Episode 13: Creating Confidence in your Marriage
When it comes to marriage there are a lot of areas where doubt, fear, and insecurities can sneak in and damage your relationship. In today’s podcast I talk about 3 confidence killers in your marriage, how they’re showing up and what you can do instead to create CONFIDENCE in this special, sacred relationship.
I’m Hannah Coles and you are listening to The Confident Catalyst Podcast episode 13:
Creating Confidence In Marriage
This is one of many I’ll do on this topic because this is a huge sore spot when it comes to feeling confident. We may feel confident in many areas of our life but when it comes to marriage a lot of have doubts, fears, and insecurities that come out that you didn’t even know existed!
And a lot of it – all of it is because of how we’re thinking about it. This relationship is different than most others because of all the areas you choose to share together; your home, finances, faith, kids, intimacy, work, dreams, everything. So in every area you’re open to vulnerabilities and your brain can create a lot of drama, challenges, and problems when it’s not kept in check.
So today I want to talk about learning to create confidence in marriage and 3 confidence killers that you’ll want to drop today. I actually have a master class coming your way on marriage and how to create the marriage you want so make sure you’re subscribed so you can get more details on how to jump in on that class.
What I’ll share today is really helpful for those of you already married, newlyweds, people that are engaged, or those of you wanting to get married. This will help you out tremendously no matter what season you’re in or where you’re at. So let’s dive in,
Confidence Killer #1 – Expectations
The first confidence killer in marriage is expecting them to be a certain way. My youngest daughter is quite the romantic. She’s ten by the way and already she has a lot of ideas of what her future husband is going to be like. This last week I showed her Pride and Prejudice – one of my all time FAVORITE books and films and she was glued to the love story and questioning Mr. Darcy’s motives in separating Jane and Mr. Bingly. She would get upset and yell at the TV – No! Why don’t you just tell her, you love her?!
If you’re lost – go watch the movie. I love it.
But even in her innocent, young age she has a lot of thoughts about what a husband should be, what he should do, how he should treat and talk to his beloved. While it’s cute and wholly entertaining to watch her we also know that this is confidence killer number one in a marriage.
Let me explain, our expectations come from what I call, The Manual. This is basically a rule book of how we believe others should treat us so we can be happy. It’s kind of like an operating manual for appliances or your smart phone. If something isn’t working correctly, or some strange light comes on, or the appliance starts making weird noises and doing things we don’t want it to – we refer to the manual to figure out what’s wrong, how can I fix it so it’ll work properly again and I can feel happy.
Each one of us – meaning, each person on the planet has a manual for themselves, for others, for their marriage, for the spouse, for everything. We have a set of rules of how we think others should treat us, talk to us, what they should do for us, how they should show up around us, what they should never do, or say, or even think about us. It’s all in this intangible manual that we store in our heads.
A lot of times we don’t even know what’s in our manual until your spouse does something and we’re quick to react, like, uh no…not gonna fly. So it’s really interesting to be keenly aware of your manual and what you’re thinking he should or shouldn’t do. If you’re not sure what’s in your manual here’s the easiest way to access it – anytime you use the word, “SHOULD” or even “SHOULDN’T” – that’s your manual talking.
Drop the SHOULDS
These are your expectations for your spouse. Why do we even have these manuals or expectations? We have them because we believe if they adhered to it, then we could be happy.
In our very early days of marriage I thought that candles and roses meant caring and love so when we were poor students and couldn’t afford that and he wasn’t coming home with those – I was sad and confused and starting creating issues and drama in my head – didn’t he love me? If he loved me, he’d bring home flowers.
Then the little doubts start arising – insecurities stemming from my thoughts about his behavior or how I was interpreting his behavior. We have a lot of thoughts that start with this, “If he loved me he’d…”
He’d know I don’t like that.
He’d never ask that because he should know I…
If he really cared he’d…
If he respected me he would…
And these little thoughts are so sneaky but they start chiseling away at your confidence and in it’s place it replaces it with fear, worry, doubts, and insecurities – confidence killer for sure.
