A Marriage Therapist’s 11 Tips for a Happier Marriage

After working with well over 1,000 couples as a marriage therapist, Tony Overbay, LMFT, gives his top 11 tips to a happier marriage. If you are interested in learning more about the 4th round of Tony’s “Magnetic Marriage” course, please visit http://tonyoverbay.com and send him an email through the contact form. 

With the continuing “sheltering” rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

You can learn more about Tony’s pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the “uh’s” and “um’s” that, in his words, “must be created by wizards and magic!” because it’s that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

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[00:00:00] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 311 of the virtual couch, I’m your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of four ultra marathon runner and creator of the Path Back, an online pornography recovery program

[00:00:14] That is helping all kinds of

[00:00:15] People turn away from unhealthy

[00:00:17] Coping mechanisms

[00:00:18] For the

[00:00:19] Voids in their lives. The turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like pornography. So if you’re hoping to put that behind you, if you’re hoping to be the

[00:00:26] Best version of you that you can ever be and turn away from feeling like you

[00:00:30] Need to cope when you don’t feel as

[00:00:32] Connected in your marriage and your your parenting, your health, your faith, your career, then head over to Pathbackrecovery.com. And there you will find a short book that

[00:00:41] Describes five myths that people

[00:00:43] Believe when they are trying to

[00:00:45] Put some unhealthy coping mechanism like pornography behind them once and for all. So again, pathbackrecovery.com and go to Tony over Baidu.com

[00:00:53] And shoot me a note through the contact form. If you are interested in hearing more about my magnetic marriage course, my

[00:01:00] My buddy

[00:01:01] And good friend Preston Pug Meyer and I have ran three rounds of the magnetic marriage course up to this point,

[00:01:06] And I have no qualms in saying

[00:01:09] That our course is

[00:01:11] Amazing. It really is. It’s the way to communicate.

[00:01:14] If you’ve heard me talk about my four pillars of a connected

[00:01:16] Conversation, we go so

[00:01:18] Big on the four pillars and a framework to

[00:01:21] Communicate that I feel very confident in this in the

[00:01:24] Last two rounds. Actually, all three rounds when we have made the card available

[00:01:28] Or open, it sold out relatively quickly.

[00:01:30] So head over to Tony over. Shoot me a note there. If you are interested, we’ll get you

[00:01:35] On the wait list and then I am going to be talking quite a bit more about this on my podcast, on this podcast. Most likely, I’m waking up the Narcissism podcast as well. And if you follow me on social media, whether it’s through Facebook, Tony Overbay licensed

[00:01:47] Marriage and family therapist or on the virtual couch Instagram account, you’re going to hear more about it because

[00:01:53] Preston and I continue to

[00:01:55] Revamp and develop the course, and

[00:01:57] It is. It is something that I’m very proud of and excited to

[00:02:00] Offer because it will change your marriage. It really will.

[00:02:03] So let’s get to today’s topic, though. Today I am going to talk about marriage advice and I will often be asked through whether I go when I go speak of the

[00:02:14] Hey, as a marriage therapist, what are

[00:02:15] Some tips that you can offer newlyweds?

[00:02:18] And here’s

[00:02:18] Why this is just something that is

[00:02:20] In the forefront of my mind right now.

[00:02:22] And ironically, it does have to do with my four pillars of a connected conversation.

[00:02:26] So I really feel like people don’t know that they

[00:02:29] Need certain tools until they have gone through something and they have to go and find tools. People that are coming in to see me

[00:02:36] As a marriage therapist and I

[00:02:38] Still see 15

[00:02:39] 20 couples a week as part of my regular practice

[00:02:41] That they don’t just want to check in and pay somebody to say, I think we’re doing. And typically, it’s when there’s been something

[00:02:47] Like betrayal or when people feel like they are at the verge of divorce or people just feel like they don’t know how else to be heard or seen or

[00:02:54] Understood. Then often it’s fine. We’ll go see somebody, we’ll go see a marriage therapist. And that case then when the people are coming into my office sitting on my couch, then you’ve got people that either don’t know what they don’t know, which I am convinced that we do not have the tools naturally to be able to communicate effectively

[00:03:12] In a relationship because we bring all of our own stuff to into the marriage. All of our own are versions of what we thought marriage would be, the way that we were parented, our hopes and dreams or expectations, our relationships with money and our relationships

[00:03:25] With sex, the way that we parent,

[00:03:26] That they’re all coming from

[00:03:28] A place that we somewhat assume that everyone that there’s this global belief of how these things operate in a relationship. So then we show up in a marriage

[00:03:37] And then we

[00:03:37] Are both playing this game of somewhat enmeshment or codependency

[00:03:41] Where we’re trying to make sure that we don’t say the wrong thing that will frighten this partner away because at our core, we

[00:03:47] Really want to connect with somebody. And I say so often that the concept of abandonment

[00:03:53] Is programed into our DNA.

[00:03:55] That abandonment equals death. So when

[00:03:57] We are starting to get into a relationship, we’re just trying to make sure

[00:04:00] That we don’t say anything dumb in this person. Then we’ll find out some

[00:04:04] Deep, dark secret about who we are and that they will go

[00:04:07] Running away. So it can seem as subtle as somebody saying, Hey, do you like the I don’t know. Do you like the new Batman movie that’s out right now? And you can watch someone say, they can say, I don’t know what you

[00:04:17] Think, where if at their core they

[00:04:19] Absolutely couldn’t stand the movie, but they feel like if I go big and tell them I can’t stand it, this person might think, What are you a lunatic? It was the greatest movie in the world. Absolutely. Our relationship is not going to work. So even in

[00:04:30] As low

[00:04:30] Charged

[00:04:30] Topics is what movie do you like or what kind of food do you like? Or do you want to vacation? We’re still playing this game of where I don’t know.

