In this episode, I am talking to my friend and mentor, Aimée Gianni, about how to have a covenant marriage. So often we stay in our broken marriages because we made a covenant. But what if doing that is actually breaking your covenant?
Aimée offers some amazing things to think about if we are at the point where we are thinking about divorce. Even if we’re happy in your marriage, her advice can help us progress along the path.
You can find Aimée Gianni at:
Amanda Louder: All right, let’s get to today’s interview. Often we think we are keeping our covenants by staying in a hard marriage, and maybe we are. But what if leaving a marriage is actually the thing that is keeping your covenants?
Today I have my good friend and mentor, Aimée Gianni on the podcast. Aimée was the coach who originally trained me at the Life Coach school. I also recently went through her advanced certification in relationship coaching. Aimée is a master certified coach instructor, as well as a marriage and family therapist, and with more than 20 years of experience in helping clients have more intimate and connected marriages, I am so excited to have a conversation with her today.
So welcome to the podcast, Aimée.
Aimée Gianni: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Amanda: So we talk all the time, right? And you were recently telling me about how you spoke in Stake Conference on covenants and some of the things that you learned about covenants yourself and insights that you had about that. So I would love to just get started and talk about some of the insights you gained about covenants and relationships and maybe even like feeling stuck in your marriage with those covenants.
Aimée: Yes. Love it. Let’s do it.
Amanda: Okay. So I think a lot of times we think that we are keeping our covenants by staying in marriages, even marriages that are bad or hard or you know, where we’re just really not progressing together. Tell me what you think about that and what you kind of some of the insights that you gained with that.
Aimée: Yeah. When you give a talk on something and you study it, you always learn so much more, I think, than anybody listening to the talk, right? So it was such a good experience for me to do that personally and professionally, right? Because I work with people and their marriages all the time, and so, it was interesting because I wrote my talk and I gave my talk, but then afterwards it was really pondering on the experience of it where I had all of these insights that I feel like apply them to my clients.
Like you said, sometimes we think, oh, the way we keep our covenants is by staying married and if I leave my marriage, I’m breaking my covenants. And I just don’t believe that at all because I think staying in a dead marriage is not keeping your covenants, right? Because covenants are all about progression, right? Covenants are how we become more like Jesus Christ. And it’s how we become closer to Jesus Christ. And it’s how we get back to live with Jesus Christ again. And so if we’re in a situation that is stagnant and there’s no progression, I really don’t think that that’s keeping your covenants. It’s our responsibility to put ourselves in situations where we can progress because covenants are about progression.
Amanda: I love that because that’s really, I mean, like you said, it’s what it’s all about. And so when you say staying in a dead marriage, how would you define that? What does a dead marriage mean?
Aimée: Yeah, so, I just so happened to do sealings last night,
Amanda: As did I, although we didn’t do them together.
Aimée: Right, I know. And we didn’t even plan it that way, but I was like, that was actually really good timing to do that right before this podcast. And I was really listening and paying attention to the covenants. And it talks about cleaving, counseling, and laboring together. And I love thinking about those three things because cleaving together, right? We know that that means that you join, you stick together, you glue together. Now, it doesn’t mean you lose yourself in your marriage. Right?
Aimée: Sometimes that happens, that enmeshment where you just become fused with this other person. So, when I think about cleaving, I think about staying your own individual person, each of you, but yet joining together and being glued together, cleaving to each other, right? Putting together as the priority. And so I think anytime, you know, if there’s not cleaving, counseling, and laboring, that’s when you want to take a really good look at it and say, okay, is this a marriage that’s progressing? Is this a covenant relationship here or not? Right? So you want to take a look at cleaving? Is there cleaving going on? A definition of that is to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly.
Amanda: Ooh, yeah. So good.
Aimée: We were thinking about it that way. And so we break that covenant by putting other people or things before our spouses, right? Whether it’s hobbies or other people or work. So I think that’s how we break that part of the covenant.
And that also makes me think about, just because something’s our number one priority doesn’t mean that it gets all of our time, right? I think sometimes we think, okay, well if my spouse is my number one priority, then does that mean I spend more time with them than on anything else? Okay. No. There might be days where you only spend a couple hours with your spouse. And so, but it’s, where’s your heart and where’s your mind, where’s your priority? Right? You may spend way more time at. on any given day than you do with your spouse, and that’s okay. But priority to me is more of like a mental, emotional connection. Anyway, sorry. I know I’m kind of going off on this, but what…
Amanda: No, I think that’s important. Yes. I think that’s important because we need to break down all of these pieces to really look at the whole picture.
