Laura Doyle Certified Relationship Coach
Military and Law Enforcement Spouse of 26 Years
How To Save a Stressed-Out, Long-Term Marriage by Sheri Byrd
Today, after 26 years of marriage to the original man of my dreams, I am loved, cherished, treasured, adored, and supported. He is affectionate and romantic. I am emotionally strong, and set clear boundaries.
It wasn’t always so.
THE “PERFECT” MILITARY SPOUSE
As a military spouse of 26 years, 13 active duty and 13 Reserve (married to a civilian federal law enforcement officer), my marriage had its share of stresses: deployments, surviving with toddlers in difficult places far from family, moving 13 times in the first 20 years, and on and on.
I thought I had the stress under control. I was a third-generation military wife, for heaven’s sake, and I GOT THIS. I knew how to take over every detail of our domestic life, even during a major move, and run a tight ship, making everything fall into place – one way or another.
THE “PERFECT” WORK-LIFE BALANCE
I’d had an accomplished career as a journalist and public relations director. I’d been a blissful stay-at-home mom for 11 years. I’d taught dance, aerobics, and run a half-marathon. I was living the dream I was told makes modern women happy – having it all.
So why was I so miserable? Why did I feel nothing but inadequate? I was depressed, and efforts on my husband’s part to cheer me, please me, even touch me, I took as merely obligatory.
Any suggestions of self-care just felt like one more thing I should do, one more thing on my overstretched list of obligations. No way.
And when it came to the bedroom, I could not believe I was really attractive with a few extra pounds, so I did not believe my husband’s affection had anything to do with actually loving me.
Then after more than 20 years of marriage, he turned cold and distant one day.
THE “PERFECT” SOLUTIONS
We tried marriage counseling, briefly. The therapist ambushed him (to use his own words) focusing on what he was doing wrong and how he should change. Both of us could see it was not helping, and soon quit.
I believed what the world of women around me told me, what the vast majority of them had experienced: I had only two solutions — stronger anti-depressants, or divorce.
He chose, and we soon separated.
AN IMPERFECT MIRACLE
In my typical “I got this” way, I hit the internet, grasping for solutions: marriage help, divorce prevention, etc.
After a labyrinth of links, I ended up on a review of “The Surrendered Wife,” by Laura Doyle. I read about marriages not only saved, but revolutionized! One phrase stopped my breath for just a moment, resonating so deeply I could not ignore it: Women hold the power in relationships.
Learn the skills to have a good marriage, practice them, and like produce from a well-tended garden, a good marriage will likely follow, the review said. A voice in my heart whispered: you hold the power.
I bought “The Surrendered Wife,” in print, audio, and digital versions. I knew I needed more help to fit the principles to my own situation, and consulted one of Laura Doyle’s relationship coaches. The following months were like a zero-to-hero movie montage, as I learned, practiced, and strengthened skill after skill after skill, personally coached to fit my marriage. I had setbacks, but the relationship coaching even included how to handle them with forgiveness, grace, and dignity.
PERFECTLY IMPERFECT SKILLS
The next year was both the most joyful and most painful of my life. Through “The Surrendered Wife” skills and relationship coaching, I learned the deep joy of true self-care, drastically decreasing – not increasing – my stress, and the peace of maintaining my own dignity through emotional storms raging around me.
I learned the skills to be my very best self, not the “perfect” version in the world’s eyes.
Without the same old me, we could not be the same old us! I was a better me, and soon, WE were a better US!
“Huge results! I am so empowered, so more confident in the pathway I am taking in my marriage! Sheri helped me engender more positive feelings towards hubby: Huge! I wondered if she would be able to relate and understand my story, as we are so far away from each other and have our own very different life circumstances. Boy was I pleasantly surprised! I felt so safe, so heard, so understood by her! Very hard to find someone who “gets it”. I could really be myself and always felt better after talking with her! She lives by what she preaches, not just following a set of rules, but understanding them from the inside out, applying to various circumstances. I recommend Sheri to the women of the world!”
~Sarah, Jerusalem, Israel
I LEARNED TO SKILLFULLY:
- Be grateful. Now, I smile warmly and say “Thank you, honey!” every time he takes out the trash or mows the lawn. Before? I’d have snipped, “What? You want a medal for basic responsibility?” And you know what? He helps more, and thanks me more, too.
- Apologize. When I snip something like, “No, I did not plan anything for dinner. Did you?” I realize that my mood is my responsibility, and if I’ve gotten that bad, I’ve let myself get depleted.
- Receive! Graciously! Whether he brings me a cup of tea in the evening, or a new car, I receive with true appreciation every little gift, just as it is. Appreciation not just felt, but skillfully shown.
- Show respect. My tone of voice, my choice of words; they matter. He wants to take a route I wouldn’t choose? That’s his choice and I respect it. He wants a car I wouldn’t have the thought of? He has that right, and I respect his desires, from driving routes to dreams of retirement. Often, his way turns out better than anything I’d have come up with!
- Give up control. And why. The only person I can ever really control is myself. He knows how to take care of his own needs. Nagging is not helping, as I once thought. I have learned the value of what does not need to be said. My former efforts to “help” were like termites to the house of our marriage. One didn’t do much damage, but many, over time, destroyed our intimacy.
- Be vulnerable. Like someone falling backwards into the arms of a friend playing trust fall, I choose to trust my husband every day, and he rises to the occasion. I skillfully express my feelings and desires, releasing any expectation of outcome. And he is more considerate, affectionate, and romantic, plans more vacations and date nights and spontaneous fun, than ever in our 25 years of marriage!
“I felt safe with Sheri knowing I could tell her anything and everything that was troubling me. I’ve seen my marriage become a positive focus in my life instead of a burden.”
~W. Green, Warrenton, Oregon, USA
I can help you with:
- Saving a marriage close to divorce
- Putting the spark back in your relationship
- Getting more help with housework, kids and other responsibilities without repeating yourself
- Finding peace around money and parenting
- Keeping your marriage strong during extended duty or deployment, and during reunion (often the greater challenge)
- Creating more time for baths, walks, painting or whatever you enjoy
- Making your home more peaceful
- Having more physical intimacy and making it more enjoyable
Laura and I want to help you have the same kind of intimacy, passion and peace in your relationship. To learn how, apply for a Discovery Session here