Ep 5. How Not to Leave Your Husband in the Dust

I'm Ashley!

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Do you ever find yourself pouring so much time into your children, your business, the household chores, working on your fitness, making meals, wiping noses, and the booties? Cleaning up endless messes, surviving that witching hour, you know the one. It’s like the hour, right before dinner, when the whole house melts down, you have no more energy. Your motivation is gone, and then your husband walks in the door. You hand them the kids, say tag you’re it! And go hide in the closet with some wine and cookie dough for just a little bit of peace and quiet. Do you feel me at all? In today’s episode, I want to share with you five strategies to help you change your perspective on your marriage and not leave your husband in the dust.

As always, I am so excited to be here with you right now. I wish I could be sitting with you in real life, face to face, sipping on ice coffee. Well, at least that’d be my beverage of choice. What would yours be? Let’s just pretend you’re with me right now okay. Before we get started, I want to share with you what Allie from Birth Bliss Beyond has to say about these weekly conversations.

This five-star review is titled “Workaholic Mama”
I love working. I can get too intense sometimes. This podcast has helped me find ways to be intentional with my kids and also be productive. You must listen. If you want to be a present mama for your kids.
Thank you so much, Allie, for this sweet review. I totally can feel you on that workaholic mentality. If you guys haven’t listened to Episode Three, why setting Work-Life Boundaries changes Everything, definitely check it out. I dive so much deeper into how to reclaim your sanity and not feel like you’re always working.

Today’s topic is something I’m really passionate about. But it’s very vulnerable for me. This is an area in which I feel I’m the weakest. It’s something that really, I feel like God has been doing a work on in my heart. I don’t feel very confident in this area, but a wise friend once told me, you don’t have to be an expert to teach something. You just have to be a few steps ahead of someone else in the trenches who needs encouragement and support.

So, this episode is dedicated to all you mamas out there that find it hard to prioritize your husband and your marriage. Just a reminder, all of my episodes are jam packed, they require reflection and action. So definitely keep that in mind when you’re deciding when to listen. Think of these as free mini workshops, take full advantage. I’m giving you all my secrets. Remember to start taking action more than just taking in the information. Did you know information overload is a real thing? If I get filled up with too much info, I start not knowing where to go. I don’t know what to do first, and so sometimes I do nothing at all.

Don’t want that to happen to you guys. I suggest listening to these episodes when it’s easy for you to hit pause and take some notes. But before we get into all these juicy strategies, I want you to take some time to reflect, think about how much time, energy, and money that you have invested in business education. Have you taken any courses before? I’m sure you’ve read lots of books. Maybe you joined some challenge groups, attended meetings, conferences. Maybe you’ve even come to some of our networking meetings or our workshop. Have you gone to other events and been filled up with great knowledge? I want you to seriously do the math right now.
Over the years, how much time and money have you spent? Oh, okay. You’re probably thinking, oh my gosh, Ash, I have no clue, it’s a lot! You’re like me. Same here, I can’t even really do the math in actual dollars because it’s a lot. Now I want you to think about this same question in regards to your marriage. How much time, energy, and money have you invested in strengthening your marriage? Well, I know I can’t really quite calculate the time and energy piece, but I can definitely tell you how much money I’ve spent. We’ve taken Financial Peace University, which I highly recommend if you are having any type of financial struggles.

It seriously saved our marriage. That was the number one thing we fought about the first two years of marriage, and this really helped us figure out how each other thinks. He’s the saver, I’m the spender and how can we really come together with our finances and work together as a team.
The next thing that we’ve invested in is a marriage class that we took at our church. We’ve also done counseling; we’ve done about six to eight marital counseling sessions, and we invested in a parenting workshop. That’s pretty much it. I’ve read a couple of books on marriage, but honestly, it’s always been the last thing on my mind because I just kind of have this mentality that, you know, he’ll always be there for me. But how sad of me to think that.

