24: Finding Encouragement to Show Up Fully When Your Marriage is in a Rough Patch with Emily Grace Miller – Meant to Bloom: personal growth for hot mess moms
Showing up for yourself and your kids when marriage gets rough
Motherhood can be hard enough – when you throw in dealing with depression and a rocky marriage, it can feel near impossible to make the right choices and show up fully for your kids, let alone yourself.
While a healthy marriage is the foundation for a happy family, sometimes we have to reframe what that means. A healthy marriage doesn’t always mean that you’re constantly in love with one another, always going on date nights, or even that you LIKE each other at the moment. A healthy marriage is sometimes simply that you’re unwilling to let it end, that you’ll have disagreements in healthy ways, that you’ll stay committed to the partnership and to parenting together even though you’re struggling to be excited to see your spouse at the end of the day.
Sometimes it’s your husband’s breathing that bothers you, sometimes you feel unsupported, sometimes he’s just not all there for you. But sometimes, even when it feels like it’s HIS problem, the solution, the healing, the growth, it all starts with you. You have to be the bigger person, you have to make changes first, you have to become confident in who you are and content with where you are to find your peace.
Emily Grace Miller is here today to chat with us about her life experiences as a mom struggling to get off the couch and determined to make her marriage work. Emily is a wife to Jesse and mother to 2 gorgeous girls. She’s passionate about living the life God has planned for her and sharing her hard learned lessons with her friends. You can find Emily hosting her podcast It Starts With You on all major platforms and posting snippets of life and reflection to her Facebook Page @EmilyGrace.Miller.
Links Mentioned in This Episode
Rather read the interview? I got you covered.
Brittni: Hi friends. I am so, so very excited to introduce you guys today to my good friend, Emily Grace Miller from her podcast: It Starts With You. I am so glad to have her finally here to talk with you guys. She was supposed to be my first guest on this podcast, but our schedules have conflicted. And this is finally the first time we’re able to sit down and really record this for you and I’m so very excited.
B: Hi Emily. Go ahead and say hi.
E: Hi, I’m Emily Grace Miller, as she already said. I’m married, and we have 2 kids. I homeschool. I travel with my family in a 43 foot trailer travel trailer for my husband’s career. While we chase our goals. That’s about it in a nutshell so I can put it.
B: I love it. Okay. So today we’re gonna chat a bit on how to show up for our kids while our marriage is kind of struggling – cuz you know, that happens nobody’s marriage is perfect.
And how do we balance motherhood when things aren’t going well, everywhere else.
E: Right? Yeah. Unfortunately, well, I used to say unfortunately, but honestly, fortunately, I’ve gone through the unfortunate circumstance of experiencing that, but fortunately I’ve learned some things along the way, so I hope to be able to help other people if they ever go through something like this, because your marriage is the foundation of your home.
If mom and dad are not good, the house is not good. I do not believe in a happy wife, a happy life. I believe in a happy spouse, a happy house. And it takes both people wanting that for your home. And for a long time, I didn’t feel like Jesse and I were on that same page, actually. As I was just telling you earlier, like I was the one that saw the problems. He just thought that we had a, he thought we had a great marriage. We just fought a lot. And I’m like, no, I’m going for a quality life here.
I also had one kiddo for eight years until we had our second. And that was actually a huge, huge thing. So our oldest Chloe, was a surprise baby. We weren’t married yet. We weren’t together very long when we got pregnant and so we had to get to know each other fast and we had to grow up fast.
I was 19 when I got pregnant, 20 and he was 21 when we had her. And so when you go through… I mean, every couple knows that there’s, there’s the drought years, you know, there’s the drought years. There’s the abundant years, you know, and to be honest, in a lot of ways, I, for the first… We just celebrated 11 years of being together – It wasn’t until like the last six months that I’ve seen real honest to God change. And so before that it was a lot of… it was rough. It was rough.
But showing up for my kid, for my daughter was like the most important thing. But with the struggling marriage came, the mental and struggling with my depression, I learned in the beginning was because of our marriage.
And I learned early on too with my depression that – my depression usually gets triggered by circumstances. So it’s not, and that’s where I’m just like, you know, for my depression, I can manage it. I can manage it by, you know, being careful who I surround myself with, you know, not surrounding myself with ‘emotional vampires’ is what I call them.
And, you know, being mindful of what I’m putting into my body. I’m not perfect. There are days I’m guilty of where ice cream sounds so much better than eating the salad, you know, and I’ve given in, but I’ve also learned to, you know, how to take care of myself when your husband’s not in support of what you need to do to take care of yourself.
E: I’m a huge advocate for doing it anyway, you know. Showing up for your kids when you don’t feel like your spouse is showing up for you in the way that you’re craving, it’s hard because you just, you wanna stay in victim mode. You wanna stay in that ‘it’s not my fault I’m this way.’
At the end of the day, I just told my dad this, ‘be a weed grow anywhere.’ That was my motto, actually for the longest time, like I wanna be a weed. I wanna be able to grow in the crack of cement. You know, that just inconveniently grows in the middle of your driveway and I wanna be able to thrive no matter my circumstances.
