007: Laura Doyle on Marriage and “The Surrendered Wife”
Laura Doyle’s marriage was a painful reality. She didn’t understand what had happened but things were not as she had dreamed they would be. That’s when she made the choice that would change her entire life. She decided to begin a study of women who had happy and fulfilling marriages. What she discovered was the basis for her “6 Intimacy Skills” teaching and the change her marriage needed. The results have been huge! She wrote a book called “The Surrendered Wife,” which she discusses during the podcast. A great listen on relationships!
We’re taking a right-hand turn and we’re going to talk about relationships. I heard this woman talk and I was really fascinated by it. I wanted to talk to her myself and get to the bottom of some of these different subjects that she goes over. Her name is Laura Doyle and she has written a book called The Surrendered Wife. Before any of you start freaking out about what that title means, I really encourage you to listen to this podcast and dig in. She goes through the different intimacy skills that she learned when she was going through tough times. I’m a person that went through the same situation. I’m trying to better my game and try to understand how I can do better and have a better understanding in relationships. As always, we appreciate going into iTunes, ranking, giving us reviews. It does help us in the different rankings and standings in terms of giving us more exposure. This is a great episode. You’re really going to enjoy Laura.
Listen to the Podcast Here:
Laura Doyle on Marriage and “The Surrendered Wife”
I’m really super excited to talk to Laura Doyle. Laura is an author and a speaker and a coach and all kinds of just really amazing things. The name of my podcast is called Finding Your Summit. We take a little bit different angle talking about relationships. First of all, Laura, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much. It’s great to be here, Mark.
I heard you on another podcast now that I’ve joined this podcast world. Five years ago, I was going through a really difficult time. I ended up getting divorced. Having listened to you talk, it was really inspiring to me. I wish I would have had some of these tools to better cope and maybe I’d been in a different position today but what happened, happened. I am a mountain climber and I have played in the NFL and done these other things, but relationships are so key. Ultimately, we all will leave this planet. You’ll look back and you won’t be thinking about how much money you made. You’ll be thinking about the relationships that are dear to you. I’ve invested since that point in time so much into personal development growth and how I can become a better person. What I wanted to do is bring somebody, an expert like you, on and just talk about it and what you found and how you got there.
I was in a similar situation to yours, Mark, unfortunately, and it was a problem of my own making. I was really so amazed that my handsome, thoughtful, smart husband, funny guy, would marry me. It was like the best day of my life. A few years later, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to spend any time with me. At the time, I was trying to improve him. I was trying to show him how to be more ambitious and how to dress better and how to eat healthier and what to do at work. I thought, “Why is he not wanting to spend any time with me? He doesn’t even want to make love to me. Something must be wrong with him. It can’t be me. I’ll just bring him to counseling. The counselor will fix him and then I can finally be happy.” We did go to marriage counseling and that’s when I realized it was totally hopeless.
I’ve got the same opinion. If anybody’s a counselor, I’m sure they’re going to have a different opinion than that. I’m interested from your standpoint why you felt that marriage counseling is a waste of time. I’ve got my opinion, but I’m curious on what yours is.
It was worse than wasted time. It did some serious damage in my marriage. As I look back, certainly to be a little more accountable than I was then, it’s a hideout for hypocrites, “I wasn’t going to work on myself. I was going to be the dutiful wife while she fixed him because he was clearly the problem.” That was one part. What I didn’t know then is that respect for men is like oxygen in a marriage. Would you agree, Mark?
[Tweet “Respect for men is like oxygen in a marriage. “]
Yeah. It’s like your survival mechanism of making you just light up or wilt.
