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Episode 18 - Submission vs. Self Knowledge

Episode 18 Overview

 "If I learn to ACCEPT my husband's behavior, aren't I just letting him walk all over me?" This week we are talking about when we don't like our husband's behavior. If you work on your thoughts and you come to accept his behavior, are you expecting less of him? Are you just accepting an unfair, unbalanced relationship? Check out this week's podcast. 


00:00 Episode 18: Submission versus self-knowledge. Welcome to the First Year Married Podcast where we get real about building the marriage of your dreams. I'm marriage coach Kayla Levin. I take newly married and engaged women from anxious and insecure to confident and connected with practical tips, real life inspiration, and more than a little self-awareness along the way.

00:39 Hello, my friends. Thanks for coming back. It's so exciting to see you all coming back and hearing from you over on Instagram. I'm just loving it. I think this week's episode is so important. It's a place where a lot of us get hung up, and I don't think we even realize that we're getting hung up on it. Basically, what I'm going to be talking about is this idea of submitting to what is, just dealing with it, just letting him be that way, accepting my life like it is versus using our life and our relationship as an opportunity for self-knowledge and for growth.

01:20 That's my question. What's the difference between giving up or submitting to our reality and the alternative? This is the question that I get from my clients. And even if it's not the articulated question, it's kind of like the premise. It's the premise behind the question, which is, "I mean, I can't just let him do that. I can't just let him say something like that. He shouldn't have. He shouldn't have ... You shouldn't talk to people like that. You shouldn't do that. What kind of husband would? Are you saying that I just have to accept it, I just have to be okay with that?"

01:54 If you're anything like me, and I hope you had some of this, you were raised to stand up for yourself. And you were raised to be a doer. We have goals, and we pursue them. We shoot for the APs, the top choice college, the top choice career. We discipline ourselves to work hard and to push.

02:15 I'm starting to learn, and I'm beginning this journey, sort of this exploration, that maybe some of you are further than me on this exploration, of understanding the downside of that and really seeing where that can be very detrimental. And I'm not just talking about in our marriages. I will talk about that. But in terms of our health, and our self-love, and all of that.

02:39 Even though most of us have some level of balance in that area, we often have sort of that inner critic, right? They're sort of like a board of characters running inside of us. I like to think of it this way. There's the one that's more critical. Maybe there's the one that just is maternal and loves you. And maybe there's the one thinks you're kind of untrustworthy. We've got all these different characters in us talking to us. I swear I'm not going crazy. Many of us have the drill sergeant, whether it's not the drill sergeant. Maybe it's like the coach or we have that part of us that glorifies busyness, and difficulty, and working hard, and glorifies it for its own sake. Busy is the new important, right?

03:27 I want to talk today about what happens when that characteristic, when that energy comes into our marriages. And again, I don't want to say that we necessarily shouldn't have learned that. I think that I was able to achieve certain things because I know how to work hard and I believe in working hard. But we need to be able to differentiate between who we are out there and who we are inside our homes and inside ourselves, and what the limitations are to that part of us. Because the way it translates into our marriage is that when something happens that we don't like that makes us feel bad, we race out to fix it, like we fixed that B minus you got in biology in 10th grade, right? Work harder. Work smarter. Make it different. Make it go away. Make it stop. But, the thing you're trying to fix is a person, not a grade. So it's the same energy, but you're dealing with something that's a little more dynamic than a B minus.

04:25 This shows up with my clients coming to me saying, "He shouldn't have said that." Basically, we feel like I have to go tell him that he can't say that. I need to teach him. I need to train him. Oh my gosh. When people talk about training husbands, ugh. A little bit throw up every time. I hope you start to, also. I hope I brainwash you just enough that when someone's like, "Oh, my husband, you know, he's not trained yet," you'll just a little bit throw up in your mouth. I'm sorry for that visual.

04:55 I want to offer to you ... I'm going to try and get back to normal here. I want to offer to you that this is all external energy. Let's just call it that for the sake of this podcast. That goer, that does, that ... Right? The go-getter energy, that's like an external energy and the energy of major relationships, including with yourself, if you're religious like me, with God, with your marriage. Those are internal energies. I find this distinction really helpful. Somehow I just get it viscerally. Internal sort of sends me down a different direction.

05:32 This is where we notice that he said something he shouldn't have, and then we reflect. That's the internal energy. So instead of going external and trying to fix him so he won't do that again, I go internal and I think, "Where did I come up with the idea that he can't say that? Where did this should come from?" If you start questioning it, you're going to find you have a lot of shoulds that you never consciously decided. Where did that should come from that he can't say that? Why does this bother me so much? Literally, words came out of his mouth. That's all that happened. He opened his mouth, he breathed air, he vibrated his vocal cords and moved his lips and teeth around, and tongue, and then I got really upset. How did I get from point A to point B? My clients really want to convince me sometime that it's their husbands. Like, "I totally could be doing this work, but he just needs to be different. I can be really happy in my marriage if he just wasn't so negative, or so unmotivated, or so critical, or if his values weren't all wrong." Yeah?

