Episode 235 – Coaching Changed our Marriage


In this special episode, I spoke with Maddie and Matt. I have been coaching Maddie for a little over a year now. We talked about what my coaching program is and what it isn’t. We talked about how Maddie being coached has changed not only her relationship with her husband Matt, but also with her kids and other relationships in her life. Matt talked about how even though he doesn’t get coached directly, he has learned the tools right alongside Maddie and he has been able to become more like the person he wants to be. If you have ever wondered if my Embrace You Elite Society membership is right for you, this is the podcast to listen to!


Show Notes:

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Show Summary:

Amanda: Hello everyone. Welcome to the podcast today. I am so excited to share this interview with you. I just wanted to let you know that the Women’s Retreat is now sold out. So if you were hoping to come, I’m so sorry you missed your chance, but please make sure that you sign up for the wait list by going to amandalouder.com/retreat/ and you can sign up for the wait list and make sure that you are informed first when new retreats open up. All right, let’s get to our interview. 

Welcome to the podcast everyone. So happy to be back with you today. I have a really awesome podcast for you today with a couple of my favorite people. Matt and Maddie are here with us today. Maddie has been my client for over a year, and we wanted to share their story with you. 

So welcome Matt and Maddie. 

Maddie: Thanks, Amanda. We’re excited to be here. 

Amanda: So let’s start out by you guys telling us your story and what brought you to coaching. 

Maddie: So I was introduced to your podcast by my mother-in-law, and I started listening to it and I thought it was really good information and I was finding ways to apply it on a very surface level.

And then I was dealing with some stuff with my parents and it was triggering a lot of things with my relationship. So, I guess the biggest reason that I got into coaching was because pornography had come up in our relationship and I didn’t quite know how to handle it just based on conditioning that I had received growing up and from the church and stuff like that, I had this very black and white perspective of pornography and I didn’t know how to deal with it. 

Amanda: So maybe tell us a little bit more about how it was coming up in your relationship and what the problems that it was causing. 

Maddie: Like I said, I had a really black and white perspective of it. Matt has a history of looking at pornography and I knew this when we got married and I was basically told that if it becomes a problem that I just need to get up and run. I don’t need to stick around and work it out. I just need to get up and run.

As it was coming up, it was causing a lot of disconnect, obviously, because I thought it meant that he would rather be with these women that he saw in pornography rather than me, or while he was with me, he was thinking about these other women, or I just felt the need to compete with these women that I was assuming that he was looking at in pornography, and I just didn’t ever feel like I could measure up.

So it was creating a lot of not feeling like I was enough, and it was creating a lot of disconnect between the two of us. 

Amanda: Matt, how did you see what was happening from your perspective? 

Matt: So kind of like what she said it was very early on in our marriage where she kind of gave me an ultimatum of if you look at pornography again, I’m gone. For me saying that drove me to pornography more almost. I started hiding it because I’m like, Okay, she finds out, she’s gone. I’m alone now. And especially as members of the church, it’s like you don’t get divorced. You get married forever. And so again, after that I was doing it in secret and thinking, Oh, is she really going to catch me and is she really going to leave me?

It was very scary to me because having that ultimatum, it was just very devastating to hear that. 

Amanda: Yeah. So tell me Matt, when did the pornography viewing for you start and what would bring you to pornography even once you were married? 

Matt: I actually started viewing it when I was very, very young. I think I was five or six years old when I started watching it daily, not just every once in a while. I kept that up until I got baptized and then I didn’t view it for a couple years. But then after that I viewed it fairly regularly most of my childhood.

And then what was the other question? 

Amanda: Once you got married, what prompted you to turn to pornography? 

Matt: Through coaching, I’ve come to realize, I’m the youngest in a big family, that I used viewing pornography as a way to get validation. It made me happy.

I was often in the shadow of my brothers and sisters and I had a hard time measuring up. 

Amanda: So feeling inadequate I felt inadequate, feeling like you just wanted to be happy when you weren’t feeling happy. Then you could turn to it to feel better about things.

