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Episode 90 - Taking Your Marriage to the Next Level: 10 Things You Can Start Doing Today

Episode 90 - Taking Your Marriage to the Next Level: 10 Things You Can Start Doing Today Image

11/20/2018 9:40 am

There are a couple silver linings to practicing divorce law. First, we are sometimes given the chance to save a marriage on the brink of a divorce. Second, we are able to learn from these unfortunate situations and share it with others. In this episode, Leh and Todd discuss 10 things you can start doing today that will not only help protect your marriage, but possibly take it to the next level. Tune in to hear what you can do that might make your next date night the best one yet.


Leh Meriwether:             Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. Here you will learn about divorce, family law, tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis, and from time to time even tips on how to take your marriage to the next level. If you want to learn more about use, you can always call or visit us online at Are you ready?

Todd Orston:                   I just like how you said dot com.

Leh Meriwether:             I don't know where that came from.

Todd Orston:                   I don't know whether to keep going with the show or buy a car. Dot com!

Leh Meriwether:             I think it's just my excitement just flowing through.

Todd Orston:                   Oh no, okay. It's definitely flowing.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. And I'm especially excited today.

Todd Orston:                   And would that be, Leh?

Leh Meriwether:             Because we're gonna talk about ways to take your marriage to the next level.

Todd Orston:                   I love it.

Leh Meriwether:             So we are going to do something that we like to do, try to do once a quarter, talk about things that we have learned over the years from just what we've seen what not to do in a marriage, you know that we learn from the divorces that we've handled, and we've as a firm handled probably thousands now. So learned all the things that you shouldn't do. Learned, and sometimes it's from clients even reflecting. "Gosh, if I had done this, or done that, or done this I may not have wound up in your office."

Leh Meriwether:             And some of it's from the marriage seminars that I've run and I've been part of, and I've probably read as many books about marriage as I have about divorce. So we're pulling all this together, and we recently did some commercials on marriage tips.

Leh Meriwether:             But the problems with commercials is I have 35 seconds roughly, 40 seconds, to give a tip. So we thought how great would it be to just expand on those tips, and dig a little bit deeper than 35 seconds.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. And so we have about 20 tips, and I'm sure if we gave it some more thought we could come up with 20 more, or 200 more. But we have 20 tips, and this is such an important topic to us, to you and to I, that we're actually gonna break this into two different shows.

Leh Meriwether:             Yep.

Todd Orston:                   So we're gonna do, if there's 20 Leh, here's a math test. How many in each show?

Leh Meriwether:             10.

Todd Orston:                   Okay. You're good. You my friend. Yes. So we're gonna break each show into about 10 tips, and again, look. This is not what we do in terms of we're not therapists, but we've seen where relationships break down. We have seen when the problems come up, and sometimes as an outsider, better than we probably are in our own relationships, okay with our own spouses, we are able to see where the breakdowns occurred and why reconciliation was not possible. So the purpose of this show is exactly what it sounds like, to talk about some of the pitfalls that we've seen people fall into, and give some tips to hopefully get you back on track. To focus on the relationship and get the relationship back to that healthy place that I'm sure you want it to be.

Leh Meriwether:             And I hate you used the words tips, because some of these are a little deeper than that. It's just an easy way to say it, what we're gonna get into. But if you take to these to heart, I mean I can tell you, I can't promise because you can't control the other side, your spouse, but in a relationship, a marriage relationship, you can control you. And if you give your all, odds are you're gonna become a more attractive spouse to the other. And so that's why we wanna give this to you, to share what we've learned, share what we've seen so that you can move. I mean, put yourself in a place where you would never need to call a divorce lawyer.

Todd Orston:                   All right. So let's jump in. Leh, what's the first tip or advice that we could give?

Leh Meriwether:             Assume a place of love. Now, I know that may sound a little corny, but it's really good advice. And you'll see it, a lot of times a spouse will say something to you, and the first thing you might say is, "Oh, they're just nagging me again. They're criticizing. Oh my gosh. I can't because she won't stop saying this, or he won't stop saying that."

Leh Meriwether:             But a lot of times, I would say most of the time that I've ever, at least in my relationship and the relationships I've talked to people about, the person is bringing up an issue because they're bringing it up from a place of love.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. My wife will tell me repeatedly, "Go outside. Go for a run. Do some exercise." And I'll sit there and I'll say, "Leave me alone." You know, and sometimes I have to put my grilled cheese down and I get upset. But I do realize that it's coming from a place of love. She wants me to be healthy, she wants me to be around for many, many more years to come. And so, you know, although sometimes it comes across as nagging, I know it's coming from a good place.

