Ladies … want to know how to be loved and cherished by a man who devotes himself to making you happy. Stay tuned as we discuss it and much more … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: LAURA DOYLE, AUTHOR, THE SURRENDERED WIFE
Guests: Laura Doyle
Date: December 16, 2013
Frank: Ladies, want to know how to be loved and cherished by a man who devotes himself to making you happy? Stay tuned as we discuss it and much more on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com. You can also download the podcast of this and other archive shows on iTunes or with your favorite podcast app.
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Today’s guest is a radio talk show host in her own right, and a New York Times bestselling author. Her books have been translated into 15 languages and published in 26 countries. Add to that impressive resume testimonials from thousands of women who credit her with not only saving their relationships, but also showing them how to become desired, cherished and adored. Ladies and gentleman, welcome the author of The Surrendered Wife, The Surrendered Single and Things Will Get as Good as You Can Stand, Mrs. Laura Doyle. Welcome to the show.
Laura: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Frank: Alright, “surrendered wife,” that sounds pretty blasphemous in our American culture to even talk about surrendering as a woman. What is that all about?
Laura: It does get peoples dander up when I say “surrendered wife” but a surrendered wife, it doesn’t mean obedient or subservient or anything like that. A surrendered wife just knows that she can’t control anyone besides herself. She can’t tell her husband what to eat for lunch or what to do at work or how to drive. She doesn’t do that. Instead, she focuses on her own happiness and that in turn, improves the intimacy.
Frank: When you say “she focuses on her own happiness” do you mean she does whatever she wants to do and doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on around her? Do you mean that she communicates significantly with her partner so that he knows what she wants and then she does what she wants to do? Give me the foundation.
Laura: You hit those exactly. No, that’s a great clarifying question. One of the intimacy skills that we talk a lot about in surrendering is self-care. I never understood what that meant. You always hear, “You’ve got to love yourself first,” and I thought, “Okay, I’m hugging myself now, because I know I’ve got to love myself.” But what self-care actually means, the definition of it is, for the wife you’re doing at least three things a day that make you feel happy. In fact, I have a list of 20 things that just bring me pleasure.
You don’t necessarily advance the laundry or get me in better shape. It might just be a hot bath or a cup of coffee with the girlfriend and I do like to take a walk. It could be maybe just painting a picture or doing a craft or playing with your pets. At least three things a day so that you don’t fall into the whole martyr syndrome where you’re taking care of everybody else first and then you don’t give yourself any time and attention, because you are going to need some reserves in order to have a great relationship.
Just like everything else in life, it’s going to take a little bit of energy. Your husband is going to get on your very last nerve sometimes and you better give yourself a chance of responding in a mature way, in a happy way and a relaxed way. The way to do that is to practice good self-care.
Frank: How do you deal with the issue around many women actually wanting to be a martyr? Would they basically put your book down or walk away from your advice and look at your cross-eyed?
Laura: I don’t know that anybody wants to be a mar-there certainly are-my mother appeared to want to be a martyr, so I think that we all can give that impression at times. I grew and just did-“I’m going to do exactly what my mom did,” because *(inaudible) 06:27 and so I was following this failed recipe, but I think given our options if we’re feeling empowered, if we know that it doesn’t have to be that way, most women don’t choose martyrdom. We would rather be happy. We would rather be taken care of.
I know at my college there wasn’t Relationships 101. I did a little self-study program, but my textbook for Cosmopolitan Magazine and Glamour Magazine. I figured I knew everything I needed to know with that. I liken it to driving a car. If you get in the car and no one’s every shown you how to drive, it’s very likely that you’re going to crash that car and you’re going to go, “Oh, driving is so dangerous,” and same with relationships.
Frank: Aren’t there people who-and this is a loaded question, because I certainly have a strong opinion on it myself. Aren’t there people who believe and are willing to push that envelope? Like really believe that they have to give of themselves in order to be the person that they wish to be. And if you tell them, “No, you don’t, you have the opportunity to do the things that ‘you want to do’ or the fun things in life and if you go on vacation and leave your children at home, they’ll be okay. Just plan for the necessities and all of that good stuff. But they’ll be okay.” There are people who will refuse-there are people get to the airport and say, “I cannot do it. I will not do it.” Are you saying those people don’t exist?
Laura: No, I’m not. You make a really good point. In fact, I’ll tell you, I had a woman one time, a client, who was having a really hard time getting her self-care and she had a young family. I remember one night she decided that she was going to go take a hot bath and that was going to be her self-care, but she didn’t really think it was going to work. She said, “I’m going to tell my family to leave me alone,” but she said, “I don’t think that they will.” I said, “Alright.”
Now it’s her family, like, “You guys can’t bother me for a half hour,” one weekday evening she goes into the bathroom. She’s really expecting in a few minutes to see some of those fingers under the door, maybe the cat’s paw under the door and to hear, “Mommy, mommy.” So she gets in there, 10 minutes go by, no interruptions and then 15 minutes and then 20. She’s in there for 40 minutes nobody bothers her.
