009: Achieving balance in life and marriage

Achieving balance in life and marriageOne of my biggest mental struggles over the last decade was my battle for “balance.”

The world told me that “good lives” were balanced. It became cliché. Every time I heard the term I wanted to puke for three reasons that I'll get into down below.

For this episode of the Confessions of a Terrible Husband Podcast I invited Aaron Walker, a business man and life coach over at View From the Top to talk with me about balance.

I've followed Aaron's blog and coaching practice for a while and know him to be wise and giving. I also have two friends who hired Aaron as their coach and they sing Aaron's praises as a coach, mentor, and man.  He's the real deal. So I wanted to get his advice on achieving balance in life and marriage.

Here's a little bit more about Aaron.

Be sure to pick up a copy of Boundaries, a great book that I highly recommend, which Aaron was kind enough to give away to a few lucky listeners. Still a great read and buy, even if you didn't win!

Aaron also recommends another book I got tremendous value from called Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs. Another excellent book on behavior and marriage.

Man I get so pumped thinking back to this interview with Aaron!

Here's the audio to check it out:

Okay, are you still wondering why I wanted to puke every time I heard the term “work/life balance” between 2004 and mid-2013 (and still struggle with the concept today)?

Here are the top 3 reasons:

1. I didn't have it and couldn't figure out how to get it.

For the first 10 years of my career I slept and worked. That's pretty much it.

Everything else came in when it fit in.

I worked out intermittently. I vacationed only when my wife put her foot down and planned one. Weekend trips? Last minute at best.

My life was driven by the demands of my career.

And my career, while going well, was unpredictable. A client would get sued or have an emergency and need someone to run to court Monday morning to ask a judge to protect them from someone or something. My phone would ring. I'd jump.

In other words, work/life balance meant work was my life 100% of the time.

2. “Balance” is “sneaky subjective.”

The term balance sounds simple. The visual of the scales of justice with both sides at an equal level immediately comes to mind. Or two kids on a playground on a see saw, both suspended in mid air with the plank parallel to the ground.

But then “life” comes in. You have 168 hours in the week. Are you supposed to divide them in equal parts between work, sleep, and play (or other things that are important to you)?

If so, does your commute “count” for work or play? What if you listen to great podcasts or read books during your commute? Does that change anything?

Does sleep even “count”?

And what time frame are you talking about? I've just talked about weekly balance here? But is that even the right time frame to use to measure? Months? Days?

Finally, what's the end game? Equilibrium over whatever time frame you choose?

I'm getting annoyed just typing this! All of these questions make a seemingly objective term sneaky subjective and frustrating.

3. My wants and needs changed over time.

Just when I thought I had a good run and might have “figured it out” something new would come up.

A new kid. A new case. A sick family member. Something.

Life isn't linear. It's more like a stock chart than a pie chart (although more pie would be nice…).

Our needs would change day-to-day, month to month, and year to year.

So any “balance” would have to change over time. And that doesn't sound very “balanced” does it?

But then I realized that balance is more mind than math.

I spent so much time counting hours, days, and weeks that my brain hurt.

Then I realized that it didn't matter what my time records said, I only felt balanced when my mind was at ease with my schedule.

If we were picking vegetables on my birthday but I was taking calls from work and talking about work to be done over that weekend so we can get into court Monday morning I didn't feel very balanced at that moment, even if that moment technically was pretty “balanced” because I was physically with my family but mentally working…. (True story.).

Balance was where my brain was.

And this is why I have essentially given up on achieving “balance” in the objective sense and instead concentrate on planning for imbalance that I enjoy.

My brain feels better and my family and friends get the best of me.

What about you? What's your biggest struggle relating to “balance”? What's worked for you to feel more balanced?

Let's chat about them in the comments.

007: 5 Steps to Fighting Less about Money

Money issues are are the number one cause of marriage problems in North Amercia.

My wife and I are no different.  For a while we both went on with our days, both working outside the home before we had kids and transitioning to a one-income household when our son was born in 2009.

