Episode 245 - Sam and Ronnie: A Conversation on Love, Challenges, and Growth

May 13, 2024


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Episode 245 - Sam and Ronnie interview

[00:00:00] Zach Spafford: Um, do you want to be called Ronnie and Sam?

[00:00:04] Sam: No, Sam

[00:00:05] Ronnie: and Ronnie.

[00:00:05] Sam: Just kidding.

[00:00:09] Ronnie: I'm not White Ronnie, I'm Salmon Ronnie.

[00:00:12] Sam: What?

[00:00:12] Zach Spafford: That's correct. That is correct.

[00:00:14] Sam: What is White Ronnie? Salmon? Oh my gosh.

[00:00:18] Wow, I guess you have to be a dad. That was a good one. He's cracking with me. Be a dad.

[00:00:26] Zach Spafford: That is making, that is making the cut.

[00:00:33] Hey everybody, welcome to Thrive Beyond Pornography. I'm your host, Zach Spafford, and tonight I have a couple of special guests, Sam and Ronnie, and so Sam and Ronnie had been working with me for, well, to be, to be perfectly truthful about it, Ronnie, you signed up like two years ago and then you did nothing for a year.

[00:00:58] Ronnie: I figured all I had to do was pay the money.

[00:01:01] Zach Spafford: That's how it works. And then the magic happens. So then, and then like a year later, you came to me and you were like, "Hey, um, do you remember all that money I paid you? Can I actually do this work with you?" And I was like, yeah, totally. But you need to bring your wife.

[00:01:20] Ronnie: Yeah. What did we have? I think we had like maybe one and a half sessions before you were like, yep. Time to work together with your wife.

[00:01:28] Zach Spafford: Yes, well, yeah, yeah, exactly. It's like, yeah, we can do this, like, we can fix Ronnie, but we need to work.

[00:01:38] Ronnie: The real problem is

[00:01:38] Zach Spafford: Sam. Yeah, the real problem is, the real problem is, no, it really wasn't Sam.

[00:01:42] It was really this relationship that you guys had that wasn't going any better. And so we weren't gonna get porn out of the way unless we worked together. So I thought that was, you're exactly right. It's like, let's do this together. So tonight I want to talk to you guys about your experience and then, and just to ask you some questions, tell your honest truth and share what you think.

[00:02:01] How's that sound?

[00:02:03] Ronnie: Okay.

[00:02:04] Sam: Got it.

[00:02:04] Zach Spafford: I hope that as you listen to this, you can see yourself in Sam and Ronnie and become willing to make the shifts that Sam and Ronnie made. So, do you guys want to introduce yourselves? Is there anything you want to say about yourselves before I ask you any questions?

[00:02:18] Sam: Like what kind of things? I don't know. I'm never good at introductions. I don't know what people want to know.

[00:02:27] Zach Spafford: They want to know how long you've been married.

[00:02:29] Sam: Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. Uh, so we'll have been married for 17 years in August. We have five children. And what else?

[00:02:43] Zach Spafford: Sam, you're a stay at home mom. Ronnie works hard in his own business.

[00:02:50] Sam: Definitely. Let's see. We were kind of the Mormon epitome, getting married. I was 19. He was 21, fresh off the mish. We dated, well actually we were met and married in under six months. So.

[00:03:05] Zach Spafford: Yeah. It's a race, man.

[00:03:08] Sam: Yeah, yeah. So that, that in itself is a lot to unpack.

[00:03:12] That probably tells you a lot about our time for the last 17 years. We didn't have a lot of experience. We didn't have a lot of knowledge or even education, I guess you would say, on relationships. So we're kind of winging it for a really long time.

[00:03:27] Zach Spafford: Well, tell us what your relationship was like before you came to coaching.

[00:03:33] Sam: We were discussing this and the first word that popped into my mind was hostile.

[00:03:39] Ronnie: It was a hostile working environment. Sam was a bad manager. I'm just kidding, but what I said

[00:03:47] Zach Spafford: was And you were not a great employee either.

[00:03:50] Sam: Let's be honest.

[00:03:51] Ronnie: It was parental, it was like parent child relationship.

[00:03:57] Zach, you've described me many times as a petulant child. So I'll take that one with me forever.

[00:04:02] Zach Spafford: I only say that out of love.

[00:04:05] Sam: It needed to be said. Zero percent wrong, sir.

[00:04:08] Ronnie: I would say I definitely had my moments. Lots of them.

[00:04:15] Zach Spafford: I love it. when you guys decided to really dive in on this, What had you tried before and how did it go?

[00:04:22] How was that whole process of 17 years of trying to get along, trying to grow up, trying to not have a hostile working environment? What was that like?

[00:04:32] Sam: Um, Well, like I said, we winged it for a really long time. We beat the dead horse, had the same conversations, the same fights, never a better outcome.

