Doesn’t your marriage have to be fixed before you can help someone else?
I didn’t set out to be a relationship expert. I was just trying to get my husband to pick up after himself, and be more romantic and quit watching TV all the time.
In the process, I accidentally started on a self-improvement program that helped me become more confident, more dignified, calmer and more successful.
Oh, and my marriage was saved, full of playfulness and passion again. That was the best part.
It wasn’t easy to change my habits in this “self-improvement” program at first. It took a lot of focus, for instance, to stop telling him, “Why don’t you update your resume and look for a new job?” when he complained about work and just say instead, “I hear you.”
Most of the time, I would realize after the moment had passed and the “helpful” suggestion was already out of my mouth that I was choosing control over intimacy.
As I was learning how to stop controlling my husband, I decided to start controlling my girlfriends instead.
I would give them instructions on what to say to their husbands to get a better response. I told them how to express their desires in a way that inspired him, or how to refer him back to his own thinking.
I guess I was pretty heavy-handed with my friends, saying things like, “You should tell him you want chocolate syrup!” or “You should just stop talking about how you want him to interact with the kids more.”
I was such a know-it-all. “Should” was clearly my favorite word at the time.
But as ham-fisted as I was in those early attempts to help my girlfriends, something magical happened.
First of all, they followed my directions (the directions to choose intimacy over control). Looking back, I’m not sure why.
Secondly, they started to get great results. Their husbands were coming home from work early just to spend more time with them, and doing the projects that they knew their wives wanted to be done, and taking them on romantic trips.
The most astonishing of all was the realization that I was seeing less of my old controlling behavior in my own marriage and seeing myself giving the response my higher self wanted to give in the first place.
Instead of having to apologize for being disrespectful, I was actually being respectful to begin with.
Instead of starting a fight and then trying to make up later, I was sidestepping the conflict completely so that we never stopped snuggling the whole night.
Instead of getting frazzled and stressed out, I was prioritizing my self-care above getting the laundry folded or staying late at work.
In other words, I was finally taking my own advice to heart.
I’d reached a new level of surrendering, where my husband and I were connected and enjoying each other most of the time.
At first I didn’t connect the dots between helping other women and giving myself a quantum leap in feeling desired, cherished and adored. I thought I just finally got the hang of it.
But now that I’ve had the privilege of training other women to be relationship coaches and experts on the Six Intimacy Skills, I can see more clearly what happened.
When I started advising my friends on what to do in their marriages, I felt a new level of accountability.
How could I berate my husband privately knowing that I had just told them how to steer clear of being disrespectful?
Knowing they were counting on me to make my marriage great was as good as having Jiminy Cricket as my conscience on my shoulder at all times for bringing me present to my own commitments to myself.
But something else happened that helped me transcend the stuck place of knowing what I wanted to do, what I should do to get the results I wanted–and actually doing it.
When I heard myself asking my friend if she’d done at least three things a day for her own happiness and frivolous fun, I heard it myself in a new way.
Had I done at least three things for my own happiness? I tended to turn that question inward just as soon as I heard myself say it.
And on the days when I was discouraged, when my husband’s flaws seemed glaring and insurmountable, or my own urge to control was like a giant wave about to crash on my head and overpower me, my girlfriends brought me inspiration.
Sometimes it would be a moving story about how her man had spent all afternoon getting the garden ready for her to plant flowers just because he knew it would make her happy. Or that he tenderly responded during a conversation that would have ordinarily been a big fight. Or that he left the house to go get her a bottle of wine just because she said she would love one.
It was always moving to hear how surprised and happy they were with their newfound skills. It filled me with motivation to keep going with surrendering in my own marriage.
But even when a friend was complaining that she came home to kids still in pajamas watching TV and eating Cheetohs from the bag on Saturday afternoon, or another friend said that he’d shouted horrible things to her again, I could see something about them and their relationship that I couldn’t always see about my own relationship.
These women had the power.
They were setting the tone in their own homes.
Our relationships are hidden mirrors reflecting what we bring to them.
Their stories gave me the perspective to see my own relationship mirror in a new way. I gained humility. I stopped using the phrase “you should” all the time and started realizing that I knew only a little. I discovered I was the expert on my own life and not my husband’s or my girlfriend’s.
I learned from them that I was the keeper of my relationship. I really saw that I got to decide if it would be tense and hostile or silly and tender.
We women are indeed the keepers of the relationship. This is one of my favorite tenants of our Relationship Coaching Training program–a program in which we train women to be coaches for other women in the areas of intimacy and surrendering in marriage. For a woman to be the keeper is immensely empowering. In the Coaching program, it’s beautiful to see these women equipped and empowered to not only save their own marriage but also to coach other women in the key skills to save theirs.
There’s truly magic in teaching the thing you most want to learn.
If you want that level of intimacy, passion and peace, and you have a desire to help other women and are thinking about becoming relationship coach, I have just one thing to say to you.
You can learn all about how to become a relationship coach and expert on the 6 Intimacy Skills who helps other women fix their marriages at https://lauradoyle.org/become-a-coach/