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8 minutes | Oct 19, 2021
How To Know If You Need Couples Therapy
In today's episode, we're going to talk about how to know whether or not you need couples therapy Nearly every day. I get somebody reaching out to me asking if I know a good therapist, if they need therapy, or what they should do if their partner doesn't want to go to therapy, how is their marriage going to get better? Now I want to start off by saying that I'm a firm believer that everybody could benefit from a really good therapist. But therapy isn't always a good fit for everyone...
12 minutes | Oct 12, 2021
How To Save A Marriage Dying Of Busy-ness
“Busy-ness is the enemy of love.” I see this play out in relationships every day. People fill their lives with commitments. Piano lessons, dance classes, football practice, summer camp, PTA meetings, service projects, book clubs, high-demand jobs, zoom calls, credit card debt, mortgages they can't afford... They run around frantic and exhausted telling everyone that they're just so busy, and that life is so stressful. Sometimes they even wear it like a badge of honor... as if living life on the verge of a meltdown is honorable.
4 minutes | Oct 4, 2021
Your Anxiety Is Keeping You From Getting The Love You Want
Ultimately, we can't have connection with our partner unless we feel safe. Yet often the things that we do to make ourselves feel safe are the things that push our partner farther away. Like storming out of the room in the middle of an argument. Or gossiping to other people, when you need validation that you're right and your partner's wrong. Or emotionally shutting down and withdrawing, when you feel blamed, judged, or like you've screwed up. It kind of makes love feel like this Catch 22. You can have safety at the expense of connection, or you can have connection at the expense of safety.
5 minutes | Sep 28, 2021
Why Most Relationships Get Worse Over Time
Dr. Gottman said, "Like the second law of thermodynamics, which says that in a closed energy system, things tend to run down and get less orderly. The same seems to be true of closed relationships like marriages. My guess is that if you do nothing to make things better in your marriage, but not do anything wrong, the marriage will still tend to get worse over time." Essentially what he's saying here is if you want to overcome this natural drift that will pull you apart over time, you have to do more than just not screw things up...
35 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
My Wife Doesn't Want To Have Sex... What Do I Do?
My wife does not have seem to want sex, and she never initiate sex. I'm at a loss here. I work hard. I try to help her around the house. I flirt with her she's okay snuggling or kissing, but the moment she feels or the things are moving towards sex she shuts down. She says that I don't give her enough space to initiate. So I back off and then I wait and I wait and then nothing ever happens. Then I feel sad, grumpy, withdrawn, and rejected. When I bring this up to my wife, she gets frustrated saying that I'm in charge of my own body. And if I want something I should ask for initiate and initiate it myself, having sex less than once a week, isn't enough for me. I'm starting to feel resentful. I'm reluctant to initiate because I'm tired of facing the rejection. What do I do?
12 minutes | May 19, 2021
How to Recover From a Betrayal of Trust
Mira Kirshenbaum defines betrayal as, "When someone does something that breaks a fundamental promise, or violates a fundamental expectation and does so in a way that significantly hurts your peace of mind." In her book, "I Love You, But I Don't Trust You" she states that between 40 and 70% of couples know they have significant problems with trust. And at least 90% of couples will have a crisis of trust at some point. So... how do you recover when you've experienced a betrayal? What should you do to restore trust after you've been hurt? Can your marriage survive after a betrayal? Will it ever be the same again?
106 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
How to stop over-functioning and start enjoying life with Dr. Kathleen Smith
I didn’t even realize how much anxiety was subtly wrecking my relationship until I read Dr. Kathleen Smith’s book, . Dr. Smith’s book helped me realize that I’ve developed extremely effective anxiety coping mechanisms that kept me confronting my insecurities and weaknesses head-on. There are two problems with this. First, anxiety typically precedes growth. And if I can’t learn to face my anxieties head-on, I will never get the lessons or enjoy the growth that lives on the other side. Second, the things that make us anxious don’t magically go away if we pretend they don’t exist. If all we do is avoid what makes us anxious (consciously or unconsciously), we’re just allowing our problems to compound. Dr. Smith lays out five different coping strategies that we all rely on to avoid feeling anxious in our relationships: #1 Relationship Triangles Every relationship triangle (or drama triangle) consists of 3 people: The persecutor, the rescuer, and the victim. Whenever you feel anxious, hurt, betrayed, or offended by another person, we often turn ourselves into the victim. The person who wronged us, judged us, or criticized us becomes the persecutor. And the person we vent to, or gossip with becomes the rescuer. We use the rescuer to give us validation, affirmation, and make us feel like we are good and right and justified, while the persecutor is bad, and wrong, and irrational. Relationship triangles typically involve gossiping, venting, scapegoating, criticizing, and blaming others for our pain or unfortunate circumstances. It’s a great way to avoid dealing with an issue head on – by simply having a conversation with the person who hurt you. #2 Overfunctioning Overfunctioners are famous for saying things like, “If I don’t do it, it’ll never get done.” Or, “If you want it done right, you’d better do it yourself.” People slip into overfunctioning for what often seems to be altruistic or selfless reasons. “I don’t want my daughter to fail math and not get into college… so I’ll just help him with his homework.” “I don’t want my husband to die of heart disease, so I’ll wake up early and make him a healthy lunch every day.” “I don’t want the Christmas party to flop, so I’ll just plan it myself again this year.” Overfunctioners take on too much responsibility because it makes them anxious to leave the fate of something important in someone else’s hands. It also feels really good (temporarily) to