And that’s how I got where I’m at today because I knew that if I stayed in that victim mindset of, ‘well, it’s his fault, I’m this way’ I was never going to get anywhere. I was giving him so much power over the quality of life I was gonna have. And people were always telling me, ‘well, you can’t get better in an environment that’s breaking you.’
And I’m like, ‘well, pretty sure I was broken before we came into the relationship because I wouldn’t have attracted the mess I’m in,’ you know, like…
E: Like with our thoughts, you know? And, and when you’re young and starting out building a life young together, marriage is a lot of dying to yourself. And so there was a lot of… I’m a huge advocate for keeping the peace. I believe that God’s gonna bless you if you keep the peace.
So I spent a lot of time just trying to keep the peace. And by doing that, I was brushing a lot of stuff under the rug, which isn’t healthy and is not what we are called to do, you know, but at the same time, neither Jesse or I were at a place where we were ready to deal with those situations that were coming up.
So I learned real quick in the motherhood journey that no one could take care of her. Jesse was gone all the time and who was gonna take care of her if I wasn’t there. So I knew I had to get serious about taking care of my mental health and get serious about thinking of her.
Thinking of somebody other than myself, which is so hard to do when you’re paralyzed with depression. When you go through a stent where you’re stuck on the couch for what feels like, you know, weeks at a time, because you physically can’t move because your brain is so depleted you know that –
E: You know? So I learned real quick, too, that to be mindful of what you put into your brain. So I focused a lot on listening to a lot of pastors, but just any podcast or YouTube that I could get my hands on that was gonna be feeding truth into my brain. So that’s what I was dwelling on all day, you know, so that’s what I was keeping my mind on.
I also didn’t want Chloe to see me struggling. Not saying it’s bad to let, like, let your kids, I mean, let your kids see you struggle, but let them watch you get better.
B: Yeah. You don’t wanna let them see you dwelling in the bad place. Let them see you heal.
E: Right. Right. Exactly. And that’s what I was determined that Chloe was gonna watch.
I was damned if she was gonna have a childhood of watching her mom be paralyzed on the couch.
E: That was not the life she was gonna have. And so I just kind of started putting myself out there. I think Chloe was three when I made my first mom friend on my own, like I put, I met a friend in the community that we’re a part of, and our daughters hit it off and they’re still best friends to this day. And, she and I are still close. And it definitely, that was like the first step to me busting out of that shell of like, okay, it’s time to get help. But it was still another seven years before I felt like the shifts I was trying to make really, really worked. I was finally reaping what I’d been sewing for the last, you know, 7 to 8 years. And so, yeah.
E: It’s hard, but it can be done and you can heal in an environment that is potentially harming you. Right. Because sometimes if -and that was another thing that I remember praying – I was like, ‘God, either fix this or give me the strength to walk away.’
Either way I have to get better before I make a decision, because if I made the decision to leave because of the, because of whatever, like, because of the issues that we were dealing with in our relationship, that society said it was abuse and society said was narcissistic. And society said this, that, and the other.
I knew who that man was. I knew his heart, God had shown me his heart enough times. I was like, this is not the man that I fell in love with. This is not the man, you know, even though yes. And I say, fell in love with, yes. I fell in love with him in a six month span. Yes, I did, I was that girl, you know.
I learned real quick that love is a choice and there are times I didn’t like him. You have to believe that love can conquer all. And I refuse to give up on that. I refuse to give up on like, this is our life. And I thank God every day that we’ve had the growth that we’ve had.
Because now, and I know that if I wouldn’t have gotten through being under control of my depression, I don’t know if we would’ve been able to get through the stuff that we’ve gotten through because I was so weak mentally. Yeah. You know?
B: I think it really is true. What they say is that you can never fully love someone else until you learn to love yourself.
When you’re just caught in that trap of depression, there’s no way you can prioritize a relationship with someone else when you’re hurting that kind of way.
E: Right. And he never really understood the whole depression thing and there, and he would get home and I would feel better cuz he was gone all the time during the weekend, so I would feel better. But then I would also feel, um, it was real quick before our issues would arise in the relationship. And I’m like better off when you’re gone. Like, but then he would leave and then I’d get stuck in my head and then I’d get, it was a vicious cycle.
So, yeah, but I do have to say that if you have hope in your marriage and you refuse to give up on your marriage, like find friends who support that because I lost friends for staying with him. I lost friends for saying: I choose this man. I chose for better, for worse and sickness in health till death do us part.
I chose to figure this hell hole out. Sorry, but yeah, we’re imperfect, but I refuse to let divorce be an option as much as I, and, and I say that, but I let my mind go there a lot. And that’s another thing. Like you have to nip that in the butt, you cannot live, you can’t live with that as an option, like in the back of your mind, you can’t live with it as an option.
You really have to be like, Nope. I said, I wasn’t gonna use that as an, that was not an option for me. I’m not going there. And that you really have to train your brain to not use it as an option, you know.
B: That’s so true.