Aimée: Yes. And I think also when you’re thinking about, you know, a dead marriage, I think struggle that leads to progression is part of the plan. Like we’re supposed to struggle.
Right. We don’t, we don’t gain, or progress without struggle. So that type of struggle we’re supposed to have, but the kind of struggle that’s just beating your head against the wall and there’s no progression that comes from it, that kind of struggle is not part of the plan. I mean, yes, it’s part of our experience here. We’re going to go through that. Sure. And so it’s always tricky, right? Because how? Because then people are like, okay, well is this the kind of struggle where I’m beating my head against the wall? Or is there some kind of progression here? And sometimes you don’t know immediately, you almost have to give it some time, right, and look at it and say, where is this going? Is there progression here? Do I see possibility for progression? Or is this just stagnate.
Amanda: Yeah. So on last week’s podcast I talked to Crystal Hansen, who is also another student of yours and good friend to both of us. Right. And we talked about how conflict can actually create more intimacy if you are using it in the right ways. Right? And that’s that struggle, that’s helping you progress rather than struggle that’s keeping you stuck.
Aimée: Yes. Perfect example of that.
Amanda: Yeah. I think about a lot of mostly men that I hear from that their wives are unwilling to deal with their sexuality and anytime they want to bring up, because they want the marriage to progress in this way, and it’s met with anger and resistance and just shutting it down, shutting down the conversation, and most of them have, are reaching out to me. Like I’ve just gotten to the point where I just don’t bring it up anymore because it always ends in a fight. What would you say to that?
Aimée: Yeah. Ooh, I love that. So when I think about our covenants again, right? And this cleave, council, and labor, like we covenant to council with each other on things, right? And when we’re counseling, we’re working together. It’s sitting on the same side of the table. It’s where you can bring things up to each other and discuss it. It doesn’t mean you have to see it exactly the same, and we, you probably won’t see it exactly the same, but it’s covenanting that we are going to counsel together and problem solve together. And if something is an issue for my spouse, it needs to be important to me, not in the same way necessarily. Right? But if your spouse comes to you and says, Hey, sex is really important to me. I want to love you in this way. I want to engage with you in this way. Right? It’s my responsibility to say, okay, this is important to him. And so be because of that, I need to make the fact that it’s important to him, important to me.
Amanda: Yes. I love that. I think so many times we get so stuck in our own insecurities that we’re just unwilling to even face it. And that keeps us stuck in our marriages.
Aimée: Yes. Yeah. Right, right.
Amanda: And if we’re not willing to face those insecurities, we’re never going to progress individually. And we’re not going to progress as a couple either.
Aimée: Exactly, exactly. And that makes me think of, you know, I have this visual of Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden, right? And they’re going into the lone and dreary world and you know, I see them just look at each other like, all right, you ready? Let’s go. We got this. Right. Like face forward and off they go side by side.
Amanda: Yes, yes. Yeah. It’s like, it’s you and me. Let’s do this together. Let’s do this.
Aimée: Yeah. Knowing that, I mean, I don’t know what they knew or didn’t know, but I think, you know, I know them going forward, he’s going to have his own individual struggles. She’s going to have her individual struggles. And they’re going to have struggles together. And this is where I think about the labor part of the covenant. We covenant to labor together, right? Doing the work of life. So there’s like the physical labor of paying the bills and doing the laundry and
Amanda: Raising the kids and
Aimée: Right. There’s all of that. There’s also this emotional labor or this labor of progression, right? Because we need to progress spiritually, we need to progress emotionally, we need to progress physically, right? And sexually, I think all of those pieces, and we covenant to do that together. And so when one partner is not willing to look at something and it’s like, Nope, I’m just not looking at that. I’m not going to pay attention to that. I refuse. That really puts things in a stagnant place, right? There’s no progression there. And so, and it puts the other styles in a really difficult position because, then what? Right. If they’re trying to collaborate, if they’re trying to counsel and labor together, but their partner refuses, then they’re left to make decisions unilaterally. Right? And that’s the opposite of counseling together. Counseling together is when you come together and you come to something that you can both agree on, right? Making unilateral decisions, you’re just like off on your own. But when one partner kind of stonewalls or freezes the other, What’s the other one to do?