She gets out and the kids have done their homework, her husband’s reading, everything’s fine. Everyone got along without her and she realized that she felt a little bit of a loss, a little bit anxiety that her family could get by without her. So, that was an important thing to her and yet going through the exercise also made her realize, “Well, I do feel more relaxed. I can be a better mom; I can be a better wife, because I took this time for myself.” Sometimes that action is the magic word.
Frank: I have been in a relationship where I said to my partner, “Go out, have a good time, do whatever you want to do. Have fun, but I don’t need you here. You don’t have to be here. I don’t want you feeling as though you have to be here. I don’t want you feeling as though the responsibilities around here require you to be here. I can keep house. I can wash clothes. I can cook, wash dishes. I can do it all. I do not need that from you. What I need from you, if I need anything, is for you to be happy. And with you sitting around here moping and acting as though you cannot leave or get away and basically giving me that energy, you’re not happy and I’m certainly not happy with you being around.” That was a tough pill to swallow and to be honest, the pill never was swallowed. What do you say to the man who’s in a situation like this, since we’re talking about women?
I’m not the one to say that this is really a sexual issue, meaning it’s about women. I would say it works both ways. Men have the same issue.
Laura: I would disagree with you there, in this sense. What I would say is that women have the power in relationships and it’s for the exact reason-you described it very eloquently just now, Frank, and that is that for men it’s very important that women are happy. I’ve actually asked thousands of men and I think you just answered the question, but I’m going to ask you now anyway. How important is it to you that your woman is happy?
Laura: Thousands of men all over the world, they say the same thing. They say, “It’s imperative. It’s everything. It’s vital. If mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.” I do believe that women are not smaller, less hairy men. I think we have special gifts that we bring to the world and it’s a shame if those are lost, because we’re trying to suck up and be like men.
I think that one of the wonderful things about men is that they have this drive to please us. When they see us happy, that’s a sign of success for them as a boyfriend or a husband. I do think that there’s some benefit to-this is why self-care has to come first. This idea that in order to have a happy relationship, you’ve got to make yourself happy first and that message is specific to women for me, because I’ve experienced being a wife. Over and over again what I see is that when the wife makes that decision to be happy, the relationship improves and until she does, as you said, it’s a bitter pill. Sometimes it doesn’t get swallowed.
In some ways I see him not being as empowered to make improvements until she is.
Frank: The same issue on the male side is before they come sometimes men may want to stop at the local pub or a man my very well define himself in terms of the money that he brings home. Or it could be what he does with the kids-going out and playing football with the kids, whatever have you. But when the woman does not support that or when the man does not feel as though he can do that and it’s okay-I think that the scales are similar. The issues are different and the activities are different, but I think it works both ways with the sexes. Can you weigh-in there?
Laura: I guess I see it a little differently. When you think of the word-like you talked about “martyr,” which gender comes to mind? Do you think of a man martyring himself?
Frank: I do. I think of both.
Laura: Do you?
Frank: Yes, absolutely.
Frank: I mean, Jesus Christ.
Frank: When we’re talking about martyrs, they usually span the sexual-they transverse the sexual line. I do not just see women. There are plenty of men who walk into the house and say, “I do this, I do this and what do I get?” And they want to be able to say, “I do this, I do this and what do I get?” That, what we’re talking about now is even a better example than what I just said a few minutes ago or a minute ago, because what happens when they don’t do that? What happens when the woman says, “Look babe, you don’t have to do that today? How about I go do it,” then he may very well feel disempowered or as though his whole platform for defining himself can very well be removed. It can be a tough pill to swallow too. I don’t think it just goes one way.
Laura: Let me use a different word then. What about the word “nag?” Which gender comes to mind?
Frank: What comes to mind is women nagging men, and I do know men nag women too.
Laura: Absolutely, absolutely.
Frank: I’m with you. I see the gender issue come there, but I don’t think it’s just that simple.
Laura: Yeah, I hear you. I think you’re brave to say it, because I think there is a lot of pressure to be politically correct and not say, “Well, this is a problem for women.” There was an article the Wall Street Journal about a year ago actually where they were talking about how nagging was worse for a marriage than affairs in terms of causing divorce. More divorces happen because of nagging and they said, “But it applies to both genders,” and in a way I rolled my eyes, because then they went on to give examples of how not to nag.
They were terrible, by the way. It was really bad. They were suggesting that you say things that I know, for me, got my marriage in the ditch. It was things like, “When can you change the oil in the car? How’s this weekend for you?” I was thinking, “Oh yeah, my husband’s nagging me to change the oil in the car. Boy there’s nothing worse than that.” They took a very traditional gender-specific chore, but then they had to be politically correct and say, “Now, this applies to men and women.” They didn’t really think that one through.