The very first thing you do in marriage counseling, typically that’s what we did, is we’re sitting there in front of this stranger, this therapist, and I’m telling her everything that’s wrong with my husband. That’s the opposite of respect. That’s the most disrespectful thing you could do. All I did was dig my hole deeper and I couldn’t understand why he was so defensive. Another downfall of marriage counseling is it was very feelings-based. Our counselor was a woman and we went for years, Mark, I’m sad to say. We always start out with, “How do you feel?” You have to answer the question, “How do you feel?” I’d get so mad because he would say, “I feel hungry. I feel with my hands.” It’s like, “My husband is defective. He doesn’t know how to describe how he’s feeling.” I’ve since learned that women are the ones with the emotional brilliance and our husbands depend on us for that. It’s almost like asking a woman who’s wearing a bathing suit and eating a piece of pizza, “How much do you weigh?” You just wouldn’t do that. It’s not a polite question in the male culture is what I’ve come to realize now. These are just three quick examples.
Number four is that you wouldn’t want to get fitness advice from somebody with a spare tire. You wouldn’t want to get financial advice from somebody who’s on the verge of bankruptcy. With marriage counselors, you don’t know. Some of them are divorced three times and some of them are in the process of getting divorced. I know this now because a lot of them come to my organization for support with their relationships. They tell me outright marriage counseling doesn’t work. It’s tragic for them because here they’ve invested so much time in this career and they truly wanted to serve. These are good people we’re talking about. They’re not bad guys. The system just is so broken and it doesn’t work.
That’s where I left off in my story, which is totally a hopeless thing, “I’ve got to divorce this guy or I’m going to live the rest of my life in a loveless relationship.” I was too embarrassed to get divorced, Mark. My friends and family had been to the wedding just not too many years before. As a last-ditch effort, I asked women who had been married for what seemed like an eternity, which was fifteen years, what their secrets were. The things they said didn’t even make sense to me. I remember one woman said, “I try never to criticize my husband no matter how much it seems like he deserves it.” I was like, “Have you got anything else?”
I want to go deeper into that. For me, there is definitely a pride. Nobody in the history of my family tree had ever been divorced. There’s this, “Come hell or high water, I was in it forever despite my misery and things weren’t working.” It takes two so this isn’t all about her. As we came together, that dynamic was not a fit. There are two things. One was staying committed for the long haul versus maybe that’s not the best thing to happen or change your strategy. Two was, for me and maybe this is because I’m coming from a male perspective, talking to people about this, just opening up to others that what I’m doing is failing and just being authentic about that.
I think that’s brilliant, Mark. I just so appreciate your humility about it. For a long time, I tried to keep our parents what’s up too. I remember we would have a big old fight on the way to a party. We’d be late to the party because we pulled over to fight, and then we get there and act like everything’s fine. I’m not sure if people knew or not. In my mind, I was keeping up appearances but who knows if I really was. It was definitely a part of what kept me stuck. Without admitting that there was a problem, I could never get a solution. I thought I was admitting it because we went to marriage counseling. It wasn’t until I started being really authentic with women I knew and people I met and just asking for their advice and being humble enough to listen even though it didn’t match anything I’ve grown up with. My parents are divorced so I had a failed recipe I was following. It was going to be absolutely necessary for me to change my strategy.
I think what you’re talking about was, “Something’s not working and now I’m going to go talk to my girlfriends and try to figure out advice or whatever.” I think the slippery slope can be that when women get together, one of two things can happen. Either you’re going to be around voices that are going to uplift you or you get the bitch session on everything that’s negative about their husbands.
There is a temptation to male bash and that is something I used to engage in quite a bit. Now it’s intolerable to me. It turns my stomach because that’s my husband they’re talking about. That’s my husband, my father, my brother.
The other thing too it feeds back on that one word that we all want, which is respect.
[Tweet “Let there be respect in my marriage and let it begin with me.”]
It was interesting because at first I thought respect is something you have to give to your boss and to your parents or to a teacher, somebody in authority. What I’ve come to see is that I want a respectful relationship. I want to be a respectful wife. It actually behooves me. He’s the man I picked. Why wouldn’t I give him respect? It serves me. The joke was on me thinking I was doing this for him because he needed it. It turns out it’s done nothing but bring me a lot of dignity and a calm and inner peace. It’s like, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Let there be respect in my marriage and let it begin with me. I’ve been surprised how everything that I’ve done to save my marriage has actually been the best self-improvement program I ever undertook.
