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Why My Wife’s Approach to Relationships is Better Than Marriage Counseling by John Doyle

When Laura and I first met, she was a 21-year old journalism student at San Jose State University. She had just gone to an event downtown and was dressed to the nines. Having just gotten back from the beach, I was gross and sandy. I had parked my pickup truck and was walking toward my front door and she was standing on her front porch.

Laura was the proverbial “girl next door.” Her apartment shared a wall with mine, and many times I could hear her talking on the phone or to her roommate, laughing at something. So even before I met her, I knew she loved to laugh.

In our conversation, I told her I liked to play guitar and participate in amateur theater plays. Now if you ask Laura, this is where the story diverges. Laura says that she said “I’d like to go to a play sometime.” My recollection is that Laura looked up to the sky and said “I wish someone would take me to a play.” I felt that the ball was in my court and I asked her out right then and there.

Perhaps there is a key to Laura’s philosophy from her book, The Empowered Wife: Six Surprising Secrets, for Attracting Your Husband’s Times, Attention and Affection in that exchange. Laura was expressing her desire to go to a play in the near future. She didn’t say “we should go to a play” or “you should take me to a play.” She said “I’d like to go to a play sometime.” However I heard or interpreted the words, they instilled in me a sense of urgency to ask her on a date.

Before I met Laura, I hadn’t dated for over a year. I’d had a couple of long-term relationships, but I wasn’t ready to commit to a permanent one. At the time, my mother said that I hadn’t found someone I liked “better than yourself” yet, and that when I did, “you’ll chase her until she catches you.”

Much of what attracted me to Laura was that she smiled a lot, and seemed so happy when I would see her. We became boyfriend and girlfriend in March and were married in September the following year.

In August, the year we met, I surprised Laura by taking her on a trip to Hawaii. At first, we were having a great time, enjoying our vacation. Then one day she was upset that we weren’t doing something she wanted to do. She had wanted to go to the beach, but we were driving around inland. I was a little over hungry, and not very responsive. She started raging at me. Here we were in Hawaii, on a trip together that I took her on, and she was yelling and belligerent. But we were still new as a couple, and I thought that these few brief incidents were aberrations.

Most of the time in our relationship, things were good, and Laura was sweet and funny, and we got along really well. We were happy enough together that we wanted to get married. The wedding was really great, and our families were both there to bless us.

On our honeymoon, in Mexico, Laura was yelling at the staff because a 50 dollar coupon wasn’t honored for our ride from the airport. She was really angry and seemed a little out of control. The staff at the hotel seemed rather hurt by her berating them. The second part of our honeymoon was in Las Vegas, and everything went fine, with no raging or yelling.

As our marriage progressed, sometimes she would be nice, then angry and controlling. Seemed like this happy young woman I had married turned into an angry unhappy person. It was kind of a Jekyll and Hyde situation. Much of what I tried to do for her wasn’t good enough, and she would occasionally berate me for not being the husband she wanted me to be.

Laura is what you might call a feisty person, and most of the decisions I made were under her scrutiny and subject to her approval. It seemed like every step I would take required her observation and commentary. Just a simple decision I would make for myself usually was answered with an opposite suggestion, although I did not solicit her advice.

So we struggled along for a few years. Much of my energy was spent in conflict avoidance and hiding my opinions and preferences from Laura, just staying out of her way. There were a lot of arguments, and when I felt one coming on, I would run and hide to the safety of the TV or someplace out of the house.

Finally we were driving on a date to a restaurant near Disneyland (“the happiest place on earth”) and she was yelling at me about something, and I said “That’s it! Let’s go to counseling, if it will fix this! I don’t care if it’s all my fault!”

To make a long, expensive, frustrating story short, marriage counseling didn’t work. It made things worse. It was basically a complaint fest. I don’t feel like I was my best self when we were in counseling.

In counseling, I was encouraged to get in touch with my feelings, but my feelings had to coincide with the status quo of what I was supposed to feel, unless I wanted to be wrong, and confirm that I was a bad husband. I cooperated with the counselor as much as possible, but it was like there was the real world, and the world inside the counselor’s office. After two years we weren’t any better off than when we started. Laura and I would come home unhappy and angry from our counseling sessions. We decided that counseling was expensive, unworkable and a mess, so we quit.

Then something began to change. When Laura began experimenting and practicing her Six Intimacy Skills™, it was without my knowledge. She didn’t tell me that she was secretly plotting to make our marriage better.

I noticed that I would expect a fight and not get one. Where there used to be a big discussion about things, either around the house, our finances, or personal choices for my own life, she would just say “ok, that sounds good. “ That would be it. Because I was expecting a battle, it would throw me off.

She started saying things like “thank you for working so hard for us.” I would get a little scared because I worried that her expectations seemed high, and that I would screw up and she would be angry with me again. However, something about our relationship was definitely changing, I was sensing the change, and I liked it. .

As time went on, I started to feel less constricted, and I was able to think things through for myself, and act upon things without expecting to be second-guessed. This made a big change for me. I had worked a lot of mid-level office jobs that I would quit because they were too much drudgery. After Laura started using her intimacy skills, and because I felt more able, I stopped working for other people and started my own video business. It’s a lot of work, but I like working. Now I feel protective of Laura, and motivated to be the husband she deserves.

