019: 7 Reasons Why Relationships Feel So Hard Sometimes (And What to to About it)

7 Reasons Why Relationships Feel So Hard Sometimes (And What to to About it!)In this episode of the Confessions of a Terrible Husband podcast I talk with Dr. Jessica Higgins about why relationships feel so hard sometimes.

Jessica is a Licensed Psychologist (PSY-3991) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC-5464) in the state of Colorado. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a M.A. in Counseling Psychology. She is also a certified Dream Builder Coach and LIfe Mastery Consultant. Dr. Jessica Higgins is also the founder and creator of Empowered Relationship, which is a comprehensive, research-based, transformational, relationship course. This course helps couples at any stage in their relationship or marriage.

The topic comes from a post by Dr. Higgins where she introduces 7 reasons why relationships feel so hard sometimes.

If you want to check out all of the reasons check out her post.

In the meantime, here are all 7 reasons:

1. We are uncertain of what to strive for in relationship.

2. We see our differences in relationship as a threat.

3. We don’t know how to deal with feeling vulnerable or scared.

4. Either we don’t see our work or we don’t know how to do our work.

5. We don’t take responsibility for our needs, preference, and desires.

6. We try to win over rather than win with.

7. We have competing internal needs.

In this episode we talk about (2) seeing our differences in the relationship as a threat, and (3) we don’t know how to deal with feeling vulnerable or scared.

Dr. Higgins provides some great tips for how to address each of those.

And be sure to scroll all the way down to the end to check out a time-sensitive giveaway by Dr. Higgins. How does $250 towards a nice dinner or couples’ massage sound? Pretty good right?  The link to enter is at the end of this post!

When we view our differences in the relationship as a threat, people typically react in three ways that don’t work:

1. One or both people try to change themselves to be more like the other person.

An introvert tries to match an extrovert.

An extrovert tries to become more introverted.

This can be problematic because you’re not addressing the issue and one person is uncomfortable.

2. You try to change the other person.

This is the “if you would just… we would…” or “if you would just… I could…” thing.

We all know it doesn’t work.

In fact, it creates even more conflict.

3. You bury your head in the sand and avoid the differences altogether.

This is the “time will heal” concept. You sweep differences under the rug.

This is problematic because small differences can gain strength over time and turn into big conflicts.

Instead of those three things, consider these tips:

1. Appreciate that differences are natural and don’t mean there is something wrong with you, your partner, and the relationship.

2. Stop looking at differences as good, bad, right, or wrong. They’re just differences. Each of you have strengths and weaknesses.

3. Use differences as opportunities to work together to accentuate the strengths of what each person brings to the table to do and be more together.

4. Have a discussion about your differences and keep on the right side of the fence.

5. Talking about your differences openly ahead of time. And stay on “your side of the fence.” In other words, don’t try to get in your spouse’s head to figure out what their intentions or motivations are when the differences create conflict. Instead, talk with your spouse openly about the differences you recognize in your relationship, share your motivations, thoughts, and feelings about your “different” traits. And listen and appreciate what your spouse shares about the motivations, thoughts, and feelings with their “different” traits.

6. Take care of yourself. Address the feelings and sensitivities you bring to the relationship. Learn to recognize your trigger points, commit to recognizing when you are getting frustrated and stopping or controlling it when you recognize things are heating up.

We don’t know how to deal with feeling vulnerable or scared.

When we commit to love, it can bring up negative emotions such as fear of loss, insecurity, vulnerability, etc.

Dr. Higgins emphasizes however that negative emotions like vulnerability, fear, or even anger provide information about yourself and your past that can help you learn more about yourself and improve in the future. Anger, for example, will let you know that a boundary has been crossed, there is some type of injustice, or your feelings are hurt.

If you start seeing feelings of vulnerability and fear as providing an opportunity for you to learn about yourself and why you’re experiencing those feelings, it provides you with a great opportunity to learn to recognize them during arguments and then react differently, thus helping avoid things escalating to unhealthy levels.

Over time, this can help you address those feelings and experience them less and less. It can help you heal.

In your relationship, talking openly about these feelings with your partner can help your partner become an advocate on your behalf, rather than a source of conflict because you don’t know how to deal with those feelings. Your spouse may learn to recognize these feelings and help you recognize them. Your spouse may help “clear the air” about misunderstands that lead to you feeling vulnerable or scared. The list goes on.

Check out the episode for more about each of these.  And be sure to check out all 7 reasons on Jessica’s blog right here: 7 reasons why relationships feel so hard sometimes.

Also, you will hear on the episode that Dr. Higgins is hosting a giveaway, which will be active through the end of April 2015 I believe. All you need to do is fill out this survey about relationships and you’ll be entered for a chance to win $250 towards an awesome dinner out or couple’s massage. Be sure to check out Jessica’s site for “all the deets.” Hurry up because it’s only for a limited time!

