014: Who Has The Most Power in Your Relationship?


If you have ever felt annoyed about how I always talk about what wives and girlfriends can do to fix their relationships and never what husbands can do, you’re not alone.

It’s so reasonable to ask, “Why is it always on the woman to fix the relationship?” I mean, relationships take two for sure. So why does he get a pass on his bad behavior?

So how about if we give men 50% of the responsibility too, huh?

  • Who has the most power in your relationship? I’m going to tell you about how to figure that out and what you can do about it.
  • My guest Stefanie had one failed marriage and a failed rebound relationship, and she was pretty sure that her relationship with a Latin waiter was also a big mistake because she broke up with him almost every week. But today she is happily married to that Latin waiter, who likes to make her dreams come true. She’s going to tell us the secrets for how she made her high-drama romance dreamy.
  • Then I’ll be giving out the award for The Worst Relationship Advice of the Week which in my experience, just makes a big problem where there was NO problem before. You’ve probably done it. I know I did


Laura: So I’m so excited today to have coach Stefanie on the show because she is one of the best relationship coaches in the world. But there was a time when she could not have helped anyone with their relationship. She had one failed marriage and then a failed rebound relationship and she was pretty sure that her relationship with a Latin waiter was also a big mistake because she broke up with him repeatedly, sometimes weekly only to get back together within a day or two every time. But today she is not only transformed her lonely on again off again, blow up filled relationship into a peaceful and passionate marriage with two little boys. She has helped hundreds of women fix their broken relationships. She leads the small group coaching program on our campus rice, the weekly inspiration for our students, and also teaches and certifies relationship coaches. So she’s incredibly wise and experienced with fixing broken relationships that seem hopeless. So welcome Stephanie. It’s great to have you here. How did you, uh, how did this journey to becoming one of the best relationship coaches in the world start out for you

Stefanie (01:14):
for that beautiful introduction? My journey started with pain and lots and lots of resentments and just feeling really alone. Uh, I remember one time in particular where, um, I was pregnant with her first child and we had gotten a false positive on the Down’s syndrome test. So, um, so yeah, it was recommended that we get an amnio and it was just, that was a really hard decision to make. Just what to do with that. And a time when I most needed support and comfort and I remember, you know, we decided to go ahead and do the amnio and I remember heading to that appointment by myself and sure he is with my husband. I can’t even tell you what we were arguing about that was just, you know, normal often probably arguing about arguing, who knows. But I just remember like I was just crying and I felt so just utterly alone and so upset, angry with him that I would have to go through that alone and he couldn’t be bothered to be by my side and I just, it brought back other, a lot of other pain. Like I spent the first night of our honeymoon alone. I spent our wedding night alone and I thought, yeah, and here we’re about to have a baby. And I just saw the whole future spread out in front of me and that’s what it looked like me. Oh, wow. Ah, so,

Laura (02:53):
so why even be married, right. If you’re going to spend your wedding night alone and go to these, going to a big, um, kind of a scary doctor’s appointment about your first child together alone, it sounds, it sounds incredibly lonely. It sounds heartbreaking.

Stefanie (03:09):
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. And of course at that point we didn’t realize it was a false positive, you know, it was, it was very scary. Oh, I turned around, I just, I was so baffled. It was so baffled because if there’s any point where I felt like, Oh yeah, I could kind of get what I wanted and get what I needed, this, this would be the time. And I just, I couldn’t, could not make that happen. I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I just, well, yeah, I knew what I thought. I knew the problem. It was all him.

Laura (03:42):
Yeah. The problem was all, yeah. A jerk apparently, or uncaring or what did you think was wrong?

Stefanie (03:50):
Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I just thought I’m married the wrong guy.

Laura (03:54):
Okay. You just chose badly.

Stefanie (03:56):
Yeah. You need to start over.

Laura (03:59):
What, uh, what were some of the other challenges that you guys were having in your relationship?

Stefanie (04:04):
Well, I know even before I got pregnant, I just felt very unsupported. So for example, I would just, I would see that sink full of dirty dishes when we lived in an apartment together. And I thought, yeah, there it is. That’s the big sign that he doesn’t love me and how can I even have a child with this person if he can’t even manage to take out the trash or do these dishes? He just doesn’t really care about me enough to get off the sofa.

Laura (04:40):
And you’d been warned that this was going to happen, right? If you’d been warned off of, uh, Latin men there, they’re macho or they’re jealous or something.

