Building a Strong Marriage
Marriage can be one of the most amazing parts of your life, and it can be the most stressful, challenging thing in your life – or anything in between.
Without the right answers and tools, unity breaks down and we weaken the relationship.
This week’s podcast is hosted by my VP of Leadership Development and one of our Next-Level Life Facilitators, Joel Fortner! I can’t wait for you to hear this…
Learn the 4 principles to building a stronger marriage:
What does the strongest, healthiest version of you and your relationships look like?
People are held back by unhealthy relationships, self doubt, repeating the same mistakes, fearing failure, not feeling good enough, and the list goes on… You will learn how to break through what’s on your list, and get to where you want to be.
Through this personalized two-day, one-on-one process, you will gain new perspective, clearly see what the healthiest version of you looks like, and leave your Next-Level Life event armed with a personalized plan, vision and action steps for every area of your life.
Continue reading for full transcript:
Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.
Hey everybody. Hey, this is Joel Fortner on Chris LoCurto’s team. I get to guest host on the Chris LoCurto show today. So I’m the VP of leadership development and I’m also a Next-Level Life facilitator on Chris’s team and I have been with him almost from the very beginning of starting this business. So over six years, I think it’s been six years I’ve been with Chris now. So every now and then I get to pop onto the podcast and I’m usually not in this seat, hosting the show. It’s been a long time since I’ve done this, but it’s totally a treat and an honor. And I’m super excited about what we’re going to talk about today and what I get to unpack for you. So if you’re wondering where Christopher LoCurto is, he is out of town for several weeks. He is in California and some of you all may know that he is out there writing a book.
Yes! A book! So we are writing our first book. He is currently banging out the manuscript in beautiful Tahoe where he can think and breathe and thinks super clearly and we are super excited to bring that book to you all sometime I think in the next couple of years that book process is really long. But that’s where Chris is and why I get the honor of guest hosting. So for those who’ve been following us for a while or if you’re brand new to us, we focus on more than just leadership and business here. We focus on life, we focus on helping people live stronger lives. Even people who come and do business leadership work with us tend to then come through something like a Next-Level Life and start sending people back because they learned I need to grow me. I need to work on me.
I need to get healthier and stronger. So we do it all. We do business, leadership and life here. And that’s literally my week to week here every single week… Is helping people with business leadership and how to have a stronger life. So today I am super excited to talk to you about marriage. Marriage is near and dear to my heart. If you’re married to someone like my wife, Mary Beth, you can help to see why marriage is so near and dear to my heart because she is phenomenal and I love being able to help couples and help them have a stronger life and be able to help them have a stronger marriage because of what it can be. So, so many of you listening are probably married. We have a lot of people who are married or maybe you plan to get married someday. Not everyone does, but maybe you do.
And if you’re married or you plan to someday, this episode is definitely for you. I’m going to take you into some of the top things that I teach on a regular basis that I’ve implemented for years in my marriage with Mary Beth to help you have a marriage. So let me ask this question. So can we all just be honest for a minute? Can we all just admit that none of us, and I’m, I’m lumping me in here too, are as good at home as we wish we were. Don’t we all desire to be better spouses? I mean, if you don’t, that’s a check. I mean, that’s, that’s an indicator of just where you are right now in your life, in your marriage. But for the most part, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of you desire to be better spouses, to be more supportive, to be more understanding, to be more encouraging and patient.
I know that’s true of me, but here’s the thing is it didn’t, it used to not be me, but it’s very true of me today. So today I’m going to share with you some of what I’ve learned from my marriage, the good, the bad, and the pretty ugly, and how Mary Beth and I have learned and how we’ve grown from it all. So let’s start right at the top here about why this matters. So you may have heard the quote that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. So there’s one thing to be a kingdom that’s divided, but when it’s divided against itself, it won’t last. It will not stand. Think of your marriage in this way that a kingdom divided means it once was a whole. It was once unified and now it has divided and now it’s dividing against itself. It will fizzle out.