[00:04:41] Finally, about two years ago, right after the birth of our fifth child, we kind of just hit this fever pitch. Where I said, we're going to therapy, we can't do this by ourselves, it's not getting better. Had a really hard time finding a therapist. Um, do a Google search, it just, it wasn't easy. I feel like we talked about therapy for months before we ever found somebody.

[00:05:07] Um, and when we did, uh, it, it was good for a while, but it really, it was, it helped us find the problems. There weren't a lot of solutions offered. The therapist was good at saying, okay, well, what bothers you? Well, what do you think about that? You know, it was never, hey, let's fix it this way or let's try this.

[00:05:34] It was very much, oh yeah, that is a problem. And then it just got worse.

[00:05:40] Ronnie: I think of it kind of like building a house, you know, there's always going to be, there's always going to be some excavation that has to happen, right? Um, But we just kept digging, and digging, and digging, and digging, and digging, and never did any building.

[00:05:56] It was like, wow, this is just getting worse and worse. and then we found another, therapist, and worked with him for like six months, and

[00:06:06] Sam: Oh, well, our, so we did have two therapists. The first therapist had been my previous therapist that had diagnosed me with anxiety and panic disorder. And I think we only went to one appointment with him because it was obviously not his specialty.

[00:06:21] Ronnie: . Yeah. It was short, it was short lived, but between him and the other guy, I mean, it was, it was just, I feel like we just, It was digging and digging and digging.

[00:06:29] Sam: Yeah,

[00:06:29] I would say it's, I can never say this word, exacerbated.

[00:06:34] Ronnie: We definitely got worse. We had some really bad, bad knockdown drag out just fights.

[00:06:42] I mean, it was kind of scary. Actually, we had some moments where it just felt like. Are we gonna get through this?

[00:06:52] Sam: Yeah, it was definitely the first time in our marriage that I allowed myself to entertain divorce.

[00:06:57] Ronnie: Yeah, it was. It was the first time that it came up pretty serious for me too. It was just like, I really don't want to get divorced.

[00:07:05] I love Sam. I want to be married to her, but this life sucks.

[00:07:10] Zach Spafford: Yeah, I really love your, I love your analogy of like digging and digging and digging. Like, you're turning over all the dirt and all the dirt is out there, but you're not planting anything. You're not filling that hole with anything. You're just like, yep, you guys suck, deal with it.

[00:07:32] It's like, that sounds hard. It

[00:07:36] Sam: was hard and I would show up for every appointment thinking, okay, he's gonna give us the deets now. He's gonna give us the goods and every appointment be like, so what do you want to talk about? And I'd be like, I, I, I thought you were going to tell us what to talk about. I thought you were going to give us some tips and tricks, but they never came.

[00:07:55] Zach Spafford: Well, I'm probably jumping the shark a little bit, but there were definitely moments where I would tell you what was going on in the way that you never had before, and you were like, I hate Zach.

[00:08:09] Sam: Robbie definitely hated you. Nah, man.

[00:08:13] Ronnie: Yeah, there were plenty of moments where I was just like, You know, flipping you the double bird virtually.

[00:08:18] Like really, really, you're going to pin this on me. Are you, are you serious? Come on, man. I thought we were like a bro team here.

[00:08:27] Sam: Zach will give it to you straight.

[00:08:28] Ronnie: Definitely a betrayal moments. Yeah, I'm sorry. I mean, we both, we both had our moments through the process where we're just like, yeah, he's full of it.

[00:08:41] Zach Spafford: Yeah. Good. And then what happened?

[00:08:45] Man, I would come out of our sessions and be like man, I mean, I know the things he said he's Some of that's true. But gosh, you're being really hard on me, you know and Like, is this really all my fault?

[00:08:58] Ronnie: Do I really have to fix all of this myself? And uh, but the thing that you really drove home for me was a couple of things. One, I can only change me and I can change me. And that's, and then number two is the changes that I'm making, I'm not doing it for Sam. And that was like such a revolutionary shift for me because everything that I've done up to this point Up to that point is I almost blame it on her.

[00:09:30] I almost blame the good things that I was doing on her. Like, it's hard and it's your fault. It's hard and I'm doing it for you. So why can't you appreciate me more? Why can't you reciprocate in these ways that I want you to? Why can't, why can't, why can't, right? But, um, In reality, I don't need to do it for anyone else.

[00:09:49] I'm doing it for me. These changes are mine. I want them because I want to be who I want to be. And that's like, that became the driving force behind everything going forward and it is still, and like, it's not to say that I don't want to make Sam happy or do things that she loves or any of those things, but I'm not.

[00:10:12] Changing who I am for her. I'm doing it because it's who I want to be and how I want to show up in the world. And that's a whole different ballgame.

