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Episode 31 - What it Means to Give - Interview with The Husband Part 2

Episode 31 Overview

This week I had my husband back on the podcast to talk about a man's perspective about what it means to give. This is a follow up to "Episode 30 - Just Ask!". It's so helpful to hear a guys perspective on this topic. As I share in the podcast, this is my #1 challenge and something that I know shifts they dynamic of the relationship in a very positive way.


Kayla: 00:00 Episode 31, What It Means To Give: Interview With The Husband, Part Two. 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. Welcome back, ladies. Due to many requests and also my own personal need to continue working on a topic from last week's podcast episode, I have my husband on again this week, which is super exciting. If you didn't listen to last week's episode, you don't need to hear I don't think before listening to this one, but you might want to listen to it afterwards. I just want to give you the very basic concept was that I was talking about the difference in how men and women relate to asking for things and how when we can identify something that we really want that we can't get for ourselves and we're vulnerable enough to ask for it and actually be enthusiastic about that and not sarcastic and ironic, but really asking for what we want and appreciating it, that it is really transformative to the relationship. My husband, who many of you know if you've been listening for a while, edits the podcasts as well as runs a lot of the business, pretty much does everything other than the coaching and the podcasting, was editing the podcast and noticed that even in the example that I gave of how to ask your husband for something, I didn't even ask a question. It was just so typical. I like literally when I'm trying to get myself to ask my husband for something, I try to imagine like, "Is there a question mark at the end of the sentence?" There's almost never one. I thought that selfishly getting you on, Noah, to talk about your perspective, but I think also because I'm very not alone in this as it's something that a lot of women struggle with, hearing it from a man is something that is irreplaceable, so thank you so much for coming on.

Noah: 02:28 Thank you for having me again.

Kayla: 02:31 Do you want me to start with questions? Or do you want to intro it?

Noah: 02:32 I'm always terrified when you ask me questions on this, even though I get to edit, but no. At least the background of why I was excited about this in general was because it really I think made a gigantic difference of all the things you've brought into marriage because of all of the research that you've done. This one made a huge difference to me. I'm a huge fan of it. I think anybody whose husband realizes that this came from you is going to appreciate it a lot, but it also does a lot for the women. It did a lot for you, and I see how much I'm able to relieve stress when you're able to openly ask me for something that's actually going to help you and that means the world. That piece of it, I think the baseline for me as a results-focused person is to get a result, but that's not necessarily... I won't do something if it doesn't serve a purpose, right?

Kayla: 03:37 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Noah: 03:37 I'll question until I get to a point where I understand the purpose, and then I'll do it. This is a step above that, and I don't know if you even know that until now with me describing it to you, but-

Kayla: 03:50 What do you mean by it's a step above that?

Noah: 03:53 Doing something to give to you is like winning the lottery, like nothing else matters. I think this is something... we haven't talked about this so much, but the whole move to Israel was the ultimate fulfilling of something you asked for explicitly. When we first got married, it was like, "I want to be in Israel." I didn't stop for 10 years until we got there and now it's happening. To me, that's not like a, "Great, now I get to hold this over you." It's like a, "I won the game". Like, "This is great. What do we get to do now?"

Kayla: 04:36 I want to point something out because I think that if I didn't know that this was typical I would feel terrible, but I don't have the same relationship to giving. Now, I feel that way sometimes when I know that I did something that you really needed, like especially if you're really struggling with something and I help you, or you're not feeling well and I can do something to take care of you. I find that like over the weekend when the baby needed a diaper change and you jumped up to do it, I can't imagine myself jumping up to you like, "I'll change the diaper so you don't have to." I have to explicitly work on trying to be a giver, and to some degree that's probably a personality thing, but I also think that we just have a different relationship as a man and a woman in terms of what it means to give. I talk about that a little bit in the last episode, how women tend to keep score a little bit more, and the other things is that, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that men tend to be very much wanting to give, but also will say no if they don't want to, where I think sometimes as women we are concerned that someone will do something and then be resentful instead of just not saying no. I don't know how those two things go together because you never say no. How come you're not resentful sometimes?

Noah: 06:05 I think it comes through as a different thing. You talked about this in a previous episode, or at least I've learned it from you, which is that when men want food they just go get it, so that's when I say no all the time. I'll go, "I'm hungry", I'll go to the fridge. You need something in the meantime. There's not an option for that, so that's not an explicit you asked me something, I said no, I'll just be like, "I'm eating right now. I will be available soon -

Kayla: 06:33 Or even if you're working. Sometimes like if there's something and you have a deadline or you're really focused on something, that's true.