Leh Meriwether:             And so here's what you've gotta look at. So sometimes you have to breakdown what's going on and ignore the delivery of the message. We know people aren't really trained in the best sort of communication skills. So when you slow down for a minute and go, "Hang on a minute," and you ask yourself this question. If she were coming from a place of love to make me a better person, what's the true message in here? What is she try to point out? You know, maybe I'm missing something.

Leh Meriwether:             And that's gonna break you away from the delivery of the criticism, because a lot of times we talk about, "Hey. I need some criticism here," and you're talking about constructive criticism, but the delivery causes it to be destructive.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. And the one thing I will say is everything we're gonna talk about, again we're not therapists, but from personal experience I will tell you. Everything we're gonna talk about, it's difficult. Because sometimes emotion takes over, a lot of times emotion takes over. And once, you know, what you're hearing and what you're seeing is clouded by that emotion, than the potential for misinterpretation, just it becomes that much greater. So it's really important for you, if you can go into any discussion assuming that what is being said is coming from a place of love, and you can look past the visual cues, look past the tone, look past those things.

Todd Orston:                   It doesn't mean you're not gonna get triggered, but if you can at some point step away, step back, and think again that it's coming from a good place, then hopefully you're gonna be able to get through that disagreement quicker without any real long term damage.

Leh Meriwether:             And you made a good point about the visual cues, because sometimes maybe a spouse has been saying something all along. Maybe a wife's been making a certain criticism, and now they're getting to the point where it's, I don't know if volatile is the right word, but they're just angry when they give you the criticism, so the visual cues are such that you, "Oh my gosh, she just wants to tear me apart." But that's only a result of the anger that's been building because you haven't been listening.

Todd Orston:                   That's right.

Leh Meriwether:             And so that's what I'm saying, you've gotta pause, ignore the delivery for the moment, and try to dig in to see what's going on. I heard this great story the other day and I wish I could quote the book, I can't remember what it was from, but think of it like a walnut. You would not eat a walnut. You would first crack the shell and then take the nice seed.

Todd Orston:                   The meat of it, yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             The meat of it, and eat that, which I find very tasty. Or same thing for the peanut. You're not gonna eat the shell, you're gonna eat what's inside. So think of a criticism as that, and if you assume they're coming from a place of love you can break apart the walnut shell and get to the meat of what they're talking about.

Todd Orston:                   I'm hungry. Did I miss the point?

Leh Meriwether:             So, all right.

Todd Orston:                   All right, let's go onto number two. Fight the defensive instinct.

Leh Meriwether:             So this is sort of, this follows a little bit with assuming the place of love, but then there's this other thing that I think men may be even worse than at this than women. I could say this personally that we have a point, an ego. We have an ego that oh we're again, or we do things the right way, and there's no way we could do something wrong, and then your spouse says, "Well." You know. "Could you try it this way?"

Leh Meriwether:             And the ego goes up. "Oh I know what I'm doing." But you know, they actually are separated from your ego, and they get to see what's going. They may see a better way to perhaps deliver a message to your son or your daughter, that they are picking up on a visual cue from your children.

Leh Meriwether:             Like let's say you're scolding them for something, or you know disciplining them or something, but your wife pulls you aside and says, "Hey look, next time you do it, maybe say it this way." Don't let your ego get in the way. Pull back, because you couple that with assuming a place of love, then you're problem going to learn.

Leh Meriwether:             I've grown the most when I've listened to my wife. I've grown the most as a husband, as a father, as a person.

Todd Orston:                   I agree. Yeah. I would say the same thing, and I really actually hope she's not listening. Because she's gonna use this entire two part series against me at some point.

Leh Meriwether:             I'm totally emailing it to her.

Todd Orston:                   Oh wow, I'm sure you will. But I agree with you. And you know what's amazing? Sometimes what you're talking about, it doesn't come until after the dust has settled. There's a dust up, there's a disagreement, but then you go to your separate corners and everything calms down, and you're able to then think about what you just argued about and sometimes that's when the realization kicks in that it's like, "Oh okay. Well maybe there's a little bit of truth to what was being said."

Todd Orston:                   It's because that defensive instinct kicks in. It's instinct, right? It's fight or flight time. And so, if you can control the instinctual response-

Leh Meriwether:             As it related particularly to your wife or your husband.

Todd Orston:                   Absolutely. Then what you can hopefully do is look at the issue, you know, not with those colored glasses where you're assuming the worst. You can hopefully say, "Okay, well hold on. What are they trying to say?" You know, is she trying or he trying to put me down and hurt me? No. Then maybe you can calm things down and deal with the underlying issue.

Leh Meriwether:             Yes. And so up next, we're gonna get into how do you find that time to sit down and listen to your spouse. How do you find that time to really learn more about your spouse? And we're gonna get to that up next.

Leh Meriwether:             Welcome everyone, I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at

Leh Meriwether:             But what we're focusing on today is actually ways to, if you follow these tips, you may never have to hire us or anybody like us.

