In the midst of modern motherhood, it’s so easy for marriage to be put on the back burner. With the logistics of running a household and taking care of kids, it can feel like there isn’t enough time or energy to make dating your spouse a priority. But that doesn’t have to be true. And you don’t have to have more time. You can increase connection with your spouse without changing your circumstances. The best news is that it only takes one—you!
If you’re a wife and you want to boost the connection in your marriage, tune into this episode to learn nine specific marriage skills to do just that.
Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life Podcast, where it’s all about helping Moms live their best lives. My hope with this podcast is you’re more inspired to become the mom you are made to be. I’m Natalie, your host, a wife, boy, mom, dog lover, Chicagoan and former lawyer turned professionally certified coach. If you’re here to grow, I can help. Let’s go.
Hello my friend. Welcome to the podcast. So happy to be here with you today talking about nine marriage skills to increase connection. I have marriage on my mind. There are a couple people in my life who are getting divorced, a couple separate couples, so I’ve been thinking about marriage lately and then I have a couple private clients who I help with marriage coaching, which is very different than marriage therapy and I am a huge fan of getting coaching for marriage challenges because I think that therapy is very limited when it comes to, um, the marriage relationship. At least in my experience as a coach. I’ve seen a lot of people who haven’t found success with therapy for marriage counseling come and get a lot of success with coaching. And the primary reason for that is that with marriage therapy, with marriage counseling, it’s often one person wanting both people to go into therapy and that same person really just wants to be proven right by the therapist and the other person usually doesn’t want to be there.
And there’s a lot of push pull and focusing on the negative and what you focus on expands. So a lot of times marriage counseling just is ineffective. Now I wanna add in my disclaimer here. I think that do whatever works, is sort of my philosophy when it comes to just life in general. So if marriage counseling works for you, by all means, I think that this is not at all meant to, um, discredit it in general. I just think that I want to do my part in bringing attention to marriage coaching, which I think definitely isn’t as um, popular, but I think is even more effective or at least can be more effective. So if you haven’t considered coaching for marriage, I want to be the one to help you at least understand the benefits of it. If that’s something that you’re interested in. Next month I am actually teaching a brand new class inside Grow You called Connection in Marriage.
And we are going to deep dive into what connection is, how you can create more connection, how it only just takes one, and that’s you and all of the good things that I’m certified to teach and qualified to teach you on connection and marriage. And of course I use these tools in my own life as well. I get so, um, excited and happy and fulfilled when I hear from clients telling me that their marriages are 10 x better and improved from doing this work. And so I wanna invite you to join me inside Grow You for that class next month. I also want to invite you to join me for a webinar that I am hosting. This is a workshop called Secrets to a Happy Marriage. This is completely free, it’s an introduction to coaching with respect to marriage. So I would love for you to check it out.
It is happening on November 13th at 11:00 AM central time. You can get all of the details and grab your seat [email protected] slash secrets. Again, I will be teaching a few of the secrets to having a happy marriage that I think are not talked about and will hopefully leave you feeling like you have some tools in your tool belt to make your marriage that much better. Upon leaving that workshop, I’m really excited to do this work. I think, um, as we are full swing into fall with the holidays coming up, I think this can be just a really incredible time to do this work on your marriage. So head on over to natalie bacon.com/secrets to sign up and register and I will see you on November 13th. Today I wanna talk with you about nine marriage skills to increase connection. I was talking about these skills with Steve and I have a really fun activity at the end that I’m going to share with you that we did as a couple and that I think you can use, um, the tools that I’m giving you in this, in this podcast to do this, um, exercise with your spouse if you’re interested.
Okay, so let’s dive in to these marriage skills. Number one is trust. And what does trust really mean? I think that there are sort of a four prong definition I wanna offer to you. It’s telling the truth, it’s keeping your word, it’s being transparent and it’s sharing information. So when you make a mistake or when you find something out at work that is relevant to your job status or when you spend too much money or when you know something that the other person would want to know, or when you say you’re gonna do something, do you do it? Do you tell your spouse? Do you proactively keep your word, tell the truth, share information and be transparent. Do you trust yourself? And do you consider yourself to be a trusting wife in your marriage? Now, I didn’t say this at the beginning, but I am now thinking about how I wanna mention it here.