What I’m looking for, now that I’m going through all this discovery on my own is phenomenal. I don’t think you can get to phenomenal unless you do the things for yourself rather than point the gun like it’s everybody else’s problem and that’s your point. You were so generous to send me your book. It’s called The Surrendered Wife. I think for a lot of people that is a controversial title until you get into the book and you really understand what you’re talking about. Let’s talk about the self-improvement, the things that you discovered and what led to this book, especially this title and what that really means.
I think a lot of people hear “surrendered wife” and they think, “That means obedient wife or subservient wife or something.” I get my share of hate mail. For me, surrender is a beautiful, spiritual word. It’s what we all have to do when we’re stuck in traffic. You might wish the traffic would move but you can’t make it move so you could use that time to listen to music you love or talk on the phone. You could be grateful that you have that time. That’s surrender. A surrendered wife knows she can’t change anyone besides herself. She doesn’t try. She doesn’t tell her husband what to wear or what to do at work or how to dress. My husband has been dressing himself since before I was born, and somehow I made myself the expert on how he should dress. It was in surrendering, and that was my mantra at the time, “Surrender to help myself relinquish that inappropriate control of my husband.”
It really was very difficult. I didn’t see how I was going to be able to do it at first. I wrote down a system with The Six Intimacy Skills to help women do that. It’s interesting, Mark, because I appreciate your inquiry into this and just your honesty about, “I have this failure and what I’m looking for now is phenomenal.” One of the things that is a big secret in that most people don’t know it is that women are actually the keepers of the relationship. I’m sure this probably resonates for you when you talk about like you were in it forever with your marriage. Women are the ones that initiate the most divorce. In fact among college-educated women, it’s high as 90% according to some studies. If you think about the person who’s been willing to walk away really has the most power in that relationship.
We women have more power in many ways. We’re the keepers of sex. We’re the ones that say if it’s going to happen or not. Men usually have a greater desire for sex than women. We are the ones with the tail feathers in the human species. There’s ladies’ night at the bar. There’s never gentlemen’s night, and that’s because the owners know, “If I fill this place up with women, the men will happily pay to come in here.” We have this incredible power. It’s just like we’re Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I think we women have a responsibility to learn the intimacy skills that lead to feeling playful and connected instead of tense and distant. It’s up to us what we want to experience. I’ve asked thousands of men this question. Mark, how important was it to you when you were married that your wife was happy?
It meant everything. Part of that too is, if you were to ask my hundreds of friends who know me best what my DNA is all about, it’s always the glass being half full. I wake up every day with a smile and charging and every day’s a new day and an opportunity to get better.
The answer you gave is the same answer I’ve gotten every single time I’ve ever asked a man. I’ve asked thousands. They always say, “It’s everything, it’s the most important thing.” In the UK they told me, “It’s imperative.” This is what we see from men again and again so it’s interesting. It’s sad I get a lot of heartbreaking emails from men saying, “I read your stuff and this is exactly what I want my wife to know. How do I get it to her?” My new book is called The Empowered Wife.
Why is that then? The opposite is what we’re talking about. If you’ve got all these men saying, “I wake up happy. My wife’s happiness is everything. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll be the first guy to get up in the morning, go to work, come home,” all that stuff, then the opposite of what you’re saying is that these wives are unhappy, right?
