Follow the advice of “People Tools” author Alan C. Fox and you may have a very pleasant Thanksgiving with your family.
I asked the NYT bestselling author for holiday family survival tools — not that I need them — when he was at Fox 9 for an appearance. Fox gave me a copy of “People Tools for Love & Relationships: The Journey from Me to Us.” He seemed impressed when I told him that reading relationship books is a hobby and that a whole section of my bookcase is devoted to the subject.
Fox’s third book has garnered great reviews, including one from talk show host Steve Harvey, the comedian who wrote “Think Like A Man, Act Like A Lady.”
Goldenheart Media CEO Asha Blake, former KARE 11 anchor and national news anchor for ABC and NBC, is Fox’s director of worldwide media engagement. She traveled with him to Minnesota. “I’ve been with Alan on almost 20 interviews. He had not spent a lot of time in Minnesota; he has heard me rave about it all the time. He thought Minnesotans were wonderful. We did FOX and then KARE; spent some time with [anchor] Diana Pierce, [news director] Jane Helmke and [managing editor] Rita Hathaway.”
Fox seemed so agreeable it was hard for me to reconcile this fact: He’s been married three times.
I asked him a couple of questions that his current wife, Daveen, could not wait to hear answered.
Q: No. 1 survival tip for sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table with the family?
A: Remember you are in charge of yourself. Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage. We’re all players …” We’re the actors. We’re in charge. In terms of your life you can do as you wish. And a second tip: Be positive. Keep it positive. Be complimentary and be enthused.
Q: It’s going to be a very boring Thanksgiving.
A: [Laughter] Well, you can always hire actors to come in; some people have parties they hire actors to play with each other. That makes it more exciting.
Q: You’ve raised eight children. What did the first kid get that the eight didn’t?
A: Probably an unwanted fear about “breaking the baby.” I remember leaving the hospital and it’s a human life. I don’t know the first thing about how to do this. I think the first one got a lot of attention and photographs.
Q: You’re a CPA, a lawyer and a counselor. What’s the common denominator in those three professions?
A: My first love is numbers. I just love dealing with numbers and figuring things out. Went to law school. That really teaches you how to think, which I think is important. Because I was very shy I went back to school and got a degree in counselor education. I’ve learned one thing: To be open with people, not be too shy, try to hide. I remember who I was dating at the time. I said, “You know, I’m feeling really shy and uncomfortable,” and that kind of relaxes me and the other person.
Q: This is your third wife, I understand
A: Yep. I couldn’t bring the first two.
Q: I’ve noticed that people marry the same person over and over again, sometimes. What is a personality trait she shares with your two previous wives.
A: I think Daveen is different because after two unsuccessful marriages, I had to start thinking: Maybe it’s not them. I think we all grow up with the idea you grow up, fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. And if you don’t it’s their fault. I just picked the wrong woman. And I figured out I was so afraid of women and relationships, I would just pick the person who came along and expressed interest in me. Actually, the one trait which all of my relationships have had is that the wife really, really cares about me. I think that’s important. I feel secure and Daveen is very good at that.
Q: You admit you weren’t good at relationships. What made you decide you wanted to be better?
A: Here I was practicing law. To practice law you have to have clients. To have clients you have to meet them. Clients to start with are strangers. I just had a phobia about meeting strangers. Didn’t know what to do, what to say. That really limited my ability to practice law. So, I’ve got to do something about this. That’s why I went back to school and got a master’s in education and counseling. I’ve learned how to do that a lot better and I’ve spent life really working on relationships. I’m not a natural. I’ve had to observe, practice and think about it.
Q: Do you think if you had devoted the energy and attention to either your first or second marriage that you have to your third, that either of those unions would have survived?
A: That’s a very good question. I think it is very important to pay attention to your relationship. In this case, I don’t think so. My second wife and I were just incompatible. My first wife and I got along very well for about seven years. We were married young, about age 21. Had three children rather quickly. We just grew apart. That’s what happened.
Q: If you needed therapy, would you seek the counsel of Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Dr. Ruth or Dr Pepper Schwartz?
A: I’d probably go for Dr. Ruth, I think she’s a lot of fun.
Q: That leads to another question I don’t really want to ask, but someone told me I should. Tell me about 75-year-olds having sex.
A: I’ll try to be gentle about this. In my life sex is a lot of fun and Daveen and I make love most every night. I think Viagra came along at the right time for me, when I was about 55 or so. In terms of sex I think cuddling and physical contact are really, really important and everyone can do that. Sex is individual. There is no right or wrong. Some people like to make love once a month, some people three times a day. Whatever works for you.
Q: I had a friend who made this comment about her husband: Just when he was becoming good company and I thought I could live with him some @$$&*% creates Viagra!
A: [Big laughs.] I told Daveen that in my first two marriages, as soon as we married they kind of downgraded sex. Daveen looked at me and said, “Alan, I’m not giving up sex for you or anyone.”
Q: Some married people are under the misconception that you feel love every day for that person, when the glue is really the commitment, right? I told you I read relationship books.
A: I think commitment is important but Daveen and I are different on that. Daveen says she loves me all the time, no matter what. I tell her I feel one emotion at a time, so if I am angry, I’m angry. If I’m happy, I’m happy. If I’m loving, I’m loving. You have to accept in every relationship there will be differences.
Q: What percentage of women walk down the aisle to marry a professional athlete, expecting he’s going to cheat?
A: I would bet, well, it depends on their age. If they are 21 they’re naive and thinks it’s going to wonderful forever, every moment of every day for the rest of their lives. If you are 40 maybe you have more experience and you know that every day is not going to be great.
Q: Let’s say you know a couple and you see one of them out with someone you know they should not be with on this occasion. Who is more likely to call out that person who may be cheating: a woman or a man, in your experience?
A: Probably a woman. because I think more men would identify with and want to keep it quite and not butt in.
Q: WHY IS THAT? It’s like there’s a club, a very annoying club.
A: [Big long laugh] I think unconsciously men are part of the Male Club and women are part of the Female Club. I think women bond together over this issue and so do men, but on different sides.
Interviews are edited. The reach C.J. please leave an e-mail with your phone number at email@example.com and to see her watch Fox 9’s “Jason Show” and “Buzz.”