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Episode 13 - He's Not The Man I Thought He Was

Let's talk about disappointment.

Whether you went to premarital counseling and made a bunch of agreements that haven't come through or he seems different from the guy you dated, feeling like your husband isn't "what you signed up for" is so common.

This week we talk about where this comes from and what to do about it.

00:00 Episode 13, He's not the man I thought he was.

00:16 Welcome to the First Year Married podcast, where we get real about building the marriage of your dreams. I'm Marriage Coach Kayla Levin and I take newly married and engaged women from anxious and insecure to confident and connected through practical tips, real-life inspiration, and more than a little self-awareness along the way.

00:38 Hello ladies, welcome back to the First Year Married podcast. Thank you again so much for tuning in. I've been hearing from a lot of you, with variations on a theme. S, I really wanted to take this week's podcast and address it, and try and offer something to you that I think will be very, very helpful.

00:57 Now, even if you aren't coming at this from necessarily as difficult a situation as what I'm going to describe, I think these tools will still be helpful. So, I would suggest tuning in. Of course, it's my podcast. I'm gonna suggest that. Okay. So basically, I'm hearing from women who are feeling frustrated, disappointed, disenchanted.

01:18 They dated for a while before they got married, or even if they didn't date for so long, some of them are saying, "I went to premarital counseling. We discussed all these things. I thought I knew what I was getting into." Right? "I dated him for a long time. I knew who he was. It's not turning out the way that I thought it would. He's not the guy that I thought he was."

01:42 So, I've got this sort of group of women who are coming to me with this thought, right? That it's either the marriage or the guy, it's just not turning out like she thought, like she expected. So, I think this comes from a lot of different things and I wanted to go through them because I think there are some stumbling blocks here that we all fall into at different stages. And at different points in our marriage, we go through different feelings, right? And I talk a lot about that emotional bank account, that early on one of the hardest things is that when you suffer disappointment, you just haven't logged that many hours together and that many experiences.

02:19 And when you go through disappointments together, you go through struggles together, that logs all of this ... It's like logging money into your bank account. Right? It's like this emotional savings account. And when negative things happen, they don't hit you as hard later on, but in the beginning, it's still new. You don't really have that. So, these things can be a lot harder early on.

02:44 So, one of the things that I thought would be helpful to talk about is this classic situation early in marriage that we're trying to understand what seems new or foreign, right? So again, even if you've been dating for a while, things often change right when you get married. We try and put things into boxes. We try and wrap our heads around things or give them labels to kind of confine our husband into this box that can be handled and expected. You can expect how he's going to behave, and it just feels a lot more manageable.

03:15 And in the beginning, the truth is it can be really helpful, right? Understanding, you know what? My husband is an introvert and so maybe when I'm really extroverted, so if I need a lot of social time, maybe I don't need to ask him to always be there with me because I understand now that he's an introvert and I'm an extrovert. Or I'm very type A and he's very type B, so if I really care about getting to dinner on time, I'll make the reservations later or I'll give him more of a heads up, right?

03:43 Or he's very, very concerned about finances. So, I'm going to investigate cheaper date options, or maybe we'll stay in more often, right? So, we create these labels or we do these personality tests. We do all these different things to sort of try and get a handle on this huge change in our lives. And at first, when it's helping us gain an understanding, when it's helping us see another dimension of who he is, even if it's just one tiny dimension, and of course all of these are prone to contradiction, because at the end of the day, we're all human, it can help. It gives us that feeling of security, of I can expect what's coming, understanding each other in a deeper way.

04:25 But what can also happen is it can very quickly turn into resentment and frustration. Okay, so my husband is very budget-conscious can turn into my husband is so stingy. Or my type B husband is always late. And you hear this, right? You really hear my husband always interrupts me. My husband, you can't take him out. These tags that were using to understand him in the first place become the title that we use to condemn him later on.

04:52 So, I want you to try a take it. Take a piece of paper, if you're not driving, and write out my husband is so ... And then, make a list of what comes out. Pause the podcast if you're able to do it now, otherwise do it later.