For years we talked way too little about money. I worked hard and climbed the corporate ladder.  She worked hard(er) at home. All of our bills were paid. We didn't worry.

But we did worry.

She was confident that our bills were going to be paid and that I would work hard.

I was confident that she was frugal in nature and wouldn't spend more than we made.

We both knew how much was coming into the house and we had a general sense of the disposable income.

But she was stressed out because we never talked about how much savings we had, how much we could save every month.

So she didn't really have a clear picture of our financial situation.

And I was stressed because I didn't have a full grasp of the day-to-day expenses or some other purchases, so in my mind I was nervous about making more to take care of our family's expenses and still save up for things like college and to eat more than ramen noodles during retirement….

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 2.52.01 PM Because this is such an important issue I reached out to Derek and Carrie Olsen who blog at Better Conversations on Money & Marriage to see if they could help us work through this important topic.  I'm a loyal listener of their awesome podcast by the same name and knew they would add incredible content with flair if they would agree to be on the show.

Lucky for us, they were game!

Derek and Carrie help people have better conversations on money.  And that helps people have better marriages.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 6.06.45 PMDerek and Carrie offered to talk with me about a five-step process to fighting less about money that they dive deep into in their upcoming book, One Bed, One Bank Account: Better Conversations on Money and Marriage that is up for presale on Amazon as an ebook and also as a great presale deal on their site where you can get the book, workbook, and audio book.

And if you head on over before the end of January 2015 they have a really great preorder special discount price and some special bonus items!

Definitely check it out.  Everything Derek and Carrie produce is super high quality.  And the topic is a really important part of having a successful marriage!

And they even called me out on each of these steps and helped me work through my issues talking better about money with my wife!

OK.  For those of you who prefer the printed word, here are the Five Steps to Fighting Less about Money.

1. Set the date

This is a great one. Set a date to talk about money. Setting a time when you're not just getting home from work or in the middle of the mall with sparkly object syndrome. Set a date where you can sit and talk about money issues before they become a problem.

We definitely need to work on this one. We're getting better, but it's definitely something we need to become more regular about.

2. Be an Amazing Listener

I'm terrible at this. Again, getting better, but it's so important to listen intently at what your spouse is saying, why they're saying it, and only then respond. Sometimes – too many times – I'll get all wrapped up in the emotions of a money issue that I'll stop listening. Listening to what your spouse is saying helps put you in their shoes and understand them better, which helps you connect better, respond better, and reach a common ground.

3. Let go

Couples, including me, have a hard time letting go even when they've made a decision or compromised on a money issue.  When you and your spouse have agreed on something, move on. Let go. Boy could I use help with this.

4. Design your shared vision

This is powerful and involves planning together for a common ground that you both take ownership in. For nearly a decade my wife and I had totally different visions of our future. Mine was all high rises and law firms. Hers was family and single-family homes.

But in May 2013 I spent some time in the suburbs with Dan and Joanne Miller and was just blown away at how I had been wrong for so many years. I immediately shared my wife's vision. Six months later, we were driving behind a moving van. Out of the city. To Massachusetts. To be with family. It's powerful.

5. Have a Brain Hurricane for solutions instead of focusing on a “problem.”

Take turns saying creative, silly, or even outride ridiculous ways to solve a money problem. Being silly will help you both smile, unfold your arms, and may even reveal a solution that would actually work. In any event, having a Brain Hurricane of powerful, solution-focused talk gets you out of fight mode.

So there you go. Five steps to fighting less about money.  Thanks so much to Derek and Carrie Olsen for walking me through these.

Be sure to connect with them on their blog or podcast and be sure to check out their book, One Bed, One Bank Account:Better Conversations on Money and Marriage,  which is on presale until the end of January 2015 on their site or, if you're only looking for the e-book, on Amazon.  It expires at the end of January 2015, so if you're on the fence it's time to make a decision…. Fences are pointy.

