Ep 09: You Can Have A Happy Marriage Even When …

Let’s be honest here. Sometimes our partners can irritate us to no end.

The way they load the dishwasher. Their unique routines. The way they chew, talk, don’t talk, comb their hair, the job they choose, or any other number of things.

Now they weren’t so irritating in the beginning. Heck, we might have even liked these unique differences about them. However, over time, we start finding them annoying and irritating. And our brains offer us thoughts like, “If he would change, I would be happier.”  Or even, “The way they are – is holding me back in life.” 

And since our happiness is now in their control … we try really hard to get them to change who they are and ‘fix’ themselves faster.  Because “YO! My happiness is at stake!”

But all this does is make our partners feel like we’re parenting them. And parenting your partner is the fastest way to killing connection. It’s the quickest way to making marriage feel miserable and NOT fun.

And beyond that, it doesn’t help. Criticism and talking till we’re blue in the face doesn’t change them any more than their criticism and trying to fix us would cause us to change.

So what’s the answer? What do we do about this irritation that creeps into 99.99% of all relationships?  We start with taking back control of our own emotions. We don’t give them the job of managing our feelings!

Listen to Episode 9 of Joyful Love to hear the things that irritated me about Cris and what I did about it!

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

  • What is a manual and why you need to chuck it.
  • How parenting your partner kills connection.
  • Your partner is not in control of your happiness.
  • Practice acceptance for true heart-to-heart connection

Mentioned On The Show:

Podcast Transcript:

One of the most profound things that I learned from my teacher Brooke Castillo at The Life Coach School was the concept of Letting go of the manual that we have for each other in our relationships.

Now the manual is just an invisible rule book that we create for each other overtime that basically says hey if you follow this list of rules that I have for you, then I will be so much happier.

And by the way,  if you don’t follow my rules and expectations,  then it’s your fault that I’m not happy.

 These Rule books or manuals include all of our expectations of what we believe is normal for another person to do or what we believe is acceptable behavior.  

Now before we move on … I know my audience!  You are strong, capable, independent women who are moving more toward creating healthy boundaries for yourselves!

So you want to keep some of those expectations!  

Like let’s just take the big ones that you’re thinking of right now … like I expect my partner to not cheat on me.

Or I expect my partner to not get drunk every night or be violent.

And to that  I say, ABSOLUTELY! PLEASE keep those boundaries for yourself.

And if your partner is crossing those boundaries … the best thing for you to do is to stop trying to change them and just get out of the relationship.

But … the types of manuals I’m talking about are not these big kinds … they’re the kind that we THINK are huge, but keeping them is totally ZAPPING our connection with our partners.

They’re the petty rules we have for our partners. The kind of manuals we THINK they should already know. Like, how to load the dishwasher for example.

Or how they SHOULD manage their time better.

Or how they SHOULD call their mom more.

Or how they SHOULD get a better hair cut / a better job / or even dress better.

Or many times a big rule we put in our manuals is that their personalities should be different … or they should think more like we do.

These are the types of things that go in our completely useless manuals for our partners. They’re useless because it’s not like these rules are getting followed … they’re just giving you an opportunity to criticize your partner. Which is the biggest KILLER of intimacy.

Most people go back and forth from complaining or manipulating our partners to follow The Manuals to holding everything in and stuffing it and not even speaking about our manuals.

So we might have these rulebooks for our partners – where we’re silently judging them – over and over … and can tell that we’re being critical … but they’re not aware of what the the special are … they just know you’re not happy.

When we focus so heavily on what our partner is not or how they are not how we want them to be ..we end up in a constant state of unhappiness.

In relationships where two people have long manuals for each other, they actually stop relating with each other and they just try to do everything right so their partner won’t be mad or upset.

But following each other’s manuals is the opposite of true / authentic connection.

When you require your partner to take responsibility in this way for your happiness it leads to disconnection. It leads to trying to manipulate each other  to do things your way.

And it also causes you to feel like you are ‘parenting’ your spouse all the time by trying to get them to follow your way of doing things.

 A really insightful book that most people in relationships have heard is The 5 love languages by Gary Chapman.

I think this book is really helpful in understanding ourselves … and how we like to express love … but what  I tend to see in many couples is that we use The Five Love Languages against each other.

We look at our partner and say in order to feel loved, I need you to love me in this special way….. And if you don’t do it that way … then you’re not loving me how you should. So … dear husband, or dear wife … you need to alter what you do, you need to change who YOU are so that I feel loved.