With a podcast like this, it can be very tempting to want to um, have the other person learn these nine marriage skills. You might be thinking, yes, I am very trusting, but my spouse is not trusting. That’s okay, that are going to be a couple that you are going to excel at and a few that you’re gonna wanna work on. And the same is true for your spouse. What I find to be the most powerful with this work is for you to be the one to do it on yourself. The brain wants to go to, okay, this podcast would be perfect for someone else or perfect for my spouse. But doing the work on yourself is the most impactful because it’s what you have control over. I’m all for you sharing. If you have a girlfriend who you think would love this, if she likes personal development, she wants to work on her marriage, great.
I do not encourage you to share this with your spouse with the intent of showing them that you are right and they’re wrong. If you wanna share it just so that they can hear it and learn about the nine marriage skills because you think they would genuinely like it, um, I’m all for that. But I just know from my own personal experience and from coaching, it can be really tempting with something like this to have the thoughts that this is something for someone else when the work is really to be done for yourself.
Okay, number two, time, do you give quality time And time means quantity, quantity of minutes, quantity of hours or days spent together. So do you see your spouse regularly? Do you see them not so regularly? Are you traveling often? Now remember we’re gonna focus on your part of this. Are you available? Do you give time to your spouse?
Number three, attention. When you are with your spouse, what is the quality like of that time? Are you on your phone often or do you feel like you’re thinking about something else? Are you making eye contact, listening, actively asking questions? Are you kind of doing things around the house while sort of talking to him? What’s your attention like with the time that you spend together?
Number four, respect. I looked up the definition of respect because I think we all sort of have this sense of what it is, but I really couldn’t define it for myself. The definition that I found to be simplest and most effective says that respect is a feeling of deep admiration for someone. And I was thinking of examples. So when you have a different opinion from your spouse or when they do things differently or when you don’t necessarily agree with them, how do you treat them? Do you treat them like you are better than them? Do you treat them like a child? Do you complain about them to them or to other people? Or do you allow there to be a difference between the two of you? Do you respect your spouse and how do you show it?
Number five, vulnerability. Being vulnerable means that you put yourself in a position where other people can hurt you. Isn’t that fascinating to think about? I love what Brene Brown says in her book, daring Greatly. She says that vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness, it’s our greatest measure of courage. So good, right? Let’s say that you feel insecure about your body. Are you willing to talk about that with your spouse? Or maybe it’s something else. Maybe you have another secret or insecurity or just something that you’re not sort of shouting from the mountaintops to the public, something that you’re not as self-confident in. Do you feel comfortable talking with your spouse? And this doesn’t mean you have to talk about everything but in the areas that you want to be vulnerable in.
Are you particularly with your spouse? I think it’s so interesting that sometimes we can feel more comfortable being vulnerable around other people. And this isn’t to say again that your spouse has to be your one person for everything, but I do think that vulnerability is critical to feeling connected in your marriage. So are you doing your part to be vulnerable? Renee Brown also describes vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. It’s that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone and do something that forces us to loosen control. I love thinking about it in terms of emotional exposure. There’s something about that phrase that really resonates with me. So just something to play around with and notice where you feel comfortable being vulnerable and where you don’t.
Number six, warmth. Warmth to me means being friendly and playful and attentive and smiling and having open body language. It means being a good listener. I like to think of warmth as the saying goes. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s kind of hard to define warmth, but I bet you if I showed you 10 video clips and I asked you to say whether the person in the video clip was warm or cold, I bet you you would get it right. I bet you it would be very easy to determine that. Think about how you interact with your spouse. Would you say that you’re warm? Would you say that you greet your spouse warmly? Do you smile at them? Are you playful and lighthearted or are your arms crossed and are you closed off and cold? Would you call yourself a warm wife? I think this is such an interesting one. I love the idea of being really warm and personally I find that sometimes I’m even warmer too strangers than I am to Steve. And I think that’s fascinating and I, I was doing some work on that and thinking about it and I think it’s because I can so easily get into that responsibility energy of managing the household and the home and the kids and it come off in that responsibility state where you’re just navigating the logistics of, of the home and of life and of motherhood. And um, I wouldn’t describe it as the most warm energy. I don’t think it’s cold. Um, but at the same time, I think there’s definitely room for me to bring more warmth into how I am as a wife.