be the person EVERYONE relies on. The linchpin. The go-to guy. But eventually the Overfunctioning takes its toll. You start to get worn out and resentful. You start to say things like, “Why am I the only one who cares?” Or, “Why can’t someone else make a decision for once?” What you don’t realize is that your controlling nature has trained everyone that you’ll take care of everything for them. They don’t need to put in any effort, because you’ll always swoop in at the last minute to save the day. Overfunctioners are famous for always wanting to be in charge, constantly giving unsolicited advice, and needing constant reassurance (or being constantly reassuring). #3 Underfunctioning Underfunctioning is the opposite of overfunctioning. When underfunctioners feel stressed, they shut down, withdraw, and hide. They beat up on themselves for always being a disappointment, letting others down, and failing at their goals. They live in a state of shame and self-loathing. They commit to things, then stop responding to you when you need an update. They ghost you when they let you down rather than having a conversation about it. Underfunctioners are masters of acting helpless, relying on the reassurance of others, avoiding confrontation, and always letting other people make decisions. #4 Conflict Many people use conflict as a way to avoid anxiety. I know it might sound weird considering conflict can actually cause anxiety, but conflict can actually be a great way to avoid the things that make us most uncomfortable. For example, when someone points out one of your flaws or something you’re insecure about… You could get curious about it, own up to it, laugh about it, or work on it. Or… you could get incredibly defensive, act offended, pick a fight, and make a scene. We use conflict to avoid staring in the mirror. We intentionally escalate difficult conversations so the conversation will end. Being dramatic, defensive, focusing on the flaws of others, pointing out how other people are the problem, and insisting that other people change are classic strategies for people who use conflict to avoid anxiety. #5 Distance The last coping strategy for anxiety is creating distance. Sometimes the distance is physical… but most often it’s emotional. Distancers are great at avoiding controversial topics and keeping conversation superficial. They use snark and sarcasm so that nobody ever takes them seriously. They numb out with substances like drugs and alcohol, or activities like video games, social media apps, or trashy reality TV. Distancers don’t want to get overly attached or involved with anyone. They keep themselves at a safe distance. They reject compliments. They bail at the last minute. Closeness makes them anxious, so they keep the world at arm’s length. Which Strategy Do You Use? So, which of these 5 strategies do you turn to when you’re feeling anxious? How are these coping mechanisms keeping you from connecting with those around you? How are you preventing your own development and personal growth? Ultimately, anxiety can be one of our greatest teachers. It can be the gateway to self-understanding, intimacy, trust, and empathy. But we only get the benefits if we stop running from it, and ask it what it’s trying to teach us. For more on learning to manage your anxiety, check my hour-long interview with Dr. Smith here.
13 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
Stonewalling: The 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse
Stonewalling is the 4th of the Four Horsemen of the Marriage Apocalypse. Here’s where you can catch the past installments that cover Criticism, Defensiveness, and Contempt. Stonewalling is when you shut down, and completely tune your partner out. You act like you couldn’t care less about what they’re saying. Men are famous for doing this. Statistics show that 85% of the time, the stonewaller is the man in the relationship. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that this is a conscious, antagonistic behavior men use to just push their partner’s buttons… but the reality is that Stonewalling is a natural reaction to emotional flooding - the feeling of complete overwhelm, and powerlessness to stop the emotional tidal wave. It’s essentially a human’s way of playing dead in the hopes that a predator will give up the fight. Here’s one of the best examples we’ve ever seen of stonewalling in a movie: If you’re ever upset at your partner and they get that 1,000 yard stare on their face, that’s a sign that they’re stonewalling. You can also check their body language for signs of stonewalling. If they’re turning away from you. If they’re making their body smaller by hunching over, or crossing their arms. Or if they’re noticeably avoiding eye contact, they might be feeling flooded and “playing dead.” When interviewed, people who stonewall often say that they’re just trying calm down and not to make the situation worse. But despite the good intentions, stonewalling sends a loud message that you just don’t care. You’re checked out. If you notice your partner doing this, it’s time to stop the conversation. Your partner will need some time to breathe, calm their nerves, get their adrenaline levels and heart rate down, and reset. It would be helpful to have a conversation with them about what triggered the emotional flooding. Was it the topic? Was it the tone of the conversation? Was it the words that were used? Identify what you can do together to have conflict conversations that don’t lead to emotional flooding and emotional shut-downs. If you are prone to stonewalling, you can develop the skill of self-soothing. Learning how to breathe, relax, calm your thoughts and lower your heart rate in stressful moments will have a huge payoff for you. Some people like to go for walks when they notice they are feeling emotionally flooded. Some people listen to music, or work out. Some people just need to take a few minutes to meditate or breathe. Learning to identify when you’re feeling flooded, and calm yourself quickly is a skill that will truly help your marriage in amazing ways. How To Apply What You’ve Learned: If you’ve noticed that stonewalling has been a problem in your relationship, have a conversation about what causes the emotional flooding, how to prevent it, and create a plan you can follow when it happens in the future. Get specific with your plan. Come up with a safeword you can use or a script you can follow. Setting clear rules about how to handle situations like this, then keeping the rules, will prevent the 4th Horseman from ever threatening your relationship.
