Do you and your spouse seem to have the same disputes that have lasted throughout your marriage? What does your marriage look like once your kids are removed from the equation? In today’s episode, Dr. Leman drops some hard truths for the husbands and wives that can’t seem to get over the hurdle.
Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
NEW: The Intimate Connection –Dr. Kevin Leman
Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing
Produced by Unmutable™
Doug Terpening: Do you ever find out that you and your love just can’t seem to get on the same page, after 20 years of marriage you still can’t seem to get on the same page. What do you do and how does that affect your parenting? That’s the question we get asked Doctor Lehman today. Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug Terpening: And we are so glad that you are with us. If this is your first time, we just want to let you know that this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter it raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help.
Doug Terpening: Well, Dr. Lehman, here is the topic for today. And this is related to, we’ll make two fictitious people, we’ll call them Andreana and do Dougalaga. How about that? That way we’ll have two random people here, that have been married 20 years, and one of them feels that unless you are working, life is not worth living. And one of them feels like if you aren’t playing, life isn’t working. And after 20 years they still can’t seem to solve this.
Doug Terpening: And they still seem to have this expectation of what it does, and now it’s beginning to affect their children because on the weekends there’s always this fight over what are we actually going to do this weekend? Are we’re actually going to enjoy the basketball game, or are we going to go weed the garden, and blah, blah, blah, and do all these other things. Whoever these fictitious people’s children’s. Now, no Saturday mornings can be filled with tension.
Dr. Kevin Leman: Yeah. Well, anytime you’ve got two captains of the good ship family and they’re pulling the wheel in opposite directions, you’re going to go no place or you’re going to hit a solid wall sooner or later. It’s a directionless ship on the sea of life. And this is signs of competition in a marriage, where somebody has to take the position that I’m right and you’re wrong. So we’ve got two people who are fighting for superiority in the family. It’s an ongoing battle, it’s been going on for 20 years. So you tell me what you think you could do, couple, in this next year, so when you celebrate your 21st anniversary of fighting with each other, that things will be significantly different.
Dr. Kevin Leman: Can you agree to disagree? Is that okay? Can you have different ideas, motives in a marriage? Yes, you can. But there has to be a respectful appreciation for who the other person is. And you guys, I think I’ll call you Joe and Mary, which I think are much better names than what Mr Terpening came up with.
Andrea: Yes. I think so too.
Dr. Kevin Leman: You, Joe, have to understand that you’ve missed it here. You have not been the man you need to be. You have not been the leader you need to be. You have not been the lover you need to be, that one hurt, I know Joe. Mary, not to let you off the hook, you haven’t been a good wife. You haven’t been a good partner. You’ve thought about yourself, not your husband. You’re easily offended, so is he. I mean, we got a cat and a dog in a bag, is what we’ve got here, and you shake it up for good measure, you can’t even get through a Saturday without having a blowout about what are we going to do?
Dr. Kevin Leman: I vote you do nothing. I vote you sit in chairs opposite each other, and just look at each other and don’t say a word. Do that the whole weekend. You say, “Lehman, you’re drinking. What is wrong with you? Where are you getting this from?” Well, I mean really, you’d be money ahead to do that than what you’re doing right now. You’d do less damage to your kids than the dog and pony show you guys create. See, you’re the producer of this, you’re the director. You’re the lighting director, you’re the audio person. You orchestrate this for your own selfish reasons. You’re a selfish couple, tell you the truth. You care too much about yourself and not enough about other people, so you deserve each other. How do you like that? Now you’re really mad at me, and I’m saying did it hurt each other. But you do. I mean, really, you’re pitiful as a couple.
Dr. Kevin Leman: I mean, do it a democratic way. Okay, this weekend we do everything you want to do Joe, and next weekend, Mary, we do everything you want to do. I mean, if it has to be that elementary, so be it. But that’s a lousy way to run a marriage and to run a family, and what do you think your kids are feeling watching this dog and pony show? Where do they get the self confidence and the nurture? From these two selfish people? I don’t think so. So as your kids grow older, 20 years married, I’m assuming you’ve got kids that might be in the teenage years, your life’s going to get rockier. I don’t know what else to tell you. You know.
Doug Terpening: These are ingrained hypothetically, ingrained, this is the right way to do it. Right? And they’re not in agreement.
Doug Terpening: There’s almost like a written something that says this is how it should be. How do we get rid of that? What is that?