Number seven, kindness. The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. That’s the definition that I came up with with the help of Google. Do you ask your spouse how his day was? Are you genuinely interested in him? Do you speak highly of him? I always think it says so much about the person speaking if they are speaking highly of their spouse. So just think about this, when someone is talking negatively about their spouse, it really says more about the person speaking than it does about the actual spouse. It tells us that their headspace, that their mindset is in a negative place and that doesn’t necessarily mean that it shouldn’t be. It’s just noticing that you only can control how you show up and you have total control over kindness, over whether you want to be kind and remember kindness and kind of other traits like this. It doesn’t necessarily mean yes, kindness doesn’t mean doing things you don’t wanna do or, um, showing up in a way that is inauthentic to you. To me, when I think of kindness, I think about the emotion and I think about how I feel when I am genuinely in a state of being kind.
Number eight, the most generous explanation. Do you give your spouse the benefit of the doubt when he messes up? Do you think, oh, it’s probably because this happened, I get it. Or are you sort of adding it to your file cabinet of evidence of how he’s not good enough or how he messes up all the time when he wants to do something in a way that you just don’t understand? Do you give him the benefit of the doubt when he wants some time alone? Do you make up the story in your head that this is beneficial for him to rejuvenate himself and is a great form of self-care? Or are you mad at him and, and thinking that he doesn’t do enough or deserve that time alone? Just something to think about. Again, I’m all for you making requests for your spouse. This is just what you can control for your sake. When you give your spouse the most generous explanation for something, you get the benefit of feeling connected and feeling happy. So just ask yourself, do you give your spouse the benefit of the doubt?
And number nine, letting it go for the type A person, if you find yourself to be a little bit more critical minded, can you work on this? Is this something you want to work on? Letting things go. Let’s say that your spouse doesn’t help out after dinner when you asked him to. Can you let it go? Or is it gonna be a big deal every time? Is everything a big deal? Do you generally take things personally? Do you get outraged often? Would you describe yourself as someone who lets things go? And again, I think I know for myself as well it can be easy to want to go into blame or explaining, kind of justifying what your thoughts are about the other person. But I promise you, if you just make this about you, you will get so much traction for your own sake. For me personally, I love holding myself to a really high standard, but I want to work on letting more things go with everyone else. Like I love the idea of being a person who can just let things go and not take things so personally.
Alright, so those are the nine specific marriage skills that will help you increase connection, trust, time, attention, respect, vulnerability, warmth, kindness, most generous explanation and letting it go. Now, I think this is a really fun activity to do with your spouse, at least I found it valuable. You come up with their three best on the list and then come up with two things that you would love them to work on and make progress on. I love listing three for the positives because you just need more listed for positives in order to not take the negatives.
So personally or hard, right? We have that negativity bias of four to one. So give them their three best and give them two to continue to make progress on. And then also ask them to do the same for you. Ask them, what are my three best out of this list of nine and what are two that I could make progress on? Also, while they are coming up with their list to give you, I think it can be useful to do a self-evaluation. So for example, I gave Steve the three best that I thought he was at. And then two, I would love for him to work on. And then I asked him to do the same for me. And while he was thinking about it and coming up with his list for me, I evaluated myself and gave myself kind of the top three that I thought I was best at and then two that I thought I could continue to work on.
Again, you don’t obviously have to do this, but I think the benefit is that it can be a conversation piece and really provide some useful, helpful insights into, um, thinking about marriage on purpose and increasing connection on purpose instead of sort of expecting it to just happen. Um, I think that anything you care about is something worth working on. It’s something worth nurturing. So I do not subscribe to the idea that your marriage needs to be in trouble to be worked on. I subscribe to the idea that what I care about is what I work on. And because I care about my marriage, I want to work on my marriage. So use this list of nine marriage skills to increase your connection in your marriage. Let me know how it goes. Come join me at the workshop coming up called Secrets to a Happy Marriage, and share with me what’s been working for you, what you learned from this exercise. And then I will have lots of, um, goodness and we will take it a step deeper on this workshop. Head on over to nataliebacon.com, forward slash secrets and I will see you there. Take care.
Thank you for being here and listening Now, head on over to nataliebacon.com/coaching to learn more about grow You, my membership for moms, where we take all this work to the next level.