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Woodshop Wisdom #18 – She told me, “NOTHING Has Changed”…What Now?

by | Woodshop Wisdom

Welcome brother! If this is your first time reading Woodshop Wisdom, this is a place where, every Monday, we answer a specific question from the men’s communityWe give straight-forward answers to a variety of relationship problems and the challenges men face everyday as a provider, father and husband. And often we will challenge you to go much deeper in your understanding of the problem and how to think about it more effectively. 

Let’s get started. 


I set myself back again. After months of working on myself I asked my wife how she felt about our relationship. She says nothing has changed.  She still doesn’t have any of those “in love” feelings.  Man, that hurt.  I got a bit defensive.  I have been working so hard showing up a better man, husband, and father. She closed down and we ended up in another argument with each other.  If feels as if we are back to square one.  I have spiraled down into this blanket of sadness thinking that there is no way out of this mess.  How do I change the direction of our marriage?


“You’re only one thought away from happiness, you’re only one thought away from sadness.”  ~ Michael Neill

I can relate to your question.  I thought I pressed all the right buttons, did all the right things, and gathered enough compelling evidence that she should now change and be the person I want her to be.

It was a more complex equation now, but I had the right factors to equal the results I wanted.

This new me should produce the results I desire.  They didn’t.

“She is one thought away from changing her opinion of me and the relationship.  Why can’t she see that!?!?”

The harsh truth is because you haven’t selected a new thought for yourself yet either.

I can see myself in the question above.  I have lived in these thoughts. 

Only recently have I found it easier to see these thoughts from a different perspective.

I like to play a different game now called “Maybe not that, how about this?” It has an element of “Is this true?” to it, but I like to grab a new thought on the way out.

It looks something like this:

Maybe not thatHow about this?
“I set myself back again.”I don’t think this is a linear journey with a finish line in my future.  It is impossible to be “set-back” because this is about evolution and growth versus outcomes and rewards.  This conversation between us happened for a reason.  I have something to learn from this interaction.  Something I hadn’t seen yet.
“She said nothing has changed, that hurt.”Whoa! Don’t miss this huge connection opportunity.  She said nothing has changed FOR HER.  This isn’t about you.  This is about what she is feeling inside of herself.  If it hurt, it is because you are taking it personally and as an indicator to your own well-being.  Wait a minute…how am I doing?  I am breathing, healthy, grateful for many things in my life, loving my direction…I could actually be happy right now.
“It feels as if we are back to square one”Sweet! First dates are always fun, nerve wracking, and exciting.  (This is an unusually positive spin, you say?)  But what if for a moment I thought about trying to ask her out on a date. What would I say?  How would I show up if I ignored our history for a bit and tried to playfully flirt with her?  That would be different! That might be fun!
“There is no way out of this mess”That’s true! There is no way out if that is what we choose to see.  What if instead it was – THIS is exactly the way forward in our relationship.  THIS is the path we are on and exploring right now.
“How do I change the direction of our marriage?”Simply by examining and changing the way we THINK about the marriage.

If this all sounds ridiculous and overly simplified it might be because you still think you aren’t powerful enough to look inward and then create a new reality for yourself.

This change starts from within.  You must stop looking to her or anyone else to change how you are feeling on the inside.

Thoughts From The Woodshop

I showed up to work in the morning with “The Eye of the Tiger” as my brother and co-worker calls it.  Translation – leave him alone, he is transmuting his anger and frustration into focused energy and determination. AKA – He is crabby and you are likely to be snapped at.

That playful teasing was enough to get me to half-smile.  Not enough to break me free from the spell of “I have too much to do today!”

I had an installation to complete about an hour north of the shop.  The trouble was I had a video conference with the architect, designer, and owner of another project due at the same time.  The plan was to drive up there, have the conference in the truck, and then complete the install. 

The phone started ringing and the problems came pouring in on the drive up there.  This material is backordered, this other job is delayed, and this other job wants to get impossibly moved up.  I spent all my time on the phone trying to pour water on fires that have no chance of going out until weeks of hard work and hours of labor later.

I barely made my video meeting on time and spent an hour and half discussing hand applied carvings and antique finishing techniques for cabinets that weren’t due for 4 months!

I didn’t get a chance to make a bit of sawdust on this jobsite until past noon.  I was behind.

Do you feel the frenzied nature I put myself in?  I am purposely trying to portray what I was thinking and feeling at the time. 

After finally getting to the installation that needed to get done, nature called.  I had to get to the port-a-potty fast.  I scampered over to it, with my phone of course (who goes to bathroom without there phone these days?) and sat about taking care of business.

I stumbled on an article by Michael Neill about living in the feelings of our thoughts.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the absurdity of the whole thing.

Here I was at this north woods cabin, in the middle of nowhere, by myself, studying the principles of the inside-out mindset, sitting on a port-a-potty taking care of personal business.

I thought to myself “No one is living this unique experience but me. I doubt there are other construction workers out there sitting on the john thinking about the nature of thought. This is ridiculous!” 😊

My mood brightened and demeanor softened because I was now living in the thinking this all isn’t terribly serious.  The problems I have aren’t insurmountable.  They are actually blessings at times.  In an instant I had more joy and more fun. 

In that instant my thoughts changed, so did the world around me.

Where to go from here? 

I see you man. I see that you are ready to engage, you are ready to create something new. I see that you are ready to pick up the tools we have available and get back to building something in your life that is beautiful, impactful, and meaningful. I look forward to seeing it.

It all starts with a question – what do you want to build?

Most of us men spend a lot of time in our heads.  We have conversations with ourselves but never show that thinking and feeling side to anyone else. The question and answer example above is exactly like the wise conversations we have every day ALL day in the Mentoring Men Community.  This is the smartest, strongest, most caring and courageous group of men I’ve ever known.

We meet weekly for group coaching calls and have deep conversations with men around the world 24/7.  This online men’s group is like none other out there.  This is what we hear.

“Thank you, Thank You, Thank You for reminding me of who I really am and helping me kill that annoying hummingbird. My wife has seen an immediate change in my attitude and outlook while she has struggled to make progress of her own. She has even made the statement that “I want to be where you are and want to find something that I can connect with and that will make me a better person.”

Join us and start changing your life faster than you ever thought possible.

Matt Epsky

Matt Epsky

As Co-Founder of Mentoring Men and a Certified Goodguys2Greatmen Men’s Coach student, Matt picks a question from the men’s community each week and uses the collective wisdom of the men's community to give an insightful response. Talk with Matt Epsky about making positive changes in your own life.
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