Matt Ham, Redefining Life by Redefining Success, Redefining Values, and Redefining Rich

MattHam-RefefineRichEpisode 4 of The Confessions of a Terrible Husband podcast features, author, speaker, small business owner, father, and husband, Matt Ham. Matt’s new book, Redefine Rich and his podcast of the same name, talks about what it means to truly be rich.

Along with his blog, and public speaking, Matt challenges others to rethink our views on wealth and to reprioritize what’s really important in life.

Doing the Next Right Thing

Matt says he never started wanting to be an author, or speaker, or podcaster. But, he found himself wanting to help solve problems he had in his life. “As I began writing, and praying about that, seeking wisdom, and asking those around me, I just began doing the next right thing, taking one step at a time.”

Matt was born and raised in North Carolina, grew up playing sports – baseball, basketball and football in high school.

His senior year in high school, Matt became involved in a campus ministry called YoungLife. That group took a mission trip to Bimini in the Bahamas. “It was the first time I had stepped outside of my world, my bubble.” Matt says he thinks about that moment a great deal.

“In hindsight, it’s easy to see, but in the moment it’s not. In the moment, you’re living life, doing your life and what’s important to you. But, in hindsight, I was very much completely confined in my little world.”

That trip, working in an orphanage for a week was an eye-opening experience for 18-year-old Matt Ham.YoungLife

The life changing experience set Matt up to begin questioning things that weren’t easily evident beneath the surface. “These kids, the way they lived and the energy with which they embraced the day, king of their passion, they were living in what I would consider just destitute poverty.”

“It was like nothing I had ever seen before, they all smiled. They were still joyful, they were still happy.” Thinking how could they be so happy with no roof over their head, Matt says, “I didn’t really understand that.”

The following year, he went to college with that experience in his mind, knowing that he wanted to make some changes in the world.

“I wanted to influence people, and help people, and give back that mentality.”

To do these things, he says,

“I thought I would have to become wealthy, because, in our culture, that’s just the American Dream. We’re told that you can make it on your own, you can do anything you want, you can take it down, and if you make money, then you can use that and be philanthropic.”

Nick Pavlidis, host of the podcast “Confessions of a Terrible Husband,” says he recognizes that pressure to get rich.

“In my journey as a terrible husband, I was constantly chasing the money with this noble goal, because I thought it would trickle down and help my family… there’s got to be some point where you either realize you don’t need the money to be what you want to be, or, to do what you want to do, you just need to be creative.”

Nick also states that for him, his goals had to change. “For me, I just gotta be home more, be more committed.”

Matt says that as he and his wife were married right out of college, moving from North Carolina to Florida,

“I always thought that if I could reach this mark, I could help more people.” But, he says, while you're in the chase, “the next thing you know, you’re leveraged with houses and rental property, and you got a commission-based income.”

From Bad to Worse

That’s where Matt was in 2007. “I had bills and no income. And that’s not a good spot to be in,” Matt says, honestly and soberly.

Matt says he never realized how bad it was, until it had actually happened. At that point, he and his wife moved back home, “with my tail tucked between my legs, kind of humbled by my circumstances.”

Those were the bad times, says Matt, “but then it really got a lot worse.”

Trying to start a family, the two were struggling financially, then, there was a two-and-a-half-year struggle with infertility.

“I think that infertility is something that not a lot of people in our culture talk bout, because it seems like anybody and everybody just gets pregnant. I know as a husband, it was particularly difficult because I couldn’t do anything about it.”

But, he says, it is a very real and devastating battle for many married couples. “I Know as a husband, it was particularly difficult because I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Matt says he felt like he was just a resource for his wife. He struggled. “I can’t solve this problem. I can’t make it happen. And as much as I wanted to try to fixt it, I couldn’t fix it.” The frustration led him to just shut off.

Saying he was tired of the emotional battle, he just quit fighting.

Matt says. He and his wife’s marriage had begun falling apart.

