Parenting is hard enough, but what happens when you and your spouse disagree on how to raise your kids? In today’s episode, Dr. Leman goes into detail about ways to better understand your partner and offers insight on how to handle disagreements when they come. Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are by Dr. Kevin Leman
Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing
Produced by Unmutable™
Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us today and on this podcast. If this happens to be your first time, just to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If this subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. And, as always, there is a base to go get more information about what’s happening. You can go to birthorderguy.com and get all the information and I encourage you to go to every digital device … if you’re an Android user, if you’re an iPhone user, you can subscribe to Have a New Kid By Friday and enjoy these delivered right to you. We keep covering a variety of topics, so highly, highly, highly, highly encourage you.
And, as always, as a listener to this podcast if you listen as soon as it comes out, you get the latest and greatest books that you can buy for super cheap. The latest one is Have a New Husband By Friday, so from July 25 to July 31st, for only a buck ninety nine as a ebook for Have a New Husband By Friday. It’s a great book.
Well, I’m gonna jump into today’s show. Let’s go for it. So, Dr. Leman, a little bit of confession time here. I don’t know how many years ago, about 10, 12 years ago, Andrea and I were in a dispute and we ended up in the hallway. The kids were probably only about 15 feet away from us and we’d had a fight and at the top of my lungs, top. I mean, as loud as I could go, I said to Andrea … this is a romance tip, “You are a liar.” And it was red faced and angry. Yeah.
Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It was lovely.
Doug: It was lovely. It’s a great way to make your wife feel loved.
Dr. Leman: By the way, Doug is a candidate for dumbest man in the state of Oregon. You can vote this November.
Andrea: I think I’ll be picking up that book.
Doug: it was shortly after that that we started to get some help and I credit Andrea for changing who I am. That she had the ability to change me to what I am and to get me on the same page as her. So my question to you is, there’s a whole bunch of us who are struggling to be on the same page when it comes to parenting. How do we help our spouse get on the same page with us?
Dr. Leman: Thanks for the interesting and easy question. Step number one is you have to challenge yourself to see if you have what I call the critical eye. Are you one of those people that just … again, it’s a plus and minus. It can be a real plus in your life, it can be a plus in your business to be able to spot flaws. But when you start finding flaws in people you love, that’s when relationships go sideways quickly. And by the way, I cannot believe that [Ravel 00:03:19] is offering Have a New Husband By Friday for ninety nine cents.
Doug: A buck ninety nine.
Dr. Leman: I’m gonna call him. Seriously, I’m calling him, I’m saying, “This is crazy.” And the reason I say that is, when people ask me, “Hey, you’ve got a lot of books out there.” 61 books coming this fall, okay? “Of those 61 books what is your personal favorite? I mean, the one that you enjoyed doing the most. The one that gave you more self-fulfillment.” Right near the very top of that list is Have a New Husband By Friday, because that’s the book where I talk to women about how men really feel. How men really behave. Why they behave the way they do. My favorite one-liner in that book is, think of your husband as a four year old that shaves. He’s the simple one. So, number one is do I have the critical eye? Because if you do, whatever you do right, the critical eye is gonna undo. Okay? That’s the opposite of what we call vitamin E encouragement. That’s discouraging to be on the receiving end of that.
Step number two, my friend Gary Chapman wrote the wonderful little book The Five Love Languages. I know many of you read Gary’s book and Gary’s a hoot, by the way. Gary is very straight, first born personality. His lovely wife is a female Kevin Leman in many ways. She’s a little off the wall, absolutely fun to be around and I’m reminded of whoever said that opposites attract was on the right page. So, again, do you know your husband’s love language? Do you know your wife’s love language? Again, they are words of affirmation, gifts, physical touch, quality time, acts of service. When you think about your life I think that you’ll admit that you probably pony up to one or two of those and the irony is, ask yourself if your husband has the same love language? Does my wife have the same love language? In all probability you don’t. One of the expressions that you hear from me a lot is get behind your wife’s eyes, get behind your husband’s eyes. That’s why I love that little book so much, it gives you great insight. Most women think they understand that man they’re married to.