Stefanie (04:49):
Yes. Yes. Several friends have warned me against, yeah, don’t, don’t marry a Latino. There’s, Oh and don’t marry a wait or no bad idea. Um,

Laura (05:02):
it’s about probably contributed to the storyline in your head. Like, Oh, I should’ve seen this coming. This is like, I, this is more evidence that you’ve chosen wrongly it sounds like.

Stefanie (05:13):
Yes. Yeah. They were right. I thought they were right. My well-meaning.

Laura (05:20):
Was there ever a day, like a low point that you felt like, okay, thanks. Can it keep going like this?

Stefanie (05:27):
Uh, so F for sure the amnio, Jay was one of those little points. So I have to set, he ended up showing up. I have an appointment. I went through a lot of grief for nothing when he showed up. But it’s [inaudible] it’s so, you know, I felt pretty alone anyway cause I was still so angry with him. It’s never been folded the way I would have liked. No, it was just, it was this more of a chronic daily, I’m on supported, I’m all alone. I have to do everything on my own. Uh, I even, I made sure charts where, yeah, I just, okay, he could be responsible for this and I would do this. And he was always, you know, eager to please Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll do my short chart.

Stefanie (06:21):
Mmm. It did not work out so well. And uh, he made it really clear cause he had joined the Marines and he said he got traumatized doing dishes in the Marines so there was not going to be any, you know, just doing none of that women’s work for him. So, and I’m not, I don’t know, I just told him he should have picked a different wife if, if you needed somebody to wait on him and the way that he was raised. So yeah, there was a lot contributing to my, that storyline. We were just, we were in two different

Laura (06:57):
yeah. And then so there were a lot of, uh, arguments about this right. Blow blow ups and some choice words we’re throwing around it sounds like.

Stefanie (07:08):
Yeah, for sure. Actually, now that you mention it, I think that was a low point because I, I was determined once I became a mother that I was going to raise my children and that’s my child, you know, just in a loving environment and not have know the cursing and yelling and things I had witnessed myself. And so then when I found myself and I, I had done a lot of work on myself, like I was the queen of self improvement and I had, I had changed in a lot of ways and yet when I found there, we were screaming and cursing at each other in front of our little child. And I’m like, no, despite my best intentions that I couldn’t even, like, I couldn’t even manage that one thing.

Laura (08:02):
That was a low point. So important to you. So what did, what did you tell yourself how you’re going to, you’re going to change this, you were going to leave. What, how did you

Stefanie (08:14):
well, position? Uh, I mean I was, I was sitting on that fence and it was really uncomfortable. Mmm. And I would just lie awake at night because, you know, as a waiter, my husband would usually go out afterwards. He had lots of adrenaline and he needed to unwind and I thought, Hmm, that’s there’s my other, the other sign, like he doesn’t really love me. He’s not choosing me. He’s choosing the bar over me. And I knew that meant the next day he’d be too tired to spend time with me or you know, once our child came or a child. So yeah, I would just lie bed awake at night fuming angry and uh, yeah, I just thought, okay, I need to give him an ultimatum and you know, shape up or ship out or I’m, you know, I’m going to be, Oh, okay.

Laura (09:08):
All right. You’re going to be out. Yeah. So did you, did you give him that ultimatum?

Stefanie (09:12):
No, I really, I wanted another baby. So instead I got pregnant and I just, I knew that I wasn’t prepared, so followed through on the ultimatum. It wouldn’t really be honest. So instead I failed you.

Laura (09:29):
All right. So tell me about that. So how, how, what, what, what was the beginning of the breakthrough? I mean you obviously transformed this relationship pretty dramatically now. So how did that start?

Stefanie (09:41):
Yes. Well it started because I met you and I’ve, I felt like I was just being really impulsive because I decided I wanted to come out to a retreat. You were having a weekend and I mean before I had dismissed all this coaching stuff, I know I can do it on my own. I got your book and I tried to start a surrendering circle. So I went on meetup and it was going to be this very official thing and only one of my friends came to it and it just fizzled out in no time. So I th okay, well I can do it on my own. So you armed with your book? I said I’m going to change my husband and I got home and I was the best way ever for like a week, for a week. I just bit my tongue when I wanted to say the usual things I would say. And I was waiting for him to turn into your husband and start doing the dishes and it wasn’t happening. He just stayed on the sofa and I, so then I was more infuriated than ever and like, ah, this isn’t working.