Noah: 06:39 You always describe that as like -

Kayla: 06:42 Here's the thing. Sometimes I just say no because I don't want to. That I don't see you doing so much, at least not if I'm asking something in a way where you're set up to win. This is the one thing that I feel like I really learned is that... I see it with my clients a lot and I see that transformation as they learn it, is that we have to catch ourselves as women in setting up our husbands. Are you asking them to do something and it's actually important? It would actually make you happy, and after the fact, is he actually going to get any credit? Is there going to be that reward? I got into this conversation with someone which I thought was so fascinating where I said men play for points. A lot of people have used that phrase. I said not out of guilt. Guilt might motivate a woman, but it doesn't really motivate men. Points do and success does, and they were like, "Isn't that just another version of 'boys will be boys'? Men can't even grow up?" I was like, "No, because who says guilt is better than points?"

Noah: 07:51 Or maybe let's just say it is that men can't grow up and let's say it's just like a video game. You know what the great thing about points in a video game is? When you're playing whatever it is, you're playing a game and you're racking up points, you don't trade them in for anything. It's just the higher the number the better, so that's how we work -

Kayla: 08:11 If we could just give you 5,000 points every time, then I just run out.

Noah: 08:15 Exactly. What's the problem? Why would you want to knock that out of a person? Let me be a kid and enjoy and be giddy about winning points.

Kayla: 08:27 The thing that I see with you is that like when I'm actually able to do that, which maybe we'll go into more why that's so difficult for women, when I am able to, the analogy that I use for it is it's fuel. It's like fuel in your tank. All of a sudden, it's like you've just had a Red Bull and now you have all this energy and you're like-

Noah: 08:45 That's why-

Kayla: 08:45 "What's the next place where I can get more points?"

Noah: 08:49 That's why I was so excited about you bringing me on and being able to talk about this because I've been able to experience it with you doing it and it makes the world of a difference because there are times where work is really hard. There are times where kids can be hard, where life is rough, finances are hard. Anything giving the ability to have meaning when you're failing at other things or you just don't feel like you're getting results in other areas of your life, even if it's just for the last 24 hours, had a bad day at work, went to synagogue to learn and I didn't even get any time to learn anything, I come home and I go to the garbage can, this is what I learned from Rabbi Daniel Greenblatt, and I see you going for the garbage can and I take it away and I say, "I'm taking this out because it's below you." It makes you so giddy because I did something for you -

Kayla: 09:45 He literally does this every single time. Let your husband listen to this. Even though I know he got this from Rabbi Greenblatt, and I have also realized that he actually waits to see me start taking out the garbage so he can swoop in and take it, even knowing all that stuff it's still swoon town. What can I say? It's just so cheesy and cute.

Noah: 10:08 It's points.

Kayla: 10:08 It's points. You get points. That's true.

Noah: 10:11 I'll take as many points as I can get because then I'm winning. This is an area that I'm winning in. Nothing else matters. I can go through hundreds of days of rough days at work and screaming children and rough finances, and if we're solid, then we're solid and we'll get through it and we'll be good. Sound advice when your peace in the home is not solid, nothing else matters either. You can't get through a good day at work if just everything else is empty. To me, doing something for you that actually matters, that you explicitly recognize matters, that you asked me for, and then after I do it I get a hug and you tell me what it means for you and you thank me explicitly. I don't get that anywhere else, nowhere. Nowhere in the world. When a kid comes up sometimes they'll be like super grateful. Usually not unless I told them to do it, but it's an amazing, amazing feeling that drives life. I think for men this is an area that could transform them. Forget just in marriage, just give them the fuel to operate.

Kayla: 11:32 Break it down for me. If you're saying... you actually just did a little bit, let's make it super crystal clear, so for the women that are listening to this podcast and they're saying, "Okay, I got it. I want him to add fuel in the tank. I want to give him as many points as possible." What is actually included? They've heard my version of it. I want them to hear your version of that process going as well as possible. What are the components that are in there that matter?

Noah: 11:57 Number one is it's not that we want to be heroes and save the day all the time. This is something you've said. Men don't like to save the day. When you're a disaster and everything is falling apart and because you keep getting yourself into trouble, I do get annoyed, right?

Kayla: 12:13 Yes. That's the same thing if I keep doing the same thing to myself over and over. The first day that I forget to eat lunch and then I'm falling apart, he feels terrible for me, but if it happens again, he's like, "You need to fix this. We're fixing this right now. We don't have the bandwidth for you to not be reliable", and I'm only saying this because this is very typical and women can sometimes still be stuck in the... honestly men, too, sometimes, but often women can be stuck in the place of wanting the empathy, but when I'm like, "Do you think maybe it's a little annoying for him that all of a sudden they're like, 'Oh, good point. Maybe I don't need the empathy. Maybe I could just go ahead and fix the problem.'" If you have an area where you're seeing your husband is starting to get annoyed, then it might be that this is a place where he actually just does want to fix it. It's not, like you said, he doesn't want to save the day all the time.

