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Episode 20 - Your Marriage Mentor

Episode 20 Overview

In this episode I walk you through the 7 factors to look for in finding a mentor for your marriage. Having a coach, mentor, and really taking advantage of all of the resources you can get your hands on is so important for building a solid foundation to your marriage. As I discuss in this episode, you may have 4-5 careers in your life but you hope to only have one marriage... isn't it odd how much more we often invest in mentors for our careers? Listen and jot down these 7 things to look for and then go get yourself a mentor!

Also, if you haven't already, check out Episode 14 where I first discussed having a marriage mentor.

You can also sign up for my course starting in May here and get free access to the first class immediately.


00:01 Episode 20, Your Marriage Mentor. 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, with practical tips, real-life inspiration, and more than a little self-awareness along the way.

00:38 Before we get started, did you know that I have six-week online course for newlyweds? We'll be starting the next one in mid-May, and I want you in it. Over those six weeks, I'm supporting you through some extremely powerful material. We'll be talking communication and intimacy and resentment and self-care.

00:57 This stuff is so much fun. All these pieces go together to make a strong and happy marriage. You're going to learn how to coach yourself, a skill that you can apply to any relationship and situation. You'll learn the scientific research that will turn everything you think you know on its head. Grab your spot. I have a few spots left for a bonus one-on-one coaching session going to the first 10 people to sign up. Many of them have already been taken, but there's a couple left. If you hurry, you can grab one. You want to go to and click on the link that says 'The FYM Course'. I can't wait to see you in the program.

01:33 Today we're going to be talking about your marriage mentor. This is a topic that brings up a lot of thoughts and feelings for you all. We started this conversation in episode 14, which is called It Gets Better. It's a great one to listen to if you are still early on in your marriage, which I know many of you are.

01:51 What is the whole concept of having a marriage mentor? This is that you have someone that you can go to when you're struggling in your marriage or you have a question or you just want to figure out how to navigate a situation. I'm going to talk to you today about why you might want one, how you could go about finding a mentor, and how to deal with changes in that relationship down the road.

02:11 Okay. Here's the main thing I want you to think when you're looking for a person to help mentor you in your marriage. This is also something, I think, you should consider if you already have a marriage mentor.

02:22 The number one thing I want you to think is it protects the respect for your marriage. If this is not a relationship that is enhancing respect for your husband, for you as capable and competent people who can do this and who are good, this may not be a mentor for you.

02:43 Obviously, this is barring if you are checking with somebody, if you are dealing with a situation that is beyond the pale, if there's a possibility of abuse or mental illness and you're trying to figure that out. Then obviously that wouldn't necessarily apply. I'm going to go into my checklist, and this will make it clear. Here's what I want you to think about for who it should be.

03:03 You want to see somebody, a, who respects and likes your husbands. This is really helpful because then when you're going because your husband did something or said something and it offended you, if this person really has a feel for who he is and respects him as a person, they're going to be able to see in a positive light that you might not be able to see at that moment. But if they think he's really just a Neanderthal, then you're just going to get more of the same, and that's not what you need in those moments. What you need is somebody who can remind you of the good side of him.

03:35 Obviously, this is within limits. You don't want somebody who's obsessed with your husband. As long as there's appropriate boundaries, you want to make sure this person respects and likes your husband. Moving on.

03:46 B, you want someone who's open about their own struggles. Again, this is within limits, because if you're holding them together and they're completely falling apart, this isn't a mentor relationship. This could be a friendship. But it wouldn't count as that person being a mentor if they're constantly telling you about how they're really struggling.

04:03 However, what I want you to avoid is somebody who is trying to paint themselves as a picture-perfect wife in a picture-perfect marriage because I don't think that that person is necessarily being vulnerable enough for you to learn from them. You want to hear that this person may have struggled with something similar or what they had to overcome, because you don't need to know all the gritty details, you don't need to know all their husband's limitations, but you do want to know that this person is being human with you and isn't trying to use this to make themselves feel competent and capable and perfect.

