28 - The Best Relationship Advice We’ve Ever Gotten - Join Leanne’s Book Club!

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Welcome to Take the Upgrade with your host Leanne Peterson! On today's episode Leanne is joined by a few members of her book club: Carolina, Rachelle and Natalie, to chat about the best relationship advice they've ever gotten! Specifically they site these three books:

Why You're Not Married ... Yet by Tracy McMillan

Act With Love by Russ Harris

How to Not Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn

Our episode today covers so many helpful relationship topics - everything from affection and compassion to communication and compatibility. Thanks for tuning in!

Transcript of book club:

Leanne Peterson: Hello, and welcome to the Take the Upgrade podcast, where we talk about upgrading your life, and upgrading your experiences one decision at a time. I’m Leanne Peterson. I’m a therapist and life coach, and I’m dedicated to helping you shift the energy in your life to create the experience you want. I love this work, and while I’m passionate about helping other people, I’m also doing the work myself. I created this podcast so you can come along with me on my journey of exploration with the hopes that it will inspire you to see how these principles can be applied in a very real way. With me is my co-host and producer, Natalie Pyles. She’s my self-help groupie, coming along with us on the journey to upgrade. Welcome to the show!

Well, hello everyone, and welcome to our book club this month. I’m so excited for this book club, because we did something a little different this month. I’ve selected 3 books for people to read, so if you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, jump on my website, and you’ll see the books. But I had people read 3 books because they really focused on relationships this month. The books that I selected were Why You’re Not Married Yet, and that’s for people who are single and looking for romance. The second book I selected is great for anyone. If you’re single it’s great to get these principles in mind for when you’re in a relationship. If you’re in a relationship they’re great to use in your relationship, and that book is Act With Love. And it’s all about how to do things that work in your relationship at any stage. The third book is How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids, and I know we all read that book because we all have kids, and we’re all eager to dive into that book.

So we had 3 books this month, so if you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, check out the website, and pick a book you want to read, and then let us know on Facebook.

Today, we’re going to talk all about relationships, so we’ve all just read this relationship book, we’re kind of buzzing with advice, and I want everyone to share what’s the best relationship advice they’ve ever got. Then I also want to hear, what’s the thing you’ve struggled with the most in relationships, and this can be in your current relationship, your marriage, or it could be when you were single, when you were dating, what’s something you struggled with. I’m really excited to hear from everyone. We have our lovely book club members back on for this call, and I can’t wait to dive in. We’re going to start this week with Rachelle. Rachelle, I’d love for you to tell me what the best relationship advice you’ve ever gotten is, and what the most challenging thing has been for you.

Rachelle Young: So the best relationship advice that I have ever received was from my mother, and it was when I was first married, and she noticed that every time my husband would put his arm around me, or want to hold my hand, I would kind of push him away. I grew up in a family that is not affectionate at all. So we didn’t hug each other, ever. Unless someone’s crying, you don’t hug someone. I can’t even tell you the last time I hugged one of my parents, let alone my siblings. I think maybe when they got married a few years ago. So we’re just not affectionate. We don’t tell each other we love each other. It’s just not, we show each other we love each other in a lot of ways, mostly quality time and acts of service, that kind of a thing.

So words of affirmation and physical touch are definitely not my love languages. My mom noticed that I would kind of push him away, and she pulled me aside one day when we were first married, and said, “You know what? There’s nothing wrong with you being adaptable to allowing him to show you love the way he knows how. And you pushing him away is going to train him to not show you the affection that someday you’ll want. That someday you’ll wish he was showing you.”

LP: Oh my gosh, I just got chills as you were saying that, because that’s so powerful. I’m also, like, we’ve heard about your mom a couple times, and I’m like, “We need your mom on the show, because she seems so wise.”

RY: Oh my gosh, my mom is the best. She’s awesome. Natalie’s met my mom. She knows.

Natalie Pyles: Oh yeah.

