Dr. Leman dives deep into how the presence of an intimate connection with your spouse can affect the healthiness of your family.
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™
Dr. Leman: Welcome to the episode of Helping the Terpenings, Folks. Yes. Isn’t it interesting that when we get mad at each other or frustrated, we come up with the nevers, and you always, and the barbs just go back and forth? In your introduction, you were saying, “Okay, we’re going to help couples get back to communication.” When I first hear that, I say to myself, “I’ll bet that couple never communicated well.” Rarely do you see a couple who had this great intimate connection, as I like to call it, and that’s the title of my new book, The Intimate Connection. It’s what we work toward in marriage to have this transparent, it’s a euphoric feeling of I’m in good hands, I can say anything I want. My husband or my wife loves me just the way I am feeling.
Dr. Leman: I don’t think there are more than a handful of couples that have ever had that wonderful euphoric experience of oneness in marriage and then 10 years later can’t say anything without a fight, unless from the get-go they worked at trying to win the marriage. I have said many times, marriage is not a competitive sport. If someone is winning your marriage, guess what? You both hang an L on your forehead. You’re losers.
Andrea: What do you mean by trying to win the marriage, Dr. Leman?
Dr. Leman: It’s the competitiveness. Maybe you’ve gone out with couples before and they’re talking and telling you a story and the husband says, “Tuesday, by the way, we saw this really neat movie.” The wife interrupts and says, “It wasn’t Tuesday. That was Monday.” That’s a sign that this overcorrection, this over-perfectionistic attitude is pervasive throughout the marriage and somebody’s trying to get a leg up on somebody else. I’m bigger than you are, I’m smarter than you are, I’m more intelligent than you are. Whatever’s going on.
Dr. Leman: I’m just saying, as I’ve said in the book, Have a New Husband by Friday, when your husband says something really stupid and dumb, I mean just as dumb as a rock, you don’t have to hammer him. You can just look at him and go wow, wow. I mean, don’t look for trouble. The idea is to row the boat together. If you can imagine the two of you, the Terpenings, sitting in a rowboat on a beautiful autumn day in the Northwest, and one of you pulls and then the other one pulls but not together, what would happen to the good ship Terpening on that little pond or lake? That’s what happens in marriage. You got people pulling in opposite direction is and the love boat, so to speak, goes nowhere.
Doug: Dr. Leman, Andrea and I have been fighting for years. We cannot communicate. As soon as she starts talking, all I can think about is here comes another attack, right? I always cut Andrea’s words off, like you’re talking about. What is some way that we can start to break this cycle.
Dr. Leman: This sounds almost primitive, but you have to lay down the weapons. Both husband and wife have to come to an understanding that this isn’t working. When I say this isn’t working, the marriage isn’t working, and therefore, keep in mind as we talk today, how does this affect your children? It affects them big time. You’re doing this not only for yourself, Doug and Andrea, you’re doing it for your children’s sake.
Dr. Leman: Anyway, like I say, it’s sort of primitive because you have to come to an agreement where, “You say you know what? I’m going to hear what you have to say, without editorial comment or criticism or interruption.” You find a place to face each other, it can be at a table, if you’re wealthy it could be at a jacuzzi, I don’t care where it is. There has to be a commitment that I have some things to say that are bothering me about our relationship and you get to speak.
Dr. Leman: You can put time limits on it if you want, so that you don’t get too many rocks turned over at once, because that will overpower the couple. You might say for example, “You have 60 seconds to say what’s on your mind,” then that person has 60 seconds. You want to add a stopwatch to it, have some fun with it. I’m always for fun. Do that. You only get 60 seconds, and then the other person gets to say what they think they heard.
Dr. Leman: This is important because lots of times when somebody’s communicating, you’re not even listening. You’re thinking about what you’re going to say in rebuttal. The object is just to listen to what your mate’s saying and then when that 60 second period is up, now you get to parrot back what you think you heard your husband or wife say. You have a 60 second limit there as well.