I see substantial work for women to just be really self-aware that-I think most of us don’t think we’re nagging. We just think we’re trying to be helpful or we’ve got to get things done around here. Somebody’s got to take care of it and the truth is we’ve become like our mothers on our worst day sometimes.
Frank: I know a woman who grew up as a dancer and I mean from a little girl into her teenage years and she got married and became very resentful. She became very resentful in her marriage and at the same time she had stopped dancing, and something happened. Maybe her husband said it or maybe it was an epiphany and she decided she was going to dance and when she started going back to dance, her marriage changed significantly and she subsequently has a daughter and the daughter is a little dancer and she’s doing her thing. I definitely see what you’re saying and I agree that it’s important to feed ourselves and to do the things that we want to do even when we’re in a relationship.
Laura: I think, I know for me I just wasn’t shown that. It just wasn’t modeled and there’s nowhere to go, that I know of, to learn that. Where do you go to find out, “Oh, the way to have a great relationship is to continue dancing.” You don’t hear that message. You hear, “It’s about communication,” or “You should go on a date night once a week.” Things like that. Just her going back to dancing sounds like it was transformational.
Frank: Tell me about the special gifts that women have.
Laura: Four main things that I think about that I feel we bring to the table a little different. One is women are the sexier sex, first of all. Men are willing to pay for sex. Most women are not. That’s because we’re the ones with the tail feathers. We are like magnets for me. I always say it’s interesting when you see articles on Match.com or something where they say, “It’s 2013. It’s totally fine for women to ask me out,” and I’m thinking, “Why would we need to do that?” Men are a great 24/7 noticing service. They’re always pursuing us. They’re always hitting on us as long as we don’t have a big “do not disturb” sign on our foreheads energetically. So, that’s one of them.
Another one is that women are especially gifted with knowing and expressing how we feel and this is critical for creating long-term commitment. Unfortunately, I think a lot of women are more willing to get naked physically than they are to get naked emotionally. It feels more risky and that does not create long-term fascination. Of course, men are going to be drawn to us initially, but it’s really our vulnerability that causes long-term fascination and commitment.
Another one is receptivity. When it’s cold, my husband gives me his jacket. Men open the door for me and I stop, when we get to the door, and I let them do that, because I enjoy getting this special treatment. I was on the show with Montel Williams once where he brought on four couples where the husband just turned over his paycheck to the wife and she would give him a little cash for the week or not, maybe. In a way it was appalling but in a way, it was like, “Wow, they just want to take care of their wives and families.”
I think sex is a great metaphor. We’re built to receive and that brings me to the next one, which is female pleasure. We have the only organ on the human body that’s designed specifically for no other reason but for us to feel good. I think this comes back to the premise of self-care being important, but also for us to be focused for us to be on our desires, which very often serve as kind of a North Star for a couple.
You see it all the time where she’s wanting to live by her parents, so they move all the way across the country. Or she wants a bigger house, so they move further out of town and he takes a longer commute. Or they get a new car and she gets a new car and he drives the old car. This idea of what she wants can often be a guiding principle for them, because, as you said earlier, he just wants her to be happy.
Frank: You also see overkill all of the time, where he moved because she wanted to be near her family and she’s still miserable. What do you say about that?
Laura: Yeah, it’s true. I’m working on it, Frank. Give me some time here.
Frank: Okay, alright, we’ll let you off the hook there.
Laura: I’m doing what I can. I’m doing my part.
Frank: Alright, we’ll put the hounds back in the gate. Leave her alone on that one.
Laura: We’re trying. Okay, I’ll tell you a really embarrassing story about myself, actually. It was just before we got married. My husband John took me to Hawaii for this really romantic getaway. It was 25 years ago now. We got there and the first morning I thought, “Oh boy, we’re going to go to the beach,” and I said to him, “Hey, what do you want to do today?”
He says, “I think it would be fun to go look at a volcano.” I thought, “What? Alright, volcano,” and I thought that being a good girlfriend meant that I didn’t bring up that I wanted to do something different, because I thought, “Well, then there will be a conflict and I really should be more giving and just accommodating, so I’m just going to keep quiet and do what he wants to do.”
I remember in this rental car, you couldn’t actually see a volcano. You’re just driving around and we were looking at little rocks, basically. You can’t see a beach, you can’t see anything, you just see a bunch of little rocks. We’re in the rental car and there’s no air conditioning and we’re really hot and I remember I just had this really big perm at the time. That’s not the embarrassing part though. Here comes the embarrassing part.
We’re driving along and I start to fume and I think, “God, I’m wasting my time here, I could be on the beach and he didn’t even ask me what I wanted to do and I wanted to go to the beach, but here I’m making this sacrifice for him.” Anyway, he starts to get the idea, so he asks me, “What’s wrong,” and I just let him have it. I go, “Do you think this is fun, because I sure don’t. I wanted to go to the beach, but you didn’t even ask me what I wanted to do. No, I asked you and you said this and so here we are looking at stupid rocks.” Poor guy, as far as he knows he took me to Hawaii and he’s showing me a good time. He has no clue. I feel sad for the me that just had no idea how to advocate for herself at all. He said, “If you would have told me you wanted to go to the beach-” He’s like, “Were you going to where your bikini?” He’s like, “I would have dropped everything and taken you to the beach. That’s what we would have done.” So, a lot of us just don’t have that skill.
