Have you snagged your FREE eCopy of “Wife on Purpose” + the companion workbook yet? If not, head over to www.candicetoone.com/resources and hook yourself up.
“Wife on Purpose” will land in your inbox right away, but if you don’t want to want even a second longer, listen in this week to enjoy the fifth of several installments where I read you a big chunk of Wife on Purpose right here, right now. You’re welcome.
Mentioned in this Episode
- Click here to claim a free 4 lesson mini-course: How to enJOY the marriage you imagined when you said “I do”
- Check out the Defying Gravity Revolution – a Candice-led community of Bees committed to stop wondering if they married the wrong guy so they can enjoy the marriage they imagined when they said “I do.”
- Grab your free e-copy of “Wife on Purpose” and the companion workbook HERE
- If you’re a coach who wants to up the trauma-informed factor in your sessions and your business, join the Trauma-Informed coaching interest list HERE.
- Follow Candice on Instagram and Facebook
‘s Up, Bees?
Remember how – in Episode 11 – I promised that I’d read excerpts of my book WIFE ON PURPOSE aloud on the podcast?
And then I kept my promise in Episode 20 and Episode 30 and Episode 40?
Well… I’m here again – keeping that promise for Episode 50 because I poured my heart and soul into that book – not to mention the hearts and souls and stories of many women who are working tirelessly and courageously to claim the marriage they imagined when they said, “I do”.
If we can do it, YOU can do it too – and often, at least for me, hearing ACTUAL stories of how that marriage success is created in REAL LIFE sparks ideas in me that I can use in my own marriage + it’s super fun and inspiring to hear what other women prove to be possible.
So let’s get to it. Every 10 episodes, you can plan on a mini audio book from my brain and mouth to your ears.
If you want the full version book, you can download a free eCopy (with the workbook) at www.candicetoone.com/resources
If you’re old fashioned like me and prefer the enticing smell of an ACTUAL book with flippable pages – search “Wife on Purpose” on Amazon and grab your copy there.
Either way – the full copy version is available to you whenever and however you want it.
If you want to pause this episode now and go grab it – I don’t mind waiting.
And while you’re pausing… make sure you’ve snagged your seat for the CONFIDENT COMPANIONSHIP challenge I’m hosting starting November 27 – just over one week from now.
It’s free to register, but you MUST register to get all the connection information and resources.
We’ll be spending four days together workshopping specific things that you can do in your marriage to feel less like the two of you are roommates living parallel lives and more like you two are collaborative, supportive lab partner mixing up marriage magic on the daily.
You want someone to witness your life and create memorable experiences with. You want someone there to hear your concerns and brainstorm solutions without judgment or micromanaging.
If that’s not already happening for you, you’ve GOTTA sign up for the challenge. Go to www.candicetoone.com/podcast and scroll to episode 50. The link to register will be RIGHT. THERE.
During the challenge, you are going to learn the simplest, least complicated way to get your marriage from where it is today to more of what you imagine your marriage would be when you said, “I do.”
So – pause me right now, I’ll be right here when you get back and go to www.candicetoone.com/podcast. Scroll to episode 50, find the link to CONFIDENT COMPANIONSHIP and snag your seat.
I’ll be right here waiting.
You’re back? Awesome.
Can’t wait to spend time with you LIVE! When we’re together you can come on and talk to me if you want to.
You can also sit back and listen and do the reflection work on your own.
It’s helpful to attend live so we can talk right then and there, but there will be replays available as well – so you can get this information into your brain in the way that makes the most sense for you.
Perfect. You know how to get your own copy of “Wife on Purpose” and you’ve secured your seat for CONFIDENT COMPANIONSHIP.
Since that’s all squared away, let’s settle in for story time.
Today, we’re reading from Hexagon Side Four.
Because that’s the shape that Bees use to build their hives. It’s the most efficient way to fill up space and the way hexagons naturally fit together means that Bees have to use very little stickiness to keep the Hexagons bonded and stable.
Nice. Work. Bees.