[00:04:36] What do you think? You tell me what you think first, and I noticed that

[00:04:40] In adult relationships

[00:04:42] About some of the most trivial topics where someone just says, You tell me what you think. Not trying to get political. But I witnessed a conversation not too long ago with a couple of

[00:04:51] People that I really care about where they were talking

[00:04:53] About being vaccinated or not being vaccinated. And one of the one of them said, Well, what are your thoughts on it? And the other person said. You go first and I was just

[00:05:01] Sitting back as the observer, but I thought

[00:05:03] It was really fascinating that neither one of them wanted to just say their opinion, and they had two completely different opinions, which was very interesting. And so if we can’t talk about even low charge topics without trying to figure what’s the best way to present myself, then it’s going to be really difficult to talk about high charge topics. It was my fact that my magnetic marriage course, we I talk about these high charged topics or the things like parenting, religion, finances, sex and intimacy and politics. I was going to say, I think there’s five that I typically go to that are the high charge topics. So we just don’t have those tools or those skills from the factory. So I’m often asked, Hey, what’s the best advice that you can give someone in

[00:05:41] A marriage or in a relationship?

[00:05:43] And it really would be to just

[00:05:45] If you could learn the tools before you have to

[00:05:48] Find the tools

[00:05:49] To communicate more effectively if you can learn how to deal with tension in a relationship. Because we’re so afraid

[00:05:56] That it’s going to go to contention that we attention all together, then that would just be amazing. But that is going to be something you’re going to hear

[00:06:02] More about it.

[00:06:03] As I ramp up to my next round of the magnetic marriage course. So today I really wanted to just give some

[00:06:08] Just generic marriage

[00:06:09] Advice, and I’ll comment a little bit on that.

[00:06:11] I am recording this one in video. So if you are a YouTube

[00:06:16] Person, then please go to my YouTube channel Virtual Couch and please hit the Subscribe button. That would be amazing, and you can catch the video there.

[00:06:24] So here we go. I actually

[00:06:25] Jotted down 11

[00:06:27] Marriage tips marriage advice

[00:06:28] Y 11 because I had 10 and then I thought of one this morning and I inserted that one actually into number two so that it would just liven things up a bit. So the first thing? Go to bed, go to bed,

[00:06:39] Because so many stories

[00:06:40] Happen when it’s late and people are tired and by stories, I think that’s a nice way for me to say arguments and disagreements. I can’t tell you how often someone

[00:06:49] Says, and then we were up until all hours of the night

[00:06:52] And we couldn’t come to any sort of resolution.

[00:06:56] We couldn’t be heard.

[00:06:57] We couldn’t be understood. And finally, I just had to go to bed. And so at that point, I said, Look, I can’t do this anymore. And so I feel like when people just get emotionally

[00:07:05] Overwhelmed or

[00:07:06] Physically exhausted that that is a combination that does not lead to a connected conversation

[00:07:12] Or any type of productive

[00:07:15] Communication. So just on this one, on the rest, I’m going to just give you my thoughts and opinions on this one. I actually pulled up a little bit of data. I happen to have a couple that was coming in that struggles with this. Actually, most of my couples, if I’m the ones

[00:07:28] That are really trying to communicate more or they’ve had an

[00:07:32] Unhealthy pattern of communication, there’s typically this component where they don’t have an opportunity to communicate until late at night. And so at that point, if there’s some stress

[00:07:41] From the day or overall sleep deprivation from the week because of kids or work

[00:07:46] Schedules or that sort of thing that they do go in trying to communicate, and it’s a little bit too late at night. So I am pulled from an article. This is actually it’s from stylist. Co.uk. So we’re going across the pond here, but I liked it. It said lack of sleep effects.

[00:07:58] Why do we get more emotional when we’re tired? And this was written by Lauren

[00:08:03] Ghayal, and I’m going to jump down a little

[00:08:05] Bit here where she’s shared example of where she’s tried to communicate more effectively and when she’s tired and it doesn’t work well. But she pulled some research from a

[00:08:15] Place called Benson for beds, and she says eighty seven percent of people say tiredness makes them intolerant, with one in five or 18 percent roughly saying they constantly disagree

[00:08:25] With their partner because

[00:08:26] They feel exhausted. And some 15 percent of people also said they feel their personality changes

[00:08:31] When they’re tired, and more than a fifth

[00:08:33] Confessed that they

[00:08:34] Swear under their breath at everything when they’re

[00:08:36] Lacking sleep. And this article came out about

[00:08:39] A year ago, and so they refer to a lot of the struggles

[00:08:42] With lockdown or with the pandemic. But I want to refer to this is why I enjoyed this article. Stylists spoke

[00:08:49] To sleep expert Dr. Sophie

[00:08:50] Bostock to find out more, including how a lack of sleep has the potential to impact our mental health. So she said that why do we get so emotional when we’re tired?

[00:08:58] We’ve established that everything gets a bit more trying when we’re feeling low on energy, but what is actually going on in our

[00:09:03] Brains to make us feel this way?

[00:09:05] And Dr. Bostock

[00:09:07] Said, to make sense of this, it’s worth thinking back two hundred thousand

[00:09:09] Years ago when our early humans

[00:09:11] Were living out on the savanna. Dr. Bostock said in those days, what would have kept us awake

[00:09:16] Predators, storms, hunger, threats to survival. And so our brains have

[00:09:20] Evolved to interpret sleep deprivation as potentially dangerous situation.

[00:09:25] The amygdala, which is part of the brain which switches on the fight flight or freeze stress response, therefore gets more sensitive.

[00:09:32] So she said this means that we become much

[00:09:34] More emotional and then even small problems feel more stressful. And because our amygdala is more sensitive when we’re feeling tired and we’re therefore more likely to have our stress response activated.

