If you want to show up with more purpose in your marriage so you can better navigate challenges and increase connection, this episode provides tools on exactly how to do it.
Instead of hoping for your marriage to change on its own, or even worse, expecting your spouse to change, you can be proactive in your marriage so you can change it single handedly. While most people think it takes two people to work on a marriage, that simply isn’t true. Just like you work on your health because you care about your body, you can also work on your marriage yourself because you care about it. When you put forth the effort in your marriage, you end up with a marriage better than you could’ve imagined.
In this episode, you get three specific questions to ask yourself to help you become the wife you want to be, regardless of where your marriage is at today.
If you’re a mom, you’re in the right place. This is a space designed to help you overcome challenges and live your best life. I’d love for you to join me inside Grow You, my community for moms where we take this work to the next level.
Hi there. Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast. My name is Natalie Bacon and I’m an Advanced, Certified Mindfulness Life Coach as well as a wife and mom, if you’re here to do the inner work and grow, I can help. Let’s get started. Hello my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy to be here with you today. It is April already and I have to say I am feeling really good hitting the stride in my second pregnancy, and it’s so hard to believe that in a few short months, um, baby boy will be here. So that’s what’s happening here. I hope you are enjoying the beginning of spring, and today I wanna talk with you about how to show up more intentionally in your marriage. I came up with three empowering questions that you can ask yourself to show up more purposefully. And I think this work is so important because I think that marriages and people change over time, our thoughts, our interests, our personalities, and on and on and on, all change and evolve.
And you know this, but I don’t think that it’s as intuitive to believe that working on your marriage from a good place is something worth doing. I think that we think of working on your marriage as something you do when it’s in trouble, but I think you should work on your marriage because it’s something you care about. Not waiting until it’s in trouble, but instead working on it just like you work on your health because you have a body just like you care about what you feed your body and what you consume, and whether you move your body and exercise, it’s not because your body’s in trouble and doomed, it’s because you care about your body and you want to take care of it. In the same way we can think about taking care of and putting effort into our marriage. I think particularly because during the season of littles and kids and the logistics of parenthood, resources are often spread towards the kids.
And I think that when you notice this, you may want to reallocate some resources towards your spouse and towards your marriage. So the first question that you can ask that will help you show up more intentionally in your marriage is a two-part question. The first part of it is, do you care about your marriage? And the second part of this question is, and if so, what are you doing to show that you care? I love this question, these questions for self-reflection and awareness. I actually created a mindful message about this inside Grow You did you know that I add a message to the private podcast about four times a week, sometimes more. It’s a short teaching to help you get your head in the right space. And I think that with so much access to negative media like the news and you know, whatever pops up on your social media feed, it can be really hard to protect your brain.
And I think that it is seriously imperative to creating a happy life. So come on in and get started with the private podcast today, and you will get access to the mindful messages. That way you can have that positive input in your mind. I think that when we ask ourself the question, do you care about your marriage? And if so, what are you doing to show you care? These questions seem so obvious. Of course, I care about my marriage is the tempting way to answer. But if you slow it way down and really ask yourself the second part of the question, what am I doing to show I care? It really reframes it as a way to be more intentional and just have a greater self-awareness. So I’ll just use me as an example. I noticed that I would come downstairs in the morning after my shower and getting ready and go straight to giving RJ attention, and then Steve and I would start talking about RJ and how the morning went so far.
But I never really said good morning or made eye contact or gave a hug or a kiss to Steve. And this is such a small thing, but it just was a moment for me to notice, oh, I’m putting that attention towards RJ right away towards my son, and it’s just as easily available for me to connect with my husband in that moment as well. I think that in marriage it can be really tempting to focus on what the other person is saying or not saying or doing or not doing. And while it can be helpful to make requests of your spouse and understand why they may be doing or not doing what they’re doing or not doing, I find that for most of my clients and even myself, we spend way too much time focusing on the other person because we want to change them.
And then the problem with this is that while we can make requests, we can’t actually change them. Every person has agency to think, feel, and act, including our spouses. And yet so often we have so many rules and ideas for how they should be. We think they should be more like us most commonly. I was actually coaching someone inside Grow You recently, and she was really frustrated that her husband didn’t appreciate that she had cleaned the kitchen while he slept, and instead when he woke up up, he complained about how loud she was and it interfered with his sleep. This is an example of two people valuing different things. My client said, you know, if he cleaned the kitchen, well I slept. I would be so appreciative. And I said, well, of course, of course you would because you value a really clean kitchen. But that doesn’t mean that he does, and it doesn’t mean that he should.
