Should We Really Kill The Marriage Counselors?

I’m starting to wonder who benefits more from Gray and I’s weekly trips to the library!

I came across this little gem browsing through the new arrival section and just had to have it!


Anything with a title like that has my attention! I checked it out without much serious intention and never expected I would be writing to you about it. However, I found myself enthralled and motivated by the ideas inside. …The even crazier thing? I started implementing some of the “skills” discussed in the book and they have actually ….worked.

Now on my second pass through the book, I find myself armed with pen and paper and an even sharper focus on what it is telling me. I am trying to completely inhale the contents so I can further apply it to my life.

I don’t want to spoil too much for you, I will take it back to the library soon and you can have your pass at it-but I want to share with you some things I learned about myself, my marriage and dealing with people in all arenas of my life. That was a surprising fringe benefit- the help with other people. While the focus of the book is on marriage, I found that the skills can and do overlap into nearly every relationship you have with friends, co-workers and even other members of your family.

I first feel I must put out a disclaimer of sorts, (and to head off rumors I guess), my marriage is NOT in trouble and actually, quite the opposite. I love reading books like this because it helps me to continue to learn and grow into the wife my husband deserves and, as you will see in this book, how to silently give him what he needs for HIM to continue and grow into the man, husband and father he already is and will become in the future. Anyone that has been married for any length of time will tell you that it is constant work and effort. Reading and applying skills you learn in books like this help facilitate that. With that in mind the things I learned from the book will probably be different than what you might take away from it, another reason it is important for you to read it for yourself. But, true to “Liz” form, you know I will be brutally honest-even at my own expense!

1) Your husband really is a good guy and wants to make you happy.

Before you mutter and say “yea, I am sure he does-he doesn’t care a thing about my happiness.” Understand that if you have a good guy (and she explains what constitutes a good guy vs a bad guy), deep down under the cold or distant man that you MAY be dealing with is a man that craves to make you smile, wants to make you happy and will do what it takes to do that, if YOU allow him to.
2) Taking time for you time isn’t selfish.  


The first exercise the author instructs you to do is to make a list of 20 (yes TWENTY…I didn’t make it past 12) things that you do for the sheer JOY of doing them. These are things that have no string attached, no SHOULD, no HAVE to, nothing like that.
Only things you do for YOU and no other strings. It was tough!
Zach and I did have fun when he tried to guess what I put down (he guessed only a couple right actually) and then it was even more fun turning the tables and trying to get him to make a list.

His list was genuine and extremely short. Men truly are simple and easy to please.

Back to US though, the author explains that self-care ( the 20 things that you do for YOU) is a vital and required part of becoming the wife you want to be and she explains why. She goes even further to demand that you start doing 3 or 4 of the things that you listed DAILY.
I am still struggling but I usually get a couple different things in on a typical day.

And just a little side note, you might think, “well, duh, you work out every day-that is self-care”, and to some it is, but to me I don’t count it. I feel like I SHOULD work out, I HAVE to work out and therefore it doesn’t meet the requirements for self-care. My list is actually quite lazy!
Reading, Cooking, Writing and Napping all are in the top 10!
Taking time for yourself is helping yourself, so you can then help others.

3) I don’t like feeling or being vulnerable.
I spend the majority of my time in a male dominant world and I like that I can keep up and hold my own in that arena. I only have one problem; I forgot how to turn that on and off.  I got so busy doing it all, proving my capability that I took over everything. I didn’t let him help me, he could never be my hero- I was too busy being capable. I didn’t want people or him to think that I needed his or anyone’s help.

I wanted to prove I I could do it all and do it all well.

Turns out- I can’t…. and as it turns out- He doesn’t want or expect me to.


Because me trying to do it all, isn’t me being happy and he wants me to be happy. You might wonder what it means to be vulnerable. It could be as easy as letting him help you get the groceries out of the car. Stop muttering under your breath about how having help would be nice and then doing it all anyway .Express the desire to have help unloading the groceries and thank him exponentially when he does! Repeat.