Amanda: Right? Right. And I think when we think about breaking covenants, I think there’s very, we often think of very overt ways that we break covenants, right? Like we have an affair, a partner has an affair, or you know, there’s some sort of behavior that is not conducive to the marriage relationship, but there’s also very covert ways. Ways that are just little sneaky and under the table, but it’s still breaking covenants.
Aimée: Yes. Yeah. And that’s that’s the stuff that’s hard for people to put their finger on, right? Because I’ll have people say like, you know, if it was a big thing, it would be easier to leave now. Would it be easier? No. It’s always a challenge.
Amanda: It’s always hard.
Aimée: Like saying, oh, if my spouse would just cheat on me, then it would be easy to leave. Okay. No, that would be terrible. Like, you know, so difficult.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, and I mean, when I was in the thick of it with my first husband, So there’s, I mean, I’ve talked about this on the podcast, there was lots of emotional abuse but that wasn’t visible. Right. And I mean, there were times where I was like, I wish you would just hit me, because then people might actually validate me wanting to leave. Which, I mean, I realize now, like I can validate myself in that. And that like, and eventually I, that’s what I did, is like, no, this isn’t okay and I’m done. But sometimes we want those, we want people and others and even ourselves to see those overt ways and we’re missing the covert ways that where the covenant keeping isn’t happening.
Aimée: Yes. Yeah, exactly. Because we want that. It makes it hard to own our choices. Right?
Amanda: Yeah, sometimes.
Aimée: I’m choosing this and it may, you know, people may not understand, but we think if there’s one of those big things, oh, well, it’ll help people understand why I’m choosing this.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah.
Aimée: So you get that validation. But you know, those covert, when I think about the covert ways that covenants are broken, it’s things like, you know, you mentioned emotional abuse.
It’s ignoring someone, it’s neglecting your partner. It’s stonewalling. It’s not nurturing them, it’s not caring for each other.
Amanda: And you, do you think it’s like, and it’s refusing to deal with your own issues?
Aimée: Absolutely. Yes. Refusing to deal with your own issues, I believe breaking your covenants.
Amanda: Yeah. And Right.
Aimée: because you come together. But we work together.
Amanda: I mean, I have so much compassion for that person, because I’m guessing there’s so much shame there that it’s so hard to deal with those things that are hard to look at. Like my compassion goes towards it and they still have to deal with it.
Aimée: Right. Exactly.
Amanda: So it’s not like, you know, you’re bad, you, it’s like, I get it. I totally get why you’re refusing to look at these things. And that’s still not okay, right?
Aimée: Yeah. To hold both of those at the same time.
So I think of an example of a runner because I used to run, right? Well, sometimes I still run. Not like I used to anyway, so I think about like, if you’re running a marathon, and, you get injured, you know, at mile, you know, 24, 25 or whatever, you’re probably going to keep running and kind of like hobble to the finish line so you can finish but then you want to get treated and repair your injury. Right? Let your body heal so that you can then run again. I mean, what are the other options? The other options are you just like, well, I’m just never going to run. Or it’s, well, I’ll just keep running, but on this broken leg that I have, or broken ankle, whatever. Right? And that’s not good because when you keep running on this broken ankle, like you’re going to compensate and it’s going to throw everything else out of whack, right? So I think when people have these issues, right, that’s like the injury, which we all have, we all have injuries from the way we were raised, just from life, life in general, like we are, we all are broken in different areas, right? So we can either just refuse to play and be like, no, I’m just not going to face it. Or you can heal it, or you can hobble along trying to have a connection with someone without healing yourself. But then there ends up being other problems in the relationship, right? Because you’re not aligned and you’re out of whack.
Amanda: Yeah. Yeah. And you talk about marriage being a system. And sometimes we hear things like, well, it only takes one to change a marriage. And I think, you know, and you’ve, and we’ve talked about this, in some ways that’s kind of true because it takes one person to change the system. But marriage really is about two people.
Aimée: It takes two for sure. So sometimes it drives me bananas when I hear people talking about, oh, you know, you’re, it just takes you, you know, you can, you can have a happy marriage without your spouse changing one single bit right now. Is that true? Yes, it can be, because like you said, right, it’s a system. So if one person starts doing something differently, it is going to change the system, and sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes that’s amazing, and it’s just, just the tweak that needed to happen, right? And we always need to start with yourself. Always.
Aimée: Whenever there’s an issue, we need to take a look. Okay, what am I contributing? Who am I being? How am I showing up? Once we clean up our side of the street, then if there’s still issues, then you hopefully you work together, right? A marriage, a relationship is two people by definition, right? That’s what a relationship is.
