How To Stay In The Masculine Frame When Unexpected Sh*t Tests Come Up

Episode #751

How can you maintain your masculine energy when faced with challenging “shit tests” in a relationship?

What are the foundational steps to ensure a strong and resilient connection with your partner?

In this enlightening episode of The Powerful Man Show, Doug and Mark dive deep into addressing these questions and providing practical insights for men navigating the complexities of relationships. They define what a “shit test” is, how to handle it skillfully, and why it’s crucial to stay consistent in your responses.

Discover the power of engaged indifference, the role of engaged masculinity, and the transformative impact of filling both your and your partner’s cups to foster a stronger, more connected relationship.

In this episode, you’ll learn practical strategies for remaining authentic, grounded, and decisive, ensuring that you not only weather the storm but emerge as the unwavering lighthouse in your relationship.

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Doug Holt  00:00

Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of The Powerful Man Show. I am here once again with one of our master coaches, Mr. Mark Smith. Mark, thanks for being here, buddy.

Mark Smith  00:33

Thank you, Doug.

Doug Holt  00:34

Love having you at The Ranch.

Mark Smith  00:35

Yeah, me too.

Doug Holt  00:36

Yeah. Being here. It’s great. Mark, one of the questions that came up with one of the guys who said, “Look, how do I remain the lighthouse or how do I stay in my masculine energy when my wife keeps throwing shit tests at me left, right and center?” So I want to address that today. If that works for you.

Mark Smith  00:52

Absolutely. Well, you know, obviously, what we’re going to do is, is recommend getting back to the basics, right? That’s first off. If you’re not doing the basics, don’t even talk to me. Rising and shining, doing your breath, work decompressing? Are you journaling? Are you taking cold showers? Are you creating a change in state? And are you conscious of how you are being? Once you’ve done that, then it’s a completely different story.

Doug Holt  01:17

It really is. And we have a four week masterclass on this whole subject for men that are in The Brotherhood and the Inner Circle, which are our one year mastermind programs. So we’ll do our best guys to boil this down in a short podcast. But I think first let’s define what a shit test is. Right? So a shit test, I define it, and it’s the simplest version is a manufactured complaint, or compliance test, just to see if you, how you respond, basically. Can she push you off center? And when I think about how these work, you know, Mark, I think about the analogy of a tennis game. Right?

So this is how I would handle shit test Doug 1.0 back in the day. My wife would volley it over and I would either let it go, the ball go, because I didn’t want to play the game. Or I’d slam it down, kind of like the Meet the Fockers thing when he slammed the ball. I’d slap it so hard to let her know that I wasn’t playing that game and you can’t bring that here. And it didn’t work.

But instead when I learned that you can volley back and forth and make it light, what I mean by that is you can make it light and make it fun, the shit tests just disappear. They don’t work. Because it’s light and fun for me and she’s going to keep trying to push me off center by volleying that, the ball back in my court. And if it doesn’t affect me, then it just becomes a game. And when it becomes a game that can lead to intimacy, that can lead to passion, it can lead to going back to the bedroom. But what she realizes is, she can’t move me.

Mark Smith  02:48

Yeah, I think that’s a really, really good point. Let’s go back to why she’s testing you in the first place. Right? Because you said it, she’s looking to knock you off balance. Why is she doing that? Because when she knows that she cannot knock you off balance, then she’s got a solid guy, when she’s got a solid guy, she can relax and she can know that she’s taken care of, the kids will be safe, whichever context. 

And the guys typically approach this from the financial and the provider role perspective only. Yet it applies to backing her up. If somebody’s criticizing her, it applies to being there for her if she’s emotionally troubled, or there’s some challenges. So she’s testing you to see if she can relax, she’s testing you to see if you’ve got her, if she can drop into her feminine. And once you’ve really established that grounded ability and you’re in your masculine frame, if you’re being the lighthouse, then it’s a completely different ballgame. It’s a different game of tennis. And that’s when I think that realization is important. And then you volley back from that point. 

