Feeling confused by marriage lately?
Sterling explains how marriage is a race and what it looks like to win. She also describes why marriage feels so hard in our modern-day society and what we can do about it.
Marriage is hard and that’s okay.
We’re going to figure this out together!
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TRANSCRIPT OF THE SHOW
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Hi, and welcome to the Made For Greatness podcast. I’m your host today? Sterling Jay and this is episode 42, where we talk about how marriage is a race. Now, you know, I love talking about marriage. I love being the one who says the hard things and who’s willing to be vulnerable and share my marriage stuff so that I can help you guys. And that’s what our dream is. It Made For Greatness is to help moms to see themselves and their lives, the way that God sees them, because God sees you and your husband and your marriage in a completely different way than you see it because he’s God, our brains probably don’t even have the ability to see it that way.
But that’s what we’re going to help you do. I’m going to help you do that a little bit today. And then I’m going to tell you about how marriage is going to be our focus for the month of September. So the reason I wanted to say that marriage is a race is because you signed up for this. So marriage is not a race in the sense that we’re trying to get somewhere quickly or be the winners. Marriage is a race because we signed up for the obstacle course. That is marriage. Okay. If you’ve ever signed up for an obstacle course, like a Spartan race, it’s usually a certain distance, maybe five or 10 miles. And then they tell you how many obstacles are in the course. It’s a 16 obstacle course or a 32 obstacle course. You don’t know what the obstacles are. Just the distance and how many obstacles and the tagline of the Spartan race is.
You’ll know when you finish. And it’s very mysterious and I’m like, I want to know, what do you feel when you finish? Like, what is this thing that you get when you finish one of these races? And I signed up for one right before COVID so I’ve actually never done one, but someday I’ll do one. And I just think that Saint hood is like that. And marriage is like that, where we chose to run this race, not knowing what the obstacles were going to be, but we wanted to have the feeling that we have at the end. And for marriage, I think the end is Saint HUD, right? When we’ve run the race. Well, then the prize is sainthood heaven, right? That’s the purpose of marriage is that we help our spouse and ourselves get to heaven. And so marriage is a race and you signed up for it.
And yet, so consistently we heard surprised when we get to obstacle 1047, and we’re like, what? This is a problem. This shouldn’t be here. Instead of realizing that we literally signed up for it, we want the obstacles. And it’s just our job to go through them as many that there are till we get to the end and the prize at the end. And so I think we just forget that for many reasons. So one, I think we just, just, don’t normalize real marriage and it’s not our fault that we, we don’t talk about what real marriage is like or normalize the challenges of marriage. It’s because we don’t really have the same venues that we used to have. Right? So you used to take all of your clothes down to the river and wash them with a whole bunch of women. This would be like in Jesus’s time and there you would be with women of all ages and you know, your grandma and your sister and your mom, and everyone would talk about marriage.
Now they kept some things private, but you would share some things and then someone would make you feel better about that. Or they would say, Hmm, that’s not great. Shouldn’t be like that. So maybe you would say, oh, my husband lost his temper with me last night. And he raised his voice and the other women chuckle a little bit. And they’re like, yes, little dove that happens, husbands, lose their temper and raise their voice. Sometimes it’s not godly. None of us should speak out of anger, but we do because we’re humans. Now, if you say my husband got really angry and punched me in the face, I hope that someone would say, oh, well, that’s not normal. Actually that crossed the line. What was going on? Let’s talk about it. Do you have resources? Do you have what you need? Right. So there would be these women that would kind of put whatever you were going through into perspective of all ages and of all marriage stages.
And we just don’t really have that anymore. And actually what we have is even worse, which is social media, which is just the highlight reel. Nobody says my husband and I argued in the car our yesterday morning and it was really painful. We’re kind of Stony for six hours. And then we like kind of made up, but with no resolution and we just decided to make some popcorn and watch a movie. And I guess we’re okay. Really? Who’s talking about that. Nobody. I’m not even sure that it makes sense to say that on social media really. I mean, I’d be happy to share those experiences, but I never think to take that moment say, and really, cause it just feels like complaining social media. Now my podcast to me is like the perfect venue to have this conversation, but I’m having it in a way that is helpful. I hope so. I’m not just complaining. I’m saying listen, and this is what normal marriages look like. This is what we go through.
And we don’t get to do the washing our clothes by the river thing where we kind of get a poll somewhat 10 different women feel like because we all have different types of marriages and personalities and lifestyles. And so how lovely would it have been to kin
Maybe this is helpful to you. So I think it’s just that we just don’t have a ton of venues for having this conversation. And that’s why we haven’t really normalized what real marriage looks like or what average marriage looks like. So I think a lot of us are walking around going, do I have a terrible marriage? Is my husband kind of a jerk face? Is this too painful? Is this supposed to be like this? How many times should you have sex before it’s considered weird or not enough? I don’t even know who to ask those questions to. Certainly my husband and I both came from single moms, so we can’t ask them. So I just want us collectively to see that we don’t have access to great information. And then when you try to Google it, it’s a flood God of information often contradictory. And we just don’t even know where to begin. So if you’re feeling like you don’t know who to ask, you’re in good company. It’s most of us, most of us don’t really know who to ask marriage advice from.
d of get the pulse on marriage from a bunch of women to see, okay, this is about what I’m hearing and where we kind of fall into that. The second thing that’s really changed about marriage is our family lifestyle. So for most of history, men would leave the women and only spend time with women, sorry with men. So like the genders would separate, they’d be separate for most of the day. And then they would come together at the end of the day, maybe in the middle of mealtimes. But the idea that husbands and wives, both worked from home was pretty unusual.
