J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast episode number 80.
L: Yeah, I stopped trying to control him and instead, I focused on my own happiness.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories are vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: Hey there, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women. I'm Jen Riday and I am so glad you're here and listening, and happy Monday. On our last episode, I spoke with Rachel Pickworth, all about the law of attraction and she amazed so many of you that I got tons of emails and messages on Facebook; so I'm glad you like that. If you haven't heard that interview yet, be sure to go back and listen to that; that's at jenriday/79. Today's episode is brought to you by RXBARs, the best protein bars for myself and my kids, I love them, and also by FabFitFun; keep listening and in this episode, I'll tell you how you can get $10 off your first FabFitFun box. So today, I'll be talking with Laura Doyle, all about letting go of control of your spouse so you can have a happier marriage. And this stuff really works because this is the exact thing I've done in my marriage to feel happier. Laura has some great steps to help you get started and she'll be talking about her book, ‘The Empowered Wife’. One last thing, I have a free master class coming up, it's called ‘Five easy steps to rock your morning routine, even if you're a busy mom’. Sign up for that is not open yet, but it will be opening later this week, so tune in Thursday for more details. Well, let's go ahead and jump into this episode and learn some great nuggets of wisdom from Laura Doyle.
Laura Doyle is the New York Times bestselling author of ‘the surrendered wife’, ‘The Surrendered Single’, and ‘The Empowered Wife’. Her books have been translated into 16 languages and published in 27 countries. Over 150,000 women credit her with, not only saving their relationships, but showing them how to become desired, cherished, and adored for life. She's the founder of Laura Doyle Connect, an international relationship coaching company that teaches women the intimacy skills they need to have passionate, peaceful relationships. Laura lives in Newport Beach, California with her hilarious husband, John Doyle, who has been dressing himself since before she was born. They've been married for 28 years. So what does that mean, Laura? He's been dressing himself since before he was born; I've been curious since I read your bio. (Laughs)
L: Well, he’s a little older than me, so I was born when he was 11.
L: And, yeah, so he did dress himself for quite a while there. And then when I came along, I forgot about that and I thought, maybe he needed some advice on how to get dressed and look better. And I was just constantly trying to improve him. It wasn't just what he wore, sadly, it's just like embarrassing confessions of a former controlling wife; I just was always trying to improve. Like, I wanted to eat healthier, I was going to show how to do that and how make a budget.
L: And how to do a better resume and be more ambitious at work. And I couldn't understand why my husband just kept avoiding me, but now looking back, I realized I had become a porcupine wife. Every time he’d try to get close to me, I was giving him this helpful advice, but it turns out helpful in wife-language is actually critical in husband-language. And so it was actually a kind of a tragic situation because we've been so happy when we got married and then just a few years in, I really thought that I was going to end up either having to divorce him because I just married the wrong man or I dragged him to marriage counseling. And that's when I became the most hopeless and I thought, “I'm going to spend the rest of my life in a loveless relationship if I don't just bite the bullet and get divorced right now.” But I was too embarrassed to get divorced.
L: Because (unclear) [03:58] had been to the wedding; it's not that many years before. So I started asking women who had been married for what seemed like an eternity, to me, for their secrets to a happy marriage. And 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 it just seems like he deserves it,” and I said, “Hmm, have you got anything else?
L: Because I didn't really think that was going to work for me. So… but desperation went out and I decided to experiment in my relationship, I thought, “I'm just going to treat like the laboratory. I'll try things on. If they work, I'll keep them. If they don't, I’ll throw them out.” And what emerged is what I now call ‘The 6 intimacy skills’. And I just remember I've been trying them for a while and we… you know, we're normally having like blah-blah hostility or Cold War's. But this particular night, I walked by the door and my husband's face lit up.
L: He was happy to see me; yeah. So I thought, “Wow, this is working! Yes, this is working.”
J: So, I'm curious, you walked through the door, were you wearing something amazing or what was different?
