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Episode 35 - Getting Your Needs Met

Episode 35 Overview

I love hearing your questions and I recently got two questions that deserved a better answer than I could give in a quick online chat. Both women were asking about getting what they need from their husbands. Our first question deals with not feeling connected to a husband who travels a lot and doesn't help out when he's home. Our second question is about not getting validation when she needs it. Thank you so much for sending in your questions! If you'd like to send in a question, you can do so @firstyearmarried on Instagram.

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00:00 Episode 35: Getting Your Needs Met.

00:15 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.

00:37 Hey there ladies. Thank you so much for tuning back in this week. I got two messages through Instagram that were very, very similar in terms of this sort of underlying question. You'll see when I read them to you. I thought I'd put them together into one episode and try and focus really on what the skill is that we can all take away, because often hearing someone else's question, even if it doesn't describe your situation exactly, can still go a long way towards helping you see your own thing in a new light. Right? This is one of the awesome things about working with other people in a coaching program, because even if you totally don't relate on the day to day of what someone else is going through, somehow it's just so much easier to see it in someone else. I always think of how I come from a theater background, and how Aristotle talks about the idea of catharsis. That when we watch somebody on stage go through something tragic, we actually are able to experience all the pent up emotions that we've been having along the way.

01:36 In sort of a strange shift, this is similar on an intellectual level of what we're able to do with coaching as we can see someone else's problem, and then we sort of, ours can click into place. Hopefully that will be what you guys all get. Before I get started, I just wanted to say two quick things. One, I just have to thank you every single time because I am just so overwhelmed with gratitude with how much you are all sharing this podcast. How many new listeners there are. Please don't feel the need to catch up in any rush or any race. If you're feeling lost or confused by any of this material, you can always reach out to me at FirstYearMarried on Instagram. I love connecting with you all. I'm so touched when you tell me how things are going for you and how the podcast has affected you.

02:17 Thank you all so much for that. The second thing I wanted to let you know is that if you didn't hear in last week's episode, the First Year Married course is now evergreen. When you are ready, when it's time for you to focus and take six weeks and focus in on your marriage... I'm going to give you a secret. It's never going to be the perfect time. If you're ready to take this material, and it's resonating with you, and you want to put an investment into your marriage... We put so much of a financial investment into our weddings, and then when it comes to actually getting the skills we need for a solid and productive marriage, somehow it kind of all falls apart. The course is there. It's evergreen. That means that as soon as you up, you get access to the material and I guide you through it, and you get access to our coaching group, which is a private group on Facebook. I would love to have you in there. if you want to check that out.

03:10 Okay, so both questions this week actually come from women who are not newly married. One of them gave me her timeline as over 10 years married. The other one didn't say specifically when, but that she wasn't a newlywed. It's just interesting to see that even though of course First Year Married is pretty specific, a lot of these skills are things we're working on throughout, right? Our marriage is a total training ground for growing and learning and becoming our best self, and so it shouldn't get easier, because then what would you be doing?

03:41 My first person writes, "Most of the time I feel like we aren't really a partnership. My husband travels a lot, and when he's home I feel like he's living a single guy life and has no interest in working together with me. I'm feeling a lack of connection. Do I need to work on my mind shifting? How can one work on making their connection with their spouse stronger? How can they start building a better relationship?"

04:03 This is taking it back to sort of the fundamentals of what thought work is. Right? What we have to understand before we can go anywhere with this is that our feelings all come from our thoughts. If you were to take a guy who acts like a typical American married guy acts like, and put him into a culture that was extremely, let's say, patriarchal and the men never do anything, so if this guy cleared his dish off the table at the end of dinner, his wife would be like, "Oh my gosh, he's helping so much." Right? The exact same thing. He clears his dish off the table, and then goes and sits down in front of the computer. Then you take the typical American wife, right? She's going, "Why does he expect me to do it all?" Yeah?

04:48 What I want to point out is that there is no correct. There's no right or wrong. All it is is your interpretation of what it is. Now, does that mean that you can't get more help if that's what you need? No, never. Right? That's never what we're saying, but we have to realize that our experience of the behavior is coming through our interpretation of the behavior. Okay? What she says is... She's actually writing out a really clear, we're seeing the thought pattern here, right? She says, "Most of the time I feel like we aren't really a partnership." Now this is tricky. This isn't actually her feeling. This is her thought. Sometimes we say like, "I feel like this," but what we really mean by that is, "I'm thinking this."