“I can’t tell you how important it is that I finally stood up and fought that battle… We loved each other, but were like roommates that loved each other.”

Eventually, he says, he and his wife finally came to the conclusion that this was not what they wanted for each other or themselves, and the two found themselves returning “to some of our core values, and our faith, and when though some marriage counseling.”

During that process, Matt explains, “I just saw how broken we were, and how oblivious we were to our own broken situation.”

Stand Up and Fight

Matt says he has learned in this experience,

“You have to begin seeing your situation and your circumstance with a different perspective. When you see yourself in the middle of things that are happening, a lot of times, you can pin yourself as the victim… I was very ungrateful for everything.”

Matt describes the vicious swirling eddy of emotions that was dragging him down the vortex of defeat.

“I was very ungrateful for everything. I was ungrateful for the way the infertility battles were going, which, in turn, made me ungrateful for how it was affecting our relationship. So, I came to a point where, if I don’t start changing something how, I’m going to risk losing the one thing that I care about the most.”

At that moment, Matt says he took a step back, and began to interact with more people, which brought him to a point of brokenness.

As he was coaching individuals and speaking publicly, he realized, “so many times i your own brokenness, you cannot recognize that reality. On the outside, it’s like you seeing a friend who’s fallen down in an accident or something and they’ve broken their leg. They keep trying to stand up on that broken leg, yet, you can’t help them out.”

Matt says, he was in a position that he was either going to be humbled by God’s presence or his circumstances.

“I think one of the two is going to happen… that humility is often found by taking a step back away from your emotions and really looking at a situation objectively,” he says of his situation at that time.

Admitting to Being a Terrible Husband

Admitting to being, at that time, a terrible husband to his wife, Matt Ham says he came to point in his life where he was broken, but ready to heal.

“I think when you begin to respond in a certain way, that is the catalyst for change,” says Matt.

Man's Search for MeaningReferring to the late Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl, imprisoned in German concentration camps, saw people dying all around him. As a psychiatrist, he observed that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

“For me,” says Matt, “that was the beginning. The marker, the capstone. I said ‘I’m going to respond differently. Rather than sitting off and meeting buddies on the weekend, and letting my wife do her thing, I’m going to fight.” Deciding what that fight looked like, Matt says he began taking some practical steps in the direction of his wife, and embracing their struggle together.

It was at that time that the two of them returned to their faith. And they went through some marriage counseling in their church.

“From there, it began a personal journey back to my faith foundation, which leads me back to that story of Bimini and the Bahamas,” Matt says.

During that trip to the Bahamas in high school, Matt led a Vacation Bible School for the orphans.

“[That’s] where I really started to see something greater than myself that was a key catalyst for everything that was going on in my life.”

Matt says his book, Redefining Rich, helped him see all of the markers i his life.

“When you take a step back from your life and start to look at the key moments, put them on a timeline, you start to see themes… commonalities among those moments that are leading you, or pointing you , in a direction.”

Noticing those markers in his life helped bring him and his wife together.

“As the story goes,God is, in my experience at least, and the way I feel, I think God is incredibly redeeming. But, He also has a fantastic sense of humor.”

Matt and his wife now have three children — all born within 15 months.

The first born, a son, Matthew, which the doctors saw wasn’t going to happen. Then, eight months later, while on a company trip to Hawaii, the couple came back with a bit more than a sun tan from the trip.

15 months later, little Matthew’s identical twin brothers were born.

The Ham family had moved from a completely destitute, impoverished, infertile couple to a family of five in about a 17 month period,

“It was quite amazing to see how that transformation took place,” says Matt, “but the interesting this is that tin the middle of raising three kids, late nights, being up all night, and bottles and stomach bugs and hospital visits… there was a moment where as much as I had been a terrible husband before, I was a terrible dad.”

Recognize the Source of Your Thoughts

Matt says there was a moment, while the three boys were young that he recognized he hadn’t improved quite as much as he had thought he had.