Dr. Leman: Once you do that, then if the originator of that conversation needs to correct something and clarify something, they have 30 seconds to do so. Notice we’re trying to move along quickly. All I’m saying is for some couples, you need, and you don’t hear this word out of me often, you need a rigid schedule so that it doesn’t blow up out of the starting gate, so to speak. It’s just a back and forth kind of a situation, and believe it or not, as simple as that sounds, it’s pretty effective for couples who just can’t seem to say 3 words without getting into pointing fingers and accusations and all that.
Andrea: How do you get, say, I think that’s a great idea, but my husband, he’s like that’s stupid, blah, blah, blah. How do you get your spouse to agree to do that?
Doug: Why are you looking at me as you say that, Andrea?
Andrea: Because we’re sitting across the table from one another.
Dr. Leman: Couples who are at that stage have to look at each other and say, “Do we divorce? Do you really want to rock our family? Do you really want to go to neutral corners? Do you really want to have the discussion of whose thanksgiving it is and whose Christmas it is and all that?” People who just choose divorce and just think divorce is a wonderful thing, I have a problem with. I really do. You can walk in a Hallmark shop and you’ll find cards in there, “Congratulations on your divorce.” Really? Really? Gosh.
Doug: Dr. Leman, how about for the couple that’s maybe not at nuclear yet but they are close, how do they even have normal discussions in the kitchen?
Dr. Leman: I think you use some basic things. Honey, I care about you. Three years ago, 6 years ago, we stood before our friends, family, and almighty God and we pledged for better or for worse. Right now, I think if we’re both honest with each other, we’re sort of at the worst end of where we’ve been. We started off pretty good, I thought, 6 years ago, and now look at us. This isn’t someone’s fault. It’s just the 2 of us have to go back to square one and try to build on something positive. If you’re willing to do that, I’m willing to do that.
Doug: This is a general question, but honestly, don’t you think most of those people don’t have the tools and skills or knowledge to be able to do that? Aren’t they just going to fall into the same routine?
Dr. Leman: They can. It’s like do you brush your teeth every day or do you do it once a week? You have check ups. I mean, if you use a medial model, for example, I know our dental hygienist is always saying, “I want you in here every 6 months. We want to make sure we remove that plaque.” Plaque builds up in a marriage and it builds up because things happen and feelings get hurt and they’re not dealt with.
Dr. Leman: One of the things you want to teach each other and commit to each other as a couple is hey, if something that’s said by me or you offends the other, let’s agree that it’s a healthy thing for our marriage to give one of us the time out sign and say, “Listen, what just happened we need to talk about.” These are kind of things that escalate. “It’s not that big a deal,” your husband says. “Honey, this is just the point. It may not be a big deal to you, but out of resect for me, I expect you to listen to what I have to say, because it is a big deal to me.”
Dr. Leman: We agree that we’re different people, we see things from different places, and let’s commit to trying to get behind each other’s eyes and seeing how we see life, because quite frankly, we see life different in so many areas, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care for you or love you or want to share life with you, but we need to do better, and I think you’ll agree that we need to do better.
Dr. Leman: Let’s read this book together, the Intimate Connection, in fact, why don’t we get two copies of it and I’ll highlight mine in yellow and you can highlight yours in another color and then we’ll change books and let’s take a look at what hit us as we read Leman’s words in this book, The Intimate Connection?
Doug: Why would reading that book help them?
Dr. Leman: It covers the waterfront of marriage and what communication’s all about. So many people, Doug, they live in a world of surface communication. When couples sit down to dinner they talk about their children, they talk about work, they talk about politics. Wow. They’ll talk about anything but their relationship.