The idea that men would go and work with other women is very, very recent. Jordan Peterson talks about that. He talks about how it’s kind of dangerous and we didn’t do that any other time. And this is anyone’s capabilities. This is just about how unusual is now that only fairly recently are we mixing genders in workplaces for most of the day. And then of course in a post COVID world, a lot of husbands are working from home now. And so you’re just with your spouse all the time. And it just has never really been like that. And I only share that so that we can also have some grace for ourselves that this is new. There aren’t a lot of books about that yet. We’re still figuring it out, both in the last two years, but also really in the last 50 years, how the family unit looks and what our day-to-day lives involve is pretty different than it was in the fifties, which I realize now is 70 years ago.
Right? But what moms do is very different than it was in the fifties. And so it’s new, we’re figuring out how to be modern married. So I just want you to have some grace for yourself and all the people around you that were figuring it out. Now at the same time that I want to say that family units and lifestyles are different. They are also unchanged. Marriage is also the same. Marriage is living with someone who holds up a mirror, just walking around, looking at a guy who’s holding up a mirror and it feels awful, right? Because our spouse is the one who sees every selfish act that we do every bit of pride that we suffer from all our sins. Let me just show them to us. They, we realize it or not, and we’re doing the same thing to them. And that’s why marriage feels so uncomfortable. Sometimes you want to tell me all the things that are difficult and challenging about your husband, but really I’m telling you the number one thing is that he’s just holding up a mirror and showing you yourself. And that is also why marriage is so beautiful and why marriage is the thing that helps us to become saints because we get to look in that mirror and we get to go, oh, there are some things there that I could work on.
And so that part of marriage is unchanged. Marriage is the race that we get to run, to work out our salvation, to stretch ourselves, to build up the right kind of muscles in virtue. That is what it’s for, but we’re running race and we didn’t get any instructions. And it looks so different than it did even 50, a hundred years ago, really for a short period of time, it has been. So and so here we are 2021 and we’re trying to be good Catholics. And we’re trying to figure out how to live in America. Some of you in Canada and the UK welcome, and we’re trying to raise kids and we’re trying to figure out how to do it with the internet and with cell phones. Those are also radically new variables to the family life. We’re trying to manage screen time and what our kids have access to. And what is on the television now pushes the envelope just exponentially since it was created, it is going so fast now.
So in addition to figuring out how to be married without anyone to ask about it, we’re also managing all of this technology for our family, trying to decide, can we have, can we be looking at our phones while sitting next to each other on the couch? What are the rules of the children? And that’s okay. We are problem solvers, but I just want you to recognize the extraordinary situation that you are in right now. There is nothing wrong with you and there is nothing wrong with your husband. And yet that is the story that your brain will offer you over and over again, something is wrong with you. Something is wrong with him. Something is wrong with your marriage. Something is wrong with your children.
Instead, I want to offer that you are a problem solver. You are figuring this out. You are both people who are learning and growing. There is no such thing as going backwards in the race of marriage, because sometimes we ebb and flow. And especially if we’ve had some good days or weeks or years, and then difficult challenges come up again. Those obstacles that we signed up for, we kind of come crashing down and we’re like, oh no, we’ve really we haven’t made any progress or we’ve gone backwards. I just want to invite you to realize that you guys are running a forward race.
You can not go backwards. You guys are both learning about yourselves and each other and the culture and family units and all of it together. Show your brain how far you’ve come, show your brain. What you have learned about marriage, what you have learned about managing a family and that you keep choosing to do it together. We want to set our brains to focus on what we’ve done, how far we’ve come, the good things, the things we adore about our husbands, why we would choose him again. The third thing that’s going on right now is that we have a significant amount of time to think about each other and to think about ourselves and to think about our marriage. And it wasn’t too long ago when both people were working so hard and so much, they just didn’t have time to be deeply introspective about those things.
Right? Laura Ingles was busy making homemade buttermilk biscuits and getting eggs from the chickens and making sure the kids went to school and running the farm. And hand-washing all of her clothes and her and her husband would fall into bed probably shortly after it was dark and pass out. She probably didn’t have a lot of time to think about whether her husband complimented her enough or whether she was satisfied in her vocation of marriage. Now, I think all throughout time, people care about improving themselves and they can do that in prayer, but keep in mind that it is especially the luxury of those of us that have money and safety, to think so much about it, which is why as a society grows in wealth and more of their day-to-day needs are taken care of. Then we start being introspective. Then we start doing things like hiring therapists or life coaches and thinking about, well, how is my marriage?