One night, as his birthday was approaching, he had scheduled to take his wife to a Dave Matthews concert.

Two days before the concert, one of the boys got a stomach bug, forcing them to sell their tickets to the concert and cancel their date.

”I was like my two-year-old at the time. I was throwing a fit in the middle of the floor. ‘I worked so hard, I deserve to go see this concert,’” he says.

Then he recognized,

“I was like “oh my gosh, I was so ungrateful.’” He told h himself that this wasn’t who or what he wanted to be in his life. “This is not emotions you want to feel, what’s going on underneath the surface,” he asked himself.

The moment, he says, lead to the writing of his first book.

Saying there’s incredible power in taking in actually thinking your thoughts, Matt says it’s a practice that he is trying to improve — to understand where thoughts come from, how they align with his greater goals, and what motivates him.

Those things, Matt says, are at the root of C.S. Lewis’ commentary about pride being the greatest sin of all.

“At it’s core,” Matt says, “I think so often, my battle is pride. It’s like I deserve this and you want to elevate yourself over a situation.”

He warns,

“When you start to be proud… I think there’s a problem. That’s why we talk so much about humility. Kind of leading back to that is so key to being able to grab your thoughts and find out if your motive is rooted in pride.”

Redefining Rich

Matt began writing his book, Redefining Rich, after the Dave Matthews experience in his kitchen floor.

When Matt and his wife returned home from Florida, Matt has run an insurance agency in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Getting caught up in the sales competition, Matt says he always felt like he was trying to measure up to someone else’s metric.

HalfTime CoverEventually, he found a book, Half Time by Bob Buford.  Matt describes the book as being about Success versus Significance.

Recognizing that American men often find their significance in their success (or lack thereof), he says it’s important to define success on our own standards, and finding our significance elsewhere.

“For me, the interesting thing was I thought if I can outsell anybody and just grow this business, that will be what validates me.”

Saying it’s the motivation behind the goal that makes that a bad thing, he realized he needed to find his significant from another source.

Matt then began thinking about what it is he really loved. 

“When I came back from that mission trip when I was 18 years old, I was asked to speak at my church. And I gave my testimony and told the story about the kids and all the different stuff. After that I as met with so much encouragement from people who were there that day.”

They encouraged him to consider speaking publicly. Feeling that, as an 18-year-old, he didn’t have anything of value to say, he pushed it aside.

Later, in college, similar occasions would occur where others would recognize his ability to communicate and would encourage him. Again, he would push it aside.

Recognizing his desire to speak publicly, combined with everything else that was coming together in his life, he says he started to see that there could be a greater purpose in his desire to speak.

Matt then went to a good friend of his who was a public speaker with 30-years experience for advice. 10 years prior, Matt had talked to the same man about the same  thing. His advice then was “take good notes.”

A similar piece of advice came a decade after the first encounter. “Grab a pen,” the mentor said to Matt.

Matt had practiced journaling much of his life, so referring back to his notes, Matt began writing.

“I started looking back at those notes I had taken, and all the experiences and the pan, and the brokenness and the healing that had occurred, and all this stuff began flooding upon me. I’m writing in my journal, and I’m crying, I’m just emotional, and just losing it, and just saying ‘oh my gosh, all these things have happened for a reason and they’ve all led me to this place, and here I am right here, right now, and I’m here and all of these experiences have led me to this point, and what is the common theme that I see?”

Matt says the word “rich” jumped off the page.

Referring to an experience he had a number of years ago while his aunt was dying with cancer, Matt relates how a nurse told his aunt “you make my life rich.”

“I pieced that together within this big picture that was going on in my life, and all of these stories that were happening, and the brokenness and all the stuff we’ve talked about this far. I knew without a doubt that was what I was supposed to write about.”

Redefining Life

Matt confesses that the original title of his book was going to be “You Make My Life Rich.” Until he was diagnosed with cancer while writing the book. That instance, facing cancer, challenged him to live a life more richly.