RY: But the greatest thing about that advice was that when I was married in my early 20s, and my mom gave me advice, I would always kind of shrug it off as though I knew better. This was the one time that I really took her words to heart, and made an effort. So, no it wasn’t the most comfortable thing when he would put his arm around me, to just kind of accept it, and to allow him to show me that love in the way that he knows how. My husband’s family, I mean if you haven’t been hugged 5 times when you walk into a family event at his side of the family, then somebody’s mad at you. You know, they’re very affectionate. They’re very eager to tell you they love you. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just different from the way I grew up. So I had to kind of accept that, and learn that it was okay to allow him to show me that affection. Then of course it wasn’t ever like I was super uncomfortable. I just prefer my personal space.

Now, at first I tolerated it, and then I grew to really love it. So you know, my husband will still, like he’ll walk past me if I’m sitting at the kitchen table or something, and he’ll rub my shoulders. Or he’ll, you know, kiss my cheek or something like that. And it truly does just kind of melt my heart when he does things like that, just little signs that he loves me. That wouldn’t have happened had I not listened to my mom’s advice early on in our marriage, because we’re coming up on 13 years, and I really do cherish the fact that he does those little things to show me that he loves me, whereas before I was annoyed by it.

LP: You know, I love the 5 languages of love. That’s another great book. You’re talking a lot about the different languages that we show love, and you know I think, the thing is, yes we want to communicate to our partners so they show us love in the way we receive it, but like you said, I think it’s important to acknowledge the ways people are showing love, and to realize this is them being affectionate, and them being loving, and it’s kind of like, “Why am I slapping the hand that’s trying to give me something special?”

RY: Yes. Absolutely.

LP: Just accept this.

RY: Well, and I didn’t want to push him away, push him away, push him away, and have him stop the habit of showing me that he loves me. Of course, my husband has really stepped up his game and has shown me that he loves me the way that I like to receive love. We’ve done the whole love language book thing, and he’s definitely a physical touch, obviously. So when he does those things, like just hand holding or whatever, it kind of is a reminder to me to love him that way as well. So I kind of like it because it reminds me that yeah, you know, when he walks past and kisses me on the cheek, I can do that the next time I walk past him. Or you know, things like that. So it’s good. Mine is definitely quality time and acts of service. My husband has really stepped up and he’s super helpful.

LP: Nice. So it’s not that you’ve only got one thing, but if you’d shut down that one thing, I think it would have been hard to build, it’s almost like you could build upon what he was already giving, instead of shutting down the thing he was offering, and then expecting him to want to do all these other things. It’s like, no one feels good when they’ve been rejected.

RY: Right.

LP: And when our attempt to love someone isn’t received, it can really shut us down, and that shame can come into play, too. Like, “Oh, I guess I shouldn’t do that.”

RY: I think my mom pointed out, she came from a more physically affectionate family, and it, you know, my dad did not. So it kind of went the way my dad preferred things, was, “I like my personal space. Don’t get in my bubble.” So that’s kind of the way our family grew up, and I think maybe she was coming from a place of regret. I don’t know, that could have been it. I’m glad I listened to her.

LP: Right? So wise. What has been the most challenging thing in your relationship history, or life, that you’ve worked with or had to figure out?

RY: My most challenging has been communication with my husband. That is something that we constantly work on, because I’m an over-communicator, and like I spoke about last time, I confront the problem so we’re not avoiding the elephant in the room. I want to just be direct and work through things, and my husband did not grow up in a family where that was the case, and so a lot of times, he’s, “Oh let’s pretend everything’s fine, even if it’s not.” I just can’t do that. So our biggest issues come from communicating. If there’s any problem, I would like to talk about it and work through it. He doesn’t want to talk about anything unless it’s a gigantic problem, until it has become, until the elephant has taken over the room. So that’s been our biggest thing. I see it as him avoiding things, and he sees me as knit-picking and nagging, and like, always turning everything into an argument. So we both have had to learn a lot along the way about how to communicate. I’ve been better about communicating in a way that helps him to not feel attacked, and he has done a better job of understanding that I want our life to be happy, and I’m not always upset with him when I want to talk about things. I just want to talk about things because I want our lives to improve.

LP: That is a great point of, again, it’s just all kind of like having to find what works for you, and then what works for your partner, and then what works for you two together. Because it’s easy to kind of get in, like, “This is how I have to do things. This is how I want to do things,” and then realize your other person is a million miles away from that. How do you begin to close that gap and find some sort of middle ground?

