You can make anything into a love story whenever you want to and I suggest you only make it into a love story IF you want to. Because a love story isn’t a love story unless it really feels like love.
Listen in this week for tips on how to make your love story last. For you. For him. But for YOU first. Every time.
Mentioned in this Episode
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‘s Up, Bees?!
In case you’re wondering, my dog hasn’t peed on my floor since we last talked.
This is a major win.
An even bigger win is that my husband and I are still having productive, collaborative problem- solving chats about the whole thing AND we’re – mostly – feeling the love while we do it.
How is that happening?
Because of me.
Because I’m choosing – on purpose – to tell a loving story about him through every episode of urine-soaked drama.
He’s probably hanging on to a loving story about me too – so kudos to him, as well – but we are going to focus on me because calling attention to how MY brain creates everything in my marriage keeps me feeling empowered to create a marriage I love to live in.
Same goes for you.
In every scenario, you get to tell the story that elicits the emotional response you WANT to have. The one you believe will keep you moving toward your goal.
Last week we reviewed how each new pee puddle on my new floor brings a new opportunity.
A fresh choice for me to make.
I can tell the story of a dismissive husband who values the dog’s comfort over my concerns.
I can tell the story of an overwhelmed husband who wants to protect our floors, but hasn’t found the best solution to do so quite yet.
There are probably more stories I could choose to tell.
It’s likely that all of the stories hold some degree of truth.
And lean in close, now – because this part is IMPORTANT.
No one story is morally superior or preferable to any other – even though you may be tempted to believe that one particular story is the “right” way to respond.
You’ve probably been trained to believe you’re supposed to tell…
The generous story.
The loving reframe.
The interpretation that holds an eternal, 100 year or otherwise long-term perspective.
I agree with that training.
So long as – the generosity, love and perspective don’t leave anyone out.
Which… they sometimes do.
The someone most likely to be left out when we apply descriptors like generous, loving and long-term perspective is: YOU.
And that’s not okay with me.
Because you cannot build a solid, sustainable relationship when there isn’t room for YOU in it.
No one can.
To be the romantic success you want it to be, your marriage NEEDS the very first thing you brought to it – YOU.
So – as you consider how you want to tell the story of your day-to-day, commit to going with what feels like love – first for you, then for him.
As they say, ladies first.
Not because you’re more important than him – you’re still equal partners with talents and skills to offer the marriage.
Going with love for YOU first simply means you’ll be better equipped to bring all of YOUR talents and skills and great ideas to the table when you’re collaborating on how to proceed.
If you’re starting off feeling ignored or obligated or dismissed, you’re SO much less likely to speak your mind and share your perspective in a useful way.
So consciously choose to interpret your marriage in a way that feels like love for you first, then love for him second.
Sometimes telling a loving story about him will ALSO feel like a love story for you.
Like me and the dog pee.
I don’t want to fight with him (love for me) – so I tell a generous story (love for him) and stay on top of brainstorming the pee problem together (love for us both).
Other times, forcing a loving story feels like abandoning myself.
In those cases, I choose NOT to tell a loving story about him. On purpose.
At least not at first.
If I can’t see a way to tell a loving story about him that DOESN’T feel like compromising my love for me… then I don’t force myself to tell a loving story about him just yet.
Marriage is hard sometimes and it’s even harder when we try to do marriage from an emotionally starved place.
So in those moments when telling a love story for him feels like starvation for me, I consciously choose to feed myself by making space for me to tell the truth and REALLY hear myself out when I do.
No, “yes, buts…” or “maybe I shouldn’ts…” or “be the bigger person…” mumbo jumbo.
All of that feels forced and tight and not like love at all.
Which will only breed resentment and disconnection down the road.
Resentment and disconnection are the OPPOSITE of love.
In tight, tense moments… it’s important to take those “generous, loving and long-term perspective” benchmarks and use them to make space for YOURSELF.
Let’s take this year’s tax prep to illustrate.
As you’ve probably heard, taxes have been a sore point at the Toone house for a good seven years – at least.
For at least six of those seven years, I forced myself to tell a loving, generous, long-term perspective story about my husband.
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
I coached myself into patience and understanding and MORE patience. Year after year.
Because I thought it would be useful for our marriage if I consciously saw the good in him when the good seemed hard to find.
And it was useful – sorta. In short spurts.
But overall, it was actually a mistake.
A mistake I didn’t realize I was making – so I’m not mad at me – but a mistake none-the-less.
Because while all the stories I spun took a loving, generous and long-term perspective on him and our marriage – none of those stories took a loving, generous or long-term perspective on ME.
