Laura Doyle Relationship Coach
Living the Dream
I fell in love in college. He was tall and amazingly handsome. I found myself easily swept up in romance. I was so attracted to him, and we had so much in common, both being from small towns and having similar upbringings and values. We were inseparable.
And so I married him.
We waited five years to start our family. I was a stay-at-home mom to our four kids while he started his own business. We had a great marriage, except for a few minor things.
For example, I dreamed of taking family walks together after supper, but that never seemed to happen.
I also gave up putting our little ones to bed because, right after the whole bedtime routine, they would hear the garage door open and scream “Daddy’s home!” They’d jump out of bed and run to greet him, then I’d have to start the whole hoopla all over. It was exhausting.
As our kids became teens, things got more complicated. I felt strongly that we should have family meetings and that they needed to help with chores, family meals, and cleaning up. How else would they learn life lessons and not become entitled?
I read all the parenting books and became an expert. But that got me the role of disciplinarian, rule maker, and fun hater.
I’m embarrassed to say that I often flew through the house on my broom. How else could I get anyone to do anything? I was sad about my raging ways, but they seemed inevitable.
I lived on my husband’s paper because I thought that’s where I was supposed to be. After all, when you are married, “two become one.”
I spent a lot of time and energy trying to get my husband to behave the way I thought he should. It was easier to blame him than to look at how I could change. I was already a good wife. If only I could get him to see what he needed to do to help me, we would have a fairytale marriage and our family would be so happy.
Every six months or so, I would write an email sharing my feelings and need for tender loving care. Things usually got better for a few weeks after one of my TLC notes.
Then, one morning, after I’d stayed up late writing a long TLC email, I asked him, “Did you get my TLC note?”
“Yeah, I did,” he replied.
I continued, “Well did you read it?”
“Well, I started to,” he admitted.
So that was the last TLC note I ever wrote.
Instead, I resorted to being verbally transparent. I shared exactly how I felt and even explained, cried, pleaded, and re-explained exactly what he needed to do when I was a hot mess.
None of it worked. He just stayed in his cave until it was safe to come out.
Then I read Laura’s book The Surrendered Wife and learned that men need to feel respected. Well, that worked for me because I was already a very respectful wife.
But as I kept reading, I learned that I wasn’t so respectful after all. As I started to see my disrespect, I felt ashamed.
I was intrigued too. I had never tried anything like what Laura was suggesting. I joined the SWEW program and met women who were standing for their marriages and learning how to be respectful wives. I wanted to be immersed in this new, counterintuitive way of living.
After all, the way I had been doing it for almost 30 years wasn’t getting me what I wanted. I craved feeling connected to and loved by the man I was in love with.
It took tons of courage, but I got on an airplane and flew all by myself to the Cherished for Life Weekend in California. There I was inspired to make a commitment to change my way of thinking and begin my surrendering journey.
It was like the scales had been removed from my eyes and I was seeing things differently.
I felt sad. Sad that I’d never seen my disrespect before. Sad that I’d treated him this way for so long. Sad that I didn’t know better even after all these years of going to church and being a good person.
But I had so much hope. This group of women were like me, women with faith. I yearned to learn how to do things differently.
I started by wearing duct tape and texting my husband thank you for at least three things every day. I also thanked him and the kids more verbally. Our home became more peaceful and a reflection of my gratitude. As an amazing ripple effect, my kids and husband were saying thank you for all kinds of things that they never used to.
My gratitude practice also shifted my perspective. One morning it dawned on me that It takes a lot to provide for our family. My husband did it all so well.
We always had food, clothing, a great house, and money for activities. He paid for all of our electric, water and gas bills, repairs, remodeling, beds, bikes, babysitters, cell phones for six, dentists, doctors, insurance, private lessons, sports camps, vacations, cars, college, and retirement savings. Plus tithing to the church on top of it all. Not to mention $160 tennis shoes, AirPods, laptops, and name-brand clothing for six of us.
I had never given my husband credit for any of this. He worked so hard to provide so much, yet I was irritated with him, insisting on him being more for me emotionally. I can’t believe I sent him so many messages of criticism that he didn’t measure up.
I decided to try to go one day smiling more, without complaining. Not complaining proved a tall order, but the awareness of my thoughts and negativity was a huge win.
It was like learning to ride a bike. I learned to get up and back on the seat again. As I practiced the 6 Intimacy Skills™ daily and got better, I worked on my trick riding, like riding with no hands. In the same way, I dug deeper into the Skills to search for more underlying disrespect.
This journey has been amazing. I’ve had some not-so-stellar moments too, but now I can just look at my broom parked right inside the pantry door, without having to ride it through the house.
I can clean up my side of the street with an apology. I know that when I choose my faith over my fears, I don’t feel as trapped by the obstacles looming in front of me. I can call or text a friend to help me capture my thoughts and flip them.
Sometimes I think, why do I have to do all the work? Then, after my pity party, I get back to focusing on my vision for my marriage: I wanted to feel loved, cherished, and desired. I want to be secure in who I am and let go of my fears. I want to be vulnerable.
I don’t want to be that hot mess of a wife anymore who responded out of rejection, worthlessness, and other unloveable feelings.
Just in case, I keep my duct tape on auto ship and my girlfriends on auto dial.
My husband started pulling me close. He began coming near me when he knew my feelings had been hurt rather than leaving me to “get over it.” I’ve become calmer, softer, and more peaceful and tender. He’s supportive of me. We are living the dream.
The Skills are a practical guide of how to be a respectful, happy wife.
Laura and I want to help you rediscover the intimacy, passion and peace in your marriage. Click here to apply for your FREE Discovery call.