In an episode of the animated television series, South Park, the characters discover their underpants are going missing. Gnomes are sneaking into their homes at night and stealing them. The boys follow the gnomes to an underground cave and discover a huge pile of underpants, and when they ask the gnomes why they did it, their response is that stealing under-pants is just Phase 1. They point to a large chart on the wall of the cave: Phase 1—Collect Underpants, Phase 2—?, Phase 3—Profit. When the boys ask the gnomes about Phase 2, they look confused and all they can do is repeat: Phase 1—Collect Underwear, Phase 3—Profit. The gnomes don’t have a clue about Phase 2.

This is exactly how I used to approach relationships. Phase 1—Find Woman. Phase 2—? Phase 3—Happiness. I was, how-ever, never getting the lasting happiness “profit” from any of my relationships. I was as clueless about the Phase 2 of relation-ships as the gnomes were about the Phase 2 of business. Phase 2 is the most important relationship phase of them all. While perfect happiness is not attainable, this book is a guide to help men get the most happiness possible out of a relationship.

I am not a psychologist. I am a lawyer who has been married four times. My training has been purely trial and error, the school of hard knocks combined with an unwillingness to give up on relationships. Applying these suggestions to my relation-ships has benefited me. I believe that they can improve your relationships, help you avoid some relationship problems, and get you out of other problems you will certainly find yourself in. None of us is perfect. Everybody has problems.

Don’t worry if your story is so different from mine that we seem to have come from different planets. The people who taught me these rules and principles were often very different from me. The people I have passed them on to have often been equally different. In my experience, however, these suggestions are basic to the relationships between men and women regardless of our individual stories.

Whether a suggestion is scientifically accepted is irrelevant to me as long as it works. Let your own experience be your guide. A scientifically proven suggestion that doesn’t help is worthless. An unsubstantiated suggestion that produces results is worth trying. Go for results, not validation.

I learned these lessons one at a time from many people over many years. By reading this book you can learn in several hours what it took me years, often painful ones, to learn. Now I usually know what is happening in my marriage, which has lasted almost fifteen years. I am confident that because of these relationship skills, the marriage will last the rest of my life.

There is no requirement to approach these suggestions in order. Depending on you and your relationship, some rules will be more important than others. Some principles will be more effective for your specific relationship problems and opportunities. You might start by reading the whole book through from front to back, so you will see what it contains. After that, you can skip from chapter to chapter, choosing the topics you think are most relevant at the moment. You could also read, consider, and apply one chapter at a time.

No matter how you approach them, you will find that the suggestions in this book are easy to learn and apply (once you develop the habit). However, you may also have an initial barrier to overcome. I call this barrier the “Smart Man Problem.”