Noah: 13:09 Particularly if it's like your health and you're not eating health, no. No, I don't want to be like the person coming in and providing for you because you're not taking care of yourself. I want a healthy wife. That area, or in like the kids are rough or whatever it is, but that's number one and it's a subtle difference of I think this is where a lot of people get caught up because it's not necessarily PC. It's not like men don't want women who need them necessarily. It's not that I want you to need me, it's that I want you to want me to provide for you and that there's something that I can actually provide. Meaning I love the fact that you're rocking it on this business. That doesn't threaten me. That's not a contradiction to this, and that's a very subtle aspect to it, but taking out the garbage, taking you out to dinner, giving you an experience or a gift or time that means something to you, that is what we're talking about. That is huge. That's not me needing you to need me, that's me providing something that I exclusively can give to you that I get to fulfill that role, that I get to matter. From there, I think it's about the question of, how do you bring it up? Is it like, "There is garbage"? I'm like, "Great."

Kayla: 14:41 This is not a joke. This is literally -

Noah: 14:42 The baby's diaper -

Kayla: 14:43 How I'll say it -

Noah: 14:43 Is dirty.

Kayla: 14:44 The garbage needs to go out. The diaper needs... Remember like in grammar we had to learn about what's the object? I feel like it's an old grammar lesson. The dishes aren't clean. It's so hard, you guys. I've been trying this for years. I've been working on just a question with a question mark. "Would you please take out the garbage?" Ideally, "Would you please take out the garbage for me?" Oh my gosh, you all get really upset about the "for me", right? It's like a trigger press. It's so hard to say "for me" because you have that stuff is yours, but why is it for me? From what you're saying, it's because the only reason you want to do it is for me, right?

Noah: 15:29 I can take out the garbage for me. That would be fine. I could do the dishes. I can take care of the baby's diaper. I'm happy to do that, it's just not exciting. It's a lot more exciting when I'm doing it for you. Why not take something that's so boring... it's like once somebody talked to about taking a shower. "I take a shower. You do it every day. It's really boring, but if you go in the shower and you have the mentality like, 'I am making myself not smell so that people next to me today can enjoy a fresh seat on the train'", then it's just a different mentality. It's a mentality of positivity and giving that you're infusing into something really mundane. Fine, I could wash the dishes, I could change the baby's diaper. Big deal, but if I get to do it for you, it's not that I'm not doing it for me and I'm waiting because it's like a tit for tat, whatever. It's no, I'm taking something that super boring and it's us just operating like machines, and turning it into a relationship and something to bond over.

Kayla: 16:35 This I think is the total paradigm shift that we have to undergo as the women asking because I think we often see you as a limited resource, and so if I have to ask for the garbage, then I might not be able to ask for the dishes later or whatever the thing is. What do I really need? What's really the most important? Then, I'm resentful because I have to ask, but that's the exact opposite. It's not a limited resource and every time I ask I have less and less left, it's actually the opposite. Every time I ask, if I'm asking in this way where there are points involved, then there's so much more giving available. There's so much more that you're able to contribute because it's giving you that energy. That I'm still working on, you guys, it's so hard.

Noah: 17:20 At least -

Kayla: 17:22 I think the only way I've been able to be able to do it is if it's with a spirit of playfulness. "Let's see what happens to him when I say this." Even like trying to imagine saying stuff. I have a hard time phrasing -

Noah: 17:40 I'll be honest. You're very... you have the humility. You let me be obnoxious and point it back out to you. You'll say like, "The garbage is full", and I'll say to you, "Could you please take out the garbage?"

Kayla: 17:40 Exactly.

Noah: 17:54 Then, you'll repeat it back to me just like I say it to our children to teach them to ask basically.

Kayla: 18:00 That's true.

Noah: 18:02 You'll-

Kayla: 18:02 If that's what it takes, I'll take it. That's -

Noah: 18:04 Okay by me, it -

Kayla: 18:04 Doesn't flow easy right now, and I'm working on it -

Noah: 18:06 It still makes a difference to me when you're like, "Would you please take out the garbage for me?"

Kayla: 18:10 Even though I have to rephrase it, it still helps -

Noah: 18:12 Totally. It's just like when I say, "That must be really hard for you."

Kayla: 18:17 It's really tricky because if I'm in sort of more of a masculine mode and I'm more results driven, which is often like when I want the garbage taken out, the house needs to be cleaned and I'm just looking for that result and I'm just totally focused on it. To just be able to switch into the playful mode of, "Would you take out the garbage for me?" It's so hard, but if I step back for a second and think, "Okay, well, the house can be cleaned without being in that result-driven mode and I can have so much more partnership and so much more help in that process if I'm able to sort of access that side." Now, I don't know that playfulness is what's required of everybody, but for me, I think that tends to help to be able to just sort of ask in that way.