RY: That was something that, it was like, “Is this the hill I’m willing to die on?” You know? Because sometimes I have to just go, “Okay, it’s not a big deal.” I’m going to have to just tell myself it’s not a big deal, and learn how to work through this minor thing without having a sit-down conversation with my husband.

That’s taken a lot of work on my part, and thankfully on his, he’s put in a lot of work to be a listener, and to not feel attacked every time I want to talk about something. Because normally I’m not mad at him. I’m just saying, “Hey, let’s talk about this so we can be on the same page.” It’s not because I’m angry with him, but he often assumes that I’m only bringing it up because I’m angry, because he doesn’t bring stuff up unless he’s angry.

LP: Right. A different way of operating.

RY: Yes. Very.

LP: Well, thank you for sharing all of that with us. There are so many good things to be thinking about in terms of our own relationships, like, “Hmm, are we accepting love in the way that it’s coming to us, and are we really checking in with communication, and are we saying what we need to say, and being true to ourselves, while doing it in a way that we’re not sending our partner into a panic attack every time we say we need to talk?”

So Carolina, I’d love to hear from you, what your best relationship advice you’ve ever received is, and then what your biggest challenge is.

Carolina Vennie: Awesome, well, I’ll start by saying that I really, really enjoyed reading this book, and that I have to do, you know, I don’t know if you guys ever read raunchy novels at some point in your life, and you kind of covered the front cover so nobody knew what you were reading? So I would read this book a lot in bed, and so I kind of covered it so my husband wasn’t like, “What the hell are you reading? Why is the title of the book How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids?”

LP: That is so funny, because I told, my husband is actually reading the book. I’m like, “You have to read this.” [laughing]

CV: [laughing] So very different strategies, but anyway, it made me giggle every time. I was like, “Oh, nothing. I’m just reading business things.” So anyway, yeah, I loved this question, because you know, you get a lot of unsolicited advice, I think, in life, but just like Rachelle, I got the best advice from my mom. She said, and this was early on in my dating years, after kind of watching who I was picking, or how my relationships were going. She said, “You know, I think you’re confusing passion with drama. Just because we have an explosive emotional relationship with someone, where it’s kind of this high highs, and low lows, and it almost resembles the movies. That’s not actually a good thing. That’s not necessarily passion. That’s actually dysfunctional and it’s going to take a lot of your energy away. You want to be with somebody who makes the relationship easy.” Easy doesn’t strike me as the most romantic term, right? We all kind of want a little bit of the drama, because then it feels like that’s all you can think about, and it’s like 100% of your attention is on the other person, and I don’t know, emotions are high, and you can get high off of that.

But the truth of the matter is that I knew that I wanted to marry Dave because our relationship was so easy. My sister says, “It went down like honey.” It just wasn’t an issue. We didn’t have dramatic interventions, or these flare-ups of emotion, which again, to some extent, can seem romantic, or maybe it was just me, but it felt like I was in the middle of this movie. Instead, our relationship is easy, and therefore, I was able to grow as a person, someone who is supported and doesn’t have to spend all of her energy working on the relationship. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been able to grow in the ways I’ve wanted to, like my entrepreneurship. Everything else that I’ve been involved in has been because I don’t have to spend 90% of my time tending fires in a relationship that masks as passionate that is really just dysfunctional. I don’t know if that makes sense, or if anybody else has experienced that.

LP: Oh my gosh, that makes so much sense, because I was just talking to someone about this. I was like, the thing, even about a passionate relationship, is it just, like passion, there’s like these spikes, these dramatic ups and dramatic downs, and it’s like you said. My acupuncturist once said that we only need fire in one aspect of our life, and we have to pick where we want that fire to be. Nothing’s right or wrong, but when you pick the fire to be in your relationship, it kind of takes your attention, like you said, from all these other things. It’s like the stability in my relationship, similar to yours, allows me to take risks at work and in my business. With that, and kind of get that more fiery, because I have that stability. I can actually do more in the world when I’m not having to focus so much on the intense passion and energy in my relationship.

