Building healthy habits podcast notes

This week Lesley, the voice of all women, welcomed the wives to the podcast.  Megan (Chad’s wife), Jilane (Jack’s wife) and Sandy (Jonathan’s wife)  Besides making fun of the boys, there was some great information about how to build healthy habits in your life

What is a Habit?

Habit –

“are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously” – according to Wikipedia
“a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance” – Meriam-Webster Dictionary
“a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition” – the Free Dictionary
“something that you do often or regularly, often without thinking about it” – MacMillan Dictionary

How Do Habits Work?

First there is a trigger or cue (e.g. location, time of day, emotional state, thought, belief, other people or a pattern of behaviour)…
When confronted with the cue you do an activity
Following the activity you get a reward – then you get the reward you want (identify what reward is driving your habit – maybe what are you craving or averting?)
Habit could be as simple as every morning you walking into your bathroom- that’s your cue, brushing your teeth is the activity and the reward is your mouth feels better. Simple as that.
There are time based triggers, situationally based triggers, or even emotional based triggers (when I’m tired). What triggers you and when do those triggers usually happen.

The reason this matters is because a habit is something you’ve done so many times before that you don’t consciously think about it.  So it’s great if the habit is eating healthy, or making your bed or going to the gym. But it’s terrible if that means the habit is having too many drinks if you’re stressed.

We’ve been told that a habit can be formed and sustained in 21 days.

This came from a plastic surgeon, Maxwell Maltz, who published a book, “Psycho-Cybernetics” in the 60s. In it, he talked of his observations that amputees took on average only 21 days to adjust to the loss of a limb. He reasoned that the same must be true of all big changes and it must take 21 days to change a habit.

However, this isn’t totally accurate. A study by the University College London psychologist Phillippa Lally found that subjects trying to learn new habits such as eating fruit daily or exercising every day, took an average as 66 days before the behavior became automatic. In fact, it ranged from 18 days to 245 days.

We all have literally hundreds of habitual behaviors that we give very little thought to unless they are causing us some kind of difficulty, embarrassment or pain. A habit can be as innocuous as doing a daily crossword puzzle or as dangerous as an addiction. Most of our long-term relationships are riddled with habits—as in, we always do this or that this way or that way. But what happens when the relationship itself becomes habitual? Do we recognize the warning signs like we would if a nightly drink became two or three? Or do we mindlessly trudge on, mistaking habit for comfort?

There’s this guy. His name is John Gottman. And he is like the Michael Jordan of relationship research. Not only has he been studying intimate relationships for more than 40 years, but he practically invented the field. Gottman devised the process of “thin-slicing” relationships, a technique where he hooks couples up to all sorts of biometric devices and then records them having short conversations about their problems. Gottman then goes back and analyzes the conversation frame by frame looking at biometric data, body language tonality and specific words chosen. He then combines all of this data together to predict whether your marriage sucks or not.

His “thin-slicing” process boasts a staggering 91% success rate in predicting whether newly-wed couples will divorce within 10 years — a staggeringly high result for any psychological research.

the first thing Gottman says in almost all of his books is this: The idea that couples must communicate and resolve all of their problems is a myth.

In his research of thousands of happily married couples, some of whom have been married for 40+ years, he found time and again that most successful couples have persistent unresolved issues, unresolved issues that they’ve sometimes been fighting about for decades. Meanwhile many of the unsuccessful couples insisted on resolving everything because they believed that there should be a void of disagreement between them. Pretty soon there was a void of a relationship too. Successful couples accept and understand that some conflict is inevitable, that there will always be certain things they don’t like about their partners or things they don’t agree with, and that this is fine. You shouldn’t need to feel the need to change somebody in order to love them. And you shouldn’t let some disagreements get in the way of what is otherwise a happy and healthy relationship. The truth is, trying to resolve a conflict can sometimes create more problems than it fixes. Some battles are simply not worth fighting.


Constructive confrontation- a habit of saying “your energy feels weird” when something feels off in your relationship and then you have the opportunity to talk about what is going on.  When you said this, I didn’t feel supported, or when you did this my feelings were hurt.  The trigger is something was said or done that rubbed someone the wrong way, the activity is that you approach your partner and discuss it right away, and the reward is the conflict is resolved, feelings don’t fester, etc. Opportunity to get ahead of problems before they become bigger problems.

Frontloading- Telling your spouse ahead of time what is going to happen so they feel prepared.  An opportunity to plan ahead of time what the day or week is going to look like. Especially if you know your spouse is triggered by something- unexpected carpool, changes in routine, etc. Be intentional about identifying those things ahead of time so that they can show up as a better version of themselves. If you know you are coming into a busy season with extra nights out or your spouse is going to be out of town, or family members have been sick, frontloading gives you the opportunity to get ahead of a busy season or time in life so that you are not surprised and you can show up better.

Plan for dating and intimacy- Life gets busy, nothing new. Nothing indicates your priorities better than your schedule. Make sure your spouse is truly a priority by making time for them on your calendar. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you stop dating each other and being romantic. Hire a babysitter and go out on a date. Just be a couple in love. And make sure to do this at least a few times a month.

Live beneath your means – Finances are one of the biggest problem areas for marriages. This isn’t because money itself is problematic, but rather because of how it’s managed. Overspending is a huge problem in our culture, and consumer debt is out of control. We must be good stewards of our finances, according to God’s principles, or risk causing disorder and chaos in this area of our lives and marriages. Create habits of living beneath your means by discussing what your budget is and how purchasing decisions will be made.. Seek agreement on what’s most important so you can filter out unwise purchases. If you’re perpetually short on money and you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, something has to change. Consider what you can trim out of your budget (expensive car? cable TV?).

Find ways to enjoy each other and have fun- create inside jokes, have some special habit or routine, a funny joke, etc. Learn to love and appreciate each other for the simple things that is special just between the two of you. Having fun together is a big deal. Think back on your favorite memories with your spouse. Likely, many of them involve laughter or just being silly. Laughing and having a genuinely good time with your spouse fuels connection.


When one partner is struggling the other one gets brought down too. Inevitably, you will go through a bad season or day or week, etc. If one person is in that mode and is exhausted or grumpy or is eating unhealthy, the other person should try to bring their partner back up to their level.  We don’t want both people to be in the valley together.

Addiction to anything. Addiction on any level – social media, food, alcohol, drugs, shopping or gambling – can sour a marriage fast. “Your addiction quickly becomes a third party in your marriage,” says Lisa Bahar, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Newport Beach, Calif.  So stop, and think about what you really value and how your addictive behavior is affecting your relationship, Bahar recommends. “Exploring your values will help you gain the determination to do the hard work to repair your marriage.” Addictions are powerful. You must first want help and then pursue counseling. “Once you are on the road to recovery, you’ll be in a position to work on your marriage,” Bahar says. An over-reliance on social media also puts a crimp on your time together as a couple. “Don’t let your phone seduce you into neglecting your partner.”
Treating your husband like the enemy Having a bad day? That’s not a good excuse for picking a fight. When you’re cranky and out of sorts, it’s your responsibility to be aware of that and ask for some extra space, or find a way to take care of yourself. Let your partner know it’s a difficult day – he may step up and be more thoughtful and considerate than usual. But if you’re always cranky, take a look at your lifestyle, and figure out what you need to improve. Don’t dismiss what your spouse says, either through body language or verbally – like the eye roll that lets your husband know you don’t respect him,