Do you have a painful marriage? Perhaps you love your marriage but there are still some things you find annoying.
In this episode, Sterling shares five powerful thoughts you can use today to improve your marriage.
Whether you’ve been in a difficult season for years or you’re just having an off day, these thoughts can help you look at that man with fresh eyes and have some hope for the future!
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Hi, and welcome to the made for greatness podcast. I’m Sterling Jay and today on episode 19, I am talking about the five thoughts that have improved my marriage. So for those of you who’ve been following me from the beginning, I’ve had this really huge shift in my life after discovering mindset coaching and becoming a life coach. And I saw so many improvements in different areas of my life, but I wasn’t seeing the same improvements in my marriage, which was fine. I was working on things and feeling so excited to have discovered these tools and implementing them. But I wanted so badly to see those same improvements in my marriage, and it just took longer, but I have seen so much progress in the last really month or two. And so I was asking myself like why, what were the key things that have finally broken through?
I feel like there was this crack in the hard shell around our marriage, and I’m starting to see through to the softness inside to the light and the love inside of who I know we could be together. And so I wanted to share with you the five thoughts that have been helping me and these by no means have fixed things or made everything better. We’re kind of on our own journey, but they really have started to soften my heart and started to help me feel more excited about the future. And to finally have hope that things could be better, that I could have the kind of marriage that I perceive other people have, or I think people have in the movies, or maybe the kind of marriage that you know, God says is possible. And so I’m going to share these five thoughts with you today.
So the first thought is more of an idea, really? So the idea is that you begin to see the things that drive you nuts about your husband as endearments. And this is something from the Gottman Institute. They put out tons of information about having healthy relationships. They have a lot of books, and this is one of their keys to having a successful marriage. Is that instead of thinking that the things that your spouse does is really annoying. You begin to think that they are cute or sweet in some way. And I still have a long ways to go about that. But when my husband does something that drives me bananas, either it’s annoying or gross or hurtful or a personality tick or something like that, I tell myself, Oh, I love that part about him. Or that just makes up who he is. And I love that quirky thing that he does.
And I helped my mind to realize that it’s a package deal. Like the things that drive me crazy about him are usually aspects of his personality and other aspects of his personality or that same personality type are things that I really love or was very drawn to, or that serve our family so well. And so it hasn’t actually been that hard to see some of the things and realize that in doing that, he’s serving me or serving the kids or serving our family and just being who he is and loving him the way that God sees him. So just beginning to see things that I used to think were annoying or drove me crazy as sweet. Endearments the second thought that I have, that I got in a coaching session. The coach said to me, as I had given my life long list of things that were my favorite about our marriage, that I wish were different.
And she said, I see that you don’t realize that marriage is just sit there. The only thing that’s causing you pain is your thoughts about your marriage. And I was like, what? And this idea that marriage is just sit there. It doesn’t feel right. You want to be like, no, it’s sacramental. And it’s a turtle. And we’re one flesh and all of these things, right? But her point was there. Isn’t a way for your husband to behave differently. And then for you to be happier, marriage is just sit there. They’re just a neutral circumstance. It’s why your husband could come over to my house and do something that drives you crazy. And it wouldn’t mean anything to me. I’d just be like, Oh, there’s that guy. And he’s doing that thing. Cause he’s not my husband. And he hasn’t hurt my feelings a hundred thousand times and we don’t have history or pain between us. Marriage is just sit there. It’s our thoughts about them that caused us pain. And the good news about that is that you can begin to find those moments when you are feeling pain and you can examine.
So if your husband doesn’t unload the dishwasher, probably having a thought, he doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t support me. He doesn’t see me. And that is the thought that is so painful because on a totally different day, if he had a really busy day or he had a cold and he didn’t do that, he didn’t unload the dishwasher. You would have a totally different thought about it. And so that’s just another example of what we would call a neutral circumstance, not unloading the dishwasher is only a thing. If we make it a thing in our minds. And I don’t want you to feel like I’m dismissing challenges that you’re experiencing, because listen, for those of you who have not been following me for five years my husband and I have had a lot of challenges, a lot of pain, a lot of absence, a lot of struggles, very different personalities.
