traditional wife/life/etc” category — happy to take care of her husband. As far as I know, she does the majority of cooking, cleaning, and other wifely duties around the house. I was interested in seeing her story and her husband’s mindset.

I’m posting this here so YOU can see some of the foundational aspects of a healthy masculine/feminine dynamic can work.

Have a Backbone, and You’ll Reap the Rewards

Ryan was the first boyfriend who didn’t let me get away with murder.

He didn’t allow me to attend parties with out him or backpack Europe with my friend. He even earned the nickname “Ass” because he was viewed as controlling by my friends who walked all over their boyfriends.

Yet, he was an amazing boyfriend, and has been a wonderful husband. Ryan’s backbone is why I wanted to marry him and be his little traditional wifey barefoot in the kitchen with a baby on my hip. It was why I was drawn to him.

So, there I was blabbing away in the backseat of a Jeep as a college freshman — when this guy I didn’t know turns around and sharply says, “Will you shut up? You are the most annoying girl I have ever met.”

Um…. hello who are you?

I’d never had a guy talk to me like that. I had never been shut down. I was a likable person! People loved me!

The initial shut down was new, different, and I certainly wanted to prove him wrong. As I got to know Ryan I found he was like no one I had met and I wanted nothing more than to be by his side 24/7, a puppy curled up next to him. I was enamored.

There were a few key things Ryan did early on that really made me look at him as someone different. Things that set him aside from the rest of the guys I was going to university with.

His agenda was more important than mine.

Between working 40 hours a week at a large retail grocery store and taking a full course load in the engineering program he made it clear his time was more important than mine. If I wanted to be part of his day I had to fit into his already determined schedule.


In order for me to show him I was worthy I had to respect his time. Respect that he had more on his plate in terms of responsibility than I did. Respect that what he did today affected his future – which would, in turn, affect our future.


If a girl doesn’t respect your time today, she won’t respect it tomorrow.

(Kyle’s note: If a girl has texts from you saved YEARS down the road, you’re doing something right. Take note.)

He didn’t care what I did – but wouldn’t date a girl that did it.

It took about 18 months before I was able to reach the level Ryan wanted his girlfriend at so for all that time I’m doing the college girl thing. I was joining a sorority, I was making friends, going to parties, exploring Detroit. I think Ryan’s favorite phrase at the time was “I wouldn’t date a girl that did”.

  • I don’t care if you go to the party, I’m not going, I wouldn’t date a girl that went to those parties.
  • Yeah, study abroad sounds like a really good opportunity. I wouldn’t be in a long distance relationship though.

He knew by putting the ball in my court I had to either rise to his level or start abandoning my desire to be with him. It wasn’t about what I said, he was watching what I did. He made his standards clear, no party girls, no traveling without him, no embarrassing him when we were out together.

My future husband was setting the bar for a potential wife. He made his expectations clear. I could do as I please – I just wouldn’t be upgraded if I did those things. If I wanted the commitment I had to rise to standards he set.

He continued to hold me to these standards.

Even after we were “official” and Facebook pages had been updated and the sleep overs became more regular these standards continued to reign true.  My husband sets the bar for himself and right as he’s about to reach it he raises it. He does the same for me. He wants better from both of us. While it’s most apparent in how he approaches work these days it was very apparent when we dated.

What Ryan does is leads without micromanaging, with out telling me what to do. He encourages conversation and points out views I have yet to think of, then he sits back and watches his first mate come to the appropriate mature decision. There will be days when I will have to make decisions without consulting him – I’ll be raising his children, running his home. Ryan needs to trust that I can think through problems and come to the proper answer if he’s not around.

Ryan’s firm stance on his standards sets me up to know my place in the relationship. I have little doubt in what is expected of me, and because of this I’m eager to make him proud. His backbone got me here and his backbone will keep me here.


Iris blogs at Iris and Oleander. You can also follow her on Twitter here.

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  • “I wouldn’t date a girl that did.”

    Yeah, so this is definitely going straight into my conversations starting today. I’ve always dropped the “I don’t care,” with the “I wouldn’t date a girl who did,” part to be inferred. Usually if a girl is doing something I don’t like, I just permanently label that relationship as “casual” in my mind. Maybe that’s a bit entitled of me. And maybe I’m jumping to conclusions about how set in their ways a woman can be.

    After reading your thoughts on how Ryan set standards, I can definitely see the power behind openly stating what is and isn’t acceptable in curbing unwanted behaviors. And it’s so simple. Subtle but direct. I love it.