CV: Exactly. I think it comes with maturity, this acceptance, not as in I’m going to settle for someone who’s boring. That’s not it at all. That’s kind of what it sounds like when you’re 17 and somebody tells you, “Don’t go for the person that makes you feel like there’s this crazy passion.” But it’s almost this acceptance in the sense of, “Thank goodness this person gives me the stability to develop in other ways, and to not feel like we have to spend all of our energy addressing issues.” But we’re both growing in the same direction, and of course, there’s things here and there that you’ve got to fix along the way. It’s never a smooth road, but there isn’t that underlying, I don’t know, attention to the relationship that you have to give when it’s this dramatic thing.

So yeah, when people ask me for advice, I’m like, “Look, this is going to be the least romantic thing I’m ever going to say, but you need to pick someone who makes your life easy.” You know what I mean? Life is already so complex, and so many things are going to get thrown at you as you grow together in a relationship, that the foundation has to be pretty stable, and pretty uncomplicated.

LP: I love that you said that, too. I was thinking as you were talking, I’m like, “When we’re young, and not much is, to be, not to put down what’s happening, but there’s not as much life happening sometimes, that relationship feels so great.” But like you said, life will add drama. Life will give you those spikes. So establishing that foundation so when the waves get higher and when things happen, who is going to be there by my side, supporting me through that?

What’s been the biggest challenge in your relationship history? Again, it can be in your current relationship, or when you were dating, whatever fits.

CV: I think that it’s very similar to Rachelle’s, and I would probably argue that most people have this issue. When you decide to spend the rest of your life with someone, especially now that, you know, I got married at 31, or something like that. Anyway, I mean, I’ve had a decent amount of time to form my habits, to become, to be pretty secure in the kind of person that I was, and to have a way of doing things. When you’re asked to share a small space, and important decisions, and talk about icky subjects like how you’re going to raise your kids, or money, or you know, what kind of vacation you’re going to take, all of these things you’re expected to somehow merge your life with somebody. I think communication is so important, and yet a really hard thing to expect that’s going to just happen naturally and organically. Like you're just going to have these conversations and expertly come out of them both feeling like winners.

For me, it’s been more like we have the conversation, and then we have it at least 5 more times, maybe in different directions, and in different tones, and in different ways to eventually sort of get to a point where maybe we’re at least on the same page, even though we don’t 100% see eye-to-eye. I mean, Dave and I are, I’d like to say that he’s the really stubborn person, because I think his stubbornness is more obvious. He, as my little sister says, is a lot of man in a small body. He’s not small but he’s short. His stubbornness is a little bit more visible, but I am a freaking mule. When I have an idea in my head, you better believe that I’m not going to give it up easily. So you put both of us together and sometimes it can be really hard to have a conversation without any blame, without any of the biases that we each bring into the relationship, and just with the common goal of making it work for the both of us going forward. That’s been the challenge. It’s a work in progress. I think we’re much better at it, but don’t think we’re brilliant at it yet. I think it’s something we have to continue to practice. We come to the table with very different ideas, different backgrounds, different experiences that shape the way we think, so it’s natural to have these conflicts, and yeah, that’s challenging. I would argue that goes with any relationship, friendships, family, you know, any relationship. So yeah, communication has been challenging.

LP: I love it, too, even as you say in the beginning, find an easy relationship. Even in quote-unquote, “easy relationships,” communication can be hard because it is, like everyone has different approaches, and everyone, you know, it depends on even the day or the mood someone’s in how they’re going to take something. It’s just something to be mindful of that it’s something that we all want to be working on and paying attention to, and not just assuming it’s there or it’s not there. Because like any relationship, it develops over time.

CV: I agree. Imagine the complexities of talking about whether you're going to spend the money on a big TV or not, if you already don’t have the stability or the foundation of trust, and you’re also worried about something much more fundamental. I think we get to focus on how difficult communication can be about petty, life things because we already have that strong foundation. So it’s the complex, but on top of the easy.

LP: So well said. [laughing] Well, thank you for that advice. I love that.

Natalie, we’d love to hear from you about your best relationship advice.