And can it be better? And those are good things, but just know that it is the privilege of how we live, that we get to spend time thinking about that because if we were both working extremely hard, we wouldn’t even be thinking about that. That much. Like it’s a first world society issue that we really put our marriages under a microscope and ask ourselves how we can make them better. And again, I’m grateful for that. It’s a good thing, but it’s a recent thing compared to all of time. It’s also a Christian thing that God challenges us to think about our marriages and to serve each other and how we have so many more tools to do that. Right? We have so more information, so many books, so many podcasts, we know more about how people learn, how they feel loved, but all of it really is still pretty new.
So have some grace and mercy for yourself that you were figuring it out, that you were trying to love this guy as best. You know how that he is also trying to figure out how to be a 21st century husband, right? That role has changed a lot too in a great way, right? Dads are so much more involved in their kids. They treat their wives as partners so much more than they used to. We now make a lot of decisions. As a family work environments are different in a good way, right? We live in a wonderful time. We really, really do.
And now is a time to just pause and decide where you’re at with your marriage and where you want to go. Life coaching is about looking forward, but then asking yourself, what kind of marriage do I want? How could it be better? And so that is why we are focusing on marriage in the month of September in masters, we’re calling it, the husband make-over, which is pretty cute. And of course the spoiler alert is that we’re not going to change anything about your husband, but we’re just going to change the way that you see him. And this program is going to teach you a lot of tools. You may use some of them. You may use all of them, but these tools are to help you decrease the amount of pain you feel in your marriage. Some of you have very hard and dark marriages. You’re going through some very difficult things you would say to me in private Sterling, we’ve got some rough stuff going on. I don’t think it could get better. I’m just trying to make it through. We’re just aging up the kids. I’m just trying not to lose my mind, right? Like you’re not looking for a marriage program that says, feel like you’re on your honeymoon.
We’re going to teach you how to have less pain in your marriage. If your goal is just to not be so angry with that guy or disgusted with him, we can help you do that. We have the tools to help you do that. Now some of you would say, my marriage is all right, it’s pretty good. And we would say, great. Then we’re going to help you have a fantastic marriage. We’re going to help you to find the things that you could tweak so that you can improve your marriage and have one that’s better than you even thought possible.
Life coaching is all about asking yourself, what do I want? And then working with God to create that. And I promise you that wherever you’re at in your marriage, we can help you make it better than you even imagined. And it doesn’t matter what you’re dealing with and what your story is. And if you are starting from absolute coldness, lots of pain and anger, we can just help you decrease that. Those could be your first few steps. If you have punched out a few kids and your life feels chaotic and you just don’t feel like you have a lot of romance with your husband, we can help you do that. You may be the kind of person that does want to recapture some of that honeymoon energy. But what I will say is that Larissa and I are very well-trained to help people improve their relationships.
We both are deeply Catholic women and we have extremely different marriages. So we’re going to bring very different things to this program. And we have split it up purposely for that reason. This is the first program that we’re doing together. Normally one of us tackles the topic and shoots all the videos. And it’s kind of that person’s course, and we’ve just been trading those off. But this one, we really wanted to bring two different voices to the same topic. And we wanted to create a space where we could bring a few hundred voices to the topic, a safe place where you could ask questions and share what you’re going through. And in masters, there’s several places for us to connect and receive coaching. There’s our private, Facebook and mighty network groups where you can ask questions. Then there’s our group coaching where you can raise your hand in a coach live, or there’s a Q and a box where you can ask questions anonymously.
We have several family members that are part of masters and at least one family that has four or five of their family members all in masters. And so I totally get that. Sometimes we want to ask questions anonymously, but almost always. When someone asks a question anonymously, they receive so much love and support from the group because a lot of us are going through the same things. And I want to create the atmosphere of washing our clothes by the river together. I want us to bring our marriage problems together without complaining, without shaming, our husbands, but just saying, this is where I’m at. Is this normal? Or is this something I can improve and helping us to surround each other with love to make that happen? So if you’ve been thinking about joining masters, I think this is the perfect month to do it September.
We are going to focus on marriage and it doesn’t matter where you are in your marriage. I promise this to you. We will give you the tools to improve your marriage significantly. And I know because I’ve been experiencing that in my own marriage keeps getting better. And I’m going to share a lot of our struggles with having lots of kids with financial strains, with being entrepreneurs, with having an intense engineer, perfectionist husband, who extremely critical with having a lot of abstinence, our marriage times where we went 10 months, times where we just know we only get five days a month in a row, not in total. I’m going to share all of those things. And I know Larissa will bring her own story. Some really beautiful things that have helped her to see her husband in a new light and to keep passion and romance and love alive.
Even when we have busy lives, even when we’re managing toddlers and teenagers, right? We’re going to give you the tools to help you improve your marriage. So come join us in masters, tell your friends, you know, some people that have some pain in their marriage. And if they were thinking about trying it for one month, I think this is the perfect month to try it, because I know that we can take a woman and we can teach her just a few simple things. It won’t take hours, you guys, but we teach you happens pretty quickly. And then you can have those tools for the whole rest of your life. You can use them over and over again in any stage of marriage. Okay? What we want is to help all of you run the race, run the race well so that we end up saints in heaven. Come join us in masters and mama. Remember you are Made For Greatness.