Vanessa and her wife Alex are raising two young children and dealing with hectic schedules. Alex works full-time out of the home and Vanessa works full-time in the home. Tensions have been bubbling lately, but Alex is less interested in therapy. That’s when Vanessa found Relish

My wife and I have been really snippy with each other lately – it’s been a lot of ‘You do this’ and ‘I’ll do this’ and we’re just running in different directions at full speed and there isn’t any time to reconnect or to just take a breath. We’re going through a lot right now… the anniversary of her dad’s death is in a couple days and she’s been really crazy at work, and I wanted to find something that I could work through alone and see if it made a difference. I mean I’ve always read a lot of self-help books but I’ve never really signed up for something like counseling or a therapy tool and so when I saw Relish – it was definitely outside my comfort zone.

The very first lesson just made a huge impression on me. Just going back to when we first met and thinking back on those times made me feel closer to her, even though I was home with the kids and she was at work – I still felt a closeness, and honestly, an optimism.

When I found out my attachment style I wasn’t really that surprised, I knew that I always had struggled with insecure attachment, but I learned new things and I definitely saw myself in a new light. I’ve gotten better over time, like I don’t get as jealous about things and I’m not as needy as I was in the beginning but it’s still been one of our most frequently recurring fights and it’s something I’m always trying to work on. Her attachment is Cat but I think she’s a mix of a few different attachments… however Cat is definitely the most dominant. My coach told me most of us aren’t 100% one attachment type but we all have dominant ones that influence our behavior. The Relish description of our dynamic – like how our attachment styles interact with each other, what our strengths and weaknesses as a couple were – gave me such huge insight into us and felt like we had so much more knowledge starting this journey than honestly I’ve ever gotten before. I hadn’t even started my Relish journey and I already felt like my life had changed.

I hadn’t even started my Relish journey and I already felt like my life had changed.

It’s just hard for me to bring things to Alex because I always get so emotional, just the way we communicate is as different as any two people could be: she gets really shut down by a lot of emotion and it makes her want to escape, and anytime I am expressing myself or talking about us I get really emotional automatically, so we haven’t developed a healthy way of communicating about tough issues yet. But using Relish gives me a way to point to something and say: “This isn’t my idea, but because of our goals and our attachment styles this is what we need to be doing” and it allows me to take emotion out of it, and it gives Alex something outside our relationship to focus on. It’s just nice to have an expert in the room to mediate things that we’re inequipped to do on our own, and Relish’s lessons and especially those Field Guides that help us structure conversations or give us templates are really useful and transformational.

One of the tools I use the most is the XYZ statement – it’s made such a big difference in how I talk to Alex and it’s really improved how she hears me and what her experience is. I use it every day. When I got the lesson about winning, I realized how much I always try to win the arguments – and I also realized that she’s the one that always tries to smooth things over afterwards. So I made a conscious attempt to start doing that mid-fight, like taking my eyes off the goal of ‘winning,’ and trying to find common ground.

Another reason I found Relish is it’s obviously the New Year and I’m trying to make positive changes so I was really searching for tools to help me grow. The ironic thing is that Alex’s resolution was to be less snippy with each other and then the last month she’s been way more snippy with me. And I know we can turn it around and things are just hard but because I’m really sensitive those things make me feel like such a failure. When Relish’s New Year’s Lesson came out called “Say No To New Years Resolutions” I actually shared it on Facebook because I have so many friends that get really excited on January 1st and buy all these things and make all these goals and then, like, the article said by February, like 80% of us feel like ‘failures’ and that’s just not how I want to feel anymore. I get so, so down on myself when I feel like I’m not living up to expectations – even if they’re my own. So when I saw that article it was just like a breath of fresh air and it made me so positive and laugh so hard and it just gave me this new perspective of like: “Do your best. Life isn’t perfect. Laugh it off, who cares.”

The other night we went on a date night, and we usually only do them one time a month, and she said something that set me off and I could feel myself starting to get really emotional – but I just stepped back from the situation and said “I can feel myself getting really upset. I’m going to take a minute and collect my thoughts so we can keep talking about this,” and I went into the bathroom and read the Relish Field Guide about how to not lose your sh*t in an argument and I laughed a little and took some deep breaths and I came back in the room and said “Okay I’m ready to talk now.” And we talked without anyone getting upset and resolved the issue really quickly and later she told me that was the first time in our relationship she’s ever seen me do that self-control behavior. I just felt so proud of myself and so mature because I was able to do something really small, but it upset years of a really powerful impulse, and it was the difference between a completely ruined evening and a totally salvaged, wonderful date night.

I think this tool is going to make us way better mothers to our sons, who are 2 so they don’t talk a ton yet but I’m hoping by the time they do – our communication will be so much better and it will set the best example for them.