NP: Okay, yeah, perfect. Okay, so I also, just like Rachelle and Carolina, have received wonderful advice from my mom. She’s a big believer in the value of marriage, so that’s helpful. She always has wise things to share with me. We talk about marriage all the time. But the marriage advice that I thought I’d share today just because it’s been so helpful for my relationship specifically, I got this advice actually from Love Experts, not the Gottmans but the trolls in the movie Frozen.

LP: [laughing] We really pull from everywhere here.

NP: We have to. But if you remember, there’s a part of that song where the trolls sing, “We’re not saying you can change him, because people don’t really change. We’re only saying that love is a force that’s powerful and strange. People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed, but throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best.” I’m like, when I hear that in a children’s movie, I’m freaking out, like, “Oh my gosh, that is so true!” It’s in this little kid movie, but I feel like it’s the best advice I’ve ever received about marriage, and bringing out the best in people, and why relationships work the way they do.

I think about this quote all the time, and it really has helped me.

LP: Oh my gosh, I love that. We all need to be remembering that, because it’s so true. So many problems in relationships are because someone’s hurt, or angry, or afraid. Rarely does anyone want to be a bad partner, or be cruel to someone. Hurt people hurt people. So when we’re hurt, we often hurt our partners. I love this idea of we don’t have to perpetuate that. We can, like you said, well, like trolls said, throw a little love their way. [laughing]

NP: [laughing] Yeah. You might not be able to change someone, but you really can influence what they’re able to give back.

LP: I love that. Thank you for bringing us that wisdom that I may have missed in life. I haven’t seen Frozen yet, so I missed out, but it’s really solid advice, so thank you.

And what has been the most challenging thing in your relationship history?

NP: Okay, so the most challenging thing for me is that when we have differences—so I got married when I was 20, we’ve been married for 14 years, and we’re just so different, and I would find myself telling my friends this, I would say, “We’re so different.” Then I realized that all couples are different. That’s what couples are. Opposites attract for a reason, so I struggled with that for a long time, focusing on our differences and thinking that the fact that we didn’t have things in common, or that we had such different views on things, was going to be an insurmountable challenge for us, because we’re so different. Now I’m realizing that being different is what made us fall in love in the first place, and it’s what’s going to make us a strong team in the long run, and that’s the grand design of marriage, that opposites attract. That’s something I’m still learning, but honestly, it was a big source of struggle for me for a long time, until I kind of turned it inside out and looked at it differently.

LP: I love that. What’s so funny, because now you and your husband own a business together, right?

NP: Yeah.

LP: [laughing] It’s just so funny how in the beginning, you’re like, “We have nothing in common,” and now I’m hearing you, and I’m like, “Don’t you guys run something together?” [laughing] I just point that out, because I think also we kind of all in a relationship have to find our groove, and find the places we do fit, and the ways we do fit together. Like you said, it’s not always this instant, “Oh my gosh, we’re exactly the same.” I find that with my girlfriends, when I have girlfriends that are exactly the same as me, they completely wear me out because I have a lot of energy, and I’m tiring.

NP: [laughing] Yeah.

RY: I have a question.

NP: Okay.

RY: So, I related a lot to what you just said, Natalie, and I’m wondering, did you realize how different you were when you were dating?

NP: No.

RY: Because the realization of how different my husband and I are did not occur to me until we were married, and I went, “Whoa, this guy is so different from me.”

NP: Yeah. I think in my dating relationship with my husband, a lot of promises were made. [laughing] I’m not talking about anything seriously, but like I think a lot of pretending was done, and promises were made on both sides because they say love is blind. That’s just how dating relationships go. I think you just, you’re like, “Yeah, I can agree with you on that, and yeah I think we are the same on this,” and just a perfect example would be like with finances or something like that, I think Jason was always, like, “Yeah, for sure, I don’t really care about money, you can be in charge of the finances,” and then that turned out to not be true.

All: [laughing]

NP: So we ended up having very different ideas about finances.

LP: Where’s that carefree guy? [laughing]

NP: But no, finding out how different we were came along gradually, and also, we got married, he was 28 and I was 20, so over the last 14 years, I’ve kind of changed who I even know who I am. He’s grown, and you grow from your 20s into your 30s, and you do, you become a different person. You’re less of an extrovert than you used to be, and you have figured out what really makes you tick, and what makes you happy, and how you’re going to be as a grown up version of yourself, so that also has really brought out a lot of our differences.