05:07 Probably you'll find that some good things and some bad things come out, but everything you're putting down on that paper is ultimately just a thought that you're having about your husband. And anytime that we have a thought about something, whether it's another person or ourselves or a situation or your weight or the money that you have in the bank, you're going to go and find a lot of evidence that your thought is correct. A course participant from my First Year Married online program reached out to me and she said, "Oh, it's like the self-fulfilling prophecy." Right? Like I see a lot of overlap there, but the truth is it's so much more than that.

05:45 I'm sure you've heard at least some study about the effect of expectation on teachers. They've done several studies. One that I wanted to share with you, especially if any of you haven't heard of these studies, is an original one. A Harvard professor named Robert Rosenthal altered an IQ test. So, he gave the correct test, but he gave it a very fancy sounding name. And he gave it out to the teachers and the IQ test of all the teachers' students. And then, he randomly chose certain students and he reported to the teacher that this fancy IQ test that they had all just taken showed that these four or however many students were on the verge of a massive intellectual breakthrough.

06:29 Okay. And as we know now, because we've had several of these studies, but this was an early one, those students, when they actually tested them, their IQ had increased, I don't know if several months later. Their IQ had increased disproportionately more than the other students in the class. And the only thing that was changed was the teachers' expectation. So, he went back into the classroom to analyze what was actually different. The teacher was not told to teach the students differently, to give them different activities, anything like that. And what he found was it wasn't anything big. It was these teeny, tiny little differences, the way that the students were spoken to.

07:14 The amount of time they were given when they asked a question. How much they were smiled at, even how much more they were just touched by the teacher. All these totally subconscious, and very likely unbeknownst to the teacher him or herself, all of these things were sending a message that great things were expected of that child.

07:35 So, women come to me often with a lot of frustration over their husbands or resentment. This is not the guy I thought I married. But let's break that down. When you think to yourself this is not the man I thought I married, so how do you feel? For a lot of women, they feel disappointed. And how do you act in a relationship with someone with whom you are disappointed? How many of those tiny actions that Robert Rosenthal discovered are happening in your day-to-day life? And do you think he doesn't see it, even if he doesn't pick up on a consciously? S

08:06 So, maybe you start turning into yourself, starting to find ways to keep yourself happy, because you can't expect it from him. Or maybe you're less interested in his daily life, because after all, it's not the life that you expected and it's kind of a disappointment. So, how much do you really need to know about it? The result is a deflated man. And I'm not saying that you're controlling him. On a high level, he's going to do what he's going to do. And of course, as always, if your husband is abusive in anyway, we are not ever to take responsibility. It is not because your thoughts are wrong, don't misunderstand.

08:39 But if you take any two normal healthy people, and as that study showed, we do affect each other. So, can we control each other? No, I don't think so. But do we affect each other? Absolutely. If your mother was always disappointed in you, I know some of you just tuned in now, you probably perform differently as a child than if she had raised you thinking that you were God's gift to humanity. Right? So, look at your results. Whether your behavior affects him and he's now less motivated and less likely to succeed, or you're so busy in your disappointment you don't have a moment to notice where he is providing and how he is excelling.

09:15 The result at the end of the day is you gather lots of evidence that you were right to be disappointed in him. So, I want to offer you instead a thought that I absolutely love. You're married and you think to yourself being married is like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. You know those novels that they used to have? I don't know if they still have them. Where like it's a kids book and you read the beginning of it, and then you get to choose which chapter you want to go to, like is Shelly going to go into the cave or not. And you open up to that chapter. It's like that's my thought. Okay.

09:48 I know the basic foundation of my husband. I know the author, so to speak, right? But where is this going? Who's he evolving into? No idea. We're coming up on our 10-year anniversary, and in so many ways, he is so different from the man I married. And I think that's great, because that gives me room to evolve and change too. We didn't make any guarantees in that area that we would stay the same and keep the same personalities, right? I expect surprise and delight and maybe even some frustration and heartache, but I can handle that. I can handle hard feelings like that.

10:20 That's what coaching is all about. So, you think to yourself, this line I love, how fascinating, right? That's what Benjamin Zander uses a lot. So, he does something that isn't what you expected. It's not what you thought you signed up for. And instead of this is not the man that I thought I married, you think to yourself how fascinating. And so, how do you feel? Curious, playful, interested? I think also respectful, because if you're fascinated, there must be something to him that is meaningful or deep and worth exploring.