05:28 Meaning, that's not actually a feeling, right? When we're using the word feeling, we're talking more about sadness or anxiety or something you can describe more with one word. "I'm feeling like we're not really a partnership," would be her thought. Her husband travels. He comes home, and he acts in a certain way. Single guy is already in interpretation of that, but this is what we would do in coaching is we would really break it down to like, "What is literally happening when you have that thought?" Maybe it is that he only clears his plate, and then he goes to the computer, and he doesn't stay and do dishes and clean up with you or whatever the thing is. What is actually literally happening right now without any of our story about what that means or...?

06:08 Then, what's the thought that that triggers for you? The thought that's triggering for her is, "We're not really a partnership." The other thought she's having is, "He's having this single guy life in the midst of our marriage, and he has no interest in working together with me." How is she feeling? Then that is going to say now we have to really be clear. When she has those thoughts, what feeling does that create for her? You could assume it could be resentment, it could be loneliness, it could be sadness. The very first thing that we're always going to do is we're going to really, really clarify: What's literally happening? What's the story we're telling about that? What are we making it mean, and what feelings does that bring up for us? Because now we have taken what's going on in our head, kind of all that noise, and we've got it out of our head in front of us.

06:57 Maybe even down on paper or out with a coach, and we can look at it, and we can say, "Okay, well do I, do I accept that thought as true?", because any of us that are raised in the states in a typical American household, if the guy's not doing somewhere close to 50% of the work, let's say between 30 and 50% of the work according to what we consider to be the work, we are culturally sort of triggered. I'm not saying this is wrong. Our lens, if you were an anthropologist, our lens is going to be that that is not an egalitarian, fair marriage. I'm not saying that that can't be a value that you have. What I am saying is that we need to realize is this is your interpretation of what's happening. What's literally happening is he put a dish in the sink, okay?

07:52 Then when you interpret it, we have to be able to take off our glasses and choose, are we wearing those glasses? Do we want to keep my American perspective? Do I want to keep my whatever it is, right? Whatever the perspective is that's giving you that story, you want to be able to choose it consciously. Even if you choose it, it was a choice, and that is what's going to give you the free will essentially to behave in the way that you want to.

08:21 I'm going to come back to this, because I don't want him not to help you, and I want you to feel supported, but we always have to start with where did that feeling come from? The feeling came from that interpretation. Pretty much any wife on the planet who has the thought, "This isn't a partnership. He doesn't want to help me," is going to feel negative emotion whether it's resentment or anger or rejection or sadness or despair. Whatever the feeling is, it's going to be negative because it's a negative thought, right?

08:52 The very first thing that we want to do is we want to back it to that thought. Really clarify what exactly am I thinking? Let's say she looks at this, and she's like, "What I'm thinking is that this is not a partnership." What we're compelled to do, because we have all these negative emotions now, because what happens without coaching is we don't question the thought, right? We just say, "Okay, so what do I do about my husband who doesn't want to be my partner?" That's the natural thing to do. That's what I hear most from my clients. Help me with my husband who doesn't want to be a partner. Help me with my husband who doesn't know how to communicate. Help me with my overbearing mother in law who doesn't have any boundaries.

09:29 Those are all thoughts, but we're saying them as if this is the literal situation that needs to be dealt with. When we back it up and we say, "Okay, that's my story," so now we have a lot more room for flexibility. Now we can say, "But how does my husband support me?" I could even challenge you more. How could the exact behavior that you find non-supportive actually be supportive?

09:56 I'll give you one example of something I learned from Alison Armstrong that I think she actually gets from someone else, but since I don't know that source, I can't give it to you, so I'll give you Alison Armstrong that I got from her. This was another great paradigm shift is that when men are still, they build testosterone. Testosterone is needed to achieve a result. Because men generally are more result oriented, if they want to create a result for you, they need to have a certain level of testosterone. Meaning, not always, not if he's a total bomb, but in many cases a man taking a break, whether he's passed out on the couch in the middle of your dinner party or he's, I don't know watching a football game, or he's reading a book, when you feel like he should be helping you clean up, do you see how it could actually be the first step towards him helping you? It's actually him already starting to give to you.