And although it can be a really beautiful thing to say hey my partner likes a lot of touch – I know that’s how they express their love – and that’s what they like,  so I want to be the partner that shows up and gives them Extra Touch today.

 or I know they like to be verbally validated, so I’m gonna make sure I tell them I’m grateful for their help today.

But … Instead of using this information to expand our own hearts and our own love … so many times we use it to criticize our partners and say … you don’t give me what I need to be happy.

And when you do that  – you give your partner power over your own joy in life.

And we’re so focused on how they’re NOT loving us, that we totally miss out on the ways they ARE loving us…. In ways that come natural to them.

Even in a lot of couples therapy, they sit you down by each other and have you tell all the things your partner needs to change so that you can be happy. And then you go home and try to live up to each other’s expectations.

This sounds good at first … right? We’re coming together to meet each others needs … what could be wrong with that, right?

But what this does, is it creates those manuals for each other. It creates a list of rules for our partners AND ourselves to live up to.

And many times this type of therapy leaves a relationship to feel more like they are just showing up striving to meet this long list of rules so the other person will be happy.

And it starts to feel exhausting after a while … Marriage starts to feel like a job that you have to prove yourself in.  It starts to feel like two people are trying to manipulate each other into meeting each other’s emotional needs.

And then you start to walk on eggshells around each other.

And what started as a great idea to love each other better … often becomes one more source of tension because ultimately, you’re still waiting on the other partner to change enough so you can feel good.

I want you all to have a way better relationship than just trying to meet each other’s needs. I want you to look internally and say how do I actually complete myself? How can I love MYSELF more?

How do I find complete and total happiness on my own. How do I lean into all that I am and show up daily as the person I want to be?

And on the flip side, how do I give my partner the freedom and trust to do the same?

I remember in the beginning of my marriage I did not like certain things that Cris did. I was insecure in those first few years of marriage and I thought that it was his job to make me feel secure. If he would never talk to a pretty girl or even think anyone else was pretty besides me, that would make me feel so much happier!  Or if he would be as passionate about a clean house as I was, my life would be so much better!

 But over time I’ve learned to really drop that manual for him and create my own security in myself …

It’s not his job to diminish who he is so that I feel secure.

My confidence and security are in my control … never his.

 And it’s been a really long time since I felt that twinge of jealousy. Not because he changed how he shows up… but because I’ve learned to be  A secure woman on my own.

Now I think many marriages begin feeling a bit insecure… and by the time we’re in our 40’s, we’ve finally dropped a lot of that jealousy.

But I wish someone would have pulled me aside in my 20’s and said, “Hey Rach … it’s not your husband’s JOB to make you feel secure!  That’s YOUR job!”

And back to the idea that I thought he should like a clean house every bit as much as I did … that thought kept me so frustrated and critical of the way he cleaned that eventually I just gave up and stopped asking for his help … because I THOUGHT he would do it wrong.

When I finally dropped the idea that there was a RIGHT way … I was able to ask for his help more and genuinely feel excited for the help instead of looking for things to correct.

And little did I know that when I really dug deep … I was the one that would benefit from lightening up about how clean my house was! But I had to drop my idea of how he should do things differently before I could ever see my own blind spots in that area.

Our manuals for our partners can range anywhere from you should be more clean to you should talk more or even … you should talk less.

Some of our manuals include things like  you should work less. Or You should give me more back massages. You should pick out better gifts for Christmas or my birthday.

 But I want you to know that there is so much freedom, total freedom in allowing your partner to be exactly who they want and choose to be. There is so much freedom in cutting out all the rules that your brain has created for them.

The truth is all of us have partners that sometimes show up in ways that we don’t like. All of us have partners that we wish would make different choices at times.

That’s part of being a couple. That’s part of choosing to live your life with another human being who has a totally different brain than you.

When you make the decision to let go of the manual. Not just let go of it temporarily but actually throw the entire manual in the trash. When you show up in your relationship with 0 rules for the other person, magical things begin to happen.

 You stop manipulating each other. You stop walking on eggshells around each other.  

You stop trying to show up and do things that you don’t want to just so that the other person will feel okay. So you stop people-pleasing your partner.

You stop trying to parent your spouse.  Parenting your partner and viewing them as just another child that needs guided is the ultimate passion killer!

No adult wants parented. Not me, not you, and not your partner.

A lot of people have resistance to this idea of dropping the manual because they’re afraid that they’re just going to end up being a doormat.