12 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
Contempt: The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Today we’re going to talk about the 3nd Horseman of the Marriage Apocalypse… contempt. Click here if you want to learn about the first or second horsemen. Dr. Gottman calls contempt the sulfuric acid of love. Needless to say, contempt is frickin’ dangerous if it’s present in your relationship. So pay attention to this post, because I’m going to teach you how to deal with contempt when it shows up, and then set up protections to prevent it from ever creeping back in! Contempt is dangerous because it robs the relationship of equality and mutual respect. When a partner is acting out of contempt, they are putting themselves above the other person. Contempt is making yourself smart, and your partner an idiot. It’s making yourself right, and your partner a moron for even thinking they could be right. It’s making yourself the good one, or clean one, or punctual one, or considerate one, or helpful one, or thoughtful one... and then making your partner the wrongest, messiest, most inconsiderate and least helpful person around. Contempt is putting yourself above your partner. It’s making them feel small, unimportant or less-than in some way. A typical sign that you’re being contemptuous is if you’re using weapons like name-calling, swearing, belittling, demeaning comments, mocking, or eye-rolling to get your way or prove a point. Contempt is usually caused by the buildup of frustration and resentment over time. It creeps into the relationship slowly, then explodes and does serious damage. Nothing will destroy your relationship faster than contemptuous behavior. Preventing Contempt If you want to prevent yourself from falling into the contempt trap, the best thing you can do is learn to practice constant, sincere gratitude. Fill your relationship with appreciation! Gratitude connects, where contempt drives you and your partner apart. Gratitude fosters empathy which puts you and your partner on equal footing. Contempt puts one partner above another. Gratitude makes you appreciate all the wonderful things about your partner. Contempt makes you focus on all of your partner’s faults. If you want to protect your relationship from contempt, practice gratitude constantly. If You’re the Recipient of Contempt If you’re the recipient of contempt, here are some things you can do: First: Call it out for what it is. Say something like, “The way you’re talking to me is hurtful. It’s not ok.” Next: Take a break “I’m going to go take a walk. We can revisit this when I come back.” Then: Have a conversation about the conversation After taking a break, and before diving back into the conflict conversation, have a chat about how to more effectively have the conversation. Ask each other questions like: “What is the ideal outcome of this conversation? What did I do when we talked the last time that contributed to it going poorly? What can I do next time to ensure we don’t lose our tempers, or fall into the trap of contempt again?” If you can take some time to reflect on the mistakes you make as a couple that invite contempt into your relationship, you can take steps to prevent it from happening again. If contempt is a part of your everyday life, I highly recommend seeking out a good couples therapist - to help you overcome these dangerous and harmful habits. How To Apply What You’ve Learned: Since the best antidote to contempt is gratitude, set a gratitude goal for yourself for this week. How are you going to practice gratitude daily? How can you switch from contempt to gratitude when you’re feeling emotionally revved up? How can you use gratitude to help you with gentle start-ups when you have a complaint you want to address?
19 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
Defeating Defensiveness: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Defensiveness is the second of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It typically shows up right on the heels of the first horseman: Criticism. (.) Defensiveness is the trap my wife and I fall into most often. Defensiveness is always an attempt to protect yourself from a perceived attack. A defensive response usually implies, “The problem isn’t me… it’s you!” Defensiveness shows up in two different ways: Cross-complaining, and playing the innocent victim. Here’s an example things of how things unfold when criticism and the cross-complaining form of defensiveness are in the picture: “Would you clean up your dirty laundry, you always leave such a mess!” (Criticism) “Oh yeah? Well what about all your dishes down in the sink, and our filthy car that you always leave your junk in?” (Defensiveness) “Don’t even get me started on junk. I can barely even walk through the garage without tripping over one of your tools.” (Even more defensiveness…) See how that works? Let me rephrase that. See how that doesn’t work? The other way to be defensive is to whine or play the role of the innocent victim. This may include statements like, “You’re always picking on me,” or “I guess I just can’t do anything right.” Most of the time, phrases like this are used in an attempt to score pity points, or get validation from your partner while taking the focus off of the problem. Defensiveness can send you into a nasty endless spiral. It’s always about avoiding taking responsibility and shifting the blame to someone else. Defensiveness will turn your marriage into a conflict dumpster fire. The masters of marriage know how to combat defensiveness. They do it by taking responsibility for at least some part of the problem. Here’s an example: Jane called Andy at noon and asked him what time he’d be home from work so she could plan what time to start cooking dinner in order to have the whole family eat together. He told her he’d be home by 5:30, 5:45 at the latest. Then, right before 5:00, Andy’s boss came into his office and dropped a big, last-minute project on him. It was the difference between keeping a big client and losing them. Andy jumped into the project hoping that if he worked fast enough he wouldn’t be too late. He lost track of time, and at 5:50 his phone rang. It was Jane. She was wondering if he was almost home. “Actually,” Andy said. “I haven’t left yet. My boss gave me a big project at the last minute.” Jane was obviously hurt and frustrated. “Why didn’t you call and tell me?” “I didn’t even think about it. It’s just been crazy here this afternoon.” “Too crazy to even text me?” She snapped. “Look, I’ve been working hard all day to provide for the family. Give me a break. It’s not like I can just tell my boss ‘No.’” You know where this conversation is going… absolutely nowhere. And neither partner is going to walk away feeling good. On the other hand, what if the conversation went like this: We’ll start over in the middle… Andy looks at his phone and it’s his wife calling... “What, was work so crazy that you couldn’t even text me?” Jane snapped. “Actually, no probably not.” Andy said, “I’m sorry. Yeah this is a big, last-minute project, but still I should have called. I dropped the ball big time on this one. That was really inconsiderate on my part.” Jane heard the remorse in Andy’s voice. She knew he knew he’d screwed up. “It’s ok honey, I understand. My feelings are hurt, but I’ll get over it. When can I expect you home?” “I should be out the door in 30 minutes. I’ll set a timer as soon as I hang up the phone with you. And I’ll talk to my boss tomorrow about cutting out early from work on Friday. I’ll plan a date, and book a sitter to make up for blowing family dinner tonight. I love you, babe.” “Love you too, honey.” Taking responsibility deescalates tension, and gets rid of any reason for defensiveness. It opens the doors to connection, empathy, teamwork, and understanding. Sometimes it’s really hard to take responsibility. Especially in the moments where you feel convinced that you’ve done nothing wrong. Maybe you feel like the one who’s been hurt. Some of the most difficult times in your relationship will be when both you and your partner are feeling hurt and defensive. Your defensiveness will start spiraling out of control and your emotions will ricochet off each other. These are the times where you have to dig deep. Despite your hurt, you have to take ownership. Even if it’s small. Something like, “Yeah, I could have said that better.” Or, “I can see how I could have come across as being a jerk when I acted that way.” In the moment, it sucks to be the one who takes responsibility first. But you’ll quickly find that once you’re willing to own up to your part in a conflict, your partner will often soften and reciprocate. That’s when the magic happens. Suddenly you start moving closer together and connecting instead of being driven apart. Your conflict has magically turned into connection. Now, Let’s Apply This Everyone is defensive from time to time. Sometimes we cross-complain. Sometimes we make ourselves the innocent victim. Think of a disagreement or conflict you’ve had recently. Maybe it’s with your partner, or your boss, your child, or a friend. How did defensiveness show up in that conversation? What could you have taken responsibility for instead of making excuses or deflecting the responsibility to someone or something else?