The chapters in Wife on Purpose give you six suggestions for how to create your own six-sided hexagon of marital efficiency so that you can enjoy your marriage using a strategically decided amount of effort.
Everyone knows that marriage is work. But does anyone really know what kind?
And I only want you doing the kind of work that’ll make your marriage better.
None of the fluff.
I wrote Wife on Purpose because I’ve coached through hundreds of sessions with all kinds of clients from ALL over the world.
Through conversations with women from all walks of life and all lengths and styles of relationships, I came to identify a handful of themes that – no matter what – make marriage harder.
I want to make sure YOU’RE clear on what those poisonous patterns are so you can watch for and avoid them as often as possible
ALSO I’m here with my book to help you look for easy opportunities to do USEFUL things that’ll make a big shift in the way you relate to your guy.
Of course, NONE of the themes are universal and there will be variation in how the themes show up in your relationship.
Your job is to hear what’s being offered, take the parts that hit home for you and use the ideas to create a marriage you love to live in.
Now, on to the reading…
I’m starting at the top of page 61, and I’ll go to about the middle of page 71.
For most of my marriage, it was REALLY important to me that my husband understand where he went wrong so that he wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. I believed that if he didn’t recognize that he’d made a mistake, there was very little chance that anything would change.
And I really wanted things to change.
So I kept pushing for him to admit fault.
As you might imagine, this didn’t turn out very well.
Even though I kept at it for years.
If you’ve been hanging out in the self-help world for long, you’ve likely heard of the shame- blame trap. Here’s how it goes: You notice something you don’t like, and then blame your husband for causing a problem. He creates some shame for himself with his thinking, and then doesn’t want to feel shame anymore – so he pushes back with a counter criticism about what you’re doing “wrong”. You then create some shame for yourself with your thinking. Of course, you don’t like that feeling either, so you clap back with more blame for him, and on and on it goes…
Might look like this in real life: You notice that husband used up the last of the butter and didn’t put a new stick in the butter dish. You call him out, blaming him for only thinking of himself. Consciously or not, he agrees that it would have been nicer to replace the butter, so he gets a twinge of shame. Shame is no fun, so he tries to dispel it by calling you a nag. You, on some level, start to wonder if he’s right. Maybe you are too picky. Maybe it isn’t that big of a deal. Because of the way you’re wondering about yourself, you feel some shame of your own – which isn’t pleasant at all – so you deflect it by blaming him for his complete lack of self awareness and his failure to take accountability.
And so it goes. You get the idea.
Both of you go round and round trying to displace the uncomfortable sensations in your body by making the issue the other person’s fault.
Unless you’re still on your honeymoon (and maybe even then), I’m guessing it does.
There’s nothing wrong with you if that’s the case.
Your human brain is simply trying to mitigate what it believes to be a threat.
All we’ve got to do now is slow down and unpack what’s really going on.
To make things even more clear, let’s conceptualize the shame-blame trap as being like a seesaw you might see on a playground. You’re sitting on one end and husband’s on the other. You each take turns pushing against the ground, thus sending your beloved spouse on a bouncy ride that tosses them up and down without ever getting either of you to a useful destination.
One of my colleagues, Kara Lowentheil, teaches that the shame-blame seesaw rests on the fulcrum of “something’s gone wrong”, meaning that the only reason you get on that ride at all is because you are believing that something tragic has happened and you’re not quite sure who should be fixing it or if it’s even possible to make the repair.
Read that again: you’re not quite sure who should be fixing it or if it’s even possible to make the repair.
How do you feel when you read that sentence?
I’ll wager a guess that it’s some version of fear.
All human behavior is driven by variations of love and fear. Fear tends to bring out our less than ideal behavior because fear feels urgent and doesn’t allow much time for research or space for rational thinking.
That’s a terrific thing if you’re evading a home invader or dodging a speeding car, because in life threatening situations, quick action keeps you alive.
It’s less terrific if you’re trying to get along with your husband, because in close, personal relationships, quick action more often leaves you dead in the water.