[00:10:24] Sam: There was a phrase you said at one point, and I might not get it exactly right, but kind of drove that point home to me was Ronnie, you need to stop trying to make Sam attracted to you and make yourself attractive instead.

[00:10:40] Zach Spafford: Yeah. I love that. That and that's the truth.

[00:10:43] Sam: Yeah. Okay.

[00:10:45] Zach Spafford: And that, that is the honest truth.

[00:10:46] There's nothing that you can do to make someone love you. You can only become more attractive by being a good human, being the best version of yourself.

[00:10:56] Sam: And it works!

[00:10:57] Zach Spafford: So Ronnie, there were some hard things for you to learn. There were some hard things for you to grow through. But you weren't the only one who did growing here.

[00:11:05] Ronnie: No.

[00:11:08] Zach Spafford: Sam, tell us about you

[00:11:09] Sam: um, Zach told me I have a limited, what was the word? Capacity. I have a limited capacity for intimacy.

[00:11:17] Ronnie: I was like, Oh, she's going to love that.

[00:11:20] Sam: Um, Zach had an exercise that I really bucked. I really, and it's, it's still difficult for me. I'm still learning on this one. Yeah. Um, it was hug until relax. And, um, I think I just spent so much time wound up.

[00:11:36] A, cause like you said, I'm a stay at home mom to five kids. There's a lot going on and, and B, um, it kind of works in tandem with Ronnie's working to become attractive. Like I was almost repelled by him because he was trying so hard to make me love him essentially. I mean, obviously I already loved him, but make me attracted to him, make me, you know, want him.

[00:12:02] I had to learn to open up and to trust um, that ronnie was a safe place with the changes that he was making. That was really difficult for me because for so many years he hadn't felt like a safe place. He hadn't felt like a home for me. Um, you know, there's the addiction portion or the pornography portion, whether you call it addiction or not, but, um, that played into it more on the trust side.

[00:12:32] Really learning to see Ronnie and The good person that he is and all that he tries to do and represents. And then the times

[00:12:42] Ronnie messed up and he isn't deserving of my affection. It was no, Ronnie's my husband and I love him. And, you know, after we built up more trust, it was like when he makes. Decisions I don't agree with or he, he has a moment of frustration and blows up. Those aren't as monumental anymore because we have that layer of trust and safety now.

[00:13:07] And I'll say, Oh, Ronnie's having a hard moment. Not Ronnie's a hard person or yeah. Ronnie's the jerk. Ronnie's this or that.

[00:13:15] Ronnie: Yeah. And that goes both ways. Right. And wouldn't you say too that a big part of The difficulty with trust boils down to like, um, I mean, let's talk about sex, right? Like

[00:13:29] Zach Spafford: sure.

[00:13:29] Sam: At a

[00:13:33] Zach Spafford: certain age, you know that song those of you

[00:13:36] Sam: Yes,

[00:13:37] Zach Spafford: and some people who are listening are like what is that song that's nothing

[00:13:40] Sam: well, I mean if they've seen pitch perfect Oh, yes

[00:13:46] Ronnie: Revived it what I was gonna say is just you know like so many people are Quote unquote sex drive is mismatched right where I'm like, hey, let's go.

[00:13:57] Let's go. Let's high desire low desire and she's like wait sex What's that like? Oh, man, you want that again? What the heck's the matter with you? Is that all you think about what am I just an object to you? Whatever and it's like That's where the petulant child thing comes in. I feel like people kind of deserve to have this circle completed.

[00:14:15] Um, it's where I would be like, throw a tantrum. Right. And sometimes we're worse than others. Uh, sometimes I was straight up beast mode and other times it was just like, go pout in the corner, you know, and Zach, you really taught me something special when you, when you taught me how to, in those moments.

[00:14:37] Number one, um, a little bit of strategy and phrasing and how we, how I ask for intimacy with Sam and making sure that she is completely safe in saying no. Um and then number two, along with that, like when she says no, how do I want to show up in the world? Once again, like what person do I want to be in that moment?

[00:14:59] Do I want to be a petulant child or do I want to be, safe and secure, self assured man who can handle myself, and that's what I want to be. I want to be someone who, no matter what the situation is, I can stay centered, I can stay grounded in myself, and in my sense of self, and hold on and not, not lose control, not lose my temper or whatever, and Have these blow ups because they one they're not they're not how I want to be and number two It's certainly not going to go towards the end that I want

[00:15:36] Sam: Yeah,

[00:15:36] Ronnie: you know if i'm scaring her away.

[00:15:39] There's no way we're gonna have sex right so multiple reasons there to Get it together, man. And just, I don't know, like sam's become a lot safer space too, through the process where I just feel like I can tell her whatever I need to tell her, as long as I'm holding onto myself, as you like to say, and, um, You know, staying, what's the word, staying safe and then choosing.

