Step 1 – Review The Following
It’s easy for us to feel responsible for the thoughts and emotions of others.
Often, our parents (on purpose or not) give us this message.
See if any of these sound familiar:
- You made me so mad
- You make me so happy
- You disappointed me
- If you would just (be nicer, do better at school, etc.), then I wouldn’t have to get so mad
When we hear messages like this (which most of us do from our parents), we take a bad idea into our marriage.
That idea is: I am responsible for my wife’s feelings.
This idea gets reinforced by the phrase: “happy wife, happy life.”
In other words, if I can “make my wife happy,” then I will have a happy life.
It also implies that if I can’t “make my wife happy,” I will not have a happy life.
The lie and the problems
There are two main problems this thought, I have to make my wife happy to succeed, causes:
- Your self-esteem is at the mercy of your wife’s moods. If you do things that make her happy, you succeeded, and you feel good. If you do things that make her sad, or try to make her happy but don’t, you’re a failure and you feel bad.
- You are trying to do something impossible. The whole idea of “making someone happy” is based on a lie. That lie is that we control the emotions of the people around us.
I struggled with this for MANY years.
I spent all of my waking hours trying to figure out how to make my wife happy.
I tried to wear only the clothes she liked. I tried to do my hair the way she liked. I bought her presents I thought she would like. I shut down my fun activities so I could be home more.
And, she was happy. A little. Sometimes.
But, I was miserable.
The Checkbox Lie
The other lie I was telling myself was this: if I did everything she said, she would then give me sex or appreciation in return.
It seems like that should work, right?
But, I kept giving and giving, trying to check off those boxes, but there always seemed to be one more to check off.
Or, I would do well most of the day, then “blow it” by getting upset or not doing the dishes at night, then feel like my chances of sex were shot.
The problem there is hopefully clear after what you’ve learned so far.
This behavior is acting like a mosquito.
If I do the dishes, then you should give me appreciation.
If I take care of the kids, you should give me sex.
In other words, I was doing things not with the intention of serving her, but to get something from her.
And she picked up on that, which is why “making your wife happy,” with the expectation that she will make you happy in return, never works.
The Truth That Sets You Free
Here’s the truth.
The thoughts, feelings, actions and results of others are THEIR responsibility.
Your wife’s feelings are HER responsibility.
Let me prove this to you.
Have you ever been cut off on the road?
I have. Many times.
But, I don’t react the same every time to this situation.
Sometimes I don’t mind at all.
Sometimes I am a little irritated.
Sometimes I feel like running the guy off the road.
But, none of those emotional responses have to do with the “jerk” who cut me off.
They have to do with ME.
Likewise, if your wife isn’t “happy” when you do nice things for her, that doesn’t really have to do with you.
It’s very freeing to realize this.
The Flower Example
I like to give the example of giving flowers to my wife.
Before, I used to give flowers to my life with the intention of “making her happy.”
When I gave her flowers and she was happy, I felt like I succeeded.
But, if I gave her flowers and she did not respond anyway that was as happy or grateful as I wanted, I felt like a failure.
What I learned over time with this.
The flowers were the situation.
From that point on, it was my wife’s responsibility to choose her thoughts, which would choose her feelings, actions and results.
My intention in giving her flowers became just to show my love for her.
Once I gave her the flowers, I had succeeded. I had done something to show love.
If she responded in a positive way, that was a good bonus. If she did not, I was not devastated.
It is very freeing to realize that you are not responsible for the thoughts and feelings and actions of others.
But, it cuts both ways.
You have to realize that you are the only one responsible for your thoughts, feelings, actions and results.
So, if you are not having the results you want in your marriage, you need to figure out what thoughts, feelings and actions you need to change.
This is one of the biggest keys to the strength that will attract your wife to you.
We’ll learn more about controlling your own thoughts, feelings, intentions and actions next week.
But for this week, just realize that you are not responsible for your wife’s emotions.
What This Doesn’t Mean
This does NOT mean that you should then be rude and a jerk to your wife and tell her “if you feel bad about that, it’s your responsibility.”
Think back to your mission statement. You want to create passion with your wife, right?
Acting mean, having intentions of hurting your wife, will definitely lead to more distance, not passion.
It just means that instead of trying to suck appreciation or other good feelings out of her (mosquito style) when you do kind things, you choose to to kind things because you want to show love.
And, with that intention, you are doing the MOST LIKELY thing that will get her affection in return.
It’s not guaranteed. It’s not a trade.
BUT, you’ll feel good about what you’re doing.
AND, she won’t sense that you are “manipulating her,” trying to get her to do something in return for your kindness.
And when she senses THAT, that is when she will MOST LIKELY want to return the favor.
Step 2 – Write it out
- Explain how you have tried to “make your wife happy,” and why that’s a problem.
- Explain what you will do instead
Step 3 – Submit your apology letter on Google Classroom
Visit Google Classroom and go to your week 4 assignment under “Foundational Strength Training” in “Classwork” to submit your letter. Class code: 2ili7k.