Fear really wants you to zoom in on the threat. When you’re zoomed in with tunnel vision, you ignore anything other than your desire to take the threat down and restore your sense of safety.
That’s how blame is born.
Blame demands that someone admit something awful happened because of what they said or did. It sounds like, “I really screwed that up.” or “I should have known better.” or “I can’t believe that I was such an idiot.” or maybe even “I don’t deserve to be in this relationship at all because of what a mess I made of things.”
Check in with yourself right now.
How do you feel after hearing those statements?
Imagine how you might feel if you believed them about yourself day in and day out.
Not so great, right?
Of course it’s true that piling on blame with those painful thoughts won’t lead to anyone’s best or most resourceful behavior. That’s why taking responsibility will always be a more productive path than assigning or accepting blame. Taking responsibility sounds like this: “Huh. I really didn’t expect that to turn out that way. Didn’t see it coming at all. Now that I know, I’ll do X to make amends and put Y in place to avoid similar issues like this down the road.” Might also sound like: “Oh wow. I’m really not clear on how this went down that way, but what I can tell you is that I would never want you to feel X way or have to deal with Y obligation. I love you and I’d be interested to know more about how I can contribute to things going better in the future.”
How did you feel after hearing those statements?
Probably more open, more curious, more collaborative. Less defensive.
Let’s try it out with the butter example:
Coming from your mouth to his ears, blame sounds like: “You’re so selfish. You never think of what anyone else might need. I can’t count on you for anything.” From there shame rattles around in his head like: “I’m such an idiot. I always forget really simple things. Why can’t I be more thoughtful?” Of course he doesn’t like entertaining painful thoughts like those, so he sends the cycle around again.
Coming from his mouth to your ears, blame sounds like: “You’re such a nag. It’s not that big of a deal. Stop overreacting.” Now it’s your turn to create some shame with this internal dialogue: “You’re so hard to please. Why can’t you just pick up the slack for him? No one likes to be around someone who’s so irritable all the time.”
At any point, you could interrupt the cycle by taking responsibility and saying something like: “I would really prefer that you refill the butter when you use it up. If you don’t, I tend to use that as proof that you don’t care about me, which makes it hard for me to be patient with you forgetting. I’m asking you to remember and I’ll try to look at it in a different way if you forget again next time. Love you.”
Taking responsibility means you tell the whole truth, advocate for what you need, and do your part of the work to make what you need happen.
It’s also true that, at any point, he could interrupt the cycle by taking responsibility and saying something like, “I would really prefer if you’d remind me about stuff like this in a kinder way. I really didn’t realize that not feeling butter would inconvenience you and I’m sorry. I never want you to think that I don’t care about you. That’s not what forgetting means to me at all. I’m asking you to consider that you might have it all wrong when you think that I don’t care and I’ll do better with replacing things I use. Love you.”
Taking responsibility means he tells the whole truth, advocates for what he needs and does his part of the work to make what he needs happen.
Now, will he do all that?
It’s hard to say.
Taking responsibility does require more presence of mind and purposeful word choice than hurling barbs of blame.
So he might not do it.
Of course, you can hope that he will. You can even ask him to.
I would if I were you.
Marriage is so much easier if you’re both actively looking for ways to get out of the shame- blame trap.
Also, know that you can’t ever be sure about whether he’ll take responsibility and work with you to regain closeness.
Most likely scenario is that sometimes he will and other times he won’t.
Just like you sometimes take responsibility and other times don’t.
Good news is, his behavior isn’t really the point.
The more important question is: will YOU do all of that?
I’m not asking because I want to let him off the hook. Because there is no hook. There’s only two people creating their unique experiences while they live in the same place. When you tell yourself you have to wait for him to expend the effort to take responsibility before you can feel better, you’re signing up for a rollercoaster ride that you may not enjoy.
You’re also not really taking much responsibility yourself.
So, consider the idea that you forever retain the opportunity to purposefully take responsibility for you. You always have the option to make choices that support your goals – regardless of whether he does the same.