[00:09:44] She said that a lack of sleep can also have a physical impact on our body, and this is because when

[00:09:49] The fight or flight response is triggered, hormones flood through our body to help us respond

[00:09:54] To the thing that we’ve identified

[00:09:56] As a threat. So she says, the stress hormones, adrenaline and. It is all increase our heart rate, our blood pressure and our blood flow to our muscles, and over time, a lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and even early mortality.

[00:10:11] So the first thing that I can suggest then is please go to bed.

[00:10:15] And I remember when my wife and I were married,

[00:10:17] We had one of those, just a kindly person that was giving us marriage advice as they were marrying us. And they said,

[00:10:24] Never go to bed, angry work

[00:10:25] Things out. And I lived by that for so long. But I think that was when my wife and I had just

[00:10:31] Everything was just we were going to make the best of everything that that we were so afraid of

[00:10:35] Contention without even knowing that that we would avoid tension altogether. So at some point one of us would just acquiesce and say, No, you’re right, and then we would go to bed, and we would think that that worked OK. But I often say now

[00:10:46] In my marriage therapy does

[00:10:48] Ok mean that we just

[00:10:50] Didn’t make things worse. Or is it that we actually had a real

[00:10:55] Connection through a conversation? And I think so often when people say that no things are going pretty well, it’s because there’s an absence of things going bad. So that first one go to bed and oftentimes we wake up and we feel more refreshed. And something that seemed so high

[00:11:09] Charged the

[00:11:09] Night before isn’t as big of a deal. And I think

[00:11:12] That research by

[00:11:13] Dr. Bostock makes so much sense there because when we are in this heightened fight or flight state and we view that this argument, we view this

[00:11:21] With far more emotion

[00:11:23] And we view this disagreement

[00:11:24] As more of this conflict. Or it just will feel so much bigger at night when we are sleep-deprived.

[00:11:30] So I’m not I’m not saying ignore it the next day and just, hey, they don’t say anything. I don’t say anything. It’s quite the opposite. This is where I feel like being able to have a framework.

[00:11:40] My four pillars

[00:11:41] Of a connected conversation is absolutely necessary to even go in and talk about things that that have passed or even conversations that didn’t go well. Number two, this is one. This is the one that I added because I thought about this this morning. I watched a Tik Tok video not too long ago. I was actually quite a while ago, and the cutest,

[00:11:57] Most adorable little girl was

[00:11:59] Talking about that one of her friends. That class was a bucket dipper, and I think she was pointing her thumb down

[00:12:04] A bucket dipper.

[00:12:05] And I just I loved that concept. I assumed I knew what it meant, but I had to go, look it up. And I found a Psychology Today

[00:12:11] Article,

[00:12:12] And this is by Marvin NITEL.

[00:12:16] And it says the story of the dipper in the bucket.

[00:12:19] And he just says the easiest way to fill your bucket is to fill someone else’s bucket. There’s a really simple principle here, but he said

[00:12:25] The story of the dipper in the bucket originated

[00:12:27] In the nineteen sixties, when a gentleman named Donald Dr. Donald Clifton, a psychologist and founder of the Clifton Strength School in Lincoln, Nebraska. He said in

[00:12:37] Every booth of King’s restaurant in Nebraska was a small card containing the story of the dipper and the

[00:12:43] Bucket, and such a simple idea made a great deal of sense, he said, to so many people.

[00:12:47] So the dipper in the bucket recently, he said, someone told me your presentation to our group was very meaningful.

[00:12:51] And he said that one short sentence validated me. That simple sentence filled my bucket. On the other hand, if that person would have said your presentation was interesting, but it’s too bad you

[00:13:00] Ignored the research of

[00:13:01] Dr. Smith. He said that comment would have emptied my bucket, and here’s the concept The easiest way to fill your bucket is to fill someone else’s bucket. The unyielding secret of the bucket and the dipper is that when you fill another bucket, it does not take anything

[00:13:14] Out of

[00:13:15] Your own bucket that is gold at that point, because I feel like so often we have this scarcity mindset of compliments or

[00:13:22] Of

[00:13:22] Praise. And so we often feel this

[00:13:25] Either or this all or nothing, this black or white, this cognitive distortion that if for some reason we

[00:13:30] Compliment someone else, then that means that we then have less compliments

[00:13:35] That are coming our way.

[00:13:36] But you don’t when you fill someone else’s bucket, it does not take

[00:13:40] From your

[00:13:40] Bucket.

[00:13:41] So don’t be a bucket dipper. Number three, tension is OK. So I’ve already alluded to this, but we’re so

[00:13:48] Afraid of contention that we avoid tension altogether. But it is OK

[00:13:51] To be a little more vulnerable, and ways to do that are to talk about a movie or a show or an opinion that you may not actually feel comfortable sharing, or you may not have

[00:14:03] Felt comfortable sharing in the past. I give an example of a few years ago, when I was really starting to understand this calm, confident energy

[00:14:10] Was the way I referred to it and where with a lot of people, we are so afraid then

[00:14:15] Of things going to contention that we avoid even stating our opinions about even the most simple things and the most simple thing in this this case was the movie Dumb and Dumber.

[00:14:26] And I remember being around my family.

[00:14:27] It was around Christmas time. I think TNT, one of those networks, was

[00:14:31] Running it over and over and we were just together. I think we were playing a card game board game while

[00:14:36] My family was in town and someone said, Why do you want to watch? And I said, Oh, I like I like that movie. I like Dumb and Dumber.

[00:14:41] And I remember a couple of my kids.