I contend that very, very few of you truly understand your husband. And your husband, if he’s like most of us, operates at arm’s length. He doesn’t share easily. Now, why I say that, about 15% of couples that I visit with see things differently. For example, in most marriages husband is the aggressor sexually. In about 15% of marriages that’s not true, the woman is the aggressor. The man’s saying, “I’m too tired and I have a headache.” Ah, it’s funny. Good thing we’re not all the same. And that’s the way God created us. So understanding your love language. Understanding your spouse’s rule book. You say, “What do you mean, rule book?” You don’t think your husband has a rule book that he lives by? You don’t think your wife has a rule book that she lives by? Ask her. Ask him. Say, “Honey, tell me about your rule book.” Or, in Leman terms, “Can I have your opinion about rule books? Do you think that married people have rule books?” It generates discussion. It’ll help you get to where you want to be.
Your birth order. You know, your birth order … first born see life differently than babies of the family. Only children? Dead opposite of babies of the family. Middle children are the glue that helps relationships make it because they’re good at seeing two sides of things. But you take your birth order with you. You leave and cleave and you marry. I’m just saying the little boy or girl you once were, you still are. So answer the question behind closed doors with husband and wife. What kind of a little girl were you, honey? What kind of a little boy were you, honey? Describe yourself, whatever that description is. You know what? The chances are that’s still living today in your adult world. And then, finally, your relationship with your parents. These are key things that set up difficult in marriages today. I made the statement earlier that I met the Terpenings and I’ve met Andrea’s parents and they’re great people. There’s no surprise that two of the three people on this podcast are really great people because they came from really great families.
What’s your relationship like with your parents? And, as a wife, what’s your relationship like with Dad? If it’s not a good one, could it possibly be true that somehow your husband becomes your psychological punching bag because you didn’t have the affirmation you needed from your father? Conversely, gentlemen, you didn’t have a good relationship with Mom? Are you taking it out on your daughter? And some people are thinking, “Leman, you’re sounding more like a psychologist every day.” Yeah, I am one and I’m trying to get you to think about what happens on the other side of the quotient. The other side of the marital couple. And you bring with you all these things which impact your relationship. So all I’m trying to do is give you ideas on how to set up, behind closed door, nobody’s listening, honest, frank discussion about what makes us a couple. Or what are the issues that separate us as a couple? Because whatever those are, your kids are gonna end up paying for it. Well, I sound like a Sunday preacher, I’ve talked enough. What do you guys got to say?
Doug: One of the things that you have said in the past is that … I think you’ve said it, and if I butcher this I’m wrong. That one of the best parenting things you can do is make sure that you are in a healthy marriage with your spouse. And what I hear you saying is here are five steps to make sure that you are staying healthy with your spouse. If I have read a couple of Leman books and Andrea hasn’t, and I want Andrea to get on my same page as parenting … I’ve done these things so that we’ve gotten closer, because without that we’re not gonna be able to talk about how we get on the same page as parenting, so we have to do that first. Are there any practical things I can do to help Andrea get on my side of how to parent correctly?
Dr. Leman: I think you impress a woman by saying, “Honey, you’ve heard me wax and wane about some things and I honestly would love your opinion on this. How do my words match up with my actions?” Now we’re getting the female perspective. And again, keep in mind that men and women see things differently. A man who thinks he’s doing things one way might be surprised and even shocked to hear that, “Honey, you know what? I don’t know how to say this, but it doesn’t come across that way. You tend to be harsh and punitive with the children and there’s times that you make me feel like a second class citizen. And, let’s face it, we’ve had our problems in the bedroom. You just need to understand that it’s really hard for me, if I feel criticized and put down by you, to feel close to you in any fashion, let alone sexually.” So again, I’m just giving you an opportunity to talk. Whether you take this on, parents, is up to you.