Frank: And what is a man to do?
Laura: That’s the million dollar question, Frank, and in my coaching practice for 15 years, I only coach women. I don’t coach couples and I don’t coach men, because this is the key isn’t it? If a woman’s not happy, the relationship’s not going to go well. It’s like Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibilities.”
Frank: Okay, the book-tell me about the birth of the book. What’s the Genesis?
Laura: I was just trying to save my own marriage. I had started out really, really happy and then a few years in I thought I had a little bit of a fixer-upper project in my husband. I was going to tell him how to be more tidy and how to be more romantic and-
Frank: Not just tell him, make him.
Laura: I was just going to help him. I was being helpful, Frank. Helpful, helpful.
Frank: Yeah, helpful, yeah.
Laura: Who knew that helpful in wife language is actually critical in husband language and he-
Laura: Was very distant. I was completely unpleasant. I was a controlling shrew, but I didn’t know that. I didn’t realize. I just thought maybe I married the wrong guy and I probably needed a divorce. My parents had divorced, everybody’s divorced, so that’s what I figured. Then I thought, “Okay, I’ll take him to counseling and the counselor can fix him up and then I’ll finally be happy.”
Frank: Once we get back from Hawaii.
Laura: Right. Where I was so happy. I know. Why did he marry me after that, right? He knew what he was getting into. Anyway, fortunately the counseling didn’t really help. It turns out my counselor was a little controlling with her husband too. I was like, “Oh.”
Frank: How did you figure that out?
Laura: Oh, it was quite a day. We went for years. I’m so sorry to say. What a sucker I was, and of course things were not getting better, but I’m just thinking, “Well-” it’s sort of like when you go on a diet and it doesn’t work. You think “Well, it must be me.” We actually saw her outside of therapy one time. We were musicians. She came to a coffee house to see his play and I saw her. It was just humiliating. She controlled the heck out of her husband. It was terrible.
Frank: You saw her kicking his butt all around.
Laura: I did. The poor guy was just cowered and I thought, “Wow, we’ve got to get out of this one.” What happened, actually, by that time was I had this idea that I was going to start asking women who had been married a really long time-what I thought was a really long time, which was 15 years at the time. That was my standard. “If they’ve been married 15 years, I’m going to ask for their advice.” I remember what they said didn’t even make sense to me. I didn’t even understand. I remember one woman. I asked, “What’s your secret to a happy marriage,” and she said, “Well, I try never to criticize my husband no matter how much it seems like he deserves it.” I said, “Okay, have you gotten anything else?”
Laura: I’m not going to do that.
Frank: You’ve got to be able to do better than that.
Frank: Because damn if I’m not going to criticize my husband.
Laura: I know. He’s the problem, don’t you understand? Then, another one said, “Oh, for us, it’s been great. My husband handles all of our finances. I put my paycheck into our joint account and he pays the bills and saves for his retirement, handles everything from there.” I was just like horrified. It was funny. “Have you got anything else, because I am not going to-”
Frank: Maybe I need to get to women who’ve been married 25 years.
Laura: Twenty-five, maybe thirty is the magic cutoff. I got a lot of other advice too and I just made it a big experiment in my marriage. I just thought, “Okay, I’m going to try everything and if it works, I’ll keep it and if it doesn’t, I won’t,” and I just stumbled around for years and what emerged were these six intimacy skills, I call them, where if I stuck to them things were good at my house. We were holding hands, we were laughing. The passion was back. He was watching a lot less TV and he paid more attention to me, and if I didn’t stick to them, it was back to distant and cold wars, bickering. So, I saw a mark of difference. I knew I was onto something.
Frank: You care to share any of those six things?
Laura: Absolutely. That’s what I live to do.
Frank: Let’s hear it.
Laura: As soon as I couldn’t control my husband anymore I thought, “Well, I’ll control all of my girlfriends. I’ll make them do it too. The first one is self-care. The second one relinquishing inappropriate control. I don’t weigh-in on anything-even if my husband’s talking about it and I feel like maybe he’s even asking me, I don’t weigh-in if it’s none of my business. If he’s talking about something with his business or if he’s figuring out what he’s going to wear to the party, I just say, “Well, whatever you think.” I don’t need to control that and it was amazing just giving up inappropriate control.
What emerged for me was writing a bestselling book and getting to go on international TV and having this big adventure. I thought, “Well, no wonder.” It was a lot less scary to be the armchair quarterback of his life than it was to show up for my own.
The third one is-
Frank: I want to ask a question about number two. What is appropriate control?
