RAMONA: Hi! I’m Ramona Zabriskie, author of Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage, and the founder of Wife for Life University. And I’m here today with three members of my Dream Team. We have Deborah, Brooke, and Emily who are from the far reaches of this here United States. I’m here in the Pacific Northwest up in the corner on the other side of the country, but it doesn’t matter because we all love to come together to strengthen each other, help each other, give each other vision and insight. And that is what our letter writer needs from us today I believe. Is that right, Emily? Could you share with us what her concerns are
EMILY: She says, ‘Dear Ramona, when I saw your website and the testimonials that were on there, it blew me away! You must have been inspired to do what you’re doing right now and in a time that we need you. My husband and I are coming up on eight years of marriage in June, and it’s been the roughest road I can ever imagine. It’s been getting better and better and I have faith in it, but I will admit all the hard times really drain me, and I fall into depression. I don’t feel I have the strength to even do the small stuff at times. It’s hard to keep moving forward and do better when just keeping my head above water is overwhelming to me. I know I have a lot to learn about marriage and how to do things right to really enjoy my marriage. So I can’t wait to hear from you and I thank you for your time. The thought that I’m not alone really means a lot to me!’”
RAMONA: Oh boy, that really tugs at my heart strings. Do you feel it? I mean, you can just put yourself in her shoes because I think we’ve all been there. What concerns me most about this letter is the sense that negativity, or her discouragement…she said that things are getting better and better, but she’s being drained by all the hard times, the difficult times so she called it ‘rough road’. She’s looking back on eight years of marriage not as a joyful time, but, as a really, really rough road, and that just hurts my heart. I want so bad to turn that around. I want that road she’s on to feel exciting, to feel like she’s really moving forward, so even if she does hit the pot holes, occasionally, even if sometimes she feels like she’s accidentally detoured, or even turned around backwards, you know, that she has the tools, she has the knowledge, and the confidence, right? to turn herself around and get herself moving forward again. And with the help of people like us that’s totally possible. So. What’s at the end of that road? That’s what keeps us moving forward, is having the vision of what’s at the end. Emily, what do you see at the end of the really progressive, productive road to forever? We call it the “Road to Forever”.
EMILY: Well, that Grand Marriage is what’s at the end of the road for all of us. It’s there for the taking, but I think that some of us don’t even realize that’s a possibility. I know a lot of us have probably felt the same way this reader has felt. I know that if you’ve been married for many years there can be resentments that build when you’ve seen his flaws and he’s seen your flaws and you’ve exchanged some not-so-kind words. It really can cause a lot of resentment, particularly if she has reached out to others, if she’s read other books, if she’s gone to counselors, and maybe hasn’t seen that investment from her husband or hasn’t seen the changes in either of them that she’s been hoping for. It can become very discouraging, demoralizing. You can start to beat yourself up and get very depressed. So, I totally relate and I know there’s a lot of women out there who are just like her so she shouldn’t feel alone. But I think what she needs is a boost of Wife for Life: the Power to Succeed in Marriage and the knowledge and vision that her marriage can be something beautiful even if it hasn’t always been. That at the end of the road there could be a grand legacy for her to leave for her kids and grandkids of: ‘Oh, Mommy and Daddy loved each other so much! They had so much fun! They enjoyed each other!’ That can be there for all of us, but it’s a lot of work. And it’s a lot of time. And the beauty of Wife for Life is that the wife can really initiate most of it even if the husband isn’t that invested or doesn’t see the need for investment, we can do it as women, and we’re going to talk more about that. That’s what I love about Wife for Life!
RAMONA: Yes, absolutely! There’s so many things you said that I want to go, ‘Ahhh! Amen, amen, amen,’ about! One of them being about this sense of joy at the end of the road: looking back on a life, a marriage that has grown and survived and endured — but not just the hard times — as really, overwhelmingly, looking back — joyful times, rather than what’s she’s thinking right now (which is a really, really rough road). ‘It was a really fun road. It was really exciting.’ I love that vision and I do love that Wife for Life and our community are constantly regenerating that for each of us day in and day out because that’s what it takes. You mentioned a boost, and yeah, she needs a boost. But that’s what we get often when we go to a seminar, or we come home from a really exciting talk with somebody that’s like, ‘This is what you need to do.’ Whatever. We get that boost, but how do we sustain it? It doesn’t last very long. We don’t see the long term changes. So that’s what Wife for Life is all about. It’s the lifetime commitment on your part, but of the community to you, that continuing sense of. ‘You can do this! You can do this! You can do this!’ and this is how and it’s okay. We’ve all been there.
Deborah, you’ve been there, haven’t you? She’s [our writer] border line, if not in full blown depression right now reflecting on maybe her aborted attempts at things, or, what she feels are mistakes, misdirection, or things she’s really tried to do that she thought would be helpful and have only added to her frustration. And as she can see that it’s only hurting her husband but doesn’t know why. That really demoralizes us. I know you’ve been there. What can you offer her?