[00:16:10] Yeah. Um, and it's been like, that's just such a shift in it. It sounds so simple. Like, why did it take us?

[00:16:19] Zach Spafford: It sounds simple,

[00:16:21] Ronnie: you know, sessions or whatever. Like, why was this such a long process? But, um, It's been a really, really, really hard, but completely worthwhile thing that has 100 percent changed the dynamic in our relationship

[00:16:36] Zach Spafford: I think you are describing the reason why Sam is able to step into that intimacy because, even though, I think it was true, Sam, that you had a limited capacity for intimacy and there's, there's some deep reasons behind that. The truth is that Ronnie was not a good space for intimacy.

[00:16:55] It wasn't just me saying, Hey, you need to step in to intimacy and fully embrace whatever it is that's going on.

[00:17:01] Sam: Right. You weren't saying go against your intuition. You weren't saying force it, fake it till you make it. None of that.

[00:17:07] Zach Spafford: All of everything that Ronnie just described, that process of going through and growing up made a space for you to be able to say, yeah, I can, I can step into this and enjoy it.

[00:17:20] And make it my own, not for Ronnie, not to manage him. And I think that's one of the most beautiful things that's happened to your relationship.

[00:17:27] Sam: Oh, absolutely. And looking back over our relationship, I can pinpoint certain experiences where I'm like, man, if I had felt like I had a choice, like I could say no without having to manage his feelings.

[00:17:43] That would have completely changed the dynamic in our relationship. Even years ago, I don't think we had to be this old or this quote, unquote, mature. I think if we had had these tools from the beginning, we could have had a really healthy, intimate relationship from the start. Like I'm excited to have this toolkit so that we can teach our kids so they can start off healthy.

[00:18:09] Ronnie: It's such a simple idea, like, hey, it's okay for you to want sex, Ronnie. There's nothing wrong with that. And then Go ask Sam. Hey, I would really, I really want you. You are so sexy. I just, I love you so much and I want to connect with you. How about we, how about we go, uh, make out and then be ready for anything?

[00:18:31] Like if she wants to say yes, great, let's do it. If she wants to say no, okay, can we just go snuggle on the couch then? Like, I just want to be close to you, and doing that over and over and over again builds the trust. For her then to, she's, anyway, she's totally, uh, changed. I've changed. I don't know something.

[00:18:53] Our whole relationship has changed.

[00:18:54] Sam: Well, it's what you said. It's, it's the trust. It's over and over again. You're proving that you're reliable, that you're going to be the same every time. And that is huge for me, you know, because before it was, I would have to manage his feelings and have to think about, well, if I say this, then he's probably going to respond like this, and then he's going to be a grumpy turd the rest of this time, or, you know, a really, a really big one was if Ronnie was going to leave town.

[00:19:25] Ronnie: I need a send off. Come on.

[00:19:27] Sam: Yes. He would really drive home. We have got to have sex before I go. What if I die? What if you never see me again? What if I made like I really need to send off It's gonna make it easier not to look at pornography if we have sex before I go like it was huge amounts of pressure I'm already an anxious person.

[00:19:46] I told you I had panic and anxiety disorder. And so uh That didn't help anything. I wasn't thinking all day long. I can't wait to have sex with my husband and send him off. It was, oh my gosh, like we have to have sex tonight, but I'm not in the mood. What am I gonna do? I don't want to be touched. I don't want, you know, I was so in my head.

[00:20:04] And so by the time nighttime came around, I was like, I'm gonna avoid him. I'm gonna, I'm gonna fall asleep in the kids room or I'm gonna take a really long time to get ready.

[00:20:15] Ronnie: Three hour shower.

[00:20:16] Sam: Yeah, you know, it was an avoidance thing and yeah, that's so sad We missed out on so much. I feel like you know,

[00:20:27] Zach Spafford: but you have now and now yeah

[00:20:30] Sam: And we've had some really really great experiences, you know since doing our sessions that That wouldn't have been possible before.

[00:20:39] And I felt myself soften toward him. And actually like, even though I am the lower desire partner, I find myself thinking about him in intimate ways when he's not there and being like, this is so weird.

[00:20:53] I

[00:20:54] would have never, I didn't think that I had that kind of desire because those thoughts never happened before.

[00:21:04] Ronnie: Yeah,

[00:21:04] that's crazy.

[00:21:05] Zach Spafford: Well, you were always on guard and running for safety there. There was never freedom there. It was always a management process. And watching you two interact, uh, after, all of these sessions, it's fun to see you happier.

[00:21:22] Ronnie: Yeah, we are. Very much happier.

[00:21:27] Sam: You're definitely happier.