04:43 C, this is someone that you can be vulnerable with. This is a tricky one to figure out because here's the thing. Most of us don't feel that we can be vulnerable with just about anybody. I don't mean that this is someone that is easy to be vulnerable with. I don't think it's necessarily going to be easy, especially early on in the relationship. But you don't want someone where there's a conflict when you become vulnerable with them.

05:15 For instance, if it's your boss or if it's somebody that you need to show up as performing, or it's somebody where it's not appropriate for you to be discussing your marriage. Then those would not be situations that you would choose that person for a mentor.

05:30 D, it should be someone where when you see her with her husband, you see respect and fondness and friendship between the two of them. You don't need to see romance because, depending on the relationship, they might not feel that that's appropriate to show to somebody outside of the two of them. If you are seeing friendship between them, if you're seeing fondness and respect, this is a very good baseline to go on.

05:54 Obviously, you never know. People could fool you. You could think that they have a great marriage, you could think that they're treating each other great, and they're really not. Ultimately, we just have to do our best with that.

06:08 I'm going to say e, which some of you might disagree with me. I mean you might disagree with me with all these, but I'm going to make a claim, is that it should be a woman. Now I want to make a very important caveat. This doesn't mean that you won't gain immensely from learning from men, specifically older men, about their experiences of being husbands, of being in love. Hearing men describe what it means to be a husband and what their wife provides for them is an extremely powerful experience.

06:38 But in this relationship, I want you to be able to reach a certain level of vulnerability and to be on the same page and to feel like this person has walked a mile in your shoes. Whether it's nature or nurture, it does not matter because the way that a woman is growing up in her society is different than a way a man is growing up in our society. A woman is going to have much more in common with your struggles and what you've dealt with in the relationship.

07:05 Also, obviously, just in terms of barriers whenever you're getting into a situation where you're being extremely vulnerable, you want it to be someone of the same sex that just protects your marriage in an additional way.

07:16 F, you want to make sure this person doesn't have an agenda for you. Do they stand to lose by you ultimately getting divorced? Do they stand to gain by... I don't know. If you feel like this person has some kind of agenda, they're trying to get you to do something, they're not really just listening to you and helping guide you.

07:37 I do want to say that I think you can trust your gut on this, because it could seem like maybe somebody has an agenda or someone else might tell you that someone has an agenda, but, for the most part, I think that if you really get to know someone, you really can get a good feel for whether they're in it for your ultimate good or if they have an agenda. I think you can pretty much trust your gut on that one.

08:00 The last one, g, is that I want you to try and find somebody who's older, but not too much older. That's for two main reasons, and I think I talked about this also in the previous podcast, which is that you want them to be older because you want them to obviously be able to have that hindsight that you don't have right now.

08:17 When I talk to a newlywed, I'm speaking from a place of standing in a very solid and firm relationship. I can remember what it's like to have the jitters in every single fight. It feels like it's all going to end, and it's very stressful, and very exciting and very silly and wonderful and everything, but also very stressful. I can remember that.

08:38 But because I can see it with hindsight, I know that that's a natural process, and I could help someone see why they're there and that they're going to move beyond it. That's much more helpful than someone else who's like, "Oh, my gosh. Wow! He said that? You guys really might be losing it and getting divorced." Not helpful.

08:54 You definitely want someone who's older, but you also don't want someone who's too much older. The two main reasons for that is that, a, they might not remember that clearly. I mean to be perfectly honest with you, I didn't work with newlyweds all the time. I wouldn't remember as vividly what my newlywed experience was like. It's only when they're bringing up to me what they're dealing with, I'm like, "Oh, my gosh. Yes."

09:16 But if for the last 10 years, I hadn't been talking to newlyweds and working with newlyweds and then a newlywed came over and started talking to me, it would take me a minute to jog the old memory and remember, and that's only 10 years. I would say if you're looking at someone your parents' generation, then that might be pushing it.