My husband and our husbands should be the number one priority! They shouldn’t be just like a, Oh, of course, he’s my number one. Like truly. Do people notice? By the way, you talk about your husband. By the way, you show love and respect to him? By the way you handle situations. What about the way you talk about your husband in front of your kids? What about the advice that you give to your friends about their marriage? Think about how you would answer each of those questions. Would someone really know that your husband is your first priority? Think about them being a fly on the wall. That really like puts things into perspective.
I know for me, if you guys were a fly on the wall in my house, I would be a little embarrassed.

There have definitely been times where I have not spoken kindly about my husband in front of my kids. There has been times when I’ve vented to my friends when I probably should’ve just kept things to myself. I know there are so many times I have not handled situations with love and respect towards my husband, times where I just figured he would understand and prioritized other things first, especially my kids and my business.

Travis and I have been together for 16 years, which is half of my life. Crazy! And yes, I know I did just give away my age, didn’t I? We met when I was seven, so I don’t really remember life without him in it. We’ve been married for 12 years and we’ve struggled a lot with our finances. How to spend our time, communication, conflict resolution skills or lack thereof, parenting methods, sharing household chores, even sex, like he wants it more than I do, I want it more than he does. We both don’t want it at all, it’s not a priority. I mean, the list goes on and on. There’s always something that we can work on. There is always some part of our marriage that we can improve.

Take a second really quick and I want you to reflect on your marriage. What are some of the areas where you are currently struggling? I want you to keep those in mind as we walk through these five strategies. I want you to keep those in mind as we walk through these five strategies. Just to give you a quick overview, we’re going to be talking about how to recognize your differences, what it looks like to take the first step, why keeping score is never a good idea, how to be intentional, and finally, how to be your husband’s number one fan.

I want you to keep in mind where you could be playing a role in some of these strategies and perhaps maybe where you can either improve or build upon the skills that you have already developed in your marriage.

Strategy 1: Recognize Your Differences
Okay, so strategy number one is to recognize your differences. And I want to get super nerdy for a minute and dive into actual brain chemistry and how men and women are actually wired differently. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I want to read to you some actual scientific information from a book called Raising Boys by Design, and the authors of this book are Gregory Jantz and Michael Gurian. I’m not sure if that’s how you pronounce it, but I will totally link this. This book is amazing and it’s really about raising little boys, but it’s been super eye-opening and helping me understand my husband as well.

Studies show that male brains utilize nearly seven times more gray matter for activity, while female brains utilized nearly 10 times more white matter. Thus, more of what boys do is done in gray matter areas of the brain and more of what girls do is done in the white matter processing. So, what does this mean? Gray matter areas of the brain are localized; they’re information and action processing. Males tend to spend more brain time doing, feeling, thinking, working, and playing with neuro transmission concentrated in those specific localized parts of their brain. So, this can translate to a kind of tunnel vision.

Can you guys understand this? I totally was mind blown like all the time. I’m always wondering like, why does my husband, why can’t he multitask? Like why can he only focus on one thing at a time? And this is why his brain is literally made up of more gray matter, which is more localized. That’s why men are better at fixing things and building things because they can stay focused on one task for a really long period of time. White matter in the brain is like a networking grid. It connects the brain’s gray matter with other processing centers. So, females tend to spend more time doing, feeling, thinking, working, and playing in more parts of the brain at once than males do.

This profound brain processing difference is probably one of the reasons you may have noticed girls can transition between tasks more quickly than boys. Boys tend to do a lot of emotional processing independently without words. When they withdraw from a highly charged emotional situation, which is so interesting because that totally explains why sometimes I’m in a conversation with my husband and it seems like he just totally shuts down, but he’s just processing internally like he’s thinking about it and he’s trying to figure out the words to say. But for me, it comes so naturally to use my words. Scans show that nearly every major thinking function in the male brain shuts down when he’s zones out or is bored. Whereas more than half of the female brain is active when she is zoned out or bored.

So, this totally explains how a man can be thinking about nothing, it’s so funny to me. I’ll be like, hey babe, what are you thinking about? And he’s like, nothing. And I’m like, how can you be thinking about nothing? I was just having this conversation with a girlfriend of mine the other day and we were both laughing because there is never a time when either of us are speechless. Like, I feel like women, we can come up with words, even if we don’t really know what to say, we’ll just make something up. But for men, it’s so much harder and it’s because of how the brain is wired. So, I just thought I would share that with you. Super interesting to me, it fascinates me. Definitely if you guys are interested in this book, I will link it in the show notes, it’s amazing.

In addition to how our brain chemistry is wired differently, we are also having different personalities, right? So, I want you guys to just take a second and think about you and your husband’s personality and how you’re different. So, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Enneagram, but if not, I’m going to be sure to link a test that you can take in the show notes. It’s been so eye opening and our marriage for us to know our Enneagram and how our personalities are so different. So, if you follow, you’ll understand this.
I am a one wing too, and Travis is a five wing six. We could literally not be more opposite in our personalities. He is quiet and I’m loud; he’s shy and I’m really outgoing and friendly and can literally talk to anyone. He processes things in silence. And I process things by talking them out, like I just need to have a conversation, get all my thoughts out of my head, and that’s how I come up with my best ideas and solutions. He is very logical and analytical and I’m very creative. He is the saver like I talked about, and I’m a total free spirit and love to spend money, not like in a super out of control way. I just tend to be more of the spender, and he prefers to save as much money as possible.

He draws his energy by being alone, and I totally need people around me to light me up. I, when we first got married, could go out every single night and have fun with my friends and totally never feel exhausted. And he feels so emotionally exhausted after just having like one night of people over. So that’s been really eye opening for me to be able to see that part of the reasons why I get so frustrated with him are just part of his personality and kind of how he’s wired. And so that’s really helped me understand that when we are in an argument and he is being quiet, that doesn’t mean that he’s ignoring me or that he’s being disrespectful or rude. That just means that he is processing things in a different way. So, it’s been really helpful in our marriage for us to be able to see that about each other. And then he can also see things about me that, you know are part of who I am, and he can relate to me better because of that.

Now, just a little disclaimer, I’m not saying that we are who we are, and so we have to like, you know, deal with each other because obviously there are going to be times when we need to talk about really difficult conversations and maybe there are some changes that we both need to make. But I think it’s just helpful for us to know a starting point and give each other a little more grace.

Recognize Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The next part of this strategy is to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. So, I want you guys to think about this. Take inventory of what each of you is good at? Where are you may be lacking? What are you not good at? And don’t use it as an excuse to like to be completely lazy. That’s not what I’m saying, but I just mean like really think about leveraging your strengths and how can you support each other. For example, I am really good at big picture dreaming, setting goals, and keeping our home tidy and organized. I do all of our scheduling, I do our finances, and I also just make sure that, you know, we’re always moving forward in our marriage.

Travis is really great at making sure there is a plan in place for things. I could totally fly by the seat of my pants forever and he is more of a planner and he likes to know what is happening and when. That type of structure is really helpful for him, but then also really helps keep me in line as well. He is logical, financially wise, he keeps us on time, and he makes sure that like our basic necessities are taken care of. So, he’s the one that reminds me to go grocery shopping and to just make sure that we are not forgetting like the important things for daily life.

I am such a passionate person and I can get so laser focused on my business goals and things that I’m doing to propel it forward and kind of forget about the day to day things. So, he’s really good at bringing me back and being like, Hey, remember though, you need to take care of this in our family. So, we definitely balance each other out. But I think it’s important to note too, that we share so many, even though our personalities are very different, we have the same common goals in life.

Our values are the same, how we want to raise our children in a godly home. We go to church every week, like we have very strong values that do not waiver so. I feel like for the most important foundational parts of our marriage, we’re on the same page. It’s more of that personality conflict of how we are going to handle certain situations and parenting and household chores, that kind of thing. So, I think that’s just where we differ.

Okay, so here’s for the action part, I want you to actually sit down with your husband and make a list of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Now, obviously play fair, be nice, don’t point out all the flaws, just really focus on things that you are inherently good at, okay? Not like, Oh, well, I’m just better at tidying than you right? And then your husband doesn’t have to tidy at all. That’s not what I’m saying. Really think of like the foundational characteristics of what you’re really good at and what maybe you’re not the best at. So that you guys can balance each other out and kind of just make sure that you are sharing the load.

Strategy 2: Take the First Step
Strategy number two is take the first step. This is one that I struggle with so much and actually both of us do, which makes it hard. But he and I are so stubborn, like we can give the silent treatment so well. I can literally, I just have daggers in my eyes when I’m mad honestly. Like he knows when I’m mad and I want to make sure that he knows that I’m mad. So, I dig in my heels and I make myself go crazy. Like I want him to make the first move; like he hurt my feelings and he made me mad. So, I shouldn’t be the one that takes the first step, right? Wrong! I have found that when I do this, and I let my feelings fester and I don’t talk about them; it just makes everything so much worse.

So, one thing I’ve really been working on is taking the first step, like even when I’m so upset that I want to give him the silent treatment, it’s not worth it. He’s probably not even understanding how upset I am and me just being so mad inside is only making it worse for me. Also always be respectful. I talked about this earlier, but I think it’s so important. Don’t talk bad about your husband to anyone, like even in front of your kids. This is something I really struggle with, I don’t really feel like I went to my friends about my husband, but it’s more so my kids. Like I will just say things under my breath like, Oh, I wish your dad would just do the dishes when it’s his turn. You know what I mean? And they can hear that I’m angry with him, or I’ll be like, Oh, he’s late for the second time this week, or he’s always out, and I just wish you’d be home.

And you know, that doesn’t help the situation at all. And that’s giving my kids a negative perspective of their dad, and that is absolutely against what I want right? That’s opposite of what I want. It’s just fueling my anger and my resentment to talk about it with other people. So, I have found that it’s easier for me to write it my thoughts down in a journal or in a separate note app. Just like write a text, like a mean text of what I really want to say and then never send it. But just get out my frustrations. Say a prayer, like just get it out before I speak to anyone about it.

I’ve also found myself in the past holding back good ideas because I wanted him to take initiative and do things. And I still kind of struggle with that, not that I don’t give my good ideas. But I just sometimes feel like I want him to initiate things. Like I feel like I do all the work, propelling our family forward, like, can you maybe think of something? But then I sit down, and I realize that like I am so passionate and good at idea creation, like that’s not his strength. So yes, it’s good for me to help him expand his brain and kind of think outside of the box and maybe develop character and that way. But I can’t let it hold me back and I can’t be resentful and hold a grudge towards him that he isn’t initiating in that way. So, taking the first step is so crucial.

Strategy 3: Don’t Keep Score
Strategy number three, don’t keep score. This is been such a game changer. When I heard this analogy at a women’s event that I was at, it literally changed my perspective about our entire marriage. Something that we still struggle with, not so much anymore, but definitely in the past was this score mentality that who works harder than the other. Like my husband goes out of the house and he works about 50 to 60 hours a week. And I’m at home with the kids, raising our kids and raising a business, and so we would constantly get into arguments about whose job was harder. And honestly, they’re both hard; we’ve come to an agreement that we both work equally as hard in different ways. And we’re looking for ways that we can support each other because we’re a team.

You’ve heard me say this in a previous episode, but we call our family Team Freehan. We are a team! A team is only as strong as the weakest member. So, if it is not our number one goal to build up our husbands and their number one goal is not to build us up. How can our team operate at full capacity, if the leaders of the team are not in full agreement, everything else crumbles?

Ephesians 6:12 says, the struggle is not against flesh and blood, but of evil spirits. Ever since I heard that verse. I have been holding it close to my heart as the motto of everything that I encounter. So anytime I get into an argument with my kids or my husband, I try to remember that this struggle is not between us, it’s between evil spirits. So, there is something, someone right, Satan, who’s trying to stir up animosity in my house. And when I actually put that visual into my head, it makes me angry, not at my family, at Satan. And that’s exactly who we should be angry with; the struggle is not against flesh and blood, but of evil spirits. So, remember that the next time that you get into an argument, think about the fact that your husband and your children are part of your team. You guys cannot be a full functioning unit if you are not working together as one.

One of my favorite Christian authors and speakers is Lysa Terkeurst. She says, some of our biggest disappointments in life are a result of expectations we have for others, which they can never possibly meet. Here is the secret shift. Do we walk into situations looking for ways to bless others or are we dependent on others to bless us? This mindset shift has been so influential in my life. I feel like so often we look to other people to bless us. We look to our husbands to take care of us and to do things for us and to make us feel special. But what are we doing to take care of our husbands? What are we doing to make them feel special? What are we doing to go out of our way to serve them? Maybe just maybe if we took the first step, they would follow suit.

Strategy 4: Be Intentional
I love this next strategy, number four, be intentional. It’s not a lack of love that makes marriage difficult, it’s a lack of friendship. We have to prioritize time with our spouse. Just a quick side note, I’m going to save you $85 an hour times six or eight, I can’t remember how many counseling sessions we did. But here is what my husband and I learned from those counseling sessions. We have to face each other and talk for five minutes every day.
Remember how I talk about special time with your kids and how it only takes like 10 to 15 minutes. Well for us, it only took five minutes of face to face conversation every day, and it took us that long to figure it out. We would literally go to counseling and he would say, okay, I want you guys to have a five-minute conversation and go, and literally we both were like, what do we talk about? Like we don’t know, like this is weird. Because we always talk to each other side-by-side or back to back. And that’s kind of how he explained the analogy. He said a lot of married couples do things side by side or back to back. Like you’re doing two different things, or you’re doing things at the same time, but you never take the time to sit face to face.

So, when we have started to do that and we unplug from the distractions, and we both just sit down and have a conversation, like our marriage is so much stronger because of it. Here are three challenges that I want you guys to start implementing into your routine challenge.

Challenge 1: Face to Face Conversations
Number one, five minutes of face to face conversation every day. I’m telling you guys; it has changed our relationship. So, implement the daily connection.

Challenge 2: Weekly Date Night
Number two, weekly date night, even if it’s just at home, where after your kids go to bed, connect on a weekly basis and just have fun with each other. Maybe you watch a movie, maybe you play a board game. Maybe you make Pazooki for those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a pizza cookie. It’s delicious, just Google it, you’ll love it. And just connect. Like maybe you go for a walk, like up and down your street while your kids are in bed. Like figure out some fun little connection points that you can do toast, marshmallows out in your backyard if you have a fire pit. I mean, there are so many great ideas that you can just be intentional with each other.
Another tip is maybe alternate who plans this night. So maybe you take the first step and you plan the first one and then let your husband know, okay, next week it’s your turn and kind of have, pick a night of the week that you guys can focus on and just connect. Obviously, it’s so fun to go out and do something, but doing that weekly is not always feasible. So maybe you pick one night a month that you actually do an out of the house date night.

Challenge 3: Start a Connection Journal
My third challenge for you is to start a connection journal with your husband, write each other, love notes, dream together. Maybe you could even use this journal to start difficult conversations. I know for us, sometimes it’s easier to initiate these in letter form. I know my husband especially needs time to think, so sometimes I’ll just journal and let him know, Hey, this has really been on my mind. Can we chat about this later? So at least he has time to kind of think it over. This is something that we started a really long time ago, and I really want to get back into it because it is a process and it definitely takes time to incorporate it into your daily routine.

It’s also important to be intentional with your Netflix and chill dates, okay? Can I just tell you guys that I didn’t know what that meant? And if you don’t know what it means, it pretty much just means having sex okay? Just going to put it out there because I had to actually look it up because I didn’t know what it really meant, and my mentor didn’t know what it meant either. And she posted it on Instagram that like 75% of people were laughing at her because she didn’t know what it was. So, I’m just going to let you know that it’s a meme going around, basically that guys are asking girls, Hey, do you want to come watch Netflix and chill? And that pretty much means can we get lucky?

Okay, so I’m just going to share that with you guys right now. But I think it’s so important to be intentional with being intimate with your husband. Okay. I’m putting it out there because I think it’s so important that we make it a priority because having kids around makes it really difficult. There’s no more like romance. It feels like things are just mundane. You’ve been together for so long, like spice things up, talk about it. I know it feels awkward and weird, but honestly, when my husband and I just talk about things in regards to sex, it makes things so much easier, and there’s no more like wondering, well, does he not love me anymore? Why doesn’t he initiate this? Like, why is it always me? You know what I mean? Like just have a conversation with your husband. I promise you it’s the best way to go.

Strategy 5: Be Your Husband’s Number One Fan
Last but certainly not least, and I would argue to say this is the most important one. Strategy number five, be your husband’s number one fan. I can’t stress this enough. Speak highly of your husband in front of your kids and your friends. Speak highly of your husband in front of him. How important and special would he feel if you said something to someone else in his presence that lifted up his spirits and complimented him or gave him a pat on the back? Like, look at this amazing thing my husband just made! Check out his craftsmanship!

Like I can see my husband’s eyes light up when I talk about him in a positive way in front of other people. You’ve heard me talk about this many times before, how important it is to connect with our children on a daily basis. The same goes for your husband. It’s so important that you connect with him.

So, the first connection point that you have in the morning should always be like, Hey, how did you sleep? What do you have going on today? Are you excited about today? Are you nervous? Ask open ended questions to let him know that you care. I read a study once that said that kids need six to eight hugs per day to feel healthy, happier, and more fulfilled. So, I started translating that into how I treat my husband. Aim to give your husband three to five hugs per day or more, just to let him know you care and that you’re thinking about him. And then send him cute texts throughout the day. Let them know that you’re hoping that he has a great day, and that may be the things that you talked about in the morning you can touch base with him and see how it’s going.

Maybe you leave him some love notes in his lunchbox. Just look for ways to go out of your way to serve him. This is a big one for me, as soon as your husband comes home from work, instead of going and hiding in the closet, ask how his day was. Ask what his favorite part of the day was. Tell him you’re so excited to see him. Have your kids doing a quiet activity when your husband comes home so that you can connect with him first because that’s so important.

I know for me that sometimes when my husband would come home and we didn’t have a chance to connect yet, and he went straight to our kids to start playing, like I felt so neglected. I’m like, hello? What about me? Ask me how my day was like, come say hi to me and I would just get so mad and jealous that my kids were getting the attention first. But I just had to have a conversation with him and let him know, Hey, when you get home from work, let’s just take a few minutes to connect before the kids are jumping all over you.

Another really great tip would be to have your husband shoot you a text right before he is on his way home. That way you can kind of gauge how much time you have to transition. I know for me, like sometimes when my kids are off doing other things and I’m trying to make dinner and he walks in the door. I’m already just flustered, and I don’t really want to say hi and I don’t really want to ask how his day was because I can’t even get my stuff done. So, this time, knowing, okay, he’ll be home in 20 minutes, gives me time to kind of mentally prepare and I can also let him know what’s going on. Like, Hey, it’s been a really rough day when you get home, here’s what maybe you can expect. That way he’s not walking into complete chaos when he gets home and I’m able to kind of set the tone and the mood and maybe have like quiet music playing. Maybe the kids are doing a quiet activity. This just really helps change the dynamic when your husband gets home, and you actually want to greet him.

Okay. So, to recap, I want you to recognize your differences with your spouse. Think of your strengths and weaknesses as being building blocks to creating a more peaceful environment with your family. Next, you’re going to take the first step, no more digging in your heels wishing and waiting that he would take the first step. You can do this, mama, be bold and lead by example. No more keeping score, everyone does their fair share. Teamwork makes the dreamwork! Build each other up so that you can operate at full capacity. Next, be intentional with your time spent and connect with your husband on a daily basis. You’re going to do those weekly date nights and the connection journal. And lastly, be your husband’s number one fan. Speak highly of him. Ask him questions and look for ways to serve him on a daily basis.

I hope that you’ve found value in today’s episode and that this got you thinking about rearranging your priorities. It’s so important for us to be intentional with our husbands. They work so hard and they deserve to be supported and loved in the same way that we would want to be supported and loved. Let’s focus on their good characteristics and less on their flaws. Let’s point out all the times we see them excelling and give them the words of affirmation and praise that we would want. It’s still important to have those tough conversations and work through the hard stuff, but if we keep focusing on the negative, that’s all we will ever see.
As always, mama, I’m here for you and you’re not alone on this journey.

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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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