Andrea: I hear you saying he’s coming across humbly, like maybe admitting I’ve done something that’s not quite right, but it invites me to speak into it because he’s not coming across as though powering up and saying, “I’ve got this figured out and now you have to come along with me.”
Dr. Leman: Yeah.
Andrea: I like that opinion word.
Dr. Leman: Opinion’s a great word.
Andrea: Or, I think we got the phrase from you, Doug uses it a lot, I could be wrong, but …
Dr. Leman: Listen, let’s say, ladies, you got a little breakthrough, okay? You have a little breakthrough because your husband is beginning to open up and tell you how he really feels. You don’t need a PhD behind your name to figure this out. If you harpoon the guy as soon as he ventures out there in the oceans of life, he’s going deep. He’s running deep. He’s not gonna surface again. You have to be quick not to criticize, but just to listen and try to understand the full meaning of what he’s trying to communicate to you. Again, ask yourself who are the communicators? The communicators are who? Mostly women.
Doug: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr. Leman: They’re the wordsmiths. They have advantage over us, so does a man have a teachable spirit? The man says to you, “Honey, you’re making me realize I really do fall short in a lot of areas. I would really love a good teaching from you, at any time.” How does that make a woman feel? Wow, there’s a breakthrough. He’s listened to me. He’s coachable. As soon as you figure he’s coachable, your forgiveness factor will rise tenfold, in terms of anything he does that might be off-center. You’re gonna be more apartment just to love him and not be critical of him, which is gonna draw you together. So remember that feelings draw you close together, sharing feelings. Judgements push you apart. And that’s something every parent needs to memorize, okay? Every married couple. Judgements push us apart, feelings bring us together.
Doug: How do we have, then, the discussion about … say that Andrea’s really upset at me that I’m the permissive one. I let him get away with murder in certain ways and certain things and she just thinks that wrong is wrong. How do we have a nonjudgmental discussion where she gets to bring up her concerns about that?
Dr. Leman: She just says, “Doug, you’re dumb as a rock.”
Andrea: I can do that.
Dr. Leman: She can do that too easily.
Doug: Did you notice how quickly she said that, too?
Dr. Leman: She mentioned that you use the term, I could be wrong, but … that’s a great opener because you’re not putting the person on the defensive. Or you say, “Honey, I need your opinion about something because I’m really having a hard time getting closure on this issue because it just keeps coming back over and over and over again.” You just have to have an openness to yourself and put the critical eye aside. With that there’s hope. Now, is there magic dust where you can just change the other person?
Dr. Leman: If there was, I’d bottle it and have it for sale on our website, trust me. It’s something you have to work at. I made a comment once that I think God created us so differently so that we had to work hard at staying married and being thoroughly married. And I think that’s true. Women are … I say it with tongue in cheek that they’re weird, but they are weird. And men are strange, they’re very strange. We both do things that are idiosyncratic to our gender and there’s some humor in this.
If you can see the humor as you’re trying to battle these things out in your mind … is there commitment to staying married? That’s pretty basic. I remember working with a lady once and she was a person who loved to journal. She would write sometimes, pages and pages of stuff. She shared her journal with me and what really drew my attention to the journal she had written was it was all about her husband and all of his shortcomings and the things that he does that makes her feel badly. And again, she’s on the brink of divorce. I know, she ended up telling me this, that the best suggestion I ever gave her was to burn her journal. It’s like going to the garbage, folks. Every day reminiscing through the garbage and seeing the cracked egg shells and the fatty bacon and the coffee grounds. I mean, really? That’s what you want to do. If you do that all day and just focus on all those things, all those negatives, you’re never gonna get anyplace.
Is there relief in writing and journaling? Yes. I understand that. There’s also relief in throwing up, but are you throwing up on your partner? If you are, yeah, you feel better because you’ve spewed out all this garbage but what did it do for your relationship? So, pardon the rather gross emotional picture there, but that’s sort of how I see it.