Doug Holt  03:52 

Yeah, you’re right. And when I think about it, let’s bring it back even further, is this is often a subconscious thing. A lot of women don’t even realize they’re doing this all the time. And the theory is this comes back to prehistoric times or anthropological times when the woman needs to test that she’s safe, right? 

So as an example, my wife might test me. And if I react to her, she’s subconsciously thinking, “Well, if I can push you off center, how the heck are you going to save me from the caveman down the road if he wants to come read our village?” Right? I’m no longer safe, I have to take control. And that’s not a feminine energy. Right? Now, she has to go into her masculine, and most women, bell shaped curve, are going to be feminine by nature. 

So when she gets into her masculine, that’s when a lot of problems happen in relationships. And then the guy falls into nice guy mode, trying to make it up and get on her good side. And then she’s like, “Well, he’s completely weak, so I can’t trust him.” And then she needs to go search for some kind of safety or security. And sometimes that’s in the arms of another man, sometimes that’s a parent or another friend that she turns to.

Mark Smith  05:01

Yeah, there are lots of different escapes that women have. And I think that the perspective a lot of guys come from is that it’s really tough to handle her testing me when I’m, when I haven’t taken responsibility and clean up my side of the streets and haven’t looked after me first. So it’s really important also for us to fill our cups. 

I think the challenge also comes when it’s unexpected. So when we have been keeping the other side of the street clean when we have been showing up and being consistent and taking her on dates, and then there’s a shit test, I get them. And as far as I’m concerned, I’m doing a pretty damn great job. I was saying to a guy earlier on, we’re separated right now internationally and I send my wife messages all the time to the point that she started playing a voice note and then she said I had to run into the other room just in case it turned naughty.

But the point is that when we are in that state, and we think we’re doing well, and like I said, I still get shit tests, and I get these tests where they come from left field, and it’s very easy to get knocked off balance. So yeah, I think that there’s a number of things we can do. But let’s get to those a bit later. 

Doug Holt  06:11 

Yeah. And to add on to that, and I get them all the time, too. They don’t happen as frequently as they used to, but I do still get them and I deserve them. I think guys, when you get shit test, you should smile. That’s a good sign, right. That’s a sign she’s still interested. Right? She’s still testing your mettle. She’s still involved in the relationship and interested in the relationship. 

Also, I think it’s really important for guys to really get this idea of why do we react? Right? Why do we go into DEER mode? So DEER is an acronym we use for Defend, Excuse, Explain, and the R’s the one most of us do, which is React. Why do we react? So the analogy I like to use with guys, and people that have listened to this podcast have heard it. So if I turn to you Mark and say Mark, your purple, what’s your reaction? None. Because you know you’re not purple. 

However, not for you, Mark, but if another man was here and I question his fatherhood; you’re not a great father. If he thinks there’s a possibility of him not being a good father, he believes it himself, he’s been questioning himself, he might find it true, then I’m going to get a reaction out of that guy. So oftentimes, the woman’s testing you and when you react is because you believe part of that’s true. 

Mark Smith  07:21 

That’s exactly right, Doug. So you’re not going to be triggered by something that you don’t have a certain, a belief about it in your subconscious or conscious. The interesting thing for me is that when we’re tested, when we’re in that space of being tested, we’ve got to think on the fly, right? We’ve got to be present in the moment. And I think that, you know, we’ve got a point to 2.4 of a second right of veto. So we’ve got this learned behavior and suddenly there’s a test and we react before we’ve even realized it. 

So the challenge is to be able to reset and to be able to breathe, and like you said, be light in that moment. And if we’ve got ourselves in a place of being self-assured, when we know that we, even if I’ve screwed up, I own it. Right? Say, “Yeah, absolutely. Fair shot, slam dunk, honey, you got it right. I deserve that,” then then it’s okay. 

One of the mindsets that I think is really important is to have the perspective that I’ve earned her tests, right, because I haven’t always been consistent. I haven’t always provided structure, leadership and direction. So she’s got a legitimate right to test. 

Doug Holt  08:40 

Yeah, you know, you’re right, so many good points there, that we can talk about this for hours. It reminds me of a guy that I was working with, and he’s like, it was three weeks of him just doing everything right. He was… And to your point earlier, guys, you got to do the basics. How do you stay grounded? Alpha Rise & Shine, decompression, chart of intentional living, doing all of those things and doing them well. 

