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Episode #23: How to Keep the Spark Alive in Your Marriage During #StayHome

By March 31, 2020 May 3rd, 2020 Love, Loyalty, Personal Growth

Episode #23: How to Keep the Spark Alive in Your Marriage During #StayHome

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What You’ll Discover in this Episode:

  • How to cope with the change we’re all currently facing with the recent pandemic (and beyond)!
  • Learning to address your fears and looking for the positive.
  • Strategies for managing stress and tools for handling each other’s emotions.
  • Developing positives habits that will help you thrive during stressful times. 
  • How to reflect on this exceptional time, and finding a new, more meaningful “normal.”

The Micro Version…you know, like the version of the story you wish your seven year old would tell you about the Lego creation they made:

Putting yourself in your man’s shoes is more important now than ever. During this difficult time in history, we are being forced to really examine our relationships and how we cope with stress as a couple. In today’s episode, I interview my husband Mike, and we talk about ways we are dealing with overwhelming stress by focusing on positive habits, communication, and connection. Now is a time we need more compassion and understanding! We are all in this together, friends!

Rather read it while sitting in the carpool line? Read the full transcript below.

Rachel Ballard:

Hey guys, welcome back to another week of How to Like Your Husband Podcast. This is a special episode that we recorded last minute, all about coronavirus, and stay home, and how we’re keeping our marriage strong during this time. This is a rough one. We’re all working from home, or some of us are, and some of us aren’t, we’re supposed to be schooling our kids, and so many things. Not going anywhere, just being at home with each other, and it can cause a lot of tension, a lot of tension. There’s financial stress, there’s family stress, there’s a change in dynamics, a change in the division of labor, a change in communication styles, all the things. And I know you guys are suffering from this. So this week Mike and I sat down, and talked together about what we’re doing in our marriage.

So many of you sent in questions for us, and suggestions for things to ask him, some of them had to do with what’s going on now, so I asked him those, and some of them had to do with other stuff that you guys want to know. So we’ll definitely have another episode, down the road, about those things. So don’t feel bad if your question wasn’t used this time, and I appreciate all of the help getting this outline together, what to talk to him about.

Without further ado, I’m going to introduce you to my amazing husband, and I hope you enjoy this. All right, I’ve got Mike here with me today, and we are going to talk, all things coronavirus, and stay home, and how they relate to us, and our marriage, and our family, and just try and be really timely with this podcast episode. How excited are you to be here with me today?

Mike Ballard:

I’m super excited.

Biggest Fear During Coronavirus

Rachel Ballard:

I can tell by the look on your face, for sure. All right. I’m just going to dig right into it, because I feel like at this point, there’s no room for anything else, and I want to talk about what we’re scared of right now, because the goal on, How to Like Your Husband, is to improve marriages, and to keep them strong, and in order to do that, we have to be vulnerable with each other, which is something that we’ve had to work on, as a couple, so tell me, and everybody what you’re afraid of right now. What’s the biggest fear?

Mike Ballard:

I think the country is in a state of panic, and I’m concerned, more than just for our family and our business now, I’m concerned for our country. And business, obviously has taken a hit, and calls are down, but the country is panicked, and not sure what’s going to come in the next 30 to 60 days. And so now it’s more, I’m concerned and I think about it as a country, also in that just what’s going on with my family, and my concerns with my family.

Rachel Ballard:

Okay. I think that’s fair, that’s probably a big fear of mine as well is just, how the economy’s going to recover from this, and that feels like a really big thing, to be tackling. So what would you say for us, just as a couple, what are we focused on? What’s our fear right now, and what are we trying to do about it?

Mike Ballard:

Yeah, there’s sort of fears, and I feel we have to keep moving, keep the train moving, and focus on what we can do positively, to get through this. I feel like it’s going to be a relatively short window, when we look back at it, and it seems like it could last forever, right now, but I feel that we just need to focus on positive things, over the next week to two weeks, to a month, and take it day-by-day, and week-by-week, and see how we can grow, as a family, how we can grow as individuals, and help each other out, help our community, and our country out.

How to Help Each Other Through Stress

Rachel Ballard:

Okay. So I feel like we have both had a few moments in the past, like two weeks, as we’ve been more focused on stay home, and as it gets more and more real for us in the area that we live in, where we’ve both been on the verge of being short with the other one, or just the stress hits us, most of that has been really related to our business, and the fact that we’re insecure about what’s going to happen there, and insecure about what’s going to happen in the nation.