Dr. Kevin Leman: Well, you have to, you know, I’ve said many times that when two people get married, how many people are actually getting married?
Doug Terpening: Three. No, four. Six.
Dr. Kevin Leman: Six, I knew the Terpenine’s would come through. Two tries, but they got it right. They’ve only heard me say this a thousand times. You can’t get good help these days. That’s all I can tell you. But anyway, we move along. Ouch, that hurt didn’t it? You know I love you. But you know, what I’m saying is, look back at your families that you came out of. Can you not see the seeds that were planted years ago based upon how you were brought up, and how you were treated, and your relationship with your mom, and your dad, and your sisters, and your brothers? You can’t see from whence you came? I’m telling you, you have learned these destructive patterns way before you met each other, by the way.
Dr. Kevin Leman: And so you come together in a very neurotic relationship, where you’re trying to solve your own self worth through marriage. Marriage isn’t about solving yourself worth. You know, you want to go talk to a shrink at 350 bucks a pop, go ahead and do it, but I don’t know how much that’s going to help you. I think you have to look inside yourself. You have to humble yourself before your mate, you have to humble yourself before your children, and if you’re a person of faith, which I hope you are, you have to humble yourself before God Almighty.
Dr. Kevin Leman: And say, “Lord, we need help. I can’t do this on my own.” There’s a little wonderful scripture with God, all things are possible, even for a miserable couple like you.
Doug Terpening: So what is it doing to our children?
Dr. Kevin Leman: It destroys them. It takes the foundation away. It builds insecurity in their life. They become carrot seekers, and by that I mean they’ll do anything to get the approval of other people because you guys are so busy with your own battles, you don’t have time to enrich these kids’ lives. You don’t have time to believe in what they’re thinking and saying. You don’t have time to talk with them because you’re at war with your partner. I mean, really, life is short. Take a look at the calendar, it’s been 20 years. What are the next 20 going to be like? I’d love to be there as your celebrate your 50th, that ought to be a great party.
Doug Terpening: So you have written a book, Intimate Connections. What would that book say to this couple about what they’re doing?
Dr. Kevin Leman: If they read the book in full honesty, I think they would cry when they finish the last page, and they would say, “Wow, we have really blown an opportunity to make a difference in our kids’ lives.” And then my fear would be, that guilt would take over and you would try to do everything in your power to just do things for your children, which would probably be the worst thing you could possibly do. And by things I mean giving them things, and over apologizing to them for your own behavior.
Dr. Kevin Leman: But you know, I’ve often said, action not words, and the actions can start today. I’ll tell you, picking up a copy of The Intimate Connection, you would read that, and you’d say, “There are marriages like this?” Yes, there are lots of marriages like this. The Intimate Connection is the utopia. It’s feeling like you can tell your mate everything and know that you’re not going to be judged, that you’re going to be met with compassion and love and understanding.
Dr. Kevin Leman: And for you, Joe and Mary, and I know there’s thousands of you out there, you have to put down the weapons. You have to reduce your arsenal. All the barbs that you say with that little rudder that’s in your mouth called a tongue. You need some time to look in the mirror, and pray this prayer, “God help me to love me as I know you love me.” Like I say, there has to be a submission, not only to each other, but to almighty God. You don’t need just a couple spark plugs changed, you need a whole redo of your marital engine. I wish you the best, you need it.
Doug Terpening: Wow. Well, we’re going to read the book, hypothetically, for that couple. They need to read that book. Well, since this is a pause while I collect my thoughts here, for a moment, I’d better do this. Again, for podcast listeners, there’s the eBook promotion from the good folks at Bicker, and this one is, Have a New teenager by Friday, July 2nd through the eighth for $3.99, How to Have a New Teenager by Friday, eBook version. Dr. Lehman, Have a New Teenager by Friday. What is it about?
Dr. Kevin Leman: It’s an award winning book, okay, that gives you practical ideas. I mean, go on Amazon and read the reviews of the book. You’ll see what other parents say. “This book is fantastic.” “It’s wonderful.” “It gave me a plethora of ideas about handle various situations with this teenager.” Teenagers are weird, but they’re fun. You know, I’ve been asked what the teenagers were like in the Lehman family. I can tell you, we raised five of them without a ripple. And we had fun with them, we roll with the punches. We held firm. We weren’t pushovers our no was no, our yes was yes. And the kids understood that.