[00:14:43] I think my older kids looked at me and thought, and they said, Wow, I didn’t know you like that, dad. And that’s a pretty silly movie. And I remember in that moment feeling

[00:14:50] Like they’re going to they’re going

[00:14:52] To attack me. They’re going to tell me that I’m I can’t believe you like this just very silly movie. And so I remember. Just feeling, oh, this feels a little tense. As simple as that is, and so rather than me just saying, yeah, you’re right and it’s dumb, I don’t know why you want to watch that, don’t know what I’m saying. Instead, I just said, Oh, yeah, no, I think it’s really funny. And I remember at that moment to calling a timeout. Maybe this is where it’s not as fun to have a therapist, as a dad or as a spouse. And I just said, Hey, can I just ask you guys, let me check in, what does this feel like right now with me saying that I actually do enjoy that movie? And I believe it was my wife at the time said, it sounds like you’re being a little aggressive. And I thought, Oh, that that is that is so unfortunate because I feel like I’m just leaning in or stating my opinion and that oftentimes I feel like if someone disagrees with us, then we take that disagreement as if they’re telling us that we’ve done something wrong

[00:15:43] Or

[00:15:43] We take a disagreement as criticism when in

[00:15:46] Reality, it is perfectly normal for us to have different opinions because we’re going to like

[00:15:51] Different things based on all the things that we

[00:15:53] Bring to the table, all of the things that we’ve

[00:15:54] Been through. And so I enjoy a silly movie. Absolutely. And I know that there are things that other people enjoy that I do not, and that is perfectly OK. So be OK with the tension. And one of the ways to test that is to be able to start to

[00:16:11] Speak your opinion. It’s interesting. I even wanted

[00:16:13] To say right then to stand up for yourself. But we we

[00:16:16] Feel like in order to have a different opinion,

[00:16:18] We often have to just show up big. We have to. I’m puffing up my chest right now. I’m deepening my voice and we feel like instead of just saying, Oh, I

[00:16:26] Disagree or have a different opinion,

[00:16:28] We feel like we often have to build some case

[00:16:30] In order to make our point when in reality, we are all entitled to have a different

[00:16:34] Opinion about something. Ok, so that was the third one. Attention is OK.

[00:16:41] The fourth one is really understanding empathy are try your best,

[00:16:44] Understand that concept of empathy

[00:16:46] And remember that there’s a difference between

[00:16:48] Empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is saying, I’m so sorry, that would be really difficult. Empathy is saying, What is that like for you? Tell me about your experience. And even within that, I feel it’s so important to to understand it is impossible to have perfect empathy for someone else, because that

[00:17:06] Would require that you have literally been that

[00:17:09] Person that you have been through every experience that they’ve gone through to know at that very moment that you can completely and absolutely understand which no one can there even. And I pulled up a couple of these, but too much of a digression, I think. But you can find some fascinating studies done on twins where twins will view the same. They will view some scene scenario. So they’re getting the same input. And these are identical twins that share so many of these common common DNA.

[00:17:39] But then they are asked to then write out what their

[00:17:42] Experiences, what they just saw. And I want to say, of course.

[00:17:45] But of course, then they have two different views

[00:17:47] Of actually what they even took in, even though they just had the same input of data. But then their output is going to be different because it’s

[00:17:55] All of their own

[00:17:56] Processing of things throughout their life that cause them to pay more attention to some things than others, or to have different opinions about the significance of certain things versus others. So while I believe it is absolutely

[00:18:09] Important to be empathetic or to do your best

[00:18:12] To say, tell

[00:18:13] Me more about that and to understand that that would be hard what people go through and their life is

[00:18:19] Difficult.

[00:18:20] And my four pillars.

[00:18:21] So I’m alluding to this in this episode, and I’ve talked about it in so many other episodes. But that first connected conversation is to assume good intentions, or there’s a reason why people do or say the things that they do. And it’s because of all of the experiences of that person’s gone through. That second pillar is more of this mindset or this just something

[00:18:42] To be aware of that I can’t tell somebody that they’re wrong or I don’t believe them, even

[00:18:46] If in my experience,

[00:18:48] I feel like they they are wrong or it’s hard for me to understand or believe what they’re

[00:18:52] Saying. And that leads to Pillar three, which is asking questions before making comments. And then Pillar four, not going into a victim mode and staying present, staying out of my bunker.

[00:19:01] And the reason why I feel like those pillars are so important is they

[00:19:04] Do set the stage to have empathy. If somebody,

[00:19:07] If you hear often, if you were the spouse that hears often that you’re, let’s say your wife says,

[00:19:13] I just feel like you, you just fly off the handle. I feel like you just get so angry with me, and I feel like you raise your voice all the time that if I feel like I honestly, I’ve been working on not raising

[00:19:24] My voice for literally years

[00:19:26] And I’ve been meditating and I’ve been noticing I’ve been

[00:19:29] Being praised at work or even my

[00:19:31] Kids have said that, wow, you seem a lot more calm dad. But then if your wife then says, I feel like you just again fly off the handle and you just start yelling, then instead of me taking that as criticism, I need to assume good intentions. There’s a reason why that she’s saying that. And the second pillar, then I can’t just say that’s ridiculous. Even again, if I feel like it, it is. And that third

[00:19:52] Pillar would be OK. Hey, tell me

[00:19:53] More about that. Help me see my blind spots. Help me understand. I would love for you to point out those times when I point out those times that I, that I do

[00:20:00] That moving forward. And then that fourth pillar where that

[00:20:03] Guy would not just say, OK, you’re just you’re the tone police, then I just want you to tell me, you just tell me if I’m talking, OK, maybe we can go get a decibel meter because that’s going into victim mode and wanting my spouse to then rescue me.

[00:20:15] But the beauty of those four pillars is that empathy that would be really hard. If my spouse

[00:20:21] Feels like that, I’m constantly yelling or I’m flying off the handle. And if that is how they feel, then I want to express empathy for that. I want to say I can’t imagine what that would feel like if you feel like your spouse is constantly just yelling, and that would be really hard.

[00:20:37] So I appreciate you sharing that. But then in this world of four pillars that after

[00:20:41] I have validated that person’s experience and they feel heard and understood, absolutely, then I can then say, but I feel

[00:20:46] Like I’ve been working on it. Or I know maybe I haven’t made you aware of the fact that I’ve been taken courses

[00:20:51] On tone management or

[00:20:53] But if

[00:20:54] You feel like that’s still the case, then I can understand why that would be frustrating. So that concept of empathy is absolutely something that has to be learned. It really does. And as a matter of fact, I’ve had someone recently come in

[00:21:06] With their Myers-Briggs

[00:21:07] Personality test, and it showed that

[00:21:09] They scored a little bit lower on empathy than on some other areas of their personality.