But we’ve let that affect us, luckily, at different times, and so, one of the questions that I got asked, when I put out there that I was going to interview you, and we were going to talk together was, what we’re doing when we are scared, and we are short tempered with each other about this. And so, I wanted to speak to that first, if that’s okay?

Mike Ballard:

Please.

Rachel Ballard:

And so I feel like I was probably the first one to go. I got really stressed, in the beginning of this, in thinking about finances and loans, and all the things that we have for our business, because that’s my area that I’m supposed to take care of, and when things are so unsure, I feel like I’m not doing my job, and I’m not taking care of that for you, and making sure that that stress isn’t on you. So it felt like a lot of pressure to call banks, and re look at numbers, and make decisions about employees, and all those things. And you could tell, that my stress was building.

Mike Ballard:

Yeah, sure.

Rachel Ballard:

I could see that you did. And so, in the past when, we’ve gone through hard things in years past, as my pressure builds, your pressure would build. And this time, it was different, because we have new attitudes, and new tips, and new tricks, and new processes, I guess, in how we work through all this. I feel like the thing that you did really right, in that situation, is that even though it felt like I was ready to implode, and you were the closest and easiest thing to take that out on, you just let me have my moment, and didn’t react to me getting mad, and then later when I was calm again, you just reminded me that we need to both be willing to let it go, when the other person gets like this, that it’s going to be hard, and that we’re both going to have moments of insecurity in it, and then it was the very next day, then the tables were turned, and I had to remind myself that you had said that.

So I feel like that’s kind of what we’re doing in the short term, is just trying to give each other a lot of grace and forgiveness, and space to have our moment, when we need to have it. Would you add anything to that?

Why Our Routines Are So Important To Us During Stress

Mike Ballard:

Shoot, I think we want normalcy as Americans, or as just people in general, and it’s this normalcy’s going, or gone away, and we’d just taken what we had for granted, and now we’re dealing with it. And I think me and you have been working on personal growth, quite a bit, especially in the past year, and I think some of those tools, have helped us get through, some of these trying times, over the past few weeks. We could have handled it differently, a couple of years ago, I think what we’ve dealt with, like you said, having to call all the banks for relief, stuff like that.

Rachel Ballard:

What specifically? We have so many different things that we do for personal growth, as a couple, with like date night, and journaling, and gratitude, and what else, exercise and just…

Mike Ballard:

The journaling and exercise for me, seems to be a little kind of like magic. My knee has been giving me fits over the past couple of weeks, and I’m training for a marathon and so, what I’ve noticed in the past year, during training is when I have body issues, and I can’t train, that I get a little depressed. And I feel like this to go around. I’ve done pretty well, because I’ve been dealing with knee ailments the past two weeks, and then the economy, and the panic, has been pretty high, and tense the past two weeks also. And I’ve been channeling that into work. I normally workout early in the morning, and get that out of the way. And so I’ve been heading into work early, and just trying to get stuff done, stay busy, and-

Rachel Ballard:

Stay moving.

Mike Ballard:

… Yeah, stay positive, and taking it day-by-day. Unfortunately we don’t. I don’t have the answers or, I’m not sure what the next couple of weeks are going to bring, but I am definitely trying to stay positive, and I’m feeling like I’ve done a pretty good job at that.

Habits Pull You Through Hard Times

Rachel Ballard:

Yeah. So we’re focusing on our daily habits, and just trying to keep those as normal as we possibly can, and holding on really tight to them. Another question that I get asked about you all the time, is if you’re exceptional, because you journal, and you workout, and you’ve busted all these bad habits that you had, and all these things. Every time I get asked that in an interview, I tell them that you are perfectly normal, you’re very exceptional to me, but that if my husband can do these things, then their husband could probably do these things too. Is there anything that you think just really stands out to you, about your habits, that you would say they are your lifeline?

Mike Ballard:

Yeah, habits, bad habits, and good habits, I’ve been working on eliminating bad habits, replacing, them with good habits, and it seems to be working. It seems to be magical.

Rachel Ballard:

Did you expect that, when you started doing it?