11:00 Yeah? Now again, I'm not trying to just give a pass. I know that some of you... I can hear it already. You're like, "You're just going to say that my husband can just veg out, and I have to do all the work." That's not what I'm saying. It's really clear if you're, if you could be honest with yourself, you'll know if that's what you're dealing with.

11:16 If you're honest with yourself, you'll know. Does he take a break, and then come back, or is he taking a break, and then staying there? If he's taking a break and staying there, then there might be something he's avoiding, or he might not be committed. I don't know why he's doing that. The truth is you don't know why he's doing that either, so it might be worth finding out. If he's taking a break, and then he consistently comes back in some way... Now if he has an extremely demanding job, whether or not you also have a job, then him taking that break might be simply to refuel so he can get back to work. Yeah, that's a problem if you're not getting the help that you need in there. Just notice that understanding how this is working for him hormonally might mean that getting the help from him is actually going to be counterproductive if he needs that break so that he can go out and kill it at work and continue to provide for the family.

12:16 Again, that's just one tiny example, but I love these examples because they show me that so many things that I took for granted are wrong. If I sit down and relax on the couch, I am beating myself up the whole time, right? Five minutes and I'm like, "Oh, you're so lazy. This is gross. What are you even doing?" Because I don't know, that's already a problem. Those are some thoughts that I need to work on, but it would never have occurred to me that somebody might sit down on the couch and actually physically recharge and be able to produce more results in the world because of that, because I don't have that experience. I'm judging him based on my experience.

13:00 Now I'm so far off tangent, so I'm so sorry. I'm going to come back now. All right. One was look at the thought and the feeling. Understand exactly what the thought is. What's the feeling that that produced for you? Then step two is to go back and question that thought. The examples I gave you or how is it that he actually is very supportive? How is it that we are a team? How is it that the exact behavior that seems unsupportive to me actually is supportive?

13:31 Now I know that what we want, because we're having all these negative emotions when we have these negative thoughts, is we want a fix. This is the best way to know if you need to run a model is when you feel urgency. If you have a goal for your relationship to sort of continue to evolve in partnership, that doesn't feel urgent. That's a goal. That's something you work toward, but it's something that you have clean thoughts about. If you feel like he needs to learn communication yesterday, he needs to learn how to help and pitch in yesterday, any of that urgency, it needs to be fixed now, what is actually happening is we are running from a negative emotion.

14:17 That's when it's the most important to back up and say, "Okay, I'm feeling resentful. I don't like feeling resentful towards my husband. The reason I'm feeling resentful is because when he acts this way, I have this thought that we're not partners. That is the source of my resentment. It doesn't mean I can't get more help, but making it mean that we're not partners or he doesn't want to help me is creating all this resentment, and then guess what? I can be resentful. I can feel resentment. It's not going to kill me," because that's the piece that makes it feel urgent is when we have a feeling we don't like it. Yuck, this doesn't feel good. This doesn't feel right.

14:55 How about this? A good wife doesn't feel angry at her husband. A good wife doesn't feel like her husband is gross and disgusting and annoying. That must not be me. I must get rid of that feeling immediately. Let me see if I can change him, or let me go eat a sleeve of Oreos, or whatever I do because that feeling doesn't feel appropriate or okay or acceptable or comfortable for me. I try and get away from it in an urgent way.

15:23 I would love to be able to sit here and just give you a checklist of, "Here are five tools for communication that you can do." Are those things helpful? Absolutely. Should you try and go on a date with your husband on a regular basis? Totally. There's actually a book that I'm trying, maybe you guys can hold me accountable, the Gottmans just put out a book called Eight Dates, and it's eight different dates and different questions and activities you do over those eight dates to work on building and strengthening your relationship. I think that sounds amazing, and they have so much amazing research, so great. Let's do it. Do all those things, but none of it matters if you aren't taking responsibility for what's going on in your emotional life.

