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Therapist Confession: The Worst Thing I Ever Said to My Husband

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I have a confession to make: my marriage isn’t perfect.

Often in session, a client will remark “I bet you never have fights like this” or “I bet your marriage is perfect.” My typical response to this type of statement is, “It’s hard being married to a marriage therapist!” We really do love our marriage but we have to work on it just like everybody else does…sometimes even harder because of my career. Nobody’s marriage is easy, but nothing worth it ever is.

Having a great marriage takes a village, and I talk through the points of tension in our marriage with my trusted friends, just like I hope you do. During one such conversation about “the division of labor” at our house, a friend of mine stated, “I never ask my husband to do anything for me that I can do myself.” Immediately, it was one of those ideas that rang true to me at my core. Somehow, I had convinced myself that I was being a good wife by being inclusive on things that I needed to just knock out myself.

I am naturally a very independent person, and was warned before we ever got married that I would need to be mindful to be part of a team and not do my own thing. That idea, plus the fact that I will always always always rope anyone I can into helping me with any chore I need to do so I can selfishly have a witness to my hard work (and because I just need to be social in order to be productive in all things “manual labor”) resulted over time in the habit of me asking my husband to do a lot of things for me around the house. Let’s change the wall color. Put this in the attic. Help me with the dishes. Help me fold the laundry. Hang this curtain rod. You know the type of thing I’m talking about.

I went home that evening and told my dear, sweet husband, that I was very thankful that he had been willing to help me in all those ways but I now understood how adding things like that to his “to do” list was unnecessary and unintentionally disrespectful. I relinquished him from duty and declared, “I’m going to stop asking you for help with things I can do myself.”

Big mistake. Huge.

My intention was to allow my husband more time to relax (together or alone) or work on his own tasks at home (on top of his full-time day job, he has 2 LLC’s). What resulted was exactly that…when I stick to it. Because old habits are hard to break, I hear a lot of “isn’t that something you could take care of yourself?” spoken by my charming husband with a twinkle in his eye. Suffice it to say, he’s taken to it more quickly than I have. But it’s still good for him…and for me…to get into this new habit.

The truth is that I had never even thought about doing things differently in this regard, but as soon as I did, I saw the positive implications right away.

  • It’s a blessing on your marriage. It energizes the marriage because it removes an unnecessary tax on the system.
  • It reduces the chance of an argument.
  • It removes the chance for resentment and frustration with unmet needs and an unaccomplished looming to-do list.
  • It honors our husbands’ time and energy spent in all of the other types of work they do throughout the day.
  • It signifies value and highlights their efforts in what they willingly give of their own volition.
  • Bonus: it makes you feel like She-Ra to wield power tools.

If you’re interested in energizing your marriage, try this different approach and see if you like the outcome.

Pro-tip: don’t tell your husband. Trust me, he’ll notice.

As always, if this brings up any larger issues for you, please feel free to contact me directly.

Counseling appointments available in Baton Rouge, Denham Springs and Walker, Louisiana.

How To Give A Rip: Part 2

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Yesterday we looked at one small step that can bring about big change in all roles of your life and WHY it is important to take that step.

Today we will begin to unpack HOW you can bring about this change in your life by looking at the first part of this statement:

Figure out a way to give a rip about whatever is in front of you.

Figure out a way…

More often than not, this process of “learning to give a rip” has to start with “figuring out a way” because you’re just genuinely not interested in whatever it is you’re facing. You’re not interested in your math homework…your TPS report…your husband’s March Madness bracket…your kid’s tuba practice…whatever. It takes a degree of intellectual creativity to re-work the challenge in front of you until you can find a way to get interested in it.

  • Look at the issue through a different light than usual.
  • Put your frustrations to the side for a moment.
  • Think of someone who is truly interested in the issue.
  • What do you think they like about it?
  • Maybe there’s something in it that you can use to increase your interest.