Todd Orston:                   Fingers crossed.

Leh Meriwether:             Fingers crossed. You know, obviously you can only control you in this situation in the marriage, but when you focus on becoming a better husband or a better wife, you set yourself up where you're more attractive and you've decreased the likelihood of you ever getting a divorce. So we're talking about things that we've learned and we've seen over the years to help avoid, that will help you avoid ever even having to call a divorce lawyer. All right. Let's keep going.

Todd Orston:                   Absolutely. The next segment, we said at the very beginning, we're gonna have two shows dedicated to this topic right now. And the second show, we're gonna really dive into listening. Okay? But we're gonna hit a little bit here as well. And so the third segment, or third part, is gonna be listen to your spouse.

Leh Meriwether:             Now, and so let's talk about this for a minute. We're gonna get into the mechanics of listening in the next show. But here's what we see: we see that people just get so busy with their hectic lives, and it's so easy to fall into this where okay, we've gotta get the kids to school in the morning. And then somebody's gotta pick them up in the evening. We've had a hard day. You get home. You sit down. Either you've gone out for dinner or cooked dinner. Now you've gotta make sure they're doing their homework. Or, oh gosh, we don't have time for dinner. We've gotta pick up fast food because they're in 5000 extra curricular activities.

Leh Meriwether:             And so these things really cause spouses to drift apart. And we see situations where you've got we call them gray divorces. I mean that's the term. We didn't come up with that term, that's just the term. I guess you see it in the newspapers and newspaper articles and stuff. But it's people in their late 50s, early 60s, they're getting a divorce, and that's kind of what's happened when you talk to them. You hear that they got so busy with their children and their work lives and everything. They didn't sit down to just listen to each other and get to know each other.

Leh Meriwether:             And then the kids go off to college, and they're sitting there with really no idea who the other person is after they've gone away.

Todd Orston:                   And you know, I'd like to believe that my wife and I, we communicate pretty well. But if I'm, like I said I don't want her listening to these shows, but there are times when for whatever reason I may be shut down. I just, you know, either we had an argument, or something happened with the kids, or the dog chewed something up, and my ears start to close. And what my wife will do is sometimes she'll say, "Todd let's go for a walk."

Leh Meriwether:             That's a good one.

Todd Orston:                   And we'll just walk in the neighborhood. And I gotta tell you, the first couple times that she did it, I looked at her and I was like, "I'm sorry. I'm just not in the mood to go for a walk." And I have come to realize that it's not about the walk.

Todd Orston:                   It is a method that she uses, because it helps her. She loves going for walks and runs, and it clears her mind. And she realized that that was a great way to get us focused, to get us together so that we could actually talk without the distractions of dogs, or kids, or whatever.

Leh Meriwether:             Smartphones, TVs.

Todd Orston:                   Absolutely. And so we go for a walk, we talk about whatever we need to talk about, and what's amazing is that they are some of the most focused conversations that we have. I don't know why. I think it's just that we are both there, and we're with each other, and we are focused on one another, and so it just comes very easily to listen. And so yeah, that's our method.

Todd Orston:                   But I guess the point that I'm making is figure out a method.

Leh Meriwether:             What works for you.

Todd Orston:                   That's right.

Leh Meriwether:             But I think the big common ... We built a nice back porch on our house that we sold recently, but it was enclosed and everything, and when it was built it was actually built so that you could put a TV out there. But we decided not to put a TV out there so that we could go out there and talk. And actually I built all the furniture out there. So we would go out there in some afternoons, some evenings, and just talk.

Leh Meriwether:             And there was no TVs, no smartphone interrupting the conversation.

Todd Orston:                   You know, I'm not saying that that's a bad idea, but you do understand TVs have power buttons? You know, you could just go out there and talk and say, "Let's not turn on the TV." All right, but whatever. All right. I digress.

Leh Meriwether:             It's very distracting. Well I don't have as much willpower as you. That must be what it is. I know my weaknesses.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             But it goes back to finding a place that works for you. If you are just feel like you're gravitating to flip open your phone and start reading Facebook then leave your phone. I mean as crazy as, you know people panic now when they don't have their phone. But get away from it.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. You need to eliminate the distractions. If you don't eliminate the distractions, you're not gonna be communicating. You're gonna be focused on other things. And I have fallen into that trap where I know that there's something that we need to talk about, and something or somethings end up interfering with my ability to hear, to listen, to communicate properly because I'm focused on more than one thing. And while I can sort of walk and chew gum at the same time, these conversations we're talking about, these are not the conversations of where do you want to go to dinner.

Todd Orston:                   We're talking about something has happened, there's a potential breakdown and issue brewing, and you need to get through it, hopefully without a lot of pain. And so to do that, you need to be focused.