Dr. Kevin Leman: And today they’re adults, obviously, and they love each other, and they even love their parents. So if that’s anywhere within your aspirations to grow kids who will someday rise up and call you blessed, the Have a New Teenager by Friday book is solid gold for $3.99. I’d download it on every appliance I had, I’d put it on my toaster if I could.
Doug Terpening: Great. Thank you for that. And now, no nonsense parenting advice from Dr. Kevin Leman.
Dr. Kevin Leman: Here’s one for you, and it’s not even, brought to you by State Farm Insurance, but when do you let your son or daughter drive the family car? That’s the question. I get asked that a lot. Well, obviously you have to wait until they’re of age, and most states at 16 when they can get a permit. Some states you can get it 15 and a few months. But here’s the question I’d ask you to ask yourselves. Did that son or daughter take care of their bike? Did they take care of other things they’ve owned along the way? Or were they the ones that just threw things down, left things out in the rain, didn’t seem to take much care and pride in what you got them?
Dr. Kevin Leman: If that’s the case, I’d be leery at the get-go to think that I’m going to hand the keys over to a kid who hasn’t got a good track record of taking care of things. If I’m going to give my son or daughter a car, I want to know that they’re going to take pride in the fact that I believe in them, that I trust him with this automobile, that if there’s an accident, could cost me a lot of grief, time and money. So that’s checkpoint number one.
Dr. Kevin Leman: Checkpoint number two. Is your son or daughter responsible in the general sense? Do they get good grades in school? I mean, insurance companies will offer you a discount if they have a B average or above. So these are all sort of background things. Then when you come to, when do you let a kid drive the family car? There has to be some rules governing the use of family car, and who better to come up with those rules than your son or your daughter. They’ll be tougher on themselves. Trust me, we did this with all of our kids.
Dr. Kevin Leman: And by the way, I taught four of our five kids to drive. By the time the fifth one came around, I went a Mr. B’s Driving School, or something to that effect, and they did a great job, and it saved me a lot of stress, let’s put it that way. If you’ve taught kids to drive, you’d know what I’m talking about. Oh my goodness, we have some stories in the Lehman family about that wonderful adventure.
Dr. Kevin Leman: But the point is, you give the keys to the car to a kid when you could really honestly look yourself in the mirror, and say, “You know, I really trust this son. I really trust this daughter. They’ve got good judgment.” And of course, you do have to make sure they’re ready to take the wheel of that car by themselves. And obviously, there’s a lot of time and hours spent with supervision before you turn those kids loose.
Dr. Kevin Leman: You know, I’m well past Social Security age now, and I still remember what my father told me. “Never make a left-hand turn until you can see the complete lane.” To this day, I have never, ever taken a left hand turn without seeing that clear lane. That’s how you stay out of terrible accidents, isn’t it? So we all need guidance from our parents. Hey, give your kids guidance. But do you really trust them? Are they really responsible? Those are the questions only you can answer.
Doug Terpening: So Dr. Lehman, coming back to Joe and Mary, one doubt that might be in Joe’s mind is, you know, this is a 20 year problem. Will reading a book versus going to a shrink or some other drastic measure, will a book really help that marriage?
Dr. Kevin Leman: Yeah. Here’s what I would suggest to you, Joe and Mary. I’d get two copies of the book in hand. Okay? Again, they’re very reasonably priced, and I’d highlight them with different colored markers. So pick a yellow, or a pink, or whatever you want, highlight the parts that really speak to you. And then, do the creditable thing, do the honest thing, do the right thing. And just give your book that you read to your husband, and write a little love note in it. I know you’ve been at war for 20 years, okay, but right in the front part of the book, there’s room there, a couple of blank pages, a little love note to your mate, and exchange those books. And then, pay particular attention to what Joe and Mary have underscored in that book, because those are the sore points, and that gives you a starting point where you can sit down and address in a civil manner.
Dr. Kevin Leman: Okay, now fighting is your go-to, so in other words, the paradigm is, you get to speak for, let’s say two minutes. Then your mate gets to parrot back what they thought they heard you say. If they didn’t hear it right, then you get 30 seconds just to rephrase it or clarify it, and go back and forth like that. And follow those limits, those minutes, and those second limits, because if you don’t, you’ll end up in a big old brouhaha again.
