Ep 01: How To Bring Joy Back To Your Marriage Today

When I got married 24 years ago, I knew it wouldn’t be perfect … but I had no idea how intense our journey would be. I had no idea how much our love would need to carry us.

For a while … I forgot that our love COULD carry us. In the hard times, I forgot that I was in charge of my own Joy in life.

So I just hoped things would get better. I hoped we would figure it out. But buried in that hope was a cycle of self-loathing and blaming. It was a cycle that disconnected me and my husband.

Our relationship didn’t get better until I realized that I had everything I needed inside of me to feel better.  Everything I needed to heal from my past, connect with my husband and to create more Joy in my life was already in me. I just needed to know how to tap into it.

And when I did, I felt more at peace. Our marriage became solid. And our love would indeed, carry us through all the rough waters – no matter how deep and wide it got.

If you want help implementing the tools I teach, I would be honored to be your life coach. Working with a coach helps you to create change quicker, easier, and with more fun along the way! Are you ready to create a more Joyful Love in your own Life and Marriage? Then  click here to find out more. 

What You’ll Learn From This Episode

  • Why it helps to look at marriage holistically
  • How understanding how your brain works is the way to total healing
  • When you make changes in one relationship, your relationship with EVERYONE improves.
  • Drop the rule books to find joy in your marriage! 

Mentioned On The Show:

If you’d like to ask questions or tell me what you think, send an email to podcast@rachaelcunningham.com

Go here to watch a free class and receive my weekly newsletters. https://www.rachaelcunningham.com/

Podcast Transcript:

Hi! This is Rachael Cunningham and you are listening to Joyful Love, Episode 1

If you’re ready to bring Joy and Connection back to your marriage, stick around! Each week I give you the tools to uplevel your thinking, open your heart, and bring joy and fun back to your relationship. Because it’s not enough just to stay married – we want to LOVE being married!

Hey everyone!  I’m excited to get this podcast off the ground and out to you after a year of dreaming about it! So welcome!

Okay, if you’re a woman who is married and you know you want to stay married, or at least you’re entertaining the idea of staying married, but you know things could be better, You know, you actually wanna enjoy being married again, you’re in the right place!

I’m recording this podcast in Nashville, Tennessee where my husband and I have raised our 3 kids.

I’m a life and marriage coach. And I’m fascinated by human behavior and relationships.

I’m a huge fan of loving as big as we possibly can in this world. But so many times that gets neglected in our marriages as we get busy and begin ignoring our own needs and disconnecting from our partners.

It won’t be surprising to hear that in my 24 years of marriage, Cris and I have had some pretty big challenges in our own relationship.

There was a lot. We didn’t communicate well and we weren’t sure how to include teamwork in our relationship.

Honoring both of our unique personalities and differences was a problem.

And one huge problem for me was that I thought I had to fix everyone’s problems around me … from my husband to my kids, you know. They had a problem, and I went into solve it mode.  I carried their stress.

And that stress started creating resentment because I didn’t feel like MY needs were being met.

Now Cris and I loved each other but both of us were overwhelmed.  And we weren’t sure how to manage our stress, communicate, or take care of our own emotion which put a rift in our relationship.

We felt really disconnected at times. And in all honesty, married life started feeling like a chore. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t fully connected.

Some couples argue a lot when they have problems – others get silent and hold in their hurt. We would get silent and let it all build up to a big argument a few times a year.  

Thankfully, I’ve learned a better way. A way that leads to immense joy in my life and my relationship with Cris. And it’s probably no surprise that taking charge of my own healing and knowing how to manage MY brain is the foundation of that better way.

I look at marriage very holistically.  When we learn to control what we can, practice accepting the difficult things in life, learn to see our partners in a whole new light, and realize that the toughest moments in romantic relationships are an opportunity to connect not only to our partners more, but to our higher selves when these things come together we create marriages that our whole body and soul are thrilled to be in.  

I’m a certified life and marriage coach, but my time as a yoga instructor and my integrative health training feed into my philosophy on creating marriages full of JOY!