Laura: You’re right, that’s a great distinction. Control of myself. So, I’m in control of myself and that’s appropriate. When he’s asking me my preference, that’s a time when I’m going to weigh-in. So, if he says, “Where do you want to go for dinner,” I’m going to say, “I love Mexican food or let’s have Sushi. That’s what I want.” That would be an appropriate time for me. But if it’s-I call it his square. His square. His square is everything-or my square is everything that I’m responsible for: how I spend my time, what I say, what I eat, where I go, all of that’s in my square. Then, anything in his square I don’t touch.
Now, certain things overlap: your kids, your finances, things like that. Where you go on vacation. They overlap, so I negotiate with him by expressing my desires cleanly and clearly, no manipulation or criticism, and I also am influenced by what he things.
A couple of years ago I said, “I want a new car. I want to get a new car. I could use a new car.” He said, “I don’t think it’s a good time for us to buy a new car.” I was like, “Yeah, but I would like to have something newer and shiner.” He goes, “Yeah, but I don’t really think we can afford it right now.” We’re not really disagreeing with each other. He’s telling me what he thinks. I’m telling him what I want. What I want is coloring what he thinks and what he thinks is color what I want.
Frank: Okay, I got it. Number three?
Laura: Let’s see. That was number three. Self-care-
Frank: Relinquishing inappropriate control.
Laura: And we had. Maybe I have only given you two. Alright, I’m losing it.
Frank: I’m listening. I’m listening. Thank you.
Laura: Very good, Frank. Very, very good. Okay, the third one is receptivity. Receiving graciously. A lot of us inadvertently reject gifts, compliments and help. I know for me somebody could say, “Oh, your hair looks so pretty,” and I could say, “Oh, I haven’t washed it. Don’t look at it.” Or my husband could get me a present and I could say, “Why did you get me this?” Even at my retreats every woman’s got a story how she got a battery recharger for Valentine’s Day or a hockey stick for her birthday or a Swiss Army knife or something. Some inappropriate gift. To me it just reflects that the guys just does not know how to make us happy anymore, so he’s sort of like, “Well, here’s something.”
It could be partly our fault that we haven’t been receptive. Now, today when my husband gets me something, I just really see that as my chance to connect. I think about how he was thoughtful, how he was trying to please me and I receive that and the gift too. That’s for gifts.
Compliments-when somebody, anybody in my life gives me a compliment today, I just smile and I say, “Thank you.” I don’t say, “Oh, I got these shoes on sale.”
Frank: Right, downplay it.
Laura: Or try to reciprocate immediately to keep things even. I will just indulge in that moment where the spotlight’s on me. And it feels good and it feels uncomfortable sometimes too. It feels both, but I don’t care, I’m just going to suck it up and enjoy that compliment-be receptive.
Then there’s even help too, you know. I’ll be carrying a heavy chair or something and somebody will say, “You need help with that?” I’m look, “No, I got it.” Or after the party somebody says, “Can I help you with these dishes,” and today I say, “Yeah, thank you. That’s real nice.” I don’t say, “You go home,” and wake up to a big pile the next morning.
Frank: And resentful that no one helped.
Laura: Yes, resentful. Exactly. Exactly, yeah. I take it all in now as best I can. It’s a little bit of a stretch. I was raised by a martyr and that’s, I think, when I’m stressed out I go back to martyring sometimes. So, I’ve got to be pretty vigilant that I’m doing the self-care and being receptive. Sometimes I lose it.
Frank: Number four.
Laura: Respect. Respect, I think people get confused, because they think it’s something you give to authority, like your boss or your teacher or your parents. But respect actually just means that you honor, not that you agree with, but that you honor what your husband is thinking. One of the ways I do this is by listening. So, if my husband is talking, a lot of the times I use the phrase, “I hear you,” which doesn’t mean that I agree, but it means that I’m listening. And the first duty of love is certainly to listen.
I respect his choices, big and small from socks to stocks and I’m not going to criticize that.
Frank: Number five?
Laura: On the respect one, real quick, there was this woman when she first started surrendering, she realized, “Wow, I’ve been disrespectful,” and one of the ways we clean it up is you apologize for being disrespectful. She started apologizing. She had this real awareness of it, so she started apologizing a lot. One day her husband said, “You know you don’t have to apologize every single time you’re disrespectful.” And she said, “You know, it is no longer okay with me that I be disrespectful to you. You’re my husband. I want to treat you with respect. This my standard for myself,” and he got a little something in his eye at that moment.
Frank: That’s powerful.
Laura: Yeah. Okay, so number five is vulnerability. Trying to have an intimate relationship without being vulnerable is like trying to swim without water. This is part of what connects us to each other. In the old days I used to say things like, “You never spend any time with me.” Very naggy, very complainy and today I’ll turn it inward and just think about how I’m feeling and I’ll say to him, “Gosh, I miss you, I feel like we haven’t seen each other lately. I really miss you.” Or when he says something to hurt my feelings, which all husbands eventually will do, because that’s just part of living together. Sometimes you rub each other wrong. When he does that instead of-
Frank: Let me add to that. All partners will do that, because we’re just that close.