Leh Meriwether:             But don't just wait for that crisis point to do that. Ted Cunningham who's an author who's written several books about marriage and he's got some great stuff out there, he recommends, I wonder if I'm remembering correctly, 15 minutes a day. Carve out, no matter what, 15 minutes a day just to talk about the trivial stuff.

Leh Meriwether:             And that frees you up so when you go on a date, and we're gonna talk about that stuff in a little bit, when you go out on a date you can focus on ... You don't spend all of your time focusing on the trivial stuff. You focus on things that are a little more fun, allow you to learn about your spouse a little more.

Leh Meriwether:             So take the time and just think about it right now. Here's the action item on this tip. If you're sitting here going when was the last time I really had an opportunity to really talk to my wife, husband, without some distractions going on. If it's been more than a couple weeks you need to carve out some time today, or tomorrow. Don't wait.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. All right, so let's go onto number four. Learn about your spouse. And I know that sounds weird or sounds funny. I married the person.

Leh Meriwether:             Right?

Todd Orston:                   I clearly know about them. But as with anything in life, I mean you know we are divorce attorneys, we are family law attorneys. As we like to say, we are always learning.

Leh Meriwether:             Always learning.

Todd Orston:                   So just because you married someone doesn't mean that the process of learning about the, ended the day that you said I do.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. And I'll put it in a different context. Think about most people went through like 16 years of school. 12 years of high school, I mean up to high school. And then some people go onto college. 16 years of education to be in the workforce for conceptually the majority of your life. Why wouldn't you spend that same kind of energy on your marriage?

Leh Meriwether:             And if, you know, if you think about it, and I'm gonna get totally ... I'm gonna talk dollars right now. For most people when they go through a divorce, the parties in general split things 50/50. So you know, if you're spending all that energy to create wealth, generate revenue, you're spending all this time learning, studying, to go out and make money, why wouldn't you spend that same energy to keep at least half of what you earned?

Leh Meriwether:             So I'm trying to get practical here.

Todd Orston:                   Oh yeah. I mean you're putting it into financial terms. Obviously saving the marriage is more about the saving of a relationship, not the prevention of division of assets.

Leh Meriwether:             Right.

Todd Orston:                   But your point is well taken. I mean there are ramifications and consequences to a divorce. But look, it's an investment. A relationship is an investment. And if you're not willing to invest in the relationship, then it's doomed to fail.

Leh Meriwether:             And I say that because for some people it may be at a point where, "Gosh, why should I try?" Maybe they're at a point where, "Man, I don't know if it's worth it." We've seen it. "Maybe I should just start over again."

Todd Orston:                   And sometimes they're right.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   So we're not sitting here saying every relationship can be saved.

Leh Meriwether:             We're not trying to judge. Right.

Todd Orston:                   We're not saying that if you think you've done enough, you haven't. You may have tried anything and everything and you just know it's that time. But there are a lot of people who come through our doors where we look at them and we're like, you know, "Have you don't X? Have you done Y? Are you sure your ready?"

Todd Orston:                   And after just talking for a few minutes, sometimes they say, you know, "I don't know. Maybe I just wanna get some information. Let me just go have a conversation and let me see if I can accomplish something that'll prevent this."

Leh Meriwether:             But if you're always learning from your spouse, you're setting yourself up to, you know, "Oh gosh, she always remembers this. Or she always does this for me." You're setting yourself up to be that irresistible spouse that nobody's ever gonna wanna divorce. And if you're struggling and you're, "I don't know where to start."

Leh Meriwether:             Well here's one thing you can do. When you get home today, go to your spouse and say, "Hey, what can I do for you today that would let you know that I love you?"

Todd Orston:                   Ferrari. No? Is that-

Leh Meriwether:             I said do, not buy.

Todd Orston:                   Oh, okay.

Leh Meriwether:             I said do. What can I do for you. Buy a Ferrari, is that what you-

Todd Orston:                   I see. That was instinctual. I just went straight to Ferrari.

Leh Meriwether:             Okay. It's gotta and within reason, okay? But what that does is, if you haven't read one of our favorite books The Five Love Languages, it sets you up to learn your spouse's five, what is their love language. That's why you ask what can I-

Todd Orston:                   What's important to them, that's right.

Leh Meriwether:             What's important to them, not what you think might show them that you love them. It's what they feel love. How do they feel love. And we're not gonna talk about the five love languages today. We had Dr. Gary Chapman on the show. But you know, but that's just an example of how you can do that.

Leh Meriwether:             And you know, so maybe you're also struggling on how do I start this conversation? How do I start learning more about my spouse? Up next, we're gonna talk about ways to do that.

Leh Meriwether:             Welcome back. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at

Leh Meriwether:             Well, we've been going into some really cool things that we've learned over the years to make you a better husband, make you a better wife, and kind of inoculate-

Todd Orston:                   Oh please.