09:32 The other reason for that is that so much has changed in terms of our society, our expectations of our marriage relationship, that if you get someone who's too much older, then they were probably going in with a much more clear-cut expectation of what was expected of a husband, what was expected of a wife. We don't have that anymore, for better and for worse.

09:52 You can illuminate each other. I think you can definitely learn from each other, but you're going to want to know that that's a factor in terms of if that's going to be the best person for you. It might be that it's worth it because this person is so wise, or maybe they have children who are married, and so they're seeing it all over again. But it's just definitely something to keep in mind.

10:13 Again, a few weeks ago, I encouraged you to start looking for this person. I wanted to give you some more ideas, if you're feeling stuck about where to find her.

10:22 You want to look for places where you aren't restricted to your age group. Let's say you're an undergrad. Your classmates are not going to be helpful to you in this one because they're going to be around the same age group. If you work in a cohort that's pretty much the same age as you, that's not going to be the best place to look.

10:39 Since you want your mentor to be a little bit older, you would probably want to think of in terms of places of worship. If you're religious and you go somewhere on a regular basis, that is a fantastic place to meet people, partly because you have a mix of ages and partly because people are in a very generous frame of mind, and so it's a great place to ask somebody to mentor you.

11:03 Community programming is also great, volunteer activities. I would even say you could ask your parents, if you have this kind of relationship, for suggestions of friends of theirs. It could be that your best friend growing up, their parents are actually... The mom might be a great person for you to reach out to.

11:20 The first thing is to just unstick your mind to what we tend to have, which is all the people we think of are the same age us and going through exactly what we're going through, and try to break it open. By the way, it doesn't just have to be your parents. You could reach out to your friends or you could reach out to other people and say, "I'm really looking for someone to serve as my marriage mentor. My marriage coach says I have to get one. Do you have any suggestions for me? Do you know anyone? Do you have a coworker?"

11:50 I personally don't know anybody who doesn't love hearing that they're so clearly a success that someone wants to learn from them. Don't be worried about going and asking because what bigger compliment could a person possibly get than that this young, awesome person came over and thinks they're so fabulous and they might have something to offer.

12:10 Now you don't need to go into this as a long-term relationship. I would say if you don't know the person that well, you don't want to say, "Do you want to be my marriage mentor?" because what if you talked to two times and you're like, "Whoa! Definitely not for me." That's not going to work.

12:24 But if you know this person, or by the time you get to know this person, be willing to tell them that. Be willing to tell them, "I saw the way that you and your husband were talking, and it just occurred to me that that's what I'm shooting for in my marriage. I'm newly married. I'm still figuring it out. I could really use... Would you mind? Could I take you for coffee and you could just let me partake in the wisdom? Give me some advice or some suggestions. I really want to get off on the right foot." I mean, come on. Who could say no to that? If they say no, they're a horrible troll.

12:58 I also want to talk about discomfort vis-a-vis finding a mentor. I want to contrast this with looking for a professional mentor. If you knew without a doubt that you would benefit in your career from asking Person X in cubicle Y to become your mentor, you would walk yourself over to cubicle Y. You would be uncomfortable for a couple minutes and you would ask Person X to be your mentor. You wouldn't wait until it's not uncomfortable anymore. It would just be worth it to be uncomfortable for, what, 10 minutes tops? I mean how long does this conversation take?

13:33 I don't want you to wait until you worked it out for yourself, that you feel good about it and comfortable, because I don't think this is necessarily a comfortable relationship for most people. I mean some of you are extremely extroverted. God bless you. Enjoy. For the rest of us, this isn't going to become a comfortable conversation because you've mouthed over every night for the last two months.

13:53 Just go do it. Commit to being uncomfortable for 10 to 20 minutes. You can give yourself a little buffer there if you need it. Just go do it and be uncomfortable, because I want to promise you that uncomfortable is not lethal. You're not going to die from uncomfortable, but you might get yourself a mentor.