Aimée: It’s two people coming together and how they relate to each other, so it really does take two people.
Amanda: So if you have a partner who’s maybe doing some covert ways of breaking their covenants, what would your advice be?
Aimée: Yeah, so just like with everything, right? You’ve got to take a look at yourself like, how are you showing up? What is your role in this? Not that you’re responsible for your spouse’s behavior by any means, right? If you’re being emotionally abused, it’s not to say, you know, you take responsibility for their actions or what they’re doing or that it’s your fault or that you’re causing it. It’s not that at all. And I think sometimes people confuse that when we say start itself, right? People think, oh great, so everything’s just my fault. I’ve just created all of this. No, absolutely not.
Take a look at who you are. What are you contributing? What role are you playing? Clean up your side of the street. And then if it’s still there, then you have to have an honest conversation. You have to counsel together. Now counseling together assumes that the other, that your partner’s going to counsel with you. And they may not want to. But that’s when you then bring it up. Once you’ve cleaned up your side of the street, then you bring it up to the partner and you have a conversation and you counsel about it and hopefully they will counsel with you. And not that that’s going to be a beautiful process. It sounds beautiful like counsel together. It’s so lovely. Right?
Amanda: Yeah. It’s often not.
Aimée: Counseling together is not always beautiful. But you go through that process and it might be a struggle and it might take time, and it might, yeah, there might be that struggle, but it’s the struggle that leads to progression. Right? But if you engage in that conversation and there’s stonewalling or there’s just more of those covert things, and they’re unwilling to look at it, then you have a decision to make. And that people don’t want to face that, right?
Because we want to stay in our marriage and we want our spouse to be different. We just want both of those things. Right? Because people are like, well, no, of course I don’t want to leave my marriage. I want to stay here. Okay, well, do you want to stay here with this person?
Well, if they just change, yes.
Amanda: Right. But if they’re not willing to, do you still want to stay in that marriage?
Aimée: Yeah. And they’re like, well, I can probably just get them to change. You know, they won’t necessarily say that, but I, you know, that’s just kind of what the struggle that people go through. And it’s like, well, maybe if I just keep changing myself enough, if I just grow enough it’ll change the system enough that they will change and things will be different. And again, we want to engage in that process. I’m not suggesting that you just jumped ship early on. Right? That we have a process that goes on for days, weeks, months, years, but then at some point, yeah, you have a decision to make and then, and that’s a tough place to be. People don’t want to make that decision, but then it’s really about owning your choice of you know, what you’re choosing.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, and I think that’s an important piece too, is, and we’ve talked about this in some of our calls and stuff like that. Are you choosing your marriage or are you choosing not to get divorced?
Aimée: Right. Yeah. Right, right.
Amanda: And a lot of times, I mean, since we’re talking about covenants and stuff, I think sometimes people think, well, if I divorce then I’m breaking my covenants when actually, based on what we’ve talked about today and the insights that you had, you really felt like sometimes that is keeping your covenants because you are continuing to progress where you can’t continue to progress in that relationship. So while from the outside it might look like you’re actually breaking your covenants, what’s actually happening is you keeping your covenants. And staying in a marriage that’s not progressing where you can’t progress might actually be breaking your covenants.
Aimée: That was one of the big insights I had from giving that talk and really studying and praying about covenants. And so, and I love that you brought that up, like some people are just choosing to not get divorced, but that doesn’t mean they’re really choosing their spouse. And is that keeping your covenant, just choosing to not get divorced? Because I think our covenant is that we choose each other, right? It’s that cleaving we choose each other. And if you’re not doing that, are you keeping your covenants? And then there’s always the, well, we’re staying together for the kids.
Amanda: Which I think is the one of the worst things you can do.
Aimée: I know. I agree.
Amanda: I think that was one of the things that, like a lot of people brought up to me when I chose to get divorced was like, your kids are just going to be ruined you know, ever. And I’m like, actually, I don’t believe that because I think that modeling a good relationship is what I actually want for my kids and what is being modeled to them in this marriage is not a good relationship.
And maybe, you know, at that point I didn’t know that I would get remarried and be in a marriage where I could actually model a good relationship for them. But even modeling that, like I choose myself and I choose to be happy even if that means being single. Like a strong woman who loves herself, I think is a much better model than a marriage that isn’t working.