5) Learning to show gratitude changes your attitude

How often do I show true gratitude to my husband? Thinking back I believe that I do a pretty good job of it but I know I could always improve on it, and the more he has started doing for me, the more I WANT to tell him how much I appreciate him and the things he does.
It feels good to me and I know it feels good to him.
I figured out I can’t be resentful and grateful at the same time and the more I CHOOSE to show gratitude (even for what seems like the most mundane things) the more my attitude has improved.
Another fringe benefit? The more gratitude I express, he more returns the favor….win-win.

6)It is OK to say no 


Every woman I know has a hard time saying no and when we do what do we do? We feel  guilty and like we are worthless for one reason or another.  Aren’t you tired of feeling that way? Who lets you and makes you feel that way the most?
The answer is probably YOU.
If there is something in your life that you are doing that just makes you want to… poke your  eye out with a fork, consider a different way. Explain that you just can’t do X or Y and LET YOUR HUSBAND HELP YOU.
If he won’t do it then maybe the NEED for that needs to be evaluated.
Just because it is brought before you doesn’t mean you have to pick it up.

7) My husband deserves my Trust and Respect
If you were to ask me if I trust and respect my husband I would say “of course I do”. But when I really look back, I am not sure I had the actions to back up the words.
How do we show respect exactly?
Does criticizing everything he does because he does it differently than you (and your way IS better of course) show respect?

What about explaining out how he should do something THIS way because it is better for this reason or that reason, and then reminding him about how you showed him how to do it when he goes back to his way of doing things.

What about not letting him do anything because he doesn’t do it right (at least not in the  same time frame/way or demeanor that you would)?

How about Rolling your eyes at his ideas, nagging him about his silly shirt (is his silly shirt really hurting me?)

Or not trusting him to take care of things at all, like feeding himself or getting out of bed on time?   So you mother him.
That isn’t very sexy and no man wants to be married to his mother.

Your husband is extremely capable of doing just about anything… IF you will just let him.
What I figured out is I have to focus on the end result. TRUST in him that he will get to the end result eventually, even if the events leading up to that result don’t look anything like how I would have got there.
Does it really matter how it gets done?
As long as it gets done and you don’t have to worry about it, does it REALLY matter?

8) I need to stay on MY paper, stop helping with EVERYTHING   
This one is so big for me. I think it is probably pretty big for most women these days.
How many of you are so overwhelmed, over worked and cranky from exhaustion from taking on everything under the sun: Work, home, kids, errands, bills, running here and there and  going crazy in the middle of it all? I know what you are going to say, “If I don’t do it, no one will!”  I hear you. I used to think that too.
I never understood how much damage I was doing to my marriage, my relationships with other people and myself by that line of thinking until I read this book.
What happens when you get this way? You become resentful.
It is pretty hard to be happy, show respect or take time for self-care if you are in the middle of this downward spiral.                 Take my advice (actually her advice-but I am the current mouthpiece), STOP.
It’s ok to need help. It’s ok to receive help and it’s OK to say thank you.
Allow yourself to really feel the gratitude and let your husband be your hero-it’s one way to show him respect and to show that you trust him.

9) The Power of Positive Affirmation

We all understand that the more we focus on certain things about people the more that those things are all we begin to see. For example, say your husband is always late.
Instead of nagging about how he is always late, take the opportunity when he IS on time to express your delight that he is on time, tell him how much you appreciate it…and watch him perk up with the positive affirmation.
This goes for several things and this includes talking negatively about your husband in general.
Especially in front of your kids. I am thankful that this isn’t something that I do, I never want Gray to think that I have any negative opinion about his dad. But it is easy to forget that we are our husband’s spokesperson.  What we repeat we start to believe more than anything else.
I CHOOSE to focus on the things that Zach is so good at AND to tell him about those things  on a daily basis.
The more I do it the more I find that the other stuff is kind of melting away.

10) I need to know what I want and how to properly express what I want without nagging, complaining or criticizing.