I know that might sound like you’re doing him a favor. And you are in a way.
He gets the benefit of living with someone who is in charge of her brain.
You, however, get the way bigger, much more amazing benefit of BEING someone who is in charge of her brain. When you are in charge of your brain, you can create anything you want in your life. Really, it’s true. So thank yourself often for giving you that gift.
Important to note is, being in charge of your brain doesn’t mean you’re never gonna get bugged ever again. When you take charge of your brain, you will still feel disappointment and loneliness and uncertainty. Because you’re a human and that’s part of the deal. Being in charge of your brain gives you the benefit of understanding why you feel those things – pssst… it’s because of the story you’re telling. When you understand that the story you choose drives everything else in your life, you then also understand how to reclaim your power and create a new feeling for yourself whenever you decide you want to (and only if you decide you want to).
Even if your husband doesn’t change a thing.
Remember, the shame-blame seesaw rests on the fulcrum of “something’s gone wrong”, meaning that the only reason you get on that ride at all is because you’re believing that something tragic has happened.
Consider for a minute that you might be wrong in your assessment of “tragic-ness”.
Consider also that being wrong here might be excellent news.
What if an empty butter dish is just an empty butter dish and not a clandestine commentary on the state of your relationship?
Notice how looking at it that way releases a lot of the emotional charge you’d previously assigned to an empty (and greasy) piece of porcelain. Then notice how empowered you feel when you tell the story exactly like it is without embellishment. Tune into how ready you are to purposely decide your next steps when you aren’t distracting yourself with unconfirmed details.
Glad to see you again, Power.
Even if the empty butter dish was, in fact, meant as a targeted slight, it’s an option to remember that pain was always meant to be part of our Earth experience. We can feel pain without also believing that it isn’t supposed to be there. When we know pain is an inescapable part of the human condition – especially when we are trying to interact with another human in close quarters for extended periods of time – there isn’t as much need to push back against the pain. And when the need to push back isn’t there, the ability to push forward remains.
I know it may seem like it’s necessary to hold someone’s feet to the fire when things go south, but what if it isn’t? What if holding someone’s feet to the fire might get you the behavior change you seek – at least temporarily – but could also torch the emotional connection you once had with him (and used to have with yourself) In the process?
Might not be worth it.
Or maybe it is.
That’s your call.
When something in your marriage seems amiss or needs fixing and you choose to believe the problem shouldn’t be happening at all, you’re much more likely to feel some version of fear. To illustrate, let’s look at the example of a baby teething.
NO ONE responds with, “Oh my goodness. How could this happen? We’ve got to make it stop!” If we responded that way, all parents would be terrified through the first couple years of each child’s life. We’d feel desperate and out of control and probably do some things that don’t match up with our best selves.
But most of us expect the pain of teething as part of human development, so we retain our sense of control and are unlikely to freak out when we see Junior’s swollen gums. We may sort of passively question the teething process and tongue-in-cheek wonder if God could have invented a better way to make teeth happen, but we are less likely to actually go on a wild, defensive crusade to make teething stop altogether. We know it’s coming and so we get ready to ease the baby’s suffering with cold, chewy things and medicine and snuggles. Because we accept that teething is supposed to happen, we spend very little time trying to prevent it or change it. We anticipate it, stock up on comfort tools and fearlessly love our littles through it.
We don’t blame ourselves or the baby because teething isn’t our favorite thing.
Instead, we take responsibility for handling teething like a boss.
It’s our option to view the challenges of married life through the same lens we use for teething.
Most of us don’t take that option, but what if we did?
If marital scuffles were openly acknowledged to be as non-threatening as teething, it’s likely that we’d move through them more easily, feeling more curiosity and confidence as we go. We’d spend very little time trying to prevent them or change them. We’d anticipate them, stock up on comfort tools and fearlessly love ourselves through it all.
But when we see marital scuffles as a crack in the foundation of our very security, of course fear brings out the desperate, knee jerk response of grasping for control – often in the form of finding and busting whoever it is that’s “to blame”.