Yeah. I know for me when I was stuck in my misery, I’ve got really attached to it. I’m sad to say it’s embarrassing to admit now. I just got really caught up in housework and my job and paying the mortgage. It’s this pattern where you put everybody else first. Making Laura happy just was always at the bottom of the list, so it never got done. Today, I have a totally different perspective on that. I think I was waiting around for my husband to make me happy. I know that sounds silly when I say it now, but that important job is mine. Once I took responsibility for my own happiness, it really meant doing at least three things a day just for my own delight; frivolous fun, not anything that was going to improve my cardio fitness or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s just having a cup of coffee with a friend or taking a bath. I love to play volleyball so that’s one for me or singing at the top of my lungs or spending some extra time in the shower, getting a nap or talking to my sister on the phone. Just things that were meant to delight me, just that. That’s made a big difference because it turns out that the most important thing to my husband is for me to be happy. Me making myself happy made us both feel good.
I’m not an expert in any of this. This is just me from 30,000 feet. What it seems like to me is, at least the folks that I’ve been around, that you have all these really smart dynamic women who have gone to college, in my case the University of Washington, and now they’ve gone out in the workforce, they’re working, they’ve got a lot of self-worth because they’re getting paid, they’re doing something that they want to do. Then life happens and the next thing, they’re getting married and the next thing the kids come. Somehow or another, for many not all, they find themselves at the bottom of the food chain in terms of they’re running the household. It’s all about being that selfless, wonderful woman that’s out doing for their kids and everybody else. It’s a thankless job, the most important job but a thankless. Because the days get so busy, I think doing those three things or something gets lost. It becomes a domino effect, right?
It’s absolutely true. I love what you’re referencing about this. You get your education, you’re successful at work. I think one of the things where I went wrong was I’m a feminist. To this day, I’m very much in favor of women having as many choices about their careers as possible. I was afraid that if we said, “Women and men are not the same,” that meant that women would lose in the replacement. That doesn’t turn out to be true at all. It turns out we have different strengths because we are an entirely different gender. We’re not just smaller, less hairy men. For me, it was really interesting to discover that the goals at work are entirely different than the goals in my relationship.
[Tweet “The goals at work are entirely different than the goals in my relationship.”]
In my relationship, I just want my husband to tell me I’m beautiful, I want to hold hands, I want to laugh together, I want him to make better love with me. At work, it’s all about improving the bottom line and getting that promotion. They’re totally different goals. What we see is a failure for women to change our hats. That’s unfortunate because husbands and boyfriends don’t like to be managed. I remember my husband dated a third grade teacher before he met me. He broke up with her because she would say things to him like she was still with eight-year-olds. She’d say, “Go sit down. Put that away.” It wasn’t very attractive. Just this idea of being able to change your work hat and put on this receptive feminine hat has been very powerful for us.
I remember when I first started learning about this stuff, my marriage just grew to hostility. There was a lot of bickering, really right on the brink of divorce. It was not very long after I started practicing these six intimacy skills that I walked through the door and my husband’s face lit up because he was happy to see me again. I haven’t been gone for so long. I thought, “This is working.” Today, I have a relationship where I was brushing crumbs off the counter and he goes, “Don’t move.” He got out his phone to take my picture like I’m the supermodel that he’s been married to for 28 years. I think to him I am. I felt like I have an unfair advantage just knowing these intimacy skills and how they just inspire him to want to make me the happiest woman in the world.
It sounds like you’re there at phenomenal or on the brink somewhere working towards that. It does go both ways. Going back to your other comment though about the nag type of thing, what I’ve always found really strange is, and I’m not quite sure how this whole dynamic happens, I see these relationships where the guy, the husband in this case, is asking for permission to go, “I want to go on a mountain bike ride. I want to go play golf. I want to go on a fishing trip or something.” They’re saying, “Can I go do this?” I think the word structure is different. It’s just so bizarre. It’s like you’re talking to your mother and you’re a little kid. That just doesn’t make sense to me versus, “I’m going to play golf, honey. By the way, is there any conflict?” It just seems that I’m not thinking about versus, “I’m asking you whether or not you can allow me to play golf.” It doesn’t make sense to me.