06:39 The irony is that when our focus is all on them and what they need to do differently ... I don't know about you, but for me, and for what I'm seeing out there, it brings out the worst in us. I'm all focused on how he needs to change, and then I'm not showing up the way I want to anymore. Because again, that's us in our external energy, that do-it, fix=it energy.

07:05 I want you to take a second and think, is that how you want him to relate to you? Would you like to find out that your husband has a laundry list of things he'd hope you just kind of change? Definitely not for me. So why do we relate to them this way, to anyone? This doesn't just have to be your husband, like that person that just keeps driving you crazy. Why do we have this list of who they should be, who they're supposed to wake up and be? Trust me, I'm talking to myself here as much as I'm talking to you.

07:34 We want to offer to those who are religious. And then if you're not religious, you're welcome to adopt this if you want to. Especially in my Jewish community, there is a belief that your husband is kind of this custom-tailored human being that is exactly what you need for your own spiritual growth. I think you could maybe tie that into karma or whatever. Whatever you believe, I'm offering it to you. You can share. I'll share.

07:58 I find it the most empowering thought. It's the most empowering thought. Because when he does something or anyone, anyone that's in my life, I really think I'm totally self-centered. You are just here because I need this growth experience. You are my trainer. You do something, and it upsets me. It gets me all bent out of shape. And when I can switch from like, "How could you do that?" and, "I can't handle this feeling. I need you to change because I don't want to feel this way anymore. I don't like it," but if I switch from that to, "What am I supposed to be learning from that? I know that you're just here because I needed to experience that. So, what am I supposed to learn here?" that is extremely empowering and it takes me out of my tailspin so much faster.

08:43 I've never gone into a tailspin about how someone should change and gotten to a solution. Don't know about you. I've never fixed anyone that way. I don't have a line of people that are post-Kayla, right? They were walking around acting like orangutans before, but now they're doing great. No, no. I go into a tailspin, and I'm just stuck there until I'm cranky and bratty. But if I can pull myself out of that tailspin and I can say, "Maybe I'm supposed to learn something from this. Maybe this is an area. It bothers me here because this is the area where I need to grow," okay, I can go. I can go with that. That works for me.

09:23 My husband hurts my feelings, let's say. Let's say he even yells at me. I want him so desperately to just never do that again. I want a guarantee on paper from God that that will never happen. That's like my level of ... I remember this. In our first year of marriage, my husband grew up in a house where fighting was normal, and I grew up in a house where there was no fighting. There were no raised voices, unless there was like a fire and someone was in danger. In our first year of marriage, we would be arguing about something and he would start to raise his voice. At one point, I was literally in tears on the couch like, "Okay, just go. Just leave me because I know we're getting divorced now." He's like, "What are you talking about?" Right?

10:01 I had this whole thing. I really had this feeling of like, "I can not experience you yelling. It needs to stop. It needs to go away. It needs to never happen again." But why was that? The first thing is I was so scared. Not of him yelling, I was scared of my feelings. Because when he yelled at me, I made it mean that our marriage was falling apart. I made it mean that he didn't love me anymore. I get why I thought that, just because it came from I'd never seen that in a loving marriage. But, that all happened between my ears in my brain. It all happened there. It didn't happen in him yelling. And if he had married someone who came from a house where yelling wasn't a scary thing and that was just a method of communication, then they wouldn't have been crying on the couch.

10:52 So when I made it mean that, I was crushed. I was totally crushed. I thought sort of on a subconscious level, on like a very primitive level, I thought that crushed can kill you. This is where we get with negative feelings. I think resentment might be fatal. I think embarrassment, that could be the end of me. We're so scared of just feeling the feelings. And even when I know now that I've been doing this work for several years that my feelings are coming from my thoughts, I also need to be willing to sometimes feel those feelings.

11:35 So what if you were going to kind of just feel negative about your marriage and your husband sometimes? What if that was the contract going in? What if you were told, "Okay, you're about to get married. And up to 50% of the time it's going to be a negative emotion"? It doesn't mean anything bad or scary about the viability of your marriage or how much you love each other. That's just the contract. As you are getting married, they're just going to ... You know, at the office, the government office where you get your marriage certificate. We just want you to sign on the dotted line that you understand that that's sort of your waiver. So then, we would have a negative feeling and it would be like, "Oh, working towards my 50%" right? Wouldn't be so scary.

12:15 But, one of the shoulds that we have is that we should always feel good, and positive, and loving, and connected. Those things are great, and that's what we're working towards. I think that when I work with women and I think that when we study, and we read books, and we work on our marriages, and we work on ourselves, I think we do get more of that. I think we do get more positive emotion in our marriages. But, I also think that the belief that it can't be in a marriage, or that it shouldn't be in a marriage, and that it's dangerous if we have negative emotions in our marriage, that compounds the feeling so much more than the feeling itself. I could have been crushed because I was yelled at, but I was crushed and I thought it was going to kill me, and I thought that this was the end. I thought I wasn't supposed to feel crushed. That wasn't an acceptable feeling for a newlywed.

