For many couples, a second marriage is a fresh start and a new chance at happiness. But it still means a lot of work and reflection as you’ll hear in this episode where Claire the therapist becomes Claire the client. Licensed marriage and family therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw is back to talk with Claire and her husband Mark about trying to blend their families, their struggle to prioritize each other, and what it will take to make this second marriage for each of them succeed. Liz also breaks down some common reasons couples have issues with communication, ways to stop having that same argument over and over with each other, and how and why to adopt a problem-solving mindset in order to make it all work.
Resources from the show
- Read Liz’s Relationship Guide “I Want This to Work.”
- If you happen to be a resident of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, California, Utah, or Maryland, check out A Better Life Therapy to find a local therapist who specializes in individual therapy, couples, family, and more!
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Mark Driver, Elizabeth Earnshaw, Claire Bidwell-Smith
Claire Bidwell-Smith 00:00
Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell-Smith. Welcome to NEW DAY. Before we jump into the episode today, I want to tell you about V. Interesting a new show from Lemonada. It’s hosted by TikTok star, V Spehar, who hosts the popular account under the desk news, which provides a News Digest in 60 seconds or less. But sometimes they need more than a minute to bring you the news. Which is why this new twice weekly show is so great. On Tuesdays V will highlight stories you might have missed in the news cycle, or give you interesting new ways to think about the top stories. On Fridays, they’ll go deep into complex issues that matter to all of us even if they aren’t dominating the headlines. Search for V INTERESTING with V Spehar wherever you get your podcasts, make sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. Alright, that’s it for updates. Let’s dive in.
Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. Welcome to NEW DAY. Many of you already know a lot about me. Maybe you’ve read my books, or follow me on social media. And if you do you know that I definitely share a lot of my personal life online. But the one area that people seem to be the most curious about is my marriage. So this week, I thought I’d invite my husband Mark on to the podcast. As some of you may know, this is a second marriage for both of us. And we have a big crazy blended family, six kids between the two of us a new house exes, pets, schedules, and a whole lot of things on our plate to get done for work. It’s far from perfect. We somehow keep juggling it all just enough not to drop the ball. But on the inside, I’m constantly worrying about how long we’ll be able to keep it up. So today, I thought it might be fun to have Mark join me and licensed family and relationship therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw on the show. Liz has been on before to talk about relationships and tips for couples to make it work. But today, Mark and I are going to sort of have a couples therapy session of our own. I was confident that Liz would have some great tips and advice for us and she’s helped hundreds of couples and individuals navigate their relationships. I hope you enjoy getting to hear some of the inner workings of my personal relationship. And that as you listen, you find things that may help your relationship, too. Here we go.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 02:26
Hi, everybody. I start every episode of this podcast by asking my guests How are you doing today, but I’ve got two guests today. I’ve got Marriage and Family Therapist Liz Earnshaw and also my husband, Mark Driver. How are you guys doing today? But how are you actually doing?
I’m doing pretty well. I’m pretty exhausted from a big move to our new house. But it went fairly smoothly other than a laundry disaster with water coming through the ceiling. But we managed that, Claire did monumental job of tracking down that source and here we are, almost moved in.
Thanks, babe. Liz, how are you actually doing?
Last time I was on the podcast. I remember I had had like the night from hell the day before. I was like, I’m a zombie. But this time, I’m doing much better. I got a good night’s sleep last night. I’ve had a full work day without like child interruption. So I’m doing pretty good.
Awesome. I am recovering from the move, just like Mark. I am covered in bruises from moving stuff for two days, three days. But I got nine and a half hours of sleep last night. So I’m somewhat back together. But Liz, I wanted to bring you back on because we had such a great conversation the first time and so many listener questions and just dug into so much stuff. And I love talking about relationships and marriage and love and all that stuff. And you know, my followers, my book readers, my social media people, they’re so fascinated by my personal life and my marriage in particular, my divorce, my remarriage, my blended family. And so I get a lot of questions like How did you know it was time to get divorced? How did you open yourself up to love again? How did you find love? How did you know, blend a family? How is it going? And I thought it would be fun to bring you on and just dig into those topics in that realm. Because so many people are interested in that.
Elizabeth Earnshaw 04:24
I think that sounds great. I’m actually really excited to do this. So, while you were asking us how we are doing individually, it came to me that I would actually like to know as a couple. How’s your relationship doing today? You’ve got a lot going on.