Dr. Leman: That’s staying away from the dental hygienist. That’s allowing the plaque to build. What happens, and again, I’ll go down that analogy again with the dentist, all of a sudden, you’ve got a hot tooth. You’ve got a tooth that’s killing you. It’s a Saturday morning and you’re thinking there’s not a snowball’s chance that that dentist is in the office. You call and by a stroke of luck, he or she is in the office. You’re immediately relieved because you’ve got an emergency on your hands. That’s the way it is in marriage. The build up continues and then all of a sudden, just out of the blue, you get a tooth that blows up on you. That’s when bad things can happen to you. Again, the preventative nature of making sure that you communicate in marriage is well worth it.
Doug: Yeah. We’ve told our story, me yelling at Andrea at the top of my lungs that she’s a liar, and realizing that it was communication that I didn’t know how to do with Andrea. When I was upset, and when she clearly intentionally did those evil things to get me upset, right?
Andrea: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Doug: I had to have that reframed. Huh.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. Check this out everybody, most men don’t like being told what to do. Lesson number one. Don’t tell your husband what to do. My wife is a master at this stuff some days. I mean, some days she’s not but some days she is. Just a statement like, “That yard doesn’t look great over there, does it?” I get it. I get it.
Dr. Leman: If she says to me, “[Lemie 00:11:18], look at that yard, that’s a mess. I need you to clean that up.” I’ve got three board meetings in my head at the time, good luck. That’s not going to go well. You learn how to approach each other softly and gently. That’s just part of learning how to handle a glove. You get comfortable. There’s an old song. I’ve grown accustomed to her face, like breathing out and breathing in.
Dr. Leman: You want to get to that point in marriage where it’s not a chore to be marriage. It’s a joy to spend time together and you want to work toward that unison of thought and feeling. You don’t lose your personality in that. You’re not losing your individuality. I’ve had so many women tell me, “I could never do that. I would lose who I am.” Lady, you’ve watched too many soap operas in your life. You really want to work toward oneness.
Dr. Leman: I’m going to bring up the S word and I know it’s not popular, but submission is not an evil word. It’s not a four letter word. It’s a great word for you to understand if you’re married. You need to be, are you ready for it, if you’re driving, hold onto the wheel, submissive to one another. I know that has negative connotations for you. There has to be a certain openness and a vulnerability if you really want to have real communication and oneness in your marriage. It’s getting to a point where you feel comfortable.
Dr. Leman: It takes time. I always say my advice to parents who are parenting kids, hey, you have to really practice. You have to get good at this stuff. It takes a while. If you’re one of those people that’s deterred by instant failure at something, good luck. You have to have the commitment that even though we’re going to experience some rough roads here, we’re committed to making this thing work. I think if two people are like mind and spirit they can make anything work.
Doug: It’s the part of the show where I get to tell you about the new ebook that’s on sale and as well as the Straight Talk with Dr. Leman, and then we’ll be back to the rest of the show. The ebook this week is Have a New Sex Life by Friday, May 7-13, ebook version, $1.99. Now, Straight Talk by Dr. Leman.
Dr. Leman: Let’s talk about a word purposive. That’s a word you haven’t used today. You haven’t used this week, this month, or probably this year. It’s not a word that easily sneaks it way into our vocabulary. It’s actually a psychological word derived from the School of Individual Psychology, who Alfred Adler, who was a psychologist in Vienna many years ago, brought to our attention.
Dr. Leman: This is to say that every social behavior your child engages in serves a purpose in a child’s life. All kids start off in life as attention getters, and they’re either going to get positive attention or negative attention. When a kid throws a temper tantrum or has a meltdown, what’s the purpose or nature of the behavior? That’s what I want you to ask yourself.
Dr. Leman: The nature of the behavior is to show you that they are in authority over you, that they’re the ones that run the family. Again, I’m here to tell you that there’s kids shorter than a yard stick that are in full control of their families today. The next time your kid acts up or gives you that defiant look, and by the way, that kids that gives you the defiant look and then slams the door, and says, “You never let me do anything,” there’s your powerful child. Again, you have a powerful child, there’s a powerful parent nearby.