I teach that understanding how our brains work allows us to communicate better, heal from the past, evaluate what works and doesn’t work in your own marriage, and to see  the love of your life with a brand new perspective.

Being able to see your own worth is every bit as important as seeing your partner for who they truly are the person you fell in love with and WANT to spend forever with.

You know so many times, when life goes wrong our minds immediately look for someone to blame and that person is usually our spouses.  

But when you learn to notice when your brain is creating stories that don’t serve you …and you take a step back and look at the facts , when you drop assumptions , and replace the desire to blame with a desire to connect the possibilities for a healthy relationship open up wide.

If you would have told me this 10 years ago when my husband and I were struggling the most I would have said, you’re crazy.  My brain has nothing to do with it you don’t know how hard it is to be married to this guy and how hard it is to be a parent right now!

But that was before I learned how to actually manage my brain!

The skills I’ve learned throughout my almost 2.5 decade marriage have been a total game changer for my marriage and for the clients I serve.

And the beautiful thing about these skills is that when you learn to apply them in one area of life, you start applying them in every area!

You’ll not only notice your marriage improving, you’ll notice your relationship with your kids improving you’ll notice your relationship with your mom and your mother in law getting better.

You’ll notice that you are caring for yourself better and learning that loving YOU is every bit as important as loving your partner!

So.. if you stick with this work, you’ll not create a more peaceful and joyful marriage. You’ll create a more joyful life holistically.

With that said, I want to give you some things to walk away with and start changing your own perspective today.


The first idea I want you to entertain is that you don’t have to stay in a marriage you don’t want to be in.Let’s just get that out of the way!

You get to choose what is right for you. No one else has that right. Not your partner, not your religion, and definitely not the culture around you. You get to choose.

You know morals and religion play such a huge part in how we see marriage. Although there is a beautiful place for commitment in a relationship having a rigid, black and white view of what’s right and wrong in long-term relationships can hold people in abusive relationships for way too long.

And This rigid thinking about marriage is also holding many of us back from remembering that we actually do want to be in a relationship with our partner. We begin to feel trapped …because of a choice we made many years ago or because of money, kids, or what others will think, when we really aren’t. We are free. Free to make the best choices for ourselves.

I remember the day I really felt this truth. I immediately was able to get out of my own way and say, “Ok Rach, if you’re free … if there is not RIGHT OR WRONG in this choice. What DO you actually want?”  

And I knew in that moment that I wanted to stay married.

I felt a weight lift off of me. I was in this marriage because I want to be in it.  Not because I should be in it!

But I also knew I did not want things to keep going like they were.  

I wanted more joy, more connection, less stress, better communication, more intimacy and more time to do what I wanted to feed my own soul in life.  

But I wanted all of that to include the love of my life, which was definitely Cris. He was worth keeping around. I want to grow old and bald and wrinkly with that beautiful man!

But I still wanted our relationship to be better.

And I really needed to step out of the commitment box for a minute to give myself freedom to really see what I wanted.

And when I saw that what we had was worth protecting, then I could create a plan to make it better. I began applying tools to my life and my marriage that gave me power over my own results in life…  And it worked!

We are not perfect humans, and we will always have growth to achieve … but we grow closer and stronger and more in love every day … We have more fun and lightness in our marriage – through all the highs and lows in life.

Now let me be clear, our circumstances are still similar, but knowing how to bring more joy to our everyday lives instead of letting outside influences control how I felt – improved everything.

So before I move on, I just want to give YOU that freedom to make your own choices about being married. Staying married does not make you a better person than someone else. And deciding to leave your marriage does not mean you have failed in some way.

And this podcast can serve as an opener – a way to open yourself to freedom and open yourself to the possibility of growth in your relationship.

Ok next, I want to remind you that  – Sometimes even as you apply these tips to your own life and marriage,  you and your partner will have hard days and that doesn’t mean something has gone terribly wrong. It does not mean you need to beat yourself up OR beat your partner up.

Life is 50/50 – we would not know what happiness felt like if we didn’t have sadness.  We wouldn’t know the beauty of success if we didn’t have some failures along the way.