10:55 And so, you might start asking him questions. Or even just watch him with this aura of I wonder what's behind all this? Which makes him feel like you trust that there's logic. You'll start to notice so much that you never even saw before. He might even start to grow into the space that you're leaving for him. But even if he doesn't change one iota, I promise you there's something that you're missing there, something in him to discover. And when the thought changes to allow for that, you will start to discover it.

11:29 When I first started studying the work of Alison Armstrong, two pieces of information totally rocked my world. There was definitely more than that and I'm sure you'll keep hearing more about it here in this podcast. There's tons of it in my course, but the ones that I feel like I use now on a daily basis are one, that men were inherently providers. And they're not always providing the thing that you want. But if you just look to see what it is that they're trying to provide, you'll find it. And the other one, very practical one, is that women are constantly interrupting men.

12:04 And so, what happens is that we never get to hear their complete thought, which is why a lot of women think men are very shallow. Right when I learned this information, I was so fascinated with it and I was so like on a high from this total paradigm shift. So, we used to have this man who was in his retirement age.

12:26 He was working for our exterminator company. So, he would come around seasonally to spray the house. And I just learned this information. So, he comes in and I decided to try and pay attention to if he was trying to provide anything. That was very clear. He had an expertise and he was trying to help me not have bugs in the house. It was very literal to his job in that case. I decided to let him finish any thoughts that he was sharing with me. I approached him, not even trying intentionally to show him respect or show him anything, just to the feeling of curiosity, of let me just hear him out. Whatever it is that he has to say.

13:07 And I will never forget that afternoon, because this person who had sort of always seemed like this bumbling retiree, who was trying to help out, by the end of the conversation had opened up about all of his wisdom that he learned as a father and his relationship with his daughter and there was so, so, so many dimensions that he shared with me and it really made me see in real time how what she says about how we constantly interrupt is really true.

13:38 So, all that to say that the way that we're approaching the relationship, the way that we're approaching our daily life, the way we're approaching our conversations, the thought that is behind it, you will find evidence.

13:51 One of the easiest ways of dealing with this is simply to flip the thought. It could be this is not the man I thought I married. You could start exercising the thought for a couple minutes a day. This is exactly the man I thought I married. And then, your brain is going to fill in all the really fundamental things that are exactly what you wanted when you married him, right?

14:14 You could also flip the thought to this is not the man I thought I married and this is wonderful. Just tag on a positive, right? Because your initial thought really is this is not the man I thought I married and that's a tragedy or that's terrible. So, if you just add on an ending that switches it to a positive, right? This is a whole new man than I even thought I had. Right?

14:38 So again, your brain is going to go out and find evidence. So, I want to offer to you a challenge for this week. I love giving homework. Which is to really do that exercise, pay attention to what the thoughts are that you have filled in about your husband. And most importantly, don't beat yourself up about this. If you haven't been doing thought work before, you can't expect your brain to always go to the most altruistic and the most helpful thought. It's just not the way that were wired. It's not also the message that we're necessarily getting from the culture around us.

15:13 So, cut yourself some slack. You're prone to beating yourself up, but take an honest look at some of the thoughts, positive and negative, that you have in your mind about your husband. And then, I want to challenge you in the moment if you're feeling frustrated to try and figure out what the thought is going on behind that. And see if you can flip it, or see if there's another one that you feel is equally true. You can take that "how fascinating" and apply that whenever something goes unusually and not the way that you expected.

15:45 I would love to have you share this information with your friends. If you know anybody who you think would appreciate this podcast, please take a screenshot, share it with them, or even share it on social media, and you can tag me at @FirstYearMarried.

15:56 More importantly, I have a email list where I send out an email every week. It's also the first place where anyone gets any announcements about new programs or anything else that we're brewing up over here at First Year Married. So, the way to get on that is to go to, and you'll also get access to my free class right there, which is called "Your husband isn't the reason you're unhappy." And from there, you'll also get added on to the email list. So, I look forward to seeing you over there and hearing from you over on Instagram. Have a fantastic week. Bye.

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