Dr. Leman: Power does not work in bringing up children today, but being in healthy authority over them and being a person with limits does a lot for a kid’s self esteem. Kids want boundaries. Purposive behavior, it serves a purpose in a child’s life. For the powerful child, he simply says I only count when I dominate, win, and control. Of course, the attention getter says I only count in life when I put other people in my service or I get attention.
Dr. Leman: In fact, you don’t even want me talking about the revengeful child. They’re around. Many of them at juvenile court in teenage years. They’re the ones whose mantra in life is I feel hurt by life therefore I have a right to strike out at others. Hope you don’t have one of those at home. Take care. Have a great day, and watch out for purposive behavior.
Doug: Dr. Leman I have to ask-
Dr. Leman: By the way, before we get rolling, that little $1.99 thing on Have a New Sex Life by Friday, I mean, that is a great complimentary book to the Intimate Connection. I want everybody to think about your sex life for a minute, okay? Don’t get real excited, anybody, I just want you to think about your sex life. Is it true that your sex life is a microcosm look at your relationship? You tell me. Email us. Give us a voicemail.
Dr. Leman: Rarely do you see a couple, and I’ve been at this a long, long time. I really can’t think of a couple who I dealt with who said, “We have a tremendous sex life. It is just the best there is, but we’re getting a divorce.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard that out of somebody’s mouth. Is sex important? Very. Do sexual needs change over time? They do. Do couples need to make adjustments for such things? Obviously.
Dr. Leman: That is for $1.99. I’m amazed they give these things away for $1.99. You can’t get anything for $1.99, but I won’t go into a rant and berate my publisher. They’re good people. They’re just trying to help us. The complement book to The Intimate Connection would certainly be Have a New Sex Life by Friday. Lots of great information in there.
Dr. Leman: Again, this is an area where people don’t talk very freely about sex. I mention many times that one of the lowest selling Leman books is actually a very great book, I think. It’s got a great title, called A Chicken’s Guide to Talking Turkey to Your Kids About Sex. How many people got up this morning and said, “I’d like to talk to my daughter about sex today or my son? Again, listen to these offers that Doug and Andrea give you. Take advantage of those. Again, there’s a short window where you have to get online and get that book for $1.99. Do your marriage a favor and download it on your husband’s app or on his appliance and download it on yours. You both have it. There it is.
Andrea: Dr. Leman, this is a parenting podcast really, so could you just give us a little synopsis why communication between the parents, why are we spending so much time on this, on a parenting podcast? Why is that important?
Dr. Leman: It’s the foundation. I always said that beautiful cathedrals are built one brick at a time. You’re laying the foundation for your entire family as you set out on the sea of life on your little family love boat. The hands on deck are watching how the captain and co-captain of the good ship family behave and how they talk to teach other. Dads, you represent what men are all about to your daughters, and mommies, you represent the flip side of that. They’re always taking notes on how you behave and how you speak to each other.
Dr. Leman: By becoming one in marriage, you are encouraging the children to be honest and forthright with you, because each of those kids are going to see life differently. I mentioned getting behind the eyes of your spouse. You’re going to have to get behind the eyes of each of your kids to understand where they’re coming from as they look at their family in terms of their birth order, their beliefs, their themes that run through their life. By themes, I’m talking about I only count in life when I win, when I dominate, when I control, or when I please other people, or when I get other people’s attention. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about themes.
Dr. Leman: Andrea, it all ties together beautifully. You help your whole family by … They always tell you on the airplane, put your mask on first if you’re traveling with somebody much younger or much older than you. In other words, you’ve got to get yourself in gear before you’re able to help other people. It’s as simple as that.
Andrea: I have a friend who has told me that she and her husband live pretty much separate lives and she’s given up trying to communicate with him and she’s just focused on the four kids. She’s got two daughters heading off to college. She’s still got some kids in middle school and high school, and she says, “I’ve just resigned myself, I’m going to focus on the kids until they’re all gone and then I’ll work on my marriage.” Is there hope for somebody like that?
