How To Grow Together

Hola party pies!

A bit of a super special post for you today… for the first time in nine years of blogging, I’m handing over the reins to my hunky love Chris! He’s a bloody brilliant man of simple wisdom and heart, and I’m delighted he said yes to sharing his advice here.

I had this question a couple of weeks ago that I thought a lot of women probably experienced:

How do I get my husband on board with making business and life changes? I feel like I make big spiritual changes and leave him behind. Sometimes he has fear come up around what happens if I change. And I don’t know if he really gets and supports and understands my vision for what I want to do with my business. What do I do to be able to keep growing while staying in love?

I fucking love this question so much because we don’t often talk about this without it turning into a grumble fest of

“Oh and THEN he said this!”

“He shouldn’t say that!”

“I know! He doesn’t understand at all!”

There’s gotta be a better way of evolving in our relationships than bitchin’ to our girlfriends. (It’s fine to have a grumble now and then but if that’s the only way you’re seeking to understand or heal your relationship? Not so great.)

I sat down with the Divine Mr Dawson, and got him to tell me what to say. What to say to the menfolk who are watching their women change and grow and new ways. And what the womenfolk need to know too.

For The Husbands:

Let her go for it.

Let her do what she’s wanting to do. Let her try it out. Of course, you guys will need to work out a way for it to be in alignment with your couple goals and financial situation and all that. But really, let her try out what she wants to try out. It may not be the thing that you think is right for her, but she needs to feel the freedom to work that out on her own.

There’s been lots of things over the last 13 years where I really didn’t understand why Leonie wanted to do some of the spiritual workshops/retreats/classes that she learned. But I really had to let her work it out for herself, and find what she liked. It wasn’t always the same things that I liked, but that’s okay. It’s totally okay to have your differences.

At the end of the day, doing the things she wanted to do made Leonie happier, more fulfilled and more connected with her own spirituality, passion and drive. And as they say, “Happy wife, happy life!”

While you’re at it, keep learning yourself.

Keep doing things that you want to do. Keep trying out things you want to try out. Keep pursuing your interests.

Yes, we all have periods of life where you have to knuckle down and work and get shit done. But always find time to keep that thing you like.

When you are both growing and learning, you’ll both be happier. It’s a good thing.

Sometimes you’ll be the hare, sometimes you’ll be the tortoise

Couples rarely grow at the same speed. Your wifey might learn something new (whether in business/life/spirituality) that you’ve just got no clue about, and it might take a while for you to adjust to the change. Sometimes you’ll learn something new and it’ll take her a few months to come on board. Be patient with each other. Trust that you’ll end up at the same place anyway.

See her success as a blessing not a curse.

It’s not a competition between you and your wife to be the best caretaker or provider. Get on each other’s team. See that every win she makes is a win for you too. It’s only going to benefit you in the end.

Be partners.

Leonie & I have always had a single bank account. We make all our financial decisions together. We’re in it for life. We’re team mates.

Everytime she wins, it’s a win for me too. I know she’s working not just for herself, but for me and our daughter(s). Anything I can do to support her in doing that ends up being a win for our whole family.

How to be a “trophy husband”

At a certain point, it might be the right thing for you and your wife and family for you to be what my wife likes to call a “trophy husband”. (She’s joking of course – I don’t really mind. But I did refuse when she wanted to buy me a Trophy Husband t-shirt. It didn’t come in my size.)

In order for our business to grow, and for us to be location independent and live in a small village in the rainforest, she needed me at home to look after our daughter and help out with various business and life things.

You really need to talk it out and work out ways for it to work for you. If you’re not ready to do it, you’ll need to help your wife find the support she needs so she can work.

When you do make the change from paid work to house husband/stay at home dad/sex slave (editor’s note: Leonie totally put that in there) it does take time to feel comfortable in your new role. We had to keep talking about it for months and months and months afterwards to find the right balance for us both to feel fulfilled and good.

Remember to take time for your interests and keep on following them. I’ve kept up with music, reading books and studying Psychology part time, and it’s really helped me feel less rudder-less in our new lifestyle.

Be willing to be wrong

I’m not the same person who I was 13 years ago when I first met Leonie – and neither is she. Along the way we’ve really had to learn how to get over ourselves, communicate, work through our own personal stuff and get on the same page.

Getting personal counselling & relationship counselling can mean the world of difference in your own self and in your relationship. Be willing to front up to where you got it wrong so you don’t have to make the same mistakes again. Try and find the grace and understanding to forgive your wife for not having it all together all the time either. It can be really hard for two humans with all their foibles to be in love, but it is worth it. It’s the greatest learning journey you can be on. And the love keeps getting bigger as you both keep learning and growing and getting over yourselves.

Most of all, good luck and know that it’s a good life, and that a really wonderful relationship can be yours as you both grow.