Mike Ballard:

You were working on the personal growth before me, and I decided to jump on board, and just play along, and I bought-in, and I basically bought into the idea of working on myself, exercise and eliminating bad habits, and good things would happen. And that’s the way I look at it, I take it day-by-day, but I seem to notice, positive things are coming. It just takes time.

Rachel Ballard:

Yeah. Last year, 2019 was when Mike really joined me, or surpassed me, in creating good habits in his life, and it impacted our family, so majorly, it impacted our business intensely, and we have seen amazing things come from it. So I cannot recommend, just making those shifts enough, and I think one of the things that I really want to have come out of this stay home, and all the things that are going on is, like Dave Hollis said the other day, and imposed that in your rush to return to normal… Oh, I’m not going to say it right, but basically that in your rush return to normal, really try and think through, if that normal is really serving you, or if that normal is really what you want.

And right now, we’re in a time where, we don’t have gymnastics practice, or tumbling, or our kids working, or a lot of the things going on that we would normally have, and we’re able to just be home and be focused. We’ve gone on a lot of walks. Our dogs are probably a little worn out-

Mike Ballard:

That’s right.

Rachel Ballard:

… and had a lot of time together. And so the other part of that for me though, is that I want to come out of this with something positive. And so, just trying to think what new habits I could put in to place, and what things I could change. So I want to encourage everybody out there that, if you are in a position now, where you have extra time because of this, or you don’t have to commute or whatever that is, there’s never going to be a better time, to make some changes in your life and, put together an exercise plan, or put together a journaling practice, or gratitude, or eliminate some bad things from your life. For goodness sake, they closed down my Starbucks and you can’t get fountain drinks anywhere. So I guess I’m kicking my iced tea habit immediately, because I don’t have another choice.

What to Do When Old, Bad Habits Sneak Up

Rachel Ballard:

The other question that I had in our community for you, was if the stress from this, had impacted you in a way, that you felt pulled back, to negative habits. Have you had moments where you want to consider drinking again, or biting your nails again, or any of the bad habits that you’ve eliminated, but most specifically drinking? Do you feel that calling to you, based on what’s going on right now?

Mike Ballard:

I have not had any of those feelings. I’m not really sure why. I feel like we have so many things going on right now, and business is… we’ve got a lot of things we’re doing business-wise. You’re with your business with Tree Service expanding, I feel like it’s a great time, for us to get through this.

Rachel Ballard:

So you don’t have time for this.

Mike Ballard:

For me, to get through this, I don’t have to even be depressed right now. I really don’t. Normally I would, and I’d be thinking about… feeling sorry for myself. But I would consider eliminating a bad habit, and trying to form a good habit in its place. The number one thing that’s helped me was I eliminated alcohol daily, and I started working out daily. And I feel like those two things, just helped me out. I don’t recommend everybody doing that, but I would recommend picking something for 30 days, and trying to make a habit out of it.

The Surprising Part of Stay Home and Coronavirus

Rachel Ballard:

Awesome. Let me see. What other questions have I been asked? Well, I had one, I was just thinking about this the other day. We were talking about it on our walk, but I want to know what you would say is, what has been the most surprising thing to you in the midst of this coronavirus stay home? About what we’re seeing out in public, or when you’re driving to work, what’s been most surprising about what’s going on to you?

Mike Ballard:

All of the panic in the country. I don’t think the media has been helpful for us, and social media has probably made it a lot different than, say the swine flu in ’09, or SARS in when I believe it was ’02, I feel like this one’s going to be more memorable.

Rachel Ballard:

Yeah, it’s definitely on my radar. You want to know what I thought you were going to say?

Mike Ballard:

What?

Rachel Ballard:

I thought you were going to say how many freaking people are outside.

… Our poor neighbor was actually out of toilet paper, and I had to go to the grocery store, so I asked her if she needed anything, and that was what she needed. That was unfortunate. But we had extra so we loaned it to her. But I really thought that you were going to say, because we bring this up, every time we’re out for a walk because we walk a lot. Even before this, we could go on walks together, and we both run, out on the streets. There are so many people outside, there are so many people outside. I hope that, that’s a habit that sticks. People are taking walks as families, and riding bikes with their kids, and everybody is social distancing and that’s great. And but man, if you spent this much time with your family, outside of coronavirus, just think of the families, that we would have, and the strength that we would have in this country as just human, and people, and it would be pretty amazing. That’s what I thought you were going to say. I had another question.