Doug: You know, what I appreciate about you is whenever I ask you a question, Dr. Leman, you never take it where I want you to take it. Or where I think you’re gonna take it, either. I’m just thinking back to Andrea and I and our conflicts. Just, her different values and my different values. But it really was able to change because I believe that she was for me and then we could have the discussion about what we wanted to do differently. You started off by giving us five points about how to make sure that we’re in a great relationship, almost, with our spouse. You almost have to have that before you can start talking to this, how are we gonna change our parenting styles. If you have a crappy relationship and to jump into the deep end of the pool, that’s probably gonna be really tough, isn’t it?
Dr. Leman: Absolutely.
Doug: I’m gonna recap them. I think they’re so good.
Doug: Correct me if I’m wrong. Do you have a critical eye? It’s bad for work, bad for your relationship. Do you know your spouse’s love language and are you doing them? I know mine but I’m not necessarily doing Andrea’s. Sorry, Andrea. Do you understand your spouse’s rule book? Do you know your birth order and then, within that, what kind of little boy and little girl were you and have you talked about that with each other. And what was your relationship like with your parents and how that affects you today. Those are five amazing questions to just sit down and journal about, maybe, and then talk about with your spouse.
Dr. Leman: Yeah, let me underscore one thing about birth order. It’s just not understanding your birth orders, the fact that different birth orders do, in fact, have some inherent qualitites that can be pluses and minus in a relationship. But you have to remember that your birth order spawns your view of life. If you’re the first born who sees themselves as only counting in life when you’re the boss, when people do things that you think they oughta do, that’s the bigger point of birth order. I only count in life when other people service me, when I get my way, when I avoid conflict. That’s the meat on the bone that has to be talked about, because for the classical middle child who is great at avoiding conflict, you can’t go through life avoiding conflict. You can’t have an intimate connection, as I like to call it, between a husband and a wife is somebody’s avoiding conflict. If all the old hurts are still there but you just swept them under the emotional rug, sooner or later, and probably in passive aggressive style, those things are gonna come out.
Keep in mind that birth order isn’t just understanding your ordinal position in the family and the characteristics that come with it. It’s the life theme that’s created off of that. Like many babies, I only count in life when I get my way. Well, how many people just get their way through life? It’s very unrealistic, especially when you’re sharing it with someone else. Again, I think we’ve given people a lot of food for thought in today’s podcast.
Doug: There’s a ton to try and apply here and I’m just gonna say it again, this is great material in the podcast but if you want to go deeper with it, go buy the book Have a New Husband By Friday. It’s only a buck ninety nine. For two small dollar bills you can get an ebook from anywhere.
Andrea: And one of Dr. Leman’s most famous books is The Birth Order Book.
Doug: Yeah. Go get The Birth Order Book.
Andrea: So, if you haven’t read that one yet, that one might be worth looking at.
Doug: Absolutely. Yeah. Totally worth it.
Dr. Leman: You know, speaking of books, this fall When Your Kids Are Hurting will be released. What do you do in life when your kids are hurting? That was probably one of the tougher books I ever tackled, but it’ll be in bookstores, I think, in September, if I’m remembering right. And a pretty good book. So you can be looking for that as well.
Doug: Well, thank you Dr. Leman for taking us down this road.
Doug: Even for me, that’s a good reminder. Especially the whole love language one. You think I would learn by now, Sweetie. Sorry. Well, we love being with you and, again, I just want to say a big shout out to thank you to Ravel and Baker Books for making this happen. You guys are amazing. Incredible group of people. Love, love, love working with them. Love the books they’re putting out. This is happening because of them. We look forward to the next time that we hang out with you guys. Keep adding to that parenting toolbox so that you can do what Andrea wants to do which is just love those little kids more and more.
Andrea: Yep. Have a great week.
Doug: Take care. Bye, bye.