LIVING BEYOND EXPECTATIONS
From the Desk of Sarah Nadler Troutdale, Oregon
As always, when I encounter a problem that seems to be prevalent among my clients...or occurs in my own life, I like to share the solutions I find with YOU.
This week has been a crazy one. A lot of clients are reaching out to me for help, and one of the hottest topics has been - how do I handle my marriage?
You'd think that spending more time with your spouse would make romance easier...
But when you're getting under each other's toes a lot more than usual, AND also dealing with the economic crisis and its effect on your small business, things can tend to go the other direction really quickly.
So how do you stop your marriage from becoming just one more thing spinning wildly out of control? The solution, as several of my clients discovered this week during our weekly calls...is to take things back to basics.
Are you ready to build a strong and 'forever' foundation for your marriage?
Learn the basics of how a marriage works, and skills you can use to prevent fights, loss of passion, or misunderstandings.
For those who are new to the blog, Sarah Nadler is a Life Coach & inspirational speaker with twelve years of experience helping clients reach relationship, career and Big Hairy Audacious life goals. Her work has been featured on Enterprise Podcast Network, The Sierra Leone Times, and her latest book Walking Past Expectations was rated #6 on Lifney's list of Best Books to Read On The Beach This Summer 2019.
Often couples come to me for help with no real understanding of why my system of marriage coaching is so different.
As a minister, and a certified Life Coach, I don't deliver what most would consider 'marriage counseling' per se. My Signature Program - Get Married, Stay Married is focused entirely on educating couples in the marriage fundamentals they have been missing.
It's truly not your fault that you've struggled to build stability and long-lasting romance in your marriage.
Few people can define what 'marriage' even means!
If you know my story, then you're familiar with the fact that the subject of marriage has been a sore one for me. From the fiancé who cheated on me, crashed my car, asked me to support him financially and then wasted my money on alcoholism behind my back...
To the end of my second marriage where a lie invented by a coworker spread first to my friends, then my husband and then my own family!
It's been a rough road for me, no matter how you look at it.
So when I first had business owners and executive clients start asking me for advice on this topic as a Life Coach, I knew it was time for me to face my fears. I needed to go out and find some answers!
Not only for myself, if I ever wanted to have a happy marriage of my own...but for all the clients who had grown to trust me as a business advisor, and a coach - and who needed help. They were struggling with the same problems and helpless feelings I had faced. It was time to find a solution.
Having now been married happily for five years, in addition to starting and running two businesses, I know I was right to go searching. Let me tell you what I found:
Years of study uncovered one solid fact - no one I knew could give an Action Definition of marriage.
Further research into the mind & solutions out there showed me that none of the 'experts' even attempted to define it!
If you're not familiar with the idea of an Action Definition, it is a way of describing the meaning of a term that leads to diagnosis or analysis of the subject and its flaws.
For example, I could define an 'eye' as: something you use to see. That's accurate, but not a really helpful definition if you're trying to diagnose what is wrong with someone's vision.
A better definition for an eye would be: a spherical organ through which light passes, used by people and animals to send signals to the brain that translate into vision.
With that second definition, you could easily diagnose what is wrong with the eye. Is it not perfectly spherical (astigmatism), or is light not able to pass through it (cataracts)?
As you can see, properly defining something is a first step toward assessing and spotting anything that might be wrong with it.
The same thing applies to your marriage.
When you cannot even define a marriage properly, you'll have a hard time figuring out what is really going wrong with it, and constantly struggle to 'band-aid' your relationship instead of getting at the root cause and handling it.
The first step of taking back your marriage...from all the fights, the green jealousy monster, or the dusty corner you left it in when you went chasing after your business, is to start with remembering why you got married in the first place.
It is too easy to forget that there was a real and good reason you got married in the first place.
Whatever that original purpose was - love, mutual respect, the desire for a family...or even something less romantic like marrying for money, or for partnership, those reasons are important to remember.
Often what I see happening for couples is one of two things:
1) Time, struggles, business or the kids distract you enough that you've forgotten why you got married in the first place,
2) The original reason has passed, and you need to build a new one!
So isolating your original why is good, but it doesn't mean you have to stick to it. It's okay for any person to change their mind and create a NEW reason for the marriage right here and now.
The action definition I created for marriage is simple, yet powerful. It is not something you should just learn once and forget about. It is a tool you use to assess and spot what is wrong when your marriage is hard, and bring your mind back to your why.
Right away you can see what must be wrong with the marriage if your business is interfering with it. That's the 'secret' cure I often apply to clients.
Marriage counseling for small business owners and executives often fails because a) the couple does not know the marriage fundamentals to keep things going the right direction on their own, and b) the business is such an enormous influence on the marriage...one that therapists and counselors regard as 'not their job' to address!
Another situation I help clients overcome so they can build a happy marriage is the influence of other people's opinions.
There is a big difference between research into marriage that uncovers usable facts...
Or the opinions (often conflicting!) of gurus, mother-in-laws, BFFs and other 'experts'.
A fact is something that you can show is true.
An opinion is a kind of idea which may or may not come from facts.
In order to make smart decisions about your marriage, it is important to be able to tell a fact from an opinion.
FACT: Marriage, to exist, must be constantly created.
That is a fact because it can be proven to be true. When you allow 'Marriage Autopilot' to sneak into your relationship, things start to go downhill.
As a business owner, you use KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure your progress toward goals. You know that no amount of 'following your heart' or 'just going with your gut' is going to be as successful as crunching the numbers and then following your instincts!
It takes both to run a business.
So why do we base the most important relationship in our lives on nothing but gut feelings and that beloved but oh-so-faulty organ...the heart?
It will probably come as a surprise to you that there are KPIs and benchmarks you can use to keep your marriage on track. But why not? If we added a little less pixy dust, and a little more common sense, we could probably cure a lot of the ills of humankind in general!
An indicator is something that signals the approach of a change. Good indicators mean that things are going the right direction. You can just continue on as you are, no need to alter course.
Bad indicators in relationships include lessening eye contact, lack of communication, 'no time' for romance, or decreased passion. These are a signal that something is wrong, and if you don't change your habits, fix your operating basis or switch gears...you're likely going to have a fight on your hands.
Learn to spot the indicators of your spouse, and encourage them to learn yours. This is perhaps one of the most valuable skills you can learn in marriage.
One day, I was sitting in my office and I realized, marriage is like baking a cake. Each partner does need to have certain ingredients for it to work; like trust, honesty, the ability to communicate.
But so many couples get hung up on that later. They wonder if they chose the 'right brand of flour' rather than realizing that it's not the ingredients that failed them...it's the fact that they never learned how to bake!
After you have discovered your 'why' for being married, and learned the skills in marriage fundamentals, you still need a recipe to keep your baking project on track.
I like to call this your 'ideal marriage recipe'. Think of it as painting an exact and precise picture of what your ideal marriage would look like.
Without an ideal recipe to compare things to, it becomes very hard to figure out what is wrong with the cake you already baked.
Emotional maturity does have a lot to do with the success of a marriage. If you wrote out your ideal marriage recipe, and compared it to the Action Definition of marriage, then discovered that the two are not very alike, probably there is something a little irresponsible or immature about the way you think of marriage.
There are ways I can help you to improve your emotional maturity and take more responsibility for your marriage. But the first step is to make the choice that you want to.
A PASSION FOR ABLE PEOPLE
I'm Sarah Nadler and I help small business owners achieve work/life balance by increasing their revenues in a way that does not decrease their time.