L: No, I wasn’t. I was dressed normally. I was dressed the same way I had been prior when he was just, you know, avoiding me, watching TV, watch… and more interested in watching a rerun than he did in my company or even making love to me prior to the intimacy skills. So the thing that changed, the thing that made me so much more attractive and appealing to him, was that I started… well one of the main things that I discovered was that I was able to relinquish inappropriate control of my husband…
L: … and stop telling him all these things about his ways to improve. And I remember, it was funny because in counseling, the counselor said, “You know, Laura, I actually…” I was… you know, I was only bringing my husband there so she can fix him and then I could finally be happy because I think that's how it works. And so…
J: Uh-huh. (Laughs)
L: And then she actually said to me, “No, actually, Laura, you're kind of controlling.”
J: (Gasps) Ooh.
L: And I was like, “Oh my gosh!” I had this epiphany like, “She's right, I am controlling!” And I remember saying like, “Okay, what do I do? Like, how do I stop?”
L: Yeah, you know, “Just… you’ve just got to stop being so controlling.” And I was like, “Okay, that's not helpful at all,” because, from my point of view, I was controlling because I was feeling like he wasn't on top of things. Like, I would be the one saying, “Oh, we need to get the oil changed in the car,” or, “We’ve got to pay this bill,” or like, you know, seeing that the kitchen was a mess and we needed to do the dishes or we wouldn’t have clean dishes. So, for me, I was like, “He's just asleep at the wheel, somebody has to do things or else we're all going to die around here.”
L: And so it wasn’t helpful at all for her to just tell me that. But what ended up happening is I developed what is now a world famous system for relinquishing inappropriate control of your husband. And that's one of the 6 intimacy skills; they all work together.
L: But what I discovered is, in stepping back, all of a sudden, this man that I thought was just so laid back that maybe he was in a coma, you know, he’d seem like a loser-pants, to me, all of a sudden, he started taking initiative in all areas. He started his own business, “I'm taking you out to dinner tonight.”
J: (Gasps) Yeah.
L: He’d, you know, make better (unclear) [07:02] me again. And he'd say, “I'm going to build a deck,” or “I'm going to… you know, I'm going to take down those trees in the yard,” or whatever. So the man I fell in love with returned; the man who wooed me came back.
J: Because you gave up control.
L: Yeah, I stopped trying to control him and instead, I focused on my own happiness.
L: And that, in turn, improves intimacy.
J: Well, so you have these 6 pillars, do you mention those in ‘The Empowered Wife’, your new book?
L: Yes, in fact, that's exactly the point of ‘The Empowered Wife’, is I spell out all 6 intimacy skills step by step. Because I suffered so much in my marriage and I tried everything I could think of. You know, I read a lot of self-help books and went to marriage counseling and none of that worked for me. And, in fact, it's kind of… it was kind of shocking to me especially because we went to marriage counseling for years, actually, and we spent over $9000 on it. And I wanted to believe it helped somehow, but I couldn't figure out how.
L: And then I read about a study at UCLA where 75% of couples who had received traditional behavioral marriage counseling were separated within a year. So the fact is it just doesn't work…
L: … for most people, right?
L: If you think about some other industry, right, like would you get on a plane where 75% of the time it had engine troubles or something, you know? It just…
L: The numbers are just so terrible!
L: And now that I know what actually works to make a marriage magical again, I get so mad, you know, I want to punch people on the nose because there's so much bad relationship advice out there.
L: And it’s the very things that I used to struggle with and try to use in my relationship that just dug my hole deeper; it didn't help me at all. And, looking back, I can see my marriage counseling is one of those things. Like, what I've since learned another really intimacy skills is about restoring the respect in your relationship. And one of the things that you do typically at marriage counseling, (I've never marriage counseling session where we didn't do this) is you lay out the problems, right?
L: Like, you know what seems to be a problem.