I know that no relationship is perfect, but ours has become as close to perfection as I can imagine. Laura and I don’t agree on everything, but we can discuss matters without me running and hiding, and without her bulldozing and crushing. I have learned that I can still be easy-going, yet stand firm about what I believe, and that Laura can still be strong, but not have to lose her vulnerable feminine ways, which are so attractive. This way we each get to be ourselves and also experience the person we love, and not lose them by my running away or her bulldozing. Because of the changes in our relationship, I’m more accomplished, I feel I can achieve more in my professional life. I’m closer to her, and I feel more respected. I still want to pursue her the way I did when we were dating.

Laura is the real thing, she’s the genuine article. She “walks the walk” of what she says. Every day I am grateful that we share our loving relationship together.

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

13 replies on “Why My Wife’s Approach to Relationships is Better Than Marriage Counseling by John Doyle”

Thank you so much for posting your point of view on this, John. It’s great to see the male perspective on the Six Intimacy Skills, because that just reaffirms to me that it is working. I hope I will see more male perspectives here on other success stories as well.

What a beautiful story. The two of you really do exemplify a value sadly not found in many couples today, the value of loyalty and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make each other happy, even when the relationship is not what it used to be. It’s also very enlightening to hear the perspective of a man who’s been on the other side of a transforming relationship.

Laura’s work has been a critical piece of my own relationship education, and since discovering it years ago I remain inspired by it every day. It warms my heart even more to see you two continuing to live the six principles, and being ever happier for it.


Thank you Laura for sharing this article. I hope you and your husband’s love always deepens. I love my husband a lot. He is a sweet man. I have shared elsewhere with you recently that I am loving the 6 intimacy skills. They are deeply transformative.
I have a question that relates to this article. This happens fairly often but here is a specific example that happened today.
I was sharing a worry about starting to feed my baby solid foods. I was bringing up detailed questions and needing to go through each question carefully. My husband said just to trust my intuition. I felt dismissed and hurt. All day I was withdrawn,bitter, irritable, resentful (and I didnt do my self care). I was just so hurt that I felt I needed to stay hurt for a few hours because thats just how hurt I was.
I know you say to choose intimacy over “being right” and I have in other arguments.
What do you say though about actually feeling hurt inside for hours?
How can I refrain from saying you hurt me because?
Is it very important to stay vulnerable about my own hurt and not switch to moodiness?
Can you help me understand how to use the intimacy skills in a situation like this please?

Rachel, I can relate to being hurt for hours or days and being rather attached to it. I didn’t see an option to make another choice. I just knew that I was hurt! And because I hurt I wanted my husband to know about it and to suffer also if I’m honest. Today I can make a different choice with the clear understanding that my husband does not intend to hurt me. Never! Does he sometimes? Yes! But it’s always a misunderstanding or being in a rush or him feeling defensive or something other than him wanting to hurt me. I get to be as moody as I want to be, but these days I hate to miss out on the playfulness, kisses, laughter and passion that it costs me to stay hurt. I’ve lost my will to suffer like that.

Thank you so much for responding to me Laura. It makes me feel good that you know what I’m experiencing.
So are you saying that instead of holding onto the hurt to just let it go and choose closeneness instead? Should I share why I’m hurt so it can be resolved?
Also, how much are the coaching sessions?

Rachel, Sharing my hurt so it can be resolved never actually worked for me, but you are the expert on your own life and I trust you’ll do what’s best for you. I get that it’s not easy to just let go of the hurt at times. If you are interested in working with a coach, I suggest you apply for a complimentary discovery call to explore that possibility. You can do that here:

Laura feel like l know you!
Great advice, lm stuck in a situation of being separated in different cities. My husband is pretty much ghosting me after asking for a divorce. The few times he has talked it’s to say how bad l was. I took responsibility and have been applying the rules, he seems confused by my kindness especially ouch! My question is do l leave him alone or do l constantly leave messages full of compliments when l fear it makes him feel justified in divorcing me and that he can find someone better than me? I’m losing sleep for the last couple of months. By the way he has forbidden me to travel and see him. Feeling anxious that divorce is imminent. Is there anything l can do in this situation to make him see me differently instead of my past behaviour? Continued success.

Thanks, Safiyaa! I’m sorry to hear what you’ve been going through. That is heart-wrenching. You shouldn’t have to hear the D word then be ghosted by your own husband. I would be anxious and losing sleep too!

I feel like I know you too. I remember how awful it was feeling stuck and thinking my marriage was hopeless. That’s why we’ve helped thousands of women fix their relationships, even after a separation and no contact.

I hate to see you suffer one more day. Apply for a free Relationship Assessment to explore how you can get a coach: You deserve to be desired, taken care of, and special!

I wanted to share that I am starting a book club with a friend to do the intimacy skills and with another friend we are joining to implement the revitalization plan!!!

Hi Laura,
My husband just recently told me that he loves me but his feelings have changed for me. He thinks I’m a good person and mother but I’m more like a roommate now. He still cares for me. I was devastated and am still in a lot of pain. I’m trying so hard to do things that make me happy and trying the 6 intimacy skills with my husband. Should I give him affection (hugs, kisses) if he’s not doing that or seeming to want that? There is no sex right now or any initiating of that on his part. I feel he’s softening some towards me. We are no longer arguing everyday and he seems less angry but still distant. We have been married 29 years.

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