[00:21:14] And I loved that awareness because the person was able to take ownership and accountability and say, Maybe I don’t understand what empathy is. Maybe I maybe I have a hard time really trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes. And so

[00:21:27] They’ve been very vulnerable about that, and we’ve been working on

[00:21:30] That. And this is a little bit of a time to, I think, introduce a plug an ad. And that would be if you are someone who struggles with empathy or someone who really is trying to understand your. More and you feel like it is it is something that you just don’t have the tools or skills for that. Maybe it is time to go, seek help

[00:21:48] Or find a therapist, a counselor. And right now it can be very hard to find a therapist or counselor.

[00:21:54] And if that’s the case, do

[00:21:56] Please give the world of online therapy a try and go to Betterhelp.com

[00:22:00] Virtual couch. You get 10 percent off your first month’s treatment. They have a pretty amazing assessment process and intake process, and they’ll match you with a licensed counselor who can then communicate with you through text or email or video chat. And so I really feel like we we all owe it to ourselves to bump up that emotional baseline. And if you need to see somebody, if you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, OCD just a real spiraling

[00:22:24] Negative

[00:22:24] Thoughts or any of those kind of things, then talk to somebody. So whether you find somebody local that you can go see or if you want to try the world of online counseling, then try Betterhelp.com virtual couch.

[00:22:34] Ok, number

[00:22:35] Five, this is a topic that I

[00:22:38] Need to do an entire podcast on marriage.

[00:22:40] Tip number five is change your relationship with intimacy. And I will tell you not. It’s been pretty long ago because I believe it was in the early days of starting the podcast. So five years I was on the verge of having an opportunity to possibly participate in a TED talk. And so I really would.

[00:22:58] If you are anyone out there that is coordinating TED

[00:23:01] Talks, then then give me a shout because there was one that was going to happen in

[00:23:05] Our area and I can’t

[00:23:06] Blame it on the pandemic. I think the TED

[00:23:09] Group in the area fell apart.

[00:23:11] And but I have this message that I felt passionate about at the time, and I’ve alluded to it in a couple of podcasts, but I have so much more I want to share about this. But in essence, it’s

[00:23:20] The our

[00:23:21] Relationship with intimacy, with physical intimacy, with sex.

[00:23:24] And the more that I

[00:23:25] Was starting to see couples then and here was the way things would play out often. I’m going to just go with the the traditional model where I would see the husband look at me and say things like when I’m happy, I really think we should celebrate with sex or if I’m sad, then nothing is quite a pick me up like sex. And if I feel like a cold is coming on, then there’s nothing like sex to help me feel better. And then they look at me almost as if to say, Hey, so can you then explain that to my wife? Because I’ve sure tried. And after hearing that dozens and dozens, if not a hundred times or more than I feel like I would look over to the wife and just say, OK, what are you hearing? And she would say something to the effect of, Well, I’m hearing that I am responsible for his happiness, and it all revolves around whether or not I want to have sex with him. And so in those scenarios, I would often then say, OK, now’s a chance to reestablish that relationship with intimacy that I would then find the wives. And the scenario would often say, OK, I have

[00:24:18] Started to pull away or

[00:24:19] Withdraw because I feel like if we make eye contact while we’re brushing their teeth, then he’s going to think, Oh, tonight’s the night, or he may be very nice and helping with the kids and cleaning up the house and picking up toys and washing the dishes because there’s still a chance that we might have sex tonight. But then if one of the kids ends up getting sick or staying

[00:24:39] Up late or one of the kids gets angry when I’m trying to help them with their homework, then

[00:24:43] I almost can watch him go through this pouting where he thinks, OK, yes, we’re not going to have sex tonight. So then what’s the point? And then he goes off and does his own thing,

[00:24:52] Even to the point where

[00:24:53] During that time I said I would share some of this with my wife, and I would say, that’s crazy, right? And she said, no, she said, You kind of do that. And I thought, What are you? Are you crazy? I’m the therapist. I’m very aware of these things. But she said that it wasn’t that after there was intimacy that kicked the family pet or that sort of thing, but it would seem

[00:25:11] That I was far more in

[00:25:13] Tune or attentive in than even when intimacy happened. Then it wasn’t that I was mean, but I maybe wasn’t as engaged. So that led to a time that I know I podcast about this a few times where then after then I would say, Hey, look, I’m helping out around the house and I’m not even anticipating intimacy, anything like that, which I don’t think was probably the ideal way to communicate that as well.

[00:25:35] But changing the

[00:25:36] Relationship with intimacy so that you can

[00:25:39] Then allow more of a

[00:25:40] Physical connection

[00:25:42] Where it can be more of

[00:25:43] It’s hugging, it’s kissing, it’s playful touching, it’s massaging those sort of things without that. Is this going to lead to sex? So reestablishing that relationship with intimacy so that you

[00:25:53] Both can feel more comfortable just being around each other, whether it’s just holding hands, whether it’s just

[00:25:58] To lay in each other’s laps, whether it’s just sharing more of these intimate moments without it, meaning that it has to go to sex. So I think having those conversations is something

[00:26:07] That’s very important to change that

[00:26:08] Relationship with intimacy. And it’s interesting because I remember at the time to have when I would have this conversation with people, and it was almost as if the guy would look at me and say, OK, gotcha, if I do this for what do I do two weeks, three weeks a month and then what? We end up having more sex. And then I would say, OK, we’re kind of missing the point there.