16:03 When she says, "My husband travels a lot, and when he's home I feel like he's living a single guy life and had no interest in working together with me." We, again, first of all, I don't want this person to feel that anything that she's saying is abnormal. This is pretty much what most of us feel every Tuesday. This is all totally normal, normal thoughts to be having, and I'm so grateful for you for reaching out and allowing me to use it, because I did ask permission just in case anyone's now terrified of asking me questions. She was comfortable with me using this. Thank you so much for that because that really benefits everybody.

16:37 I just want to offer some other thoughts for you to play with, and you don't have to take any of these. Again, this doesn't mean that we don't work towards a longer term goal in terms of if you need something specific. If you do need something specific, then I would just sort of go back more to the two episodes about just asking then interviewing my husband about that because that will talk more about that. That's when you really want to make sure you've done the thought work before you ask, so that you're coming from a place of optimism and connection and positivity and not like desperation or, "Please change immediately.".

17:07 When she says, "When he comes home, he's living a single guy life and has no interest in working together with me," I would just suggest a couple of other thoughts. For instance, I love how my husband doesn't mess with my schedule so much when he's home or when he's away. I really know that I'm in charge of the house no matter what, and I don't have to constantly be up rearranging the way I do everything based on whether he's here or not. He travels a lot. That would be too difficult for me. I know that I love that I know what to expect from my husband when he's home, or when he's away, because then I know how to get the help that I need to take care of myself. This is one that I've personally used. I love that my husband is such a good role model for me in self care. He's very good at taking care of his physical needs, such as getting enough sleep or getting the food that he needs.

17:55 That's my husband. I don't know if that's your husband too. That's something that I desperately need to work on, and I'm so grateful to have a role model for me in my own marriage. When she's asking about making the connection with her spouse stronger, I just want to point out there is no... I couldn't like shine a black light on your relationship between the two of you, and we would either see a strong light or a weak light, right? Your connection is really whatever you think it is. Isn't that weird? That's a little scary to me to think of it that way, but that's the truth. If you feel really connected than you are, and that's it. If you don't think you're connected, then you're not, or neither one's really true, but you're making it up either way.

18:39 I want to just kind of break that open for you because if you feel like there's this kind of mythological, invisible connection out there that you either have or you don't, then again that's kind of a vulnerable place to be in. You want to feel connection, and that means you want to have a lot of positive thoughts about yourself and your husband. The first step for all of that is going to be to become aware of the thoughts that you're having and then to realize that those are just thoughts that are optional, that you can either decide to attach yourself to or not. I really hope that was helpful. Please reach out again if you want any followup on that. Now,.

19:15 I'm going to switch over to the next person, and I think you guys are going to see it's a little bit similar. "I find that my husband does not really understand how to validate in a real way, and it's constantly coming up. He wants me to basically just tell him what to say in response to what I'm expressing, and I feel like he's very in tune with my emotions in other ways, so why can't he figure out how to respond himself? I don't want to, and shouldn't have to tell him how to respond to me. What I'm asking, I guess, is how to navigate this type of thing where a husband clearly asks for guidance, and I kind of want them to figure it out already on his own. By the way, I'm not talking about when we're discussing serious things as much. I feel like then he realizes to really listen and validate what I'm saying. I'm talking about random comments like I have nothing to wear, and his response is, "Um, okay", as in he's not sure what to make of that when I have a closet full of clothes.

20:02 "I'll explain sometimes he's got to look for the feelings behind the words and not focus on the facts, which I know is very natural for women and not at all for men, but it leaves me this disconnect so often where I'm just like, "He doesn't get it." Now I'm just going to point out the thought that jumped out to me. "I shouldn't have to tell him how to respond to me." That one's a killer. That's going to sink you. I get why you think that. I've been there. I've totally been there myself, and I'm sure I'm there all the time also because our tricky brains will just keep bringing up the same stories for us. When it comes to validation, the first thing would be the same as I said to the last person, which is this is something where you really, really want to get your thoughts clear.