Leh Meriwether:             I almost said it wrong. Inoculate.

Todd Orston:                   Not everybody understands that joke, Leh. Innocuation?

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. Long story.

Todd Orston:                   Yes. Different show. Anyway.

Leh Meriwether:             Different show. Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   So look, again, some of these things will work for you. Some of them won't some of them will work but you have to tweak it, you have to make it your own. But if you are coming from the right place, if this is all about the love you feel for your spouse, then these are the kinds of things that will hopefully help you focus. You know, hopefully it will make you stop before the fight starts, or as the argument is going on. Make you pause and just say, "Well maybe I need to communicate differently. Maybe I need to listen to what's being said. Maybe I need to try X, Y, Z. And maybe this will calm down and we can get back to being happy.

Leh Meriwether:             So sometimes those arguments are because you don't necessarily know your spouse, and that's why we talked about the last one. You know, take the time to learn more about your spouse. Because you learn so much when you're dating, but then that kind of stops after the children. And there's reasons for it, there's lots going on in people's lives.

Leh Meriwether:             But so when we left off, we talked about what is something practical someone can do at dinner. So they go out to dinner, and the funny thing is if you go out to dinner, look around in the restaurant. See how many couples you see, or families even looking at they're phones. They're not even engaging in conversation.

Todd Orston:                   It's a pet peeve. It's a pet peeve of mine, a real pet peeve of my wife's.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. So the question is, "Okay, well what am I supposed to do? I mean I don't know what to talk about. It's been a really rough week. You're telling me not to talk about the trivial stuff." Here's what you do.

Leh Meriwether:             All you have to do, okay and I'm giving permission for the moment if you don't print it up to use your phone, okay? Just type in Google 20 questions for married couples, or something along those lines, and you will find all kinds of great questions to ask. You know, here's an example. So if you could write a song about your life, what type of music would you use?

Todd Orston:                   ACDC. Absolutely. Just a really long guitar. All right, nevermind. That's, all right, James Taylor.

Leh Meriwether:             James Taylor.

Todd Orston:                   Different direction.

Leh Meriwether:             If you had three wishes that could come true, what would they be? What would you do if you won the lottery? Name three things that most excite you when you imagine doing them. You know, and I mean there's another website that's got 40 questions on it. Neural network it's like what new hobby would you like to try? You know, what's your favorite memory of us dating?

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, I've never played that kind of a game with my wife where we've literally had 20 questions and we just went through a list of questions. But then again, you know she and I, we will talk about things. We will talk about what if we won the lottery. You know, what are our dreams in terms of, you know, like it'll be great to have a beach house, or a mountain house, or to go on this vacation or that vacation. Because those are the types of things, you know, building memories with vacations and trips that are important to both of us. And so that becomes a fun conversation. And in the meantime I get to know a little bit more about my wife.

Todd Orston:                   What's important to her, what makes her tick? You know, what makes her get out of bed in the morning.

Leh Meriwether:             And so you don't have to limit it to those questions. Now, if there's children listening put, you know-

Todd Orston:                   Earmuffs?

Leh Meriwether:             ... put earmuffs on their ears. But we're talking-

Todd Orston:                   All right now I'm scared. I don't know where you're going with this.

Leh Meriwether:             We're talking married couples now, but some of the websites have, I mean we're talking about married couples have, you know, questions like what things do you like that I most that I do in the bedroom.

Todd Orston:                   Okay, yeah, when you're playing a board game. Right. Exactly. On your sandwich? Absolutely. That's right, Leh.

Leh Meriwether:             But we can't ignore this stuff.

Todd Orston:                   Right.

Leh Meriwether:             And I'm trying to be as PG as possible.

Todd Orston:                   Right. And there are some that are sexual in nature, some that are just relationship, general relationship based. But it's all about opening dialog. You know, where we see a lot of problems with people, dialog has all but shut down. The learning has stopped, the communication has stopped.

Todd Orston:                   We have people who will come in and will say, "It would be better if we were just roommates."

Leh Meriwether:             Oh yeah.

Todd Orston:                   I've had roommates where we got along better, and we literally will walk by each other. We won't nod, maybe a grunt here or there. So, these types of games, and really it's unfair to even refer to them as games.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. They're just questions.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. But these types of games that you can play with your wife or husband are going to open the doors to communication so that hopefully, you know, it keeps things fresh. It keeps you talking so that when a bad or difficult conversation comes along, you guys are used to talking. You understand where you're coming from, what motivates you, and you can get through it hopefully without, like I said before, a lot of pain.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. And not only this, but that thing you said, like get through something without a lot of pain. That's gonna tie into next week. We've got something that, you know what you said, but what did they hear? So that'll tie in later, but you understand that they may hear something a little bit different when you get to know them a little better, whatever you ask some of these great questions.