Dr. Kevin Leman: If you have to bring in a timer, bring in a timer. Almost all cell phones have timers, I believe. But make it a priority. If you do, and this isn’t easy, this is gut wrenching, because you’re going to have to face the ugly person you are in many aspects of your life, that’s not easy to do. Nobody likes doing that. But just like the dentist, if you don’t remove that plaque, down the road you’re going to have more than major problems facing you. So I wish you the best.
Andrea: So Dr. Lehman, just hypothetically, thinking this through, what do you do when you just feel so justified by your belief, and probably your mate does, feels just as justified in their stance?
Dr. Kevin Leman: You feel justified because your offense is your defense. You don’t want to look inside, you don’t want to owe up to your part. Like I say, fighting’s an actually of cooperation. So the person who is just hardened, that, I can’t get by what you’ve done to me, kind of thing, that’s saying really loud and clear that I admit that I am not part of this whatsoever. It’s your fault Joe. It’s your fault Mary. So if you do that, you’ve just wasted a lot of time, and money, and effort, you haven’t gotten anywhere, and you’re not going to get anywhere. You have to humble yourself.
Doug Terpening: How do you get to the point where you really can see that, I might possibly be wrong here, like, what triggers that?
Dr. Kevin Leman: I think an over-zealousness about self, and how important you are. And I’ve often told people, take a globe, you don’t see globes very often, any more. Physical globes you can hold in your hand. They look probably twice the size of a basketball, and hold it in your hands, and try to find the United States, or Canada, or Australia, or South Africa, or wherever you live. Try to find it on a globe. Okay, now you found the country. Now see if you can find the city that you live in.
Dr. Kevin Leman: On a globe, you probably won’t find it unless it’s a huge city. Well, point to the area with your finger. Take a pen and try to make a little tiny dot on that globe to signify where your hometown is. And realize, the very small part of this world that you and I are. And as you hold that globe in your hand, realize there’s one who spoke that world into existence. That Earth that we live on is suspended in thin air. Wow! What an awesome God to create that.
Dr. Kevin Leman: Now maybe you don’t believe in God. If you don’t, I don’t know what to tell you. Go get a copy of Oprah’s magazine and enjoy it. But if you’re a person of faith, you have to realize that God is who he says he was, and is, and with God’s help, all things are what? Possible. So again, I think there’s a spiritual battle, Joe and Mary, that’s going on in your life, and unless you acknowledge that and submit to his awesome authority, you’re not going to get anyplace.
Dr. Kevin Leman: So continue living your miserable life, and watch your kids pay for that miserable life that you’ve lived in front of them. That’s a sad commentary, isn’t it? Only you can do something about this. Smokey the Bear says, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Yeah, only you and lightening, but you get the point.
Doug Terpening: Well, thank you Dr. Leman, for that. Well, hopefully Joe and Mary gained something from this episode that they can use and apply. And thank you for writing the book, Intimate Connections, to give people hope that there can be a difference. And I love the idea of the two highlighters to help others understand each other again. And hypothetically, if Joe were around he would probably say, “You know what? The reminder is, that if I know that in the parenting side, if I invest in the books and the effort, it pays off, and it’s worth it.”
Dr. Kevin Leman: I’ve got another thought. I wonder how many people are going to have discussion about, “Hey, did you hear the Lehman podcast? Did you hear about Joe and Mary? I wonder if that’s Ron and Charlene?” I wonder how many people are going to think, “I think I know who that,” because there’s lots of Joe’s and Mary’s in the world. Trust me.
Doug Terpening: Well, for all the Joe’s and Mary’s out there that are doing the best you can. The thing I realized, and Dr. Lehman, you attest to it, some day these kiddos are going to leave, I see that day fast approaching, and it’s just going to be you and the Mrs. So it’s worth it, because it’s just the two of you that are going to be having dinner together. So, thank you Dr. Lehman, a ton. Go get the book, Intimate Connections. You can get it on audio book, so as you’re driving to work you can listen to it. You can get it wherever books are sold, however you consume them, get it. And again, you will think Dr. Lehman a bazillion for it later.
Doug Terpening: Well, that’s it for today, and as always, we’d love for you to pass on news, if you hear something that you think would bless somebody else, you can always go to however you share stuff, on Snapchat, or Instagram, or Facebook, and forward on the latest podcast, and say, “This might bless you.” You can always go to birthorderguy.com to get more resources and insights as well.
Doug Terpening: Well, we love being with you and adding to your parenting toolbox, and we look forward to the next time we get to hang out with you.
Andrea: Have a good week.
Doug Terpening: Take care. Bye-bye.