And I was talking to this guy, he’s like, “Doug, it’s been three weeks I’ve been doing everything right.” I go, “Huh?” I go, and we’ll just say this guy’s name’s Bill, it’s not. I was like, “Bill, you know, last week you told me you used to be an asshole.” He’s like, “Oh, yeah, I was the biggest jerk, man.” He was like, “I was really an ass to my wife.” I go, “How long would you say you were an asshole?” He’s like, “Oh, for at least a decade.” Like, it’s been three weeks. She deserves the right to test you. 

And so what often happens, Mark, as you know, is men will go through our program and they become the man that they’ve always known themselves to be. But it’s also the man their wife has always known them to be, but they haven’t been showing up that way. And so oftentimes the woman closes her heart to the man, because she’s been hurt so many times. Whether it’s verbal abuse, whether it’s closing, he’s closing himself down, whatever it is, she then closes her heart. 

Then now he’s showing up as this man that he’s always known he could be, she’s always known he could be and she’s scared. She’s scared because wow, this is the man I’ve… This is a powerful man. Women want a powerful man. And so then she asked to make a decision. Do I open my heart again and risk getting hurt? What if this is just temporary? And that’s when the shit tests come. And guys, this is where consistency comes. You must be consistent with how you handle these tests and how you show up.

Mark Smith  10:21

Yeah, absolutely. The most recent example that I can think of is a guy coming back from The Alpha Reset and going home, thinking, “Well, I am the powerful man, you know, I’ve really done the work. Doug has done an incredible job of helping me to shift. And so I’m going to show up, and ta-da, here I am.” And then gets a test, unexpected again and doesn’t believe that he deserved it. And that perspective is still wrong. Because if we were to take the perspective of I’ve deserved it no matter what, right, that’s taking absolute responsibility. 

So responsibility is I’m responsible for my actions and the consequences of my actions, whether deserved, or whether intended or unintended, should I say. Then I’ve got radical responsibility on my side. And from that position and that basis, I should be able to handle pretty much anything that gets thrown at me. 

And the benefit and the beauty about that position, and groundedness and lighthouse is you’ll get tests in business, right. You’ll get tests in the store, you’ll get tested in the traffic. And it’s our ability and willingness to be able to be flexible and handle those things on the fly. It’s got to be a muscle memory that we can develop and build up and build up and build up and we’ll get much better at it. 

And to your point, my wife said exactly the same thing to me. You know, you can’t show up for a number of years and have behaved badly and then over a few weeks expect me to suddenly go, “Oh, my hero.” So it does take work. It does take that consistency you’re referring to. And not only consistency, but also willingness to admit when we fall and fail and fumble in front of her. I’ve often said to my wife, that’s not what I meant to say. Can I have a do over? I did that badly. 

Doug Holt  12:16 

That’s what I love about that, Mark, that you do so expertly is you have the confidence and the knowing of yourself to admit when you’re wrong, right, as a man. I do the same thing. 

Mark Smith  12:24 

Didn’t come easy, Doug. 

Doug Holt  12:25 

No, you and me both, my friend. I’ve been known to be a little stubborn. But when you admit that you… 

Guys think that if they admit they’re wrong or showing weakness when it’s just the opposite. She knows you screwed up, you know you screwed up. So if you just try to sweep it under the rug, that’s a sign of weakness. If you come back and go, “You know what? That didn’t go well, but can I get a do over?” Especially if you’re light about it, odds are she’ll give you a do over and erase the previous one. Women have an amazing skill of letting that thing go, right, and then allowing you to give a second shot and then do it. 

Another thing I want to just touch on is this concept of engaged indifference that we talk about, right? And men coming into, you know… I was talking to a guy, gosh, this is a while ago, and he brought it up at our Alpha Reset. And he was telling me, he’s like, “Oh, I just get so angry with my wife when she does this.” And I just said, “Well, why don’t you just not get angry? Just don’t react.” Right? Just don’t do it. 