Matt: Yep. Just having the kind of the synthetic happiness that pornography provides. I can be happy for an instant, but then of course, you kind of feel like crap afterwards. Especially having that shame and guilt and all that kind of stuff roll into it. And so, it was just kind of looking for that synthetic happiness just to be happy for a little bit.

Amanda: Okay. So talk to me a little bit more about the disconnect that it was creating between the two of you. 

Maddie: I remember after Matt had viewed it, we would talk about it. Either I would ask or he would tell me, and that he had looked at it and I almost felt that I needed to punish him in a way. I would withdraw because I just didn’t feel like I wanted to connect with him. 

And then I kind of felt like I needed to, like I said, punish him in a way, and like withdraw for a couple days and I wouldn’t have sex with him. I would feel really self-conscious having him look at me because I would think, Oh, maybe he’s thinking of other women, you know? 

Amanda: Pretty common thought. 

Maddie: Common thoughts. And obviously those things don’t create a mental or emotional connection. And I didn’t realize before coaching what was causing the issue? Right. I thought the issue was he just wanted to have more sex and so I just made his pornography problem mean something that I was doing wrong. 

Amanda: So you decided to come into coaching? Tell me about that. 

Maddie: So I remember our first conversation. I was sitting on my bed looking out the window and we were on the phone and I was telling you what was going on. And I fully expected you to be like, Yeah, you have a right to be angry. And your question to me was, What if pornography doesn’t have to be bad? And that just, Oh man, that just stuck with me.

It just blew my mind. I never considered pornography to not be a bad thing before. 

Amanda: Okay. So let’s clarify a little bit. People will hear that and think, Oh, Amanda’s for pornography, she thinks that pornography is great. That’s not what we’re saying here. But does it have to be such a horrible thing to disconnect you from your spouse?

Maddie: Absolutely not. I think as we’ve gone into coaching and as we have discovered the real reason that Matt has used pornography, then it becomes more of a connecting thing because he’s missing connections somewhere else. 

Amanda: Tell me about that, Matt. So when she is willing to feel more connected to you, even if you view, how did that translate to you? 

Matt: Really that made me feel more loved because every time in the past when I would look at it and tell someone like a bishop, it was just punishment, punishment, punishment, punishment. Like for any time you’d look at it.

Shortly after we were married, a bishop said something that was very comforting to me. I had viewed pornography and he said, You need to feel the Spirit. You need to go to the temple this week. And I had never heard that in my life. 

And I’m like, Well, no. You’re supposed to give me a punishment. I’m supposed to be punished for this. I’m not supposed to be feeling good. Like, what are you doing? Technically it almost feels like you’re giving me a reward.

And so, when Maddie started saying, Okay, you looked at pornography, is there anything I can help you with? Just very loving. Instead of, You looked at pornography, shame on you, go to the corner and feel bad about this. 

Amanda: So, the next time he looked at pornography and you approached it differently, what happened? 

Maddie: It was an interesting experience because like I said, I’d always been programmed to think that you should get punished, right? No, sex for you. And I don’t know that I was necessarily ready to like jump his bones per se, but I mean, at the same time it was easy for me or it was interesting to look at him in a different way. That there was something underneath that I was missing and that I didn’t understand. And so I think I started looking at it and when we would talk, I would look at it as an opportunity to learn something from him on a deeper level that I had missed before. 

So I remember that either I found out or he would tell me, he probably told me, he always would, and I just thought, Okay, I didn’t like it. I don’t love it. But there’s a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.

Matt: I remember one of the times, she had listened to your podcast and was through the program and everything, she was said, Okay, well let’s dig deeper. Why did you look at it? What were you feeling before you looked at it?

And I’m saying, You know, I think it was that I did something great and it wasn’t acknowledged. 

That’s when I started to realize that I was using pornography as validation and having that feel good moment when I wanted to feel good. 