It won’t last, which is why in marriage, big picture every single day we should strive for unity. How do we continue to have unity in our marriage? That’s a huge foundational element is when we lead our marriage and we operate in our marriage, aiming at unity, how do we learn on both sides of the marriage to create greater unity in the marriage or in our, in our relationship? So we bring all of us into our marriage. We bring the good, and we bring the not so good. We bring the sometimes super ugly stuff and toxicity from our past. We can bring abuse, we can bring toxic patterns, we can bring our sin. We all do. We bring our wounds. Think about hurt people, hurt people. If you’ve been hurt, you’ve probably hurt people in your life or you’ve been hurt by people who were hurt in their life.
We bring our weaknesses into our marriage that you can’t divorce yourself from it. You can’t divorce yourself from these patterns, these wounds, these weaknesses. So healing and restoration must take place. And so we are huge believers in that. I have walked this out in my life of going through a lot of healing and restoration and the more that my wife and I have experienced God’s grace and experience healing and restoration, we have become a better couple. We’ve become more unified. We’ve become a stronger team. So let me tell you this quick story and I tell this story all the time and I’m going to start it here and I’ll share a little bit more, but I’m going to take you inside a not very pretty moment in my marriage that really stands out. Where Mary Beth and I were not where we are today, but we had had some healing and restoration and we’re even at a better place.
Praise the Lord today because of what I get the, the honor of teaching you all today that I hope you all implement in your lives. So let me tell you this story. So there was a time where I was working late here on the team and I’m the type of guy that when I get going on a project and especially that I’m excited about, I don’t like to stop it. So I don’t like to quit or if I’m going to stop it, I like to bring it to a, what feels like to me the right stopping point. Some of you all may be able to relate with this. So I’m working on this new thing, this new idea for our mastermind program and I’m working on it and I’m on the whiteboard and I’m writing all this stuff down and then it gets to be around six o’clock at night and then I decide to leave.
So I normally leave at that point around 5:15, 5:30. I always let Mary Beth know when I’m on the way so she can plan timing of what she’s doing with the kids or maybe timing of dinner or whatever it may be. I always let her know that I’m on my way and that way she also knows I’m on the road, so it’s six o’clock and then I’m done. I wrap this thing up and then I am, I’m send that message “on way” to my wife. Well, I get down the interstate and I get to the exit and then I get a text back from her that just says, Hey, just FYI, I’m really struggling with how late you’re leaving tonight. Well, here we go. So my root system as we teach, is all of my training, my conditioning, all of the influence from my past is what makes up my root system and everyone’s root system is that way, is that think about we are all the sum of what has happened in our past and the influence that we’ve allowed in.
Well all of a sudden my root system attacks me because that text message from her was a trigger. I immediately start feeling like a failure. I feel like a disappointment. My worth is tanking and I am now out of control and I am believing lies. I am now struggling. I’m self-sabotaging, I feel it, I know it. I’m already teach this at this point in time in my life, but I notice I’m in freak out mode. So I get it and I start processing and thinking through how I’m going to respond and start thinking through how we got here. And I get to the house and then I walk up and she’d sent me another text by this point and said, hey, I’m not going to run anymore. Because earlier she decided she was gonna go for a run. So now I’m thinking, well, she’s not going to go for a run now.
Oh Great. You know, great. Joel, this is what I’m thinking in my head. You can probably all relate to this. This is such like a, a tactical example of how communication and how we can respond in our lives. So I pull up in the driveway, get out of the car, and I walked through the front door and I open it. And there’s Mary Beth standing there and she has that, you know, that look that your spouse gets that, you know, like, oh, something’s up. Like they’re struggling. If this is for real, like this is for real, they’re struggling. So I read her face and she looks at me and says, you know what? I’m going to go for a run. I think it would be great for everybody. I think it would be best for everyone if I went for a run. And so I said, okay, I agree.
And so she gets her stuff on and I can laugh about this now. Trust me, I’m not laughing in the moment. And so she gets her shoes on and she goes for a run and I told her, hey, I’ll take care of the kids and feed the kids. And now she’s off and she’s out for this run. So let me stop right there in this story. So what I want you to see is my root system in action. I want you to see my deeply ingrained training of what I believe in that moment because of what I’ve experienced in my life is that this is an indicator of what I’ve experienced is I immediately go to a place of root system attack. Joel, you’re a failure. You’ve disappointed your wife, and now you are out of control. That your self worth is now tanking.
You’re losing it and now you’re operating from a place of being out of control. That’s what’s happening with me. That’s what happens to all of us when triggers happen in our life. So the trigger for me was the text from Mary Beth. That was the trigger and then I went out of control and now I’m struggling. This is the point that’s a make or break point and we’ll get to that in just a little while of what I’m teaching of, you have two options at that make or break point and how you’re going to respond. You’re either gonna react probably in a bad way or you can choose your response and practice responding in a much healthier way. So my root system and my training says actually not only am I a failure, but I also can go to a place historically of making her the problem that she’s being unreasonable and put all the blame on her and completely blame shift to get rid of the personal responsibility.
Well, why would I do something like that? Well, because my worth is tanking, I can then struggle with victim mentality, not want to own it and put it all on the person who in my mind I feel is the real problem. That we all have this junk that we bring to the table in our marriages that we can’t divorce ourselves from. But we can definitely practice new steps and actually experience healing and restoration in our life that minimizes it, if not eliminates it over time. But if we don’t know the steps to take, it’s very difficult to do that. So my root system can also say, Joel, disregard her feelings, fight to be right and make it all about her. Like, this is what, how I used to treat my wife like when we were dating and engaged, early days in marriage.
This is how I would act. Like look at what it was like to be married to me back then. And this is, I mean, just toxicity coming out of me. So I mean, my wife will tell you today that back then that there are times when I could just straight up be a jerk and that’s how I made her feel is that I could shut her down, I could become more dominant, I could help her feel unloved and unheard. And yes, she’s contributing and yes, she has a root system, but look at what I’m doing to contribute to conflict with my wife because of my root system, because of all the junk that I bring to the table. So the turning point in my life was years ago was when I got outside perspective on myself. That up to that point I was blind to how I was contributing.
I was blind to all that I have such clarity on that I can just roll it out to you right now being like, I was struggling with this, this, this, this, this. I can now see it, but I was blind to that back then. That’s why the first thing we’re going to talk about today is doing your own work, meaning working on you first. So today I’m going to hit four areas of focus and things that you can do to build a stronger marriage. Steps that you literally can start taking today and start practicing and I emphasize practice. These are steps that you can do that help you develop a marriage that now is built on trust and dignity for one another and grace. One of the biggest insights into how strong our marriage is today is how Mary Beth and I handle conflict because conflict in marriage can make us contentious toward one another or more compassionate for one another.
Let me say that again. Conflict in marriage can make us contentious toward one another or more compassionate for one another. That conflict can actually, if handled in the right way, can build unity. How crazy is that to think about if you’re not experiencing that, that by handling conflict in a great way, you can actually strengthen your marriage because of how much love is involved in the process. Now, don’t worry, so if you’re thinking like, I’m already overwhelmed. This is a whole lot of information already that we’re going to have a pdf on all four of these focus areas and the action items from this episode, and you can download that by going to ChrisLoCurto.com/strongermarriage.
So let’s dive in a little more into these action steps. Number one, let’s go back to do your own work. You can’t work on a strong marriage without working on a strong self. Everything about what I’m talking about involves constant personal responsibility. What toxicity are you bringing to the conflict? How are you contributing? It always takes two people to have conflict. Always. Even if it’s 98% mostly one person and 2% the other one or 85 and 15 or 60 and 40 and ever how you split it out, it always takes two people. Look for where you’re contributing. If it’s only 1%, look for it and own it. Own where you’re contributing. So to get to this place you have to do some work on yourself of being open and realizing, where am I broken? Where am I weak? Where am I wounded? Where am I hurt?
What do I have from modeling from my upbringing or the lack of great parents that I just was never taught like how to even conduct myself in a marriage, and so you may not have the tools to be able to say, Gosh, where is all my personal responsibility? That becomes a thing you pursue. That becomes a thing that you start looking for outside perspective to see, Gosh, what do I bring to the table? Where am I responsible in my view, ownership and personal responsibility leads to freedom. Why? Because you’re not fighting anymore. You’re not trying to fight and hide from where you’re broken or the junk you bring to the table. When you can want to see it and desire it and just own it, it just becomes a thing for you of being like, Gosh, I can be really controlling.
I can be really dominant. Wow. I can be super submissive and passive, and that’s how I’m contributing to conflict. That there is freedom in personal responsibility that most of us don’t want the personal responsibility because we don’t want to lose self worth. We think, Oh, if I have to own it, that means I’m a bad person. No, it means you’re smart. That means you’re a responsible person. That’s what it means. So here’s some insight into how to do your own work so that you can have a stronger, healthier marriage. Remember, that’s the goal. Stronger, healthier marriage, more unified marriage is number one, learn to feel and recognize the feelings you have in your body. So when Mary Beth sent me that text and I’m sitting at the exit almost home, I felt it in my body. I felt it physically. I felt the anxiety. I felt myself go out of control.
We usually feel physically what’s going on internally. We feel physically what’s happening emotionally. That’s a cue. That’s a trigger to then stop and know ope something’s up with me. I am reacting. I am struggling. I am self-sabotaging. That’s your cue. When I say learn to feel and recognize your feelings, this is now what’s going on. This is a cue to turn inward, to start to gain perspective on what’s going on with you. So for instance, whenever you get upset, take 10 seconds to assess what’s happening with you, on a scale of one to 10. where am I in feeling this frustration, this anger? And start to gain perspective on what’s happening with me right now. So this is where I’ve, when I’ve practiced this one step right here, it leads me to know, Oh, I am losing worth. I’m out of control right now.
I am feeling stressed. I’m feeling like a failure. I’m feeling guilty. Oh, I’m having thoughts immediately now about how they’re to blame or I’m bracing for conflict and I’m starting to build my case. All these things are very prevalent in my mind because of practicing what I’m teaching you right here of knowing and learning…this is what I’m struggling with. So learn to feel and recognize the feelings you have in your body and then stop and pause and take a few seconds to assess what’s going on, to figure out what’s happening. Often one of the key things to look for in these types of scenarios and in conflict in our marriage is where am I struggling…and everyone hates this…Victim mentality. Most people don’t see themselves as being a victim, but when we are in conflict with one another, so often we are both being victims to one another because we’re finding our self worth in the approval of our spouse and now something has triggered the other one, which then triggered the other one as well.
So for instance, when Mary Beth sent me that text, she’s already triggered, right? She sends me that text and now I am triggered and now we have two triggered out of control people about to see each other in five minutes. This is either going to erupt or it’s going to be avoided or it’s going to be solved. Those are the options and it all depends on the health of the people involved and the levels of personal responsibility that we take for how much we are struggling and we go to work with us. So before we go into the second area of focus to build a stronger marriage, you’re going to hear a little bit more on how we help people discover their strongest self and live their strongest life through next level life.
Next level life is our two day personal discovery experience. It’s a one on one personalized event where we guide you a process to help you discover your root system, to get unstuck in life and to discover what’s holding you back from freedom and peace. Imagine this, what if you could wake up every morning with a clear purpose? What would it look like to have healthier relationships with less conflict? Where would you be in a few months, a year, five years, if you had clarity, purpose, and peace. Probably a big difference from where you stand today. Now I know it’s possible because I’ve been where you are asking myself, is there more? There is and there is a better way and it starts with next level life. You can go to ChrisLoCurto.com/discover to take the next step. Now, if you’re struggling with this contentment, regret, or not feeling good enough, which most of you are, if you’re filled with anxiety or your relationships or liking, don’t keep going through the same motions every single day. Learn how to move past the things, robbing you of peace.
Okay, area of focus number two. So we’ve hit area focus number one, which is all about taking personal responsibility and feeling your body of knowing where am I right now? And turning inward to gain perspective. Now let’s go on to area focus number two is know who you’re talking to. This is area of focus number two, this is what I mean by this. You’re married. Who are you talking to when you’re in conflict? Is this your buddy down the road? Is this your fifth removed cousin? Even though we shouldn’t treat anyone poorly. This is your spouse you’re talking to. So often in conflict, we forget this or we don’t have the the proper view I’ll suggest on the level of person this person should be in your life. This is your spouse. This is the person you’re married to, Lord willing, for life.
This isn’t your teammate on your 10 years old on the baseball field when who missed a ball and you yelled at him or you missed a ball and he yelled at you and and became a victim and caused you to lose the game. This is your spouse. Never forget who you’re talking to. Now I say this knowing that even myself is that I come from parents who are imperfect like we all do. They all, they had gaps and imperfections and those are within me, so I came into my marriage with a certain level of view of marriage and what it should look like or not. Just not knowing what I knew. Many of you are there in that camp as well. It’s all dependent on what was modeled for you. Was there a strong healthy marriage? To the extent that there wasn’t, you’re probably going to have a gap in how you view marriage unless you’ve had outside perspective.
You’ve learned that you’ve had healing and restoration in this area coming into your marriage and if you have awesome, that’s amazing and incredible that many of you have not. And this right here is such a basic step, can be so transformative of how we choose to handle conflict. When we look at the person across from us who at one point in time we put a ring on their finger, we exchanged vows. It’s how serious were we? Know who you’re talking to. This is my wife, this is my husband. This is my team member for life. So if you’re in a place today where you have forgotten that, and this right here is resonating with you of thinking, Gosh, I really just struggle with my spouse, Joel, I hear what you’re saying, but I struggle with them and this is really hard for me to even care that they’re my husband right now.
It’s hard for me to care that this is my wife. If that is you, my heart breaks for you, but I also know that’s a symptom. It’s a symptom of things that have led to how you got to where you are today. It’s a symptom that you’re in that place, but at some point if you’re there, we have to start working on change. If you desire that this marriage is for life, I can tell you healing is possible. Restoring is possible. I help people with it every week. I’ve experienced in my own life. It is always possible. So here’s something that you can start doing right now on this step of knowing who you’re talking to and having better perspective is I want you to come up with three adjectives to describe your spouse. Yup. I just used a big english word for you. If you haven’t heard the word adjective in a long time, think about what are three descriptors of my spouse.
Think about, not negative, but things you love about them. Thinks about like when when you’re in a good place or when they’re being fantastic to you or just as you observe them with others. What are three things that you love about your spouse? Are they loving, funny, caring, empathetic, outgoing, charming, impulsive in a good way? What are those things? Maybe what have we lost over time? That back in the day that when you, when we were in a better place in our marriage that we used to be this way with each other. How would you describe those adjectives of them? Especially if you’re the one today struggling with your spouse and for each of those adjectives, each of those descriptors, think of a story in a time where that showed up or they showed that quality. This is how we show dignity to our spouse, that they’re valued, that they really matter to us.
We’re all imperfect and we can struggle with judgment as people…we can struggle with the imperfections of our spouse when we have imperfections as well, and we don’t extend the grace to them that we would love to have extended to us because of our root systems, because of what we bring into our marriage. That holds us back from having a more unified marriage. So if your view of your marriage is casual, you will treat it casually. Again, if your view of marriage is casual, you will treat it casually. So to be a little funny about this a bit, if your marriage, if your marriage isn’t a solo cup, it’s fine china. I mean, think about it that way. If you’re, if it’s either a little red plastic cup, no offense to Solo, we love you guys. If it’s that in your mind, you’re going to treat it accordingly.
Maybe we’ll leave it on the picnic table. Maybe we’ll throw it in the trashcan. Maybe we’ll leave it half filled with your favorite beverage. For some flies to come land into later. This is ugly picture, right? Or is it fine china? Is that the thing that you cherish? But hopefully you bring out more than once a year, if you know what I’m saying. But do you cherish it? Do you treat it? If some of you all may carry your China with gloves, do you treat your marriage accordingly? So part two of this, not only is this person, your spouse, here’s a huge part, they are not your enemy. They’re not your enemy. We may treat each other in our marriage like we’re enemies, but truth is they’re not your enemy. When we get up into arguments and we have conflict with one another, going back to what I shared earlier, we both people, we can struggle with victim mentality that we view and then treat our spouse as an enemy.
Someone who I must protect from someone who I must defend myself from. I must fight with them. I must fight to be right because they now in my mind are positioned as an enemy. Well, every victim must have a villain and you will either be passive and submissive to that villain or you will fight that villain. That’s the kinds of extremes that we see. But truth is they’re not your enemy, that there is no bad guy in conflict. So when you’re going to all things, personal responsibility, all things working on you, remember your spouse is not the issue. The communication or action is the issue. The person who’s imperfect just like you, is not the issue. Our communication and our behavior on both sides is the issue. That’s the thing to focus on. We focus on, wow, my spouse is fine china, they are loving and caring.
I love them, but right now we’re struggling and I got to know how I’m struggling above all, how am I contributing to this conflict that’s tearing apart unity? And we have to know the people are not the issue. The communication or the actions are the issue that the issue we’re having is not the identity of the person involved. They’re your husband or they’re your wife. So even in conflict, the goal is trying to connect, not to win. The goal is to connect and solve it. Thinking big picture. There’s love on the line here, there’s longterm unity on the line here. Let’s both focus on connecting and solving the conflict. Not on winning, not on fighting to be right. That used to be me. I come from a family. That’s one thing that they can struggle with. So my family on the positive side can be giving loving, positive, visionary.
And I experienced growing up some fighting to be right. And so guess what? That was a core thing I brought into my marriage was fighting to be right. For what worth? Well, why don’t I just have worth without fighting to be right? That’s the big question, because it wasn’t there at that point in my life. So I fought to win. So now I’m trying to win over Mary Beth. I’m trying to defeat my wife. It’s like, listen to that. I mean, I listened to myself say it and it sounds terrible, but that’s where I was at the time. That was my selfishness of the day that I can still struggle with to this day as we’re all in process. So you’re trying to connect, not win. So if you don’t connect with one another, you’re both gonna lose in conflict. We’re both gonna lose. If we’re not connecting, many of us want to get to like straight to a resolution, but the process in connection can be more important than the outcome.
I want to teach you how to get to great outcome, but if we treat each other with grace and dignity while we’re solving conflict, think about the amount of love we’re now sharing with one another. The goal is not to one up the other. The goal cannot be to win the fight or the argument because we’re both going to lose. So we’ve talked about up to this point, we’ve talked about doing your own work and knowing who you’re talking to. This is foundational. Now we’re going to talk about what to do in those situations where there’s conflict in our day to day lives. I’ve already gotten into this somewhat, so let me hit this next area focus of how to talk to your spouse.
So let me first come back to the story I was telling you earlier about Mary Beth and I remember where we were in the story. I had come into the house, she had decided, you know what, I’m going to go for a run now and I agree that would probably be good for her as well. So here’s what I know about my spouse then, what I knew about Mary Beth in that day is she’s going to go for a run and she’s going to go to battle with herself. Notice what I didn’t say. I didn’t say I know she’s going to go out there and mentally crucified me. So she goes for her run and I feed the kids and she’s gone for a longer than she usually is on this run. So we’ve been married for years I know, we know each other’s patterns pretty well and I know, wow, she’s been gone longer and in my mind I started asking myself, why?
Well, is it because she’s out there just going ballistic over how bad her husband is? No, because I know my wife and I know the tools that she knows to practice. And literally in my mind I thought she is out there battling her own root system, taking personal responsibility for her struggle and two, she’s called Heather. So Heather on this team who you’ve probably heard on this podcast is one of MaryBeth’s best friends. They’re accountability partners in life. When they struggle they can call each other and they do to talk things out to get outside perspective on what they’re struggling with. Because when we’re struggling emotionally, right, we can not have perspective at all. We can just be reacting but we can get to a place of knowing, gosh there’s probably gaps in the way that I’m thinking right now. So I knew that’s probably what she was doing.
So a few minutes later she comes up the driveway, the door is open cause it’s a nice spring day and I can tell by who she’s talking to that she was talking to Heather, she was practicing her steps. She’s practicing the tools that we teach and that I’m teaching you right now. So she comes into the house and we get the kids down to bed and she’s in the kitchen and I come up to the kitchen. I put my arms around her and I own all of my side and I just tell her, hey, I’m sorry for leaving as late as I did and she turns around and she asked me, well, what kept you so long? I just wanted to complete the project I was working on and it’s difficult for me to just leave it, but looking back on it, I should have, I should have just put a pin in it and left and come home and left when I normally did or at least communicated with her and so that’s what I told her is that’s what I should have done looking back on it.
But notice also what she did right before then she asked a question to gain perspective, what, what kept you so long? Now here’s my answer and I take personal responsibility for how I contributed to conflict and I’ve already processed through how I could have made a better decision. Well then she immediately tells me, well, my side is that I struggle and it was a trigger for me. And I go to that lie that the lie that I can believe again, this is Mary Beth that lie that says that work is more important than I am. She knows it’s not true of my character because she knows me, but she knows how I can be and it can be a trigger for her lie. Look at the personal responsibility that she’s taking to own her own struggle, to own the lie that she’s believing that work can be more important to Joel than his family.
She knows it’s not true, but she’s struggling and she’s battling her root system. So we’re now both in a place of taking personal responsibility. We’re not blaming each other. So in the past, what I would have done in this situation, most likely was to just blame her. You’re being unreasonable. I never leave that late. Why is it such a big deal this time? I mean, listen to what I’m saying, guys, some of this may be hitting home right now because this is what you do. Notice that this can be changed, that we all have the these imperfections and we all have toxicity within us that comes from our past and how we’ve been treated and all things in our root system that can come out and very ugly ways, and that’s all I could do in the past is I could be right.
I could fight to win, I could blame her, but this is not where I was in this day in conflict with my wife. And praise the Lord this is where both of us are most of the time now in solving conflict is that we’re now both taking personal responsibility in this moment in the story. This is huge and this is key. We’re not blaming, we’re not being victims. We’re not protecting ourselves from one another. We’re communicating and treating one another with grace and dignity because the goal is unity, is our are decisions aligning with unity in our marriage? Are we treating one another with love or are we treating each other in a way that says that we just want to win in the argument? Are we being selfish in our marriage? So we ended up sitting down and talking more about it and I told her, I said, so going forward, my goal is to leave at five 30 every night.
My, that’s my goal. That’s what I’m going to aim for because I work plenty of hours. I need to try to be out of here by 5:30 cause I do have a wife and a family and I’ve got to balance out my life as best I can. That became my commitment to her. We literally ended the conflict guys with, okay, okay. That was it. It was done a thing that would have erupted in the past, leaving her feeling hurt, leaving her feeling confused, leaving her feeling unheard and unloved was where we were in the past. Super ugly and this is an example of the good, this is a example of what it looks like to solve conflicts in a healthy way. This probably sounds like a lot and it is. That’s why it’s so effective because it’s not a little, these are steps that you have to practice.
You practice these steps. You don’t aim for perfection. My wife and I have been practicing these things for years, starting with doing work on ourself, our own self awareness. So I want to review these steps that we’ve covered today so they’re all fresh in your mind. Number one is your self awareness. Operating with personal responsibility that when you recognize that when you’re struggling is getting to the place of naming your emotion. Recognizing how I’m self sabotaging, notice physically what’s going on in your body. Notice your reactions. How am I feeling?
How is my breathing? Is My jaw clenched? What’s my voice sound like? Take inventory on where you’re at. Gain perspective on you first. So choose your response. Practice calming yourself. Get space. If you need to, take the time and step away in, choose the response that you need to have a response that aligns with unity and love. So step number two is shifting the focus to the other person and learning to listen. So when you’re doing a good job, self managing and conflict, and you are taking the focus off of you, we shift the focus off of ourself and we learn to listen. We start to gain perspective by asking questions of the other person… So gain perspective and ask questions of what the other person is struggling with to find out.
Don’t leave room for assumption and then ask. It’s like, Hey, this is what I’m hearing you say that my understanding that correctly, that helps a person feel very heard and then continue to listen and then ask questions like, is there anything more to it than that? Is there anything more that I need to know or that you’re struggling with? Continue to find out what’s going on with your spouse. Validate and empathize, like listen to them and you can use words like, you know that makes sense or I can see how you can feel that way. I can see the how what I said triggered you in that way because it was really high task and I wasn’t doing a good job of leaning in your direction.
And remember, the person is not the problem. It’s the action or our behavior, our communication that becomes the problem. So at this point, you’ve stepped out of yourself and you’re caring more about the other person. Look at that. You’re not focusing on you. You’re not being selfish. You’re focusing on the other person and hearing and listening to them. When you do this well, you build massive trust. I mean you can take conflict and turn it into trust on the other side and actually strengthen the team in your marriage. You can strengthen your marriage when you do these kinds of steps and you treat each other with grace and dignity. So step three, repetition and repeat. So repeat it sounds very repetitive. I’m trying to emphasize that repeat, repeat, repeat practice. What we’re doing for you. If you work out, you go to the gym or think about something you do all the time.
We have to practice and we have to build these muscles. Literally. Remember, we’re trying to build a stronger marriage knowing we’ll never arrive at perfection, but we’re always building something. Strong marriages aren’t built by handling one conflict well, but by repetition, that’s how do we handle conflict when it comes up, because it’s always going to, and not all conflict is bad. There is healthy conflict, but we can even turn potentially bad conflict into something unifying in our marriage. So when you adopt these mindsets and take these steps, you’re changing patterns and learned behaviors from your past.
You can start practicing new things and creating new forces of habit. Don’t worry about perfection. We’re building something, not trying to perfect something so and then think about this. Think about all things legacy going forward. Think about your children if you have them.
When we stay stuck in toxicity in our marriages because no one showed us how to do this. Think about what your future looks like when we stay stuck. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to stay stuck or we can choose to find out where do I struggle? What do I bring to my marriage? If you really want to find out and test yourself and you’re at this place in your marriage where you can do this, ask one another. What are my biggest weaknesses that you see? You may not be there. You may not be in that place right now, but if you are, gain that perspective. Be ready to be ready to get something you may not have heard before, but you can start to learn whether from your spouse or your buddies or your friends or other family members. How do I contribute to conflict?
How could I improve my communication? What are things that I do, I may not even know about myself? When you’re committed to working on you first in owning your responsibility in your marriage because you’re owning it as an individual, you not only change your life, you not only change your marriage, you change your children’s life and your future because they’re going to see a marriage that looks entirely different than maybe what you saw. Think about what do you want to model for your children
Shape it. You can do it. People are doing it here. Hundreds of people have done it. Not more than that. Thousands and thousands of people who have done it in this world, who have chosen to learn and invest in themselves for the sake of their marriage and for the sake of their children’s future. So guys, I hope this has been helpful. I hope this has blessed you. I hope this is encouraged you again, this is a lot of information. I hope that you listen to it more than once. Share this with other married couples.
You know, who need to hear this. And again, as a reminder, you can get the pdf download with the action steps that we talked about today for helping you navigate conflict. And a quick summary of all four areas we covered by going to ChrisLoCurto.com/strongermarriage. So guys, thank you so much for joining me on the Chris Locurto show today. If you think about it, pray for him as he’s writing this book, pray for wisdom for him. I hope this content has served you well. I hope it’s going to serve your marriage well. Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, review, and share the podcast to help more people join our community. As always, take this information, change your leadership, Change Your Business, change your marriage, change your life, and join us on the next episode.