Laura: We’re just that close.
Frank: Yeah, we’re pretty much talking about women right now, but I wanted to bring it back to everybody just for that quick moment.
Laura: You’re right. That’s a good point. I hurt his feelings sometimes too. No doubt about it. Of course, nobody means to but it does happen. We’re just that close. So when he does that instead of maybe lashing back, maybe taking a swipe at him, I try to say, “Ouch.” Just let him know. He landed on a tender spot. What I’ve noticed is there’s nothing more powerful and just saying that and letting it lie, because he-
Frank: He cares.
Laura: He wants me to be happy.
Frank: He cares, yes.
Laura: He cares and he feels like a big jerk when he hurts my feelings. Just that “ouch,” I don’t have to tell him he’s a jerk. He’s going there-and maybe he wasn’t even a jerk, but it just-anyway, so those are some examples. “I miss you, ouch,” are how I would approach with vulnerability instead of control or nagging.
Then, the last one is I feel like it does you doubly good and it’s gratitude. That is to say that instead of focusing on your husband’s shortcomings, because we’ve all got them, you are grateful for the things you get. I remember I had a workshop once where I assigned everybody to give their husband three gratitudes a day for the week and Isabella raises her hand and says, “I don’t see why I should do that, because first of all I do everything at my house and nobody thanks me.” She finally agreed that she would just finally give it a try.
Anyway, she went home and she starts thanking her husband for working hard to support the family. He took out the trash, so she thanked him for that. He made him a cup of coffee, so she thanked him for that, and by the second day they were sitting down to dinner and he turned to her and said, “You’ve really taught me that we need to appreciate each other more and so I wanted to thank you for making dinner.” She nearly fell on the floor. She was creating a culture of gratitude in her family.
That did double-duty, because when you are grateful, it changes your focus. You feel that you have more good stuff, because that’s what you’re focused on. But it also changes how your husband responds to you, because when he sees you being grateful, he redoubles his efforts. He’s like, “Wow, I’m making her happy. What else can I do around here that’s going to make my wife happy?”
Usually in about two weeks when women first learn these skills, in about two weeks, they say, “I feel like I’ve got a new husband,” and of course it wasn’t the husband that changed, she did.
Frank: Yes, you want to change your environment, change yourself.
Laura: Exactly, and then people respond to you differently.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Laura Doyle, New York Times bestselling author of The Surrendered Wife, The Surrendered Single and Things Will Get as Good as You Can Stand. Laura, how can our listeners find you and your books?
Laura: Right, well if you go to lauradoyle.org, you can get my free report. It’s called Six Lessons for Lasting Love and it goes through the six intimacy skills that we just discussed. That’s free on my website. That’ll sign you up for my newsletter as well. Or you can go there to buy the books, which are also available everywhere books are sold. Certainly on Amazon.com. But if you buy them through my website, you also get a free Quick Start to Connection Coaching session.
Frank: Very nice. Is you’re husband good at telling you or calling you on your martyrdom when it shows up?
Laura: Alright, if you’re going to bust me like that, Frank, fine. I’ll tell you what; the other day he was driving me to my radio show. We’ve both been there many times. He knew how to get there and he went to turn left and I said, “Why are you turning left here? Shouldn’t we be going straight,” and he just-“No, I just can’t get away with nothing,” so he just looks at me and he just raises one little eyebrow like, “Really? Is this what we’re going to do today?” I just said, “Alright, boy is it stuffy in here. Let me roll down the window and let some of the hypocrisy out of the car.”
Frank: Even bestselling authors have to get checked every once and awhile, huh?
Laura: I still apologize for being disrespectful for time-to-time, but I’m glad that I’ve got that ability. I’m glad that I have that tool in my toolkit, because it’s amazing. The wall comes down right away, and he knows what my standards are for myself. He’s also used to being treated respectfully and men who are treated respectfully by their wives, they have a different posture, they have different energy in the world. We find that when women surrender, a lot of the times the family becomes more prosperous, because that self-esteem, that self-worth that he has and she has too, that translates into net worth.
Frank: Very nice. Okay, long-term fascination, you mentioned that about a half hour ago and you equated that to basically commitment. But you don’t hear people say long-term fascination when they’re talking about commitment. Where did that phrase come from or can you just speak about the phrase for a second?
Laura: Sure, the long-term fascination happens-for me this is a process that men go through, where-I’ll give you an example. I had one client who was single and her big fear was she had herpes and she had a lot of shame about it. She didn’t want to have to tell her new boyfriend, but it was time to tell her new boyfriend. We talked about the various ways and she was quite defensive and it seemed like maybe it wasn’t going to come out in a vulnerable way, so we practiced her delivering that message and talked about how she couldn’t control the outcome. We didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. She might have gotten abandoned by revealing this information.