L: And you do… so what I was doing was, in front of a stranger (this therapist) and my husband, I was telling her everything that was wrong with my husband; every shortcoming he's ever had. And that's the most disrespectful thing I could have possibly done. So and respect, it turns out, (I didn't know this, but this is like amazing the information to have) respect is like oxygen for husbands; that's how important is to them. And when they feel respected, they feel loved; they don't feel respected, they don't feel love. And I thought, “Well, I am respectful about everything, except for the way he dresses and the way he drives and, you know, the way he handles the budget,” or whatever, right? And so I thought I was, and of course, I'm sure that everyone who hear my voice can recognize I wasn't respectful. I didn't know what it looked like. I was looking at it through my female brain.
L: Or sometimes, I would say, “Well, you know, I didn't leave a mess, I cleaned up the mess; so that's respectful,” or, “I let him know where I was going to be.”
L: “That’s respectful.”
L: That is nothing to do with respect for them. They don't care about that at all. What they care about is that I… my husband wants to be respected for his thinking and he wants to be admired. So every time I would second-guess or listen to what he was saying and try to improve on it, I was putting holes in the bucket of our intimacy and connection right there.
J: Yeah. And a couple of questions; by intimacy, you mean emotional, physical, all types of intimacy or one particular type?
L: That’s right. So intimacy is not just the bedroom, this is those interactions, like sometimes they're tender, sometimes they’re funny. It's just those interactions you wouldn't have with anybody else in the whole world that's… and of course, the physical intimacy is the one thing that differentiates a romance form every other relationship that you…
L: … have in the world. Like, I might share intimately with my sisters and hug them or my friends, but what makes the big distinction is what happens in the bedroom…
L: … in a marriage, in a romance, in a relationship. So… but, yeah, intimacy is kind of the all-around. And, you know, it's when I feel that my husband desires me, it's when I feel that he's sneaking out my company and when he's sharing with me openly because he feels there's emotional safety, that's what I know the intimacy is high.
J: Yeah, yeah. Well, so women are listening right now and they're like, “Ooh, this sounds good. I’ve got to get ‘The Empowered Wife’,” and… but what if there's someone out there thinking, “Well, gosh why should I even try? He's not trying,” what do you say to that?
L: Oh yeah. Well, that was exactly… that was my point of view, you know? I really… I felt like I had been working so hard on the relationship and I was working hard, but tragically I was doing the wrong kind of work.
J: Ah, mm-hmm.
L: You know, I was telling him how to straighten up. And, of course, the only person you could ever control is yourself. And then, when I did change, he responded to me so differently, and it was like so much better, like 10 times better than he had been responding to me previously. So, for me, it was actually good news, you know? Yeah, I have a lot of power in this relationship and I didn't recognize it. I have these amazing feminine gifts that no one ever told me about, you know? I was kind of mad at my… my mom and my grandmother at first, I’m like, “Why didn’t they tell me about this?”
L: But I (unclear) [12:04] something they knew.
L: So… and it's just like spider-man learned, like, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
L: And so I believe we have a responsibility just learning skills as sort of like… and women sit down at the piano and say, “Well, I hope I'm good at playing the piano, you know, let me just give that a shot.” We expect to play lessons and have to do your Hammond scales or something, right, to… in order to be good at it. And it's kind of that old song says, it's says, “The greatest thing I ever learned is just to love and be loved in return.” So, for me, this has just been a wonderful gift to be able to learn these intimacy skills and have them become a part of my life and all my relationships, not just my husband, but really make me into my best self; someone who shows up with love.
J: So you mentioned part of this was learning to be happy on your own and then that really increased your intimacy. Well, what were the steps of letting go of that resentment that was there so you could concentrate on, you know, making yourself happier and taking care of your emotional needs?
L: Well, I think it was a great question, and for me, it actually went the opposite direction. (Laughs)
J: Oh! Okay.
L: It wasn't like letting go of the resentment and then making myself happy, it was like, “First, I'm going to make myself happy.” Because I had gotten into… it’s sad to say, but I had really become that martyr, you know, like your mom on her worst day where she's doing everything for everybody and not taking care of herself. So I kind of forgot who I was. I forgot that I'd love a good time and that I… you know, the things that I enjoyed. So, for me, the first step was… and this is the indispensable step that I see for women practicing the intimacy skills, and that is to make a point of making myself ridiculously happy every single day. And the way I do that is by doing at least 3 things for my own enjoyment every single day. And by that, I don't mean 8 hours of sleep and fruits and vegetables and 30 minutes of cardio, no, I'm talking frivolous fun! I'm talking just something that doesn't do any good in the world except that it brings me pleasure. So it could just be grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend or talking to my sister on the phone or I love to play volleyball, so I do a lot of that.