[00:21:28] We've always been very compatible personality wise. Like, if we're going out to play, you know, hiking, any activity, we have a really great time. Um, but for a long time, the intimacy and the trust and vulnerability even, we weren't having vulnerable conversations with each other before. And now we are more open to kind of the nitty gritty and getting each other's thoughts on things where before probably would have locked it away and just dealt with it.

[00:21:59] Ronnie: And I think a big piece of that is this whole idea of managing each other's feelings, right? Because it's like, if I share with Sam my most vulnerable parts, there are two fears for me. One is that it's going to be too much for her. Like she's going to feel like she has to. like coddle me or take care of me or fix whatever I'm talking about. and two ah, shoot, I forgot the second thing.

[00:22:26] it was good, it was gonna be good. But now when we have these vulnerable conversations, at least, you know, one of the skills that you have, um, made very sure that I, that I adopt is, um, this you don't have to fix this, right? This is my problem. I'm just talking to you so that you can know me. I'm just talking to you about it so that you understand. And we've had some Very Honest and vulnerable conversations about sex too where she has said, "no" And i've been very honest and open with her of telling her like "dang.

[00:23:05] That's I'm, actually really sad about that, you know, like that that's disappointing I'm, not telling you that so that you feel guilty or so that you feel like you have to fix this for me This is my my problem and i'm dealing with it and I will deal with it. I'm, okay" but You I also want you to know me and know how I feel and that's, you know, it's just a, it's that vulnerability and sharing process that has shifted as well to where we, neither one of us expects the other person to fix it for us.

[00:23:42] It's just, Hey, can I share this with you so that you know me?

[00:23:46] Sam: And I'm still learning that one because when he tells me he's disappointed by not having sex, my chest still tightens a little bit and goes, "Oh no. Like, here comes, shoot," and then, you know, we keep talking, and he's like, but I'm okay. We can snuggle.

[00:24:05] And every single time, he proves to me like, no, you can trust me. Like, of course I'm sad. I want to be with you, but it's okay. You know, let's just snuggle and fall asleep and then I can feel myself relax and just go oh, okay

[00:24:21] Ronnie: Yeah, and then just when I get myself resolved to go to sleep and just get up and then she comes on to me And i'm like, what what is what is happening?

[00:24:29] That's perfect But I I want to like well, it's

[00:24:34] Zach Spafford: that freedom you created space for her to decide Well, what does she want and for so many years there wasn't that question The question was never, what does Sam want? The question was, how do I manage Ronnie? And now that you, that Ronnie's managing Ronnie, Sam can go, well, what do I want?

[00:24:50] Ronnie: Yep. And I want to zoom out. Like, I feel like we're kind of hyper fixated on this sex thing, because it is a big piece, right? Like, it's a big piece of the things that we struggled with in the dissonance in our marriage.

[00:25:01] Zach Spafford: Sex is often

[00:25:03] Ronnie: But yeah, well, this is

[00:25:04] Zach Spafford: often the barometer of a relationship.

[00:25:07] Ronnie: Yeah.

[00:25:08] Well, I like barometers and yeah

[00:25:15] But but but I wanted to zoom out because there's so much more to this than than just sex in terms of like The ways that, these skills have helped our marriage.

[00:25:25] Just yeah, I mean even even as much as like choosing what to do on the weekend or you know, I used to be very passive because I thought it would make her happy or I'm like I don't really care.

[00:25:38] I don't have a preference. So let's just do what you want to do because she usually has a plan usually knows what she wants and I usually like her ideas once she And so sure, yeah, let's, let's deal with that. That sounds good. You know, but now I'm getting into a place where I'm like, you know, Hey, Saturday, I'd really like to, I don't, I want to work on the garage and I want to go to the gym and I want to go, uh, for a hike with, with you and the kids.

[00:26:10] And, uh, You know, just kind of list off a few things that I'd like to do and then see what she had in mind. And then we actually have a adult conversation about it.

[00:26:21] Sam: Merge our plans

[00:26:23] Zach Spafford: Well, and and that was part of that stepping into the honest connective masculine energy That you have that you had basically been suppressing to to just be good for sam Instead of being ronnie and letting that was my version You

[00:26:40] Ronnie: Yeah, that was my version of managing her emotions, right?

[00:26:44] Managing her anxiety, where she has her version of managing mine. And it's just good to shine a light on all that stuff and then figure out ways to move through it.

[00:26:54] Sam: Yeah.

[00:26:55] Ronnie: And deal with it. It's just like, I don't know. It's changed the whole dynamic of our relationship. I keep saying

[00:27:03] Sam: it's definitely liberating.

[00:27:07] Zach Spafford: I love it. How would you explain this work to somebody else? If somebody's going through these obstacles, going through these challenges that you are going through, what would you say to them?

[00:27:22] Ronnie: I get it. I get it. It's a really tough place to be and those things that you're dealing with are real and they're common and There's help available here.