The 7 Best Pinterest Boards To Learn Anything About Marriage

The 7 Best Pinterest Boards To Learn Anything About MarriageThis year has been an incredible year for my marriage. And this blog.

And I owe a lot of the success in both departments to the Internet’s worst-kept secret, Pinterest.

Until last year, I thought Pinterest was mostly a place to share images for home improvement, fashion, or at-home creative projects.

And then I was invited to connect with dozens of other bloggers to contribute to a group board all about cultivating awesome relationships and realized that Pinterest is so much more than projects and visuals.

It’s also a great platform on which to organize content in a visually pleasing way.

(Be sure to connect with me on Pinterest!)

Pinterest has become the leading traffic source for this site – and it isn’t close.

So I want to give a shout out to 7 of my favorite marriage Pinterest boards!

1. Relationship Advice by Vicky S – Lots of quick bites, inspiration, and quotes to help you improve your relationship in no time.

2. Love ~ Marriage by Skinny Ms. – Pins covering everything from relationship advice to fun and/or frugal date ideas. Definitely check it out!

3. Marriage Tips and Advice by Fawn Weaver (Happy Wives Club) – Everything Happy Wives Club. Find out why 1,000,000 loyal fans trust Fawn’s relationship advice to make their marriages stronger!

4. Marriage Blog Tour Group Board – I’m all sorts of honored to be one of about 80 contributors to this awesome board! I get so much value out of the incredible content shared by so many great minds here. A great cross-section of posts on relationships!

5. Marriage Advice by iMOM – A cool board that has advice from several perspectives.

6. Marriage Tips by Lauren | Military Wife and Mom – A cool board both visually (the images are all great) and practically. Check it out!

7. Best Marriage Tips & Advice Group Board – A great collection of tips from nearly two dozen contributors!

There you go! Be sure to check them out!

I’m always looking for more great marriage content, so if you know of any that I haven’t discovered yet, be sure to share a link in the comments!

If you know of awesome group marriage boards that are accepting new contributors I’d love to know those, too!


Since writing this post I discovered another Pinterest board with all sorts of awesome Marriage material!  I’ll update this post (and the graphic) from time to time as you or I find even more amazing marriage Pinterest boards!  Check out the newest ones and be sure to send me your favorites or include them in the comments below:

Marriage by Pint-sized Treasures!

Making (True) Love: It’s More Than Just Ripping Your Clothes Off!

This is another post by Joanne Miller in which she talks about the difference between making “love” in your marriage and “making love” in your marriage. Be sure to share this wisdom from nearly five decades of marriage with other young couples!

Making (True) Love- It's More Than Just Ripping Your Clothes Off!Over ten years ago my daughter, Ashley, gifted me with a nicely bound book.

It’s called Reflections From a Mother’s Heart, Your Life Story in Your Own Words.

And it’s meant to be a family legacy you leave for your children.

Every page has a new question to answer about my life. 

I pick it up every once in a while and fill out a page or two.

A question I just answered was a very interesting and thought-provoking question:

“What do you love best about Dad now?”

I have been married for over 47 years. That is a very long time.  I was single for barely nineteen years prior to becoming a bride.  So it is hard to even consider what life would be like without Dan. 

But what do I love most about him now?  It came to me easily. 

I love his voracious quest for learning and growing. I have always admired his wisdom from the day I met him and that has never waned.  But what hit me about this question that made me hesitate was that my love for Dan is nowhere near what it was when I was a young bride. It is not at all like it was when I was a young mother.  My love for him has changed a lot.

It concerns me that young couples expect to live the rest of their days waiting for their lover to come through the door, rip their clothes off, whisper undying love and devotion and spend every night in passionate love making. 

If you are one of those couples, let me be the first to burst that bubble. 

About the time you have three children throwing up all night and you are bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, making passionate love all night is about the furthest thing from your mind.  In fact, you may, during an episode like this, wish you had never MADE love in the first place! 

The truth is, love changes as you settle into the years together establishing a family, making a career, dealing with financial ups and downs, family disasters, health issues and myriad other life happenings.

As I wrote my answer to the question about what I love most about Dan now, I wrote: 

“I am more comfortable in our love.”

I could see mental eye-rolling by most young people who would think that by “more comfortable” I mean boring.  Let me be perfectly clear on this.  Life has NEVER been boring married to my husband.  In fact, perhaps a little boredom would be a welcome reprieve from the adventures we have had in the last 47 years. 

By the time you are married for as many decades as I have been, love is so much deeper than you can possibly imagine it to be……. if both parties have diligently worked to make it so. 

It takes decades of working together to create that deep commitment.  I added to my answer that another thing I love most about Dan is that he has done whatever he needed to do to keep peace between us. 

He has put me first.  Even before our beautiful daughter who gave me this book. Even before our two incredible sons.  Even before business, friends and extended family. 