Like, yes, I did this great thing and no one acknowledged it, so I’m going to go feel good by myself. But when she started digging deeper, that’s when I kind of started learning myself with the coaching. It’s not just because I wanted to go look at pornography and just look women. It’s because I’m trying to run away and trying to buffer these feelings that I don’t want, these uncomfortable feelings that I don’t want to be feeling at the time. 

Maddie: And I think another aspect that we realized was that, Matt’s a business owner and so he’s working long hours doing working on lawns and everything else he does. And then he would come home and we have two little kids and a lot of balls to juggle all at once. He’s got his marriage, he’s got church callings, he’s got his business, he’s got his children, all these different balls that he’s juggling. And then whenever he would feel like he was dropping one of those balls, we noticed that was when the pornography would come into play.

And so when he was feeling like he wasn’t enough in our family or in his business, or he was dropping a ball somewhere, is when pornography came up and understanding that, it made it a lot easier for me to be understanding. 

Amanda: Yeah. So Matt wasn’t getting coaching, it was just you, but by you showing up differently because of the coaching, it changed the system. It changed the dynamic in your relationship, which changed the way he was behaving, not because he was getting coaching, but just because it was a shift in the dynamic and how you were showing up. 

So tell me what things are like now with specifically the pornography issue.

Maddie: It doesn’t really come up. I don’t feel the need to ask him every day. I don’t feel the need to because as much as I love him, it’s not necessarily about me, and – saying it’s not my problem sounds very disconnected and very insensitive. I’m here to help him and I’m here to support him, but it’s also something that he has to work out. 

Matt: Well, and I remember actually, she’s kind of said those words too, like it’s not my problem. You know, when I first heard that, I’m like, Well yes, it’s my problem, but I want your help! But really again, just with learning the model with coaching and the context filter and just everything that goes along with it, I realize that it’s up to me if I want to change. Maddie can be the best wife. She can cook, clean, take care of the kids and have lots and lots of sex every single night. She can do everything perfect, but it’s still me. It’s still my choice. She can’t change who I am. What we’ve learned through coaching is that you can only change you and you can change up how you show up.

And so her changing herself through coaching has made me a bit envious. I think, You’ve made so much progress. I want to do coaching. I want to get to that point because I’ve seen the progress that she’s made.

Because she’s gone through a lot in the past year. Her grandmother died. Her mother died. And she’s gone through all that, and dealing with me . She’s gone through so much and seeing how, going through some of those super hard things because it hasn’t been all calm days, and it’s not like she’s been a robot about it, she’s felt it. But with coaching, she’s learned to embrace those feelings and let them sit and be comfortable with being uncomfortable even with me or with herself or someone else. I want eventually get to that point where I see her and where I see others that go through coaching.

So it makes me want to become better because again, we’re all not perfect. With me with the pornography, there’s hope and that’s the best thing to see that hope instead of just kind of get slapped and gets sent to the corner.

Amanda: When you were a kid, you were watching it pretty much daily, took a break for a couple years, then was pretty much daily again. And then in your marriage, how much was it happening before coaching? 

Matt: So, I probably would say I stopped for my mission and when I came back, I did have a big problem with it. I viewed it every once in a while again, when I was feeling down or not enough and stuff like that. When we got married, I would say average over the first years of marriage, probably maybe once or twice a month or every other month. Sometimes there’s good spurts, sometimes there’s bad spurts.

A lot of those times I kind of kept hidden because of that ultimatum. I would think, Oh, she can’t know this. But again, when she was going through coaching and she’d say, “Well, if you do it, I’m not gonna punish you for it, but I do also want to understand. That’s what helped me overcome and start working on myself because I’m like, again, I can only work on myself.

Amanda: So, how much would you say it’s an issue for you nowadays? 

Matt: I wouldn’t say I’m perfect, it comes up every once in a while, but then I can come to her and say, I viewed pornography and it opens up a discussion and I’m more willing to talk to her about it because I know she’s not going to think I’m horrible and I need to go to the corner and be punished. But she’s like, Okay was it something I did or was it the fight with your client or how you broke the mower or how the tractor broke or something else? That’s probably why you did it, right? 

