Today, we’re talking all about love and relationships! For this episode, I’m using the term husband, but I’m talking about relationships in general. When we think about being in love, we think about how happy our partner makes us, and the underlying message is that somebody outside of us creates our emotions.
In the western world, we have so many expectations for our spouses, and we expect them to make us happy. But it isn’t our partners that make us happy or unhappy, it’s the stories we tell ourselves about them. When you realize that you are in charge of your thoughts and feelings, you can rewrite the story of your romantic relationship and practice wanting what you already have.
Tune in this week as I discuss what makes a truly healthy relationship and how to take responsibility for our own emotions. I’m sharing how to intentionally want from a place of abundance instead of lack, and showing you why you are in charge of rewriting the story of your romantic relationship!
Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life Podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.
Welcome to the podcast. How are you feeling today? I am feeling so excited and joyful and present. I’m really in a great mood this morning and I just love when I feel this way and create that. Got to enjoy the good and get those good feelings going.
So, today what I want to talk with you about is the story of your husband. Now, I’m using husband, but fill-in-the-blank, right? If it’s wife, if it’s boyfriend, if it’s fiancé, if it’s partner. However, you want to define it, you can define it that way. For purposes of this episode I’m just going to call it husband, so the story of your husband and we are going to talk about love.
First, I want to bring to your attention what we typically do with respect to our spouses. With respect to our romantic lives. I think typically if you’re in the Western hemisphere of the world, if you’re in the US in particular, and especially if you’re a woman, but I think men do this, too, we expect our spouses to make us happy.
We have so many expectations for our husbands. I love the movie Jerry Maguire and I think about that line where Tom Cruise says, “You complete me.” Then, Renee Zellweger says, “You had me at hello.” It’s just such an emotional scene. It’s amazing, but the underlying message is that someone outside of you creates your emotions.
It’s not just in movies. The movies and Hollywood they create these stories because we love them and we do this kind of just without knowing where emotions come from. So, you might hear one of your girlfriends, and in fact, I did hear one of my girlfriends recently say – so she’s recently divorced and she’s dating and she recently said, “My boyfriend makes me so happy.” Or I might hear even Steve say, “I just want to make you happy.” Fill-in-the-blank where someone else wants to make you feel a certain way and it’s really well-intended.
If Steve said that to me, I would not think, “Oh, that’s terrible.” It’s coming from a place of love, of a desire to fulfill that role, but it’s really confusing where emotions come from. So, emotions can’t come from outside of you. They don’t come from your husband, they come from your mind. So, if you are feeling really in love and connected with your husband it’s not because of what he is doing or not doing, it’s because of what you’re making it mean. It’s because of the story that you’re telling in your head.
The opposite is also true. So, if you’re feeling really disconnected from your husband it’s because you’re thinking thoughts that create that disconnection. I think sometimes you can listen to this podcast and get on board a little bit with that, but when it’s in the moment we all have human brains and we all kind of fall victim to abdicating responsibility for how we feel.
So, I’m going to go through how you can really take more ownership of this and rewrite the story of your romantic relationship. Let’s take a look at how you fall in love. You feel love and connection and attraction in your body. It doesn’t come from the other person. So, you will have subconscious thoughts like, “I really like him. He’s really good-looking. I am really attracted to him,” and those thoughts even if you’re not consciously saying them or writing them down they’re there and they’re creating these feelings of love and attraction and connection.
The same is true when you don’t feel attracted to someone. You might say, “He’s just not my type. I’m not really interested in what he’s interested in. There’s just something off. I don’t know what it is.” So, you’re telling yourself all those thoughts as if they’re facts and you feel disconnected and so you’re no longer interested.
You may be in the habit of attributing love as coming from outside of you. So, I used to be in the habit of this. My coach used to say, “You were just confused at where love came from.” I want you to think about that for yourself. Are you a little bit confused about where love comes from? So, if you’re saying, “He makes me happy.” You’re thinking that the love comes from someone else. What typically happens is in the beginning of relationships, it could be any relationship, friendship included, it’s easier to like and love someone because your brain is only seeing their best self.
If you talk with someone who’s been married for 10, 20, 30 years they are on board with the concept of 50/50 and how there’s the 50% good and there’s the 50% bad because they’ve seen it all with their spouse. So, just notice this. It’s like the feelings that we feel when we’re first dating. Think back to when you first met your husband and all of the thoughts that you had and all of those thoughts were so positive and they created such feelings of love and connection and attraction.
Now, if you’ve been with your husband longer than a month you’ve been in disagreements or you felt maybe frustration or disconnection in your marriage and what changed is your thoughts. So, when you change your thoughts you will change how you feel. This is why only one person in a marriage needs to change for the relationship to change. It doesn’t take two it just takes one and the way that you do this is you work on your own story and your own thoughts and your own feelings really taking responsibility for all of it and not thinking that it’s hubby’s job to X,Y,Z to make you feel better.
It’s your job to make you feel better and it’s his job to make him feel better. Then, it’s just two people taking responsibility for themselves coming together and that is truly a healthy, amazing relationship even when there’s disagreements. It’s built on such a more solid foundation instead of the impossible task of each of you trying to make the other person happy which is impossible, for sure impossible. We’ve all been there, right?