She was very conscious about delivering it in a very vulnerable way and the way her new boyfriend responded, he said, “You’re going to have to try harder than that if you want to get rid of me. I’m not going anywhere.”
Frank: That had to feel better than she could have even imagined.
Laura: Better than she could have ever imagined and isn’t that magic of that vulnerability, when you know you’re just yourself and you’re not anybody else and yet, you’re still loveable. Deep down, I think that’s what everybody’s fear is. “What if I’m not loveable?” I see this vulnerability thing just being-it’s something so worth striving for, and yet it just takes tremendous courage. Right? That took a lot of courage for her to deliver that message that way-in such an open way where she could have been devastated by the response.
Laura: Yeah, it created a long-term fascination. Doesn’t that describe the long-term fascination concept there?
Frank: Yeah, it certainly gives me something to think about and I may even use the term in the future on the show. Thank you.
Laura: Cool. Thank you, Frank.
Frank: Tone of voice and criticizing. What is it? Tone of voice when criticizing or tone of voice and criticizing? I guess you could talk about both.
Laura: Alright, well one of the things that used to happen for me pre-surrendering is because I wasn’t very effective in-I didn’t know how to say what I wanted-things weren’t going my way, right? I was looking at volcanoes instead of beaches, so I found myself using a tone of voice that was really unpleasant. I sounded like my mother on her worst day, almost everyday. I didn’t even want to be around that, so one of the nice things that came out of learning these skills is it really restored my dignity, because I was using a voice that’s more becoming of a mature woman and less like a shrieky child or somebody having a temper tantrum. This is a nice fringe benefit that I didn’t foresee, and that is I felt better about myself.
Frank: What if in your relationship, you feel abused or if you feel addicted, does surrendering and vulnerability, do they help?
Laura: I’ll give you three examples of a divorce I endorse. I’m a big advocate for marriage, but there are some situations where I don’t feel that women are safe and they should get out. Safety first, right? So, if you are in a physically abusive relationship-you said abusive, so I’m not sure which way you meant that, but physically abusive, obviously you should get out right away.
If you’re in a relationship with a man who’s actively addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling-just those three, not cigarettes or food. Women try to add other things, “Well, he’s addicted to food,” and I’m like, “Well, that’s not going to make you unsafe.” The third one is a man who’s just not capable of being faithful to you and you alone. Same thing, you’re at risk for disease. He’s going to make you crazy. You’re not really safe in that situation.
Those are divorces I endorse. But if he’s not one of those three, then the good news is you’ve got a good man. Not a perfect man, but one that you can have a wonderful relationship with if you learn some intimacy skills.
Frank: How is a man being addicted to gambling, how is that dangerous?
Laura: Financially, you’re not safe. I remember I had one woman where her father was a gambler and people came and took the furniture away. The mother was never able too-she was a small child at the time. As an adult, she was attracted to a gambler, and so we talked about how that kind of precarious situation could be recreated. She knew she didn’t want to be in that, but the guy was also enormously charming. Isn’t that sometimes the way? It can be very tempting. There’s just this one little problem.
One of the things that I treasure about my relationship today is that we also have financial intimacy-completely intertwined. My husband handles the money. For instance, when we go out to dinner, I don’t even bring my purse. I know he’s got it. He’s paying and it feels like perpetual dating, because that’s what we used to do when we first met. He would treat me. When we’re leaving the restaurant, I always thank him for taking me out to dinner.
My paycheck goes into that bank account too. The money I earned goes in there too, but I like feeling taken care of that way. I couldn’t do that if I was married to a compulsive gambler.
Frank: What about separating finances? If you have a line drawn the middle of your finances, there’s a way to prevent his gambling from really raping the household, I would think.
Laura: Maybe, but let’s say you own a house together. Let’s say you have assets together, as most married couples do, it’s an ordinate risk. I also feel that an important part of my marriage is that I trust my husband. I can trust my husband. My husband is trustworthy. I didn’t really think that before surrendering, but compulsive gamblers are not trustworthy, so there’s an unsafety in that regard as well.
Frank: Can’t you trust them to gamble?
Laura: You can trust them-
Frank: Can’t you trust them to gamble all of their money away?
Laura: You can trust them to do that, but you can’t maybe trust them to-there’s a whole host of things that-you can’t trust them to pay the taxes. There are a lot of things that would make you unsafe in that situation.
Frank: If you can’t trust them to pay the taxes, then that means you pay the taxes and the taxes get paid.
Laura: Exactly, and what I’m saying is that falls very short of my definition of an intimate relationship. Why be married if you’re with someone you can’t trust on a financial level?
Frank: You can, because you can trust that they don’t know what they’re doing. You can trust that they are not going to handle “x, y, and z” and that’s where you come in and that is actually intimate-being accepting of your partner’s “shortcomings” and being willing to fill in. That’s very intimate to me.