DEBORAH: I think there’s a couple of really great things. The first obviously is realizing that it is a commonality between all women. We all have those moments, because we’re so relational, where things just happen and they don’t go the way they think they would. I think that you talk about that boost, and I think that comes as begin to shift our perspective; we get really excited, but then we still struggle and we still fall into those pot holes. We still keep going and say, “I know much more now, but why isn’t it working?’ I think Wife for Life has that initial understanding, but it also has that road that will carry you through those pot holes, because then you get the practice and the patience, and the skills that actually take you where you want to go, not just the ‘okay, now I know where I want to be,’ but it actually takes you and you get there. I know that so many of the women we’ve talked to feel those same feelings of just being overwhelmed and going into depression. Of course there are, clinically, issues, but I think for so many of us it becomes cyclical in our minds where we just get stuck on it and we can’t let the little things go, and we can’t just learn to laugh at our Crazy Ladies., and that’s one of the great things we learn to do and we just learn to say, ‘Alright, I had a Crazy Lady moment. I did it. I’m going to take it and own it and it does not matter 10 seconds from now’ — because that happens to everyone and we’re going to move on and we’re not going to let it define us.
RAMONA: And so you know, we’ve got what you’re talking about, not only the long term vision, but the day-to-day vision in understanding of who we are as women and what we’re susceptible to: our own emotions, the emotions of all those around us that we absorb into us and sometimes that comes out in ways we know are not really helpful or productive. And yet if we wallow in it, like you say, we become susceptible to the cyclical thinking. I love that point. So, Wife for Life lifts us out of that not only long term, but day to day. And absolutely, so much of that really depends on how we are caring for ourselves, if you will. Do you agree? We just get so focused on the relationship: ‘Something’s not right. Something’s not working. I’ve got to talk to my husband about this. We need to have a sit down. I need to really dig into some resources and figure out what’s going on.’ And we’re just putting more and more and more energy into it, when really the best possible thing would be to sit back and relax and focus on ourselves for just a little bit. You agree, Brooke? I know you’re a big proponent of this.
BROOKE: Yes, and I was actually just thinking about boosts. I remember the first time I saw you and you came out and did a presentation on understanding men and boys in our lives. And I remember sitting there, and I had rough times, maybe not as rough as this lady is experiencing, but even when your marriage is going well, there’s still times when you can become overwhelmed and feel like you’re just functioning head above water barely. But seeing that presentation was so, ‘Whoa! Oh Yeah! That makes a lot of sense.’ And that’s what I love about Wife for Life: there’s lots of day-to-day small steps that you can do immediately and self-care is one of them: delighting yourself. Finding things to really bring joy back into your own life so that you’re not so cranky. Really, that’s what I was just so… Right before I met you I had three children very close together. And I actually was at a point that I was reading parenting books and feeling very stressed and, compatible somewhat to marriage, just looking for information, trying to find the right way, and pinned up all around my house little notes saying, ‘They’re just two and three years old. You can be nice. They love you! You love them.’ And these little notes made me think of that because that’s kind of what the presentation was to me: an understanding, putting me into perspective. That was just kids, but seeing your presentation really put into perspective for me: this is where a man is coming from. And these are some things going on in you, which was very revealing to me. And there’s actually I think a free course you have going on right now which would be an awesome tool, reader, for you to utilize. But yeah, It’s taking care of yourself day to day because that’s how you get to the end, to the Grand Marriage: little bit that let you grow and open up and from that, that power, you harness that and understanding yourself more helps your husband open up.
RAMONA: Right, because, like you mentioned the word “power”. As you know that’s what I teach about the power in your womanhood. But if you’re feeling so awful about yourself, it’s really hard to believe that that’s true, that it’s even possible. Delighting your heart (what we call it in Wife for Life) is absolutely critical, and it’s always the first thing I prescribe when women reach out to me this way. ‘Okay, today you’re going to do to two little things that make you happy. Little tiny boosts that don’t have to cost any money. Just get in there and make you the priority today.’
BROOKE: One of my delights is I love the Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint soap. And I save it. If I use it too much than it’s not so much of a delight, but it’s always in my shower when I want that really nice smelling shower and that’s such a delight. And those are the kinds of things we’re talking about. Little tiny things. You don’t have to be going out to spend money getting your nails done, or hair, or a big outing. Just little things you can do in that moment to turn yourself around.
RAMONA: Right. And I really want to emphasize this word “little”: not only in taking care of ourselves, but in everything in Wife for Life. We take it in little steps. Little baby steps, little chunks that sometimes we see immediate positive outcomes from. And sometimes we have to wait for the cumulative effect. I know that you’ve each experienced that kind of ‘A-ha’ moment where the cumulative effect manifests itself in maybe that really special evening with our husband. Emily, you had an experience like that didn’t you? Where you were like, ‘This is really working. All these little things I’ve been doing over a period of time, I see it!’ Yeah? Do you remember that?