14:10 Just remember, again, if you knew this was what you needed for your job, you would do it. The average American, the last statistic I saw, has an average of four careers, not jobs, careers, in the course of their lifetime. And you're trying to stay married to this one person your whole life. All the more so, you need a mentor.

14:33 I want to bring in one piece that we have from Jewish wisdom, which I think is relevant to anybody. It's from a book called Pirkei Avot or Ethics of Our Fathers. The phrase is . It's a piece of advice given over. What it means is make for yourself a rabbi.

14:53 What is explained from this verse, what we learned from this verse is not, "Hey, rabbi. Go make sure you check up on everyone and make sure they're okay." No, it's the opposite. Us individuals need to go find for ourselves our rabbi or our mentor. It's on us, and that's not just in the beginning. I think this is really important. Again, whether you're Jewish or not, this concept of it being on you is so helpful for the health of this relationship.

15:22 First of all, if you know it's on you, you're not waiting for someone to come and say, "Oh, hey, newlywed. I'm a mentor looking for a mentee. Want to sign up?" That's not going to happen. It's on you. You're going to have to take the initiative. You're going to have to make yourself a little uncomfortable, or make an investment, and it's worth it.

15:42 It's also on you in terms of the relationship over time. Now some people stick with one mentor over time. I've become closer to certain people over time, like different people, based on what I felt was healthy for me. I remember at one point someone was too perfect in a way that I was really hard on myself, and so I just needed someone more relatable. After a couple of years of really being inspired by her, I became more close to somebody else.

16:07 When I moved from New Jersey to Atlanta, so I found somebody new. I had someone that was better for my marriage or someone who's more accessible. I've definitely been closer to different people over time. It doesn't mean that I cut off contact with anybody at any point, but at any given time it wasn't necessarily the same person.

16:27 Now for some people, that's not the case. They have one person they've been closer for a long time, and that's great. That's fine as long as it's working. But it's really important to remember, and again this goes back to the it's on you, that if your mentor is unpaid, you don't have a written contract with them for hours, not only are you not their first priority, you shouldn't be their first priority, because I'm going to argue that they wouldn't even be a good mentor to you if they're letting you be their first priority, because then what are you going to do?

16:57 You're going to go home and learn that even if your husband is falling apart and if you have kids, they're a disaster, and everyone badly needs you, but then a girl comes knocking on the door and she's crying, are you going to drop everyone to go to the girl?

17:10 It can't be like that. That's not the model that you need to be seeing. Even though, from what I've heard from mentors, all they want is to be able to help as many people with as many hours as they can. At the end of the day, we all have our limits and we have to have our priorities. They have to deal with their little circle first before they can expand out to your circle.

17:34 Sometimes what that means is that you work extra hard to support your mentor to allow your mentor to mentor you. What that might mean is that if they're on the phone with you for two hours because you got into a fight with your husband and you're trying to work it out, you might deliver dinner for them the next night.

17:52 When we were newly married, my husband and I would go and babysit so that they could go on a date, because this couple was just so helpful for us and was giving us so much support and love and guidance in our early days of our marriage. That was a way that we were very able to give back to them. You're not going to be able to give back tit for tat, but you can find what can you do? That's one way to nurture that relationship.

18:19 Are you thanking your mentor? Are you expressing appreciation for the time that they're taking with you? That can be hard to do because sometimes the conversations are negative because you're talking about... You usually call your mentor when you're dealing with something negative. But remembering that ultimately we want to make sure that we're thanking that person.

18:37 Now even if you do all those things and you're a lovely mentee and you check all the boxes, her life could just get really busy, and she just might not be available for you. That's where we just have to see she's teaching me a really powerful lesson right now. She's teaching me that sometimes you have to give up on the things that are very fulfilling for the short term because of the people that need it most or the priorities that are higher. You wouldn't expect her to not go to work one day because you need her, I hope.

