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Episode 1: Love at Home

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Marriage is a unique relationship. The quality of your marriage impacts everything and everyone around you. It is the biggest source of so much joy and happiness in life and can also be the source of so much loneliness, pain, and sorrow. I want to help you create genuine LOVE at HOME by working on the core relationship first – your marriage. So whether you come solo or with your spouse, you will walk away from today’s episode with tools to help you create a deeper, more connected, loving relationship.

 

Welcome friends! I’m really happy to be here with you. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. I believe in the happily ever after and as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe in forever. We believe that families are forever and yet so many people are struggling in their marriages. 

We know the family is central to God’s plan and the ripple effect that stems from your marriage is not something we want to take lightly. 

The challenge here is this: You were raised by parents that came with their own baggage so to speak. They had their own mental and emotional challenges that were largely impacted by their parents. And so depending on how emotionally mature or immature they were coupled with life’s experiences shaped you into the human being that met and married another human being with their own struggles, insecurities, and inherited emotional trauma and now you’ve started a family.

Then we bring kids into the mix and the thing is, we’re all figuring it out as we go. Most people don’t take marriage classes before they get married. Even if they did, most wouldn’t have the maturity and experiential knowledge to be able to understand what was being taught and now we struggle together. 

This impact though as you figure things out overflows to all other areas of your life. When you’ve had a rough argument with your spouse – we’re impacted by that. It fills our thoughts and we carry this heavy weight with us as we go throughout our day and it changes how we show up at work, at home, in our callings, how we interact with strangers, how we drive down the road. 

Your marriage impacts every single area of your life. It’s one of the biggest factors of your overall well-being – health, happiness, stress, and longevity.

But the skills required to know how to live with and not just live with but thrive with and alongside your helpmeet isn’t something that is taught as much as it should be.

So we just keep going through the motions hoping something will change – and let’s be honest, hoping THEY’LL change.

This podcast is dedicated to that – giving you tangible tools so that you can learn how to heal from your own individual struggles, challenges, traumas, and insecurities and how to connect more fully with your spouse so that you can create love at home.

You know that verse that says, “roses bloom beneath our feet, all the earth’s a garden sweet” – I’ve always thought about that line and all I can think about is that roses have thorns! And I don’t know about you – but I have a good sized garden and while I love it and at times it is beautiful and sweet – most of the time it requires constant attention and care. If I leave it unattended for any given time bugs creep in, weeds start taking over, disease infests my vegetable plants. 

But I love my garden and I love roses. The petals are so soft and they just smell so good and they just bring so much happiness to my life. Your marriage can be like this -tender, sweet, beautiful. But like a garden or even a rose bush there’s skills needed to maintain it or to help encourage growth.

I remember years ago being on this panel where couples talked to the youth about marriage and what it’s like, what to expect, what to look forward to and such. At one point in the discussion I remember feeling so bad for these poor youth because so many of the couples shared just how much work a marriage is. They kept reiterating, “but it’s work! It’s a lot of work!” 

And sure, marriage – a good marriage requires effort but it can be fun. It can be work that doesn’t have to feel laborious. It’s work that we want to work at and it’s “wrok” that will yield the best and longest lasting fruits.

Love at home is not only possible – it’s more within your reach than you realize.

So the first gold nugget I’m offering you is the most impactful and also the hardest. You’re welcome.

Many couples or individuals come to marriage counseling with specific problems and one thing in particular that I hear clients sharing the most is actually quite problematic and possibly the reason your marriage hasn’t achieved the desired results yet.

That reason is this- it’s the generic script of communication that goes something along the lines of:

When YOU (insert) I feel insert. 

Now on one hand this script can be beneficial in that you are noticing how you are feeling. We’re so far removed from our feelings that we don’t often know how or what we’re feeling. So I’ll give the script that  – what is deeply problematic is the claim it’s making.

When you blank, I feel blank. 

This goes against the truth that we are agents to ACT and not to be acted upon.

If someone – in this case, your spouse, can “make” you feel a certain way this makes you someone to be acted upon and this isn’t accurate.

The truth is that we can and do influence others but we need to steer clear of the notion that we “make” each other feel a certain way.

It’s never the thing – the circumstance – the words – them at all actually that makes us feel a certain way and it’s always the thoughts about the thing, circumstance, words, them that creates the feeling.

I call this the mixed up model and if you recognize yourself in this it’s okay because you come by it honestly. It’s all around us. We’re taught this – it’s engrained in us when we’re young. It looks like hearing from a care giver, 

“Oh honey, don’t take that toy away from Sally! You’ll hurt her feelings!” Or “look at that, do you see what you’ve done? Now they’re crying. Go apologize and make them feel better.”

What’s more appropriate and accurate is that we don’t want to say or do things because it might trigger a thought for the other person that isn’t productive.

If you take a toy away from Sally – Sally is going to think thoughts about it, right?

“How could they?! That’s mine! I want it back! They shouldn’t have taken it! I was playing with it.”

Do you see how it’s not the act but the thoughts about the act that caused Sally to feel how she’s feeling?

Now let’s put this in context of how it can look in a marriage setting.

Let’s say the wife walks by the bedroom and sees her husband’s shoes on the floor. Instantly she’s annoyed. Now automatically she might think that she’s annoyed because her husband didn’t put his shoes away like she’s asked him to only a dozen times. So she might be tempted to say something like:

“When you leave your shoes out, I feel angry. Can you please put your shoes away next time?”

Now the problem with this is that the wife is giving away all her power to her husband and his shoes. She can’t feel better unless he changes and this is a terrible space to be in and again, makes her an agent to be acted upon.

What’s really happening here is that she see’s the shoes out and she has thoughts about the shoes.

Those thoughts are probably something like:

“I can’t believe he left his shoes out again.”