Laura (10:54):
Yeah. Further proof. Like he’s, he’s like the wrong guy or he’s not, he’s not a good husband for you because you did all this stuff I said, and it still didn’t work. So obviously it must be him, so, right.

Stefanie (11:07):
Yeah, for sure. It was clearly him, but, uh, I just, I also, so I couldn’t do it on my own and Mmm. So yeah, I then, even though I dismissed all this coaching stuff, once I found out that you were having this event, I just, I had this desire like, Oh, I want to go. And so I expressed my desire to him and he said, yeah, of course. Go even that, like we had a little, a young child, like I don’t just race off across the country, and then I [inaudible] express my desire to my sister. I told her I was going and invited her and she’s always, Oh, maybe I might have to work. And she said, she said yes, which was a very event. And then my mother in law said yes to watching the kids. So I get there and I just felt called.

Stefanie (12:01):
I wanted to become a coach and I want, so I’m decided to express this desire to my husband in a way that inspires, but I know I knew full well this would not, this was not going to work for me because I, I was losing my job. The school where I talk was closing down. So we ha I had enough money to tide us over to becoming, just to having one income. And anyway, I called my husband, it was in the middle of the night in his time zone. And here I expressed this desire and I know he’s going to tell me, you’re crazy. You’re just, you’re naive. You know, what are they selling you over there? None of that. I said, I would love to do this coach training. And he said, Oh, you would be perfect for that. Go for it. Man still to this day, I just am filled with gratitude.

Stefanie (13:00):
I’m covered in [inaudible]. He just bumps right now to share that with you. Because if he hadn’t said yes in that moment, I just would still, I’d be grading papers and I’d be thinking, Oh yeah, I have this great job, but really I’m feeling unfulfilled and not having found my passion and living the life that I get to live today. Because doing the, expressing that desire, it transformed my marriage, transform my home life, my family transformed my career, my leisure time, everything. And I’m just so, I’m filled with gratitude. Every time I remember that I had the courage to express that desire that he said yes. That’s how he did not expect it.

Laura (13:49):
Wow. That’s an amazing story. It gives me goosebumps too. Cause I mean, I think about how close we came to almost not having you on our campus. I mean, any, yeah, that answer

Stefanie (14:02):

Laura (14:03):
it seems pretty miraculous in a way that he and he said that. So I love that. So w what, so what impact did becoming a coach have on your relationship? You’re just saying it changed everything. But let’s talk, start with the relationship. How did that impact it?

Stefanie (14:19):
Yes. Well, becoming a coach meant I have to practice what I preach. So you know, I can’t coach someone on say, expressing your desires in a way that inspires and then not do it myself or I can’t coach you on self care and not go and tend to my own happiness. I can’t coach you on restoring respect, you know, say apologizing for being disrespectful, um, without seeing, Oh wait, yeah, I said that. Oh suddenly it’s not sitting right with me and I think I need to go clean that up. And sometimes I can, I can still sweep that under the rug. And so I’m coaching another woman and I’m, I mean, it doesn’t feel, it wouldn’t feel good to be a hypocrite. I mean to have integrity. So as soon as I’m coaching her, I hear what I need to hear too. And it just, it keeps me accountable, keeps me engaged and does living needs skills. And it keeps me inspired just seeing my clients, how their commitment and how badly they want that transformation. And, uh, yeah, just how devoted they are to the skills. Um, I’ve, I constantly feel inspired.

Laura (15:41):
I remember your very first client even had, he had a huge client win with, as I recall. Right. Was this your very first client? I think

Stefanie (15:51):
yes. To tell us about that. Yeah. My very first client, her husband told her that he was leaving her and their two children. And so, I mean, she, she was desperate and she had no idea until after he did move out that he was seeing another woman and actually that he had slept with multiple women over the course of their marriage. And I thought, wait, this is the first client they give me. I, you know, and fidelity and this isn’t part of my story. How, how can I inspire her and you know what? It’s the same skills, the same skills that transformed my marriage that I got to share with her. And that, you know, it was easy to buy into her fear. Like this wasn’t gonna work for her. She was just being a fool to even believe have faith. And it worked for her and she, her husband had moved, he had already signed a lease on another house. They believe he purchased the house. He’d already moved out of the country to be with the other woman. And then one day he came home and he said, he told her, I miss you, I love you. And she kept waiting for the but cause this whole time he had blamed her for, for their problems and instead of the bar he said, I love you and I’m sorry you came home to her.