Be engaged in the conversation, but be indifferent of the outcome, be indifferent of what the person is saying. And that gives you kind of a stoic version of so you can apply, your emotions don’t take over as often. And then it gives you the ability to navigate and stand in your masculine to the point of this topic, while you’re getting these shit tests. And I love what you say. 

And guys, you need to rewind what Mark said earlier, is you get the honor of getting them right, to paraphrase what you’re saying. These to me are breadcrumbs on the road to success. We often tell, you know, we’ve talked about this in other podcasts, like how do I know that my marriage is dead? If you’re not getting shit tests, that’s a sign your marriage is dead, right. She’s moved on. And that’s a problem. If you’re still getting them, there’s some passion in there. And with just a little spark, you can still ignite a big fire. 

Mark Smith  14:20 

Yeah, not only did I earn them and deserve them, but welcome them. Right? So I’ve been known to go to my wife and say to her, “Honey, I’ve screwed up,” before she’s even spotted it, right. So anticipating she’s going to find out whatever it is, you know, could have been forgot something, whatever, and that she’s going to test me around that. So she’s going to throw an accusation, you know, that death by thousand cuts, you know, little dots coming, flying at you. 

And look, I’ve got a situation where I’ve got a lot of feminine energy around me with a wife, daughter, granddaughter, and there’s a lot of chaos. And our ability to, to use your words stoic, I don’t think it, in my mind, means what a lot of guys probably think it means in terms of, you know, I’m going to stand here and I’m going to be this unstoppable force. It’s not that. Stoic means being willing to be engaged yet indifferent. So I’m absolutely willing to be open to, and I can sit in the fury and passion of the feminine because that’s the beauty of it. Right? When you can handle the fury, you’re going to get the passion. You can’t handle the fury, you ain’t going to get the passion. 

Doug Holt  15:29 


Mark Smith  15:30 

So it’s one of those things where being able to surrender to the state that she is in and the environment, and not be put off balance. Stay engaged. You know, be curious about the feminine, want to know more. Because guess what, then you can be, when you get an unexpected shit test, you can be indifferent and light, like you said, to, “Mhmm, that happened. You missed me, honey.”

Doug Holt  15:57

Well, you know what it reminds me of is we went to several men’s homes, and filmed them with their wives, right, to get a real-life impression of what their wife thought about the man before and after the program and the program itself. And so guys, if you’re listening to this, and you haven’t seen Derek and his wife, it’s a perfect example of this. So Derek went up to his wife and said, “Hey, I’m doing The Activation Method.” And she kind of went to challenge him. And he basically said, “No, I’m doing this.” 

And in the video, she says this, the first part, she said, “And that was so sexy,” right? She went for a shit test initially and he just stood his ground like, “No, this is what’s happening.” And he wasn’t a jerk about it. He was just very lovingly grounded with his decision of what he was doing. And his wife even says, like, wow, that was sexy. And I don’t think men realize this because we’ve been conditioned to think the opposite. We think we’re being a jerk when really standing up for ourselves allows our woman to know that there’s a good chance we’ll stand up for her when the time is right. 

Mark Smith  17:00 

Yeah, it’s so, so amazing. The work that he’s done to turn things around is just incredible. 

Doug Holt  17:06 

He’s a stud.

Mark Smith  17:07 

And they shared a photograph of doing the Top Gun thing. He was Iceman and she was, whatever. I can’t remember the name of the actress, whatever role she played. But yeah, in being in that kind of flow, it is sexy, it is the ability to be able to, I use this term really loosely, put her in her place, right. So I really want to make it clear, this is not a masculine power over thing. It’s about taking charge. It’s about being willing to handle a situation. 

And I remember a circumstance where my wife was getting herself all bent out of shape over something. And I put my hands gently on her shoulders, I looked her direct in the eyes and I said, “Sit. Stay.” And she went, “Okay.” And she sat down and I brought her some tea, her favorite drink and I said to her, “Right. We’re going to talk about this now from a place of calm because you’re getting yourself in a tiz, and it’s not going to go well for you.” And it’s just because she trusted me initially that I was able to, I’d earn the right, right, to be able to do that. So I’m not suggesting that if your relationship is in chaos that you do that, because it ain’t going to go well.