But that’s the point. That’s the point. You have to stick with it when all of those differences pop up.

RY: Yeah. When my husband and I were dating, I just kept thinking, “Gosh, we’re so compatible. We’re so compatible.” And then we get married, and we go, “Oh, maybe we’re not totally compatible.”

All: [laughing]

LP: About that compatibility.

RY: We had to figure out how to be compatible in a lot more ways than I realized.

LP: [laughing] This is so awesome, and so true.

CV: I’ll add that, since we discussed the book about already, you know, being married but also having kids, I would say those incompatibilities become way more in-your-face when you add little people to the equation.

Right? So it’s like things that, at least for us, the first, you know, the post partum period was, I wouldn’t say it was this glorious Pampers commercial sort of situation for me, and I think a lot of it wasn’t because I couldn’t figure out how to take care of the baby. I mean, luckily, nature kicks in. For me, a lot of it was just refiguring out my relationship and my marriage now that there was a baby around. Because things I’d maybe noticed were a little bit off, like, “Eh, we should probably talk about this,” were much more intensified during that period of time when we were trying to go from a family of 2, with a lot of freedom, a lot of space, a lot of ways to distract ourselves from issues, to dealing with hormones, no sleep, general stress of becoming parents, and then we’re still dealing with some of those same things. So I would say yeah, that changes things again. So it’s like, you think you're smooth sailing, and then something else happens. You almost, you don’t start over, but it sort of felt like that for me at least.

LP: Just like Natalie and Rachelle, it sounds like in the dating phase, you guys had figured it out for that phase. Like Natalie, your husband didn’t care about finances when your finances weren’t combined. “Yeah, I’m cool, we’re good.” And then it’s just like with all these transitions, we’re having to renegotiate and re-figure things out, and Natalie you made a good point, too, each partner’s constantly changing. So I’m always changing, we’re constantly changing, and then our partner may or may not be changing, so it’s interesting even if they stay the same, we might be totally different. Or even if they’re doing what they always did, like Carolina said, then we have a baby and we’re like, “No, no, no, you can’t do what you always did.” Like it needs to be different now, and there’s some growing pains in that.

You know, talking about relationship advice, some of the best relationship advice I just heard was form Michelle Obama, and she said that if you’re married for 50 years, if 30 years are amazing, and 20 years are horrible, it’s still worth it. I think of that with these growing pains, can we set our expectation, too, that not every moment has to be awesome, and that we’re in this relationship to figure these things out. Can we give ourselves and our partner the time, the patience, and the space to figure it out? We want to be moving forward, but we also want to be in a place where we’re open to the fact that we’re not going to nail it every time, and our partner’s not going to nail it every time. I think that’s where grace comes into the relationship.

RY: I agree. And I feel that every major difficulty you overcome as a couple brings you that much closer together, and that much stronger moving forward.

LP: Yes. It’s kind of the idea like where the pipe breaks and is welded back together, it’s stronger at that point. There’s points in our relationship that once we’ve had to repair them, we’re actually stronger and clearer in those spaces, and in the relationship. So I think also, Rachelle, you’re an excellent example of this, not shying away from the discussion and the communication, and the acknowledging and addressing things so we can move forward stronger.

RY: I had to rein that in, too, because I was over-communicating. I was, you know, so I had to learn to pick my battles, and I had to learn to quietly overcome things instead of, you know. So I might be a better example of that now that I’m a decade into my marriage, but I definitely haven’t always been. [laughing]

NP: You guys remember that acceptance speech that Ben Affleck gave where he threw Jennifer Gardner under the bus? Because he said that their relationship was a lot of work? Do you remember that?

LP: Oh, yes.

NP: And…

LP: Didn’t they get divorced shortly after that?

NP: Yeah, but she went on SNL, and they were like, “How would you have described your marriage?” And she was like, “A gift. Our marriage is a gift.” [laughing]

All: [laughing]

NP: But I can see what he was trying to say. He was basically trying to say, “You and I are figuring this out together, and marriage is a lot of work, but it’s worth it.” But it came across as not the best.