[00:27:42] Here are people that have gone through it and are going through it that are happy to step up and help. Um, you know, we're happy to share whatever we've been able to learn along the way. And of course we'll continue to learn. Um, it's worth it. It's hard. Sucks sometimes most of the time, but it's worth it.

[00:28:04] Zach Spafford: What is it that's worth it?

[00:28:08] Ronnie: Uh, we are, we're worth it. Yeah, I'm worth it. She's worth it. We're worth the effort. As God's children, we have had a lot of effort put into us by him and by our Savior and we're worth it. Like, there's, there's nothing that makes us worth it other than that.

[00:28:35] Sam: I would add, marriage doesn't have to be drudgery.

[00:28:39] You know, you hear people say, Oh, marriage is work. Marriage is work. Well, what does that mean? It doesn't mean that you are miserable. It doesn't mean that it's hard and awful, it means this. This is work, the good work, where you learn and grow and build on these principles and really work to know each other and be safe for each other, you know.

[00:29:04] Because before, I would say we were miserable. We were miserable for a few years. There were a lot of years that we just swept things under the rug and kind of coasted and our marriage wasn't what it could have been. There is so much joy to be had in marriage and I feel like that's what we've found again, um, through working with you and with Darcy.

[00:29:27] And I have talked to several friends and I have been excited to tell them because they all have similar problems. So I'm like

[00:29:40] Based, which is the biggest part for me is, I love,

[00:29:46] Zach Spafford: I lost you at, they all have similar problems and then it just, Oh,

[00:29:50] Sam: okay. Yeah. I noticed you're blinking kind of held there. I was like, is he falling asleep? Are we, are we that boring?

[00:29:56] But you're saying,

[00:29:57] Zach Spafford: I, I, you know, I have some friends and I'm telling them.

[00:30:00] Sam: Yeah. So I, I've been telling them, you gotta, you gotta work with Zach and Darcy. They are coaches. They are solution. They're going to help you recognize your problems, but they're not just gonna leave you in them.

[00:30:17] They're not gonna be like, oh, that's interesting. Tell me more. It's okay. Cool. Here's what we're gonna do. Here's the psychology behind this. Here's how this works. This is why you are having this response. Your body is having this response. That really spoke to me because I had done all of the Instagram investigating all the psychology accounts and so I had these ideas circling in my head but it wasn't until We came to coaching with you that you were able to put words to my thoughts and then you were able to express them to Ronnie in a way that he accepted them because I had tried in my own way to Bring up certain ideas And they were not They were not um,

[00:31:03] Zach Spafford: when you called him a petulant child, it didn't work.

[00:31:05] But when I did it did

[00:31:07] Sam: Yes, it's so nice to have that third party, you know

[00:31:14] To be

[00:31:17] Zach Spafford: fair, to be fair, I think I said that this is the behavior of a petulant child and I, I don't, I don't go about trying to make people feel bad. That, and I hope that that, huh? Say that again. I,

[00:31:32] Ronnie: I tear you down to build you up.

[00:31:36] Zach Spafford: I, I try not to tear you down while I'm helping you build yourself up. But I, but you know, sometimes that blunt truth.

[00:31:45] Okay. Has to be heard. And once you see the blunt truth, you can do the changing that needs to happen.

[00:31:50] Sam: Yes. Well, you're not afraid to call us out, you know,

[00:31:55] Zach Spafford: I am sometimes afraid to call people out, but I do it anyway, because I know it's better for them.

[00:32:01] Sam: There you go. There you go. You do call us out. Um, and so Yeah, I would just say it's, it's just a really, well, I was gonna say it was a really hopeful work for me, but I, I say that with kind of a giggle because every time I came to a session, I was like, I'm so hopeful.

[00:32:25] This is so great. This is so wonderful. I'd look over at Ronnie, and he would just have like this scowl on his face. I'd be like, come on. Right, babe? And he's like, actually.

[00:32:34] Ronnie: It sucks, uh, so, it to me so when you're talking uh... Negative space a lot of times, but, uh, it was good, all good things. But when you were talking, it reminded me of like, let's say you want to learn to play football.

[00:32:56] There's a certain amount of locker room time and chalkboard time that is necessary for you to learn how to play football. Yeah. You gotta, you gotta learn a little bit of theory. You gotta learn the rules, how the game is played, watch some film, whatever. But you're not really going to play football until you get on the field and play.

[00:33:15] And I feel like that's kind of the difference with what we've experienced with you, Zach, versus what we've done in the past is like everything before this was locker room time. And we never really got on the field and had you, had a coach out there, play by play, hey, tweaking, tweaking, you know, doing this, do this, change this little thing here, change this little thing there.