L: I sing at the top of my lungs in the car, in the shower.
L: Like, you know, sometimes I do it walking down the street. And so it could be… you know, for everybody, it’s going to be a little bit different. Like, some women want or have yoga as their self-care. Well, I hate yoga so that's never going to be self-care. And it's good for my body, I get that, you know, people would do it look wonderful. But, for me, it will never be that kind of pleasurable delight that I seek for myself every day that lets me show up as a happy woman in my relationship because… (and this is going to sound really obvious when I say it this way) but I didn't realize only happy people can have happy relationships.
J: Ooh, that's big! (Laughs)
L: Yeah, yeah, exactly, right? So…
L: … if I’m not happy, “You know, my husband happens to be there, I think it's his fault,” right?
L: That's not how it works.
J: Oh, that’s huge.
L: I’ve got make myself happy and then…
L: Yeah, and then my husband wants to pile on. When he sees that I am pleasable, this is where he just tries to make up, I'm pleasable some… you know, if you see that, then he can't do enough. He's like, “Oh, would you like me to make you a cup of tea? Should I put some gas in your car?” you know, “Do you want me to take you out to dinner?” He can’t do enough to make me happy. And this is because… you know, and this is true for all women, we're never hotter than when we're smiling, laughing, singing, dancing, right? That's when there are most magnetic. And we are magnets; women are born magnets, it's 1 of our 5 feminine gifts. And our magnetism gets obscured when we put everybody else first and we run ourselves ragged and we're depleted and we get cranky; I always get cranky when that happens. So one way to erase that depletion is to just devote yourself to self-care. It's not selfish, that's a great way to be the best wife and mom and sister and, you know, co-worker that you can be.
J: I couldn't agree more. Well, everyone, go out and grab Laura's book, ‘The Empowered Wife’, and that's by Laura Doyle. Again, that's ‘The Empowered Wife’, it's fantastic; she sent me a copy. And let's take a quick break for our sponsor, Laura, and then we'll come back and talk about some of your favorite things.
(Interview resumes) [19:02]
J: Alright, welcome back everyone. And let's start, Laura, by talking about a habit that has contributed to your success.
L: Yes. So one of the habits that really has contributed to my success is one that I had a very hard time implementing the first time, in fact, I completely resisted it; I thought it was ridiculous. But I'm going to share it because… and most women do think it's awful until they do it, and then they love it. So… and that habit is, apologizing to my husband when I am disrespectful. And so (unclear) [19:35] what that looks like. In fact, this just happened to me, sadly. I've been doing this for 18 years and I still have not reached perfection with it. But we were at dinner, nice restaurant, my husband's taking me out or just having this great conversation and just really enjoying ourselves. And then one minute he's talking his work and I made a disparaging comment about one of his clients. And immediately, his face changed, and I could just tell like, “Uh-oh,” you know, “something went south right then.” And then I said… and I knew already what the answer was but I said, “Was that disrespectful?” and he goes, “Yeah!” and I'm like, “Oh!” And… because he likely took that comment as me trying to control how he runs his business and which clients he gives the most preferential treatment to, let's say. And so I immediately just wanted to get back to the good times and I just said, “You know what? John, I apologize for criticizing your client just then.”
L: “That was very… you know, I apologize for being disrespectful when I criticized you client just then,” that's how I said it. So I use the words ‘for being disrespectful’, which, I mean, ugh, the first time I thought, “This is like… I mean, disrespectful, that's something… respect to something you give to your boss or your parents or a teacher because you have to, right?”