You have a different mind than him. He has a different mind than you. He values sleep more than a clean kitchen. And just like you want him to see that you value the kitchen more, he wants you to see that he values the sleep more. Neither way is right, neither way is wrong. It’s just different. They’re just different values, different mindsets. And when we notice this and see this, and we can take accountability and responsibility for our emotions without blame, we can see it’s just two people who have different ideas or different values, and we can appreciate them and we can appreciate ourselves and start to expect those differences instead of trying to change them. The upside to this is that you feel so much better because you stop trying to make your spouse be someone different. In this case, my client’s spouse didn’t want to value a clean kitchen at the expense of his sleep, and that’s okay.
It’s also okay that my client values a clean kitchen more than sleep. Accepting this and still validating your experience and the other per person’s experience is both empowering and connecting. Empowering because you focus on who you want to be and connecting because you allow your spouse to be them without trying to change them. So circling back to this first question, do you care about your marriage? And if so, what are you doing to show you care? This could be a great way for you to get inside your mind and show up more intentionally in your marriage by writing down the answer to this question and just playing around with how you might show up more, not in a way that is at your own expense, but it is in a way that feels good and really connecting to you.
The second question is, what do you like, appreciate and love about your spouse? Do a journal entry about this. Write down everything. Get specific. Often we wanna do things so fast. We’ll answer this by saying he’s so great with the kids, or he’s a really great husband and person. And then we want to move on to what’s next. But I’m talking about writing down for 15, 20, 30 minutes about all the little things that your spouse does or says or just part of his character traits that you love about him. This puts your brain to work on how you can be more connected to your spouse because what you focus on is what you will see more of. For example, do you love how your spouse is always in a good mood on Saturdays and wants to go out and do adventures and things together as a family? Or do you love the way that he makes eggs or knows that you hate bugs and when he sees them, he gets rid of them or whatever it is.
Those little things that you love about him, when you put your brain to work on thinking about them, your brain will focus on finding more evidence of how amazing your spouse is. If you tell your brain to focus on what’s wrong or what’s negative, which is what the brain does on default, this is the survival function of the brain designed to keep you alive. It’s always scanning for what’s wrong, and that’s really useful if you are worried about your survival. Not so useful in modern day in our suburban homes when your brain is now scanning for what’s wrong with your spouse. So it’s not that useful in modern day life in your marriage. This is why doing this inner work on how you’re thinking and taking care of managing your mind is so powerful for your relationships because your default brain will not focus on the good.
It is designed that critical function of the brain to look for what’s wrong and what’s bad and what your spouse is doing wrong and and how they’re not good enough. So there’s actually absolutely nothing wrong with you if you focus on what’s wrong with your spouse or what’s wrong in your marriage, or even if you tend to be hyper critical. I promise you there is nothing wrong with you. This is just not managing your mind. This is the brain on default, and I can totally relate to this, particularly as someone who used to be an attorney. My brain is trained to look for what’s wrong in a way that I use it intentionally in my profession. So this is really helpful when reviewing a contract or when reviewing a document, when I’m looking for what’s wrong and I wanna find what’s wrong, that skill is so helpful, not as helpful when I carry it over into my relationships. So I’m very mindful of this and I just try to catch my brain and then I use the tools that I teach and grow you to manage my mind to think about my relationships on purpose. So it’s really important in order to feel connected in your marriage, that you put your brain to work on what you love, what you like, what you appreciate about your spouse, and I think the smaller the better, like those little moments that aren’t a big deal, but that you feel really connected to your spouse about write down those moments, that is where you will feel an enormous amount of connection.
Okay, question number three. Who do I want to be right now? This question is particularly useful during challenging situations or challenging seasons in your marriage. You can show up more intentionally in your marriage even during a challenging time. When you ask yourself, who do I want to be right now? You will put yourself in a place of empowerment. You will feel empowered and and less out of control and less desperate and less worried. For example, let’s say that your spouse is passive aggressive and hard for you to be around after work. The question to ask is not how can I get him to change? The question to ask is, who do I want to be here? When you focus on changing him, you will disempower yourself because of course you can’t change him. But when you focus on who you get to be, you empower yourself. This of course can include making requests of your spouse and having boundaries, but when you make requests and you have boundaries from a place of focusing on who you want to be instead of from a place of trying to get them to change, you will feel so much genuinely more empowered and loving and connected instead of um, kind of desperate and wanting and worried and controlling.