Aimée: Yeah, absolutely. I agree. Because I always say our nervous system memorizes our experience. Not necessarily what we’re told. So that’s why kids end up repeating patterns of what they learn in their home, even if you can say to your kids, you know, well, my marriage isn’t good, but you go have a better marriage. Here’s how to have a better marriage. Right? No. What are they going to do? They’re going to repeat their experience.
Amanda: Well, because unconsciously we look to solve the problems that we had. We’re looking for that missing piece, and what we end up doing is recreating it.
Aimée: Yeah. Yes. And so oftentimes, I think the very best thing you can do for your kids, if it’s one of these situations, again, I’m never suggesting you just jump ship, right? But the people that I talk to, I don’t ever see people leave their marriages on a whim. You know, some people talk about like, oh, people just quit on their marriages and they just leave. I’m like, not in my experience, not the people I’m talking to. They’re hanging in there for years and they struggle and they do therapy and they do coaching and they change, they agonize over it. They’re not just jumping ship.
But, anyway, I think that for kids, really paying attention to the example that you’re setting for them and what kind of environment you’re creating in the home. If you have a home that’s ice cold where parents aren’t talking together. That’s not a good, healthy place where the Spirit’s going to be, right?
Or if you have a home with lots of conflict where there’s constant fighting. Or if it’s going back and forth between ice cold and then bickering. That you want to pay attention to the environment you’re creating for your children. And again, not that you’ll ever create a perfect environment.
Amanda: No. I also don’t think it’s good for kids to see a parents who never have conflict because then they don’t know that their parents have conflict and they don’t know how to resolve it in a healthy way. Like if they’re just like, oh, my parents never fought, and then all of a sudden they’re divorced. Like it’s sweeping under the rug and avoiding conflict that also causes problems.
Aimée: Yes. That’s such a good point. Yeah, because kids need to see that yeah, marriage is work, right? It’s that labor that we commit to. So, and this is what it looks like. It looks like two people that don’t always agree and that sometimes have conflict with each other, but they also love each other and care about each other enough that they work together to solve it. Like seeing all of that is really important for kids, I think.
Amanda: Yeah. Okay. So I hear from some people that the marriage is really not going well. They feel like they’re doing everything that they can and it’s still not working, and yet they pray about it and they feel like they’re just not getting an answer.
Aimée: Right. Yes. Yeah. All the time.
Amanda: So what do you think, why do you think that is? Why do you think sometimes we don’t get that answer?
Aimée: Yeah. I think particularly with marriage, because it is such a big decision, I think it’s really a loving thing that God wants us to make our choice and own our choice. And so I don’t think we will get answers until we make a choice.
Amanda: Oh, yeah.
Aimée: Because we want to be able to say, I mean, because if you’re thinking about getting a divorce, you don’t really want to, right. We talked about how you want to stay, but you just want things to be different. Right? And so if you can say, Well, I worked on it and I worked about it and I prayed and God told me to leave my marriage, then we can kind of blame it on God or hand it to Him.
We want to have somebody to take responsibility for this. We want someone else to tell us we should get divorced, especially God. Because if He tells us, well then, hey, what was I to do? Of course, right?
And so while that would feel really good and be amazing, I don’t think it works that way. So I think you have to make a choice and then you go to get confirmation, but I’ve also seen clients that have made a choice and still haven’t really had a confirmation either way. And it wasn’t until they started taking steps forward in the direction that then piece by piece, they started getting answers, they started seeing miracles, they started having these little confirmations as they started moving. Because I think a lot of people stay stuck because they’re like, well, I’m waiting for God to tell me and He’s not. He might like, I think there are some cases where He, there’s some cases where He does..
Amanda: I know with my own experience, I mean, I went to the temple and I was like I can’t do this anymore and I need to go and, you know, so this is my decision. And I was told no and actually, I mean, I wasn’t told no, I was actually told now is not the time and you have more work to do. And, and that was my answer for eight years.
And I was like, okay, well tell me what work I need to do because I am going to do whatever it takes because I’m done. Right? And so for eight years I worked on myself. I was doing everything I could, I thought to save the marriage. And maybe it, I mean, he had agency all along the way as well. And, he was making the choice to continue in the behaviors that were not okay. Anyway, so, but I had done all this work to get myself to a place, and what I realized what such a great blessing that was is that when it was time, I had no regrets.
Aimée: Hmm. Yes.