Leh Meriwether:             So all right. Well let's talk about the next one.

Todd Orston:                   Yep.

Leh Meriwether:             Love notes.

Todd Orston:                   I don't want one from you.

Leh Meriwether:             What if it's brotherly love?

Todd Orston:                   A like note, maybe.

Leh Meriwether:             A like note.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             Oh my goodness gracious. Okay.

Todd Orston:                   But love notes. Yes.

Leh Meriwether:             All right. So sometimes people get wrapped up with I've gotta buy this fancy gift, or I gotta get this, or I gotta get that. When it is, you could just find some note cards, or post-it notes, and this is the cool thing because this can help you sort of relearn about your spouse. You sit back and think about, you know, pick a number.

Leh Meriwether:             I wanna find 30 things that I am thankful for my spouse for and write them down on post-it notes, and then every day, put one of them somewhere that they'll find it during the day. Not right away, but find it during the day.

Leh Meriwether:             Like sometimes, one time I put a note on I think on a gallon of milk in the refrigerator.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, it said, "Get more milk."

Leh Meriwether:             I said, "I love you and I appreciate how you always keep the refrigerator stocked," or something along those lines. And then at that point in time, she was driving the kids to school. I'm driving them now, but then she was driving the kids. I put a note one day on her car on her steering wheel. "I love that you drive our children to school every day."

Leh Meriwether:             And so it's just those little things. And it doesn't cost you anything except for-

Todd Orston:                   It costs you nothing. Well.

Leh Meriwether:             The post-it does.

Todd Orston:                   The post-it notes. But you can afford that.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. I can't imagine anybody who can't afford it for the most part.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. You know what, I agree with this whole-heartedly, and the example that I'm gonna use, it's not an example of the kind of notes that you're talking about, but I understand how important it is, at least to my spouse, when there is a birthday, or an anniversary, or something, I put a lot of thought into what I write in the card.

Todd Orston:                   And regardless of whether I buy a gift for my spouse or what the gift is, the card ends up being what really elicits that emotion. And it's because I poured a little bit of my heart into writing something that came from my heart to express my feelings and all of that.

Todd Orston:                   And so, that though, I'm waiting until the special event. You're talking about something which I think is really powerful: don't wait for that special event. Do something out of the blue. So something that's gonna take them by surprise, and it's the little thing.

Todd Orston:                   I mean granted a diamond necklace would be nice, but if you're not gonna just go out and buy jewelry all the time, it's little things like this that are gonna get their attention and be like, "Wow. He or she really does love me. That's so romantic that they thought of that."

Leh Meriwether:             And not only that, but like if you've been struggling with your spouse or you've gotten angry with them, if you give yourself like 30 things. Or you could double it with 60. It forces you to think about all the things that they do do positive and it starts to change the way you look at them. And so that's, if you're constantly thinking negative thoughts about your spouse, you're gonna wind up in one of our offices.

Leh Meriwether:             But if you try to change your thoughts by forcing yourself to write down 30 positive things about them and sharing them with them, it can change the course of your marriage.

Leh Meriwether:             All right. Well, we've got one more. We've gotta push this in quick. So breaking the marriage monotony.

Todd Orston:                   Something everybody in a relationship struggles with, and some people handle the monotony, for lack of a better way of putting it, but handle the monotony better than others. For some people, they get bored, and that's when problems come up. You know, maybe people stray. Maybe the communication breaks down or whatever.

Todd Orston:                   Buy you know, breaking that marriage monotony means keeping things interesting. One of the things, I mean there's so many aspects to that, but it could just be like some of the other things we're talking about. Make sure that the lines of communication are open. Then you're spouse is going to remain interesting to you, and you interesting to them, and that way you can figure out what motivates the other and you can try to structure events and things like that in order to keep things interesting.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. So one of the things that I think is a good idea is plan something once a quarter. And it could be something as inexpensive as finding a river nearby that you can go rent a kayak and go down the river with no cell phones because you don't want to get your cell phone wet. No screens, no TVs, and it's just you, and nature, and your spouse, and it's a great chance to get together.

Leh Meriwether:             Hey, and up next, we're gonna talk about how you talk about the little things with your spouse and why it's so important.

Leh Meriwether:             Hey Todd, while we take a break here, what do you think about taking a moment to speak just to our podcast listeners?

Todd Orston:                   I think that sounds like a great idea.

Leh Meriwether:             All right. Well first off, we wanted to thank everyone who is listening and downloading our podcast. We are so glad that you've taken the time out of your busy day to listen to us.