It’s extremely hard to be married to an entrepreneur and an engineer. And my husband would say, it’s extremely hard to be married to someone who is so emotional and free spirited, right? So we both have this list that we believe is what causes pain in our marriage. But the truth is, it’s just our thoughts about those things that cause us pain, because we could choose to have a totally different thought, right? He could not unload the dishwasher and it could be like, I love that, man. He works so hard and he was probably just tired today. I use that example because I hear it a lot. The truth is I’m the one who doesn’t unload the dishwasher. Probably he’s the one that like cares more about kitchen stuff. You know, but he doesn’t compliment me very much. He doesn’t say that I’m pretty. And I could choose to believe he doesn’t like me or isn’t attracted to me or something like that.
Or I could just believe, yeah, he’s an engineer. It doesn’t occur to him to compliment me. He’s not complimenting other people. Right. I could just be like, and I love that about him. I love being married to an engineer. Right? There’s so many benefits that come with that. I love them. Marriage is just sit there. It’s only our thoughts about them that caused us pain. And listen, this took me almost six months to get to, and I’m still not totally there yet. So I’m not saying, Hey, just becoming enlightened being, and figure this all out right now. But I’m just giving you a little bit of hope, a little bit of hope. If I can make a crack in the pain of your marriage and say, what if it could be better? What if you could be happier? What if you could love yourself more?
What if you could love him more right now, if nothing was different, because you do have control over your thoughts and you can work on changing them. The third thought that has really made a big difference to me. And this sounds silly, but I’m just practicing. It is. I love that guy. And I tell myself that all the time, another version of that is also he’s my lobster, just kind of a friends thing, but I just look at him and I just tell myself more and more. Now I love that guy so much. He’s my lobster. And it’s funny because just telling myself that has helped me to then notice more and more things that he does for me and the kids and our family. And I love him more. That’s the power of our brains.
They notice what we tell them to look for. So even if you’re in a cold marriage or a hot, frustrating marriage or whatever it is, you can practice this thought. I love that guy. You can just try it on for size. And if that feels too strong, you could maybe say, I’m trying to love that guy. And even that will feel better than Ugh, or him or I’m stuck. Or why is this happening? Or why haven’t you fixed this God like those create negative feeling. But even I’m trying to love that guy. It’s a lot better. It’s a lot more powerful.
The next thought that I have a lot I’m working on is nothing has gone wrong. Have this idea that something was wrong, either our conversation or something that we’d done together. And instead I just choose to think nothing has gone wrong. This is exactly what is supposed to happen. This is exactly where we’re supposed to be. This is exactly the conversation we should be having or the situation we’re in or something that hasn’t been resolved between us. Nothing has gone wrong. And another way of saying that I like that phrase, nothing has gone wrong. But another way of saying that would just be to say, to ask, what is God trying to teach me here? Because when we ask, what is God trying to teach me? It is also acknowledging that this is exactly where we should be, that this is where God wants us to be. But for me, I really like the phrase, nothing has gone wrong. And it just kind of opens my brain up to being really present or finding solutions, things like that.
And the last thing that feels similar, but it’s a little different to me is I don’t need to fix anything. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix my marriage. Like something is broken. I have to fix this. I have to figure it out. I have to read more books. We have to go to counseling this isn’t right. And so it’s another version of nothing has gone wrong, but I don’t have to fix anything because here’s the truth, ladies, it’s very difficult to find a solution or to be connected to someone when you have a tremendous amount of pressure on yourself to fix something nothing.