15 minutes | Mar 30, 2021
Criticism: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Criticism: The Gateway To Marriage Misery In marriage, one thing is a given: At some point you and your partner are going to disagree on something. It might be something small like where to eat for dinner on your next date night, what brand of toothpaste to buy, or which Netflix show to stream next. Or it could be something big like how to manage your finances, how you’re going to spend your holidays, or how often you’d like to have sex and who should initiate. It’s impossible for two people with completely different upbringings, backgrounds, and family dynamics to agree on everything in life all the time. Learning to navigate these moments of stress and conflict is what separates the masters of marriage from the disasters. As a matter of fact, there’s been a HUGE amount of research done on marital conflict, and researchers have found that how you handle these disagreements - both big and small - has the biggest impact on whether or not you stay together as a couple… and if you stay together, whether or not you have a happy marriage, or a miserable one. Dr. John Gottman, whose work we’ll be referencing throughout this challenge, has built a mathematical model that can predict divorce with a 91% accuracy, and one of the key factors in his model is how a couple deals with conflict. This is a big deal! My goal over the next few weeks is to introduce you to the Four Horsemen of the Marriage Apocalypse. I’ll show you how these horsemen will derail and destroy your marriage… and how to deal with them when they inevitably show up. (Because they ABSOLUTELY will.) Your Primary Objective over the next 4 weeks is to identify at least one bad conflict habit that you bring to the relationship, and create an action plan to change that habit. The Four Horsemen are the things Dr. Gottman looks for when he’s trying to predict divorce. No relationship is immune to the Four Horsemen. So, if I talk about one and you’re like, “Hey… that’s me… I do that.” there’s no reason to freak out. My goal here is to help you identify, and start to change these habits to get your marriage headed in the right direction. Today, we are going to start with the first horseman: Criticism Have you ever experienced something like this... You're having a great time with your partner. You’re laughing and getting along. You’re feeling good… and then, out of the blue, you feel criticized. When something like this happens, do you shut down? Do you get angry? Do you immediately turn off and change your behavior? Do you get defensive? Criticism is a super sneaky relationship killer. Often it starts off with good intentions. “I’m just going to let my partner know how they could improve so our relationship can be better!” We expect our partner to show up to a conversation with a notepad and say, “Wow, thanks for letting me know I’m defective in all these ways! I’m going to go work on this. Maybe next week we can get together and you can tell me more things about me that make you miserable?” Criticism kills your partner’s most attractive qualities. It shuts down their ability to feel confident, passionate, authentic, and emotionally available. These are the exact qualities that cause people to fall in love, and stay in love! Criticism is different than complaining. Complaining is when you bring up a behavior or action that bothers you. Criticism is when you attack or blame someone’s character. Complaining stays specific, sticking to isolated incidents... Criticism is almost always based on generalizations based on specific incidents… using words like “you always” or “you never”. Complaining is an attempt to improve the relationship. Criticism tears your partner down and blames them for your problems. Here’s an example: Giving Criticism vs. Complaints Suzy and Kent have been married for a few years. Kent and Suzy both hate washing dishes, so they tend to pile up. Kent decided it was his turn to wash dishes and spent 45 minutes cleaning the pile. Just as he finished, Suzy walked into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of milk and made herself a plate of cookies to munch on while they watched a show on Netflix. When she was done, she left the dirty plate and cup on the coffee table. Kent was majorly irritated. He said, “What the heck?! You always do this! You’re so disrespectful. You know I just spent the last 30 minutes cleaning all the dishes, and then you go make more dishes dirty and just leave them out? You’re so freaking disrespectful!” Can you spot the criticism? Kent attacked Suzy’s character using statements that were a direct attack on Suzy and her character rather than the behavior he wanted her to change. Did you also notice the harsh startup that we talked about yesterday? If you did, good job! Now here’s an example of a different way Ken could have handled this situation. “Hey Babe, I just worked really hard to clean the kitchen. It would mean a lot to me if you would clean up your dishes before bed.” See the difference? First, there’s a soft startup. Then you see Ken’s polite request for her to correct a behavior without making it about her being defective as a human being. By avoiding giving criticism, you keep your partner open and responsive to the qualities that allow for attraction, connection, and love to flourish and thrive. Receiving A Complaint Don’t forget, the door swings both ways. Sometimes you’ll be bringing up the complaints you have about your partner’s behavior in the relationship… but sometimes your partner is going to have complaints about your behavior! Not being able to handle your partner making a complaint against your behavior is just as damaging to your relationship as delivering a criticism. If your partner delivers a complaint, take ownership and be responsible for whatever you can regarding your behavior. When you don't agree with your partner, it's easy to diminish your partner. You can think or say things like, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Or, “What’s the matter with you? If that bothers you, you’re the problem, not me.” Another common reaction is to internalize the complaint and make it personal when it’s not. “I am a terrible wife. I just can’t do anything right, I guess. I’m such a failure.” We become self-critical. We turn our partner’s genuine attempt to connect with us and improve the relationship into a negative and damaging experience. Suddenly your partner has to move their focus from the behavior to trying to make you feel better about yourself. Instead of shifting the focus to yourself by becoming self-critical, or to your partner by dismissing or belittling their perspective when they offer a complaint, keep the focus on the issue at hand. Suzy from the example above could say something like, “Hey, thanks for the reminder! I’ll put my cup and plate away. I really appreciate that you did the dishes. You’re awesome.” See how easy that was? Now you can go to bed in a good mood and maybe even have some sexy times! Apply The Lesson Your Application Exercise for today is to Learn to complain without blaming. We’ll provide a few examples of very common criticisms… Take the time to re-write them as complaints instead. Don’t use words like “You always…” or “You never…” Focus on critiquing the behavior, not your partner or their character. If your partner begins to get defensive, one of the best things you can do is calmly notice it and let them know with kindness that you’re not trying to be critical of them.
60 minutes | Mar 9, 2021
Avoidant Attachment with Kyle Benson
"I hate conflict... is there a way I can be in a relationship without ever having to deal with it?" "I feel like I'm always the reason other people are disappointed." "I'm never good enough, and my partner will never be happy with me." "I try so hard, but it seems like I can never get things right." "What's important to me doesn't matter to anyone else." "There are different ways we develop an attachment to the people we love." "A lot of this comes from the way we were raised." "I'm a failure..." These are the types of thoughts someone with Avoidant Attachment is often thinking. In this workshop, we're going to give Avoidant partners and those married to an Avoidant partner tools and strategies to develop a more Secure Attachment. This workshop was originally streamed live in the Epic Marriage Club. If you want to participate live in future workshops, and get access to an amazing community of humans who value their marriages just like you, .
56 minutes | Mar 2, 2021
Anxious Attachmet with Kyle Benson
"I'm too much." "I'm not lovable." "My partner doesn't care about me." "We never resolve things... everything always gets swept under the rug." "My partner always dismisses my feelings." "Why don't my needs matter?" These are the thoughts of someone who struggles with Anxious Attachment. People who struggle with Anxious Attachment are always looking for affirmation, validation, and reassurance from their partner. They want to know everything is ok, and that they are still worthy of love. Oftentimes the strategies they use to get that validation ends up pushing their partner away, and creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. Today we're going to talk with attachment expert, Kyle Benson about Anxious Attachment, and how to develop a more secure attachment in our relationships.
16 minutes | Jan 26, 2021
3 Reasons Why You’re Feeling Burned Out
Are you feeling burned out in your marriage? Are you constantly stressed and overwhelmed? Are you exhausted all the time? Are you feeling lonely and depressed? Maybe you’re growing resentful of your partner. You might be secretly asking yourself, “Did I marry the right person?” Or wondering how long your marriage will last if nothing changes. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Every day I talk to people who are on the verge of burnout. They’re desperate for a change. Most people on the verge of burnout trend to blame their partner or other circumstances for their misery. “If they’d just put in some effort, things would be different…” But the actual reason for burnout is seldom a partner’s neglect. Typically burnout can be attributed to one of three causes. If you address the actual causes of burnout, the relationship tends to heal and improve. Couples start to reconnect, play, and flirt with each other again. It’s like the relationship takes on a new life. Want to know what the three common causes of burnout are that I see? 1. The Foundation of Friendship is Weak Your relationship is built on a foundation of friendship consisting of 3 pillars: I Know You I Like You I Have Your Back When you and your partner get busy with life, and consumed with other responsibilities... Or you stop having fun together and expressing gratitude for one another... Or you stop keeping promises to each other, and things like criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt creep into your marriage… Your relationship starts draining you. When the amount of time, energy, and effort you put into your relationship always exceeds what you get out of it, you’ll eventually run out of steam, and your desire to contribute to the marriage will disappear. Keeping your foundation strong is absolutely essential if you want to avoid burning out. 2. You’re Not Setting Or Maintaining Clear Boundaries are meant to protect the things that are most important to you, like your time, your relationships, your energy, your attention. They create clarity around what you are responsible for, and what you’re not responsible for, like a fence around a home. Some signs that you’re not good with boundaries are: You sometimes feel resentful towards people you typically care about You tolerate disrespectful or unkind behavior at the expense of your own well being You feel frustrated that you spend so much time with people or on projects that aren't a priority for you You feel responsible when other people are angry, upset, unkind, anxious, or sad... You blame other people when you are angry, upset, unkind, anxious or sad You sometimes use manipulation, passive-aggression, or guilt-tripping to get what you want When people are constantly steamrolling you, taking advantage of your kindness and generosity, and you never give yourself permission to recharge… you are going to get burned out. Learning to say “No” to things that are urgent but not a priority is key to developing appropriate boundaries. 3. You’ve Lost Touch With Your Core Values determine what’s important to you and why. They guide you through conflict, and set your conscience on fire when they’re being ignored. When you make decisions that conflict with your core values, it will unsettle you, or even make you angry or resentful without even realizing it. Everyone’s core values are unique, and if you’re not clear what yours are, you will find yourself feeling aimless, and feeling constantly “off.” Some signs that you might not be living in alignment with your Core Values are: Family or friends ever tell you, "you're so hard on yourself" You feel like your life lacks purpose other than taking care of everyone else’s needs You have a hard time making decisions… even small ones that don’t seem to matter You feel like you’ve lost touch with who you truly are You sometimes feel like you lack self confidence? You resent others who seem to have a clear direction or “mission” for their lives? Two reasons people lose touch with their core values… The first is that most people never take the time to figure out what their core values are in the first place. Brené Brown says, “We cannot live [our core values] if we don't know them and name them.” The second is that they mistake a role they value for a core value that defines their identity. It’s common to see this with mothers. They have children and take on the role of a mother. The role consumes them and becomes their identity. Then, when their role changes and the kids no longer need them, they have an identity crisis. They have spent so much time defining themselves by a role they filled that they lost track of their core values… the things that make up their identity. Living out of alignment with your core values will make you feel exhausted, and like you’re living a life without meaning. Why Are Your Burned Out? So, now that you know the main causes of burnout… which one do you identify with? Clarity is power, and when you understand what’s causing you to have problems, you can then start to take action and do something about them.If you want support, a great place to start is the Epic Marriage Club.
15 minutes | Jan 19, 2021
5 Questions for Your Weekly Marriage Meeting
Do you have a hard time thinking of things to talk about on your date night other than coordinating logistics, and kids? Are there conversations you avoid, and conflicts that have gone unresolved for too long? Do you feel like you and your partner are drifting apart and turning into that boring couple you swore you’d never be? Well, it’s probably because you’re not having a weekly Marriage Meeting. A Marriage Meeting is like a Staff Meeting. It’s an opportunity to connect, talk about logistics, calendars, and budgets. It’s also a chance to check the pulse of your relationship. How are things going? What’s going well? What can you improve on. Couples who don’t have regular, effective marriage meetings typically drift apart from each other over time and end up stuck in Roommate Syndrome… or worse. I want to make your Marriage Meetings easy for you. So, here are 5 things you should talk about with your partner every week during your “State of the Union.” 1. Gratitudes A good marriage meeting is one that doesn’t leave either partner dreading the next week’s meeting. So, one of your goals should always be to focus on the positive. That’s why I like to start every Marriage Meeting by expressing gratitude. What are the things your partner did for you this week that made your life easier? What are some of the “expected” things they do that you haven’t acknowledged them for recently? When did you see them at their best? What attitudes, behaviors, and words they said meant the most to you over the last week? Acknowledge them for these things. Not only will it help you feel more attraction and fondness towards your partner, but it will condition you both to always be on the lookout for the good things instead of slipping into the trap we are all susceptible to… only seeing the bad. 2. Celebrations After you’ve expressed gratitude, spend a few minutes celebrating your wins both inside and outside your marriage. Did you handle conflict better than you have in the past? Celebrate!Did you complete a big project at work? Call it out! Were you consistent with a fitness or nutrition goal? Revel in that victory with your partner! Your life is full of wins, both large and small. Acknowledging them… and even celebrating them is a great way to cultivate a strong bond with your partner. Who doesn’t want to be married to their biggest cheerleader? 3. Plans Logistics are boring, but they’re necessary to talk about when you share a life and a family with someone. If you’ve never done Marriage Meetings before, I’d advice that you initially try to keep this part of the conversation short… especially if one of you is reluctant to have this weekly meeting, or maybe they tend to default to a highly emotionally reactive. Go over your calendars together. Make sure all the important stuff is taken care of. Plan your date (or decide who’s planning it this week). As you get better at having a weekly Marriage Meeting, you can start talking about things like finances, or retirement, or checking in on bigger goals like saving for vacations, or paying off your house. 4. Improvements It’s important to talk about how your marriage can be better. But unless you’ve created a high degree of trust in your relationship, giving each other “feedback” isn’t going to go well. That’s why I recommend people who are new to the Marriage Meeting to skip this phase entirely for the first few months. When you’re ready to start talking about how to improve things in your marriage, be careful not to fall into the common trap of defensiveness. Defensiveness is an instinctual response we all have to when we feel like we’re under attack. So, the goal here is to avoid “attacking” our partner. (Or doing anything that could be perceived as being an attack, a criticism, or an affront on their character.) Complaining about what went wrong in the past is easy. But it’s not very helpful or effective! When you’re talking about “improvements” in your marriage, try to stay future-facing. Ask your partner for things that can help them be better next week, instead of dragging them through all their failures of the last week. Ask your partner what you could do to be a better partner for them in the future instead of how you let them down in the past. Talk about what you will do to handle conflict better in the future rather than trying to rehash who was right and who was wrong during that fight a few days ago. You can’t change the past… But you CAN change the future. And focusing your attention on what you can control will help you and your partner avoid getting defensive… and your Marriage Meetings will be FAR more enjoyable. 5. Affection After you’ve gone through all these steps, make sure you end your Marriage Meeting with some sort of meaningful physical affection. Some couples share a long hug, or a passionate kiss. Some have a special best-friends handshake. Some make love to each other. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you take some time to physically connect. This is a great positive way to wrap up your Marriage Meeting. Follow these 5 steps, and I guarantee your date nights will be more fun, you’ll have more opportunities to play and flirt with each other, and your relationship will improve. It will help you stop feeling like business partners, and start feeling like lovers again.
13 minutes | Jan 12, 2021
Why The Communication In Your Marriage Sucks
I talk to couples every single day about their relationships. When I ask them what their biggest struggle is, 9/10 of ten they say, “Communication!” “We keep having the same fights over and over again.” “My partner just gets so defensive. We literally can’t talk about anything.” “We just don’t give each other the benefit of the doubt anymore.” Most people THINK the solution is to learn new communication skills. To follow scripts like, “When you do _______, I feel ______.” But most of the time, tactics like this don’t work… Because you don’t have a communication skills problem. Think about it for a second… Do you have a friend, family member, or coworker in your life with whom you don’t have these “communication problems?” Is there someone you talk to on the regular that doesn’t take everything you say out of context, or turn everything into an argument? For most people I talk to, there is. And if you have someone like that in your life, you probably have all the “skills” you need to be a relatively effective communicator. (Though there’s always room for improvement.) What most people don’t understand is that effective communication in a relationship is built on a strong foundation. And if that foundation is weak, you communicate poorly with the other person. If the foundation is strong, you tend to have an easy time sharing your thoughts and feelings with the other person. The foundation I’m talking about is your friendship. When I say the word “friendship” I’m not talking about knowing someone for a long time, or having some shared memories together. I’m talking about something very specific. A strong “Foundation of Friendship” consists of 3 pillars: I know you I like you I have your back I guarantee that if you think of the person with whom you communicate well, all three of these pillars are strong. And if your communication is struggling in your marriage, one of these pillars is weak. Let’s break them down for a moment. I Know You “I know you,” means I know what you have going on in your life. Your worries, fears, desires, goals, dreams, likes, dislikes, stressors, victories, and defeats... The reality of marriage is that at the beginning, it’s fun to learn about your partner. They are the source of all this newness, excitement, and intrigue. But the more time we spend with them, the more comfortable we become… and we lose our curiosity. Couple that with the fact that life gets busy. Family, work, hobbies, friends, and all the demands that we have on our time makes it really hard to stay tuned-in to our partner’s life. It’s not uncommon for couples to “drift apart,” then wake up a few years later and realize “” Here are some signs that your “I Know You” pillar might be weak: You spend the majority of your time talking about logistics and/or kids instead of connecting, laughin, or flirting If you had to buy your partner a present that would delight them right now, you’d have no clue what to get them You can’t think of anything to say on You can’t name your partner’s best friends You don’t know what your partner’s #1 stressor is right now You don’t know what recent accomplishments your partner is proud of I Like You “I like you” means I enjoy spending time with you. I think you’re a pretty great human. I see the goodness you add to my life. When you like your partner, your eyes light up when they walk into the room. You get excited to spend time with them, or tell them about your day. You make plans to be together, and you laugh at each others jokes. When couples have a strong “I Know You” and a strong “I Have Your Back” but a weak “I Like You”, they often say things like, “Let’s stay together for the kids.” They make a decent team. They have some shared goals. But they don’t spend more time tolerating each other than enjoying each other’s company. Here are some signs that your “I Like You” pillar is weak: There’s lots of eye-rolling and exasperated sighs If you’re kissing, it’s only quick pecks. There aren’t many passionate makeouts. Date nights are few and far between You regularly complain about your partner to friends, family, or coworkers You’ve got some major resentment built up Your partner gets offended or defensive whenever you bring up an issue or area for improvement I Have Your Back “I’ve Got Your Back” is all about trust. Can I count on you? Will you follow through on your promises and commitments? Will you be there when I need you most? Can I be certain that you won’t take advantage of me? You can’t have a strong foundation for any relationship without trust. And without trust, you lose any shot at good communication, because you’ll always be second-guessing if what you’re saying or hearing is reliable. If your “I Have Your Back” is weak: You say/hear things like, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” You or your partner are emotional time bombs waiting to go off. (You can’t share anything difficult.) Promises don’t carry any weight or value anymore You feel lonely in your relationship Your partner doesn’t respond to, or completely ignores your efforts to connect with them (or vice versa) There’s lots of eye-rolling, and sarcastic sighing The difference between you succeeding or failing at navigating really difficult issues in y our marriage has very little to do with your ability to communicate… But it has everything to do with whether or not the 3 pillars of your friendship are strong. Now, which of your 3 pillars is weak? And what are you going to do to work on them? If you want help, check out the . There’s no better way to ensure you’re regularly doing the things to keep your Foundation of Friendship strong, and to add positive momentum to your marriage.
13 minutes | Dec 30, 2020
The Wive's Super Power with Laura Doyle
Is your husband more interested in video games, work, or sports than you? Do you feel like he’s checked-out? Has he stopped caring about your marriage? Are you trying to think of ways to convince him to go to therapy? Do you wonder why he doesn’t seem to care about your happiness or your marriage? Do you ever feel rejected, hurt, sad, abandoned, afraid for the future of your marriage? If so, you’re not alone. But here’s the deal… nobody gets married with the hope of having an “OK” marriage. So, what’s the key? Well, let me tell you a little story... My wife and I recently got back from a walk around a lake at a nearby park. Halfway around the lake she turned to look at me and said, “I feel so lucky. I honestly feel like I fall more in love with you every day that we’re married.” She was so sincere, it brought tears to my eyes. Now, I’m not sharing this with you to make you feel jealous or inadequate. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back at all. It’s actually the exact opposite. Let me explain… The reason my wife sees me as such an amazing husband doesn’t have much to do with me. I’m just a normal guy. I play video games, follow sports (go Jazz!), and watch Star Wars movies. I regularly fart in bed… then laugh maniacally. Sometimes when I’m tired, stressed, or hangry (especially hangry) I say mean things that hurt my wife’s feelings. So, if I’m so incredibly average, why does she feel so great about being married to me? It’s definitely not my looks… I’m balding and have a serious case of dad-bod. The answer is this powerful cocktail of things my wife does… often without even realizing it. When she does these things it’s like a drug for me. I can’t help but stop being lazy. I turn off the TV so I can connect with her. I think about her when I’m out with my buddies, or traveling on a business trip… and can’t wait to get back home to her. I romance her with flowers and love notes. I clean the entire house while she’s at work. I kiss her more passionately than when we were dating. Sometimes I’m amazed at how she can unlock my potential as a husband simply by being my “love drug dealer.” I mean, who wouldn’t want to unlock more connection, intimacy, honesty, and mutual support?! Wanna know what she does that gets me to be the best husband I can be? The best way to explain what she does is to quote Myron Golden, a speaker I heard at a conference last month. He asked the audience, “Why does anyone do anything?” The answer? “Because they feel like it.” When something makes us feel good, we want to do more of it. Essentially, it all boils down to drugs. The reason people do drugs is because it makes them feel good! Taking a substance like heroin, ecstasy or cocaine, releases a boat-load of reward chemicals into your brain, like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. I’m oversimplifying the brain science here, but essentially, the release of these brain-chemicals is SO POWERFUL when you do drugs, that you will do ANYTHING to experience more of it. But illegal drugs aren’t the only way you can get a hit of those reward chemicals. You get a similar hit from the reward-center of the brain when you accomplish a big goal, receive a compliment, serve someone selflessly, fall in love, or when you eat a really delicious meal. So… why do I help around the house, make an effort to be emotionally supportive, encourage my wife to spend time with her friends, buy her flowers, and kiss her passionately? I do those things because she is my drug dealer… My wife is really good at giving me a regular hit of reward chemicals in my brain so that I actually crave investing in our relationship. She knows that if I do something she likes, and she responds with enthusiastic gratitude, appreciation, or praise, I’m gonna want to do more of that thing! She’s making me “addicted” to loving her. That’s #SCIENCE It’s incredible what happens when you know how to get your partner “addicted” to your marriage. How would you feel if your partner would give up anything to make sure he’s putting your marriage first? How would it be if he started looking forward to help you around the house without you even asking? What about if he started making decisions with regards to finances, or parenting, or in-laws based on the impact it could have on you? Is that something you want to learn more about? If so, check out this interview with Laura Doyle. She’s a living, breathing example of what can happen when you get your partner addicted to loving you. And if you want to get access to the full interview with her (and 29 others), .