And I’m like, Well, yeah, because that led to this and this and this. And so it opens that conversation when I feel like she won’t push me away if I came to her and said I looked at it.

Amanda: Okay. So things on that front are going better. Tell me about sex.

Maddie: I feel like definitely since beginning coaching our sex life has been so much better. 

Amanda: Matt’s like pointing to the ceiling. 

Matt: Amazing. 

Amanda: Oh gosh. 

Maddie: It’s been so much more fun I guess just like less pressure, I don’t know. It’s just been more fun to experiment with different things and I just feel like there’s just not as much pressure, I suppose, in my mind. I don’t feel like I have to do it to keep him from looking at pornography. So I just feel like there’s more freedom in that realm, but then it’s just been so good for us to be able to connect on that level in a much deeper way than we ever did before. I think mainly because I was out of my own head, and I was able to connect more with him. 

Matt: With coaching, I was able to get closer to her. Not just in a physical sense but being able to open up to her and her accepting me like no one else ever has. With her accepting me emotionally, spiritually and all that kind of stuff, the bedroom became so much more pleasurable. I remember when I would hear the phrase making love, and I would think, Okay, they just had sex, but, though we’re still progressing with coaching and everything, but after coaching, you know each other on such a deeper level. Sex and intercourse is so much more pleasurable and a whole different experience. 

I used to see pornography, quick orgasm, boom, done. But now sex is so much more fulfilling and so much more pleasurable than anything.

Amanda: Would you agree Maddie? 

Maddie: Yeah, it’s all of that for sure. It took sex from being, it wasn’t necessarily a one and done type thing, but it’s just created a lot more of connection. And again, like I said, it just helped me get out of my own head. To be able to accept a part of Matt that had previously been seen as a dark side of Matt or something like that that is now a side of him that I can embrace and that I can love, even though I don’t necessarily love the concept of pornography, but I can still accept this part of him and that he’s still growing and learning and you know we all are, and that it’s a part of him that I can still love and embrace.

Amanda: Yeah, I’m glad that you clarified that because sometimes when we say, Well, I accept this, we think, Oh, I accept the pornography. It’s not that you accept the pornography or you like the pornography, but you accept him even when he struggles with this, creating more intimacy between the two of you. 

Matt: And I kind of feel that with society nowadays, that it’s all or nothing. If I accept you, I accept all of you, like all your weaknesses, so even if you, like for me, looked at pornography or, if someone did drugs or all that kind of stuff, you don’t have to accept every single thing of that person, but society wants us to feel that way.

But again, with coaching, it’s like, and I feel it’s similar to with the Savior, love the sinner, not the sin. 

Amanda: Okay, so tell me what your, this is more to Maddie, but tell me what your experience has been like in coaching and specifically the membership. 

Maddie: I have grown so much in the last year. It’s been fun listening to coaching calls. I get on most every single coaching call now, even if I don’t get coached. And it’s fun listening to other people’s issues that they’re having, whether with themselves or with their marriage or whatever. It’s been nice to see those things because number one, it helps validate the issues that you have with yourself, right? Being in the membership doesn’t make me feel so alone. I think a lot of times in general, just talking about sex, it’s very hush hush. Let’s not talk about things. But I love the group aspect of it because we do talk openly about it, and I don’t feel so alone in my issues. 

Amanda: But you had some reservations about being coached in front of a group? 

Maddie: Yes! In the first 12 weeks, it was just three of us. And you know, the first couple times it was a little nerve-wracking. I was a little scared about what to talk about. But then getting into the membership where there were a lot more people, especially since I didn’t know any of these people. I remember my first call and I was shaking before getting on. I’m like, Oh my gosh, this is gonna be horrible. Or just talking about more intimate and personal things just felt so scary. But I mean, every once in a while you’d see messages pop up saying, you’re doing so great, or just encouraging me. I don’t know. I just found so much strength from group coaching as opposed to one-on-one.