[00:33:37] Hey, I watched how you did this, you sucked. Or, hey, that was a great, great pass. Good job. You know, that was exactly what we're looking for. And like, that's coaching, right? And that's, I think why it works.

[00:33:50] Sam: Well, I really loved that we would come to be like, well, we had this major fight and you would say, okay, let's go through it, let's walk through it.

[00:33:58] Sam, tell me, Ronnie, tell me. And then you would step by step say, okay, well, here's what happened here. And here's what we could do differently. You coached us. through actual experiences that happened to us. And I found that incredibly helpful to be able kind of to review the tape, you know, go back and review the game and be like, oh, okay, that makes sense.

[00:34:23] And to be able, you know, the next time we were arguing, be like, okay, wait a second, wait a second, what did we learn? Hold on. And, and then apply it.

[00:34:34] Zach Spafford: Yeah, it wasn't about calling balls and strikes It was about getting into your heads and saying, okay, this is what's behind that. Yeah, how can we adjust that?

[00:34:43] What's important? Yeah, it's all there.

[00:34:45] Ronnie: Yeah, and always with the questions overarching. Who do you want to be and what do you want? What do you want? What are you actually trying to get?

[00:34:59] Sam: And at the end of the day, it wasn't sex. No, it's connection. It was connection and, and that was a huge shift for me to, to be like, okay, Ronnie's not this rabid sex monster. Oh, yes I am. But in a good way. It is not,

[00:35:22] Ronnie: it is not the one and only thing that I desire. I truly want to, I want to be, I want to connect.

[00:35:28] But, you know,

[00:35:29] Sam: that was the shift for me, and the shift for him was to show up in ways that, that, not prove, but, Proved that that's not all he was after like I but he'd have to prove it to me But but that just showed like no i'm here for so much more like sex is definitely the cherry on top. Oh, yeah But i'm here for all of it.

[00:35:54] Zach Spafford: Well, and you felt chosen in that framework rather than used

[00:35:58] Sam: Yes, absolutely. There were many times in our marriage that I was like, man, i'm just a body What am I even here for you know, and You And we're just like, let's just get through this one. And then, and then it will be, I can at least hold them off for, you know, a week, a couple more hours, four or five days a week, you know, until, until I have to face that again, you know, and I, I don't feel that pressure as much anymore that whether it's real or imagined, you know, if we hit a week, I'm like, oh, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.

[00:36:39] But it's getting. better to where I'm like, no, actually, you know, this is okay. And when I'm here to choose it, then it's, it's going

[00:36:48] Ronnie: to be better. Well, it's all a journey, right? We're not, it's not like we're cured, like, and we're not human anymore. We've achieved robot status. This is not like that, but it's just leaning into feeling the feelings and, and being who we are and holding on to ourselves and Just being able to choose that closeness with whatever is going on.

[00:37:20] Like there have been moments where we've been uh, really, I mean really at each other's still about this or that, but much more calmly and then even still with that still choosing, hey, why don't we hold hands? Yeah. Why don't we snuggle? Why don't we have a hug?

[00:37:42] Sam: And I usually say, no, thank you.

[00:37:45] You're so sweet. Okay.

[00:37:46] Ronnie: Yeah. And it's crazy how even in that moment with even with that small exchange, it dissipates so much of the tension. And then it usually does still come back together in some form of closeness. And that's what, that's been a big discovery for me that that really is what I want. As, as the man with the sex drive, like you would think all I want is sex, but it's not.

[00:38:12] I do want that, but. Way more than that, I want to be close to Sam. I love her. She is my soulmate. She's, uh, she's the person, she's my person. I've chosen her for eternity and I, and I just, I really want to be connected to her. And so sometimes I do that on her terms and that's fine. In fact, a lot of times I do that on her terms.

[00:38:36] Zach Spafford: Because I like that you guys are saying, I'm not perfect. We're not perfect. This hasn't solved every single disagreement for the rest of our lives. It's given us a toolbox where we can connect and resolve things without getting disorganized, disrupted in our emotional states.

[00:38:54] And I think that that's really, really important. This is why Darcy and I want to do this with couples more than just the men, right? When we do it with just a man, it's all right Let's let's modify behavior by giving you a set of tools and those tools work but it does not solve the underlying difficulties that are occurring that drive some of that behavior And when you can deal with and solve some of that underlying struggle that's occurring within the relationship that is driving the struggle, then you start to see real change, real shifts, not simply in a simple behavior, but in the overall tenor of the entire relationship.

[00:39:32] And that's what I've seen with you guys in the last, I mean, it's been a few weeks, it, it w it was really still, you know, a month ago, it was still like, man, I'm not sure this is working. And then stuff started to click and it started to work and it started to be a different Sam and Ronnie.

[00:39:52] Ronnie: Yeah, we're a little slow.