So like through a lot of my depression, there’ve been times where I’ve like attacked my own marriage, where there was nothing wrong. I just, I don’t know, needed to cause drama and whatnot,
E: Or like needed something to blame for why it…
B: Yeah, or I just had like no capability of actually feeling the emotions of love, because I had just built up such a wall and like pushed down every kind of emotion and feeling.
And in those times what kept me from like running away, cuz that’s usually my go to is I’m just gonna run away.
B: What kept me from ever considering that as an option to my marriage was how many cultures for how many years – Pre Arranged marriages work for people like there doesn’t have to be the feeling of love.
It doesn’t have to be there in order for you to stick by your commitment, right. To learn, to be happy alongside someone else. Right?
B: Like you can still show up. Even if you’re just not feeling so romantically in love with the person, it doesn’t have to be a fairy tale feeling.
E: Right. And that’s so funny you say that because I don’t, I know this one sounds so silly, but that’s kinda the same narrative I gave that I told myself too, is sometimes love comes softly.
Have you read those books or watched those movies of Love Comes Softly?
E: They’re like supposed to be like Western movies. It’s a novel, it’s like a romance.
E: Western novel thing, something I totally read in high school and I watched one of the movies and they’re like, and she said, “well, sometimes love just comes softly.”
Cuz she was not in love with this man that she married out of duty, like to take care of her and her son
E: You know, like it was. And so a hundred percent, like I fully agree that the choice. To choose the action of love with your heart and your mind will catch up.
E: So love is patient, love is kind, love is long suffering. Love is not judgmental. Love does not envy, love does not get jealous. All those things. If you practice that – The way I saw it is if you practice those things with where you’re at, with your husband when they don’t deserve it. And that’s the secret: when they quote “don’t deserve it.” Cause that’s usually, it’s the ones that don’t deserve love that need it the most.
And so I just remember thinking, okay, if I can practice what love is, then the feeling will follow. It’s kinda like practicing gratitude before you fully feel thankful.
E: Practice gratitude and being, feeling thankful will follow, you know, right. And a hundred percent like Jesse and I both had so much childhood stuff to work through so much, you know, and we were, and that’s the thing is like, we weren’t awful.
We just had awful habits. We just had awful ways of communicating. And I will say my friendships, my faith, my friends – are the first two things for sure as what got me through those years. So like, if you are in a situation where your marriage is struggling and you’re raising kids, find a friend.
And just one or two friends. Cause I find that less is more when it comes to the friendship department, especially when you’re going through something.
E: Cause you don’t wanna go around always talking about your problems to everybody. You know, you don’t wanna be that person in town. That’s like, oh, here comes Emily and her problems, you know, that’s not pretty.
Also let your kids see you loving your spouse through it all because they’re seeing both sides. They’re seeing how you’re reacting. They’re seeing how they’re reacting. They’re watching it. They’re getting a front row seat for it. So let them see you breaking chains. Let them see you break the habits, let them see you be like, oh wow, mom, didn’t respond.
You know? Oh, wow. Mom usually freaks out mom. Didn’t, you know, they’ll see it they’ll catch on. You know?
And then also I know it sounds crazy, but focusing on taking care of your body, like what, you’re eating, drinking water, getting exercise, and just doing, and I say doing things for yourself, but just take care of yourself, you know, make sure you’re showering all the time.
E: Make sure you’re washing your hair more than once a week. Make sure you’re. If you need a bath to unwind, to cleanse yourself, take a bath, if you need to take a shower and just cry, cry it out. You know if, but make sure you’re also spending time with people that are gonna lift you up and give you encouragement, give you enthusiasm for life.
And at the end of the day, if God has asked you to go through something like this, he will bring you what you need to get through it. Every time, every time. So I dunno if that helps, but..
B: Absolutely. Okay. So we said, it sounds like the way to, um, continue showing up for kids. When we feel like we’re struggling here is do what it takes to not fall into the traps of depression.
Take care of yourself, get sleep, drink water, take a break.
B: Don’t practice depression and depression’s habits, don’t isolate.
E: Don’t think you have to do it on your own. Cause you don’t.
B: Absolutely. And lean into that Divine Wisdom, lean into friendships.
E: Good stuff.
B: I wanted to add something earlier.
When you mentioned about being a weed growing in difficult places, a lot of people tend to forget or just never realize that weeds are not just like ugly, unwanted flowers. Weeds like specifically dandelions, most weeds tend to be like –
B: Like dandelions are good for heart health.
E: Yes. That’s so true.
B: People might look at you and think, Ew, get that outta here. It’s like, actually you’re here to,
B: So definitely grow like a weed.
B: And be useful even when others don’t.
E: Yes, absolutely. And have faith. Just keep the hope, keep hope. Don’t give up. If you’re in a, if you’re in a journey in a season of your marriage, you feel like your marriage has no – it’s it’s over, but it’s not in your heart.
Hang onto that. Hang onto that string of hope because it’s, I believe something beautiful can come from a mess. Absolutely. A hundred percent.
B: Definitely. Definitely. Okay. I’m gonna say thank you for coming on today.
E: Thank you for having me.
B: I can’t wait to inevitably have you back.
E: I know I’m excited, too.