Drop my expectations? What?
So how does this work? Are you just not supposed to have any expectations for your spouse? Are they just allowed to do whatever they want? What do I do instead?
Here’s the first thing I want you to grasp and really internalize. Drop the manual entirely. You heard that right, get rid of all the shoulds and shouldn’ts. There’s only one thing your spouse needs to do in your marriage and that’s to be themselves. The only thing the should’s are doing in your marriage is creating resistance, tension, and lack of confidence.
When I think my husband SHOULD be doing something differently than what he’s doing – maybe it’s just not helping with the kids like you’d like him to be. Then right then in that thought you’ve created drama. You’ve opened a window to doubt and insecurities.
When you think, “I can’ t believe he’s just sitting there watching sports and I’m chasing kids trying to get them dressed for the ward picnic. He should be helping me!”
Thoughts create our feelings
These thoughts generate a lot of feelings. Anger, resentment, hurt that I think he’s not thinking of me and he’s only thinking of himself. Offended because if I meant more to him then of course he’d want to help, right?
See how these things are killing your confidence in marriage? It’s hurting your marriage not helping it. Does this mean that I have to just suck it up and be okay that he’s watching sports and not helping me? No. I’ll talk about this one in just a moment because that’s confidence killer number two – needing him to meet your needs.
When I drop my expectations I’m not holding him to this invisible standard – which by the way – is just a thought. What’s in my manual is different than what’s in his. What’s in ours are going to be different than what’s in yours because each person is different and sees things differently. So dropping my expectations for him, all the he should’s frees ME from unnecessary pain and drama in my mind. He just get’s to be him and I just get to be me.
Confidence Killer #2 – NEEDS vs WANTS
Okay, this leads us into confidence killer number two: Needing him to meet your needs –
This sounds lovely. It sounds Nobel. It’s also something you’ll hear a lot in couples counseling but it’s one of the worst confidence killers in marriage.
We all have needs. Your needs are real, valid, and definitely need to be met. Same with him. But all too often we misplace who needs to fill these needs. We believe it’s HIS job to make me happy. It’s HIS job to meet my needs and visa versa. But it’s not. It’s your job to meet your own needs. It’s your job to figure out what those needs are and then to figure out how to get those needs met.
I’ve heard so much about the love languages and while I like the idea of being made aware of how we might operate I’m also fully aware that it’s a terrible idea to hold each other to the idea that you have to treat each other a certain way for them to be happy.
Love Languages can help or harm
If my love language is gifts and I therefore NEED him to buy things, or make things, or write me poetry because I need gifts then I’ve surrendered my emotional bucket over to him and this is the worst thing we can do in our marriage. Because what if he doesn’t fill it. What if he doesn’t ever bring me a gift, write me a sonnet, or buy my anything – then what? I have this need and I’m stuck feeling terrible, insecure with all the “if he truly loved me honor my love language…” so what then?
I believe that those love languages can be helpful and insightful in helping you to get to know someone and yourself better. If my love language is gifts or praise then I can figure out how to get that for me. I can buy myself something. I can make myself something. If I need validation – I can validate myself. I can also figure out how to get that for myself by making requests.
This is where WANTING comes into play. We can ask and make requests of our spouse. We can request that he helps more with the kids if that’s what you need. BUT the difference between wanting and needing is that when it’s a need your emotions are directly tied to that request. If he doesn’t do it and you feel crushed – it’s because you made a demand and not a request. You made his actions or inactions mean something about you and it wasn’t pleasant.
This is what healthy wanting or requests look like: “honey, I need some help with the kids at night. I’m tired and the nighttime routine is tough. Can you help brush their teeth?”
Now, if he says no or I’m tired too or he just doesn’t do it – you don’t get your feelings tied into this. You just look at it as information. “Okay, I thought I could fill that need with him and get help there but I guess not. Now what?” No drama, no inner chatter, certainly no hurt feelings because you recognize that it’s just information. Then you try avenue two – how else can I make this work? How else can I get this need filled? Then you go to work trying to figure out a solution to take care of yourself.
