My wife plays this stupid game on her phone every time we’re in the car together. I’ve told her that it bugs me, but she just ignores that. How do I get her to stop?”
“Money is tight this month and I specifically told my wife that we need to watch the out-go, but then she ran out and bought a new sofa. How do I get her to listen to me?”
“My wife always calls me cutesy little names that are slightly mocking. I’ve tried to get her to knock it off, but she says I’m being overly sensitive. How do I get her to take me seriously?”
These types of questions come up all the time in coaching. On the face of it, none of these complaints seem to have much in common, but they’re all actually dealing with the same problem … Holding Frame.
Okay, so what do I actually mean by the word ‘frame’. Google defines it like this:
- a rigid structure that surrounds or encloses something such as a door or window
- a basic structure that underlies or supports a system, concept, or text.
In the context of your marriage or other relationships, your frame refers to the way you interact with other people. How do you present yourself to your wife, to your kids, to your co-workers? Do you come from a place of weakness or of strength? Are other people able to affect your frame or do you hold steady no matter how the people surrounding you act? Frame is the invisible structure that underlies or supports every interaction you have with another person.
When a guy first starts coaching with the goal of increasing his wife’s attraction for him, his tendency is to isolate each separate interaction and try to find a new rule to govern how he should act in Situation A, B or C. He messes up because there’s no way he can remember a rule for each and every situation that comes up between him and his wife. Instead, he has to learn to hold his frame in all sorts of dissimilar situations.
One primary focus of the coaching is the daily interactions guys have with their wives. Those day to day seemingly simple interactions you have with your wife that are either adding to …. or taking out of … the Attraction Bucket.
JASON — For example, Jason gets home from work, he and his wife work together to get dinner finished and the kids down to bed. His wife then sits on the sofa and starts playing on her phone. He sits there, growingly increasingly irritated with her because he’s wanting to spend some time with her. When the evening is over and they’re getting ready for bed, he makes some snippy comment to her about her being a lazy slacker and what a wasted evening.
However, here’s the rub. He never actually told her what he wanted. He never stated his expectations. He expected her to read his mind. You see the problem? He wasn’t willing to be open about what he wanted, but then was angry with her that she didn’t fulfill his needs. I see this all the time with my coaching clients. This is a huge DLV to a woman and deducts a substantial amount from the Attraction Bucket.
JOHN — Another example …. John and his wife go to a barbeque together and enjoy the afternoon. By 6pm, John is becoming a bit bored and and is ready to go. The next day is a work day and they’ve still got to get the kids bathed and down to bed before they get the house straightened up for the week. His wife, however, seems to be having a great time. He looks at his watch with increasing frequency and feels increasingly anxious and irritable. He drifts toward his wife and says, “Getting a bit late, don’t you think? Tomorrow’s a work day, you know, and the kids still have to finish their homework.” His wife looks surprised and says, “Oh, it’s only six o’clock; there’s plenty of time left.”
He drifts away again, and spends the next hour, feeling more and more resentful of his wife’s thoughtlessness. He imagines conversations in his head with her where he tells her exactly how selfish she is and how she never considers his needs. However, he never actually told her he was ready to leave. He never stated his expectations. In the car on the way home, he is moody and sulky, and by the time they get home, everyone has caught the negative vibe and they have a miserable evening.
Do you see how this works? Both Jason and John are operating from a frame of being timid. Neither believes he has the right to simply tell his wife what he wants. Because of this, neither gets what he wants. They both need to strengthen their frame. Until they do, none of what they try is going to work.
Think of it like this …….
When your foundational frame is weak, every brick you add threatens to pull the structure down. Every drive-by or 10-second kiss or flirty text is going to fall flat. You have to shore the foundation first. You have to come from a place of strength so that your wife respects you. More importantly, you have to respect yourself.
So, how do you strengthen your frame? Where do you start?
The very first step I recommend is simply stating your expectations. Example …..
“Wife, I am going to pick Jennie up from practice. Why don’t you straighten the kitchen while I’m gone and then we’ll both be able to relax and enjoy our evening.”
You don’t have to be an ogre, you don’t have to be a jerk. Just state your expectations. Practice doing this for a few weeks until it feels natural. If she refuses, that’s okay, keep your cool, don’t lose frame. The simple fact of having the strength to say what you want displays high value. Eventually, your wife will start following your lead.