I think we’ve all kind of fallen into the idea at one time or another that someone else can make us happy and it never works. It’s hard enough to make yourself happy let alone giving that responsibility to someone else. They’re not you, they don’t know how to do that. Even if they did think they knew how their emotions can’t jump inside of you.
At first this can kind of be bad news it seems like because you’ve kind of been chasing this thing outside of you for so long and you feel defeated knowing that you’ve been doing it wrong, but then it’s actually the best news because that joy, that love, that affection, that connection is actually so much more attainable for you when you do it this way, when you create that story in your mind yourself.
So, if you are anything like me and like most other humans on default your brain is going to be scanning for what’s wrong and this is a survival mechanism. If you think back to when we had to secure our physical survival it made sense that our brains were on the lookout for threatening situations, right? What’s dangerous? Where’s the food? Where’s the shelter? Make sure we don’t get attacked.
Now, it’s different. We’re worrying about our internal fears and our emotions. So, our physical survival isn’t in jeopardy, but our brain is still on that lookout for danger. It now thinks our emotional health is in jeopardy and so it focuses on that and so what happens is in your marriage, in your relationships you end up looking for what’s wrong. When you do this your body sort of tightens and closes down and it’s very disconnecting. It creates tension in your body and you may attribute that to having a tense relationship or there’s a lot of tension in your relationship or there’s a lot of disconnection or you’re just not on the same page, right?
But if you focus on yourself and how you’re feeling you’ll notice that your feelings, that tension, that irritability, that frustration, whatever it is is really tight and closed down. It comes from you thinking something is wrong, this shouldn’t be happening this way, he should be doing it differently, all of those thoughts are creating that tightness.
So, when your brain is so focused on what’s wrong and that survival fight or flight of trying to protect you from danger and make sure everything is perfect you close and you don’t feel love or connection. You’re not open. So, the very thing that you want you’re unable to feel and get and if you’re not aware that this is happening you’re going to attribute it to whatever your husband is doing, right? Maybe he’s working too much or he’s not helping out around the house or he’s not making enough money. It’s just this season, it’s just COVID, so just be careful if you’re attributing any sort of relationship discourse or tension or anything be careful if you’re attributing it to your circumstances. It’s always going to be the story that you’re telling in your head.
This doesn’t mean that you want to change the story, right? So, let’s say husband has an affair, you might want to create a story that this is not what you want. This is not what you signed up for and you’re going to feel that heartbreak. You just want to be clear that it’s not what he’s doing that’s actually causing your emotions it’s the story about what he’s doing.
So, your brain is always trying to protect you and what you want to do is you want to notice this and you want to calm your brain down and tell your brain, “It’s okay, brain, I am safe. I am not in danger,” and start to train your brain to focus on what’s right in your marriage. It doesn’t mean that you ignore and push away and suppress the negative thoughts and feelings, but instead you allow them to come up and then you pass them instead of clinging to them and making them worse.
It’s kind of like what you focus on expands, so if a thought comes up like let’s say your husband watches football all day instead of doing what you think he should do such as being productive or something like that. So, you feel a little bit irritated or disappointed or some sort of negative emotion. You don’t want to ignore that and pretend that you don’t feel that emotion or you don’t have those thoughts, you just want to notice them and let them go in the direction that they’re going.
It’s like those thoughts and feelings, I see you, I hear you, I feel you, and you can go to the left, I’m going to go to the right and I’m going to choose to interpret it and change the story instead of clinging to the story that’s going to increase the irritation and increase the discomfort and increase the tension and disconnection.
The way that you do this is that you decide what story you’re going to tell on a daily basis of your marriage, of your husband. So, I like to play the story game with respect to books. So, let’s say that your marriage was a book, what would the name of the book be based on how you feel and how you think? Would the title be The Greatest Struggle, The Story of Irritation and Lack, or would it be The Story of the Greatest Love, The Story of Fun, Love, and Joy? Or something totally different? But I think if you can boil it down to a title it can really help you see how you are crafting the future of your marriage because what happens is we think that we’re just reporting what happened in the past. “Oh, husband watches football all weekend and it really bothers me. I think he should be going to the gym and being productive or reading or something like that. I wish he had goals.”
So, you’re saying it as if you’re reporting what happened, but what’s actually happening is you are telling the story of your future. You’re bringing all that from the past into the future. Husband gets to be husband. Husband gets to do whatever he wants and truly husband has agency and he gets to decide what kind of life he wants to live.
Now, if we want to feel a little bit of disappointment because we have a thought, “I thought I would be married to someone who wanted to be productive on Saturdays,” sure we can keep that. It’s probably not serving us, but we could let it go without making it mean so much and without increasing the disconnection. Without repeating the story over and over. Without making it mean so much.
