Are My Marriage Problems Normal? Ep 78

Are My Marriage Problems Normal? | Marriage Coach

Welcome AwakenYou listeners, how are each of you this week? If you were here last week that means that you heard me introduce a fun new goal-setting adventure where we are together going set our monthly relationship goal and use this weekly conversation to check-in and see how we are doing. If you didn’t set a goal last week or are hearing about this for the first time then come along with us, be brave and set a goal by picking one of the podcast episodes and following along with what I share or go watch one of my marriage masterclass replays, speaking of which I want to remind you that this month’s class is on self-esteem and why it’s so important in building a solid marriage that you love because it will be the work you want to do after listening to what I have for you today or even a bit more advanced, go download my Abundant Love Free Mini-Course which will help you start changing the way you look at your marriage. For those of you who are working on a relationship goal whether, with yourself, your spouse, or someone else, I’d like you to answer these three questions this week as you move forward: 

  1. What has been working well in your relationship work?
  2. How am I neglecting my personal relationship goals?
  3. What one thing can I do this week to keep my relationship goal top priority?

That’s it! Congratulations on playing along with me and remember that one thing you can always do to help you make progress is to book a free mini-coaching session and let me help you move forward. This week I want to turn your thoughts about your marriage upside down by challenging your thought that something has gone wrong in your marriage, your thought that you picked the wrong mate, or your thought that you’re destined to live a boring relationship future. This week I want to normalize marital distress.

What would you do if you could erase the social conditioning that most of us have hardwired into our subconscious minds that if we married the right person our relationship would be wildly happy, close, and we’d never be dissatisfied in bed? What if from childhood we were conditioned to expect that all relationships will encounter disconnection, intimacy struggles, and a falling away from each other? Yes, what if sitcoms, I don’t know, are these even a thing anymore? I don’t watch the screen and haven’t for close 20+ years so I don’t know, but what if it were normal for us to read/watch about marriages that struggled and shows that modeled what it looks like to work through those struggles in a healthy way? 

If the latter were our norm then I believe our divorce numbers would be so much lower and there would be less shame around where we’re stuck in our relationships and more open talking about what you are working on in your marriage and what’s working for you. But instead, we pretend like everything is amazing, that we’re having fantasy-level sexual encounters with our spouse, that we never argue, and when we do it’s a wildly erotic make-up session or we just complain about how awful and irresponsible our spouse is, making them the root of all the problems.

So let’s be straight up, marriage is work if you want it to be good. Except for the fortunate couples that either had a strong upbringing that included open awareness of the happy, to unhappy back to happy repair loop or decided right up front to work with a good marriage coach. We want to expect that the “honeymoon” phase will end and that disconnection, disharmony, anger, resentment, loss of self and intimacy may occur, that it is completely normal and why. I think that this alone will help loosen the grip you might have around what is going on in your marriage and once that grip is loosened it will be much easier for you to step into the woman who is ready to step up to the task of solving your relationship issues and getting back to what you want, which is more fiery intimacy.

Why marital distress is normal

Let’s go back to the point in your relationship when everything was fun, and connected with hot, steamy sex, or whatever your version of a happy relationship was. During this period of your relationship, you were busy courting each other, talking about things that your partner enjoyed talking about, doing things that each other enjoyed doing, or being willing to do things that you maybe didn’t love doing but would to show your partner how much you loved them. Each of you was doing things that validated each other, or in other words, you did things that you discovered your partner liked and you continued doing those things. 

This is an immature relationship, where each of you are looking to the other for support and validation for what you do and what you think. What this means is eventually you will run out of things to do that the other person actually wants to do or things to talk about  where they will agree with you. In immature relationships, we aren’t differentiated, we shut down when our partner doesn’t agree with us or doesn’t want to do the things we want to do, we’re immeshed and dependent on each other. Back in Ep. 60: Differentiation I talked about differentiation and how important it is to the health of our relationship. 

As we grow internally and relationally we learn how to be separate from our partners while maintaining healthy interdependence. In a nutshell, this is all of the work we do inside of AwakenYou, the work of learning how to open up to your spouse about what is important and interesting to you without needing them to agree, learning how to have a healthy conversation without needing them to validate your position because you’ve already self-validated.

So the good news is this: disconnection in your marriage is completely normal and it comes because the honeymoon period ends, we stop validating each other and feel unloved, disconnected, and passionless. The bad news is that relationships are hard work where we need to work on self-supporting behaviors that have us showing up honestly in our marriage.