RY: That’s funny.

CV: It’s interesting when you—

RY: It is a lot of work.

CV: Yeah, when you bring up celebrities, too, I mean, I do feel that we’ve been fed a little bit of this, “This is what a blissful marriage looks like.” Rarely do I see a post on Facebook that was, “My husband was a piece of crap this morning because he didn’t do XYZ.” Usually, it’s like, “You’re the wind beneath my wings, and you're the best thing ever, and I’m the luckiest person in the world.” That’s all we see, so then when we don’t have days like that, or when I quite literally just want to bundle Dave up and throw him out the back door, off the balcony— [laughing]

LP: [laughing] I love that final touch.

CV: That’s right, off the balcony completely. Goodbye. But I feel like I’m doing something wrong, or that my relationship isn’t what it should be, and that you know, we’re falling short of the standard that, to some extent, Hollywood or the social media has put out there. And that’s not true. Some of the sweetest moments are when you do have those issues and then you become stronger from it. The raw, authentic reality of a relationship to me is actually way more exciting and delicious and amazing than what the fake stuff we see out on TV is, and yet it’s easy to get discouraged, and to feel like you’re not doing it right if it doesn’t look like that on the outside.

RY: I agree. I especially love being able to cherish the little things that make your relationship great. That to me is what is so, one of the things that was pointed out in the book was how they talked about kids’ memories of the things they are likely to remember, and it was little things. Like the kid being told, “Go get ‘em, tiger,” every day as they walked out the door, instead of the big vacations, or the big dramatic moments in life. It was just the little things. I took that to heart, and I hope that’s something I can put a little bit more focus on when it comes not just to my kids but my relationship as well. It’s cherishing those little things.

NP: Mmm.

LP: Mm-hmm. And like you said, the moments that come after that, the connection that comes after that, and the rawness that comes within that, just that kind of vulnerability that only comes out in those moments of imperfection.

NP: Yeah. So Leanne, what’s the best marriage advice you’ve ever received?

LP: You know, the best relationship advice I’ve ever received in terms of marriage was in the book How to Not Hate Your Husband After Kids, and it’s this idea, like, don’t, as women we need to be careful about taking on all the responsibility, and taking on the burden of everything, and then expecting at some point that will shift. So I guess the best, from my mom, she told me this thing her friend has said, and it’s, “You want to begin things the way you want them to end.” So if I don’t want to do all the housework in my house for the next 50 years, I probably shouldn’t start that year 1, doing all the housework, and expect that at some point that it’ll shift over. There needs to be conversations, and expectations along the way. I have to be good about communicating my needs, and not taking on the role of the martyr or the victim. I am a co-partner in my marriage, and I need to make sure that I’m clear about what I can and can’t do.

I remember when I first started even, you know, my husband and I got married, we were living together, and I said, “I think we should hire a cleaner because I’m really busy with work, and I’d really love a cleaner,” and he says, “I’m fundamentally against someone else cleaning my house. I don’t believe in that.” This is a conflict resolution skill that I recommend to everyone. I didn’t argue with him. I didn’t pick a fight. All I said was, “Okay, well I am fundamentally against cleaning the house for you. I’m not going to be your housekeeper. I’m just putting that out there.” And I said, “Okay, what are the duties you’re willing to do? What am I willing to do? Here are my things, here are your things. If, in 2 weeks, you haven’t done these things, we’re going to hire a cleaner. Let’s do that.” And you know, if he’d done it, I would have been very happy, but unsurprisingly he didn’t do it, so we got a cleaner. There was no fight at that point. I’m like, “We did it your way. Nothing got cleaned. Now we’re going to do it my way and things are going to get cleaned.”

But it’s just, I think that’s really been good advice is that starting things the way I want them to end, and [how] I want them to be 50 years from now, and really taking the time, and I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, this idea of I don’t have time to show someone else what to do. I don’t have time to teach someone else. I don’t have time to ask someone else to do it. And I think we get in a dangerous place, because it might be a half hour one day, or an hour one day to sit down and explain the task, but over time, not having that on your list is going to be huge, versus always saying that you have to do it because you don’t have time to show someone else. Over time, that’s going to create a huge amount of work for you, that if you just pause and set it up, you’re going to feel a lot different in your marriage now, and have a lot less resentment in your marriage later.