I didn’t make room for the truth of my experience in my own marriage because if my truth seemed unflattering, then I was the problem.
I had it in my mind that I was supposed to be understanding and patient.
Open-minded and accepting.
ALL of the time.
Which would have been much easier to do had I been understanding of me. Patient with me. Open-minded about me. Accepting of myself.
Which I wasn’t.
Not one time.
When I forced myself to focusing on being patient with him, I ended up sneaky scolding myself.
Back to the taxes.
Ours are – in my assessment – pretty complicated because husband and I are both self-employed and we co-own a rental property in partnership with my husband’s cousin.
All of that’s a challenge on its own. Plus, the intricate facts of our financial situation were slathered in emotional pain and unmet expectations.
This year, our tax docs were ready pretty much on time – except for one form relevant to our rental property.
Husband is supposed to be managing his cousin who is supposed to be directing her CPA to complete the form.
It’s not complete.
You can’t see my face, but I’m frowning. And biting my lip.
Because I’m worried and a little afraid.
I’ve got a chunk of money set aside to cover a tax burden should we still have one.
We usually do, but we might not this year.
If we don’t, I’ve got other plans for that money.
I’m pretty sure about what the final figure will be, but not sure enough to make a decision to move big money around – cuz the IRS has been known to surprise people and I don’t want that kind of surprise.
So – I’m waiting to move money on purpose for reasons I like.
I AM choosing to believe that I can’t implement the money movement plans until I know the amount for sure.
And I can’t know for sure until a person thrice removed from me gets it together.
I do NOT like that I have to wait on husband’s cousin’s CPA.
I do NOT like that husband keeps asking me to be patient with a person I don’t know – a person who lives on the other side of the country – instead of championing MY interests and choosing ME.
I could tell a love story about husband here. I can even see the faint pencil tracings on the page.
But that doesn’t feel like love to me because telling a loving story about him and his choices still seems like it would require me to mute my needs and quiet my concerns.
And censorship, my Bees, is NOT love.
Love is listening.
Love is spacious.
Love is assuming good intentions and making room for concerns to be voiced.
Love for me in this instance sounds like this – me talking to me:
I hear you. You’re worried that husband isn’t prioritizing your goals and that you might be alone in life – at least on this issue. You’re afraid that you won’t be able to take your kids to DisneyWorld THIS YEAR like you wanted because he’s dragging his feet. You don’t like that he seems to be wanting to make his cousin comfortable while you suffer. No one would like that. I hear you.
It makes sense that you want your husband to pay attention to you. You want him to fight for YOU first instead of asking you to bend around other people’s failures. You want to be his #1 and this feels like you aren’t. That hurts. I hear you.
We don’t have to call you mean or impatient or unkind. You’re scared. You’re hurt.
I’m sorry this hurts. I’m listening. Tell me everything. I’m here.
A love story for me is to curl up on the – actual or figurative – couch with myself and listen all day because I assume I have a valid reason for being so upset.
A love story for me listens to my reasons without refuting them – at least not right away.
A love story for me hears me and connects with my pain.
A love story for me makes room for me to see that what I really want is to believe husband and I are on a team. That I can count on him.
A love story for me shows me how I’m using the outstanding tax document as a reason to believe that maybe we aren’t a team and maybe he won’t be there for me AND I love story for me doesn’t scold me for using a tax document that way.
I hear me and I hold me.
Until I feel enough love that I feel safe with me to move and explore. Not a second before.
Once a love story for me has landed in my soul, it’s so much easier to be purposeful and proactive about my next steps.
When I feel love and connection with me first – the options in my world open RIGHT up.
From a place of love, I could decide to:
· call the CPA myself
· outline the intricate domino lineup (pay the taxes, book Disney, etc) to my husband in a curious, we can figure this out type way and and brainstorm options to make it happen
· share my goal of a team feeling with my husband and hold myself through his response
· contact the cousin directly
· file taxes separately next year
· keep on waiting and process my feelings as I do
· etc, etc…
If you take anything from the last two episodes, Bee – take this:
You CAN make ANY story a love story whenever you want to.
ANY story. For real.
You can make anything into a love story whenever you want to and I SUGGEST you only make it into a love story IF you want to.
Because a love story isn’t a love story unless it really feels like love.
For you and for him.
But for YOU first. Every time.
If your love story for him feels like guilt or obligation… that’s not really a love story at all.
And when you’re struggling to love yourself as you are, you’re going to have a MUCH harder time really loving him.
So start with loving YOU and then, when that love is solid and constantly simmering, let it spill over onto him.
When you do, everyone wins.
Love Your Face, my beautiful Bee.
Choose courage, and keep on flying!