This article was first published on KSL.COM
My marriage is falling apart and it is so painful. There are years of resentment between us and we are basically just living together without intimacy or connection. I can’t seem to forgive my husband for his past wrongs and even feel attracted to him. Are we a lost cause? We have some good moments but both of us think about leaving regularly. If it weren’t for the kids we wouldn’t still be here. We’ve tried counseling but honestly, it just made things worse. Is there any hope to fix this? Where can we start when it’s gotten this bad?
You can fix this but it is going to take both of you committing to do these five things:
1. Decide what you want and how bad you want it. Do you want a rich, close, loving, safe relationship with this person? Do you want to keep your family together? Do you want it bad enough to do anything you have to do to create it? Are you willing to change yourself? Are you willing to get outside help?
You have to want this marriage to work more than you want to hold onto your current story that casts your spouse as the bad person. You have to want it more than your pride. You have to want it bad enough to work on yourself. If you don’t want it bad enough to change yourself, and give your spouse your love, affection and loyalty then you don’t really want it and you will never have the amazing, rich, loving, safe relationship you could have.
Keep in mind life is a classroom and the No. 1 lesson you are here to learn is love. This means you are here to learn to forgive and love yourself and other people. Your marriage is providing you with an amazing opportunity to learn these lessons. If you decide to bail on this class without learning the lesson, I promise the universe will just make you retake the class in your next relationship.
I recommend learning it now. Choose to commit to making this marriage work and be ready to change yourself to make it happen – it is the only way.
2. Fix your own your faults and fears. If you want this marriage to work you must stop focusing on your spouse’s faults. There are no bad guys and no good guys here. No matter what your spouse has done in the past you still have the same value. You are both struggling, scared, ill-educated, amazing and divine souls who are doing the best you can with what you know. The problem is neither of you knows how to fix your inaccurate fear-based thinking, stop being selfish and be more loving, but you would both like to be that way. You both want to be good people.
The only person you have any power to change is you so you must focus on fixing you. I don’t even allow couples to meet with me together for coaching. They must come by themselves and focus on their own fear and faults. I have a free fear assessment on my website that will show you where your fears are affecting the relationship. You should also fill out the Understanding Your Marriage Worksheet and download the e-book on repairing your marriage. These will help you to understand how you can change the resentment, disappointment, fear and selfishness you are creating.
You must also work on your self-esteem. Your spouse is not responsible for making you feel valued and good about yourself. That is your job. You must start seeing yourself accurately and stop letting body image or insecurities prevent you from being loving. If this is a big problem you may need some professional help. You can’t have a healthy relationship if you are constantly afraid you aren’t good enough.
3. Forgive your spouse completely. Forgiving your spouse is your No. 1 job as a married person. Forgiving means seeing them accurately as a struggling student in the classroom of life, a work in progress, just like you, and letting go of their entire past every day because you want your entire past to be wiped clean too.
Start every day with a clean slate for both of you. Give your spouse a million chances to do better, grow and learn. You must hold to the idea that we are all good enough all the time. If you do this you will feel wonderful about yourself too. If you choose to crucify your spouse for every mistake, you will give power to the idea that we can be failures and your self-esteem will suffer. You cannot escape this universal principle. Good self-esteem requires a forgiveness mindset toward yourself and others.
Also remember it is not your job to police your spouse’s ability to forgive or love you and complain when he or she doesn’t do it right. If you are policing their love, you are in the wrong because in that moment you are not being loving either.
4. Make sure your spouse feels admired, appreciated and wanted daily. Admiring your spouse means you think he or she is a wonderful, amazing person and in spite of his or her faults you feel lucky to be married to him or her. Your spouse need to see or hear proof of this every day.
For most women to enjoy intimacy, they must feel completely safe, accepted, loved and seen as nearly perfect and totally wonderful. If a woman feels like her husband is disappointed in her, at any level, it creates fear energy around intimacy making it something to avoid. Make sure your spouse feels safe with you outside the bedroom, all the time.
Everyone has fear around not being good enough. Everyone desperately needs to feel that at least one person — the one who matters most — thinks they are enough. You must do your best to show your partner you think he or she is perfect as he or she is right now, even with his or her imperfections. You cannot repair your partner's self-esteem for him or her, but it is your job to build him or her up every chance you get.
You must make sure your spouse feels appreciated for all he or she does for the family and you must demonstrate with physical affection that he or she is wanted daily. I know that it can be difficult at times to put aside your fatigue, resentment, needs and wants to spend intimate time with your spouse, but you cannot have a good marriage without it. So again, decide what you want.
The more intimate time you spend with your spouse, the more you will feel a deep love for him or her. If you refuse to show love to your spouse in this way you will kill the relationship and its death will be on your shoulders.
Husbands must also make sure the desire for intimacy is based in their admiration, appreciation and love for their amazing wife. It can’t be about getting his own needs met. It must be about giving affection to your spouse because you are crazy about her. Intimacy must be about giving to each other so it is about love, not about fear, scarcity and lack.
5. You must choose love over fear in each moment. You are responsible for choosing how you are going to show up in your marriage, every moment of every day, and this is a simple choice because you only have two options fear of being insulted or taken from or love.
When you get offended, resentful or bothered by your spouse, you must choose forgiveness, peace, compassion and generosity over defensiveness, conflict, disdain and selfishness. You must stop being afraid of being insulted or taken from and just be loving. The To Be or Not To Be Offended worksheet on my website could also help with this. You might also go back and read my past articles on KSL.com because I explain how to make this choice in every one.