I think it made sex in all of its realms more of an open topic to talk about because you’re talking about it with a bunch of other people, even though it’s just one on one with you, but you hear other people talking about it and they hear you. 

Amanda: Matt, what were your reservations about her being in front of a group talking about it?

Matt: Well, one – they’re gonna talk about my sex life. But girls do that anyway, so…but I was kind of like, well, I want Maddie to have one-on-one coaching, like she deserves coaching. And with a group setting, is she really going to have one on one time and all that kind of stuff.

But with the coaching how it is, you come on and you coach one person at a time. I would occasionally hear the podcast with the group coaching and everything…. 

Amanda: So we have a private podcast within the membership. That’s what he’s referring to.

Matt: Yeah. I would hear that and I think a group coaching session is so much better because you might not think you have a problem with something, or you might not ask a question because you think, Oh, I’m good in that realm. But then someone else brings that up and then you coach them through that and then you think, Oh, I never knew that I was actually having that problem with either parenting or with a spouse or something else. And so essentially instead of having one on one coaching, you’re almost having like five on one coaching. You get like five different perspectives on coaching. And sometimes, like again, I’ve listened to all of them and I kind of go back through and maybe I’m going through something with the kids or we’re going through something and I hear someone else get coached. And I think, That’s exactly what we’re going through. And I hear how you coach them, and how you get them through it, and it’s like, Okay, I’ll try that.

And so group coaching is so much better than just one on one. 

Amanda: And we do offer one-on-one coaching within the membership. You can pay for private coaching, but there is so much value as you’re saying, through hearing other people’s stories, their issues, their perspectives. And you know, you may not have the exact same issue, but you’re like, Oh yeah, I do that same thing in this way and you can apply it to yourself because we all kind of do the same things.

Matt: And I remember that we were having, not a problem, just like a dilemma with one of our kids of just how to handle their tantrums all the time, like, how do you do this? And I heard someone getting coached and Maddie heard it too. And we’re like, that’s what we need to do with our daughter and it’s worked out. 

Amanda: So we don’t just coach on sex. 

Maddie: Correct. Yes. I’ve gotten coached on sex, on a relationship with my parents, on relationships with my children, which is also very important to me. There’s definitely lots of areas to be coached on. And I think the good thing about coaching, especially in this context, is that it applies to every single aspect of your life. So it’s definitely not just a sexual coaching experience, but I’ve definitely felt strengthened in a lot of different areas of my life because of coaching and because of the concepts and the things that I’ve learned through coaching. 

Amanda: Okay, so as we’re recording this, we’re here at the Couples Retreat in St. George, Utah. Matt and Mattie are here with me. We’re actually doing this interview in person, which is so fun because I love to meet my clients in person. When Maddie showed up, it was a huge hug. We were both kind of teary I think because it becomes such a great experience coaching my clients, especially when they coach with me for as long as Maddie has, because sometimes, my clients are like, Okay, I fixed this and I’m good. But as I think, Matt and Maddie, you guys notice there’s always more to be worked on. Right? 

So talk to me a little bit about that, and maybe even what you’ve been learning here at the Couples Retreat. 

Maddie: So as you were presenting either last night or today, I can’t remember which, I was standing up and I was listening to you speak and I, again, I just got kind of emotional and I was just thinking how grateful I have been to this particular program because it, not that our marriage was in a bad place and that divorce has ever been on the table, but I do feel like in a sense it has saved our marriage. I think it saved us from so many horrible toxic paths that we could have gone down had we not known the difference. 

And I really do feel like the things that we’ve learned in coaching, even if we were to be done now, then we would be in a good place. However, being at the Retreat, I didn’t come into this thinking like, Oh, I know everything that they’re talking about because I’ve already been working with Amanda, right? I did not come into this with that kind of attitude at all. But I have been very aware of so many more things that I have to improve on to better our relationship and better our marriage. 

Amanda: Not because it’s bad, but just because there’s always room to grow.