I know this from personal experience and I’m telling you, asking myself the question, who do I wanna be right now had helped me so much and probably would’ve helped me so much more had I known it earlier, but particularly in past relationships. And even now, you can ask this for any type of relationship, friendships, in-laws, your own parents. Whenever you’re having a challenge in a relationship, as we do, ask yourself, who do I want to be right now? Here’s another example. Let’s say that it’s actually your spouse who is really struggling at work. You can ask yourself, who do I want to be? And you’ll get really good answers for how you can show up in a more loving, supportive way. Often when we see someone we love struggling, we want to fix it, we go into fix it mode, and we think that it’s our job to fix our spouse’s unhappiness or challenges, but of course we can’t do that.
So focusing on who you want to be can be really useful here to come up with solutions for you, not to solve spouse’s problem, but for you to decide, okay, what kinda spouse do I wanna be when my spouse is struggling at work? It’s an excellent question to ask. I was coaching someone again inside Grow You recently, who believed that her husband didn’t treat his job seriously enough and she had made requests of him and he didn’t see the problem. So in this scenario, the most empowering thing that my client could do for herself was to ask, who do I want to be right now? Or said differently? What kind of wife do I want to be with my husband who doesn’t take his job seriously? Oftentimes we can’t get our brains to answer this type of question, and I think it’s because we didn’t ever imagine marriage and a spouse to be this way.
We have imagined marriage to be like dating, but better. We have sort of this fantasy idea of marriage and instead it’s completely different. It is two people on a team navigating life together, and these two people have different minds and therefore they act differently and sometimes unexpectedly from the way that we maybe had envisioned or maybe even differently than they had in the past. So when that reality hits, particularly in an example that isn’t favorable to what we would like, I think it’s hard to wrap our minds around who we want to be. The temptation is to think, I just want him to be different. Of course, thinking this way isn’t useful because you can’t control who he’s being. You can’t control his actions. You can make requests, but when you tie up your emotions in whether he does or doesn’t do things the way that you want, you only disempower yourself.
And my job in part as a coach is to help you become the most empowered woman and wife that you want to be in your marriage. I think that one of the most empowering ways to move forward is to ask yourself this question, who do I want to be here? Sometimes it’s relative to how your spouse is being. Other times it’s not. Other times, it is just a proactive question that’s really useful for you to ask. And this may require writing about it, thinking about it, brainstorming, what it might look like. If your spouse says something that you want to think is disrespectful, you may not immediately know the answer to who do I wanna be when my spouse says something that I deem to be rude or disrespectful? Because you may have not imagined that ever being a circumstance you would be in, and the temptation is to think, well, I would really, really just like him to never have said that or never say it again.
And again, we make requests, but we can’t control what spouse actually says. So putting your brain to work on what does that look like for me to love myself and love him and be who I wanna be in a circumstance where he’s maybe saying something to me or about me or about someone else that I deem is rude or disrespectful. You may come up with a list of of ways that you wanna be. You may put a boundary in place. You may be direct and say, I know that you’re not meaning this intentionally, but to me it’s disrespectful. Please don’t say that. You may come up with lots of different ways for addressing it, but those are all actions that you will take and you will take them from a much more empowered place if you focus on you and showing up as the woman and wife you want to be.
I think that when you ask yourself this question, and really I’m talking about it in the context of marriage and this podcast, but it’s one of the best questions you can ask yourself through anything through your work, a failure, a layoff, a career transition, postpartum can really be asked during, um, challenging times, during good times, in different relationships, and on and on. I just absolutely love the question because it’s so empowering. Who do I want to be right now? Right When you join Grow You, you get access to a course called The Marriage and Relationship Toolkit, where I teach you how to single-handedly change and improve your marriage. This is so useful if you are struggling, going through a challenge right now, if you’re just feeling kind of irritated or annoyed or stuck, or if you just want to have some tools to help you be more purposeful and show up more intentionally as the wife who you want to be.
A lot of people don’t realize that you can do this work on your own. Oftentimes, we think that it requires both you and your spouse to do the work, but that’s not true. You can do the work yourself and completely change your marriage. I’ve seen it time and time again, specifically with my clients using these tools. And of course, I use these tools in my own marriage as well. So just know that that is available to you and for Grow You members. The Marriage and Relationship tab under the library is where you will find this course right when you log into your portal. You can access it anytime as long as you are inside grow you.
So to recap, the three questions to show up more intentionally in your marriage are, do you care about your marriage? And if so, what are you doing to show you care? Number two, what do you like, appreciate and love about your spouse? And finally, who do you want to be right now? Save these questions, write them down. Use them to show up more purposely in your marriage, and I promise you, you will be well on your way to having more connection and creating more of the marriage that you want to have.
If you loved this podcast, I invite you to check out Grow You my mindfulness community for moms where we do the inner work together. Head on over to nataliebacon.com/coaching to learn more.