But we spend SO much time focused on the half that’s hard that we stop seeing the beauty in life.  Right? We spend all our time worried about the future or thinking about the past that we’re not living our lives …  we’re living in our heads most of the time. We’re not seeing what’s right in front of us.

Our lower brains naturally look for what is wrong. That’s it’s job – and it comes from the instinct to protect ourselves.  So it’s a good thing. It’s what keeps us safe most of the time. We want our brains to protect us and to look for danger …. But what happens is that it never stops.  It’s constantly looking for the negative and it becomes such a habit … that we’re not utilizing our pre-frontal cortex – or the higher brain – nearly enough!

So the tools I will share in this podcast will help you to watch the stories your lower brain is offering you and then you’ll start using the higher brain more – the higher brain is the part that plans and

As a human, You have the privilege of  actually WATCHing YOURSELF THINK and FEEL!  

And it’s a privilege we need to start taking more advantage of!

So … if you want to use a little brain science to feel better and create more connection and joy in your relationship … you’re in the right place!

Okay the third thing I’d like to discuss is that when we first try to fix our marriages –  so many times – the focus becomes on what your partner can do differently so that YOU can be happier.

So Yes, we can of course communicate with our partners things we’d like to be different. But whether they can or will or will consistently is never in YOUR control. Which makes you feel powerless in the relationship.

I teach that it is NOT your partners job to change who they are to make YOU happy.

That is your job.

And on the flip side – it is not YOUR job to make your partner happy!  Their happiness is only in their control.

When you can really understand this concept, that it was never supposed to be your job to make EACH other happy, But instead to create your own joy in life – now you are free to be exactly who you are and let your partner be who they are.

You drop manipulation tactics and simply show up as the person YOU want to be. AND you enjoy THEM for the person they are.

This doesn’t mean you won’t ever do things nice for them, but you’ll be doing so simply because you love them, not because you’re trying to control their feelings.

We’re so used to thinking our partners have to change that this can be a hard concept to trust at first.

But I want you to drop into the freedom of letting go. Letting go of the need to change someone else.

Bring the focus back to YOU.

Who do YOU want to be?

What kind of woman do YOU want to show up as?

Do you want to be a woman who communicates well?

Do you want to be someone who is kind to herself?

Do you want to be a human in this world who is compassionate to others?

Do you want to be someone who goes after what she wants in life?

This is all in your control.

I teach you to take control back of the things you CAN change.

And the beautiful thing is when you do this when you take your power back over your own life and emotions, It frees you up to love simply because you want to love.  Not because you’re trying to change your partner… not because you’re trying to manipulate them to love you differently.

But simply because you like being a person who loves big.

And yes, there is a ripple affect that often takes place.

I just had another client this week tell me that the more she applies openness and connection to her relationship, the more her husband is leaning in towards her as well.

It happens all the time.

Your partner notices a shift and begins to feel free to love back in their own unique way, simply because they want to!

But their shift,  is not in your control or YOUR time frame.

We focus on You in my coaching.

What do you want?

How do you want to heal holistically? From your spirit, to your body to your mind?


And friends it’s so much more fun this way!

Now I coach people from many different walks of life and most have a big issue that is unique in their relationship, from past childhood trauma to high needs kids – from difficult careers to past affairs and health issues.

I have seen it all and I want you to know that if this is you, if you have unique circumstances holding you back from experiencing a peaceful, connected, and joyful marriage – this podcast is especially for you!

Successful, loving, and joyful marriages are not reserved for people with easy lives.

Okay, the last thing I want to share with you is this, it IS possible to increase your desire and increase your love for your partner again.

So many marriages become so disconnected that they can’t imagine having fun or desiring to be intimate with their partner again. Things are so disconnected that they can’t imagine feeling in love.

If you are skeptical of this, I completely understand why. When we are hardly even friends with our partners … it’s hard to imagine having a fun, romantic and light relationship again.

And because it’s hard to imagine … we keep chasing happiness by changing what we have…

Right?  We’re chasing a better job.

A better house.

A better body.

Better behaved kids.

A better partner.

A new career ….