Doug Holt  18:18 


Mark Smith  18:19

First, earn the right. But the point is that being able to be in your masculine, being able to take charge is sexy, and it is safety-creating. It’s very, very important, though, that you do that skillfully. 

Doug Holt  18:33 

Yeah. I mean, to your point, and I know you want to make this clear for everybody, because people get little tidbits or a snippet, and they’re like, “Oh, these guys hate women.” Just the opposite. Men that come through our program love women, and that’s why they’re working on themselves.

Mark Smith  18:45

Yeah. Me too, buddy. I love powerful women, more to the point.

Doug Holt  18:48 

Yeah. And that’s why we want to do the work on ourselves so we can show up powerfully for the women that we love. It’s not anti-women at all. It’s actually very pro-woman. We’re probably the ultimate feminists here, you know. But what I was trying to say, or what I was going to say, is, when we show up in that energy for the woman, we’re doing it from a place of love and service of them, right? So when you did that to Bonnie, Bonnie knew that she was safe with you, that you loved her, and that whatever you were doing was in her best interest. 

Mark Smith  19:20 


Doug Holt  19:21 

And knowing you, you came with an energy that she felt it more than heard it. And I think for us men, I wouldn’t have understood that Mark, Doug 1.0, until today, is we get to be in a state of… And guys, this is why, it’s not a plug, but you need to get your butts to an Alpha Reset. It is the best way to understand this concept. But when your wife can feel you, right, and feel your energy, the shit tests just go away like that. They really do. They still come, but they go away so much quicker because if she knows, push, a little shove, you know, verbally or what have you and you don’t falter and don’t move, then she knows she’s safe, then she can surrender.

Mark Smith  20:00

You know, there are certain things that my wife used to test me around that she sees me doing that I’ve just said to her, you know, you met me, you know who I was before we got married. And today’s our anniversary, coincidentally. Thanks for the reminder, Doug. 

Doug Holt  20:15 

You got it, buddy. Happy anniversary, Bonnie.

Mark Smith  20:19

There are certain things that I do. Like, for example, she’ll be watching a movie in our garden, take myself out to go and play darts, and it’ll be freezing cold or whatever. And I put the light on, and I’ll play darts outside just because it’s a decompression for me. And she used to come and test me around that. You know, we were watching the show, you’re not showing up, you know, you’re supposed to be spending time with me, all of that stuff. 

And she doesn’t even mention it anymore, because I’ll go and I’ll play darts for 10, 15, 20 minutes, I’ll go make her some tea, and I’ll bring it back to her and then spend time with her. Because frankly, I can’t sit still for a whole show and I’m not interested in the show she’s watching. The thing is, though, that we get to take the time that it takes in order for us to be in the right state in order to show up for the woman who we love and adore. 

And create that king and edify and grow the queen in your life. And that’s a wonderful thing for the collaboration between the masculine and feminine, or male and female, man and woman. It’s just an incredible thing when it’s in flow. 

Doug Holt  21:26 

I agree. I love that. And I think what I missed, I’ll talk about myself. What I missed Mark is when I got married, or even in a serious relationship, the things that attracted my wife to me were the things that I was doing outside of our relationship as well. And for some reason, I feel like a lot, for myself, I felt as if, okay, I need to now include her in everything. And we need to spend all this time, quantity time versus quality. And I didn’t realize that I was self-sacrificing of myself to make her happy in my mind, which was doing the opposite, right? It wasn’t making her happy. I would show up empty, she would be empty and then now we have to empty vessels or she felt that she had to take care of me to make me happy as well. 

And now we have two people that just aren’t communicating or aren’t happy together. Whereas, what you’re doing, the darts or what we have the men doing, filling their cups and decompression, Bonnie knows that you come back a better man, you come back a better person. That’s why a lot of the guys that have been involved in the movement, The Powerful Man, you know, they’ve been in there over a year, most of their wives encouraged them to go to events. Not because they want their husbands to be gone, they don’t. They want their husbands to be around because they love them. It’s because they know what kind of men are going to come back. 