20:45 I want you to sit down with a piece of paper, and I want to write down the last time this happened and let's just use the example you gave. You say, "I have nothing to wear." His response is, "Um, okay." All right. He says, "Um, okay." That's all fine. Then what did you think? Then the thought that you're having is like, "Okay, well I get that it's not natural for men, but I just feel super disconnected when he doesn't even get it, and he doesn't know how to respond to me and validate how I'm feeling. I shouldn't have to even tell him. He should just know, because he knows in these other situations." This is like where your brain is kind of proving to you that you're right. It's not just a thought. It's actually literally what's going on, because the smarter you are, the worse this is.

21:22 I can see this one like your brain is running tricks on you, because if he's, he's totally able to validate over here, so why not over here? This is totally literally true, right? Careful. He really does actually know. Why isn't he doing it? I feel super disconnected, and why can't he just validate? Why do I have to tell him? I shouldn't have to? Now she's going to feel what? She's going to feel like she said disconnected. She might feel annoyed. It sounds a little bit like maybe annoyed or frustrated for sure. We don't like to use words like annoyed with our marriages, but let's be really honest with ourselves when we're doing this. It's okay, and if the feeling is a gross looking one, like disgusted or annoyed, be honest with yourself.

22:04 That is how you were feeling. The cleaner and the better you do with being specific about this model will give you a better chance of moving out of it. If you're not being even honest with yourself about how you feel, that's not going to happen.

22:19 She's going to look at that, and she's going to have to sort of clarify exactly what she was thinking and then how that made her feel. Yes, in this situation you did feel disconnected and maybe frustrated and maybe annoyed or whatever other negative feelings you were having, but it wasn't because he said, "Um, okay." It was because you had this story that he should know how to respond, and your story is so well supported because in other situations he does know how to respond. you've probably even had conversations where you've told him what you need, and it's not happening.

22:52 I would just start to break that open. Why is it that he totally shouldn't know how to respond to that? I mean, for instance, maybe you're saying I have nothing to wear and he's like, "Oh my gosh, you look amazing in every single one of those things." He's just like, "Um, okay. How could I keep myself from getting in trouble, because I'm definitely gonna get in trouble no matter what I say?" That's probably what's happening by the way, just from the conversations I've had with the husbands. Even if that's not the example, if that's not what's literally happening, that's just one possible answer. What is it? How is it that he should not know what to say to answer this question?

23:32 My husband wears pretty much the same thing pretty much every day of the week. There's a white shirt, and he wears black pants. If we go hiking, he might wear something else, but that is pretty much it. You know what? When my husband has no idea how to support me with the clothing situation, I'm like, "Right, because you have created a wardrobe for yourself in which you never make any decisions about what to wear, and so this is weird to you." I will say just from our own personal story that when we were dating, I was having the validation problem where I was saying... This is like the classic, right? Where I was saying something that was wrong, and my then boyfriend now husband would say that, "Well, I think this is what you should do." I would get so irritated.

24:16 At one point I was on the phone with my mom, and I think he was there too, and I was explaining what was going on and I was like, "We just keep having this situation. It's so frustrating because he's such a great guy, and how come he says that? Why is he doing that? So annoying." By the way, I do not recommend talking to your mother about that kind of thing unless you really trust your mother to try and be like in your best interest and all that. Be careful with that.

24:38 She says to me, "Hand the phone to him." I'm like, "Okay." I hand the phone over, and she says to him, "You just need to say that must be very hard for you." He's like, "What?" She says, "Yeah, if she's telling you that she's having a problem, just say to her, 'That must be very hard for you.'" He's like, "Oh that's all she wants?" She's like, "Yup, she just wants you to say that. That's the job. That's your job when she's complaining." He's like, "Okay.".

25:03 To this day, when I'm complaining about something, I am now very careful to say, "Can I rant? I need to rant. I need to tell you something's going on that I'm frustrated about." I'll say, "I need to pick your brain. I need some solutions. I need your help solving a problem." He knows exactly what his job is. By the way, wouldn't it be great if we did that to everybody? Shouldn't we just tell people what we need? It's really wonderful when you just tell someone what you need and then they can decide if they can give it to you or not. I think this is a very good thing to do with men and women. I do this, and then sometimes I'll say something, and I can see on his face he thinks this is like the most ridiculous thing.