You don’t make it mean anything about him. You don’t make it mean anything about you. It’s all just information. By the way, I knew a family that hired their neighbor, who was a teen at the time to come over for 20 mins each night and help with the bedtime routine. She got a few bucks each night – it was short and sweet and the mama got what she needed which was help and rest. Totally worth it to her and to her marriage to find another solution that would work for her and getting her needs filled.
So often we think it HAS to be our spouse but it doesn’t. Don’t place your needs on him. Find a way to get your needs filled. Make requests and not demands. Want but don’t show up needy. Get creative on how to get those needs met. We sometimes have tunnel vision and we think there’s just one way and there’s not – there’s so many other possibilities – be open to them.
When you drop your expectations of how they “should” be and you drop the weight of them needing to fill your needs – to know first off what those needs are and then second to fill them – which is so heavy and tough to do – you’re left with something really special. Really beautiful. You’re left with the opportunity to just love them.
Do you withhold love?
Think about all the times you withheld love. All the times you gave him the silent treatment. All the times you were angry, mad, sad, disappointed, hurt, offended with him. Is it because you believed he should have done something differently? Or that he didn’t meet your needs and you made it mean something hurtful about yourself and him?
When you drop all of that and just let him be him – that’s the only rule – he get’s to be him and you get to be you – then all that’s left is love – you just get to show up and love each other. It’s so fun.
Okay, I know your minds are spinning to crazy town and you’re thinking about the temple and all the things you SHOULD and SHOULDN’T be doing – Wanting and not needing – dropping expectations free’s you to love more fully. In the Bible our relationship to Christ is often referred to as a marriage or a symbol of marriage – of commitment and sanctity because it is a different relationship in how you think about it – in all the ways you’re willing to be open, vulnerable, transparent, and loving.
The Savior is our best teacher
The Savior was the best example of wanting and not needing. He invited and invites us to follow Him, to come and be like Him but His emotional bucket isn’t tied to whether we comply or not. He just loves. He lets us be who we are because we all have our agency and we’re going to choose our own path no matter what anyway. Getting rid of the manual finally just drops the illusion that you can control who or what they are and what they do.
Meeting your own needs sometimes also means setting boundaries – I have another podcast coming that’s specifically on boundaries but in a nutshell boundaries are things you do to protect you – to meet your needs. It’s not a punishment for the other person – it’s not needing them to be any different than they are currently. It’s saying, “If you continue to do _________ then I’m going to walk away.” – boundaries aren’t about the other person at all. It’s about you meeting your needs and what you’ll tolerate or not.
Sometimes my husband likes listening to loud music. I don’t like it at all. I don’t even listen to the radio. We don’t watch regular television because I don’t like commercials. So when he turns on loud music I can make the request to turn it off or turn it down but if he doesn’t then I can tell him, “hey, I don’t like this music so if you’re going to continue to listen to it, I’m going to leave”. This is a healthy boundary because he can still do whatever it is he wants to do but I’m also taking care of myself. I’m meeting my own needs here and not getting my emotional bucket wrapped up in his actions.
Confidence Killer #3 – Your Spouse MAKES you happy
Okay, Confidence killer number three: Believing that you both are there to make each other happy. Thinking that they can make you happy and that you try to make them happy. We’re heard this before – many times actually. We think they should always be kind and nice and loving and only say sweet things to us because it makes us happy but it doesn’t. Those kind, nice, complimentary words don’t make you happy. What they say if you put it in the model is a circumstance and circumstances don’t mean anything. It’s the thoughts you think about that circumstance that makes you happy or unhappy. So when they say nice things, you choose to think nice things about them. You choose to think, “Aw, they love me” and it feels good to think that.
But when they don’t say nice things. When they’ve had a bad day, they’re crabby, cranky, or just in a mean mood and then they say things it’s tempting to believe they hurt you but again, they didn’t. They can’t. Their words cannot hurt you. Their words are circumstances and then you have thoughts about the circumstances and more likely here you’re going to have negative thoughts that are probably going to hurt your own feelings.