It has such a terrible effect on the relationship because it’s true. It is very mothering. I know in my relationship I really trained my husband like, “Don’t make any decisions without checking with me.” Then I complain, “You can’t make any decisions.” It was a constraint too. Even worse, men are not sexually attracted to their mothers. If I’m acting like his mother, that’s going to have a chilling effect in the bedroom. Women conversely are not attracted to their sons. It’s like, “I have three kids. One is 33 and the other two are five and seven.” I hear a lot of women saying this. He’s saying, “Can I go mountain bike riding?” It really just contributes to it. We were there. My husband had no interest in making love to me. I remember standing with my hands on my hips while he was watching TV and saying, “The average couple has sex two and a half times per week and we haven’t done it in two weeks. I think we should do it.” It was totally not attractive at all, embarrassingly.
When I went back to acting more like his lover and less like his mother, it was actually a much more vulnerable feeling. I remember the butterflies in my stomach came back. I was like, “This is scary. No wonder I was avoiding this.” That was a good metaphor for the whole thing because when I was the armchair quarterback of my husband’s life, my life was going by and nobody was at the wheel of that life. Once I relinquished inappropriate control of him, my whole life emerged. I wrote a book that became a New York Times bestseller and was published in nineteen languages in 30 countries. I have five books now and I have my own TV series and I got to go on national TV. People ask me to speak to live audiences with hundreds of people. It was all terrifying, Mark. I was not wanting to show up for it. It would seem much safer to just lay back and criticize what he was doing. It’s really been a journey of finding my courage to show up for the things that I’m called to do in life. That’s been much more gratifying exhilarating but definitely scarier.
Let’s talk about the flip side of that. I do want to ask you more about these six intimacy skills that you mentioned. I want to ask because it takes two. For any women listening to this podcast, they would say, “I’m doing all these things. I’m working on myself, but what about that guy over there? He’s not getting off the couch and he’s not doing anything.” I know there are probably certain barriers where if the person is abusive and other things like that, that’s a deal breaker. I’m just talking about the guy’s got to show up too.
[Tweet “Women have such a degree of power in the relationships.”]
From my perspective, women have such a degree of power in the relationships. From the time we’re little girls, we start thinking about relationships and dreaming about them and talking about them with our friends. It’s something we care deeply about. I know men do too. It’s just been eye-opening and gratifying for me as a wife who really did put all the blame on her husband to see I held the key all along. It’s funny like The Empowered Wife, men will say, “What can I do? What can I read?” They want to do something too and all that. “You can read page 73, that’s relevant to you.” Most of this is for women and he doesn’t even need to know. Women will get the intimacy skills and he doesn’t even know she’s reading the book. He has no idea. Two weeks later she’ll say, “I feel like I have a new husband.” Really, he’s responding to her differently. We can’t change anybody else, but you can change how you show up and then people respond to you differently. I really see women having a lot of power.
I hope that men who are listening feel vindicated in a way. I think most husbands are showing up as best they can and trying to make her happy. I heard a husband story where he said, “I took the family on a vacation to Big Bear and I was driving everybody back home. I’m thinking I did this nice thing, spending this time with the family, showing them a good time.” His wife started yelling at him. She was like, “I can’t believe you would eat those noisy potato chips while I’m trying to sleep.” He was driving them back and he’s like, “A little gratitude maybe.” I think one of the things that happen is that gratitude goes missing. He doesn’t feel like her hero. He doesn’t feel respected. It’s so much in the wife’s realm to create that and nurture that. I hope that men who are struggling in this situation feel vindicated. Men who are still married, I do want to say, let me get my hands on your wife. Get her the book and let’s see what’s possible. I have a coach whose husband asked his wife to read one of my books and now she’s really just taking that on as her own journey of self-discovery. That’s what we see that the women have this power to just make it amazing.