Amanda: Like I didn’t have a millisecond where I said maybe I could have done more. Like I have owned that choice from that day forward and never looked back because I had worked on myself so much and gotten to this place of peace and love. Now that’s not to say like, I mean, I was still pretty messed up, to be honest. I was really struggling mentally at that point and stuff. But I had done everything I could for the marriage, I think, at that point. And so I was able to walk away cleanly.
Aimée: And what a beautiful gift God gave you in that, right?
Amanda: Yes, Absolutely.
Aimée: That’s a beautiful gift. And the way he gave that to you was that whole process.
Amanda: Yes. And I think, you know, and I’m not saying like, it was just because of that. Or, I mean, there’s so many things, but like I look back on that time, I’m like, why did I have to struggle for eight years doing that? Because that was, it was so long in that process. It was so long but I’m so grateful for it at the same time, but I know that there was things that I needed to do to get to the place where I could then move into a marriage that was healthy and good.
And it’s kind of funny, if you look back, the eight years that I was struggling were the exact eight years that my husband was married to his first wife. So my current husband was married to his first wife. And I think, you know, like we both had to be to a point where we were ready for each other. Not saying that everybody’s going to go through that or whatever, but I just know it was because of that work that I had to do on myself that I have that gift of being able to look back with no regrets, but I was in a place where I could move forward in a healthy marriage. And that was a beautiful blessing for me.
Aimée: Yeah. That is beautiful. I love that because there’s always growth for us, even in difficult situations.
Amanda: Yeah. Well in the most growth in those difficult situations.
Aimée: Yeah. And that’s that progression and growth, right? And as long as that’s there and you’re progressing, but then once you get to a point, where it stops, then you’re at this place, hopefully where you do have no regrets because you know you did everything that you can. And I think that’s a really important piece for people. If there’s something, like if you’re not sure or if you know you’re going to have regrets, like do what you can now, so that you know that you can walk away cleanly, you know, if you choose that.
Amanda: Yeah. And I think it’s coming to that peace. Right? I think peace comes through Christ, it comes through hopefulness for the future. It comes from not having those regrets, like knowing that you are doing what you said that you would do, knowing that you’re in a good place with your integrity. Like that’s when peace comes. And that’s when you can actually move forward.
Aimée: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, peace is our litmus test for truth. Right? And so, you know, we talk about how our, you know, we create our emotions with our thinking, which is absolutely true, but I also believe that God just speaks peace to our soul when we’ve hit on truth or when we’ve found, you know, the right thing for us to do in that moment, we will feel peace. It doesn’t mean that there won’t still be chaos going on around us
Amanda: No. Right. Yes.
Aimée: Or that it’s going to be easy. It’s not like, oh, I have no, you know, peaceful place if I know this is the right thing. No, it’s still going to be challenging. You’re still going to have all sorts of negative emotions, but at least you can hold onto that piece of really knowing that you’re happy with your choice.
Amanda: Yeah. And I liked what you said before where sometimes you have to start moving forward in order to get that and making choices. And I am a big believer in that, if you’re headed on the wrong path, the Lord will let you know.
Aimée: Yes. Absolutely.
Amanda: Right. So sometimes you have to start taking that action and moving into that space. And then it will either be confirmed or you’ll get very clear direction that the way you’re headed is not the right way.
I always think about that story that Elder Holland tells about how he and his son were driving into the desert and it got late. And so they decided to turn around and they got to a fork in the road and they didn’t know which way to go. And so they prayed about it and they both felt like they should go one way and they went like a mile down the road and it was a dead end. And so they turned back around and went the other way. And the son was like, dad, why do you think Heavenly father told us to go that way? And he’s like, because if we’d been going the other direction, we could have been going for hours and still not known if we were on the right path. So sometimes we have to take that wrong path in order to know what the right path is. And that takes moving forward and taking action.
Aimée: Mm-hmm. Moving forward. Yeah. Because, you know, God’s never going to take away our agency. He just won’t. So it’s us making a choice, taking steps forward. And then, you know, you’re right. If that’s the wrong way, He will let us know. He will redirect us. But if it’s not, and sometimes, sometimes I do think it is a choice. There’s not necessarily a right or a wrong, right?
Amanda: Yeah. Correct. Yeah. I mean, He lets us have those choices.
Aimée: Yes. And so I think sometimes if we’re asking, is this the right choice or the wrong choice, that’s not really the right question.
Amanda: The right question. Yeah. Right.