That their partner is going to walk all over them. That their partner is going to make choices that somehow put them in a position of having less freedom.

But I want you to know that the people who really own this concept totally and completely are the ones with amazing relationships.

 when 2 people have the freedom to show up in life as they want to and their Partners respect that and honor that, they get to meet in the middle and simply have fun together.

They get to drop the rules for each other. They get to drop manipulation tactics and they get to embrace the freedom of being exactly who they want to be in this life.

 And to have a partner who supports you in that and says yeah go for it be you be totally you – don’t change for me, that’s the kind of love feels amazing to be in.

 And it doesn’t mean that you’re never going to ask for things from your partner. It doesn’t mean that you’re never going to express what your desires are.

You might even ask for things more – you might even express what your desires are more – but it’s going to come from a place of love and acceptance and curiosity for your partner … instead of manipulation and criticism.

 Your love for this person isn’t gonna be based on whether or not they comply to your request.

 When you drop the rule books,  when you let go of that manual for your partner, your heart is going to open up to see them for the amazing human that they already are.

Instead of focusing on all the things you wish they would do, you’re going to start to notice all the good that is already there.

When most of your relationship includes seeing the good in them, if there is something that you want to change in relationship, you’re gonna approach those things with more teamwork, with conversations that are going to leave you two actual Solutions.

 Accepting that our partners are not perfect is one of the most FREEING things you could ever do for yourself.

Many times in a relationship there are things that we do show up differently in life too. And it doesn’t mean that one of us is better than the other.

My husband is extremely good about organizing his business on his computer. I am not. So when I try to search for something on my computer, I struggle to find it many times.

On the other hand, I’m way better at noticing things that need to be done around the house, and cleaned. He doesn’t really notice that something needs to be done until it’s really bad.

 He’s organized in his business. I’m organized in my home.  We have an opportunity to learn from each other. We have an opportunity to support each other in the areas where we struggle.

But in order to do that, in order to support each other, our first step is to accept that nothing has gone wrong with the other person.

Me and cris’ inability to organize certain areas of Our Lives does not mean anything about our character, and it doesn’t mean anything about our worthiness as a human.

 When we can accept each other for who we are, when we can accept that there are certain things that the other does that we don’t always like, When we let go of our expectations, our relationship actually improves.

 Here’s the truth about our partners, they are adults.

They get to be who they want to be. They get to focus on the things they want to. They get to grow and change in their own unique time, in away that feels right for them.

It is not our job to criticize them or manipulate them to make those changes faster …. Or even at all!

And on the flip side we are adults. We get to choose who we want to be in this life. It is not our partners job to rush our criticize our way of doing things.

Feel the freedom in that. Feel the freedom of dropping criticism from your relationship.

Of your partner is different from you. Their supposed to be.

Love each other. Accept each others unique way of doing things – whether it’s loading the dish washer or brushing their hair weird. Whether its taking 20 minutes to sit in their car before coming in the house or leaving the cap off the toothpaste.

Accept them totally and completely.

And YOU be in charge of your own happiness.

That’s where freedom is, friends!

And that’s where marriage starts getting fun again!

And don’t worry – you can start small. What is one thing that your partner does over and over again – just because it’s a unique habit to them – but you’ve given it so much power over your emotions.

What if you choose to practice acceptance for it today?

What if you choose to think, “My partner does this thing, and it’s actually ok. I can still have complete joy and peace in my life, even if they never change this thing. It means nothing about their character nor their worthiness of love. I accept my partner – I dont have to change them. They are DEEPLY loved by me … even when they do things differently than I like.”

You’re gonna have to practice this. Practice, practice, practice!  The more you practice, the more easily you will take your power back over your own emotions – and give you and your partner freedom in the process.

Alright … have a beautiful week my friends.

And if you’re listening to this episode when it airs, which is in July of 2021, and you want to dive deeper into this work – sign up for The Confident Marriage Workshop. It’s next WEEK on July 26th through 28th.

It’s a 3 Day Live Online event where we will cover in detail how to have confidence in yourself and your marriage. Not only will you get specific tools that I teach my clients, you’re also gonna have the ability to ask me questions and get some personal coaching.

If you’re interested in that I want you to go to Rachael Cunningham.com/confidence – that’s Rachael with an a e l Cunningham.Com/confidence and sign up for that Workshop. You’re not going to want to miss this opportunity.

Enjoy the Show?