Do you know about the surprising power of self-regulation? The way I completely changed our unhealthy marriage dynamic, helped my husband’s ADHD, and set up my kids for success was by learning how to self-regulate.
In episode 19 of The Authentic Wife Show, you’ll learn my 6-step system to create a healthy marriage without leaving the one you’re in. This is the same system my Happily Ever After Marriage Coaching Program clients learn!
Everyone says you have to love yourself and be more authentic, and of course you do.
But what they don’t tell you is that you also haven’t truly done that until you can love yourself and be authentic no matter who’s in the room with you. Who knew?!
But it’s important for a reason….. Our ability as parents to provide a loving family for our children largely depends on our ability to navigate other people’s energy and emotional states without taking on responsibility for them.
Have you heard of the 5 love languages? A 2017 study by Bunt and Hazelwood on Chapman’s popular “5 Love Languages” idea found that “neither love language alignment nor implicit knowledge of a partner’s love language increases relationship satisfaction, but relevant self‐regulatory behaviors do,” especially when they come from the female in the marriage. This means that our own self-regulation – our ability to use emotions as guidance instead of express them, so we can be honest instead of defensive — is what improves the quality of our marriages. Debunking Chapman’s model also reminds us that we don’t have to pretend to be someone we’re not in order to have a successful marriage.
This isn’t just important it’s huge, and critical for us as parents to understand because it affects the wellbeing of our society. In 2001, a study by Furstenberg and Kiernan published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, indicated that adults whose parents had divorced are more likely to break up with their live-in partner, suffer economically, live in subsidized housing, be on welfare, and men are more likely to be unemployed. In fact, divorce is considered an Adverse Childhood Experience or ACE, and Harvard tells us that the more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely he or she is to suffer from things like heart disease and diabetes, poor academic achievement, and substance abuse later in life. So it’s critically important for our children that we can create authentic relationships now with their future success in mind. As someone who’s parents divorced, I know that as a mom I never want to see my children suffer because of something I could have done differently if I knew how. It was imperative that I stop the cycle.
Secondly, it’s important because your life is all about relationships. From friends to coworkers, to clients and vendors, to the PTA moms and your own children – every area of your life is touched by your ability to have authentic relationships that lead to collaboration. By your ability to calmly negotiate, to meet your needs while helping others to meet their own, and to insist on behavior that reflects your worth through lovingly but firmly held boundaries, you can move through conflict from a place of love and happiness without having to leave the relationship to safeguard your joy.
I remember one day when I watched author Gary Zukav being interviewed by Oprah and toward the end, he said that being authentic was being able to stay in a place of love no matter how the other person was being. At this point, my husband and I had been fighting a lot and it seemed like I was outgrowing him, and I was worried that we would be divorced before my son was out of diapers. My husband has ADHD and was childlike and temperamental and most days I felt like the only adult in the house, and I was beyond resentful. So when he got home from work that day, I decided to stay in a place of love no matter what. I’d been working on becoming a conscious parent for a while and was getting good at letting go of my childhood baggage, so I was able to shift my energy up to love and open my heart even when my ego was like wait, are you sure? See, I’d worn this coat of negative armor when I was around him to “protect” myself, but in the end, I found out it was me driving the dagger through my own heart. We rode in silence for the five minutes to our kids’ Montessori to pick them up, and I could feel his negative energy pushing up against my joy. But the first woman I saw when I entered my code and walked in the door was SO friendly to me, and this wasn’t my normal experience. Then I saw a teacher, and she lit up when she saw me and was chatty and laughing. One by one, I was met by all of these super happy people when normally everyone just kind of said hello and moved on. By the time we left, his energy had shifted up too and he was happy and helpful getting the kids into their car seats, and that was when I realized that holding onto my energy not only made me feel great, it made everyone around me start to feel great and their behavior improved as well. It was like I had tuned the radio to a different, happier station, and everyone met me there.
What I discovered was that we, by default, tend to match the moods or energy of others in order to stay safe, but we don’t have to do that. Sure, when we’re children, it’s what we had to do to try to get our needs met from parents too busy or too stressed to really give us their full attention. But now, as adults, we have the ability to know that helping others isn’t always about our words or actions – it’s about holding onto ourselves – being self-regulated — no matter how they’re being. This is how we’re able to empathetically help THEM process what they’re experiencing, so they can shift up and join us in what’s our natural state – our state of happiness. Hanging onto or ignoring emotions, which give us guidance on what to do and are supposed to pass through our bodies in about 90 seconds, keeps us in a state of resistance to our natural frequency of joy. And failing to individuate and hone our empathic abilities so we know when we’re sensing what another is feeling, keeps us confused about what we’re actually feeling in the moment. In other words, we pick up their fear, our bodies match them and go into fear, and then suddenly we’re both fighting.
So I dove into books and classes, conscious parent coaching, self care, and even reiki certifications, I talked to experts, and I started applying everything I was learning to my own relationships. And it worked. My husband changed. I changed. We both grew up. The other day we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner and my son was crying and upset because he just wanted to go home, and he was still crying loudly when we sat down at our table in the crowded restaurant. I was holding space for him to try to help him process, and then my husband started to talk and I was alert, ready to call him out for yelling at our son to stop. But do you know what he said? He said, “It’s ok to cry, but we can’t cry in here. If you want to cry, I’ll take you out to the car and you can cry all you need to out there.” Which was exactly when I started crying. When our two kids were babies I thought he’d NEVER evolve and become a conscious parent. But as it turns out, being a conscious parent also means being a conscious wife, and it’s amazing the kind of impact it’s had in our lives.
