Understanding the stage your guy is in

Keys to the KingdomReview of Keys to the Kingdom by Alison Armstrong

Ms. Armstrong began her study of what makes men tick in 1991 and her staff gives “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women®” workshops around the country. Her focus is on creating peace and partnership between men and women.

She shares some of her findings in her novel, Keys to the Kingdom. The novel format makes the information easy to digest. In fact, you don’t really mind that she repeats the same information in different words because one character is telling someone new. It’s a non-annoying way to review the concepts.

What are those concepts? She focuses on the stages of men’s development from birth to old age, how to tell what stage they are in, and how to deal with them effectively at each stage. When a woman doesn’t understand what’s going on with the men in her life, it is easy to be frustrated, hurt and angry. And to make matters worse, most men don’t understand what is happening for them, so they can’t explain it to the women they love.

The stages’ names are based on medieval terms:

  • Page: Birth to puberty. “Wannabe Knights”; they want adventure on their (a child’s) scale.
  • Knight: Puberty until late twenties/early thirties. Characterized by a drive for adventure, fun, challenge, passion.
  • Prince: Late twenties/early thirties through 40-45ish. Focus is on who he wants to be in his life, what he wants to accomplish, and goes about bringing that to bear, even at the neglect of his wife and family, even though he says (and truly believes) he is working this hard for their benefit.
  • King: 40+. Kings are confident of who they are. They may not have acquired a lot of material wealth, but they are generous, whether with gifts, time, attention or affection.
  • Elder: Later years, near the end of his life. Not all men become Elders. A man’s life is complete. There is nothing to do but enjoy life, explore what he’s curious about, appreciate his blessings and serve humanity.

There’s also a “state” — not really a stage — called “The Tunnel” which most of us would label midlife crisis. This occurs during the transition between Prince and King. A man questions what he’s achieved and become, and can be dissatisfied at this point. He can then become withdrawn, difficult, uncommunicative, and a challenge to be around.

I am not doing these explanations justice, but wanted to give you a flavor of the concepts. She describes each one much better and in more depth, and what women can do to effectively communicate with men who are in the various stages.

Alison’s belief, as explained through her characters, is that incorporating this information into your behavior with the men around you, transforms your relationship to all men for the better.

Based on the age of most of my potential suitors, they should be in the “King” stage, but I’ve found many of them to behave like they are in the “Knight” stage — wanting adventure and fun, with no maturity about — or perhaps just not the desire to do — what it takes to be in a relationship. So I don’t think we should hold the age ranges as gospel. I’m wondering if maybe men can revert to a previous stage, based on their life circumstances. So, for example, after a divorce, with their newfound freedom, they are feeling more Knight-like, at least when it comes to relationships. She didn’t address this in the book.

I found this an interesting read and worth the time.

(You can buy the eBook for $9.95, or the hard copy online for $15.95, plus shipping. In-stores price: $19.95.)

I took the 3-hour introduction to the “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women®” workshops, which is called “Making Sense of Men™” and found some of the concepts instructive. Alison has found a way to organize some of the information many of us know into a useful context and format. I’ll share what I learned in another posting.

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4 responses to “Understanding the stage your guy is in”

  1. Lulu Avatar

    What about the horny, selfish old dog stage?

  2. Bruce Avatar

    Really if you think about it her analogy is applicable to chess pieces as well as medieval courts. Young men are pawns in the game of evolution, knights are mobile but quirky, kings have ultimate authority but limited distance.

    Sir Bruce

    In answer to Lulu – wuf, wuf, baby!

  3. sd Avatar

    Based on this, my ex was really an early Knight but teetering between Knight and Prince in public out of desperation when I met him, transitioned to mid-Prince in the first 2-5 years (by the time he was 30), and then secretly resented mightly being there for the next 10 while going back to very early Knight stage in his ‘other life’ I didn’t know about. Once found out, openly in the early Knight stage, including changing jobs because ‘I don’t like working for companies, a risky start-up is more like fun and dangerous and I can be myself’.

    Most ridiculous part?
    His job choices, after meeting me and realizing raising a family was expensive and a requirement if he wanted ME, lead him to the stable career path that equalled much better compensation so he could afford all the expensive toys and hobbies a young man craves!

    But now he blames me (again) for having wasted all those years buckling down instead of making ‘big money’ taking big risks-
    Ummm, what?

    He would have never gotten the big jobs and valuable stock options (yes, at start-ups for some) if he hadn’t buckled down!

    Early on, before basically being forced to change to keep jobs, he was a real ass to his fellow employees, argued loudly or mouthed off at the worst times, lead groups like a cross between Pol Pot and a panicked bull, was obstructive just on general prinicples to company goals, said bad and sometimes confidential stuff about his company to employees of other firms, offended his co-workers with his personal grooming, etc.
    Just being really smart with computers and good at fixing problems had NOT lead him to better opportunities before, because no one wanted to work with him and NO ONE wanted to hire him at ANY salary.

    This was indeed the early Knight stage, like a typical 12 year old, although he did a fine job pretending to act 15-19 to minimally cover himself when needed.

    Once I got him behaving like his 30’s/Prince regularly, with all the attendant benefits, he began fighting his way back to 12.

    Now that he is happily 12 again, he is forced to act like a Prince Sr at work most of the time just to keep his job at the supposedly perfect small company- because they didn’t hire some junior techie for $30K and all the snackroom ramen they can eat, they hired a person with his employment background and experience for $125K plus stock options and expect him to ACT like it!

    Irony there, but at least it will soon no longer be my problem…

  4. Casey Dawes Avatar

    I recently read this book, too and I have mixed feelings about it. My husband doesn’t really fit any of the categories, or even did along the way. He’s got an old soul, but isn’t quite ready to admit it. And, he’s also finally moving into a solid prince stage at the ripe old age of 57. I think. I guess I’d have to study the book and Ms. Armstrong’s thesis more. One of my clients is an absolute believer.

    And, I’m not sure about the role of women in this book. About half-way through I could feel my strong female warrior self start roving around unhappily. She’s never quite thought that the role of “helpmate” was hers just because she was a female. Ironically, I felt that the women were almost patronizing the men at times.

    The post that follows this on listening is right on. It’s really the key. If we could really listen to each other and figure out what we need and what we can give and how we can show each other we care, wouldn’t the world be a better place?