Dr. Leman: No. How’s that for a quick answer? See, I understand the frustration of that. I’ve tried everything with this man, I’ve bought books, I’ve gone to seminars, I’ve bought him videos. There’s just no connection there. What’s a mother to do? She invests herself in her kids lives. She becomes super mom. She’s the one that’s there for the kids. She’s the encourager, she’s the praiser, which isn’t good. You want to be an encourager, not a praiser, as a reminder, but she does it all.
Dr. Leman: Her husband, he’s a bread winner in part. He’s there. If sex happens, it’s only out of guilt. It certainly isn’t enjoyable. It’s probably in her mind, a way of satisfying him and giving herself some reprieve for several days or a couple weeks or a month. I hear all these stories from couples. We have sex once a month. We have sex three times a year. I mean, my goodness. That’s a marriage? I don’t think so.
Dr. Leman: When you ask what’s the probability of suc- … There’s none. She’s going to live the marriage singles lifestyle, as I call it. Something bad’s going to happen, real bad. What are you talking about? Real bad? Since this husband never had communication with you, for whatever reason. Again, I’m not saying it’s somebody’s fault. I’m just saying communication wasn’t there. Now he’s, let’s make him mid-40s, which is great time for a little crisis in a man’s life or a woman’s life.
Dr. Leman: Someone simply compliments him at work on his sweater that he’s got on, and before long, this man sort of gravitates and for whatever reason, he feels listened to by this woman and he feels respected by this woman. Before long, they’re sleeping together and they got a full blown affair. It happens that she’s married and he’s married. It happens across the US and Canada daily.
Dr. Leman: Now there’s a marriage break up. Here’s the kicker. I’m just being as pragmatic as I can. This man and this woman who met in very negative ways, they both violate their marriage vow. I mean, I’m just telling you, that some of those people go on and have great relationships with this new found lover, who they end up marrying, sometimes they have kids with, and their life’s all of a sudden on track. Look at the carnage left behind on both sides of those families, and guess who gets to pay for all that?
Dr. Leman: Some people are not going to like what I just said, okay? I’m just telling you that’s the reality of what happens to people. They find new loves, they find new people that just are in sync with in terms of communication. Communication is the glue. It’s the peanut butter and jelly of the sandwich, and if you don’t have it, get ready for a lonely life. People might look at you as a really nice couple because you’re both very nice people. Inside you’re dying.
Andrea: If I were one of those ladies, I would think at this point, maybe I need to back off on all the activities I’m doing with the kids and take this book seriously, Intimacy, and start focusing on my husband.
Doug: Okay, my job is to make sure that we stay on-
Andrea: On time.
Doug: Time. I apologize. We want to keep going.
Andrea: I’m just wrapping up.
Doug: Oh, you’re wrapping up? We can keep going and I’ll just say I met with a guy yesterday and this was his story exactly. They couldn’t communicate and they divorced. He’s heartbroken over it. The reason that I keep telling you you need to go get these books and read them, is because it changed our marriage as well as our parenting, and like when Dr. Leman told me, “The words you choose will define your relationship,” it’s these types of things that you read the books, you get the concepts, you apply them, they work, and your marriage gets better.
Doug: Go buy this book, Intimate Connections, and you will thank me a bazillion times over, that now I have the knowledge, now I have the concepts, now I have the ability to do it. Please, please, please, for the sake of your kids, for future generations and everybody, go, go, go do this. We are so glad that you guys hung out with us. That book is now available everywhere books are sold. Go get it and in 6 months I expect an email you saying, “Thank you, Doug, for convincing us to get that book and how it changed our life.” We’re glad to be with you and we look forward to the next time we get to hang out with you and add to that parenting tool box.
Andrea: Have a great day.
Doug: Bye bye.