EMILY: That totally happens. And it’s really a great example of how little daily things add up to great big things. And that’s so important because instead of those little resentments and those little fights and little things adding up to eight years of “the roughest road we can imagine”, it’s the little things, the daily little delights, ‘I did this one Wife for Life thing today. I made the effort to do this one little thing.’ And after weeks of doing that, ‘I’m really seeing my husband open. I’m seeing him change and I’m changing.’ One of the biggest delights I’ve gained from practicing Wife for Life is that I’ve become more forgiving of myself and when I have moments where I screw up or I don’t do things correctly the way I know to be true with what I’ve learned from Wife for Life, I forgive myself and I see it as a moment, like Deb said. It’s just a moment. It’s just a day. It’s not forever. And that perspective change can really contribute to our vision and the sustainability of keeping our vision, because when we’re more forgiving of ourselves, it’s amazing! But, yeah, the little things do add up and over time, depending on where you’ve been, you may see little results right away. You may not. But over time you will, and they start to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
RAMONA: Okay. So it’s that kind of thing that I need to hear. I need to hear as a wife and woman every day. And that’s why we’ve created this community and all the resources that go with it. The women themselves are the best possible resource this community sends. I just love it! Do you guys love it as much as I do? I know you do! As a Dream Team we’re always caring for each other, we’re always there for each other. We’re always there to reflect upon, and instead of venting so much, we’re really sharing our frustrations, but then our Wife for Life sister community, if you will, helps us put it all into perspective and give us some really concrete ideas. Have you seen that on the forum? Particularly, we have a Wife for Life University Forum where we get a lot of that kind of stuff going on. Brooke?
BROOKE: Yeah. We actually just used it for this first time in our last Wife for Life University class. And it was so amazing to see not always us on the Dream Team, but a lot of members just in the class because we’re genuinely there to support and inspire and we want to help each other. Because we break it down weekly, we’re looking at a few topics and focusing on those, everybody’s kind of working on the same stuff. We can all be like, ‘Oh yeah! Remember this?’ or, ‘Try this.’ It’s just inspiring and so productive. Just supportive and not a venting session that can turn into a husband bashing and that’s not good for anybody.
RAMONA: Exactly. And then in our live classes we’re doing what we’re doing right here. And we’re able to verbalize our problems, or our concerns, our issues, and not only sympathize with each other, but actually contribute, hand over, if you will, our own experience and the tools that we’ve all learned work. Successful wives helping other wives become successful — and even though successful wives getting foggy or tripped up every once in a while, then everyone rallies to them. It’s my vision. It’s my dream. It’s happening.
EMILY: It’s amazing to see, too. I’ve been surprised. Every Wife for Life University class that I’ve attended, every semester, to see how at the beginning nobody really shares too much. But I mean, a week or two and we realize we’re such a support for each other that people start sharing on the Forum. ‘This happened with my husband. What do I do?’ And it’s so cool to see all the women in the class wrap their arms around that student, give them their suggestions, both from their own experience and from things they’ve learned in Wife for Life and just share. And we’ve seen connections happen on there with people sharing their own personal experiences. It’s so inspiring. And nobody’s there to say, ‘Oh, well, your husband is terrible so you ….’ It’s all positive. It’s all constructive. It’s all, ‘Let’s all use what we’ve learned and really help each other sustain that vision.’
RAMONA: Right. Oh, I love that. You used that word earlier and I underlined it in my head, ‘sustain’ and ‘sustainability’. That’s what it’s all about. Because you also brought up earlier the amount of time, meaning the years that go by, you know. So that community is there for you for a lifetime. That’s the beauty of it as well. We all have times we need to be rejuvenated and when we can actually share, when we are on a high, we’re able to share that with others and hearing about one another’s triumphs go so far in giving our own energy and keeping it up there. So I love that!
Ladies, do you have anything else you want to say to contribute to our writer? I really congratulate her for reaching out to us, for opening up and sharing so that we could share our experience with her, and that, again, is what Wife for Life is all about, particularly Wife for Life University where we break things down into bite size chunks day by day, week by week as we learn these tools and practice them within a semester frame work, but then we can carry it over into another semester and that goes on for as long as we need it to basically. And then the community is just always, always there for us. So there’s so much to be gained from one another. Good for you! We hope that that last line in your letter really tugged at my heart most of all when you…What was it, Emily, that she said exactly about being alone?
EMILY: Yeah. She said, “I can’t wait to hear from you. The thought that I am not alone really means a lot!”
RAMONA: Well, we can give you so much information and tools at Wife for Life, but the little glimpse we’ve given you of that we’re here for you I hope is enough to get you to come back to us again and again and to join us! We love you. We’re ready to love you, and I love you guys. Thank you so much Emily and Deborah and Brooke.
Learn more about Wife for Life University
Fall 2016 Semester begins September 14th
Enrollment opens August 24th