Sometimes we think that’s him.
Other times we think it’s us.
Either way, blame keeps us stuck on a painful see-saw ride that fixes nothing and serves no one.
Love – for you and for him and for the “us” you’ve created – makes room for the pain to be present without the need to lay blame.
Love – for you first – supports you in taking responsibility for telling the truth about your pain and also figuring out how to heal.
Taking responsibility means owning the idea that you deserve to get what you need. It means recognizing your power to make your needs happen. It means accessing your options over and over until you get what you need done.
Most women don’t do very much of that.
Instead, they approach their marriage from a disempowered place where they basically take what they can get. They figure out how to smooth things over and make the best of it.
It’s not our fault that we do this.
Somewhere along the way, in some form or another, most of us were taught some version of the idea that husbands are in charge of most things while wives are in charge of ensuring that everything works out well.
However, there will inevitably come a time where things don’t work out well. It’ll be tempting in that moment to blame husband or try to change him. Or maybe you’ll blame yourself and try to change you instead. As you’ve likely experienced, trying to change someone almost always results in distrust and contention between the two of you.
Between you and husband.
Between you and you.
Either way, disconnection rarely leads to lasting improvement.
This is the point where my clients usually asked me something like: “But… if I’m not trying to change him… then… I just have to put up with whatever he hands me?”
I hear that.
I know it might sound like I’m saying your husband can just do whatever he wants.
And… I kinda am saying that.
What I’m also saying is: so can you.
it’s factually accurate that grown adults really can do pretty much whatever they want.
That’s true for him.
That’s true for you.
When you are hyper hyper focused on the freedoms your husband has, it can be pretty hard to see how you actually have all of those same freedoms too.
So now what?
Well… now you get to consciously choose between blame and responsibility.
Blame is confrontational and creates separation. Responsibility invites collaboration and connection because no one has to abandon themselves by admitting ill intent that probably wasn’t there.
Maybe nothing’s gone wrong if husband forgets to refill the butter.
And maybe nothing’s gone wrong if you notice yourself feeling irritated when you discover that he did.
Maybe your irritation is there for a solid reason. Maybe its purpose is to alert you to a potential threat – just like the way your toddler points out scary shadows at bedtime, thinking there might be a monster in her room. When she shares her fears, you probably shine a light on the wall to show her that the shadow is being cast by her dollhouse and not by a monster at all. You hear her. You hug her. You don’t make fun of her feelings and you take the time to show her what is truly scary and what doesn’t have to be.
You can do the very same thing for your brain when she gets really busy warning you about various things. She’s supposed to keep you alive, remember? That effort will, of course, include sending up alarm bells from time to time. Maybe even a lot of the time. You don’t have to get annoyed with your brain for doing her job. You also don’t have to think something’s wrong with you when your brain does what she’s designed to do.
Instead, you can consciously choose to shine a light on her thinking. You can lean in closer to discern if the threat she sees is real or not. Sometimes it will be. Often it won’t. Being in charge of your brain helps you decide which experience to create for yourself by purposefully deciding what is truly scary and what doesn’t have to be.
If you want some more help figuring out how to do responsibility without drowning in shame, you’ve gotta register for the CONFIDENT COMPANIONSHIP challenge that starts NOT tomorrow, but the next Monday (11/27).
Registration link is in the show notes for this episode.
Go to www.candicetoone.com/podcast and scroll to episode 50. The notes and link are waiting for you – right there.
Registration is FREE but you MUST register to get the connection information and other resources.
You’re gonna want the connection information because YOU deserve to experience your husband as a comfortable companion, as someone you can easily share your thoughts and life with every single day.
It’s a skill to create and care for that kind of ongoing connection.
Every woman deserves that skill – especially you. So get on over to www.candicetoone.com/podcast and register. I’ll see you on at the challenge NEXT MONDAY, November 27th.
Choose courage, Bee and Keep. On. Flying.