We do. As many know we’ve got six kids between us, three from my former marriage, two from Claire’s and then one between us and they keep us hopping. There’s lots of scheduling, lots of activities, lots of things to organize. And of course, a few moves in there. We’ve moved three times in four years, so that’s a lot of work. But Claire is always optimistic and a great networker and always makes friends wherever she goes. So I can piggyback off of that.
This is what would happen when we were in the beginning of our relationship. And I would want to have these talks where I’d be like, Okay, can we talk about our relationship, and Mark would immediately start talking about logistics and like future planning and money? And they’d be like, no, no, I asked you a question about, like, how’s our relationship? And so when I hear Liz asked, you know, how’s your relationship? Mark goes right to the move, and like, there’s nothing emotional there. And for me, I’m like, how are we doing emotionally? How are we feeling? You know, um, so I’ll just answer as I would. But I actually feel like we’re in a good place. I’m appreciative right now of how much Mark can handle of like, my chaos, I’m a lot, I have a lot going on all the time, I’m always diving into a million things at once. And it just doesn’t seem to faze him. He’s so steady. And, like, there have been several times last few days when I have flipped out and, you know, yelled at him, or just freaked out or stressed out, and he’s just so steady, and it’s so nice to be around. So that has made me feel in a kind of warm place and appreciative of our relationship, and that we’re kind of getting through yet another hurdle in, you know, by staying together feeling bonded while we do it.
Elizabeth Earnshaw 06:28
it was really sweet to listen to both of you, I know, you mentioned that there’s like this meta emotion difference where, for Mark, the response is going to be more about logistics and problem solving and kind of what you’ve gotten through intellectually, and for you, it’s going to be emotional. And at the same time, you both mentioned what the other person brings to the reality of this relationship and why it is that the relationship is okay, right now, even though you’re going through so much, it’s because some of the beautiful things that the other person brings.
Yeah, that’s nice to look at.
While I was listening to you, and it sounds like this is what your listeners want to know, too, is you’ve had a lot of transitions. And I’m wondering, like, from start until now, if you both think about those transitions, what have been the biggest transitions for you and your relationship together?
Well, emotionally, Claire has done a great job of helping me understand sort of how to connect with her and with my family, with my kids from a first marriage who live with their mom, across the country. And in Georgia, there’s been a lot of growth, as far as trying to understand where they’re coming from and not sort of just always being a dad, but sort of also being a listening dad as opposed to always dictator dad, shall we say? So really trying to connect with them a little bit on their levels has been helpful and sort of navigate the challenges of teen hood with kids that are remote from me.
Elizabeth Earnshaw 08:04
Yeah. What about for you, Claire, what do you think are some of the biggest transitions, the two of you have had to navigate together?
It has been a challenging relationship. So we live in a town called Mill Valley outside of San Francisco now. And we met here, six and a half years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, we were both seated next to each other at my friend’s house, who happens to be Mark’s cousin. And so we met that day. And I was living in LA at the time with my two daughters, and my ex-husband, nearby, and Mark was living in Georgia. And we met and it was just like, one of those things from day one it was on. And for a while it was okay, back and forth. We both love to travel. It was fun and exciting. And then we got engaged, kind of, you know, it felt like this commitment to see the long term through whether or not we had figured out logistics, but then surprise pregnancy at 40. And so that really changed things where it forced us to want to combine our households much more and be together. But again, it was like where, how, with all these kids everywhere and work and it’s just hard. You know, I think we feel for each other a lot. We’re both going through different experiences with our kids. We’re also trying to create and blend a family culture together. We have exes that we really want to be respectful and communicative with and they’re part of this, you know, a lot of the time. And then the kids range from diapers that up to Mark’s oldest who’s about to graduate high school and go to college in the fall. So I think in addition to all of our other stressors and complications, you know, it’s just getting our six kids into a good place with each other and it’s, you know, bringing a new baby into the preexisting five kids. It’s, you know, blending my daughters with marks three, they all have these different dynamics, all these different ages. What are your, you know, top tips for these blended kids situations and how we navigate that?
Elizabeth Earnshaw 10:06
I think one of the biggest is that all have to remember that all of your kids are going to react differently to it. And that that is not because you’ve done anything wrong. As parents, I, I’ve worked with a lot of parents blending their families. And there’s so much pressure on the parents when they see one of the kids struggling and the other kid is bonding and the other kid is aloof and doesn’t even seem to care. And they’re thinking, well, what are we doing wrong? Have we not had enough conversations? Did we somehow rush into this, like, whatever it is, but I think the most important thing is as parents to start from a compassionate place with yourselves, that this is challenging. And the same thing that I say about relationships is you have lots of personalities, you know, your kids aren’t just a monolith. And they’re not all going to feel the same way react the same way. And can you remember that and recognize that they’re going to have their own process without becoming really hard on yourselves. Because they feel that. If you start to be upset with yourselves and high pressure with yourselves, then what’s going to happen is the kids are going to say I can tell that our parents are trying to force us together, I can tell our parents are mad at us because we’re not getting connected, or whatever it is. The other thing that I always think is really important to remember, is split loyalty. So split loyalty is the concept that children, if they sense that something’s wrong with them for loving, or not being particularly close to a certain parent, that they will have a lot of internal split feelings. And so as parents working with a blended family, you want to make sure that your kids are allowed to feel how they feel. So that they don’t have to have that splitting of loyalties where it’s I’m only supposed to like dad, or I’m only supposed to like mom or I am not allowed to like the new partner because it’s going to upset my other parent or whatever it is, but just being aware of what that’s like for them to navigate it because there’s no stronger bond than that to the parent. So they’re going to feel very much like they have to do the right thing by their parent. And they might not know what that is. So conversations again and again about it’s okay to feel what you feel it’s okay to think what you think we’re here for you. And then providing opportunities for them to connect, but recognizing that they’re going to connect in their own their own way.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 12:36
I love that. I think that’s really important. It’s hard to navigate those split loyalties, I’ve always just the therapist and may has done a good job of prevailing over the more like emotional side where I like really want my girls to be happy about this whole scene and this whole situation, but they’re not always it’s a lot of chaos. It’s a lot of stuff. Mark is not their dad, their you know, they’re step siblings or not they’re siblings, they didn’t ask for any of it. And so I feel like I’ve done a really good job with them of letting them just, okay, it’s being okay with them voicing complaints or not liking things and be like, okay, always asking for respect and courtesy. And, you know, politeness, but fine if you don’t like something or don’t like someone or those kinds of things, but it’s hard internally like it was I have a big fairytale fantasy about how it was gonna go. And it is played out that way.
And that’s where that self-compassion comes in. Right? Like, this is a very hard internal experience. And I’m glad that you shared that because I think a lot of people feel bad that they have that hard internal experience, like I’m supposed to like, want them to feel whatever they feel, or I’m supposed to support their relationship with this other parent who I might not like, or something like that. But I am struggling with that. And I think it’s important to normalize having those feelings. And to just recognize that they’re really hard to have while you’re also trying to do the right thing as a parent. Yeah.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 14:06
Self-Compassion, babe. We’re just gonna keep going.
Hard to do sometimes.
Yeah, I can hear that. So obviously, there’s something about the two of you, that allows you to juggle all of this. What would you say that that is?
I’ll give credit to Claire because she’s a great planner and organizer and just finds resources where you wouldn’t think they exist. So Claire is just surprisingly adept at getting it all done. And we both I think, take on more than we can chew and then we rise to the occasion and we get it done. It does create some stress every now and again when you’re tired or emotionally at a low point. Right? And so, prior to Everett, our youngest coming around three years ago, we did have a lot more flexibility. I am an entrepreneur and had a company that would take me from coast to coast and so we could meet up in all sorts of great places and plan, you know, hikes and you know, dinners and meetups and beaches and you name it. So I think ever it does bring us closer in a lot of ways because he’s such a magical little kid. But he does require a lot of attention as toddlers do.
Yeah, I think one thing though, too, is because Mark and I do flow with each other’s stress and kind of personalities pretty well. I almost feel like we take each other for granted, like, that will be fine. You know, he’ll be fine if I’m not available, or I’ll be fine if he’s not available emotionally or physically. You know, being in a second marriage, I get nervous, you know, I had a failed marriage, I don’t want that to happen again. And so I feel like I fret A bit or worry that we need to attend to things more. You know, our wedding anniversary was last week, 4 years, on Thursday, I woke up at 5 and flew to LA, I left him a card, we were in the middle of a move, the only card I could find was a grease card that had come with some package that I wrote a card and I did get him a little gift but nothing to me from Mark, we did nothing to celebrate. I didn’t receive anything except a hug and a kiss. And I feel like because we’re so easy with each other. It’s like, oh, that’s okay. But for me over time, that stuff builds, I would like more time together, I would like to acknowledge things, celebrate things. And I would like to make sure we’re not taking each other for granted. And then all of a sudden, one day we woke up and there’s nothing left between us, you know, except all this logistics and bills, and kits.
What are ways you recommend a couple like us bring magic and romance back? Like what are some things you would do with a couple for that?
Elizabeth Earnshaw 17:14
So one question that I would ask is, what parts of your stress are you willing to let go of, because if you’re continually filling with more and more and more logistics and tasks and things you have to do, you are not going to have time to write cards and have dates and cuddle on the couch. Because that’s the reality of life, right? Like we only have the 24 hours. And one thing that I know about couples, like the two of you who are really like, quote, high functioning, you can get it done, you can navigate the million tasks that are put in front of you and you can navigate all your kids schedules is that what happens is you’re so good at that part, that sometimes that part can be really enticing to add more to. We’re good at this, we can add another move in. We’re good at this, we can do another hobby, we got it. It’ll be stressful, but we’ve got it because this is part of who we are. And that’s part of your identity as a couple, that’s fine. And I’m curious, and I would love to hear what the two of you think. If the only way you can add in more of the love and the excitement and the passion is to start to have limits around how much you let into your life or what you what you take on. What would that mean for both of you? What do you think about that?
Claire Bidwell-Smith 18:38
I feel like for me, that’s easier. I think Mark, it has a hard time putting the work away, the laptop and the phone and the emails and like thinking about work. He’s a really big thinker, he can stare at the ceiling lay in bed and think about work for a long time. And I wished that he could turn that off here and there and just spend some quality time. I really tried to prioritize those things. I can work, but I love to turn it off and like just get messy and have fun and be in the moment.
Yeah, I guess I would piggyback on that goes back to the mono tasking I sort of get in the zone. And you know, I’m getting very tunnel visioned. And so, you know, suddenly snapping out of it and, and also maybe not being as proactive as Claire and having sort of a list and agenda for the day and so forth. I’m, I guess more reactive and willing to go with the flow. But that, that space sometimes get filled up and you know, Claire’s got a schedule and I’m, you know, happy to conform to it, especially with kids and that sort of stuff. And then I have this work time where it’s compartmentalized, and I go that direction. So what would have to give, what I have to give up it would certainly be that that work. You know, the isolation I take for just getting into that deep thought mode and sort of SNAP myself out of it a little bit more and have, you know, maybe have some timers or triggers that sort of remind myself to pay attention to the other big important things in my life, namely Claire and, and family things
Elizabeth Earnshaw 20:13
I relate to you Mark. I’m the same, it’s very, I want to spend the quality time so desperately. But I can easily get sucked into like, there’s one more thing to do. And if I just send the software, I just do one other task, it’ll, then I’ll have the downtime. So there’s always this moment of, I’ll do this, and then I’ll be able to have the downtime. But if you’re like me, that then doesn’t necessarily always happen, because something else comes our way. Right? And so it’s challenging.
How do you work with couples on this, though, because I have a client couple right now. And the wife is the workaholic and the husband is, you know, the me version. And, you know, he really gets stressed that, you know, she can’t stop working and doesn’t put in that family time. And he’s getting resentful. And she, you know, I think she will admit, sometimes it’s, it’s an avoidance tactic on her part, then that she also just gets really addicted to work. What do you, what kinds of things do you suggest for this dynamic?
Yes, it’s common dynamic, it’s very common, for one person to be able to turn it off and say I’m comfortable, I’m comfortable with like not being busy, right? Some of this is being comfortable with just being because to be able to play and to be able to have, you know, mystery and excitement and all of those types of things that couples need for the thing that the two of you are missing right now, there actually needs to be moments of just being. And that’s, how you started your relationship that sounds like that was the exciting part is like you would fly and meet each other somewhere, and then there’s nothing to do, you’re just in a hotel room just being present. But when life is really busy, we react to that differently, right. And one of the most important things is to figure out when it comes to stress, what is it that I tend to do? And in what ways do I react to it in a way that’s not helpful to our relationship? And in what ways do I react to it in a way that is helpful? So what are some things that I need to take responsibility for around that? And what are some things that I want to maintain? So some people, for example, might say something like, when I’m stressed, I get really activated, and I can’t stop the couple you just talked about? The wife is probably thinking, What are you talking about? Just rest, if I just rest, then work isn’t gonna get done, the light bulbs aren’t gonna get changed, the boxes are gonna sit in the living room, like, where am I supposed to? What am I supposed to? Where am I supposed to rest? What am I supposed to do with my stress. And so really talking to each other first about like, what’s being activated. Other people might say, when I’m stressed, what I do is go into my husband calls it a nothing box. So when I’m stressed the best thing that I can do for myself as I like, I become like a nothing person, I don’t do work, I close my computer, I just want to veg on the couch and hang out.
Now, if you have one person that goes into the nothing box, and the other person who gets activated and needs to do more and more and more, what can start to happen as you have a perception that the other person doesn’t care about you, the person and the nothing box isn’t caring about how much you have to do. And the perception might be cheese, Louise, do they not have a reality of the situation? Like how can they just be sitting there they should be off of their butts responding to emails just like me, or, you know, whatever, or the person on the other end of it is thinking, why can’t they shut their computer down? Why can’t they just leave the boxes there? Why don’t we just spend time together. But if you can understand this is their reaction to stress, you can enter into that with a little more empathy. Now, the second part of it is great, you understand that now? What are you going to do about it? You understand that when you’re busy, there’s different ways that you respond. So how can you meet each other in the middle. And for most couples like this, you actually need to schedule it in. And you need to have like radical responsibility around keeping that schedule, which means especially in your case, things are going to come up and you just have to expect that. So you’re going to schedule, we protect this time at 7pm on Thursdays, and one of your kids says I have this awesome event I need to go to and I need you to drive me you have to be willing to say I can’t because we have this time protected, or you get another email, you have to be willing to say I’m actually not going to respond to it because we have this time protected. That’s really hard and a lot of couples when you when you say that to them within a busy lifestyle. Tell me, I’m one of them. The responses Well, that isn’t really going to work for us realistically. And you have to try, you have to try to make it work.
I love that. I love that. Okay, well, that leads into another question. That is, it’s a question that came in for us, Liz, when we did our first episode, and it and it immediately made me think of me and Mark, but it kind of feeds into this whole idea. I remember the listener wrote something about how she and her husband prioritize money and vacation planning. And like she was wanting to put more money into vacations and things like that, and her husband just didn’t prioritize that. And I know that you yourself, have talked about this with your husband, and how you guys do that. So like, when I suggest that Mark, and I spend more time together and go on dates and whatnot, he immediately thinks about money. And I mean, for me, I’m like, week, whatever, we can go for a hike, we can watch a movie. I don’t care that much. If we go out, I would like to go out here and there. But that’s not what I’m, I don’t think about money necessarily when I’m talking about this, but he always does. And so that becomes this factor. And I’m curious, like how do you work through that difference with couples, when one of them has a different idea of how to prioritize spending on enjoyment and pleasure.
Elizabeth Earnshaw 26:17
Yeah, so there’s a conversation that I love to have with couples around that, which is figuring out what’s underneath that. And starting from there. So I would be curious with the two of you, when you think about how people should spend their money. So the should word is big here. So I want you to think about if you rolled the world, and you could tell everybody how they should spend money, what would you tell them? I would love to know both of your answers to that question. So Mark, how should people spend money, they are being virtuous and doing the right thing?
Wisely, I like to invest rather than spend, I am more frugal, I was raised by a banker and grandson of a banker as well. So I just think fairly fiscally conservative with protecting the nest egg and so forth. And living within our means and sort of prioritizing the investment in ourselves and preserving that nest egg for, you know, dry powder for a rainy day fund, so to speak. So yes, Claire and I have very different perspectives on, on money and generation generating wealth and accumulating wealth and, and so forth. So I do tend to think pocketbook first.
So we have to save, we need to be protective. It’s important to be responsible with money. Yes. Now ask Claire. What does she believe about money? If she could rule the world? How should people spend their money?
Here you go, we’re the exact opposite. I believe money is dumb. And you can always get more money and find more money. And I believe we should spend all the money right now in the moment because we don’t know if we’re gonna be here tomorrow. And it’s not more of a like, might as well spend it. It’s like, definitely spend it lets like soak up every moment of life. I think it’s a combination of how my parents were they were similar like that, and, but also losing them and going through so much grief and loss at an early age I have been living every day for 25 years, like there’s no tomorrow. And it makes me a very fun person to be around. And it makes my life very fun and chaotic and stressful. But I just the idea of not taking advantage of the present moment of opportunities, of saturating in time with each other, whether it’s my kids, my friends, my husband, this moment of youthfulness, whatever, there is left of it in my mid-40s. Now, you know, like, I just want to, I want to do all the things I don’t want to like put everything away and hope that in 20 years, I’m still in a great marriage or healthy enough to do something, you know, my mom died at 58. And, you know, I have like an internal clock ticking in my head that that could happen at any time. So I really like to saturate in the moment and I just don’t worry about money. I feel like there always be more money coming in somewhere and more places to find money. And so Mark, and I definitely run up against this all the time in a relationship.
So something I’d like to encourage and maybe you already do it and you’ve probably had lots of conversations like this because Claire’s a therapist, and so this type of internal world sharing isn’t all that new probably to your relationship. But when you’re thinking about getting into conflict around this difference, so for example, you know, Claire, you want to go out to dinner for the fifth night in a row. And Mark you’re thinking, oh my gosh, we just spent hundreds of dollars this week. Already on food, like, what are we doing? I want you to try to communicate with each other about what the underlying dream and need is when it comes to your difference. So instead of maybe saying to Claire, why are we spending more money? And I’m not saying that that’s necessarily what you say, but something along those lines, saying something like, so you’re wanting to have some fun tonight, you’re feeling like we need to be like living a little bit more or whatever, you need to have a sense of peace, because you’re stressed and like spending money on the food could give that to you. And the same with him. You know, if he says, I don’t know, if I want to spend more money on that this week? Can you say something instead of why? Or instead of thinking something like why are we never doing anything fun? thinking, oh, what? So how are you feeling about the security of our bank account right now? Is there a way we could have fun that would make you feel more financially comfortable? And again, the two of you might have this conversation, but I think a lot of people, they don’t actually slow down and talk about why there is this difference. And you can have really powerful conversations by saying what do you believe about this? And I’m not going to judge it. Because honestly, what you believe is just as right as what I believe, and what’s your biggest fear? What do you think it would bring to you if we could do it your way completely. What we heard from you know, Mark, and Claire right now is Mark saying it would bring to us security, safety. For long into our future, we will feel comfortable. And Clara’s saying spending it brings vibrancy and life and the lack of regret in the future. And so then you can speak each other’s language to find win wins Claire, I don’t want you to regret things, I don’t want you to not feel like we’re having fun. Yeah, and Mark, I don’t want you to feel like we’re being completely irresponsible, and we’re going to end up not having what we need.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 32:25
I feel like whether it’s money or something else, we get into these ruts as couples. And we kind of end up having the same conversation or the same argument over and over. And we’re using the same phrases and sentences every time, right? Like I know, we all do this in our relationships. And so what you’re asking it sounds like is just to kind of shift that and peel up, you know, the lid and see what’s underneath those phrases. And those things that we’re not we stop hearing each other, you know, because we’re just it’s the same thing every time.
Well, and it feels It honestly feels like a threat. Yeah, because you both have a core need. That is very important. I mean, having a core need of security is very important. Having a core need of wanting to live a vibrant life, very important. Like these are things that you are not just going to want to give up. Oh, sure. We can live a risky lifestyle, or Sure I’ll just be bored every single day of my life. Like that is not something that I think either of you would feel fully comfortable saying. And so what happens is we hear it as a threat, we shut it down and we try to win. Why do you have to be so boring. Or why do you have to be so risky, is kind of the way that we then start attacking each other. And if you slow down, and you can hear what the threat is for the other person, you can be much more gentle about it. I don’t want you to feel at risk for not having fun. I don’t want you to feel at risk for having a depleted bank account. So you’re not feeling threatened by each other. You’re coming together to actually reduce those threats.
I love that. I think that’s really great. Yeah, I do feel threatened. And I know Mark does too. And if we just immediately like will flare up and shut down. And so yeah, doing it that way. Sounds a little easier said than done. But it sounds like something really cool to start to try to put into practice and really practice with each other.
Yeah. And like you’re not going to be perfect. So it’s like if you even stop yourselves the next time that you’re having a conflict and you say, Oh, I think this is what Liz’s was talking about and you can narrate what’s happening. This is what she was talking about. I think I feel threatened. I’m trying to have fun here. I feel threatened like you’re not gonna let me have fun. And you can you can then just bring that to the surface in those moments. And if you just do that once that will be huge.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 34:45
I think I asked you this last time we kind of dived into this where I was like, I’m scared of how to know when a marriage is working or not working and this is again is like one of those things like is it okay and normal that we have these huge differences do all couples have differences this big or are we supposed to be with partners who are like, should I be with a partner who has the same money philosophy and mark should too. I mean, that sounds really boring for Mark.
It may be really, really unsafe for you, Claire.
Totally insane for me.
So you will never meet a person that is the same with you on every big topic, that’s just completely unrealistic. So for sure, there’s couples out there that totally match each other when it comes to money. But they don’t when it comes to sex, or they don’t want to come to how to spend their time or they don’t when it comes to how to discipline kids, or to how to plan for the future, or how to clean a house like, there are so many differences between human beings and how life is lived. We could go on and on and on. And if you sat down and you thought about all of the beliefs that you have about living, you would never ever match with anybody else on that. And it’s not about matching. In fact, my husband and I match on very few things, we match on our morals and our values, and most long term goals, but not even all. But we do not match on what it means to clean things up. Or how should you spend downtime. My husband thinks you spend downtime lying down, I think you spend downtime, not lying down at all. Let’s pack another box, let’s clean the garage. And we could become critical with each other about these differences. But instead, I actually have learned and this is what I teach couples is how can you value the difference? I am so grateful that my husband knows to say to me, why are you still wandering around doing that? Lay down watch TV. Last night, we were talking and my husband said to me, I’m so grateful that you say things to me like you’re going to be really angry with yourself at the end of the week, if you don’t do X, Y, and Z because you’re hanging out on the couch instead. So these differences if we can enter into them with respect and empathy can actually be really important for the relationship. Because if there was two wild spenders in a relationship, that wouldn’t be great. And if there was two tightwads in a relationship, that wouldn’t be great. Either, you’d end up being kind of bored. So you have to be able to look at it this way. But the only way you can do that is when you stop seeing it as a threat. And the only way you stop seeing it as a threat is when both people are willing to honor the other person. Because it’ll be a threat. As long as one person is saying My way is better, then you can’t move forward.
Oh my gosh, thank you so much, Liz. This was actually so helpful for our relationship. This was good stuff to talk about. And I always just love talking to you. You are, Liz, you’re such a, you too Mark, but Liz, you’re such a wealth of just you know how to look at these things, how to kind of peel up the lid and, and restart some of these ruts we get in so thank you so much.
Elizabeth Earnshaw 38:11
Thank you. And thank you for doing it in this format. This was so fun. Mark, it was so nice to meet you.
Well, likewise Liz, it was fun to be on with Claire.
I’m getting the famous mark. I feel like I’ve heard great things about you. And now I get to put a face to the name.
Hopefully I lived up to your expectation.
Thank you, baby. Thanks, Mark for doing this. I’ve really appreciate your willingness to come on here and open up our relationship in the public realm.
Don’t you just love Elizabeth, and Mark. I swear everything she says it’s just so deeply rooted in love and care and communication. And those are some of my biggest takeaways from our conversation. I think the more that Mark and I can continue to find the sweet spots in our relationship for all of those things, that it will trickle down into the other parts of our lives that we don’t always have mapped out. I don’t think our lives will ever be 100% Easy, but one thing’s for sure we’ll continue to grow and learn and get better as we go. Thanks for joining me. Did I tell you that new day has moved three times a week? The best way to keep up with the show is to subscribe on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. And submit questions for me to answer on those Monday and Wednesday episodes. Email me at email@example.com or at my online question form at bit.ly/newdayask. You can find the link in the show notes. Have a great weekend and see you Monday.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our VP of weekly content is Steve Nelson. And our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me, Claire Bidwell Smith. NEW DAY is produced in partnership with the Well Being Trust, The Jed Foundation and Education Development Center. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms, or find me at clairebidwellsmith.com. Join our Facebook group to connect with me and fellow NEW DAY listeners at facebook.com/groups/newdaypod. You can also get bonus content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts. Thanks for listening. See you next week.