Feelings come from your THOUGHTS not your SPOUSE
Your happiness or unhappiness comes from your thoughts. It comes from what you’re thinking about your circumstances. When you’re unhappy it’s not your spouses fault. The best way to derive confidence in your marriage is to own that you are an emotional adult. That you take responsibility for your emotional health. That if you’re unhappy it’s because you made yourself unhappy.
Again, this isn’t excusing their behavior. It’s not endorsing the things you don’t like. This is acknowledging that you create the way you feel. It’s taking all the responsibility for your feelings. If you’re unhappy it’s not his job to fix it – he can’t – even if he tried, even if he did his best – he can’t make you happy. It’s your job. It has to be you.
Confidence comes from knowing and embracing all the parts of you – knowing that you’re going to show up amazing in your marriage and then you’re going to show up terrible sometimes too because we’re human and we’re really good at being human. It’s knowing that you’re going to be okay no matter what – that you’re going to take care of you no matter what. That you get to show up and love him like crazy. That you get to practice serving and loving and caring and being open and transparent and vulnerable with this one special person because when you do – you grow. You evolve. You become more.
Marriage helps you become your BEST SELF
Marriage is amazing. It provides the best way to learn how to become your best self. It’s releasing the other person from making you happy, for doing things the way you think they should, and allowing them to just be themselves while making requests, meeting your own needs or finding ways to make that work, and then truly just loving.
A great marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s not even 100/100 – you give your all and I’ll give my all and then we’ll have a great marriage. A great marriage is what you choose to think of it. If you think it has to be a certain percentage then you’re going to look for that. You’re going to keep score and tally up what they do or say. It’s so tiring to do that and it never works. A great marriage is simply because you think it’s a great marriage. You make it great based on how you think about it.
Confidence in marriage comes from you knowing that you’re going to be okay, better than okay no matter what happens. That you can do this. Confident that you’ll create an amazing marriage no matter what the circumstances are.
Your brain will look for what you tell it to via your thoughts
When I think, I adore my husband – and I do. My brain looks all day to find evidence of that. I love that man. But if I ever thought, “marriage is hard” my brain would look for that too. Marriage would become hard because it’d find evidence of all the ways it’s hard.
Your spouse isn’t going to do everything you think you want him to. He’ll do things you don’t like. You’ll do things he doesn’t like and none of it has to be a problem. It’s just information. “I thought it was going to look like this, but I guess not. Now what?” Then get to work finding out what you need and how you can get that need met.
Make requests just don’t tie your emotions into them.
Become and Emotional Adult
Drop the MANUAL
Decide today that you’re going to be an emotional adult. This means that you are in charge of your own feelings. It’s acknowledging that he can’t hurt you or make you sad or anything. You’re in charge. You get to decide. If you’re hurt dig deep and find out what you’re making it mean, and do you really want to hang on to that thought?
Drop the manual for your spouse. It’s so much fun to just love him – all of him. Invite him to try things a different way if you want – not because you need him to but maybe he’d like it better this way.
I love being married. My husband is amazing. We have an incredible marriage and it’s not because we got lucky or that we’re just different. It’s because we work really hard on managing our minds, being emotionally responsible, and just loving each other.
I love what David A. Bednar recently said about marriage,
“I often emphasize the truth that you do not simply “find” the marriage you hope to have. Rather, you create it.
If you believe you can find a “perfect companion”, you will spend a lot of time searching for a person who does not exist. You should strive to become your best self and to strengthen your faith in and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then you will more likely attract an eternal companion who will honor covenants, keep the commandments, and love the Lord.”
As you strive to work on you and less about fixing them – because they don’t need fixing. The more you will become your best self. When you operate as your best self – you’re going to feel amazing. Your actions are going to be to see all the amazing things your spouse does and is. You marriage will become amazing.
Ditch the confidence killers in your marriage and stand back and watch it flourish.
Have a great week everyone! Talk to you soon!
Need some help with this one? I hear ya…Set up a CONSULT call with me and let’s chat – I’ve got you: