Top Secret: I’m Fixing My Marriage. Don’t Tell My Husband
Should you ever come clean about what you’re doing behind his back?
I got a great note from Theresa, who just read The Empowered Wife and got—really got—that the marriage problems she has been griping about and wanting her husband to change for years are mostly things she has been mucking up herself.
She wanted to do the experiments in the book without having her husband see it and ask her about it, so she quickly made a book cover to hide the title.
Mostly, she was afraid he’d read it and see where she was going wrong, and say, “I told you so!”
That’s pretty unlikely, in my experience. As you begin to implement The Intimacy Skills, husbands get happy and chivalrous––not vindictive and obnoxious.
But there was a problem.
Theresa wanted to make a trek to California to spend three glorious days at the Cherished for Life Weekend getting immersed in The Six Intimacy Skills and being The Goddess of Fun and Light.
How, she wondered, could she do that without letting the cat out of the bag about what she was doing?
How does anybody get a coach, pay for training or come to the retreat without having her husband find out way too much?
Of course it involves using one of the Intimacy Skills, which I’ll show you.
But why is all of this so hush-hush to begin with?
1. Why We Do This on the Down Low
I do recommend keeping mum when you first start practicing The Six Intimacy Skills, as Theresa was doing, for two reasons:
a. Talking about practicing The Six Intimacy Skills is not as powerful as actually using them.
To paraphrase Catherine Aird, since I can’t be a good example, I’ll just have to be a horrible warning.
When I was first discovering the Intimacy Skills, I decided to talk to my husband about the changes I was thinking of maybe making around the way I interact with him…instead of, you know, actually making them.
I would say things like, “Casey says she tries never to criticize her husband no matter how much he seems to deserve it. I don’t think that’s right, do you?”
My peace-loving husband would stand at attention and shout, “Ma’am! Yes, Ma’am!”
I had him well-trained.
As you already know, this was not progress towards intimacy, passion and peace in my marriage. All I did was steamroll him into agreeing that I should continue to steamroll him. Which, embarrassingly, I did for a while longer.
It wasn’t until I stopped talking to him about how I was interacting with him that I started to see some real improvement in myself and therefore us. (I relied heavily on conversations with other supportive wives, which was critical to my success.)
b. The more privacy you have, the more safety you’ll have to experiment…even if you flop.
Even though Theresa’s husband would probably not say, “I told you so,” as she started to clean up her side of the street in their relationship, she noticed that there is a nice safety that comes with embarking on these experiments without your man having any expectations.
After all, you’re just learning, and it’s nice not to have too much pressure.
Although my husband didn’t know much about what I was doing when I first started practicing The Six Intimacy Skills, he knows just about everything now that I talk about it on TV regularly.
And because I’m not perfect, there are times when my husband will suggest that there’s a book I should read. Ba-dum-bump!
He means the book I wrote about how to be respectful in marriages.
You might think that’s pretty funny, but I usually don’t find it that amusing.
If your husband never knows you’re doing anything different, then he can’t complain that you’re not doing the things in the book right when you go flying off the wagon and berate him for turning your white panties blue because he washed them with your jeans.
That happens to the best of us, especially early on.
2. What He Knows Won’t Hurt You
Is it absolutely vital that your husband never ever find out about what you’re doing when you start practicing The Six Intimacy Skills? Will it ruin your chances of becoming desired, cherished and adored if he finds out the details?
Definitely not. I even know of husbands who bought and read one of my books before giving it to their wives.
Imagine the pressure.
But that doesn’t stand between them and getting to the part where they’re grossing out their kids because they’ve become so physically affectionate.
But unless there’s a pressing reason to bring it up, you might as well enjoy the two advantages of keeping it secret––especially at first.
Eventually, most of our husbands find out. Typically, they smile. Or like this awesome husband, who was on the Man Panel at the Cherished for Life Weekend, they get choked up: Watch Here
So what should you do if you want the privacy but you also want to go further than just reading a book, like Theresa?
Other women have the same problem when they want to enroll in one of my training programs or get a private coach. They have to run the expense past their husband, or ask for his help with the kids at certain times.
3. He’s Going to Know What You’re Doing––Kinda
If you’re from a long line of oversharers like me, then he’s going to find out everything when you volunteer it.
But here’s another approach: You could also express a desire in a way that inspires him and let him ask questions from there.
It would look like this: “There’s a women’s retreat in California I would love to go to. What do you think?”
That’s it. Nothing else is needed.
He might ask a question about it, but get this: Most husbands don’t.
The headline for them is, “I could make my wife happy if she gets to go to this retreat.” That’s what they walk away with.
Whether it’s three days of Zumba or meditation or vegan cooking—it’s all the same to them if it’s something you would love. Most husbands are smart enough to catch on that what you’re wanting is going to benefit him too.
The guy from the man panel above said, “I don’t know what you’re doing here, but keep doing it.”
If your husband does ask what it’s about, you could say, “I’m going to learn how to be more respectful to you.”
If you want to say more, you can. But less is definitely more in my experience.
Over and over again, we get emails like this one that came today from a woman in Portland:, “I am ready to take you up on your offer to join your online group and come to your retreat. I did what you said in telling my husband (very little) about it and it worked.”
24 replies on “Top Secret: I’m Fixing My Marriage. Don’t Tell My Husband”
I’m sorry to bother you again but if you have any advice or suggestions for me, I’d really really appreciate it. As I asked before, will you be holding any events on the East Coast? Our finances are very tight right now and it would be hard to make it out west. And if there is anything you could suggest on the sex issue (my husband told me he’d only be willing if I initiate, and I’m not comfortable with that. I’ve tried to look prettier, wear nicer nightgowns, told him how much I enjoy our intimacy, etc…nothing has worked) I would be so grateful. Thank you.
Anne, If I do plan something on the East Coast I’ll make sure you hear about it. In the meantime, I hear you on the sex issue, and I still remember how painful that was when I was going through the same thing. I invite you to consider a complimentary discovery call, as I’ve seen this situation transform many times but it’s a longer conversation:
Anne, if I may jump in here, on the initiation of sex thing. Rhetorical question here. Could it be possible that you have rejected his advances one too many times, and now he won’t initiate? I ask because this is what happend to me. She eventually complained about me not initiating, and so I tried again, only to be rejected again. I felt like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. She’d trick me into “stepping out there” again and again, only to pull the football away at the last second.
Might I suggest that you discuss a code word with your husband that tells him that under no uncertain terms are you going to reject his advances, at least until he regains his trust in you that you won’t reject him again.
I’m not saying you do that, but if you are, this is crushing to the self esteem of a man. Think about how bad you feel when you get rejected.
I’ve actually NEVER rejected him (I may have one time when I was feeling sick after eating)! I’ve been quite vocal about how much I enjoy sex with him. This is why it’s so disheartening. I’ve asked him if he no longer is attracted to me and what I could do to be more appealing, but he just gets annoyed with that question.
I’ve tried to tell him how happy I feel when we are close that way, and to wear pretty nightgowns.
My self esteem is falling. 🙁
Anne, I’m truly sorry for your experience. And I hope you didn’t think I was accusing you of something you weren’t doing.
I really have no answers for you, as neither of us are mind readers.
However, I wonder if he acts annoyed because of some trust issue, maybe from his childhood and he’s still got a flea or two to get rid of.
If he’s the strong silent type, he probably won’t open up to you, so all you can do is change your perspective. And I personally think Laura Doyles advice is what most men really want in a relationship with a woman. Over time things will get better. Be persistent in your commuting to you.
Anne: my husband has lowT and it’s affected our intimacy like you wouldn’t believe. At first, he’d blame me for his erection issue because I would move during sex ? and it would cause his erection to go down…then, it was that I should wear thigh highs, so I did but there wasn’t any ‘spark’ when I did. It’s been a huge slap to my esteem. When I’d approach, he’d turn me down, and he rarely (and I mean rare) initiates. It’s his fear of the lack of erection/erection failing that’s driving him to not initiate and be more active. I’m hoping he’ll see the doctor again (he didn’t follow through) and work on his Testosterone issue. Your husband may have lowT, he ever been tested?
Dear Laura, I appreciate your work. Can you provide advise for those of us whose husbands are having an affair or recently ended one? I don’t know how to confront the behaviors while still trying learn and use these skills. They seem so at odds with this terrible situation.
Kyrie, I am so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. And I SO admire your commitment to saving your family in spite of an affair! I have a blog I think will help:
And I encourage you to consider getting some support right now too, as you’re not alone. My job is to stand for brave women like you. You can get a complimentary discovery call here:
Thank you Laura. I have read some of the Surrendered Wife and am trying to live in this new way for a while now. I know I stumble and fall a lot and wonder how long it takes to really “stick” or make a difference.
I am often accused of “pretending” and just trying to manipulate the situation by my husband. Sometimes I say that I’m just working on me. He’ll have none of it (he’s a counselor by the way!).
What should I do??
Kyrie, good for you for just working on you! That’s exactly what you’re doing, so you’re being very authentic with your husband. As far as his suspicions, I think there’s an element of the change that’s making him uncomfortable (as it does for most of us). For me, what’s made all the difference in my success has been having other women around me doing the same work, on the same path. I’d be lost without them! Can you make your way to a retreat? Or are you interested in working with a coach or training to be a coach? There’s magic when we all support each other. Congratulations on your courage to change even though it hasn’t been very well received–I admire that.
Unfortunately, no, I cannot make a retreat. I have one other friend who is encouraging me. I’m afraid I cannot afford anything right now so I am so very grateful for what I can glean from here. Thank you for replying directly. I wonder how long it should take to make a difference… we have 12 years of bad habits to break. 🙁
Kyrie–great news! It doesn’t matter how long the bad habits have been going on. YOu can change them rather quickly, actually. You’ll start to notice a difference soon.
Also, I have a brand new book called The Empowered Wife–not a great title for your house, I realize! But you could always put a book cover on it. Get it from the library. I think you’ll find it inspiring and may clear up some of your questions.
Happy to hear you have a friend on the same wavelength! Keep in touch and let me know how I can support you.
Hi kayrie. I believed my husband was having an affair. I recognized a real big change in him. I unfortunately had to snoop and discovered my fears coming true. I had tell him about my discovery of my suspicion. He admitted she was only a friend not within our circle of friends who he confidentially talked about our marriage problems. He made an emotional connection, he was treading thin ice. He swears he was not attracted to her. I have to believe that for my own sanity. I have been using the intimacy skills and he is coming around very slowly. He Says he loves me very much, as you know… Actions speak louder than words. He calls me an amazing super wife now. Still his facial expressions and touch seem distant. Im taking it one day at a time, reminding myself I must not be focusing on the negative. I only all positive.
Theplummer and Maggie:
My thoughts are with you! I hope things improve for all three of us!
Laura, thank you again for your response. I’m working hard (white-knuckling!) at implementing the six intimacy skills and will take your advice about making that call. I have noticed with me that one of my problems isn’t so much being controlling for the sake of it or because I think I have all the answers, but because me and a lot of women never felt worthy of our husband’s affection in the first place. So you try to control everything hoping he doesn’t change his mind about you. I’m hoping if I work on the six skills and just take the pressure off of sex for now things will work out for us. It’s very lonely in the meantime.
Laura I know you talk about three marriages in which you do endorse divorce. Other than those, have you ever encountered types of marriages for which your skills don’t work?
Anne, You’re on the right track. I think you’re wise to keep going with the skills and just let go of the sex piece for the moment. When the relationship improves outside the bedroom, the magic also returns inside the bedroom. I’ve never seen a situation where it didn’t work to use the Six Skills as long as the husband was a good guy (not one of the three divorces I endorse). So there’s every reason to think you’ll be successful in turning this around!
Maggie–re: low T.
I have actually considered that and it may be true. But I’m trying hard not to “fix” him or do things for him he can do for himself, like make doctor’s appointments as per Laura’s suggestion. If T is indeed a problem, I’m hoping that if I take the pressure of him, he’ll go see the dr without my asking.
Sending good vibes for you and your marriage!
I second the motion to have some events on the east coast!! I live in Boston and it’s difficult and very expensive to get to California for a few days. The east coast loves you Laura!! Come visit us, please!! ?
Rachel, I would love to! I’m looking forward to meeting you in person one day.
Laura my husband left 1.5 years ago, is it too late to try to win him back? I know I have gone about it the wrong way all along and reading you advice makes so much sense. I felt this way but couldn’t practice it or communicate it. There was so much hurt before he left and I was drowning in it. I still love him, want him back but when we see each other and I try to talk to him about how I feel he just freezes, he sits and listens but does not comment or acknowledge my feelings. Its so painful and I just don’t know how to get through to him. I did not respect him in our marriage, that was my fault and I regret it so much now. Is there anything I can do at this stage or should I just stop torturing myself trying to figure out ways to get him back?
Deedee, if you’re looking for someone to tell you to give up, you wrote to the wrong person. I see miracles in situations like yours all the time, so why not you? You didn’t have the right information before, but now you do, and you’re still his wife. You’re still married, so there’s still hope. I know it must be very tough for you right now, but there is hope! I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call to connect with one of my coaches and determine the best move for your relationship. You can do that here:
Laura, my husband left 6 months ago. I have tried all the wrong ways to get him back. He is dating a women and her family and her ate supportive and I try to show him that he needs to leave her and come home. What I get is he can’t get over the hurt my parents caused him, his parents can’t get over my telling them about his affair and how can he take a wh chance and come back just for my child And,i to go back to how we were and then he missed out on a chance to be happy. He told me he needs to poop or get off the pot. Today he hasn’t talked to me all day. What do I do? I don’t have money to pour into a book or program just just to have it fail.
Mel, I’m sorry to hear your husband left. I so admire your accountability and your commitment to saving your marriage. I certainly tried all the wrong ways to restore intimacy with my husband. I felt so frustrated that all my efforts to make him want to be with me failed. I was losing hope when I found the 6 Intimacy Skills–finally, something that worked! Now I have a passionate, playful marriage. I want that for you too, and I know that you can get back the man you married. I have a free webinar coming up that will empower you with the tools to do that. It’s called How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life. You can register for it here: https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/
Hi. My husband just told me he is leaving me. We have been together for 25 years. I’m numb. He found someone else but in my heart I know that I have failed him in recent years. He can be sharp and I think instead of speaking up I just let it pick away at me until I became completely detached. No sex in the past few months and a decline in the quality of sex over the past years. I harbor no bitterness at the woman or my husband. I want him back. What do I do? I made a doctors appointment to talk about depression. I also set up a therapy call. I can get several sessions for free through my work. I am 55 and he is 62. Again, what do I do?
I read your books and listened to your podcasts. There is some great advice there that I have partly been able to apply to my marriage (not controlling how something is done, thanking and praising him for what he does etc. ). It has worked and he is more helpful by taking up a few tasks like dishes.
There is one issue though that I can’t seem to apply your advice to. My husband has always been passionate about his work. It was attractive at first. I ended up taking more and more responsibilities in the last 17 years of our marriage because he wants to spend all his waking hours in work-related activities (working, thinking about work or networking ). I made peace with it in some ways although I was not happy with the arrangement. But lately any time we spend together like drinking coffee, going for a walk or drive, date night- he wants to tell me about his work and expects me to praise him. I can do it some of the time but not all of the time. It has gotten to the point that I get irritated as soon as he brings it up because I feel “there we go again”. For any topics that I am interested in at the moment, he usually says “Do what you want, I don’t want to think about it”. He thinks he is being a good husband by letting me have a free hand but I find his lack of interest in everything else disheartening. I find joy in nature, planning a trip, the kids’ schooling and progress- but I feel I have no one to share those with as all my husband wants to do is think and talk about his work. If we take a trip, I do all planning, packing, figuring out directions, what to do every day, etc. while my husband works till the last possible moment and still keeps thinking and talking of work when we are on our way. It is just no fun for me.
I have tried saying nicely- Let’s just enjoy the breeze- when we go for a walk and he takes my rejection of work-related talk as a rejection of him, so we end up fighting. I feel one can be successful at work while having other interests and there are just various degrees of success but he feels strongly that either you are successful or you aren’t and the only way to be successful is to be obsessed with work like he is.
What do I do? I feel like I am missing out on the kind of life I want to live ( a full life ) if I let things stay the way they have been for the last 17 years.