Noah: 19:03 I think the way... it's important to make sure that there's a question mark at the end and examples are, "Could you please do X? It would mean a lot to me if you would do this." Saying the word "you" and then thanking afterwards or hugging or smiling or showing emotion, the vulnerability of that afterwards is a big deal. Now, what I fear is I know all of this information, so it's easy for us to do this well. I don't know-

Kayla: 19:03 No it's not.

Noah: 19:36 No, I'm saying when you... Fair. I'm saying when we attempt it, it's a safe thing to do, meaning if you come to me and I'm sitting on the couch and you're like, "Would you please take out the garbage?" I'm like, "No!" I don't know if some of the people listening are going to have that experience, and it might be that it takes a little bit to get to a place where this becomes a playful thing. It might be that people should listen to this -

Kayla: 20:05 Until they get ... I would definitely recommend to the ladies to try this with something that you're already getting, not with something that you're not getting yet. If he does generally take the trash down to the curb but you are the one that reminds him when, or whatever the thing is, then I would suggest practicing on that, on the thing that you already know you're going to get. That way you're also really focused on your own zone. Like, "What am I doing? How am I showing up? How am I acting?" Then, his response can be a little bit irrelevant, then you can sort of start to pay attention to it sort of from that like anthropological perspective like, "Okay, what is he doing when I behave this way?" Sort of studying it, but it's a very good point. You don't want to just come into a relationship where it is very tit for tat and you already have that dynamic, and then just feel like "Could you take my car to the shop and wash it for me and get a detail clean?"

Noah: 20:59 "I listened to this podcast and they told me to do that and you're failing." I think that's a genius suggestion and that one of the things you've done before, and we're at my parents house now, you'll go off to my Mom and brag about me to my Mom, who's a safe person to brag to. You don't want to brag about your husband to like -

Kayla: 21:18 Other women -

Noah: 21:19 Friends -

Kayla: 21:19 Other married women.

Noah: 21:21 But like telling my Mom and I'll hear you talking about it and there are things you describe that you appreciate that I have never heard that you appreciated, and it's like to me, no, that's a great way to start also is to show wherever you can what you care about because to me that's like, "Oh, great. I can do more of that and I get points."

Kayla: 21:44 This is where I get frustrated when people are like, "You just need to communicate more", because bad communication isn't any better than no communication in a lot of ways. If the attitude you have is, again, tit for tat or cynical or resentful, if that's the place you're in, then just doing more of that doesn't help. Just as one tip that I learned from the Gottmans that I think is really, really helpful is that when they were studying... They have a lab where they literally study the conversations and the habits and the interactions between couples and then track them to see if the couple stays together. One thing they found is that if a conversation starts on a negative note, it generally can't be saved, and so if there's a hard start to a conversation, like if it's an accusation or if it's cynicism or if it's eye-rolling or any of those things, sarcasm, then it's better to find a quick and easy out of the conversation and to just assure the other person that you'll come back to it. Even the best couples sometimes have a hard start. It's really normal and just to say like, "You know what? I think we're not in the right place to have this conversation. I want to talk to you about it. Let's come back to it again later." Sorry, that was a tangent, but I thought it would be relevant for what we're talking about.

Noah: 23:03 No, I think that's perfect. I think bringing it full circle to what we were talking about in the beginning, to do something that matters, to know that it matters, to take opportunities to let your husband that it matters is huge because I'm going to work and I have good clients. I have clients that are harder to work with sometimes. Thankfully right now, everybody is great, but it's not always the case. There are situations that come up. It's just hard, whatever outside of the house. I come home and none of that matters if I feel like I'm built up in your eyes. I imagine that's similar in the other direction, and I feel like this is a way where spouses can show appreciation for each other. I appreciate when you give me opportunities to give to you. You don't need to give to me to get that appreciation. I appreciate all of the giving that you do, but the ability for me to also give back is a huge, huge thing for me and it allows me to have that confidence doing everything else that I'm doing.

Kayla: 24:17 Well, I'm glad you get that. I think we'll make that the homework this week. I like the way that you were saying to sort of start with appreciation. Start by expressing the appreciation you have for your husband, or wife if you're a guy listening, and one other tip that I just wanted to give is that some people find this much easier in writing, so if you're really struggling to do it verbally, start with writing but don't let yourself off the hook. It does still need to translate on the daily basis of just being two people who live together who share a household, maybe even share parenting, all of the stuff that's going on between you. Learning to adjust that statement to a question, if you're struggling the same way that I do, adding in the "for me" at the end or just saying because what it would mean for you or what it would give you if he were to do that for you, working on that is extremely profound, and so that's your homework for the week. Go ahead and send in any questions you have and we'll see you back here again next week. Thanks so much for tuning in. Bye-bye.

Noah: 25:22 Bye-bye.

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