Laura (17:25):
Wow. And that, and this is, this is years ago now because you’ve helped hundreds of women fix their relationships. This is just one example that you came, you came right out of the gate with a big bang. But let’s get back to your relationship now too, because last I heard, so he was not doing the dishes and he was just kind of laying on the couch. So how is, how, is it different

Stefanie (17:49):
in your house now? Or is it different? Oh yes. Things are very different at our house now. Mmm. So yeah. Okay. Lately. I’m just amazed cause it gets, uh, keeps getting better and better. Just like that. Your book title things will get as good as you can stand. I mean, I wake up in the morning and now mind you, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t do the dishes on my schedule. But one day he did tell me, Oh, the blue, I wasn’t asking for it. Just out of the blue, he said, you know what? I think I’m going to do the dishes every day to help you out. I’m flabbergasted. Wow. Where did this come from? So same guy that was traumatized in the military by doing dishes and he made it clear he was not doing dishes. So now I’m gonna do dishes every day.

Stefanie (18:52):
Um, so it doesn’t mean it’s on my schedule. And sometimes I go to bed and there’s a big mess in the kitchen. And lately I wake up in the morning and the kitchen is queen, not only the dishes, but the counters. And, um, it’s like that kitchen elf that I was so resentful that I thought, Oh, what I’m supposed to be this kitchen off doing dishes every time you mess them up and say he’s a kitchen. No. And, um, I haven’t, I have no idea how he does it without waking me up. Sometimes he does it at two o’clock in the morning when he can’t sleep. And anyway, I feel very taken care of and supported and I feel so loved, just [inaudible] amazing to me. And has that passion at your house? Uh, well I, I thought I could have the piece. I didn’t know if I could have peace and passion, you know, things got really peaceful around here and I was happy and you know, we’d still have sex here and there.

Stefanie (19:56):
I would have been happy with maybe once a week. Like I was hoping to build up to that and I hurt. Would hear other coaches like, Oh, we just, you did it in the back seat of the car. And I was kind of jealous, like, why don’t I have that? And, um, and then again, it just keeps getting as good as you can stand. Hmm. And we like, he started initiating Oh, ominous. Pretty much every day. Aye. Aye. Never imagined. But things could get back to the way they were when we were first together. Well, he either, like he had told me he was done. He had used up his kind of sexing energy or something like that. Like he had also, he was kind of done, like, just don’t expect much from me. And so today it’s like more often than that, um,

Laura (20:51):
now some women might consider that a burden. Like, my husband wants sex every single day and I’ve got kids, I’m work, I’m tired. But this doesn’t sound like you’re [inaudible] position on this.

Stefanie (21:02):
Well, no. We had to make up for lost time.

Laura (21:09):
It wasn’t happening and happening. And you made that happen. You created that environment where that’s happening. And your husband even has advice for other people about how to improve their marriages now, right?

Stefanie (21:22):
Yes. And if it were a burden, I wouldn’t do it. But yeah, I think my husband fancies himself, you know, he’s kind of the, the relationship coach, uh, the men’s relationship coach. So we were having a play date and there was a S a single mother here at our house. And first of all, the fact that my husband was here and present for this play date. I mean, that alone speaks to our transformation. Anyway, so he unsolicited, he goes to her, do you want to know the secret to a good marriage? And, and uh, he goes, my wife speaks the language of gratitude. Okay, Lisa, we both do. And so I like, wow. I, I didn’t know. I had no idea if the things I was saying, you know, the magical phrases that I learned here, if they were really getting through, you know, I never heard him saying, Oh, thanks for expressing your gratitude just means so much to me. I dunno if he was even hearing it. So to hear him say that. Yeah, it was so beautiful.

Laura (22:38):
Wow. Was there, was there a moment in your marriage where you thought like, wow, we have just come so far from where we were

Stefanie (22:47):
[inaudible] yes. Yeah. Let me think. What’s one turning point? Oh yeah. I remember when during my coach training, when aye, he was going somewhere and I think I asked where he was headed and he said, I’m going to make your dreams come true. And it was something to do with increasing his life insurance amount, which was something he knew I wanted. But I just felt like, wow, my Knight Knight in shining armor showed up and I’m just like, I’m, I get to be treated like a queen. And he, he’s out there taking care of me and it was so sweet. I’m going to make your dreams come true.