As David Scnarch in Passionate Marriage states: this silent period of disconnection and sexlessness gridlock forces us to grow up, it’s not falling out of love, it is the pathway to love, it’s not a failure to communicate, it’s learning how to listen to yourself without needing everyone else to listen and agree.” 

Now with this new information, I want you to re-imagine your marriage. I want you to look at your marriage through the lens of normalcy instead of abnormality. If you were to expect this period in your marriage what would you do? Even if this period has been going on for 20+ years, what will you do? Will you dive into the work that I share with you here on the podcast, on my social channels, in my marriage masterclasses, in my free course, or one on one in my coaching program?

The main area you will want to focus on when it comes to differentiation and being all in on yourself will be the work of creating a loving relationship with yourself which includes having healthy self-esteem (this month’s Marriage Masterclass) and there are several episodes in the archives where I talk about creating connection and self-esteem as well as one of my masterclasses, so go there and start doing the work as well as sharing this episode with all of your girlfriends who are going through similar relationship struggles. 

I hope that this conversation helped you look at what is going on in your marriage a whole different way, a more normal way, as a problem that you expected. Think about another project that you might be working on and a hiccup happens, what do you do? Do you drop it and complain about what an awful thing it is or do you get to the work of figuring it out? I hope that today’s episode shared a new insight that helps you feel more empowered to work on your marriage and if you want resources then I’m here for you! Book that free coaching session now before you forget. Have an amazing week and keep this month’s goal top of mind! Happy hugging, ciao!

I am a marriage coach who helps women and couples go from feeling powerless to change how they feel about their marriage to feeling powerful and taking ownership of how they feel. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage, and through this process, you will begin to find that your partner will change as well! Schedule your free mini-coaching session today to discover how coaching can help you take your next steps forward toward what you want in your marriage.


How To Apologize & Why It’s So Important Ep 77

How To Apologize & Why It's So Important | Marriage Coach

Hello AwakenYou listeners and welcome to a brand new month of opportunity and with it being a new month I want to take this as an opportunity for you to spend a few moments writing down the one thing you will work on this month when it comes to improving either your relationship with yourself or your spouse. Which will you choose and what will you work on specifically? Set your intention today, not just in your mind, write it down someplace where you will see it often, and use our weekly time together here to be your reminder to check in on your progress. If you haven’t downloaded my free Abundant Love Mini-Course then that would be a great place to start, it could be your project this month to start feeling better about your marriage. This course will help you start noticing the lens through which you are seeing your marriage and help you do a prescription tweak so that you are seeing more clearly. If you’ve already worked through that course take the next step of picking one of these episodes and making that your focus of the month, or even better, go watch one of my Marriage Masterclass replays and implement the action steps this month. Whatever you choose to do, I’ve got you. Send me a message letting me know what you’re working on and let’s hold each other accountable! This week I want to talk about the mechanics of how to apologize and why it’s so important because I am seeing how difficult this is for so many of my clients – and how difficult it was, and sometimes still is, for me. 

Can I get an “amen” from those of you who grew up in a household where apologies weren’t a part of the program or if they were it was forced upon you, more as a penalty for being “bad?” Right off the bat, we’re instructed from a place of guilt and shame that we’re bad people and never taught that yes, we all make mistakes and that making an apology for our poor behavior comes from a place of self-compassion and genuine remorse for how we behaved without it meaning that we are characteristically bad people.

Today let’s look at why apologizing can be so difficult, why a good apology is so important, while also looking at what constitutes a poorly and effectively constructed apology and then lastly I want to take a look at how you can work through a situation where the other person won’t apologize because it’s going to happen.

Why apologizing can be so difficult

Each unique one of us has a suitcase of stories that might lead us to have a difficult time apologizing to our spouses, certainly something to sort through. If this is the case we can start to recognize our pattern as developed from situations in our childhood and start to let go of these behaviors as no longer necessary. In our marriages we are working on building each other up together as a team, it’s not about each of you playing on separate teams. Together we lift each other up so when you come out of a conflict or some “disharmony” you can recognize where your unwillingness to give in and admit how you may have hurt the other is coming from your past. This past may have you afraid of admitting your part in the detachment, fear of admitting you were wrong or acted in a way that inflamed a reaction from your spouse. Apologizing might make you feel like you are unreliable, a bad spouse/person, unworthy, damaged, and unlovable. What else?

The root of this difficult and uncomfortable experience is often a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. When you have a solid relationship with yourself you are better able to admit your mistakes, know that they don’t make you a bad person and that your apology doesn’t make you “less than.” On the contrary, it has you having empathy for your spouse and where they are coming from, and what they are experiencing. It doesn’t have you defending yourself and coming back to them with all of the reasons they hurt you but instead allows you to hear their story, and apologize from a place of love and compassion so you can follow through with the repair process.