L: “I wanted him to be above me; that's like awful.” But it doesn't make him above me, it just means that I honor… I don't always have to agree with, but I honor my husband's thinking. And so just in that moment, I made that apology, and immediately the wall came down, the tension was gone, and we were back to having a good old time at dinner.
L: And he appreciates that so much. Because he feels so respected, he's really able to show up in such a loving way to me. In fact, not too long ago, I was brushing crumbs off the island, the counter, and he goes, “Oh, don't move,” and he reached for his phone. So he’d take my picture like I'm the supermodel that he's been married to for 28 years, you know?
L: And it’s just unspeakably wonderful to feel so loved every single day. It gives me a lot of inner strength. And I say that not to brag, but just to say, this is what's possible for all women, because all of husbands respond so beautifully to being respected, and they want to make their wives happy. I've asked thousands of men, I'll say, “How important is it to you that your wife is happy?” and they all say the same thing, every single one, they say, “Oh, it's very important; it's the most important thing,” or in the UK, they say, “It's imperative!”
L: So we know that this is a high priority to them.
J: Mm-hmm. Well, that's a great habit, I have never heard that one on the show before; thank you. Well, let's talk a little about the kitchen. What is a favorite easy meal?
L: Mmm, yes. So one of my favorite easy meals is tacos because it's just so easy to make that taco meat and then, you know, we've got the fixings in my fridge for that so I can put that together. But one of the big problems we had early on… so my husband doesn't cook, in fact, I remember when we were first married, I asked him to turn on the stove and he goes, “Something's wrong with the stove, it's clicking,” you know?
J: Oh no!
L: It’s like, “Oh my gosh,” that’s it.
L: (unclear) [22:28]… you know, like, “What?” (Laughs). But anyway, maybe he had an electric stove growing up. Anyway, so I remember when the kitchen would get to be a disaster area, I would complain about it. I would say to him, “John, this kitchen’s a disaster!” and I thought he was going to jump off the couch and start cleaning it right then, but…
L: I’ve got to tell you, Jen, that never happened; never did.
L: So finally… and I mean, I tried begging, cajoling and crying just everything. And finally, I learned one of the skills is to express your desires in a way that inspires. And so all I had to do was tell him the end result that I wanted. So when I was saying, “John, this kitchen, this is just a disaster area!” all he heard was, “John, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah!” right, he couldn't even hear me. But when I said to him one day, “John, you know, I would love a clean kitchen,” he was like, “Okay, I'll clean it.” Well, that was like 18 years ago and he's been cleaning it ever since.
L: So it was amazingly effective when he heard what I wanted instead of hearing the complaint.
J: What you want; ooh, that's a good one. Well, what's your favorite kitchen gadget?
L: My favorite kitchen gadget is my zester; it's padded, its soft, it's nice and it adds so much flavor if I just need that little bit of lime zest. And it’s like one of those amazing things I made with it recently was, I made sweet potatoes and I put lime juice lime zest and a little bit of jalapeno peppers in (fresh jalapenos) in that sugar, (that was my little marinade) and then I poured that over the sweet potatoes, which had been baked, with some cheese and I just had this like spicy sweet little treat; it was fantastic.
J: Oh, that does sound fantastic. Is it okay if we kind of stick a bit of a recipe on the website? We'll just write down what you said.
L: Oh, sure.
J: I’m sure people can eyeball it, but yum.
L: Absolutely, absolutely, I’d love to share that one.
J: Well, so you're a 3-time author and a New York Times bestselling author, but it's still fun to hear, what is your favorite book?
L: Oh. Well, a book that meant a lot to me in the early days of trying to get better with my relationship was ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’.
J: Oh yeah!
L: And it's the best-selling relationship book in the entire world of all time for a great reason. It really does… it really helped me begin to unlock the mysteries of the differences between men and women. I think everything was kind of going the opposite way, we were trying to say that men and women were the same around that time, and John Gray came out and said, “No, women and men are different. Here's the differences and (unclear) [24:46] difference.” And that was very enlightening for me. So it's still a book that I recommend highly. John Gray has been a great supporter of my work too; he endorsed all my books and…
L: … really has my back. So it's just been a pleasure to… you know, that somebody I got so much insight from has also turned around and been a support for me.