For the womenfolk:

Here’s what women can do to help their men adjust to change:

Communicate communicate communicate

If you haven’t worked out how to communicate yet without sulking, yelling or storming off, you need to keep on working on it. Whether you get personal counselling, relationship counselling or keep studying how to communicate, it’s the thing that will help your relationship weather all storms.

See your husband as being on your team, and really work at making sure both of you feel great about the direction you are going in.

It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it.

Talk numbers

If you’re starting or growing a business and you’re trying to get your husband to believe in what you are doing, the best way of doing it is by showing him. He’ll probably start glazing over when you talk about what you want to do and how it’s going to go. Instead, tell him what you have done, what results you are getting, what the numbers are (i.e. what income/profit you are making, how many people are coming into your store or are visiting your website). Numbers conversations can be uncomfortable – sometimes because numbers aren’t where you want them to be. But you still need to get real about them and get honest with yourself and your husband.

If the numbers aren’t at where you want them to be, work out what you’re going to do to change that.

If the numbers are at where you want them to be, use them as validation and proof in your dreams.

Be your own #1 fan

For a long time, I had no idea what Leonie was doing in her business, what her vision was or how she was going to get there. I just couldn’t see it yet – and that’s okay. That’s because she was still working it out on her own. I’ve always believed in Leonie, but most importantly, she’s believed in herself. She’s really believed that she could do it from the very beginning. I’ve just watched her work at what needed doing, and figuring it out on her own.

I couldn’t be her #1 fan, because that’s her job – and it’s a job she does well. She’s the one who has to know what she wants and go after it. I just get to watch her and cheer her on.

You really need to have your own self-belief and faith. That’s what will get you through the patches of self doubt, frustration and challenges that inevitably come up with business.

I don’t expect Leonie to be my #1 fan/cheerleader either. That’s my job. We’ll always support each other, but we’re not reliant on each other for motivation. Self-belief is an inside job.

Understand your husbo has fears

It’s totally normal for him to have fears. And he may not always be cognisant that they are fears which are making him react. It takes a whole lot of patience, compassion and understanding for things to work out. There’s no miracle cure. Sometimes it’s a lot of trying to talk it out, waiting, tinkering, meeting problems that come up, having faith and patience. And at the same time, still working out how to love yourself and give yourself what you need. It’s a real balancing act.

Everyone grows at different speeds (see above about the hare and tortoise!)

Sometimes you’ll be the hare, leaping and evolving at great speeds. And sometimes your husband will say something and you’ll think “What the heck just happened here? How does he know more than me?”

Leonie & I have always found there’s a few months delay between both of us getting up to speed with each other. At least we can peek down the road and think “Oh! There you are! I’ll be there sometime soon!”

The more you can love and understand each other, the more you can tolerate not always being on the exact same page as each other.

Relationship Basics 101

Don’t interrupt your husband when he’s talking. Don’t tell him he can’t think or feel the way that he does. Don’t try to fix him.

That’s not your job.

Those are standard communication blockers that stop your husband from feeling understood, and stop you from actually understanding and loving who he is (even when he’s not where you want him to be).

Leonie will happily admit she used to do all of the above. Don’t worry, I had my own “communication blocker” styles as well that I had to learn about and grow out of.

Some things that worked for us in learning to communicate:

Talking and talking and talking and listening and listening and listening until your face wants to blow off and you’re so sick of talking. Even when it feels like you’re going around in circles. Even when it’s immensely uncomfortable for you to hear what he’s saying. It’s like the book about the swamp goes – you can’t go around it, you can’t go over it, you have to go through it.

And it’s messy and it never looks like what it does on TV and it can feel like the scratch of nails down the chalkboard. But it’s important.

Sometimes we have to talk for months about something before we see eye to eye about it and feel like we’re on the same page.

It’s worth it. It’s worth it. It’s worth it.

Start practising Talking Stick

If you and your husband feel really blocked, start by doing ten minutes of talking stick a day. For ten minutes, ask him to tell you what he’s going through. Don’t interrupt. Just listen. And listen. And listen. Then ask for him to do the same for you.

It doesn’t come easy. It feels awkward often. You’ll want to interrupt all the time.

It’s a good way to start getting on the same page and being partners on the same team.

You can’t push against something that you love and understand.

For Menfolk & Womenfolk

Yes, life and business and growing and evolving can be hard and challenging and messy. But it is worth it. And the more you can be aware of yourself and your partner, the better things get.

You can both grow and learn and get what you want out of life, and you can do it while staying in love (and getting even deeper in there too).

It can be great. Truly.

I’m wishing you the best of luck, and the courage to walk your right path.

Chris (aka Mr Dawson/Hunky Love)


Note from Leonie: We’ve been asked so much already about this adorable cartoon so I thought I’d share! I bought a custom Simpsons character from this Fiverr store as a “just because” gift for him a few months ago. Totes a way to make the husbo happy!