So that’s my best piece of advice, is you know what, figure out what you’re okay with, what works for you, what expectations you’re fine fulfilling, and then the ones you're not, talk about that with your partner and figure out how you’re going to handle the things you’re not able to do. I’d say in my marriage, and as I was reading the book, and after kids, life happens. To have that established is huge, because the fact that my husband does dishes every day to military precision is something that has, I swear, kept my marriage going so strong. To know that I have that handled and he’s going to do it without a fight, without questioning, he has ownership of that is so nice and has meant so much to me. Again, it’s those little things that mean so much.

NP: Yeah.

LP: So that’s what I would say.

NP: Yeah, I think it’s because we really value the feeling of partnership, and that's probably what makes you feel like you’re really in a partnership with him.

LP: Yes, that’s such a good point. It’s that partnership. And it’s that we can, it’s okay to ask our partner to be our partner. Not just our partner in the fun things, but our partner in life, and our partner in the tasks we have to complete, and our partner in the jobs we have to do around the house. It’s okay to expect that and ask that of the person we’re with.

NP: Awesome. What do you think your biggest struggle has been?

LP: You know, when I think of this question, I think of my single self, and something I learned in my marriage that I wish so hard I could go back and tell this to my single self, and repeat it over, and over, and over, and over. That, there’s someone out there who will love me for exactly who I am, with all the quirks I have, with all the flaws I have. Someone will love me exactly as I am, and I don’t need to try to keep changing or improving myself to be worthy of that relationship.

I think for so long, I looked to men for confirmation of, “Am I loveable? Am I worthy? Am I good enough?” I would put so much power in their hands. When I met my husband, it was just so easy, like Carolina said. It was so easy, and it just, I was so able to be myself. I want to go back and tell that girl that if the person you like doesn’t like you, or if the guy you’ve been dating doesn’t want to date you, thank them because you are looking for someone who cannot wait to be with you, who cannot believe how lucky they are to be with you. If someone is willing to walk away, or doesn’t want to date you, they’re telling you, “I’m not your person.” If I had just known there was that person who was waiting for me, and excited about me, and so thrilled to be with me, I think it would have saved so much heartbreak of wondering why other men didn’t feel that way, or trying to force other men to feel that way, or pray that they would feel that way. It’s like, “No, they’re just telling me with a lot of clarity that they’re not the guy for me. That’s okay, because I want to be with a guy who really wants to be with me.”

So that was my biggest challenge. I guess I didn’t learn it until I met the person, and I really wish I had learned it sooner.

NP: Oh yeah. So beautiful. I mean, I know there are going to be listeners who, you know, aren’t dealing with how to not hate their husband with kids right now. They’re actually dealing with how to try to find the husband they’ll hate after kids one day.

LP: [laughing] Don’t worry, ladies, your time is coming. Your turn is coming.

NP: [laughing] Yeah, okay perfect. That is a great reminder for them, then, that they’re worthy and deserving of that love, and a partner who will love them. So I’m glad you shared that.

LP: Yes, and I can’t spend my whole relationship life apologizing for who I am, so I need to find that person who loves and accepts me for who I am, and I don’t have to apologize. That is a sign, and I encourage you as I would encourage my younger self to run, to gently and politely say goodbye and be done with that.

So thank you guys so much for all your relationship advice. This has been so interesting to hear what we’re all working on. Carolina, like you said, taking it off of the Instagram-everything’s-perfect into the reality of, “Hey, we love our relationships and we’re working on things. We’re figuring things out, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad relationship. It just means we’re two people in a relationship trying to figure things out, and that is awesome.”

So if you haven’t read the books, like I said, check them out. They’re so great, packed full of so much wonderful information. We will be back next month with our next book. Everyone have a great night.

If you want even more of this goodness, check out my website, https://leannepeterson.com, and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Check me out and subscribe to the podcast. You can always remember to take the upgrade.

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