Season 2 Episode 3: Great Dads, Low Standards

Have you seen Ali Wong’s Netflix special?

You haven’t? Well, let me tell you… It’s a treat. And it’s also what sparked this topic about how to be a great dad.

Lucky for all you dads out there, the steps are pretty simple:

  1. Get someone pregnant.
  2. Go to a few doctors appointments.
  3. Make dad jokes.
  4. That’s it.
  5. You’re done.
  6. You’re now officially a Great Dad!

Obviously we’re kidding.

Kinda.

But really, in this episode we talk a lot about the low threshold dads seem to have when it comes to being considered a great dad.

I mean, viral YouTube videos get passed around when they so much as show an interest in learning how to braid their daughter’s hair. (and yes, we realize this is really sweet but it’s also laughable; don’t come at us.)

But when a mother isn’t able to seamlessly juggle career, motherhood, and “wifely duties,” she’s a failure?

The amount of times I (Melissa) have felt frazzled because I was rushing between school, work, and home in order to do it all is… countless. And the amount of times I’ve beat myself up because I would forget one packed lunch or paying one bill is also countless.

And as for Shawn? The same “mistake” never seems to phase him, somehow life still moves on when he forgets to take the trash out or misses a doctors appointment.

And maybe the trick is that we don’t need to bring them up to standards but lower ourselves to theirs.

There’s always a certain amount of anxiety in a relationship. And the more it ends up on you, the less the other person has to carry it.

A trick Marie picked up in while doing marriage coaching was that your partner will naturally pick up the slack if you just let them.

Hear me out on this. I know it sounds a little far-fetched, but it’s true.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s an example:

During my 2L fall semester of law school, my schedule on Mondays and Wednesdays used to look like this:

5am: wake up + get ready
6am: make breakfast + pack lunches + prep/cook dinner
7am: drop Shawn off at work and head to school
7am-8:30am: sit in freaking traffic
9am-5pm: school
5pm-6:30/pm: sit in freaking traffic

And for some ungodly reason, I still felt the need to be the one to cook dinner (even though I was getting home almost 3 hours after Shawn was.)

It’s like it didn’t even occur to me that “hey, he could make dinner while you’re stuck in Atlanta rush-hour traffic!” And it’s not that Shawn told me that I had to be the one to make dinner on those nights or that making dinner was only my responsibility.

I just chose to pick up that anxiety and hold on to it for dear life.

And for the first 2 months of that semester, I tried to fanagle ways so that dinner would already be prepped for us.

I did crockpot meals (one time we I left it on too long and it somehow got moldy?)

I tried meal prepping on Sundays.

I cooked it in the morning (as well as our breakfast AND packed our lunches).

But it never failed! I still held so much stress and anxiety about dinner and making it home in time to prepare it on Monday and Wednesday nights.

But eventually, I just let it go. I stopped worrying, prepping, and trying to find ways to not get Shawn involved.

I started just winging it, sometimes just swinging by Chick-Fil-A before coming home.

And after awhile, do you know what happened?

I came home to cooked dinners. He picked up his share of the “anxiety” and did the dang thing.

So like Marie says, maybe the trick isn’t trying to convince them to care more or put in as much effort as we do. Trying to force them into doing or being something they aren’t isn’t going to fix the problem.

Maybe the trick is that we need to stop giving them the option to let the “anxiety” sit. Maybe we need to stop picking it up (the clothes, dishes, anxiety, milk on the way home, etc).

Much like our ancestors, the cavemen, our brains just want to do what it takes to survive. They weren’t carving the fanciest sticks, they were carving the sticks that got the job done.

Men, for the most part, are simply doing what it takes to survive. And if you’re covering all the bases for the entire time, there’s really not much else for him to do but to sit back.

Next time you’re feeling like the load is a little lopsided, consider the fact that your spouse is only doing the bare minimum because they know you’re there to hold the rest of it.

And when you remember that, pull an Elsa and let it the f*ck go.