Todd Orston:                   Absolutely. We especially wanted to thank all of you that took a few minutes to post a five star review of our show on iTunes.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, and if you're enjoying this show and getting a lot out of it and you haven't posted a review yet, we would be so grateful if you would take a moment or two to post a five star review for us wherever you listen to this show. And if you're really enjoying it, please let us know what is it about the show that you enjoy in the review. If you want to post a review but you're having trouble figuring out how to do so, just Google how do I post a podcast review in iTunes, or Podcast Addict, or SoundCloud, whatever you're listening to.

Todd Orston:                   Absolutely. We'd give you a step by step guide on how to do it, but as soon as the show comes out, Apple or Google is probably going to to issue an update that changes everything.

Leh Meriwether:             Absolutely. Hey everyone, thanks so much for listening.

Leh Meriwether:             Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at

Leh Meriwether:             Okay, so we've been talking about probably one of my favorite subjects. You know, ways to make your marriage better. Ways to kep you from ever, or at least set up so that you never have to hire or to call a divorce lawyer. At least put you in the right place.

Leh Meriwether:             All right. So we left off, we were talking about breaking the marriage monotony, and the reason that I said I just wanted to finish this up real quick, the reason I had said plan something once a quarter, because for some people you get through seasons of life where you are going to be busy, and we're not ignoring that.

Leh Meriwether:             You have seasons of life where you have, especially when you have children, or something crazy is going on at work, or maybe something's going on with the kids are in a maybe they do some sort of travel baseball, or soccer, or whatever it may be, or cheerleading. It could be any sport. And you're gonna have these seasons where you're busy. But what you've got to do is try to carve out once a quarter the getaway to break that monotony, to reconnect, to get away from everybody.

Leh Meriwether:             Plan it out. Put it on the calendar. Plan it out once a year, I mean the four quarters at the beginning of the year. And commit to it. And that's way those are things you can look forward to, so even you may be stuck in this marriage monotony, but you're like, "Oh you know what? In three weeks we're getting away and we're gonna go someplace." Okay.

Todd Orston:                   All right. So the next one, we're gonna talk about like you said before, discussing the little things. What does that mean?

Leh Meriwether:             So a lot of times people get so busy, or you've got two different personality types, and I'm gonna pull this actually from Dr. Gary Chapman. You've got one personality type that lots to talk a lot. He calls them the babbling brook. And then you have another type that doesn't really say much, partly because they married a babbling brook. But they're a dead sea. They just don't share anything. They have trouble sharing things.

Leh Meriwether:             And sometimes, you know maybe you've had a rough day and you just don't feel like talking. But maybe it's really important that you do talk so your spouse can understand the kind of bad day you've had, and maybe they can help you. Or maybe they'd say, "Well I'm not gonna say certain things to them."

Leh Meriwether:             Anyways, it helps keep that conversation going. And you can learn so much about your spouse and things going on in their lives during the day by asking little questions. But if the struggle becomes if you have a babbling brook, they just, "Hey Todd. How was your day? How are you doing? You look pretty good. Did you have a good day? You know let me tell you about my conversation with Julie the other day."

Leh Meriwether:             And they just ... And there's the dead sea never has an opportunity to even say anything. So he came up with I think a great question that people can ask each other and sit back and listen to the answer. So it's what are three things that happened to you today and how did they make you feel? So that question-

Todd Orston:                   It's a great question. Right. Because not only is it asking for events, but it's asking you to tap into your feelings, and share your feelings.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. Because that's actually how you can learn about someone too, because you're asking the question, and somebody says, "Well I talked to Jim and he said he couldn't help me on my project." "Well how'd that make you feel?" "Well actually, I'm really bummed. I mean I helped Jim move his house the other day."

Todd Orston:                   I never trust a Jim. I'm just telling you right now.

Leh Meriwether:             "And then I asked him to help me for two hours one afternoon and he won't help me. I'm really dissapointed." And so, you know, you get to learn your spouse, that they can be disappointed.

Todd Orston:                   That's right.

Leh Meriwether:             So it just sets up more opportunities to learn about your spouse. And opportunities to talk about what happened during the day. And here's the thing, if you don't talk to your spouse, someone else will. And usually that doesn't result in good things.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. I mean and again, that doesn't necessarily, we're not heading down the path of an emotional relationship. Sometimes it is. But it could just be if you are not there ready, willing, and able to engage in this kind of conversation about the, remember, this is about the little things, with your spouse, than more than likely you're also shutting down on the big things, and that means that communication has broken down.

Todd Orston:                   Which means that you're in this communication desert, and so they're gonna go to a friend, they're gonna go to a sibling, they're gonna go to someone to basically fill in that void, and that's what you want to avoid. Sorry. That was bad.

Todd Orston:                   In my mind it sounded so much better than it did. No. But you want to avoid that.

Leh Meriwether:             Oh if I had said that you would've made so much fun of me.

Todd Orston:                   Oh, totally. That's why I was even setting it up for you to mock me. But you need to avoid that. You need to do whatever it takes, and really what it takes is just communicating.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. Just ask the question and answer it. But make sure you sit back and listen to the answer that your spouse gives when you ask that question.