9 minutes | Dec 22, 2020
Epic Wives Experiment Testimonial
What’s the most productive day you’ve had in recent memory? Do you remember it? You woke up, and just SLAYED your to-do list… You got into a rhythm, your energy was high, and everything was just clicking… I had a day like that a few weeks ago. Folded the laundry. Did the dishes. Mopped the floor. Took care of baby. Then I sat down to take a break. I opened my phone, and fell down an internet black hole watching clips of Taskmaster. (Be careful… you could get sucked into that black hole too!) And suddenly, I lost 3 hours. The rest of my day was not productive. I had lost my momentum. I thought about that day a lot. Momentum is powerful. Creating momentum - moving something from standing still to… not standing still - is the hardest part. But once you get it moving, it requires less and less energy to maintain or even build on the momentum. It’s true for physics… And it’s true for other areas of your life too. Think about your marriage for a second. In what areas have you lost momentum around something important? Maybe you’ve lost momentum around date nights, or apologizing, or making out. Maybe you’ve lost some momentum around having meaningful conversations, spending one-on-one time together, or complimenting your partner. Starting up again can feel awkward. But once you build up some momentum, it’s like riding a bike… it all comes back to you and starts to feel easy. Everything changes. But here’s the deal. Creating momentum is EXTRA hard for some people. Because they already have momentum in their relationship. But the momentum is sending them in the opposite direction of where they want to go! Maybe you’ve created momentum around being critical of your partner. Or maybe you find it really easy to complain, or say, “I’m not in the mood,” when they try to initiate sex with you. Maybe you’ve created momentum around watching Netflix every night (guilty), not taking care of your body, or not being honest about the things you’re struggling with. The amount of energy required to stop a moving object is far greater than the amount of energy you need to get something moving from a dead standstill. But it’s possible. Especially if you have some help. And that’s exactly why I created the Epic Wives Experiment. It’s made specifically for wives who know their marriage is headed down the wrong path. They’re feeling lonely, stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. They don’t feel loved or supported like they used to. And if something doesn’t change, they are scared what will become of their relationship. Our goal is to give you the skills, the tools, and the extra push to completely change the direction you’re headed in. To make 2021 the best year of your marriage ever. If you’re a wife (or you know one), and you want to ensure that you have POSITIVE momentum for your marriage in the coming year, I want to invite you to come participate in this 30-day challenge. If you show up and do the experiments, I PROMISE the momentum of your marriage will shift for the better. If it doesn’t… I’ll give you a refund. Check it out here.
14 minutes | Dec 16, 2020
Your Marriage Can’t Survive on Yesterday’s Love
Most people’s marriages get worse over time. They argue more. They laugh less. They are more easily annoyed with each other. Their sex life suffers. And they gradually reach a point of status-quo. They know that their marriage isn’t great, but it’s comfortable and predictable enough that they refuse to upset things. And weirdly, there’s a law of thermodynamics that can explain why this pattern happens. It’s called The Law of Entropy. Essentially, the Law of Entropy states that everything in the universe is gradually moving towards a state of disorder. Regardless of how well you clean your room, it will always get dirty again. And if you park a car in a driveway for long enough, it will eventually become undrivable. And even the oldest redwood tree will eventually die and decompose. Carl Jung, one of the most influential psychologists of all time, noticed this same principle in play out in our minds and relationships. He called it psychological entropy. The idea is that, if not maintained, our relationships, our happiness, our sense of purpose will degrade over time. Our fears, worries, and anxieties can get the best of us if we let them go unchecked for too long. So, our relationships require constant maintenance to combat the unstoppable force of entropy. It’s kind of like nature’s game. If you value something, you need to regularly expend more energy and attention on that thing in order to prevent entropy from degrading it to the point that it becomes useless or lifeless. Nothing self-maintains. Your marriage cannot survive on yesterday’s love. You have to combat the entropy with things like date nights, compliments, spending meaningful time together, making out, holding hands, giving each other thoughtful gifts… Doing the things that keep your love-tank full. Because if you let entropy work on your marriage for too long, you will lose it.
73 minutes | Dec 8, 2020
Rethinking Porn Addiction
About once a week I get a message from someone asking what to do about porn... Here's how it usually plays out. (Not always... but usually.) Husband secretly watches porn. He's been doing it off-and-on for a while. Often times it's when he's feeling lonely, stressed, overwhelmed, or depressed... He hates himself for it because it's against his values... He feels like he can't stop... And he's afraid that if his wife finds out, she'll divorce him and he'll lose everything. Then, his wife finds out...
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