Aimée: It’s, is this a good choice for me? Is this a good direction for me to go? Right. Then when you make your choice and you own it, then you get this beautiful gift of Him walking alongside you. Because I can think of things like that in my life where I finally make a choice, and it’s mine and I own it. I’m not really sure if it’s right or not, but I’m like, here I go. Right? But then I have this beautiful gift of Him walking alongside me and supporting me and giving me those confirmations.
Amanda: Yeah. Well, and we make that choice then we’re moving forward, which is progression.
Amanda: Which is what our covenants are all about.
Aimée: Yes. Because even in the Elder Holland example, going down the wrong road, that was still progression. Right? Because he was getting to this answer of, okay, here’s the dead end. Right. That was progress because they didn’t know that before.
Amanda: Right. Absolutely. And that’s, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s progress, right?
So, well, you talked about how peace comes from, like also being in integrity with yourself. And what if there’s a situation where a person can stay and they can probably make it work, but they’re sacrificing much of what they want in order to do that. What do you think then?
Aimée: So I think that’s one of those situations where people struggle because it’s covert. It’s hard to put your finger on because what I hear you saying is they know how to like, yes, they can stay and they know how to make the relationship quote unquote work, right? But it’s from self-sacrifice and self-sacrifice is the near enemy to true love or boundary love. Boundary true love is where I can love me and you at the same time. And sometimes we think that self sacrifice is a good thing because we talk about of course we want to sacrifice for others. And marriage does require sacrifice from both people.
Aimée: But when one person has to give up what they care about or what’s important to them in order to keep the marriage going, that’s not sustainable. And it impedes progress, right?
Amanda: Yeah, for sure.
Aimée: We’re supposed to have desires. We’re supposed to want things. We’re supposed to be able to engage with our spouse and counsel and labor together. And if one person just has to put everything on hold in order to make the marriage work, that’s not keeping your covenants, in my opinion.
Amanda: Yeah, and I think we get the wrong picture of, well, we’re supposed to be nice. Right? And like you said, like marriage involves sacrifice.
Amanda: But when you’re really sacrificing and you’re out of integrity with yourself, that’s not working.
Aimée: Right. It’s not sustainable and you’re not able to progress. If you’re outta alignment, if you’re not in integrity, if you’re just trying to shove everything under the rug just to make something work. It’s just, it’s not sustainable. And it’s not healthy. It’s not healthy for the person doing it. It’s not healthy for the other person either. And it’s not healthy for the system of the marriage.
Amanda: Nope. And again, not healthy for the kids to see.
Aimée: Yeah, exactly. And you know, the opposite of true love or that boundary love is selfishness. So people are like, oh, well we know what it looks like to be selfish. Well, I’m not going to be selfish. I don’t want to be selfish. I want to have this true love. But sometimes people just mistake this self-sacrificing for love. And they are not the same. And actually the concept behind near enemies, which is a Buddhist concept, is that the near enemy actually undermines what it is you really want, right?
Aimée: When you’re self-sacrificing as a way of maintaining the relationship, you’re actually undermining the relationship. You think you’re doing what’s good for it, right? Actually has the opposite effect.
Amanda: Yeah. And that’s not what we want. Absolutely not. But it happens so many times and in so many ways. I see it constantly in my practice. I’m sure you do too.
Aimée: Yeah. Well, and I’m thinking with your clients in particular that you work with, for these men that you were talking about earlier, or sometimes women, right? For them to just think, well, I guess I just need to put my sexuality on the back burner, I guess like you know, it’s not okay. I need to stay in my marriage. This is a bad part of me that even wants that. I can’t believe the number of people, especially men that just feel like their sexuality must be evil. It’s this evil part of them that they just tell to hide.
Amanda: It breaks my heart. Well, and then on the flip side of that, it’s women having duty sex for years. Which is self-sacrificing, but it’s actually undermining, undermining the marriage, and that is probably the thing that I have to work on the most with my clients. I hear these stories from men and my heart breaks for them. But what I actually am dealing with the most is these women who have been doing duty, sex for 20 plus years. And it has completely undermined the marriage. And so we have to rebuild everything, their whole foundation of themselves be so that they’re not self-sacrificing anymore. But they also hold a lot of anger and resentment to a husband who has accepted it for 20 plus years. Or demanded it for 20 plus years.
Aimée: And that’s the problem with self-sacrifice, is it always comes with resentment. And we can think, well, I’ll just do this. I’ll just sacrifice and we might be good with it for a minute, but it’s always going to erode the relationship and breed that resentment.