25:41 There's such an obvious answer, and he can't say it now cause I told him that I need the other one. He'll look at me and like, with a smile on his face, he'll be like, "That must be very hard for you." I know that he is like... I know it's not like the same as what I would get from a girlfriend. I know he's not in it with me and feeling all the feelings and all that, but that's literally all I needed. It really is all I needed. Even though it's not necessarily full-hearted, I get, "That must be very hard for you." I'm like, "You know what? It is. It's really hard for me. Thank you very much for validating that." Then we move on. I just wanted to share that one with you because I love it, and it cracks me up now when he does it, and I still feel validated somehow.

26:27 You could just share that one with your husband, and say, "You know what? I just need a that must be very hard for you. Then I'll feel much better.".

26:34 I know that you only gave one example with the clothes and that's probably really irritating because it's the only one that I talked about. I just want to go back to the first part of your comment to make sure that I'm giving you something that's more relevant, because sometimes it's something more serious. Honestly, the thing that I love about sort of the work that we're doing here is that sometimes the frustrations and the irritations can come from the smallest things too. Don't think that you can't get work on the small things. Don't think you can't do coaching or work with someone, or do research on those little things too because it's all hard. It's all a transition, and whatever you need to support yourself to enjoy your marriage and to feel connected. Just don't be judging yourself for like if this is a valid enough problem.

27:23 I would just, again, be super clear. She says, "He's very in tune with my emotions, and in this case he just wants me to tell him what to say in response to what I'm expressing." You really have two choices here, right? What I want you to do is to realize that all that negativity that you're feeling about this is definitely coming from the belief that he should feel otherwise, or he should be functioning in a different way. I would go one of two ways. You could either say, "I am going to just feel frustrated whenever he doesn't respond the way I need him to respond, that I want him to respond, and I'm going to feel frustrated, and I'm going to also know that that's because of this rule in my head about him knowing how to respond."

28:09 Just own it. Say, "I'm going to have all that negative emotion, but I'm also going to own that that's all coming from me. It's not coming from his behavior." The other option is to say, "I'm going to love the heck out of this guy unconditionally, and that means that I'm going to love when he's super sensitive and knows exactly what to say, and then when he doesn't, and he asks, I'm just going to love the heck out of that too." One suggestion that I could just give you, again, just this is more just to sort of jiggle loose the thoughts that you're having right now so you can start to consider some other ones, is the fact that he's even asking for guidance and how to respond to you is so beautiful. I'm sure there are other women listening to this podcast wishing that that's what they were getting.

28:56 Now you guys need to go run models because you got the right guy. As long as you're not in a... You are in a safe and healthy relationship, you got the right guy for what you need to work on. Don't worry about this guy, but thinking that, right? Wow. He doesn't know what to say, so he's asking cause he wants me to get what I want. Beautiful, beautiful, right? Revamp this with all sorts of different thoughts. Do you have to believe your thoughts? Yeah. Yeah. You have to either keep the same thoughts but know that the thoughts are what are creating your emotions, or you can start trying on different thoughts. The easiest way to do that I always say is just to look at how is the opposite true. When I'm working with you one on one, we sit there, and we come up with thoughts and I can gauge, do you believe that that thought is true?

29:40 I'm not going to let you walk away with sunshine and, rainbows that you just don't believe in, and then you'll come back and be like, "Well, that thought didn't work. That's not going to happen." What you can do on your own very easily is to just look at it how is the opposite true? How should he totally not know how to respond? How is this him knowing how to respond? How is this the perfect way for him to respond? You just ask the opposite question to the story that you're telling yourself. Anytime you can do this on paper, pen and paper, is the best. Computer, second best. Trying to do it in your head is almost impossible. Just know that whenever you're doing self coaching. Again, same for you. Please reach out if you want any followup. Even if we don't take it into another podcast episode, we can just continue the conversation on Instagram.

30:25 Thank you all for listening in. This was a little bit of a long one. Keep sending in your questions. This was really fun to do, so I really appreciate that and it definitely helps with the insanity of life over here. When you guys are giving me like I don't even have to... I have my whole list of podcast episodes coming up that I want to work on, but this is just in the moment and fun and inspiring. I love getting questions from you. Have an amazing week everyone, and we'll see you back here next week. Bye Bye.

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