It makes a lot of sense. The thing that made a lot of sense to me what you’re talking about is that action creates a reaction. With women having the power and the more emotional ones, by doing some slight changes, things can happen. When I emerged out of my divorce, it was a very difficult time and I’ve got these two beautiful, wonderful, awesome daughters. I was just like, “I need to figure out a way that I can become a better role model in terms of how marriage is supposed to work.” The book that I picked up was The 5 Love Languages. I had really never thought about it in this way, but we all communicate differently between men and women. Within both sex, everybody communicates in a certain way on things that are really important. It could be words of affirmation or acts of service or whatever, and people resonate in different ways. I think a lot of these things are all great tools that we can have towards trying to foster better relationships and trying to becoming the best you can be.
I had somebody ask me, “What’s your love language now?” I was like, “All of them.” I love the acts of service and I love words of affirmation and physical touch. For me, in a way it’s a little silly to think about limiting ourselves to just, “This is the main one.” The other part that goes a little sideways for me is the idea that I’m going to focus on this one thing that I know my husband likes, because it really was so much more of a journey for me to focus on my own happiness, and then he will pile on. When he sees I’m smiling, laughing, dancing and singing, doing my happy dance, I’m never hotter to him than when I’m doing those things. For me, all men, respect is their love language. Every woman just learning that is actually so much more powerful. I wrote a lot of books to try to save my marriage. I get frustrated. In fact, I would like to punch people in the nose sometimes because I’ve seen so much bad relationship advice out there. It was the stuff I took on and I tried, and it made things worse. One of the things that you read absolutely everywhere is, “If your husband is not affectionate, you need to tell him that you have a great concern about his lack of affection.” I was like, “As if I hadn’t thought of that already.” I would tell my husband, “I want you to hug me or something.” If he did it, it didn’t even scratch my itch because what I really wanted was to get desired. I just wanted my husband to feel so attracted to me.
Everybody wants that. That’s just not a women thing. It’s everybody.
You’re never going to get that by telling somebody to be more physically affectionate. It’s not going to happen.
In your book, The Surrendered Wife, you talk about these six intimacy skills. Can you give me just a couple of that? Throw some nuggets out there.
I’m on a mission to end world divorce, Mark. I’ll talk about this all day. I want every woman to get all the information she needs to really create not just an average relationship but an amazing, vibrant relationship. I want to talk about expressing your desires in a way that inspires. I had the bad habit in the old days of saying to my husband, “John, this kitchen is a disaster.” I thought he was going to jump up off the couch and start cleaning the kitchen, but that never happened for some reason. What I’ve learned is that men can’t even hear us from our complaining. All he heard was, “John, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Now, I understand that because his drive to make me happy is so strong, I can ignite his hero gene by just simply saying what I desire.
The formula for this, the phrasing I use is this, and it works great, “I would love,” and then I fill in the final outcome. I don’t use the word you because that would be back to controlling again. Now I could just say, “I would love a clean kitchen.” I said that to him probably sixteen years ago and he said, “I’ll do the dishes,” and he did. He’s been doing it ever since because he knows it makes me happy. Here I tried begging and controlling and nagging and repeating and making little spreadsheets with chores and responsibilities on it, and that never got me anywhere. Just me stating a pure desire though without manipulation or control, it works every time. I do that all the time now. I just really hone in on what it is I want. The guy’s tripping over himself to give me those things. He feels good and I feel good about it.
It almost sounds like you are the step one book that people need to read, women need to read, in terms of ultimately then being able to have your love languages spoken back to you. If he’s doing the acts of service or something, it’s really figuring out and changing the way you communicate in a way that activates your mate to do the things that you want.