Amanda: So speaking of duty sex and having sex out of obligation, I think, God also doesn’t want us to keep our covenants out of obligation. Right?
Aimée: Right. Yeah. Absolutely. That was another thing that I really thought about as I was studying covenants, is God wants us to choose our covenants. We enter them with our own free will and choice. He wants us to choose our covenants, He doesn’t want duty covenants or obligation covenants from us. So, while, yes, He wants us to keep them, when I hear people talk about, Well, I’m not happy in my marriage. It’s not going well, but I made a covenant so I’m just going to stay because this is what I’m supposed to do.
Amanda: Right, which we hear all the time.
Aimée: Yeah. All the time. That’s not choosing your spouse and it’s not really choosing your covenant. Right. Like we’re talking about duty sex. That’s like duty covenants. It’s like, okay, I guess I have to, so I will. And I just don’t think that’s really living from the best of us, and it’s not really what God wants from us. He wants us to willingly of our own free will and choice, choose our covenants, not just the day that we make the covenant, but every day thereafter. And again, not that it’s always going to be easy to choose your covenants, right? You’re going to have times where you’re like, are you kidding me? Is this what I signed up for? I can’t believe I’m stuck here. You’re going to have that.
Amanda: Of course, of course.
Aimée: But when that becomes the norm, kind of this martyr, Okay. I’m here. Fine. Okay. God, I’m keeping my covenant. I don’t think it really is keeping covenants.
Amanda: No, and I mean it just, I think we’ve watched that happen over and over and over as we’ve studied the new, the Old Testament this year of these people who God is saying to them, All I want is for you to choose me. Choose me over everything else because it’s like a marriage relationship. So, you know, we need to be choosing our covenants. We need to be choosing God. We need to be choosing our spouse, choosing our marriage. And what, and really understand what that looks like for each of us.
Amanda: And in what ways we might be undermining those covenants and maybe recognize some of the ways, and then counsel and cleave with our spouse and labor together so that we can actually make our marriage what we actually want it to be.
Aimée: Yeah, and as you were saying that, you know, choosing our spouse, I think that’s the thing we need to remember that a marriage is, yes, there are all these other pieces to it. There’s children that are involved that we love and care about. There’s other things that come along with being married. But a marriage is about you and the person that you’re married to. And so sometimes when I hear people talk about, well, I don’t want to be married to this person, but I’m going to stay because I make covenants. You know, I want to stay for the kids, you know, it’s not going to look good to the outside. I need to, you know, be an example to whoever. And then they end up kind of choosing their marriage, but not because they’re not really choosing their spouse. And so choosing your marriage really needs to be about choosing your spouse, the person that you are actually married to, right?
Amanda: Yes. Oh, so good. Okay, so this has been an amazing conversation. Thank you so much for being here with me.
Aimée: Thank you. I always love talking to you, Amanda. We could talk forever.
Amanda: We totally could. But we should probably end this podcast, because we’re getting up there in minutes. So I know that you have a really great program for people to build more intimate marriages. Can you tell people about that and then where they can find you?
Aimée: Yeah. So I have a program called The Art of Intimate Connection, where I teach people how to have honest, intimate, and collaborative marriages. And they’re messy. This sounds beautiful, right? We think that’s what we want, but it’s hard work to have those kind of marriages Anyway, so it’s called the Art of Intimate Connection. You can find me at my website, which is aiméegianni.com. You can also follow me on Instagram. It’s @AimeeGiannims, where I post several times a week, and I also send out weekly love notes with practical tips that you can apply to your relationships. And, if you want to get on my, I’ll give you a link you can put in the show notes. They can either title on my website or there’s a link. They can go straight to sign up for love notes and I’ll, you’ll see me in your inbox every Tuesday.
Amanda: Which I love her love notes. They’re so much fun. They’re so good.
Amanda: Well, thanks so much for being here with me today, Aimee.
Aimée: Thanks for having me. Always fun.
Amansda: All right. Wasn’t that an amazing interview with Aimee? I just love her so much. She and I were actually talking after the interview was over, and we just want to say, both of us, we don’t know what’s right for you. Okay? What we’re talking about here, we’re giving general ideas and advice. Sometimes the thing is right, sometimes it’s right for you to stay even when other people would say, you shouldn’t. Only you know what’s best for you and what your situation is. So just make sure you’re in integrity with yourself. Make sure you take it to the Lord and you will make the perfect decision for you.
All right, my friends, that’s all I have for you today. Thank you so much for joining me, and we’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.