Also, remember a good marriage requires choosing to love each other even in those moments when you don’t like each other. That is why forgiveness is the key to getting what you want. The first step is really working on these five things. You can do it.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular coach and speaker.
This article was first published on ksl.com
I was born with profound hearing loss and did not learn ASL until I went to college. Three years ago, I got a cochlear implant that has been an amazing experience. I am learning everything all over again, which has been a challenge and joy. I am very patient with others, but I am not with myself. When I am told that I have mispronounced a word or misunderstood a saying that I have never heard of … I feel stupid. I have repeatedly told myself that I am learning and this is a new path that I am taking, but I find myself feeling stupid or foolish all the time. How can I stop being so hard on myself?
We all experience negative self-talk and criticism when we make mistakes or when life gets challenging. This is worse for you because you are learning something most people learned long ago (how to speak) so it might feel like you are behind the class or failing, but that isn’t true. You are right on track in your perfect custom journey. At least you could see it that way if you wanted to.
I experienced the same self-criticism Saturday as I rode the Goldilocks Bike Ride. I started road biking at 45 in spite of some chronic health problems that make it difficult. But I still think I should be as strong as people who are younger, have done it for years, and are in perfect health. As they race past me and I struggle to make it up the hills, negative self-talk can kick in.
But the fact is, there is not another person on the planet who got signed up for the exact same classes we got. So it makes no sense to compare ourselves with other people. Our journey is about our growth and ours alone.
What we need most as we are struggling through our specific life class is what athletes and coaches call “mental toughness.” We need to work on our “mind game.” All athletes know that the negative thoughts in their own head are going to be their worst opposition.
Everyone involved in training top athletes knows that working on the “mind game” is a critical component of success. Those who believe they can make it, those who know how to beat negative self-talk and are mentally prepared to handle setbacks, will always win over the athletes who aren’t as mentally tough.
I have found this to be true in my road biking. Climbing hills creates all kinds of fear, self-doubt and negative thoughts, and my state of mind is a huge factor in how I do. If I’m scared that I can’t make it against the wind and I let any negative thoughts take hold in my head, there is no way I can make it. But if I stay positive, constantly telling myself I’m strong and I can do this, and if I can stay committed to keep pedaling no matter what, and refuse to compare myself with anyone else, I always can make it.
Mental toughness makes all the difference.
David Yukelson, Ph.D., the coordinator of sport psychology services at Penn State University, defined mental toughness as the psychological edge that enables you to remain determined, focused, confident, resilient, and in control under pressure.
Mental toughness can be acquired and practiced the same way you practice any sport. But you may need a life coach or counselor to help you learn the techniques and fine-tune your skills.
Here are a few aspects of mental toughness you can start working on:
1) Think positive
Bradley Busch, a sports psychologist who works with professional soccer teams, says that positive self-talk actually affects your body chemistry. “Negativity is associated with the stress hormone cortisol, which reduces the ability of the frontal lobe to function effectively. Positive, energized language releases dopamine, which is linked to confidence. We advise players not to fire the wrong chemicals and hormones through their brains. In training, we ask them to practice capturing negative thoughts and converting them into positive ones. We call this ‘squashing ANTs’ (Automatic Negative Thoughts).”
We all need to practice squashing ANTs, our subconscious fear-based negative thinking. We must learn how to consciously choose positive thoughts and override the negative — and do this all the time.
2) Keep looking up
Busch also believes that athletes' physiology is linked to their mental states. “If you have your head down and shoulders slumped, your brain chemistry changes for the worse. Holding your head up keeps your brain alert.” Researchers at Harvard Business School have scientifically proven this is true — posture affects your cortisol and confidence levels. You will maintain more mental toughness and confidence, even after a mistake, if you hold your head up and shoulders back.
3) Handle mistakes and setbacks
Sports psychologists recommend having a preplanned procedure to go through after a mistake or setback, which helps you to quickly let it go. Some athletes grab some blades of grass then drop them as they symbolically let the mistake and its negative energy go. My mental procedure goes like this:
4) Keep goals simple and realistic
I do this by not focusing on the 50 miles I have left to go, but on the next 10 pedals or getting to the top of this hill. Focusing on simple goals also keeps you focused in the now, where your attention needs to be to perform at your best. You will also perform better when your mind is calm and quiet. So don’t overcomplicate what you are doing. Keep it simple.
5) Have rock-solid belief about who you are
In my book, "Choosing Clarity," I explain the importance of having a predetermined policy about your value and where it comes from. This belief serves you best if it is not tied to your performance but is instead based on your intrinsic worth as a one-of-a-kind human soul. Self-esteem based on absolute value means no matter what you do or say, or what other people do, think or say, nothing can change it. This makes you bulletproof and really mentally tough. If you struggle with self-esteem and keeping your value out of the equation, the book would really help you.
As you work on your "mind game," focus more on how far you’ve come than how far you have to go, refuse to compare yourself with anyone else (because they aren’t in the same class) and remember that your value isn’t on the line and never changes. Stay determined to keep growing and learning (and peddling) no matter how strong the wind or how difficult the challenge.
Muhammad Ali said, “Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
This article is dedicated to all the ladies who stuck it out against the wind Saturday and finished the Goldilocks Race … no matter how far they rode.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness." She offers free coaching calls every Tuesday night.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.