This is huge. How many of us know exactly what we want? In the book she challenges you to make a list of your desires, no matter how outlandish they might sound (she gave an example of her personal list at that time-it included a hula hoop).
Once I put pen to paper on things that I truly DESIRED for the upcoming week, that day and even further into years in the future and  then expressed my desires honestly without nagging, demanding or expecting him to make them happen-just acknowledging the desires, he started working to help make them happen.
Another interesting turn is I in turn started asking him what his desires were for the next day or week ahead and I put more effort into making those things happen for him.

One thing that stems so much frustration in a marriage is ASSUMPTION. We ASSUME that our partner knows what we want but over and over we end up frustrated because they fell short, again. But you gotta ask yourself, have you set them up to fail? You ASSUME they know, but do they?? Next time you are mad that your husband didn’t get you flowers or isn’t being sensitive to your wants; make sure that they actually are armed with the right information. How can they meet your needs if you haven’t expressed them properly?…and “properly” doesn’t involve criticizing or complaining.

I keep not wanting to ruin the whole book but I can’t NOT mention something that she talks about again and again.  It is truth in the rawest form if you will admit it to yourself. Every complaint we have stems from an unmet need or desire within ourselves. (I am paraphrasing)

Take that in.

If we stop and consider WHY we are upset, nagging, demanding or complaining-at the simplest point you will find it comes from something you need or desire.

Example: A complaint and the raw need revealed.


A nagging complaint, “You are always watching TV”.

Stop and consider, why does that bother you? Is it because he is paying attention to the TV and not to you?

The raw need or desire, “I miss you”.

When I stopped complaining and instead expressing a desire I found Zach more receptive to what I was saying and making an effort to fulfill that need.

We both are working more to know the score, what the other needs and in turn we are working more together than against each other than ever before.   Somehow we are no longer competing for who is doing what; we are a team working to help each other and it didn’t really have anything to do with him changing anything he was doing.

It started with me and my actions.

I think a lot of times our husbands are constantly trying to protect themselves. Waiting for the next “one two punch” to their masculinity or trying to predict what mood you will throw their way today; that they shut down, become distant or “check out”. I don’t want that and I don’t think you do either.
Let your husband show you how capable HE is!

Do yourself (and your husband) a favor, check out this book!

To Living Married Life to the Fullest,

Liz Jackson

3 thoughts on “Should We Really Kill The Marriage Counselors?

  1. Like your take on the book. Speaking from a 27 years marriage, I’m telling you that everything you mentioned is so true. My husband is awesome and he says all the time, ” I just want to make you happy.” I tell him though, that I have to know what makes me happy. To be honest, I don’t know what that is. I really couldn’t come up with 20 things, I barely made 5. My career eats up so much of my life that I feel that I don’t even know who I am. Most of the time, I do things my husband wants to do, because when he asks me, I don’t even know where to start. “Happy” does it really exists? If so, what is it?


    1. Maybe you should start with those 5 things and do 2 of them every day, and to clear it up- the 20 things she requests for you to write down aren’t 20 things that you want to make you happy- It’s 20 things you do that bring you joy, 20 things that you enjoy doing just to enjoy them. My list made 12 (and I remember you listing some quite well!) The figuring out what you WANT, I don’t think has to go to 20.
      I know when I started putting pen to paper on my WANTS and desires I went from serious to frivolous and didn’t try to deny myself from things that seemed even slightly silly.
      It could even be broken down into a time table. For example, I wanted to take a nap (a 10 minute one) that same afternoon, the next day I wanted to work out before we left town and would be on the road all day and further down the road; some time this millennium I want to remodel my kitchen. Just the acknowledgement of the desire/want and then making that want known, validated the want (from myself and to Zach)-brought us closer to accomplishing them (it let him know I needed some free time that afternoon for a “self care” nap, allowed ME to GIVE myself that time and it let him know the next day I would be gone in the morning for a bit). We were brought to the same page and since he wants me to be happy, he worked with me to make it happen.

      On Happiness.. you had to open that can of worms with your question, didn’t you!? LOL.
      What is happy? I think I have a blog post circling in my brain to answer that; but for now- I think you grow into it, and I think it starts with doing 2 of the 5 things you wrote down-every day; even if it is a 5 minute “time out” by yourself.
      XO Kel!


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