Laura (23:30):
I love it. I love it. So what is something you’d say to a woman who’s also feeling alone and like she’s going to important doctor’s appointments by herself or spends, I spent her wedding night in her honeymoon night and once you create this kind of relationship for her husband just wants to make her dreams come true and he offers to do the dishes every day and there’s all this physical intimacy happening. Willy, what would be your tip for her?

Stefanie (24:01):
Um, well I would say one of the mistakes that I was making was criticizing him for how he spent his time and trying to get him to spend time with me, make him spend time with me and telling him how unhappy I was and how far he was falling short and making me happy. Um, and I was just, I was making him responsible for my happiness when I didn’t even know what I wanted. I didn’t even know how to make me happy. Yeah. Oh. So I realized I was magnifying what was missing and which is exactly what I didn’t want to increase. Right. And, um, so I would tell her, I would invite her to choose what she wants to increase and to focus on that. And she was to shift her focus to what she does want and uh, and along the way to yeah, to learn, get in touch with what it is that you want and, and become responsible for your happiness instead of sitting around waiting for him to make you happy when he probably doesn’t, he might not know how either,

Laura (25:24):
might not, it might not know. Cause if you don’t know yourself, how is he gonna figure that out? Right. It’s pretty vague, tall order for him to figure out how to make you happy when you don’t even know yourself. So I love that. I love that tip. Is there anything, if you could travel back in time and talk to yourself back when you were really struggling in your marriage, when you were really suffering and feeling alone and feeling like you wanted to leave, but you also wanted another child, so you’re going to stay. I mean, what do you know now that you didn’t know them well? What would you say to yourself?

Stefanie (26:00):
I think at first say I’m not very nice with my self taught. Just shut up. Shut up. Yes. Because so much of what was coming out of my mouth was really disrespectful and controlling and I just, I didn’t know any other way to try to get what I wanted. Mmm.

Stefanie (26:32):
And uh, but yeah, I know at the same time that, you know, when I got your book and I tried to do it all on my own, that just biting my tongue that they didn’t work for me, I got even more resentful. So it’s not just, yeah, but on the duct tape as we call it. But yeah, really becoming responsible, become responsible for your own happiness, Stephanie, and just learn what it is that, that you want and that would make you happy. And then don’t be afraid to say it. Oh, find did convince him or explain or any of that. Just saying, okay, I would love, I would love to go to the park. I would love to get the new tie plays, whatever. It’s been magical for me. Just something so simple like, wow, wow. All I have to say is what I want. And he’s that Knight in shining armor. Let’s go. Yes, let’s do it. Oh, you want to do coach training? Do it. Yes. So, Oh, I feel, get to feel so supported.

Laura (27:44):
Beautiful. Well, congratulations on this wonderful family that you’ve created, Stephanie, it sounds like, and is that like a whole family that wouldn’t maybe even exist if you hadn’t done all this work and hadn’t been so committed and so courageous? Um, you know, there’s this beautiful family of four that is now thriving and having all this emotional safety and your kids are getting to see a role model of what a healthy relationship it looks like, a happy relationship but a passionate relationship. And uh, I just think that’s so important and I, I just think the world needs more women like you.

Stefanie (28:21):
Oh, thank you so much Laura. And it is beautiful how it impacts the entire family that not only is there no more screaming and cursing in front of our kids or period, but, uh, I remember one quick story. My, Oh my child, I dunno if he was four years old and I think I said thank you anyway. He goes, Oh, thank you for saying thank you. I like, wow. It really has transformed that entire culture of our home.

Laura (28:55):
So you guys watch you watching mommy and daddy is the language of gratitude and he learned it as his native language as a four year old it sounds like. Yeah. It must be such a gratifying moment as a mom to equip them with that powerful [inaudible] skill.

Stefanie (29:13):
But what do you say to that? Thank you for saying thank you. I just, I really want to express my gratitude to you. Four, empowering me with this transformation, which is I could never have imagined. I mean this, it’s happy happiness today for me and my whole family.

Laura (29:42):
Wow. Well, it’s been my honor to be alongside you for this journey and watch all that you’ve created. It’s so inspiring. And now that you’re in, you’re passing it forward. You know, you’re this powerful coaches helping others with their marriages. You are on the mission to end rural divorce, standing shoulder to shoulder with me, and it’s just a, it’s just a thrill to watch you go. Me too.


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