[00:26:24] If you have more of a connect,

[00:26:26] Then that is actually going to be something that is going to be far more fulfilling is to feel like I can communicate

[00:26:31] More with my spouse or partner, spend more time.

[00:26:33] And there isn’t always this vibe

[00:26:34] In the air or this energy of,

[00:26:36] Ok, what’s going to happen? And then because then once, if it feels like. It’s not going to happen, then people then become they become disappointed. They pout, and then that is actually what can eventually create this dynamic where people have a pity sex or transactional sex or just intimacy, so that then he will then not pout, or then he will be nicer to the kids or that sort of thing. So changing that relationship with intimacy is a

[00:26:58] Very important part of the marriage,

[00:27:00] I believe. And then having the tools to be able to communicate about that is absolutely necessary as well.

[00:27:05] All right, please.

[00:27:06] Number six. Own up to your mistakes. This is where I’ve done many podcasts about accountability, and I just say nothing diffuses a situation faster than saying my bad and we are. So this is the emotional immaturity. This is the whole concept that I talk about over on my waking up. The Narcissism podcast so often is that we’re all, in essence, emotionally immature

[00:27:27] Until we are aware until we can work on our emotional maturity. One of the key traits of

[00:27:32] Emotional immaturity is that when anyone

[00:27:34] Disagrees or even has a different opinion, or there’s even a shift in the energy

[00:27:38] There that we take that as criticism. So if my wife says again, we’ll go back to this. Just a silly example of Do you really like that movie? Do you really like Dumb and Dumber that if in my emotional, immature

[00:27:51] State, if I

[00:27:51] View that she’s saying that’s ridiculous or I view it as criticism,

[00:27:54] Then our brain is

[00:27:55] Wired to go back to this place of shame where she’s saying, Wait, she’s saying that I’m a horrible

[00:27:59] Husband or a

[00:28:00] Bad father because I like what I like. And then when we go to this emotionally immature response, when we feel like someone is attacked, our sensibilities, then we

[00:28:08] Go to great lengths to protect their fragile ego.

[00:28:10] That’s where the concepts of things like gaslighting come from

[00:28:13] Or where people get really they get big and angry, or they

[00:28:16] Withdraw. Then instead of staying present and saying and saying, Oh yeah, I do, I do like that movie. Then instead, people go to these unhealthy ways to communicate where then they say, you like dumb movies, too? Or what about those Jane Austen movies like I don’t like those. And so we’re

[00:28:32] Defending our fragile ego rather

[00:28:34] Than leaning into a conversation and with curiosity. And so that same concept happens with the world of accountability that if I did something, if I forgot to call someone that I’m supposed to call instead of saying, you don’t always follow through on your stuff, either. That is so emotionally immature. The emotional, mature thing is to say, Man, my bad,

[00:28:55] I totally forgot. And it is liberating. It is empowering. I feel like I go through this every day where

[00:29:00] My wife and I will have a combined task list about things that are going on with the family,

[00:29:05] And I will have certain responsibilities or things that I need to follow through on. And I will forget

[00:29:10] I’m a human being. And so when I forget then the best thing I can do is say, I forgot. Instead of saying, Oh, man, yeah, I meant to call them and they didn’t get back to me and I find that we almost do that stuff impulsively when in reality, instead of saying, Oh, I forgot, I need to write myself a note or I will call them instead of saying, Yeah, I

[00:29:29] Called them, they never got back to me. Heaven forbid,

[00:29:31] Then if my wife ever one day said, Oh, can I see your call log? Not that she would do that, but I feel like, is it really worth that for me to to this instead of saying, Yeah, I forgot the call. I need to do that. I need to write myself a note, and I love it. I love that my wife will say,

[00:29:45] Did you write a note? And instead of me saying, How dare you question me

[00:29:48] And writing my notes? Because how many times do I not write the note often?

[00:29:52] So that’s where I will appreciate her, and

[00:29:54] I will then say, no, you know, let me do that real quick. And so taking ownership or accountability is again marriage advice. That would be an amazing thing to do

[00:30:02] From the start. Or if you haven’t been doing

[00:30:04] That, jump in and start doing

[00:30:05] That. Number seven, ask more questions.

[00:30:07] I still remember I remember this so well. The I say the floor

[00:30:11] Is open for questions. And I remember working with a couple. I can think of the person right this very moment.

[00:30:17] And it’s a couples. It’s a couples session. And I wasn’t as confident with my couples skills at this time. And so that’s why I remember the significance of this moment of one pretty big. When the husband said he was telling, he was telling me that he tries to tell stories she wants to know about his day, which I love. But he said, So I say, fine, I’ll tell her about my day. But then she keeps interrupting me with more questions, and he looks at me like, Can you believe that?

[00:30:41] And I remember having this moment

[00:30:42] Thinking, How dare she? I mean, is that what you want me to say?

[00:30:45] Or how about wow, what an opportunity

[00:30:47] To connect and what an opportunity to communicate. So if he is saying and he was saying this at the time, he was saying, OK, I will tell you, but I want no interruptions and I don’t want you to ask me again because I’m already telling you one time, so you need to pay attention. And I just think, just listen to the negativity or the energy that is in there. Is that

[00:31:04] A way to drive a

[00:31:04] Communication? Is that a

[00:31:06] Way to drive a relationship forward?

[00:31:07] Absolutely not. So with my wife, I will say and I will say this over and

[00:31:12] Over again because I worry that this wasn’t the person I was the first 10 15 years of her marriage where I know that there were times where I probably

[00:31:19] Put off that same vibe, but we’ve got a whole life into the eternities here to communicate. So we had time. So if she’s saying, Oh OK, sorry, I wasn’t following, can I ask a quick question, then I want to say, Absolutely, you can. The floor is open for questions.