Matt says he is constantly redefining what rich is to him and how he lives his life. That redefinition of life was all inspired by the catalyst of four words spoken by a nurse, named Melanie, to his aunt, “you make me rich.”

Matt says of those words,

“You can have a significant impact on the lives of people, not just here and now, but, for years to come. That nurse, Melanie, her story is what proves that to me. That’s where every single day I wake up and I’m seeing my words, and I’d say… your words can impact people in ways that you can’t even imagine. You have to be incredibly intentional, because it can do it the other way as well. That’s why we need to grab onto that richness and hold on to it. Otherwise, it’s just poverty.”

Keeping Focus on a Redefined Life

Saying he still has to focus on leading his family to live richly or his efforts have no value, Matt responds to Confessions of a Terrible Husband host, Nick Pavlidis question about how to keep that focus in the forefront.

“I have a wife who is flat-out awesome… part of it is what we have gone through. That we knew that brokenness at its core. And it’s something we just want to avoid at all costs. We know that there’s going to be adversity, there’s going to be struggle. We’re going to have deaths in the family, and all kinds of adversity that life throws at you. But we want to avoid that level of brokenness again. So, we have a relationship where she k nows me, and I know here. The direction we want to move as individuals and as a couple. So we keep each other honest, and are very intentional about making time for the other.”

Matt recognizes that commitment doesn’t just happen. it takes commitment, and creative ways to find time to accomplish your goals and keep the goals you’ve made for your relationships.

Matt cautions,

“You have to define the direction your life is going, or it will be defined for you.”

Podcast Show Notes and Transcription Services by The show notes Guy, Phillip Swindall

003: Asking Better Questions Can Save Your Marriage

QBQ, the Question Behind the QuestionAsking Better Questions Can Save Your MarriageToday’s guest, John G. Miller is the founder of QBQ, Inc., and New York Times Best Selling author of several books, including QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, Flipping the Switch: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Using the QBQ!, Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional!” He and his wife co-wrote  Parenting the QBQ Way, How to be an Outstanding Parent and Raise Great Kids Using the Power of Personal Accountability. as well.

In today’s episode, you’ll catch the fire and energy of John’s message. The value of asking the proper questions, and the motivation for developing true personal responsibility in your corporate, personal and family relationships. You’ll also find out how John handles those “black sheep” in his family, as well as a final, parting piece of advice that will powerfully change your life if you apply it.

32 Minutes

Note from Nick:

Don't miss the Challenge at the end of this post.  I'm going to give away a copy of John's book Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional to 5 listeners who can complete the challenge.  I'll put everyone who participates in a random picker to select the 5 winners!

Ok, back to the show!

Early Life and Discovering the Question Behind the Question

John was born and raised in Ithaca, New York. His first corporate job was with Cargill as a grain trader, buying and selling corn, wheat and soybeans.

Married at the age of 22 in 1980, Cargill transferred the new family to Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, back to Minnesota in five years. John says he came to a conclusion in those five years, “about five years into that corporate experience, I realized something was missing.”

A friend recommended he go into sales. Resisting the suggestion, he says his friend “nailed it. I had found my calling, and a couple months later, I found a position selling leadership and management training, and sales training as well.”

John was loving his new sales job. Making cold calls by phone, meeting execs one-on-one, selling in a workshop setting, and in internal corporate training settings were all a part of John’s corporate sales position.

“I sat in about 10,000 hours of corporate meetings over the next 10 years facilitating training… I didn’t know it at the time, but I was soaking stuff up like a sponge.” By 1994, he realized he was “listening to people ask really bad questions. Like managers asking why can’t we find good people. And, one CEO actually stood in front of his 8 or 9 directors one day, and he was an imposing man… he scared his people. He said, ‘what do you mean you don’t know our mission statement, we’ve had it on the wall for a year.’”

John went on to translate that statement, “What’s wrong with you idiots?”
All the wrong questions.

One day, John realized that business leaders should probably be asking the question behind the question — presenting it first to St. Jude Medical. From there, at the age of 36, John went off on his on from his leadership sales mentor and started his own company, speaking on personal accountability and the QBQ (Question Behind the Question).

Flipping the Switch 

John says his book Flipping the Switch: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Using the QBQ!, is pretty much the follow-up and sequel to QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. A third book John recommends is his new Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional! which summarizes ideas and lessons he’s accumulated over almost three decades of training and serving companies across the world.

He stresses the importance of translating knowledge into action. “That is the greatest challenge for all human beings,” John states, “and, it’s also the purpose of training.” John continues to explain that the problem most corporations face today is most companies no longer engage in training, but in education. “If we’re going to invest in training, we need to invest in the process and tools that change behavior.”

In his QBQ book, John provides the definition of learning. “Learning equals change,” he says, “if I have not changed, I have not learned.”

That, he says, is the problem, especially in marriages. “They’ll read a book on marriage and they’ll turn to their wife or husband and say, ‘honey, I’ve changed.’ Well, no, wait a minute. All you’ve done is read. You’ve absorbed some facts, some figures, some themes, some precepts, some tenets, some ideas, but change means I’m going to now change the way I think… I’m going to change the way I feel… and I’m going to change my behaviors.”
“That,” Miller says, “is what QBQ does.”

Building a Great Marriage

11 years into his marriage, John's wife called him, saying, “Johnny, I’m going to marriage counseling you coming?”

He says he went. And, that he continues to meet with a counselor occasionally. “It is very difficult to keep a healthy marriage without neutral facilitation,” he explains. “If you’re having circular arguments where they spiral, when they start out about dinner and end up with us saying, ‘you always,’ ‘you never,’ and then we don't’ speak to each other for two days? I would very much recommend, go find a marriage counselor and get that neutral facilitation going between you, because it really does make a difference.”

John reminds Confessions host, Nick Pavlidis that no one can really make their children, or their employees change. Even if he makes his son take out the garbage, “I haven’t changed his thinking, his emotions, or his will, his voluntary will, his decisions to take the better action. So, the truth is, I can only change me, but people fight hat all the time.”

John warns, “we start to destroy relationships when we try to control, and try to change others.”

Personal Accountability in Marriage

Confessions host, Nick Pavlidis, says his desire is to “get a group of one million individuals to sign up,lock arms and commit to taking personal accountability over improving their relationships.”

John says that part of the personal responsibility is loving what you’re doing. “If I don’t like where I’m working,” he explains, “if I don’t love what I’m doing… I’m going to ask a QBQ, [and that is] what dan I do to develop new skills? How can I move myself forward?”

John points out what he calls a truth in life, “winners fail forward. Victims lie in a quagmire, a slop called entitlement, and pity parties.”

He says the first thing one has to change is our thoughts. “Everything begins and just about ends with the way I think. Let’s take marriage. If I think cynically, meaning I’m doubting my wife intentions. I doubt her sincerity, it’s not skeptical. See, people confuse the term. Skepticism is not cynicism. Cynicism is when I doubt other people’s intentions. If I view my wife or my husband as selfish, then everything they do I will wonder what’s the real motive.”

But, he says, “until I change my view, my thinking of that other person, I’m not going to change my emotions that are engendered by their actions. So the first step to all change — remember, learning equals change — is changing my thinking.”

John then explains what QBQ does in the family dynamic. “Until the minute I stop saying, ‘why is this happening to me?’ and I start asking, ‘what can I do to move forward today?’ Instead of asking, ‘when will that department do its job right,' and I start asking, ‘what can I do to help solve the problem?’… I haven’t changed my thinking.”

“Once the thinking is correct, and I’ve flipped the switch, then I can work on the action I need to take. But,” he says, “as long as I’m wallowing in victim thinking, procrastination and blame, I’m not going to even begin to take the right action… once I’ve changed my thoughts.”

What about Irreconcilable Differences?

John flips the switch and asks Nick a few questions about relationships with “irreconcilable differences.” “Why would that be?”

John then answers his question. “Let’s think about this. My wife is a feeler… I happen to be a thinker. I am highly logical. In fact, I am so logical that I scored a zero on this test we took for feelings, but I didn’t care.”

John told the counselor that he lacked the ability to care, but that his wife lacks his ability to process a situation logically. “I guarantee you that we could have put incompatible on a document long ago, and nobody would have hind-sighted us, because we are that different. So, the only way to make this marriage work, and it does work, and we are in love, and we have seven beautiful kids, three great-grandkids… we’ve made it work because we’ve brought QBQ into this marriage, and each party works on themselves.

Removing Negative Influences

John talks about the effect of his mom dying at the age of 51, when John was almost 17. “A week later, my dad did something that really was all about service.” A year later, he re-married.  15 years later, John’s stepmom “was the picture of controlling. And my father had his own problems.” It was during that time, around 1991, John decided he didn't want to take Christmas gifts to his dad’s home.

“One day, the marriage counselor stepped in, not that she was siding with me, I don’t even think I was in the meeting that day. But, she said, ‘Karen, let it go. It’s a negative input to your life. You do not need to send gifts to the family a thousand miles away back in New York… when the counselor said ‘let it go…’ it really kind of took a negative out of our life.”

John gives another example. “I’ve got a family member who’s an alcoholic. I used to let him call me at one in the morning and keep me on the phone for an hour… 25 years ago, I just woke up one day and I said, ‘I’m done.’ And I stopped taking calls from him. You have got to draw you own boundaries, or else you will go crazy,” John states.

Overcoming Obstacles to Improving

When asked about obstacles to implementing the QBQ method, John relates a story of an event in which his group taped Audio CDs to chairs in the conference room. “So, I talk, and the session was over. And a guy walks up to the guy who hired me, and me, and said, ‘hey, I got two audio CD’s. I won two of them.’”

John explains that the man was given one CD by a certain women sitting nearby. “So, then the boss says to one of his people, ‘where were you sitting?’ So, then he figured it out. “ The woman had just gone through her second divorce.
“She’s angry at the world,” the boss said. John says, “I’ll never forget that. It’s not about being a woman. This person was angry, so hurt. Remember,” he states, “anger’s a secondary emotion. So hurt, that as I was teaching QBQ professional, she was rejecting the message… she just gave it away.”

“If you’re feeling anger out there,” he continues, “you better get to a counselor and get that processed, because until that anger is released, you’re going to pop. And, it’s going to be awfully tough to learn new skills, new ideas, new ways of doing things. Anger blocks learning.”

Final Takeaway

When John is asked his final question by Confessions of a Terrible Husband host, Nick Pavlidis, John recalls how he closes every interview with radio financial guru, Dave Ramsey. “I always say this,” John quips, “no matter what you thought coming into this interview, frustrated with a spouse, angry at a child, that happens. It’s real life. Hurt at work, disillusioned at work, just keep his in mind. I can only hang me. So, stop trying to change your boss. Stop trying to change your people. Stop trying to change your spouse, and your 15-year-old. Get that QBQ thing going. You know the greatest self-improvement tool ever made by man is a mirror. And when we look in the mirror, that’s what QBA’s all about.”

Here's the Challenge from Nick

It's no secret that John's book Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional is about things you can do at work to make your business great. Much of this interview talked about leadership and personal accountability principles that apply equally at home as they do at work.

That's where you come in.

Share this post on social media and include one thing you do at work that you can do at home to make your marriage stronger.

Then comment below with your principle and let us know where you shared it so we can interact with you there. You'll be on the honor system on social media because, well, we're all about honor here!  But if I can find the post on social media I'll share it too, so feel free to include the link to your post in the comment!

And if you choose twitter, be sure to copy John (@QBQguy) and me (@abadhusband) so we can interact with you!

The contest will end in a week or when we get at least 5 comments (whichever is later)!