19:10 We need to remember that all of those things within her circle, her family life, and her working life, those are all going to have to be her top priority. You want to take all those feelings, if you're feeling resentful or frustrated or you're in pain or whatever feelings you're having because of what it seems to mean that she's not available to you anymore, and realize that those feelings are just painting a picture for you of how valuable that relationship is, because if someone comes along and they're really unhelpful and we don't have a close relationship with them, and then they're like, "Sorry, I'm too busy," we're like, "Okay. See you later. It's not a problem."

19:52 But if someone's not available and we're devastated, so wow! That was a really important relationship, so I'm going to upgrade the amount of gratitude I have for everything that I have been given so far and I'm going to take this energy and I'm going to channel it into finding who can fill this role for me, because clearly this is a role that needs filling.

20:10 By the way, if you're wondering where this fits in with doing marriage classes like mine or premarital counseling or anything like that, I think it can go two ways. Assuming that what you're learning is healthy and helpful information, there shouldn't be any major contradiction with your mentor.

20:26 Remember, the ultimate point isn't your relationship with your mentor. The point is the relationship with your husband. Don't short-change your marriage on account of your marriage mentor. If you're worried that your mentor is not going to be comfortable because you're now going to go to therapy also or you're now going to take a course also, that's not really keeping the end goal in mind. Whatever you think is going to be best for your marriage, that has to come first.

20:49 Second, there are times when we just don't have someone for a while, or we have someone and they're really good support from time to time, but we feel like we need something deeper, we feel like we need something more, or there's information missing or a paradigm shift that needs to happen, or your conversations are a lovely Band-Aid, but the same issues keep coming up. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need to ditch your mentor.

21:14 If this describes you, seriously, you need to take my course. I've seen enough women go through and benefit at this point that I'm perfectly confident offering you a full money-back guarantee within 30 days if you don't gain from this material. These years are too special and too important to be wasting any extra negativity that comes from nothing more than missing information.

21:38 That's where this whole course came from, was me repeating the same information to all these different newlyweds and then going, "Well, this is inefficient. Let me just teach them all."

21:47 We are not born knowing how to do this marriage thing, so stop expecting yourself to just know. But learning about yourself and your husband through doing this work will be some of the most profound self-development you will ever do.

22:01 Before I sign off for today, I want to share with you a testimonial from Rebecca who took my course. She says, "Before I took this course, I was not in a good place in my brand new marriage. I was struggling with the thought that if my first three months of marriage was so hard, the rest of my life was going to be miserable.

22:19 After taking this course, I learned that I should challenge my beliefs and control my own emotions. I learned how men think differently than women, and that is a beautiful thing. I was able to take complete control of my own thoughts and happiness. I approached my marriage differently and tried to understand my husband on a better level. This not only improved my own happiness in my marriage, but my husband's as well. I can now gladly say that I look forward to a happy and healthy marriage."

22:47 Ladies, many of the women who come into my course are not coming in where Rebecca was. A lot of women come in and they say, "But I don't feel like I have any issues in my relationship right now." Some women come in and they say, "I think I'm too far gone for this." Some women come in and they say, "But I'm past year my first year of marriage."

23:05 I want to offer to you, my first class is available completely free. If you go to my website,, and click on 'Free Session', you will get that free class instantly. You will get the main tool that I use to work with my clients. If that work is resonating with you, by all means, you've got to sign up for this course. I'm doing it in May. May 19th is when we start the live cohort.

23:29 I probably won't be doing it again until the fall. This is definitely the time to get in. You have lifetime access to the course after the fact. Even if you get busy in the middle there, I've had women get married in the middle of the course. Clearly, things got busy for a little while. They come back when they can, and it's great because you have access.

23:49 We have a Facebook group for support throughout the course. I go in there, I'm coaching on a weekly basis, taking your questions, helping you troubleshoot and apply this material. By the time you walk out of that course six weeks later, you will have a completely different experience with your marriage than how you walked in. I cannot wait to see you in the course. Have a great week.

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