How to Stay On Budget During Coronavirus

Rachel Ballard:

Somebody asked me on Instagram, because I was pretty honest about the fact that I was stressed about finances with our business, and they asked me, when money gets tight, how you decide, what stays, and what goes on the budget. And this is not really something, that we have necessarily experienced in full force right now, the things we’ve cut from our budget right this second, are just eating out. I can’t think of anything. Well I did tell the kids… one of the boys wanted to go get summer clothes, and we usually give them a budget, and let them go shop for those, and I said that he would need to wait. First of all, I didn’t want him in the stores, and second of all, I’m not sure what’s going on, and how we’re paying for all of that.

Rachel Ballard:

But I guess the question really was, if one person is out of work, because of this, then should their things go? Versus the other one, do they deserve to get to still spend the same amount of money if they’re not working? And honestly we’ve had times where both of us makes more money than the other. I’ve made more money than Mike and Mike, has made more money than me. Currently, he makes more money than me. That does not change at all how I feel about spending money. Have you noticed that I spend less money since I make less money?

Mike Ballard:

Has it impacted us yet? I feel like the budgeting impact, fortunately for us, it’s only been for business, and you’ve started budgeting for that for us, by making calls, and getting relief on a couple of loans and stuff like that.

Rachel Ballard:

So I think I just want to let everybody know that even though that’s something that we can’t specifically help you with right, this second, next week on the Podcast, I had done an interview with Nicole from The Greatest Worth, and she talks all about, creating a budget for your family, when you don’t really want to, and aren’t necessarily getting along about it, or agreeing on it. And I had done that before this happened, it was ready to go live this week, and we actually bumped it a week, and are talking again. Because she’s creating a resource, all about how to create an emergency budget when you’re in the midst of a crisis like this. Because so many have lost their jobs, or businesses have been affected. So even if we can’t be super helpful right now, tune in next week, and Nicole will walk you through that, we’re going to add it to that Podcast episode, and I think it’ll be really helpful for you.

How to Keep Your Marriage Strong During Coronavirus

Rachel Ballard:

I guess the only other thing, that I really wanted us to focus on right now, is just how we’re staying focused as a couple, on making sure that we stay strong in this. I always preach date night, the members of this Podcast might be tired of hearing about date night, but I preach it, I talk about how important it is, I don’t find it to be any less important, because of coronavirus, I think there’s plenty of ways, we just took a really long walk for a date night this week, but we did it alone. The thing about it is… In fact we were going to go out, and get carry-out, and I think just sit in the car and eat and I just said, I feel so guilty that the kids haven’t left, and I didn’t feel right leaving and doing that. So we ended up getting carry-out for everybody, and sitting on a sidewalk, and eating instead.

Rachel Ballard:

But, what do you think, is the most important things for us as a couple right now to make sure that we stay on the same page? Is there anything that you want to make sure we’re still doing, that is important to you, besides a foot rub?

Mike Ballard:

I think it’s just stay positive and look at ways, that we can grow, as individuals and as families. And there’s plenty of ways to get through this, and there’s plenty of bad habits that we have as families, and plenty of small changes that we can make, and focus on, over the next few weeks, to grow as individuals and families.

Rachel Ballard:

Okay. So if you actually listened to my podcast In Real Life, which you don’t, but if you did, you would know that the answer is that we should be having sex more often, and that we should be focusing on date night, and that we should be vulnerable with each other and communicating should we do all those things also?

Mike Ballard:

All of those things. All of them.

Rachel Ballard:

Okay.

Mike Ballard:

Sure.

Rachel Ballard:

Anyone you want to focus on?

Mike Ballard:

I think there isn’t any.

Rachel Ballard:

Okay, I’m sorry. I’m, just checking to make sure I answered all the questions that everybody wanted covered this episode. But, the biggest thing that I’ve been thinking about, and that I want you to take from this episode is that, Mike and I, we do not make decisions based on fear. In this time when we were in the process of growing our business, our Tree Service business, we were in the midst of huge growth there, and we’ve been growing My Marriage coaching business, and then in the midst of that process, I think for me is not the visionary here, that’s definitely Mike’s role, but for me, I wanted to pull back, on all of that, and that felt really fear based, and he’s encouraging us to push forward with that, and that’s what we’re doing. As educated it as possible, and we’re really thinking it through and trying to be on the same page, but still make decisions for growth, and still… I don’t know what would say it is. We’re just not letting the fear take us over.