Episode # 008 – Keeping Score

Fair is far, right? Keeping score in a relationship, of any kind, is natural because no one wants to feel cheated. But there are several reasons why this “survival tactic” of ours is actually ruining our relationships. But we know that we don’t have to tell you twice that keeping score isn’t the best idea for your relationship. I mean, the term in-itself implies that you’re not on the same team/page. That’s why we talk about how to stop and how we’ve gotten over this hump in the past by having a chore chart as a way to try and keep the peace when it comes to household duties and how giving more might actually be the key to success.

So, as promised, we’ve included a link to The Go-Giver, the book that talks about this exact topic (spoiler alert: it tells you to stop counting and start giving).

Episode #007 – Setting Goals

As a follow-up to our Getting on the Same Page (Episode #006), Marie and Melissa talk about how setting goals prepares you and your marriage for success. Without a goal in-mind, it’s easy for paths to diverge and find yourself thinking “how did we end up here?”

We also take a closer look at goals we’ve set personally. Melissa has made it her mission to continually feed Shawn’s love plant every week by leaving him random thank-you notes. This is inspired by his love language: words of affirmation. During the podcast, Marie even comes up with her new, personal goal to help feed her relationship and Mark’s love plant (carving out specific, uninterrupted time for him once a week).

So. Because this topic is so, SO, SO important, and constantly glossed over, we’ve also created a pdf of some sample goals you can set as a team, for yourself, and for other areas of your life.

Healthy Pooping is like Healthy Fighting

Yeah, you heard me right. And no, I’m not kidding.

I think there are some similarities between healthy poop and healthy fights:

It’s intact. The ‘mushier’ the poop the less healthy it is. A healthy fight is also intact. It’s about one topic. A ‘mushy’ fight is when you start off fighting about chores and end up fighting about that time 3 years ago when she forgot to pick up your dry cleaning. Keep your fights focused on what topic at a time.

It’s regular. Regular bowel movements are a great sign things are going well. Same thing with fights. It’s not a great idea to let things build up. It doesn’t make fighting or pooping easier. Are you regularly letting each other know what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling? Or are you opting to hold it just a little bit longer? Much like pooping, fighting is good for you.

It doesn’t hurt. This is really important. Pooping shouldn’t hurt. Fighting shouldn’t hurt. But since most of us don’t get to see great examples of healthy fighting many of us are terrified that it won’t feel good. We hide from it because we can’t imagine being in conflict with a person you love to ultimately end in feeling closer. We imagine the only thing that comes from fighting is hurt, so we avoid it. This doesn’t mean painless fighting is natural, I think it’s a learned skill. But, like pooping, if it hurts it’s not healthy.

Episode #004 – Proposals + How To Get Engaged

In this episode, we talk about our proposals and how to make sure that each step you take in your relationship is the right step for the both of you. There are many factors that should be considered when you’re thinking about spending the rest of your life with someone; if you can’t have these serious, “adult” conversations, then maybe it’s time to have a hard look at the person across the table from you.

Because this subject can be a little hairy, we created a few tips on how to have those hard conversations to make sure you’re in the right mindset and environment to work together as a team. And once you’ve decided to have these important sit-down meetings to discuss where you are in your relationship, take a peek at these questions to ask one another before getting engaged or married.

Episode #003 – Ex S/Os + Jealousy

We have all experienced jealousy at one point or another, regardless of being the “jealous type” or not. And if you swear you’ve never been jealous before, check out this article to see if you’re a smidge more jealous than you let yourself believe. 

Anyway. Whether it was because you thought your spouse still has feelings for their ex or because you think they’re checking out other people; we’ve all been there. It hurts and it sucks, and we all definitely dwell on it an unhealthy amount.

In our latest podcast (Episode #003 Ex S/Os + Jealousy) we get into advice for people who struggle with jealousy. Although we both hate the sage advice of “give it time,” we must recognize that it is true. However, we do have some action steps that are helpful for those of you that want take strides to nip jealousy in the butt faster.