J: Awesome. Well, let me remind our listeners they can find links to that recipe and all of your books and John Gray's book, ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’, on our show notes page at jenriday.com/80. And now, let's hear your personal happiness formula, Laura.
L: So my personal happiness formula has to do it asking myself these 2 powerful questions. And these are, by the way, part of the feminine gifts, right, is that women… in fact, they did a study at the University of Toronto recently, and I hope you're sitting down for this, because they discovered that women are more emotional than men.
L: So who knew, right?
L: Research money well spent, but…
L: So as women, we are emotionally brilliant. And one of the ways that I can really stay tuned into myself and provide exactly what I'm needing in each moment is by asking myself these 2 powerful questions, and they are, “How do I feel?” and, “What do I want?” Desire is the seat of feminine power, so I'm always asking myself, “How do I feel? What do I want?” So especially if I'm cranky or something, it’s like, “How do I feel?” I'm like, “Ah, cranky. You know what? Well, yeah, I want a nap. I'll just march myself into bed. You know, I'm going to go lie down, find out if there's really a problem or if I was just tired,” you know?
L: And then when I wake up, I'll know, right?
L: (unclear) [26:20]. And… but it works with everything. I mean, one woman got stuck. She had put dinner on the table and she's looking around for husband, he’s gone; she can't find him. She goes down to the basement and he’s there because the washing machine had broken and he's bailing out the water with this container; it's got a really narrow little opening. And she says to herself, “Oh my gosh, you could do this later,” she wants to tell him, “Look, you need a better container to bail out all that water,” but instead, she says to herself, “How do I feel and what do I want?” and the answer was, “I'm hungry. What do I want? I want to eat now.” So she said to him, “I would love to eat dinner now,” and he goes, “Okay, yeah, that's a good idea because I can do this later anyway. I need a container with a bigger opening.”
J: (Gasps) Oh!
L: Like he figured it out himself.
J: (Laughs). That's the best!
L: So it's just marvelous for making myself happy and helping me communicate with everyone around me that… in a way that's honoring of me, but also showing up as a delight and not a bear, you know?
L: Not a martyr, not a nag, not a porcupine, but someone who can smile because I feel filled up.
J: Yes, filling that cup. Well, let's have a challenge from you to our listeners and then we'll say goodbye.
L: Alright. So the challenge is to get cherished. And the way you get cherished is, you go to getcherished.com, (kind of like ‘Got milk?’ right, because it’s ‘Get cherished’) and every day, for 5 days, I'm going to send you an email with a little experiment, a little cheat phrase that's going to give you an unfair advantage and making relationships vibrant and amazing. So you can just see if it works for you, and if it does, you keep it; if it doesn't, you throw it out, of course. But these experiments have worked for women in 19 languages in 30 countries. So I challenge you to get cherished by this weekend and just feel desired, adored, and bring back that playfulness and passion.
J: Okay, and that's at getcherish.com?
J: Awesome. Well, Laura, this has been fantastic. I am going to finish that book, ‘The Empowered Wife’, and check out the other ones as well. Thank you so much for being on the show.
L: It's been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
J: Take care.
So Laura's tips really work and I loved getting to talk to her. I remember when I was first married, my whole goal in life was, “My goodness, the household tasks aren't equal. Why aren't you doing your share?” and I would point those fingers and nag and my husband would dig in his heels, not wanting to help. When I let go and stop expecting, things got so much better. And now, my husband does 80% of our cooking (maybe even 90%) and the house gets clean, he gets her kids to do their chores; he wants to be that hero to me, I just had to approach it in a different way. So check out Laura's book and come back next week when I'll be talking with Jennifer Rothschild all about the way we talked to ourselves in our minds. Sometimes we can get a little bit negative and we have this stream of negativity going through our minds, and she has some strategies to deal with that. She is a little fireball of spunk and I loved talking to her; you'll love that interview. So I will see you next week with that, I will be back on Thursday with a happy bit, and until then, make it a fantastic week take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.