Maddie: Yes. Good, better, best. I don’t want to be just good. 

Amanda: There’s always more room for us to make improvements, to change, to grow and excel. 

Matt, you were saying something to me when we were talking earlier today about where you could have possibly been in 10 years from now had you guys not gone through this process. 

Matt: Yeah. It was in between one of the breaks of the sessions and we were just talking and we’re saying, Could you imagine our life two years ago or a year ago when we started coaching, but even two years before that?’ But looking into the future, where would be now without coaching, where would we be 10, 20 years without coaching? And, we just kind of looked at ourselves and we can’t imagine ourselves without coaching. After going through coaching, it permanently puts the ball in your court. You can improve yourself and you’re always able to grow and to get better. And so just having that opportunity of, again we’ve only been a year in the coaching program, I think we’re going to be coaching for as long as we live. I feel like that. I feel everyone should have a coach regardless because it just gives you more power to be able to become the person that we all really want to be.

Some people say, Oh yeah, I want to be this kind of a person, but they never change their life. But with coaching, you’re able to make that change. You’re able to become the person you want to be. We looked at ourselves in 10 or 20 years after coaching and think, Oh, we’re going to be having some fun.

Maddie: Yeah. And kind of piggybacking off of what Matt was saying, I’ve really felt like coaching with you and with the program has really given us the tools to know how to apply the things that you talk about on your podcasts or with coaching. It gives us the tools to know how to be in control of the life that we want to create.

Before coaching, I felt like life would happen to me and I would react. And I didn’t necessarily like the way I showed up most of the time. I’ve become very grateful, I suppose, for the, I say power, but I feel really grateful for the knowledge that I have. I do have control over a lot of aspects of my life just by changing the way that I think about things. And I can choose to change that if I want to. If I want to change the way I think about a certain situation, I can. I don’t have to. Right? It just 100% puts the ball in your court. Crappy things happen all the time, but it doesn’t have to be, you know? 

Amanda: Yeah. Okay, so any final words before we end tonight? 

Maddie: I think that coaching has been the best investment that we’ve ever made into our relationship. Maybe we had to sacrifice a couple of date nights or we had to sacrifice eating out as a family during the week or something like that but it has been one of the absolute biggest blessings to our marriage, and we’re being better examples for our children. If nothing else, hopefully our children see a healthier relationship between their parents.

And I think if we can keep creating healthy relationships out there, eventually, hopefully we’ll have tons more healthy relationships. But no, it’s just been the best blessing for our family and for our relationship just to have gone through this program and to make the sacrifice. It’s work. It is a lot of work. I know there have been several times over the last year where going through the 12 weeks or going through the program, I realize there’s something ugly about myself that I don’t necessarily love, that I want to change. And I now have the tools to know how to change that. There have been many times where I’ve sat myself down and I’ve cried just because the work is hard and a lot of the times it feels lonely because maybe your friends don’t understand.

In this case, Matt understood for the most part what work it required, but a lot of people don’t understand the amount of work that it takes to better yourself. And, so in that aspect it’s hard, but it’s so worth it. It’s so worth it because this relationship you carry into eternity and you want it to be the best kind of relationship that it can be. You don’t just want to halfway do it and leave it up to chance, you know? And so doing coaching has really given us the tools to create this eternal marriage that we really want for ourselves. 

Matt: Definitely worth it. I remember when we were talking about should we invest the money and all that kind of stuff. Looking back, I kind of want to pay for someone else to go through it because, and this is kind of maybe cheesy in my mind, but it’s kind of like the fruit of the tree with Lehi in the Book of Mormon. He wanted his family to partake because he knew it was so good. This makes me so happy. That’s kind of with us, we’ve told our family, our friends to go through coaching. It is 1) definitely worth it. But then 2) it’s not going to be easy. It’s not easy, but it is so worth it. 

Amanda: So worth your time. Worth the money. Worth working for.

Matt: Worth everything. 

Amanda: Thank you guys so much for being here with me tonight.

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