[00:31:34] And in the world of my four pillars,

[00:31:36] Which is based off of emotionally focused

[00:31:38] Therapy or couples EFT, I often talk about flow that if we are starting to have a

[00:31:42] Conversation about something and I give this example, that was another couple that was in my office a long time ago, but

[00:31:49] He was starting to tell a story about our dream. I think you were talking about a dream, and he talked about a dream, and he talked

[00:31:53] About it having there was a bus in the dream and the wife just said, Oh, hey, can I ask what kind of bus? And in that scenario, the person the husband acted a little bit put off or offended. He just said, and I remember saying, this is an opportunity to connect. Yeah, and I look at the wife and I said, What are you?

[00:32:09] Take me on your train of thought.

[00:32:10] And she said, when I think of bus, I’m thinking of my parents used to send me across country in a greyhound.

[00:32:15] So are we talking about Greyhound Bus?

[00:32:17] Because if so, I’ve got this different view. And the husband said, Oh man, no, I was thinking of a yellow school bus and then just that simple exchange. Then she was able to say, OK, thank you. And I just thought, That’s Flo, and we need to be able to feel like we can’t ask questions and that it isn’t someone trying

[00:32:34] To derail the conversation

[00:32:36] If somebody seeking connection. And so that that’s my my number

[00:32:40] Seven marriage tip is feel free

[00:32:41] To ask questions. The floor is open for questions. And if you are somebody who says,

[00:32:45] Look, I already told you. And that means if the person didn’t hear or understand, that means they’re human. And I guarantee there are times

[00:32:51] Where you are the one that has said, Oh, sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. Can you tell me so I don’t know why we should expect that everyone else, when I speak is going to hang on my every word because that’s that is emotionally immature and absolutely not fair.

[00:33:05] Number eight, Try not to listen to things, read things, do things

[00:33:08] With your elbow. And this is something that Preston Pug Meyer and I

[00:33:11] Talk about in our magnetic marriage course. Right out of the gate

[00:33:13] Is how often do you listen to a podcast

[00:33:16] Or read a talk or an article with your elbow

[00:33:19] And doing this on the YouTube video here? Just pointing, elbowing your partner saying, Did you hear that? Did you? I think you would really benefit from hearing that. That is not a way to drive connection. If you feel like that would be something that you would love to share with your spouse and absolutely feel free to share it. But that doesn’t mean that if I’m going to share this article, it’s not coming from this place of, Hey, you better listen to this because this applies to you. But I feel like if you are someone that feels like that connected an article a podcast resonated with you, then it’s absolutely OK to say, Hey, I was. I really liked this podcast, and so I wanted to share it with you. And again, going back to emotional

[00:33:54] Maturity, I can think right now of podcasts or articles or things that I’ve shared in our family group chat with my kids, where in the past

[00:34:02] I would follow up and say, Hey, do me? Nobody’s talking about this thing that I said, you need to listen to. What’s up with that and versus, Hey, this is something I can offer out to my family that I think is important. But if somebody decides not to listen to it, that’s OK. They’re not doing that to hurt me. It’s just something that I want to put out there, and I have to be able to do that without reciprocity, without feeling like, OK, they better listen to it because I know that

[00:34:26] There are plenty of times

[00:34:26] Or somebody I don’t feel like I have the time to or energy to put into something that somebody’s saying. I think that you would benefit from this. I was driving home last night and someone had sent me a week ago something that they thought I would really enjoy. And I was I

[00:34:41] Didn’t really

[00:34:41] Want to hear or listen to my audio book. I didn’t have a podcast that was handy, and so I went to click on this thing that they had offered up. And it turns out that it was audio through Twitter. I think they call it Twitter spaces, and I couldn’t get it to work. I felt like a technology challenged old man

[00:34:55] For a little bit, but I remember just feeling,

[00:34:57] Oh man, this is a lot of effort. But then I felt like if I don’t do this, then I’m going to let this person down. And it’s just interesting to see the internal

[00:35:05] Battle that we can have, where in reality,

[00:35:06] I ended up figuring it out, listen to it for a few minutes and then absolutely forgot about it again. Now that I think about that on my way into work today, but it’s OK to have these expectations that it would be ideal.

[00:35:18] I would love for somebody

[00:35:19] That I care about to listen to something that I thought was enjoyable, but then they may run into technical difficulties as well, and that doesn’t

[00:35:26] Mean that they don’t care about you.

[00:35:28] It just means that life happens.

[00:35:30] So, number nine,

[00:35:32] Try to be

[00:35:32] Present with your partner, and I think

[00:35:34] This one can be a real challenge today. This is where again, I’ll pull an old man, get off my lawn moment,

[00:35:40] But try your

[00:35:41] Best to be present to make eye contact if you need to hold

[00:35:45] Your partner’s hand.

[00:35:46] Or I almost feel like this is where I’m trying gingerly to say you might need to set your phone down, whether it’s with your kids or with your spouse. And I’m not trying to say

[00:35:56] This to bring shame or guilt to

[00:35:57] Anyone, but I feel like over time we just start to develop these patterns and even we convince ourselves that I can still listen. I can multitask, I can listen. I’m just going to text while you tell me.

[00:36:07] But I feel like in a perfect world, if I

[00:36:09] Really need to finish a text, then the emotional, mature response would be to say, Hey, can you just give me 30 seconds? Or Let me just finish up this text because I want to give you my attention,

[00:36:18] Or if the person is more important? And I feel

[00:36:21] Like if I’m being honest, this is something I try to do with my kids and I’ve tried to do as long as I can. That is any text

[00:36:27] Really more important than I’ve got a kid here in front of me that wants

[00:36:31] To share something with me. So I feel like it’s

[00:36:34] Very empowering for a parent to make sure

[00:36:37] That then they set that phone down and then they give their kid their full attention and they don’t act like,

[00:36:41] Ok, hurry,

[00:36:43] Get to it. I’ve got stuff I have to do because you’ll have plenty of time to send texts and that sort of thing. And I feel like I’m almost about to get emotional and have a moment. Here is my youngest is is 18 and graduating high school, so it does become that thing where I would give anything for them to be coming home and having these conversations late at night. And so it truly take advantage of those moments and be present. And if that means putting your phone down, then probably a good idea to put your phone down. Ok, that