I came first. Always and forever.  And the same is true of my dedication to him. 

That’s the only way it works.  Our lives have not been about standing our ground and being right but it has been totally about “How can I love and serve you well?”

Now, don’t read this wrong.  We aren’t too old to enjoy a passionate night!  The point is, love changes.  And that is the way it should be. And when life seems to crowd out the desire to open the door, rip off your clothes, and jump in the sack with your dream lover, don’t get discouraged.  There are so many more dimensions to deep love that are ever-changing…..and infinitely comfortable. 

Joanne Miller has been happily married for over four decades to career coach and author Dan Miller (48 Days To the Work You Love).

In her new book, Be Your Finest Art, you will find more ideas about how to be a better communicator and listener and how playing games creates great memories and family time. This book is full of color and art and is a unique and beautiful gift for that special someone as we approach St. Valentine’s Day or just to say “I love you.”

She has also authored four children’s books, which my kids LOVE. She and Dan have three grown children and twelve grandchildren and lots of years living the entrepreneurial roller-coaster life of adventure!

How 10 Words From My Wife Changed How I Think About Life and Death

How 10 Words From My Wife Changed How I Think About Life and DeathOn September 11, 1995 an ill-advised left turn changed my life forever. At 6:54pm EST, someone cut right in front of me, leaving me with no time to stop. What resulted was a head-on collision.

I was dead at the scene. Paramedics didn’t think I was going to pull through.

Obviously, I’m here to tell you about it, so the short story is that I made it.

I share the long story in my book if you’re interested in the story and shameless plugs. :)

I became almost obsessed with death at that moment. Death was no longer theoretical. I had looked it in the eyes and came back for a second chance. I was scared. It took me a while to bounce back emotionally, and in many ways I still struggle from the accident.

But when my mind came back and my thoughts shifted to moving forward from “what happened” mode, my focus was singular: build wealth at all costs.

I’ve always been a “family guy.” I’ve always wanted to be “married with children.” I’ve always wanted to use television show names to describe myself…. Ok, just the first two are true. The last one is my ADHD coming through, ironically causing me to lose focus on my post about focus…

My dreams of being a husband and father combined with my newfound obsession with death caused me to decide that I needed to build wealth, and build it fast.

I followed the money, rather than my heart.

Success, to me, was having enough money so that my family would not have to worry about putting food on the table or keeping the lights on while I was alive and could survive financially in my absence if I was not.

This was my mindset for a long… long time… because I was afraid that death would take a significant income source from those who loved and depended on me.

After I changed jobs and moved home and set boundaries to prioritize my family while I build my business, my almost obsession with death (that I kept inside for a long time) subsided, but I still worried a bit about the future and what the legacy to my family would be if I died. I wondered that in silence quite a bit, but I could tell my wife sensed something was wrong.

I don’t hide that I took a significant pay cut to move back to Massachusetts and find a job where working late or on the weekends is rare, rather than the norm.

In many ways I love that I took such a big pay cut.

For a guy as obsessed with building wealth as I was, accepting that pay cut told me that I’m onto something; it told me that I’m capable of change and that my focus was in the right place.

And I knew that once I focused on building my business in the hours we set for me to work I could make up the difference through my business. We treated last year was a transition year in so many ways, and this year as the year we launch, first with my book release, and then with several really exciting other projects that I’ve been building.

But my wife sensed that a not-so-small part of me was still focused on death and money.

I’m not entirely sure if she even remembers saying it, but almost in passing she said ten words that echo through me and completely changed how I think about death.

We were talking one day about money and pay and “the move” and work and my businesses and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I was being very literal, very methodical. I was talking about hours, and numbers, and taxes, and benefits, and side businesses, and all the things that you would expect given my history.

She was nodding and listening and reacting in a very supportive manner.

We both talked a lot.

I don’t remember much of what was said other than the ten words:

We don’t care about the money. We care about you.

I know and I knew that was true.

Those ten words hit me like a ton of bricks – like another Buick making a left turn through my lane.

I knew that a simple life insurance policy could replace my earnings if I died and that we lived a relatively simple lifestyle that didn’t require a huge paycheck so we didn’t “need” a ton of money while I was here.

My family wants “me.” My presence. They don’t care about all the places I want to take my wife or lessons I want to teach my kids before I died.

They just want to be with me.

And right then I realized that life is not about the volume of accomplishments you can check off before you die.

Life is about how well you live with whatever time you have here.

A good life should be judged on qualitative, not quantitative factors.

Each additional day provides an opportunity to “live well,” and not just “do more.”

Viewing death differently since that day has been incredible.

It made me realize that I could accumulate a ton of money and check off a bunch of “things” before death and still have not truly lived.

But I can also live incredibly well without checking off very many “things” at all.

Pretty cool.