And we think when all these things align … we’ll finally feel okay.  We’ll finally be happy. We can finally have joy in our lives and in our marriage.

But chasing all these things ignores the role of our thinking to create our own joy in life , right now before any of it changes.

What I want to offer is that even with our life as it is … with all the imperfections … we can still create a life of immense joy and love.

You might believe that your life has to change or your partner has to change – for you to enjoy your life.

So what happens is we want connection, but when we don’t feel it, we think it’s our partners fault and so we avoid them or blame them.

This is the OPPOSITE of connecton!

It doesn’t do us any good. And It feels pretty crappy to be in a marriage like this.

It’s an ego based relationship … one where we expect someone else to complete us … one where we tell someone else to fix me or give me more.  

And ultimately this type of relationship keeps leading us to more disconnection and less friendship in our marriage. And it’s simply not fun.

My desire is to help you have a heart centered relationship … one that you have deep connection.  One where you are seeing and valuing your partner for who they are.  One where you lead your conversations with curiosity, acceptance and you seek understanding as you work towards solutions.

But it starts with our thinking.  You have a thought … and that thought generates an emotion.  That emotion, or feeling leads us to take action … which creates our results in life.

But you can not change actions consistently without first bringing to light what lead to them … your thoughts.

But when you learn how to watch your brain – remember that animal brain that is so focused on the negative … when you watch what your brain is doing and begin to question the stories it’s creating … now you have a choice … you can choose to keep that thought if you like where it’s gonna to lead you … or you can create a new thought that will lead you to feeling better and ultimately connecting you on a much deeper level with your partner.

So you Think, feel, act, and get results.

It’s that simple.

ANd knowing how to manage your thoughts is the first place we begin.

Watching our thoughts can be traced back thousands and thousands of years, right?

All the best mindfulness gurus and leaders of old and new have been teaching this forever!

But we forget to apply it  – because our brains easily get in the habit of believing whatever thought pops in our head. And we dig our heels in and say, nope… it’s definitely my circumstances that cause my feelings. And we forget that our thinking is a HUGE part of creating our feelings and ultimately the results in our lives and relationships.

But this is actually the BEST NEWS! Because even if your circumstances can’t change right now … you can begin to take control of what you can.

Your life and your relationship becomes more manageable because you are upleveling your thinking.

Low quality thoughts create lackluster relationships.

High quality thinking creates amazing relationships.

With high quality thoughts, You will  increase your desire to be friends with your partner again.

You’ll increase your desire to communicate and connect heart to heart.

You’ll increase your desire to bring intimacy back…

And ultimately you will create your own joy again … not just in your own life …. But in your relationship too.

And remember … you WANT your own emotions to be in your control. We dont’ want our days to depend on whether our partner has a good day or not.

Our emotions were never supposed to be handed over to them.

The movies and songs or reality tv shows where the characters say, “oh you complete me or, I can’t live without you, or you make me happier than i’ve ever been…” Those people are in for a rude awakening… right?

WE create our own emotions in life … and in relationships we can USE that ability to create our own emotions to FUEL Connection instead of becoming enemies.

So it’s time to take our power back to create our own internal joy.  

And then… have fun watching the ripple effect take place! Because when you change one dynamic in a family … the other dynamics begin to shift too.  

Alright … Just to recap here … You get to choose to be married or not.

If you choose to stay married … I believe your marriage should be filled with joy, connection and peace.  

And to get there… you have to take back control of your own emotions … It’s not your partner’s job to make you happy. It’s not your job to make your partner happy.

And we get here by starting with higher quality thinking!

Okay… I know that was a lot! But I wanted to give you an overview of my philosophy before diving into the tools that will create the marriage you actually WANT to be in!

Next time I’ll begin to dive into these tools that you can start implementing right away!

And I would love to hear from my listeners.  

SO Feel free to reach out and tell me what you think .. ask questions … tell me what topics you’d like me to talk about … I wanna know!

You can send me an email at

And if you have a minute and like what you’re hearing, please rate me on itunes and leave me feedback there.

Thank you for listening!

Enjoy the Show?