Laura: It’s also describing maybe a mother-son relationship instead of a romantic relationship for me, where I’m having to take care of my husband because he’s in the grips of an addiction-you know what it is? He’s always going to serve his addiction first, so that desire for him to please me that is subverted under his need to gamble. I think I’d be giving more than I’d be getting and that wouldn’t work for me and I certainly wouldn’t advocate it for a client, because I think that every woman does deserve to be desired, cherished and adored by a man everyday for life. That’s her birthright and if you’re settling for a compulsive gambler, you’re sort of depriving yourself of your birthright.
Frank: Couldn’t we have said the same thing about my dancing friend? In essence, she is demonstrating at some level that she has to dance. Dance on some level, in order to satisfy yourself comes before the relationship. In order for her to be a decent wife, she has to dance first. Why is that any different?
Laura: I had a client where her husband loves to play poker and he was not a compulsive gambler, he just liked to play poker. He spent a certain amount of money on it that they could afford. He could afford it, it wasn’t creating any financial chaos for them and she was calling because he wanted to go to Vegas for 10 days with his single friend to play poker and the friend was a good poker player and she was saying, “Should I let him?”
This is a great example of-that was self-care for this guy. It was just an activity that he enjoyed. She was worried that he was a compulsive gambler and after we talked about it, I didn’t hear one shred of compul-she said, “Even on our honeymoon he was playing video poker.” I was like, “Yeah, because he enjoyed it. You were reading a book. You enjoy that. That’s absolutely fine.” I think that would be a good metaphor for the woman who was a dancer. It was an activity she enjoyed. We should all get to do the things that we enjoy.
Frank: Why isn’t she a compulsive dancer?
Laura: Because there’s no element of destruction to her or the family for her dancing.
Frank: I don’t know if that’s true.
Laura: How so?
Frank: You could say that dancers hurt their knees. They bang up their knees over the years. You could say that it takes away from her time at home. There are lots of ways that you could spin that. Now, you compare it to being a compulsive gambler where it’s possible this guy doesn’t have any real appreciation for money. It’s theoretically possible where “money doesn’t mean anything to me.” It’s clear that money definitely is definitely needed to survive in this world, but she could be the person where money matters and she could say, “Look, we could stay married if we-”
Laura: I think that’s diminishing compulsive gambling. So for instance if he says, “Honey, I’ll never do it again or I won’t gamble this money,” and then he does do that, that’s him betraying. That’s not him just having a different-you could have a Bohemian husband that doesn’t make a lot of money, because that’s not part of his value system and that relationship could do just absolutely fine. He brings a sense of lightness and fun and reminds her that life is more than just making money. That’s great. But somebody who’s lying and betraying around money, which those are hallmarks of compulsivity and addiction, that’s a different story.
Frank: The part about-
Laura: Was she lying about her dancing? Was she sneaking off and dancing without-was she saying, “Oh no, I was with a girlfriend,” but she was actually out dancing? Or was she just saying, “Hey, I’m going to dance now?”
Frank: I don’t think she was doing that but I also don’t-where the lying comes in with being a compulsive gambler, I would imagine would be around the pressure. So, if your partner is pressuring you to stop, then at some point you might lie about it. But if your partner isn’t, you might lie about going to gamble and that sort of thing, but if your partner releases the pressure about, there’s no reason to lie. If your partner is willing to say, “Look, do what you want with half of the money, half of your check, bring me half of your check and I don’t care what you do with the other half,” that releases the pressure and that’s where the lying comes from.
Laura: I hear you. I hear you. Someone could enjoy gambling-my dad likes to go to Las Vegas. He’s retired. He loves to go. My stepmom, not so much, but he really enjoys going and he loses a lot of money when he goes and he has it to lose and it’s fine. There’s no problem there. But I wouldn’t also say there’s a compulsion about it. She gets annoyed sometimes. She’ll roll her eyes like, “Oh my gosh, the amount of money he loses.” I think there’s a line between an addiction and what my dad does. He’s just going and enjoying himself. Fine.
Frank: I appreciate us mixing it up on that issue.
Laura: Yeah, you bet. You bet.
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’ve been talking with Laura Doyle, New York Times bestselling author of The Surrendered Wife, The Surrendered Single and Things Will Get as Good as You Can Stand. Laura, one more time, please tell our listeners how they can find you and your books.
Laura: You bet. You can go to lauradoyle.org and you can get the Six Lessons for Lasting Love, my free special report just by submitting your email address. You’ll be subscribed to my newsletter. If you buy one of the books from my website, you get a free Quick Start to Connection coaching session. You could also order it at 1-800-466-2028 for those of you who are maybe driving around listening to this. Put that into your cell phone.
Frank: Give that number one more time.
Frank: Very nice.
Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed self-care, being martyrs and respect. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had discussing the dynamics around being a surrendered wife.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter @mrfranklove or franklove.com. On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, my assistant producer, Anayza Stewart and my engineer, Jeff Newman, keep rising. This is Frank Love.
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