[00:37:07] Was. No, I think that was number eight. That was actually number nine or eight nine. I don’t remember, and I’m going to be very

[00:37:14] Authentic here, but I know that I have

[00:37:15] No. I have two more on here. Pause before speaking or before reacting,

[00:37:19] And this is what a mindfulness practice will allow you to do. Building that pours in is one of the most powerful things that you can do

[00:37:26] And in the world of, in the world of emotionally focused

[00:37:30] Therapy. And I pulled this out again yesterday, and literally, it’s a book called Emotionally Focused Therapy

[00:37:36] For Couples

[00:37:37] For Dummies. I think that’s a lot of long title, but it was so powerful because it talks about how we do. Our emotions run about two and a half times faster than our thoughts or our logic. And so we often get caught up in this. I can absolutely control my thoughts. It’s a choice, a conscious choice. I’m going to choose to be happy today, which sounds amazing. And again, if this works for somebody, then that is great. But I feel like this is one of those principles that works until it doesn’t. Because if I am

[00:38:06] Waking up in the morning

[00:38:07] And I am going to make this the best day of my life and I’m going to be happy I’m exercising, I laid out all my clothes. I ate right and I’m on my way to work, and now I get caught in a traffic jam. Then my emotion is operating at two and a half times the speed of my logic. So I may then

[00:38:20] Emote or immediately go to this visceral reaction of,

[00:38:24] Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? Why is the traffic so bad today? And then what do we get to do? Now we get to beat ourselves up because we had an emotion. We had a natural human emotion. And now we beat ourselves up because we say, Oh my gosh, I can’t even control my thoughts. I can’t even decide to be happy and then be happy.

[00:38:40] Instead, I’m frustrated, or my emotion serves a purpose

[00:38:44] Because we naturally just have this

[00:38:46] Reaction because we’re a human being and that that part is there to protect this. It’s our gut reaction. It’s our visceral reaction. And this is where if you have ever been walking

[00:38:55] Around outside and you look down on the ground and you see a stick, but it looks like a snake, so you recoil a little bit, take a little breath and say, OK, this is a stick. That’s a miracle. That is why telling ourselves that we can control our thoughts is adorable, and it’s something that we can start to be able to build this pause so that we can notice the reaction within us and then take. Function on a value or something that matters. And that is in the world of acceptance and commitment therapy, I think I’ve done two or three episodes talking around the data, the science behind that, that if you are asking yourself to suddenly flip

[00:39:28] And get rid of your visceral reaction, your gut reaction.

[00:39:31] I don’t want that to happen

[00:39:33] Because our our emotional or visceral reaction is there to protect

[00:39:36] Us. But then we can build in this pause to be able to then notice that and then take action and do something that matters or something of value. So try your best to build that pause in the best we can do. That is a daily mindfulness practice that over time, it starts to build in that pause that I’m noticing that I am thinking, I’m noticing that I am feeling instead of just I just reacted so giving that pause. This is just an amazing thing. But last thing, so this is number 10. Do not be too cool to have fun to

[00:40:03] Play, to embarrass yourself, not embarrass your spouse, but yourself in order to be able to just be fully

[00:40:11] Present. You’re going to experience a wide range of human emotions, and some of those are going

[00:40:15] To be embarrassment. They’re going to be laughter, they’re going to be fun, they’re going to be fear, they’re going to be all the

[00:40:19] Different emotions and be present. Feel them. And there is nothing. I feel like

[00:40:24] More empowering than

[00:40:25] Just enjoying

[00:40:26] Life or being silly or that sort of thing to your spouse, but especially to your kids or those around

[00:40:31] You. This is where I feel

[00:40:32] Like letting yourself be human absolutely liberates others around you. And when

[00:40:39] I

[00:40:40] Noticed before that,

[00:40:41] When I feel like I can crack a joke or

[00:40:43] Self-deprecating humor or tell a story about the

[00:40:45] I just was speaking somewhere recently, and I told the story again about being down in a very fancy hotel in L.A., back in my computer days and not having the

[00:40:54] Usa Today paper outside of my door.

[00:40:56] I still don’t understand why, but the place across did so. I thought I was just going to grab that one and I walk out and just my underwear bottoms.

[00:41:04] And then I heard the latch of the door closed

[00:41:07] Behind me, and I spent the next 15 minutes out in the hallway in my underwear as I had to call the people at the front desk to come up and get me. So is that an embarrassing story? Absolutely. Did I lived through it? Yes, I did. Am I human? Yes. Yes, I am. And so being able to take ownership of those

[00:41:22] Share those, we’re all human.

[00:41:23] And just to be able to look at things with humor and curiosity is just such an amazing part of the human experience.

[00:41:29] Ok. Hey, we’re going to we’re going to call it a day right now, but I

[00:41:32] So appreciate you joining me today on the virtual couch. Hopefully, some of

[00:41:35] These marriage tips resonated. If you if you are interested in finding out more about the magnetic marriage course, then

[00:41:41] Head over to Tony over bbc.com, go to the contact form and just shoot me an email. We’ll I’ll shoot you a quick note back and we’ll get you on the wait list and then you’ll

[00:41:48] Be hearing about that more. But I am just truly grateful for the podcast has hit another bit of growth

[00:41:54] And that has been fun to watch the statistics go up and

[00:41:57] The number of places that it

[00:41:58] Shared in the countries and that sort of thing. So I absolutely appreciate every single person who listens, who downloads,

[00:42:03] Who forwards, who rates,

[00:42:05] Who reviews, and I’m truly grateful. So taking us out today, as per usual, is a wonderful the talented Aurora Florence with her song. It’s wonderful. All right, everybody have an amazing day and I will see you next time on the virtual couch.

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