For me, I have a bunch of cheat phrases I call them like, “Use these phrases and men can hear you.” They’ll understand and you’ll get the response that you want. Another one of them in relinquishing inappropriate control is I have the phrase, “Whatever you think.” I’ll give you an example. One woman also suffering in her marriage, they’d been sleeping in separate beds for six months, and she was just right ready to get divorced. She got her hands on the intimacy skills and learned about these cheat phrases and she thought, “What have I got to lose? Nothing. I’m going to try this.” Her husband came to her and said, “You need to tell me what you want me to do about this cell phone plan. We’ve got to make a decision here. You’ve got to tell me what you want.” She just turned to him and said, “Whatever you think.” That’s the phrase to refer your husband back to his own thinking and empower him to take initiative again if you’ve been controlling. He had been trained the opposite way so he looks at her funny and he goes, “No. You’ve got to tell me what you want me to do.” She just repeated herself. She said, “Whatever you think. I trust you.” He went away and made a decision about the cell phone plans all by himself. That night he put his hand on her shoulder and said, “You were so nice today,” and tears just came out of her eyes. They went to the same bed that night for the first time in six months. That was sixteen years ago. She still gets tears in her eyes when she talks about how wonderful her marriage is now and what a shame it would have been to throw away this marriage. He’s now a man of her dreams because she has these intimacy skills.
Probably in her mind, she was locked into what she thought would be her future. By changing the way she communicated, it literally created a whole new way of being. It sounds like she’s in a great spot.
For me, it is a little bit beyond just communication. I really had to change the way I looked at the world. I had an unfortunate habit of being incredibly controlling. I had this superiority complex over my husband. I thought I was the smarter person in the relationship. I’m embarrassed to say. Because of that, I didn’t see any harm in showing him how to make a budget or something like that. Helpful in wife language actually equals critical in husband language. Every time I was trying to help him, I was undermining our intimacy. I was just shooting holes in the bucket of our intimacy.
Especially too since guys want to be the alpha dog, right?
[Tweet “Control and intimacy are opposites. “]
I guess so. For me, it’s just so complementary. The things that my husband wants from me are so complementary to the things that I want if we’re both operating in our core geniuses. My realms of expertise are desire and feelings and receptivity. My husband wants to be admired for his thinking and for his accomplishments in the world. It’s great but I just didn’t realize it. I was always battling without knowing it. He would make a comment and I’d be devil’s advocate thinking I’m helping him think it through or something. He just felt contradicted. He just felt like I was making him wrong all the time, and because I was. For me, it was a fundamental shift. Here’s what I came to realize: control and intimacy are opposites. If I want to be in control, the intimacy’s going to go. The intimacy that I crave, if I want that, I have to let go of the control. I always get to choose. I’ve realized that underneath that urge to control, there’s always fear. I’m afraid I’m going to have to work longer or pay more or be lonely. If I’m operating on my fear, I’m not really choosing my faith. Today it’s so important to me, I want to be the woman who is trusting her husband, who’s seeing his good qualities and believing in him. I want to be a woman of faith because it’s a lot more fun than being so fear-driven.
All those things as you’re going through I was going, “Check, check, check.” I would love to have all those things. They’re so important to guys.
Women want to feel safe and special. Men want to be admired and respected. I honestly just did not know what respect looked like to men. Even to this day, when I write about respect I’m saying to other women, “This is going to blow your mind. It still shakes me up every time I think about it, but this is what respect looks like.” For women we’d say, “I was respectful. I told him where I was going to be or if I was going to be late. I didn’t leave a mess.” That has nothing to do with what men consider respect. For men, and correct me if I’m wrong, but my husband wants me to honor his thinking. It doesn’t always mean that I agree. It just means that I honor it. It’s valid. I get so much further when I’m able to give him that.
I’m not perfect to this day, Mark. The other day we were out to eat. We’re having this nice dinner at this nice restaurant. In the middle of it, he’s talking about work a little bit. He’s talking about one of his clients and I say something like, “That client doesn’t really pay you on time.” I said something critical of his client. We have a pretty good culture of respect and gratitude around here, so when it goes missing even for a second, we’re both pretty sensitive to it now. He gets this look on his face. I can tell. I go, “Was that disrespectful?” He goes, “Yeah.” I go, “John, I apologize for being disrespectful just now when I criticized your client.” He probably took that as me trying to control how he operates his business, and I was. I have my little finger in there. It’s just amazing that intimacy was immediately restored. It was just back. It was like nothing ever happened. That’s another magical cheat phrase that I love to use, apologizing for being disrespectful. It restores the intimacy and connection so quickly.