    Also, this is the first I’ve read or heard of you and I liked my experience. I’m a huge fan of personal stories and real life examples on blogs. Thumbs up.

    • It’s very rare that you’ll “next” a girl and come to regret, I’ve found. Or label them as casual. More often than not your gut feeling is always right — and if you don’t listen to your gut, you often get bit in the ass (i.e. end up in a relationship with a whackjob).

    • Ryan would say it in an almost offhanded way. I think he took some joy in watching me squirm.

      There was one time he caught me smoking, I didn’t know he was on campus at all and he texted me “Remember, I don’t date girls that smoke” I was mortified. I was so quick to fix my behavior, I didn’t always know when he was watching. We were on a small campus, his friends weren’t going to hide my behavior from him either. If I wanted to step it up I had to step it up 24/7 not just when I knew he was watching.

  • Joshua

    Anyone with a brain understands that what passes for normal culture is enormously empty.
    Girls are desperate for real leadership that leads to real meaning, but that’s obscured by the childish and self destructive ways they “punish” failed leadership.
    It takes a heap of balls hard work to really inspire, but that’s the standard.
    Stay rock solid on your mission and they can’t help but want to follow. Half-ass anything, they’ll go full degenerate on you.

    • “Girls are desperate for real leadership that leads to real meaning”

      I wholeheartedly agree, Joshua. My father and my husband have similar leadership styles, they are teachers. They take pride in watching the gears turn and their students come to the ideas on their own. I was Ryan’s student, he pushed me to learn, to grow – to become worth his time and name.

      • Joshua

        Iris brings up another good point.
        A name is a blessing given in hope by parents to their child. A girl who doesn’t want your name doesnt want you. To share a name is to become family. If nothing else is sacred, family must be. If she knows she has to earn your name, she just might be worth giving it to.

      • That would be a HUGE red flag if a girl wasn’t willing to change her name. HUGE.

        Right off the bat she’s questioning your authority. RUN.

      • The question becomes: is there a fine line between husband and daddy?

        For example, I want to marry a young girl one day. But I don’t want her to be so naive in life that I have to be her father.

      • We could generalize the more damaged she is the finer the line becomes. I had/have a very healthy happy relationship with my father. I don’t lash out rebel because my parents were narcissists or something. When vetting a girl there is a component of vetting her family and the relationship she has with them.

      • I’m not talking about daddy issues per se — I’m simply referring to inexperienced girls whom you have to teach a lot about life to.

  • Liked the post a lot. It also made me realize that if I ever
    want to engage in a long-term relationship for whatever reason, I can’t expect to find a perfect girl that meets all my standards right away. Instead I’d have to raise the bar continuously and shape
    her so to speak. Again, liked the post wouldn’t mind to read more.

  • Hats off to Ryan…. took charge from the get go…..

  • Marty Johnson

    I’d love an update on how your friends’ relationship status is now with their men who allow them to walk all over them. Unhappy, but won’t admit it? Or do they try to pull you back down to their level. Enjoyed the article oh by the way…

    • I would say maybe a quarter of my friends are still with their college boyfriends – either still dating or eventually got married. Most though went their own way throughout college. There were a number of men who used college graduation to call it quits with their girl. They got jobs elsewhere and if she wasn’t willing to come with, they ended things. It’s hard to say with out talking about the specifics of each relationship.

      • People don’t realize how much harder dating gets after college. I should write a post about that.

        Guys who get laid like tile in college due to hook up culture + drinking + social circle are left out for DRY once they put that graduation gown on.

    • Every time a woman is with a man who allows it — every “lash out”, every snide remark, etc. — it all means one thing.


  • Basil Fotherington-Thomas

    not trying to be rude or snide but the thought occurs to me that maybe the reason why Ryan was setting all kind of rules was because he wasnt that into you.
    Many men will do just about anything to stay with a really hot girl. Of course they usually get dumped very quickly because hot girls dump men all the time. The same phenomena occurs with hot guys and less capable women but to a much less pronounced degree. Guys in that position will usually keep the girl coming around but date others on the side.
    I would prefer to be wrong in this case.
    Also engineers arent like other men. I hope my daughter marries an engineer, but male engineers have little experience with women because there are so few women in engineering programs. I once saw a hot (and smart) female engineering student dump her non-engineering boyfriend. It was swift, sad and brutal..

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