Leh Meriwether:             All right, so the next one, still talking about talking, is an interesting. I actually first learned about this issue from Beue Varnadoe. Remember when we had him on the show a while back, and he's a financial advisor and everything. But there was a comment he made that I found really interesting and I'd followed up on it and learned more about it since then. But he'd made a comment about how many couples that he sits down to have to talk about their planning. And asked him, "Well what does retirement look like for the two of you?"

Leh Meriwether:             And then somebody will say, "Well, I've always dreamt of having a house in the panhandle of Florida with a boat behind us so I can go out fishing every day." And the wife is like, "What? I did know you ... You barely fish. What do you mean that's your dream?" And then, "Well what's yours?" "Well I wanted to get a place up in Maine. You know I love the winters." "I hate the cold." So he was surprised at how many couples, even if they'd been married a lot time had never really sat down and talked about what retirement looks like for them.

Leh Meriwether:             So go ahead.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, because I think it delves into so many other areas. You know, if you say, "What kind of food do you like?" It's a pretty quick conversation. You know, if I say I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. "Oh, okay. Great talk. Talk to you tomorrow. All right."

Todd Orston:                   But retirement, it opens the door to so man other things. Likes and dislikes, and basically your future. You know, all right. You were working hard. When you're doing working, what is our life going to look like? And I'm not saying, you know, whoever it is that's working a lot. In my family both of us work.

Todd Orston:                   So, we do have that conversation, and I can tell you right now from experience, it leads into so many other sort of sub conversations, because it's not just about, "Well today I worked. Tomorrow I don't work." It's, "Where do you want to live? Where do you want a house? Where do you want to visit? You know what ab the kids?"

Leh Meriwether:             "What would you like to do during the day?"

Todd Orston:                   That's right.

Leh Meriwether:             How much is that gonna cost?

Todd Orston:                   That's right. So there's so many conversations which, again, accomplishes one of the primary, if not the primary goal that we're talking about in this show, which is keeping the lines of communication open. That's gonna keep you closer, and hopefully allow you to work through problems when they come up.

Leh Meriwether:             And in this situation when you talk about retirement and the future, you're planning for that too. Because a lot of times you can see couples grow closer when they have a common goal, and so if they you know work. Maybe they have their image of retirement is a little bit different at first, but they work on some compromise that they both like. And then they can say, "You know what, we need this much money in the bank."

Leh Meriwether:             And gosh, you're also setting yourself up for a positive financial future if you say, "Well you know what, we shouldn't spend this money on a super vacation because we want to retire in eight years and this is the kind of retirement we want. So let's not do that and save it for down the road."

Leh Meriwether:             So it sets you up for that, like you said, the lines of communication open, and it sets you up for a positive financial future. Because we've seen finances be a big cause of divorces as well.

Todd Orston:                   All right. Let's go into, because unbelievably we're running out of time. But let's go into the 10th of this show, the 10th tip: confidentiality.

Leh Meriwether:             Now, this is an important one because when we breach a spouse's confidentiality, we're telling that we can't be trusted to honor their needs or help them with their struggles, because as we grow, this line of communication, you start doing these things, the communication gets better, you grow closer. And so let's say you're struggling with, or your spouse is struggling with something, and they come to you saying, "I need help."

Leh Meriwether:             Or something along those lines, and then you go and you laugh about it to your friends. You've breached that confidentiality, and it's gonna cause your wife or your husband to drift from you. And then what it'll also do is they will wind up confiding in someone else. And if that someone else is a person of the opposite sex it can set up for, unfortunately, an adulterous situation.

Leh Meriwether:             But going back to that 20 questions, you know my wife and I have done that before. We've gone and we've asked some pretty interesting questions of each other. But if I told other people of some of the things that she had said, the answers to some of the questions. I'm not even gonna say what questions we asked each other.

Todd Orston:                   Don't wanna know.

Leh Meriwether:             You know, it would be betraying that confidence, because we were discussing that in confidence. And so that would harm our relationship. So a lot of people kind of blow this off, blow off the whole concept of confidentiality.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. I mean just to sum it up very quickly, if you are communicating the way that we're talking about and you are trying to get to really know your spouse, then you're asking them to share things with you that they don't want publicized. And you're doing the same thing. So we have seen too many marriages break down, and arguments start because confidences have not been kept.

Todd Orston:                   And so as we're talking about communicating, you know make sure you keep those confidences safe and secure.

Leh Meriwether:             Exactly. Well that about wraps up this show. I can't believe how quickly it went. If you want to read more about us or find more information about us, you can always check us out at

Speaker 3:                        This audio program does not establish an attorney/client relationship with Meriwether & Tharp.