What I discovered was, there IS a framework that can help make sense of it all…
And that’s what I want to share with you today.
You see there are 6 steps that make up the formula for having healthy, authentic relationships.
Step 1 is Exploring Triggers. This is the first stage where you take that depleting emotional energy in your body, or those draining thoughts about a situation, and you figure out what lesson they’re trying to teach you. This is where you discover that the anger you feel is because you aren’t protecting your boundaries. Or that the sadness you feel is related to something that happened when you were 6 and never processed because someone told you to stop crying. We also learn this idea of, you spot it you got it, which means that whatever we’re judging in our husband is already in us as well. That’s why we’re so triggered by it.
The next step, step 2, is Healing. You can’t shift your energy up, truly, until you’ve allowed all of the repressed emotions you’ve ignored for years or decades out of your body. In this stage, my clients learn how to parent themselves and give themselves the supportive encouragement they’ve needed all of their lives. This is when they realize that their husband is equally struggling and was never the one who could save them.
In the third step, Energetic Coherence, you learn how to refill your energy tank so you’re not always depleting it and depending on others to fill it back up for you. This is also when you realize that you can’t give to others unless it’s coming from an overflow of energy. That means you can’t just not sleep, drink a pot of coffee, never journal, and be a happy mom. Instead, you have to create a plan for the habits and experiences you’re going to give yourself that replenish your own energy. And you’re going to allow your husband to do the same.
I call these three steps our daily emotional hygiene. The first part of this journey is all inner work, and I find that’s where most of us stop in our personal growth journey, thinking we’re done. But now we’re going to take that work outside and into our relationships, which is where the real awakening happens, where we honestly step into love. Each conflict with others is an opportunity to become even more aligned to your authentic self.
In step 4, Intention Setting, you learn how to manifest what you want. Up until now, you’ve probably let your subconscious set intentions for you, but now you get to consciously choose how you want to show up and what you want to experience. This simple, easily overlooked step will improve every single conversation you have. It informs your behavior and how you communicate, just as setting an intention for what you want to eat for lunch helps you drive to that restaurant or cook those ingredients.
Step 5 is Empathy and Connection. This is where my clients really want to say, “Ok that was great thanks bye.” But you can’t skip this step if you want to see the BEHAVIOR of others improve. And if you’re married, this is your partner in raising a family, and getting the best out of him ultimately serves you and your children. So now we’re creating connection through being vulnerable, by truth telling, by being authentic. And because you’ve healed and shifted up, you can now actually use empathy to help him understand himself more. Empathy is a talent you’ve always possessed, but now you’re consciously using it to help people FEEL and HEAL. And empathy is something critical for parenting, teamwork, leadership, even sales. Knowing what another person needs makes you the best in your business.
Finally, we have step 6, which is communicating. Being able to ask questions that shape another’s thinking is a superpower. You learn that questions, not statements, are what help the person you’re with critically think through what they’re saying, feeling, and needing. Everyone wants to jump to communication right away, but the truth is that not one communication technique works – until your energy underneath it is clear and you’re self-regulated, which you do in the first 4 steps of my framework.
And while you’re communicating, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get TRIGGERED again. So you go back to step 1.
I use this framework every day in all of my relationships. It’s the reason my family is still together and thriving as we genuinely celebrate our 12th year of marriage. Even my relationship with my own parents has improved.
But it doesn’t only work for me, my clients have had astounding results applying it to their marriages. I have a hybrid marriage coaching program called Happily Ever After and toward the end of our six months together, we end up going over an assessment they took when they started. One of my clients graduated recently and when I read her back what she’d wanted for her marriage six months prior, she said, “I think we’re getting there. I’m crying. I never thought we’d get there. That just seemed like a pipedream. Now I can actually see it starting to manifest.” Not only have they achieved what they wanted, they have a CVS receipt worth of other wins because this journey applies to every relationship we have.
If you’re ready to have truly rewarding, authentic relationships, take these six steps. Exploring triggers, where you’ll finally learn what authentic even means for you. Healing, where you’ll free your body from all the emotional weight that has been constricting you and holding you back from your purpose. Energetic coherence, where you’ll know how to truly open your heart and live a happy life without dependence on others to fill you up. Intention setting, where you’ll consciously manifest the outcomes you desire. Connection and empathy, where you’ll shift the behavior of those around you to be the most supportive of your highest selves. And communication, where you’ll navigate problems and find ways to ensure everyone’s needs are met as the wise leader you are.
So I’ve got one question for you, on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is never and 10 is all the time, how much do you feel like the only adult in the relationship?
If you’re wondering how much of this work you’ve already done, you can take my Should I Get Divorced? Quiz which will show you how close you are to being self-regulated.
Or, to begin improving your marriage, you can take my masterclass Authentically Grounded and dive deeper into the 6 steps.
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