And if there is nothing to fix, what if this is exactly what your marriage should look like right now? And if you can just sit with that for a moment, if you can sit with this idea that this is the marriage that God has designed for you right now, with all its flaws and all its tension and whatever is happening, if you didn’t need to fix anything, anything, what you will do notice is that your brain will suddenly open up from a place of love. Instead pressure to think of ways that you could fix things,
You and your husband together, to mend things, to help things. It’s like that beautiful tradition in Japanese culture, where when a vase breaks, they put the pieces back together and they use gold to put the pieces back together. So it’s more beautiful and stronger when they put it together. And so what if nothing has gone wrong and it wasn’t broken. And we were just making a new piece of art that was stronger and held together by gold. And in this case, I think we are held together by grace and love, but it is very hard to access that when you think that something is broken or when you were putting the pressure on yourself to fix something, if I don’t figure it out, something bad is going to happen. You know? And I think I used to do that with our sex life as well. I think, Oh, I got to figure this out. I got to make him happy. I have to make myself happy. Cause if I don’t do that, I don’t know there’s this cliff I’m going to fall off, but there is no cliff, nothing has gone wrong. This is exactly where we should be. I don’t need to fix anything. And these thoughts won’t make you feel happy or yummy or romantic or sexy. But for a lot of us feeling neutral is a whole lot better than how we have been feeling.
I would love to have a mushy yummy, romantic, fun Sparky marriage, but I’m pretty sync and happy right now with just having one that doesn’t feel like gut-wrenching pain all the time or half the time. I’m not skipping down the street with my husband or laughing over, you know, family dinners yet. Let me have fun. Sometimes. I think maybe I make it sound worse than it is, but I think it’s just that no one told me that it was so hard. Right. And instead, I just say, what if it’s not hard,
This is the obstacle course that I am running to be a Saint. And there are just a certain number of my obstacles that are going to be marriage related.
Has gone wrong. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I don’t need to fix anything. I love that guy.
Quirkiness is what makes him him. And I love that.
I mean, it doesn’t mean
That everything is neutralized. I still have moments of frustration or pain, but in general, these five thoughts have significantly improved my home life. My day-to-day experience of my husband. And I have more hope right now than I have in a really long time that I could be happy in my marriage. And I’m really starting to see, even though I don’t totally understand it. And I haven’t totally taken it all in yet that marriage is just sit there. I mean, it is just our thoughts because I can choose to believe we have a great marriage. We have great communication. We have lots of fun. We are adventurous. Things are great. I could just choose to have those thoughts. Those thoughts are available. That’s one of those kind of cliche coaching phrases. And I heard it a lot and I didn’t really like it, but now I really like it. Those thoughts are available to you right now. You can think that right now.
So I don’t have all of the answers yet. And I don’t have the kind of marriage that I want yet. I can see that there are things that can be better, but I can enjoy it for what it is right now. And I can choose to believe that nothing has gone wrong. We are exactly where we’re supposed to be in this journey. And then from a place of love and curiosity and fun and adventure, I can think, I wonder what we’re going to learn this year. I wonder what we’re going to share with each other.
I wonder what difficult things we’re going to get through and wonder what tools we will acquire so that we can communicate better and we can care for each other more. And that is such a, that is such a better feeling than to sit and think my marriage is hard and this is painful and I’m stuck here and I’m trapped. And I don’t see a way out and it’s not going to get better. And we have so many little kids and just all of those thoughts that used to run through my mind all of the time. But when I had those thoughts or when I had a lot of pressure on myself to figure things out and to fix us, I didn’t have access to the part of my brain that could help me find tools to help us grow because real growth comes from a place of love and curiosity and open feelings like that does not often come from a place of pressure.
So I wanted to share that update with all of you. I’m sure I will be learning more things and then coming back and sharing them with you. I love talking about marriage and Catholicism and what it’s like to really be a woman in this world right now and trying to be a Saint and what that looks like on a day-to-day level, because we didn’t get a manual. They didn’t give us a list of the obstacles that we would face so that we would know which number we were on. We’re kind of having to figure it out ourselves in the world is changing so quickly, but the more we can come from a place of love, which is really what God wants for us and from us. I think the more that we can find peace and happiness in the life that he has given us. All right, ladies, I am praying for you. Please pray for me. Thank you for listening to this podcast, have hope and go out and do great things this week because you were made for greatness.