We can decide the title of the story intentionally and write down thoughts that support that title. The reason that I think writing it down and doing this consciously is so important is because of the background information I gave you on the brain. So, your brain just naturally goes to that survival mode of looking for danger and since there is no danger, generally speaking, if you’re listening to this there’s no danger with respect to your physical, right? That survival part of you is still there, your brain still operates like that, but it’s not worried about being attacked by a bear or how you’re going to get food.
Now, that worry is about whether your husband is good enough or something like that. So, it’s totally not a useful use of that survival skill because your survival does not depend on it so you can redirect it. The way that you do that is you say, “I see you, brain, you’re coming in hot with the story of he should be doing something different,” and we’re just going to let that thought go to the left and instead I’m going to say what’s also true.
So, I’m going to write down what I love about husband and what I cherish about him. I’m going to embellish how amazing everything is because if you pay attention to your brain, you’re already embellishing the things that aren’t so great. You’re retelling the story of how bad it is and how unproductive he is or whatever the case may be, right?
What you want to do is you want to do the exact opposite. Maybe you have a story and the book is going to be called The Story of Everlasting Love. You write down all of the things and you can do this once a week, you could write down five things every single day, but I think intentionally writing down a list of the things that you love about your husband will really help your brain focus on it instead of what I know a lot of us perfectionists do is focus on what’s wrong.
Let me give you some examples with Steve. Steve is so patient. He is just by nature 100 times more patient than I am. He’s light-hearted. He is so kind. He’s just naturally kind and he has this baseline for joy that’s just so high. He rests at love and connection. He is such an amazing man, such a good dad to Penny, an amazing uncle to his niece and nephew. He values family and connection more than anything I think and he cares so much and he tries and he’s present and he’s careful and thoughtful and supportive. He’s tall and he likes to cook and he makes me lunch during COVID while we’re both working from home and he’s so handy.
You guys know we’re looking for a house right now, but we’re also doing a little redecorating and he is just so handy. He gets that from his dad who is super handy and really good with doing a lot of construction work, kind of contract work. I appreciate that so much. These are just things that came up naturally as I was preparing for this podcast. There are so many more things.
When I think those thoughts I feel so much love and appreciation and attraction to Steve. Now, what we tend to do is we tend to focus on how our husbands are different from us because we think that we are the standard and so our husbands should be just like us. But if everyone was just like us, first of all, that would be boring, but second of all, it wouldn’t really work. The world would not work and your marriage probably wouldn’t work.
So, you just want to notice that your brain naturally wants to go there. It’s kind of like an ego thing and you can just let it go and focus intentionally on all of the amazingness that is your spouse and practice wanting what you already have. I love this exercise so much. I do it when I teach the abundance work in Grow You, so instead of wanting from lack, like I hate my body so I want to lose weight, it’s I love my body and I want to lose weight.
It’s thinking about your marriage and thinking about it proactively and saying, “I want to be with Steve. I want to be married. I want to live in our home.” Wanting the things that you have on purpose it creates this active presentness to wanting that helps you want from abundance instead of wanting things from lack. Because remember, on default your brain is going to adjust to your new norm and then look for what’s wrong.
So, I remember being single and wanting to be in a relationship and then you get in a relationship and you want what’s next. Then maybe you engaged and you want what’s next and you just have to notice your brain doing that. I have a lot of friends who want to have kids right now. It’s amazing to want more and to want to grow and to want to evolve, but you want to do it from a place of loving and wanting what you already have instead of looking for what’s wrong or what’s missing.
If you are married or partnered or have that husband there was a time where you didn’t and you wanted that. You can practice feeling having that on purpose. It’s like, “I want to be with Steve. I want to be married to Steve. I want to create our home together.” I love that I want from a place of appreciation and having. It feels so much better than wanting from lack.
Remember, that’s what you’ll create more of. So, if you want to stop fighting with your husband, let’s say you’re fighting a lot, if you’re creating a lot of tension in your body you’re going to create a lot more tension even though the desire is not to do that. So, you have to allow the tension and then you have to rewrite the story on purpose.
So, practice wanting what you already have and wanting more and practice rewriting that story, like give your marriage a title of a book and then write down the thoughts and the storyline of that book. Write down what you love about husband and it can be little things, right? Like I wrote down I love that Steve makes us lunch during COVID. How sweet is that? That story, that thought brings me so much joy. So, it focuses on the appreciation when I think about all the things big and small that I love about him.
Sometimes when I talk about doing the rampage of appreciation it can feel like you need to come up with really profound things on your list, but you can absolutely write down all the little things. Like making the lunch or taking out the trash or whatever it is. Just start to put your brain to work on all of the little details and I would say write down a list of five thoughts that are going to go into your story every single day. So, what are five things that you appreciate about husband? Write those down every single morning.
The reason that it’s a practice, like a daily practice or a weekly practice is because, remember, on default, your brain has the propensity to look for danger and it’s just a survival mechanism. So, there’s no escaping this. There’s no point in your life where you won’t have this as part of your brain. So, you want to do this work to intentionally create that balance where your brain’s also looking for the positive and it’s also writing that amazing story.
So, you’re the creator of the story of your husband. You get to write the title. You get to write the thoughts. You get to do all of it which is great, amazing news. All right, I will talk to you next week.
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