The word respect, it seems like an umbrella. Under that umbrella, you’ve got all these admiration and honor your thinking and other words in there too. It all fits under that word, respect. It covers a lot of territory.
Not interrupting, not rolling my eyes; those are good qualities, those are nice virtues to have anyway in the world. It is something that I felt just made me a better listener. Another one of my cheat phrases is, “I hear you.” My husband will be talking something through or he’d only been saying, “I’m going to take my phone and throw it in the ocean,” I’ll be like, “I hear you.” I don’t have to agree or disagree with that, I’m just bearing witness. I’m just letting him reason things out himself without implying that I need to jump in and tell him how to run things.
Congratulations to you for being at a low point in your life and doing the necessary things that you needed to do to make your way back up to finding your summit. Your summit in terms of being so near and dear to everybody, and that’s having an awesome relationship. Some people have it and a lot of people don’t. Far too many people, me included, end up on the divorce circuit. It’s just no fun and there’s a lot of pain and suffering that goes through. I think what you’re talking about is, “If everybody could just take a time-out and I can get a hand on these folks, in particular women, and have a conversation with them and teach them some of the different strategies that really helped me and many, many other women in the same situation to go with a goal in mind of saving their marriage.”
You just bring me present to my mission and the importance of it, which is to end world divorce. It’s so awful to suffer unnecessarily like I did and I see so many women doing, because there is no relationships 101 in our schools. When I was in college, my textbooks for relationships were Cosmo and Glamour and that was just not helpful. It really is important to me to get every woman who wants this information. I want to get it into her hands. The Six Intimacy Skills are all laid out in The Empowered Wife step by step, my newest book. In fact, I actually have something fun going on. It’s the Get Cherished Challenge. You go to GetCherished.com and you can also read a free chapter of The Empowered Wife there. The main thing is if you sign up, I’m going to send a series of five experiments that you can try in your relationships. Some of it is these cheat phrases I’m talking about, when and how to use them for greatest effect. You could just try them on, that’s what I did in my marriage. I just experimented with things. If they worked, I kept them. If they didn’t, I’d throw them out. You’re always the expert on your own life and what fits for you. I think it’s fun to stretch and grow and try something new. My experience is if you do these challenges over the next five days after you signed up, I want you to feel cherished and that’s what we see happens.
That is so great. I love it. I love all the stuff, all the content, all your learnings, everything you had to share. Laura, where can people find you?
GetCherished.com is where the Get Cherished Challenge is. My blog is at LauraDoyle.org. Actually, I have a new TV series on Amazon called Empowered Wives. That’s another great introduction to these skills I’m telling you. Get out of fear and jump for your life. It’s something I’m so passionate about. I’m really grateful for every platform, including yours, Mark. It’s so generous of you to have me on.
I feel very purposeful. From playing in the NFL to starting these different businesses and climbing these crazy mountains all over the world, it’s really been a work in progress which has landed me where I’m at today, which is really trying to be purposeful, learn from our mistakes, and go for it and talk to a lot of people like you that have gone through adversity and overcome it and found a better way. That’s what this whole thing is about.
You are the master of reinventing yourself as well, which I really admire. You’ve had incredible success yourself. It’s really just an honor to get to talk to you and be on your show.
Thank you so much. I’m just up the street in Hermosa Beach. I would love to connect with you in person some time. On that note, Laura, thank you so much. It’s been a tremendous amount of value for me and hopefully other people. I think you’re just on the right track.
Thank you so much, Mark.
- Laura Doyle
- The Surrendered Wife
- The 5 Love Languages
- The Empowered Wife
- Empowered Wives
- The Six Intimacy Skills