Yes, you may have things to say about how you are feeling but if you can hold some space while mending the current situation it will have your spouse in a better place to receive your words.

Why is an apology so important?

The growth that happens in a relationship comes from repairing a patch in the road that’s been damaged. When two adults come together conflict, disagreement and disharmony should be expected. This isn’t a problem, unless you are unable to work through the conflict and come to a resolution. 

It’s like anything else you do that is worthwhile. Think about it, think about any project you work on that you love working on. Maybe you like working on things that never present a challenge, but for me, projects without challenges get super boring, there’s no learning, no growth, no well – challenge. If you want your marriage to have more fiery intimacy, some good spicy fun, and an electric connection you have to dig into your conflict, go from a place of harmony to disharmony, share what is bothering you, and then work together to repair the break. And by the way, this is work we do within my AwakenYou program – learning how to be an expert at the repair cycle.

What a bad apology looks like

A bad apology doesn’t have you claiming your personal responsibility for the disruption while basically pointing the finger at the other person. You are dismissing the other person, invalidating how they are feeling and the impact your actions had on them.

Some examples of poor apologies:

  • I’m sorry you feel that way
  • I’m sorry you took it that way
  • I’m sorry but…if you hadn’t done…
  • If I offended you I’m sorry

These apologies have you placing the problem on the other person instead of acknowledging the role you played in how they are feeling. 

There are for sure times when your spouse is going to take something you said the wrong way, and yes, while you can explain away what you actually meant, simply acknowledging that you can understand how they would feel the way they do will take you way further in calming the waters of disrepair.

What a good apology looks like

A good apology has you taking responsibility for what you said/did and how it made the other person feel, without needing to explain yourself. It has you legitimately feeling regret around how the other person is taking your actions. Think about what it might be like to help your spouse trust you in that you want to work on improving this type of behavior. Don’t make unrealistic promises to never act this way again but instead ask for help with overcoming this behavior. I love an honest request for forgiveness, it makes me feel seen, heard, and loved while bringing each of you to the same level for a magical calm connection.

Some examples:

  • I’m so sorry, I legitimately feel bad that how my actions hurt you.
  • What I did was wrong, I’m sorry, please forgive me as I work on getting better at catching and changing this behavior.
  •  Is there a way for me to make this right? What might it look like for you when helping me convey my commitment to working on a change in this area?
  • I want to get better and I appreciate your willingness to lovingly call me out when this behavior comes up again.
  • Will you please forgive me? I am all in on this relationship and need your grace as I work on being better.

Do you notice how all of these put the focus and responsibility on the person giving the apology, this helps co-regulate the offended party, again bringing you both to the same playing field and connecting.

What to do when your spouse won’t apologize

Let it go. I know that feels like a hard pill to swallow and I completely understand but sometimes our partners have work to do that they are unwilling to do or don’t recognize that they need to do it. They aren’t here listening to the podcast or investing time in the way that you are. Normalizing their behavior, without accepting it as ok, by understanding what their own personal struggle might be will go a long way. You might consider stating that an apology could go a long way in making you feel better and explaining that we all make mistakes, that it won’t make you think less of them but will do wonders is making you feel included in the relationship. Sharing that the apology isn’t so that you can beat them up but so that you can feel better about their desire to connect and work on your marriage as a team.

Lastly, I want to leave you with this: healing and forgiving are two different things. You can offer your gift of forgiveness without letting go of their responsibility to treat you differently and without holding them to their commitment to change. It is now up to you to call out behavior that triggers you as well as recognize that the behavior is a trigger that you can do the work of learning how to respond differently to. Listening to Ep 75: How To Create Healthy Boundaries as well as Ep 65: How Trauma Might Be Affecting Your Marriage will help you to recognize your possible need to heal and that is amazing work for you to do!

Maybe this could be your goal this month, the work of looking at when you might want to offer an apology and working through the process of why it might be hard and learning how to do it well. Always remember, I am here to help you work through the process, if you get stuck don’t stay there, book yourself a mini-coaching session and let’s get you moving forward!

I am a marriage coach who helps women and couples go from feeling powerless to change how they feel about their marriage to feeling powerful and taking ownership of how they feel. My process isn’t about changing your partner; it’s about discovering who you are so that you can AwakenYou in your marriage, and through this process, you will begin to find that your partner will change as well! Schedule your free mini-coaching session today to discover how coaching can help you take your next steps forward toward what you want in your marriage.