[00:39:54] Zach Spafford: No, you're perfect. You're perfectly on the right path for you. And I love it. What else would you share with us? What's, is there anything else you would share with anybody who's listening?

[00:40:07] Final words of wisdom.

[00:40:09] Ronnie: I said it before, but You're worth it. You're worth the effort. Your marriage is worth the effort.

[00:40:16] I think the reason why I feel like I need to say that is because I felt like we weren't worth the effort a lot of times And felt like i'm not worth the effort like it's just too much dang work It's just too hard. I'm not up for it. It's like I know zach's up for it He'll do the work on me, but am I up for it?

[00:40:39] Uh, I don't think i'm up for it I just don't think I can do it In fact, I think that was the thing I said to you on the first call to all those years ago. We're like, so are you ready for this? Well, yeah, but I just don't know if I can and I'm not done. I haven't completed my journey, but oh man, I look back at that day versus today and I'm really glad I put in the effort and I will continue to do the effort because it's worth it.

[00:41:13] Sam: I think it's really easy to play the comparison game, right? Especially with social media. And just, you know, being out and about with friends to think, man, they have a great marriage. They've really got their stuff together. Look at their kids. Look at their family. They've really got this nailed down. And then to go back and look at your marriage and tatters and think, geez, what are we doing wrong?

[00:41:37] What is wrong with us? And then to be able to go through this work and just realize that there is nothing wrong with you. You just lacked. The tools you lacked the education you lacked a teacher your sensei and um To

[00:42:01] Zach Spafford: not wearing that outfit

[00:42:05] Sam: If you showed up to a call

[00:42:07] Zach Spafford: Your karate outfit.

[00:42:10] Sam: Oh, that would be incredible.

[00:42:12] Um So yeah, I would just I just think even people look to our marriage. I've talked to people that have been like really You You're in coaching, you're in therapy. Ronnie looks at pornography, you, this, that, and the other X, Y, and Z. Wow. I would have never expected that. Because Ronnie's super outgoing, happy go lucky, funny, and Tell me more about yourself.

[00:42:45] And you know, we have fun together, and you know, we love talking together, but behind closed doors, everybody's struggling. Everybody's Going through growing pains, um, and suffering. And so I would just say, don't be embarrassed. Don't be afraid that you're the only one because you're not. Everybody's dealing with this.

[00:43:10] And then it is worth it.

[00:43:14] Zach Spafford: I love it. Thank you guys so much for doing this work because it, it truly is from that very first moment where I met you, Sam, and we sat down, we had lunch and I was like, this lady's mad. She's upset.

[00:43:32] Sam: I did not want to be there. I'll be honest.

[00:43:34] Zach Spafford: I could tell. That's my job. You know, we sit down, we have lunch.

[00:43:40] You don't want to be there. And I say. What do you want? And you said, I want something that's, that's good and wonderful. I want that connection and that freedom and that joy to have in my marriage. Maybe you didn't say all of those words, but that's what I heard.

[00:43:58] Sam: Yeah. I, I remember saying, I want an easiness between us.

[00:44:03] Not that I want it to be easy. I want a comfortableness, a closeness that it's just, we're side by side doing our thing. And enjoying life together. Do

[00:44:19] Zach Spafford: you feel like you have that now?

[00:44:23] Sam: A lot more than we did. Obviously, we're not perfect, but but yeah, definitely feel like we're more in tandem and not so negatively enmeshed.

[00:44:38] Ronnie: And thank you, Zach. Thank you for the program. Thanks for persisting with us and calling us out when we needed to, and just, uh, you've really empowered us with some great tools. Yeah. Thank you.

[00:44:55] Zach Spafford: You guys are awesome. I really enjoy working with you.

[00:44:58] Thank you guys for being a part of this. Thanks for sharing your story.

[00:45:02] I hope that it helps someone, whether they, you know, they step into coaching or whether they simply hear this story and realize they are worth it and that they can do this and that it's not, they're not alone. All right. Well, I know it's late and I appreciate you guys doing this, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

[00:45:23] Ronnie: Yeah. Thank you. All

[00:45:26] Zach Spafford: Um, do you want to be called Ronnie and Sam?

[00:45:31] Sam: No, Sam

[00:45:31] Ronnie: and Ronnie.

[00:45:32] Sam: Just kidding.

[00:45:35] Ronnie: I'm not White Ronnie, I'm Salmon Ronnie.

[00:45:38] Sam: What?

[00:45:39] Zach Spafford: That's correct. That is correct.

[00:45:41] Sam: What is White Ronnie? Salmon? Oh my gosh.

[00:45:45] Zach Spafford: Pink? Also known as Pink Ronnie?

[00:45:49] Sam: Wow, I guess you have to be a dad. That was a good one. He's cracking with me. Be a dad.

[00:45:57] Zach Spafford: That is making, that is making the cut.


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