Have you ever felt the pain and hurt of being disconnected from your husband? Have you ever experienced the sadness of feeling unseen and invisible? Have you ever just longed for the connection you once had, and you have no idea how to get it back?
That was me. I had the opposite of my dream-come-true marriage for a period of time. All I had wanted my whole life was a loving, deeply connected marriage with my one true soul mate. Shortly after getting married, we started having challenges. There were arguments, emotional distance, and lots of tension from conflicting perspectives about a variety of topics, including money, jobs, and emotional connection.
I thought I knew better than my husband. I thought I was the grounded, responsible one, who, as a therapist, could unpeel the emotional layers and bring about our deep connection.
I was wrong. I wasn’t the smarter, more correct, more informed or more emotionally intelligent one. Nope. My husband and I are just different. Different people, and different genders, with different perspectives on jobs, money, and the approach to closeness.
Here’s how it all unfolded.
We were deeply aligned on all of the basics when choosing to get married—our priorities of family and marriage, deep commitment to Hashem and Torah, and kindness and sensitivity.
After getting married, however, some differences were revealed. For example, we had different perspectives on careers. I thought that the only stable way to earn a living was a 9-5 job with benefits, while my husband had different ideas, based on the example modeled for him growing up—a thriving business his dad had created all on his own.
When I learned of this key difference, my anxiety rose, as I thought running one’s own business was too shaky for my cautious nature.
I handled this anxiety by getting into control-mode. I started telling my husband what made sense financially and job-wise, and that if he wanted a stable, normal family, then following my way was the right way. In hindsight, my approach was critical and controlling. At the time though, I felt like a helpful, loving wife, just guiding my husband down the correct path.
This control issue led to many hours-long, repetitive conversations of me trying to get through to him. These conversations triggered arguments, emotional distance, and resentment.
My husband did take some jobs which matched my criteria, but he was unhappy, as they weren’t what matched his creative, entrepreneurial nature.
The emotional distance, which resulted from my controlling ways, created more anxiety for me. I feared we would drift further and further apart, and so, I tried to take control in this area, too. I started to tell my husband that we needed to have a “talk about our connection”. Basically, this was me acting like his therapist, analyzing his past, and trying to do everything possible to get him to be open and connected with me. I tried to explain the importance of emotional vulnerability, and pushed for increased spontaneous affection, explaining that that’s what soul mates do!
In both the areas of work and emotional connection, I allowed my fear to get the best of me, and I anxiously reacted from a place of inappropriate control—trying to force both issues to go my way—the only way I thought would lead to stability and closeness.
The “my way or the highway approach” was far from conducive to intimacy in our marriage.
It pushed us apart.
I was always taught that the key to a good marriage was open, honest communication. I thought I was doing just that. I thought I was only being honest about my perspective, and a helpful and caring wife, showing my husband the right way.
I started on a mission to fix all of this. I wanted to create a marriage of peace, love, and joy.
We had some eye-opening moments in therapy, and enjoyed some books, which taught us about marriage and the male/female genders. However, the bottom line was that our struggles persisted.
Then, about 2 years ago, our transformation happened, and it’s been getting better ever since.
This is why I am writing. I want to share what worked for us, in the hopes and trust that it may help you transform your marriage too.
I came across Laura Doyle’s intimacy skills in her book, Empowered Wife, and they changed my life. Then I dove into a coach-training program, as I knew I wanted to share my transformation with others.
I learned a whole new way of relating and communicating that actually worked.
The first thing I tried was relinquishing control of my husband and his life choices. I took a scary and important leap of faith, and trusted my husband to begin his own business. I made a commitment to only share with him my belief in his endeavors, and to vent any fears to like-minded friends.
I realized that my trust and my belief in my husband were a huge key to his success, and an essential component of our closeness, peace and joy together.
It was scary, and still is sometimes, but each moment I choose faith in my husband—and faith in his ability to succeed—my love for him grows, our closeness deepens, and our peace is sweetened a few drops more.
It’s been one of the most beautiful journeys of my life. The journey of believing in my husband.
Another key factor in our transformation was learning to focus on the outcome I wanted, rather than finding evidence of my fears coming true. My fears were related to financial challenges and instability, but what I really wanted was to see my husband as responsible in his job choices, and to feel secure in our financial situation.
I began looking for evidence of our financial stability as a family, and my husband’s sense of responsibility as a provider. I saw his wise budgeting skills. I saw his careful and thought-out business moves. I saw his ability to plan for the present and the future at the same time.
What I focused on increased. It was my focus that had been off; it was not any lack within him. He was actually a responsible, capable, successful provider, and had been all along.
Where there was previous tension, fighting, and distance around the topic of money—which had dominated most of our talks together—now there was peace, closeness, and trust.
I learned something amazing as I began practicing Laura Doyle’s intimacy skills. I learned that talking about building our connection did the opposite. No connection was ever deepened or strengthened from forcing it to be so.
With our newfound peace around the subject of money, I still yearned for deep and lasting connection and love.
Pushing, prying, and begging for more attention and closeness hadn’t been working.
But these skills I was learning—all of them combined—created the closeness I was seeking.
One skill in particular transformed everything in this area—the skill of self-care. I learned that the more I filled myself up with what made me truly happy on a daily basis—whether it was yoga, dancing, iced coffee, or living my dreams—the more my husband was drawn to me and my happy self. I naturally attracted my husband’s attention, the happier I was. To me, this was a huge double win. I got to be happy, and I got the close and connected marriage I had always dreamed of.
It was a simple and unexpected way to create that loving connection, and I’m still amazed at how showing up to my marriage as a happy, respectful wife is the route to love and true marriage happiness.
I am now a passionate Laura Doyle relationship coach. I feel clear that Hashem has blessed me with this transformation so I can help others achieve the same.
I’m thrilled that each of you is now aware of these life-changing skills. I’m deeply grateful to Hashem for giving me this mission to create true shalom bayis in Jewish homes, with His help and guidance every step of the way.