Mark Smith  22:49 

Yeah. Yeah, I love that. And it’s such an incredible thing to have the privilege of witnessing that transition, right, where the wife has originally really objected to The Activation Method, and now she’s saying, “Go to an Alpha Reset.” You know, I know the work that you’ve done already. And if this is more powerful than The Activation Method and the work that you’ve done in The Brotherhood, then go for it. 

The other thing that I think is really important in terms of filling her cup is filling our cups, right. So I’ll play darts. But Bonnie knows, for example, that in December, when I’m back in South Africa, I’ve already messaged her, and I said to her, we’re going kayaking, because it’s one of our favorite things to do together. 

So we’ll find a lake, find a cabin, there’ll be a kayak, we’ll either hire one or whatever the story is, and she knows that she just — she and I get to go and paddle around on a lake together and spend some time together. And that’s something that I think a lot of guys miss out on. And even guys who have been working with us for a while, they forget that consistent connection around stuff that you get to do together that you both love creates, yeah, a bond. 

Doug Holt  24:00

Yeah, it does, and oftentimes, bringing it back to the topic, not for you, but if another guy said, “Hey, honey, let’s go kayaking.” She might come up with going, “Well, we can’t go kayaking, who’s going to take care of the kids?” Or, “It’s too cold to go kayaking. How are we going to do that?” Or, “I don’t know how to go kayaking.” Those are all shit tests. Yeah. That’s where you hold your ground firmly, and you need to recognize these shit tests. And I know for a lot of guys, it’s hard at first, right. They don’t know if it’s a manufactured complaint or a real one. But handle this, not in the energy but in the mentality you would do business situations that are coming up. Be decisive. 

Mark Smith  24:34

Yeah, exactly. 

Doug Holt  24:35

It’s crazy to me, well, it’s not crazy to me, but there’s so many men that are listening to this right now who are on the fence about joining The Activation Method or joining another program, do something. The point is, is that indecisiveness is exactly what’s getting you in the trouble in the first place and why so many guys literally turn their marriages around in the first week just because they’re showing up different and they’re being decisive. And now their wife’s like, “Ohhh, what’s this? Okay. Here he comes,” and going through it in that way. 

So, in the interest of time, because I know we could talk about this for another couple hours and Colton who’s filming this for us is going to go nuts here in a little bit if we don’t wrap this up. Let’s give the guys three things, three takeaways. You give one, I’ll give one, then you can end it off for us. Three takeaways of things they can do today to help stay in their power, be the lighthouse in the midst of the storm of a shit test. 

Mark Smith  25:32

Number one, for me, Doug, is be authentic. You know, look her in the eyes and let her know who you are. 

Doug Holt  25:38

I love it. I’ll say for me, the one that I’ll share with you guys is right now is realize that if you are reacting to what she is saying, that is because it’s something inside of you that believes she’s correct.

Mark Smith  25:52

Hmm, yeah, very, very wise. I think the other piece for me or a final point would be, know that tests come. I think if you’ve listened to this podcast all the way through, you’ll know that Doug and I are getting shit tests, and we’ve done the work. So know that they’ll come and accept the fact that those tests are there to get you stronger, to make you stronger. Iron sharpens iron. And learn to surrender and enjoy them. 

Doug Holt  26:27

I love it. Man, Mark, I love having you on the show. It’s always a pleasure and I always learn a lot when I talk to you. So thank you for being here. 

Mark Smith  26:34

Thank you, Doug, likewise. 

Doug Holt  26:35

So guys, as we wrap this up, go back, write those three things down. Go back and listen to what Mark talks about when he talks about getting yourself grounded. He makes some amazing points that you guys want to write down and implement today. And of course, if you’re in the movement, if you’re in The Brotherhood or Inner Circle, there is a four-week, get it, four-week masterclass on how to do this. We can’t expand upon all of that during this podcast of the show. But if you liked this topic, we’re happy to do more. We really want this out there for you guys so you can show up as better husband’s better fathers and better leaders in the community. And most importantly, better for yourself. Until next time, guys, we’ll see you on The Powerful Man Show.