“How many times do I have to tell him that bothers me?!”

“He should put them away. He shouldn’t have left them out”

“He should listen when I talk. He should care enough about me to know that that bothers me.”

“He’s doing it because he’s trying to annoy me. It’s on purpose”

“He’s such a slob. How lazy is this?”

And on and on…

Again, you can see – it’s not the shoes. It’s not the husband. It’s the thoughts that creates the discord. 

Now knowing this – while we know this is what’s really happening the LAST thing you want to do is say something like, “I can’t make you feel anything. It’s your thoughts. You should fix your thoughts about my shoes.”

Yikes. I’m telling – do not say that ever. I promise you, that is NOT the way to go. It will NOT yield the results you want.

What you want to take from this is how powerful of a truth it is and knowing this, how do I want to proceed?

For the wife in this fictional scenario – she can see the shoes on the floor. She can start noticing her thoughts about the shoes.

“I’m feeling angry because I’m thinking the thought…”

That’s a gold statement.

1.) It’s acknowledging where the feeling is coming from. It’s coming from the thought NOT the circumstance 

2.) it shows that this is in her power. She can choose to be upset about the shoes and she might want to be but the beauty is that she doesn’t HAVE to be.

3.) knowing this it gives her options now and she can ask herself – okay, when I think that thought I feel angry. Do I want to feel angry? What do I really want here?

This whole process you’ll notice is deeply individual. You are an agent to act. How do you want to proceed? What do you want? And are you willing to try on different thoughts in order to ignite different feelings?

Please note, I’m not nor will I ever try to talk you out of an emotion. You get to choose how you want to feel at all times – just do so knowing that you have options. We’ll talk more about this huge truth as we continue in the podcast – but for now, I am an agent that acts. I am not an agent that is acted upon.

There’s so much power and freedom in the truth. 

Now for the husband in this fictional encounter – while he doesn’t make his wife feel a certain way –  he’s not entirely off the hook either. We can know that we certainly influence others and we can make it harder or easier on their thoughts. 

There are things I don’t want to do or say because I know that it would be difficult on my spouse. As the goal is love at home – we can ask ourselves, what can I do to ease the thought work for my spouse?

We have thoughts about everything. Everything we see, hear, taste – we want to cultivate an environment that makes it easy on our thought work. We only have a finite amount of mental energy each day and the more we’re around things that make it difficult on our thought work, the easier it is to feel burnt out.

Now for some Stoic wisdom. In philosophy, the stoics were big this concept – there are things that are within my control and things that are outside of my control.

What’s in my control in this situation?

My thoughts and how I’m choosing to think about the shoes on the floor and about my spouse. My words and actions that stem from my thoughts.

How I want to feel and how long I’m going to prolong that feeling.

What I want to do next? –

What’s not in my control? 

The shoes on the floor

My husbands actions or what my husband does or doesn’t do

We need to focus on that which is in our control. This doesn’t mean that we ignore the shoes on the floor – what this means is that we acknowledge where the unwanted emotions are coming from. It’s not from the shoes. It’s not from the husband. It’s my thoughts.

I have control over that. 

I can decide just how long I want to focus on the shoes and my story about the shoes.

There’s so much freedom and power in this. 

This is really great news. Other people – my spouse in particular don’t make me feel a certain way. I do.

Knowing this I get to choose what I will focus on, how long I want to entertain a story. I get to question my story if it’s not productive for me.

I am the catalyst. 

I make the weather.

I am the storyteller.

I can choose to feel how I want to.

Maybe I do want to be frustrated about the shoes.

Maybe I do want to hold to my story that my husband should have listened and remembered something that is important to me.

But maybe also, I want to WANT my husband to remember and not actually NEED him to remember. More on this in another episode.

But for today, for right now – just allowing you to separate out the cause of the emotions is HUGE and a major game changer.

So let’s go back to the script.

There’s the common – “When you leave your shoes out I feel angry”

This is not true, nor is it in alignment with eternal truths of humankind.

We are agents to act and not to be acted upon.

A more accurate, healthy, and productive script is this:

“When I see the shoes on the floor, I think thoughts that they shouldn’t be there and I feel angry”

Do you see how already this statement is both true and super helpful?

It’s not using attacking language – when you leave your shoes out you make me feel mad – that’s very pointed and just our knee jerk reaction to an attack – whether you meant it as one or not as an attack – triggers something within us that puts walls and we take up a defensive stance.

So instead, when we tell the truth to ourselves and our spouse – when I see the shoes. I think this thought. This thought makes me angry”

It’s not pointed at your spouse. It’s informative. And rather than your spouse getting defensive – there’s no need to – no one is attacking the other party. We’re now sharing something that is a hardship for us and the natural reaction to this is a desire to lean in, to listen, to comfort, and to help.

Start here.

1.) Tell yourself the truth: I am an agent to act and not to be acted upon.

2.) No one hurts me emotionally – only my thoughts do that.

3.) I am the story teller. I am the catalyst. I choose how I want to think and feel about the circumstances that I cannot control.

4.) My thoughts make me feel – not my spouse. 

5.) I can help my marriage by listening to my spouse and helping alleviate the triggers that initiate thoughts.

You are powerful.

When you realize your spouse doesn’t make you feel anything – and you can’t make them feel anything either – we can influence but not make – what’s left is just the opportunity to love them.

This is where love at home starts. 

Taking full responsibility for your emotions and recognizing that you are feeling the way you are because of your story and not your spouse. What story do you want to run with?

Okay, friends, I’m so glad you’ve been here with me. 

I’m excited about this show and bringing helpful tools to create more loving, connected, joyful relationships that overflow into our children’s lives and into the world.

This isn’t light stuff. This is the stuff of eternity.

See you next time!

 

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