Mike Ballard:

Yeah. We’re trying to make smart decisions, with work we have the ability to get things done on our campus, in Maryland Heights away from all people. We have boys that we could send there to split firewood, and still get things accomplished, while everybody shut down. So there are definitely a business things that we can get done, that don’t bring money in this week, but are very important over the next few months.

Rachel Ballard:

Yeah. And they keep our minds busy, keep our kids busy, I think if we can stay in physical motion of continuing to be active and focused, then it’s going to help us get through. Another thing that we are doing, is that we are not schooling very much right now. So everybody knows that we homeschool typically, our girls, and I cannot educate them from a place of stress. And that when I was super stressed out at the beginning of this, one of the first things that Mike suggested is that, I just needed to take a break from doing school with the girls and educating, them because I’m short tempered then, I can’t focus, I’m wanting to constantly check my phone, and see what’s going on, or answer calls from for business, or any of those things and, I am not going to educate them well. So what our kids are learning right now, is a lot of, how to be an entrepreneur during hard times, how to stay strong as a family, how to entertain themselves, which is a hugely valuable skill, that all people should have.

Rachel Ballard:

They’re being crafty, they’re training a puppy, and just, we’re okay with that. If that means we have to do some schooling in the summer, when things are back to normal, we’re going to be perfectly fine with that too. So they won’t be behind. And that’s been a huge amount of grace for Mike to say that to me, made me feel like he had my back in that, and knew that that was something that I needed. And so I would encourage you to look at what your partner is struggling with, and just really assess the whole situation, try and look at it from fresh eyes of what they’re dealing with. Mike leaves every day to go to our shop, and to work, and to do what’s needed to be done there, and I’m home during the day with the girls, which makes it, I think a little harder to relieve my stress, because I’m inside, and I’m trying to keep them occupied, and whatever.

Rachel Ballard:

And so he saw that, and offered a suggestion, or even just a way for me to say, this is what I need, because I knew he would be okay with it. And so I’d ask that you look at what your husband is dealing with right now, how he might be feeling about not being able to work, and not being able to provide in this time, that’s probably really stressful, in a lot of men, especially as they want to take care of their families, and this is kind of out of control. Have you had any… I guess I should ask you that, have you had any feelings like that? Just where I don’t think we’re to that point yet, where you’re not feeling competent.

Mike Ballard:

Yeah, I haven’t been in that position, but I can feel it, for other people that’s been laid off for sure. There’s stress there for sure. Stress it were, we haven’t had to deal with. But a lot of the country has gotten laid off. And there’s a lot of people that are worried, at the same time for sure. A lot of rumor’s going around big businesses, and stuff like that.

Rachel Ballard:

So just try and be on the lookout for what might actually be bothering someone, and don’t assume that it’s you. Give them a minute, give them some grace, assume that it’s not you, and help them figure it out, because that’s probably the most helpful thing you can do right now. All right, you have anything crazy, that you need to add to this? Any you just…

Mike Ballard:

I would just, if I could give one piece of advice as a habit, if somebody’s going to add a habit, I would say try and exercise daily for 30 days, and if you can do it in the morning, first thing in the morning, because that would be the hardest thing that you would probably have to do every day. So some of your difficult daily dealings will not seem as hard, after you do that for about 30 days. That’s it.

Rachel Ballard:

Yeah. I could not agree with that more. You guys, I hope this was so helpful to you. We had a lot of questions, I hope we got to them. Continue to feel free to send them in, and if we need to, we can do a quick live, or some story posts, and get those answered for you. Don’t forget that all this week, I am live in our Facebook group at two o’clock central, as we work through, how to keep your marriage spark strong, and healthy, during stay home. And then make sure that you click the link on the website to sign up for the free 90 minute workshop, that we’ve got going on this Thursday, we’re going to talk through all the things, that have to do with keeping your marriage strong, during stay home. And I want you to be there, I want you to be part of the conversation. So be sure to come join us and my friends, please remember that you are incredible, and you deserve incredible things, so let’s make that happen. Have a great week, everybody.

Mike Ballard:

Stay strong.

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