Like all things of value, setting your intentions in a new direction requires some work. You’ve got to “steer the ship” to the place you want it to go. Negative thoughts about the effort that is required, about whatever else you’d rather be doing, or about how lame something is will pop in your head and offer you an enticing distraction to move on to something you’re more comfortable with. Show those thoughts whose boss and redirect them to where you truly want them to go. It takes time and intentionality. You won’t see a big change over night. But if you stick with it and develop a true interest, the rewards are worth it and will go beyond what you can see on the surface.

Tomorrow we will continue to discuss the HOW component of “giving a rip.”

If this discussion has been helpful to you, please feel free to pass this article along to someone who may also find it interesting.

If you have any questions about the counseling process, feel free to read our FAQs or contact me here.

Are You Spiritually Hangry?

Urban Dictionary defines “hangry” as: When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. So what does it mean to be “spiritually hangry?”

Although you may not be familiar with the term (because I just made it up) I suspect that most of us have been there before. Other terms for this experience are “spiritual dryness,” “a crisis of belief” or “a dark night of the soul.” When you are wanting to hear from God about a given topic, or even to feel acknowledged by him at all, but just can’t seem to get anything back from him, and you become frustrated and you feel isolated…you become spiritually hangry.

After I graduated from my masters program, I felt like I was supposed to move to Baton Rouge from New Orleans, rather than return to St. Louis, MO, where I’m from. I had a place to stay for free but no job and no good contacts in my profession to speak of. I sent out resumes to anyone that sparked my interests at all. I got the most frustrating feedback on the planet, “your resume and references are literally the best we’ve ever seen, but we don’t have any spots available at this time.” I finished school in May and it was a long seven months of little to no income before I finally had a full-time job offer. During that time, I questioned if I had heard correctly from God in moving to Baton Rouge or even in choosing the vocation of counseling. I even experienced an earth-shattering loss during that season. And to boot, I watched my car get hit one morning while eating my breakfast. I couldn’t win for losing and there was little light in the darkness. On lots of days, it was the best I could do to find enough structure in my life to keep depression at bay.

Have you ever been so hungry for hearing something from God for so long that you start to get angry about it? If you were just regular hangry, you could just hurry up and go get something to eat. But there’s not a lot of room for “hurry up” when it comes to God. So what is it that we are supposed to do when we get spiritually hangry?

When you start to feel moody about your relationship with God, it can complicate things in your head pretty quickly. You can start to over-analyze, shut down, doubt yourself and doubt God. You doubt if God exists…if he’s on your team…if he sees what’s going on…if he cares about what is unfolding in your life…if he has the answers and he’s just not telling you for some reason. The list could go on and on! You can see how someone might get in a bad place pretty quickly if they feel like they really need something from God but can’t get to it for whatever reason.

So what should you do if you find yourself in a place of being “spiritually hangry”?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself that may bring you some clarity, fresh perspective, but most of all…Hope.

  • Besides the topic that is frustrating you, what else is really working in your life? Make a list.
  • What credit can you give yourself that you’re hungry for hearing from God at all? What does that say about you?
  • Have you written out your request or concern to God? This is no magic trick, it can sometimes provide clarity about your own desires when you slow down and have to put pen to paper.
  • Is there anyone you feel like you should “bring into the loop” to pray with you regarding your experience or request?
  • What’s the last thing you heard clearly from God?
    • Follow up question: did you walk that out? (If the answer is no, that’s the place to pick up).
  • In 20 years, what do you think you’ll look back and understand about God’s silence on the matter?
  • What if you never hear back from God on this topic? What’s the next logical thing you could do?
  • What does God’s (perceived) non-communication say about your value to God?
    • If there’s anything on that list that you suspect your best friend or God wouldn’t say about you, it’s probably not true.
  • What does God’s (perceived) non-communication say about God’s power and involvement in your life?
    • If there’s anything on that list that you suspect someone you trust and respect wouldn’t say about God, it’s probably not true.

This list is not meant to frustrate you further but to hopefully get your gears turning about new perspectives on your season of “spiritual hanger’.  If this post stirs up more questions than it answers, please feel free to contact me here.