13:08 I just want to circle back to this idea that I don't want to be in a relationship with a guy who's trying to fix me. Isn't it kind of funny, just looking at our society, how we've all these women running around trying to fix their husbands? But if you have a man who's trying to behave the same way towards his wife, we're all pretty sure that's abuse. How does that happen? In the same breath, we're saying there's no difference between men and women. I just know that I want to come home and feel totally loved, and accepted, and understood. I want to sometimes not be my best, and I want that to be okay.

13:44 So sometimes, if you see your husband not at his best, a thought that I think is really valuable is like, "Okay, here he's being cranky. I'm going to be okay with that because I want to ... I'm going to give that to him." Just like I would want him to give to me, like you get to be cranky sometimes, I am giving him the gift of in this relationship you're good. You can be cranky. I know that if you were off meeting the president of your company, you wouldn't get to be cranky because you have to be at your best. It's not a relationship where you're feeling secure, where you feel like you can be yourself. I'm going to give you being cranky. My gift to you. Of course, this is really easy because my husband is practically never cranky, and I'm always cranky. So, maybe I should pick a different gift.

14:31 But, I don't always get my husband. And I don't need them to change for me to be happy. I don't need him to change for me to love him. All of that's going on between my ears in my head. My experience is in my thoughts and my feelings, and I own them, not him, not his behavior.

14:52 I think I could probably get on every single week and talk just about this again, and we would all need to hear it. One of the reasons I was so excited to do a podcast is because we just need this all the time. Maybe some of you are like magical unicorns and you don't, but I've never met you. It's just normal. This is the relationship where all our stuff comes out. We figure out one area, and another area comes back. Why? Because this is the person who was custom-designed for your growth. You have so much growth to do.

15:25 If I'd never had a conflict with my husband, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. I am so grateful that he's not just a clone of me. I really think I could just get back on here every single week and we could talk about this again and all of us would need that reminder. So maybe I'll talk about it more. But don't worry, I won't talk about every week.

15:44 I want to add this in. This is important. I want to add this in because I don't want any women who are in seriously unhealthy relationships to use this material against themselves. So I want to make sure this is clear, that if your husband is doing something that is beyond your personal boundaries, let's say he's cheating on you, or he's hurting you, or he's speaking to you in a way that you consider abusive, or he's dealing with gambling or addiction, something like that, I want you to know that all of this is still true and you could leave. You can love him, and you can choose to protect yourself. You can love him, and you can also make a decision about whether you're going to stay in this relationship.

16:23 I want you to know that you don't actually have to be hurt or crushed to leave. You can leave because you choose to do it. I think that's just important for all of us to know. But we're not talking about ... You know, the question about this podcast was the difference between self-knowledge and submission, right? What I'm trying to show you is that you can let him be who he is from a place of personal empowerment. I'm not just dealing with it. I'm not just putting up with it. I'm not just letting it go. You only let something go because it's yours to control. Another person isn't yours to control. So this mentality of, "How can I just be okay with him doing that?" well, I want to ask, "What's the alternative?"

17:08 So again, you can set boundaries for yourself. You can say, "Honey, when you raise your voice, I don't like all the things that I have to deal with that go on in my brain because you're raising your voice. And I don't want this to be a marriage where we raise our voices with each other, so I'm going to leave the room. Then, I'll just wait for you to come back out. I'm going to assume that when you start the conversation with me again we're going to do it at a lower decibel."

17:29 You can have boundaries, right? But I can do all that and be like, "Oh, I love that guy, but he's yelling, so I'm going to tell him that thing about my boundaries." I don't have to go to, "This is unacceptable. This is hurtful. This is abusive. This is wrong." I don't have to go to that place to decide that this is where my line is and this is what I'm going to do about it.

17:55 So I want to ask you, you could be in your marriage to fix him or you can be in your marriage to love him. You can love him and not want to fix him, and that's not called settling. That's called empowerment. That's called owning your experience and not making him the one that's responsible for whether you're happy or not.

18:21 All right, I hope this was an effective booster shot for you guys. I want to just reiterate this has been coming up so much in my coaching. Your feelings aren't dangerous. You can feel bad sometimes. You can kind of hate him sometimes. It's okay. Obviously, if you're getting to a place where you feel negative about your marriage in general ... So, I spoke last ... I think it was last week, about the Gottmans. They talk about positive sentiment override. We do want an overwhelming level of positivity versus negativity. But when I'm not scared of my feelings, then I can take a second and step back and wonder why I'm feeling that in the first place. The answer isn't because of what he did. The answer is always because of what I made it mean.

19:12 So, I want to encourage you. I have seen an amazing number of women do this work, experience this growth. I'm not going to claim that it's easy, but I'm going to claim that it's so worth it, and it has dividends like you wouldn't believe. So, I want to really encourage you to take the time. Be brave. Be courageous. Work on this. Work on what's going on in your head. Be open to what's going on in your head. Notice those uncomfortable feelings. Notice what they make you do. See if you can just let them be there for a little while. We'll see you back here, your new and improved self, after another week of self-development, back here on the podcast next week. Have an amazing week. Bye-bye.

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