Saturday, December 18, 2010
Radically Transforming your Marriage
Brian King has an undergraduate degree from BYU in International Relations, including a semester abroad, studying Arabic in Jerusalem/Cairo. He received a Masters in Security Studies at Georgetown and began work as an analyst with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Brian spent a year at Naval Forces Central Command and two years at the NCIS field office in Rota, Spain. Additionally, he holds a Masters degree from the National Defense Intelligence College and now works at the National Counterterrorism Center. He teaches a class at the University of Maryland on Terrorist Motivations and Behavior. Brian King is the author of The 100 Day Promise: Radically Transforming your Marriage by Living with Complete Concern for your Spouse's Happiness, available for purchase on Amazon.
Warrior SOS: Congratulations on your recently published book. Tell us how it all came about.
King: After an argument with my wife (Nonnie) I came to the realization that everything we can either cause a relationship to spiral up in a positive way or spiral down. I wondered what would happen if I only did things to make our relationship spiral up for an extended period of time without her knowing. I decided to focus completely on her happiness for 100 days and write down the highlights of each day. It had an amazing impact on us. When some of our friends heard about it they were so excited. I started to realize that this was a message that could really motivate people to change the dynamic in their relationships.
Warrior SOS: The entire concept behind your experiment sounds intriguing and exciting. Is there anything in particular that happened during this period that really made a drastic difference in your relationship?
King: No, there wasn't anything specific that seemed to make the difference. It was the sum total of all the little things that seemed to put wind in her sails and created a buffer in front of the occasional inconsiderate things I said or did. As the days went on, it seemed to make it easier for Nonnie to have more of the same mindset. It was just that little extra effort that seemed to make the difference. For example, one time I was laying on the floor watching TV and she asked for a blanket that was sitting next to me. Instead of just throwing it to her, I walked over and laid it over her making her smile.
Warrior SOS: How has the reception to your book and concept behind it been? Have you had anyone disagree with the idea?
King: The reception has been really great. It makes my day when someone tells me the book gave them a boost or more hope in working on their marriage. I've had two friends question whether going full throttle like this to try to make someone happy is a good idea. I think they misunderstood it to mean that you should put up with being mistreated without complaint. While I wouldn't necessarily expect anyone to live their whole lives this way, I just wanted to take it to the extreme for a short period to see what would happen. In reality there may have to be a little more communication and compromise. The main idea is that you can only get to the place you want to go by living with greater concern for your spouse's happiness. For the military minded, I think of it as an asymmetric attack instead of the usual haggling and give-and-take of a relationship. It changes the whole dynamic.
Warrior SOS: Was it hard to stay motivated throughout the 100 days?
King: People are surprised when I say this, but No, it wasn't. Once I made the decision to do it that was it. There were a couple times when I had to really pause and think about what the right thing to do was. Had I not committed to a certain period of time I'm sure I would have just settled back into my normal routine.
Warrior SOS: Did she ever suspect what you were up to?
King: After a few weeks when I asked her what she thought of a nice note I sent her, she asked if I "was dying or something." I just laughed it off. She could tell things were different, but didn't really suspect anything like this.
Warrior SOS: How has your relationship improved--or has it?
King: We're having more fun now and when we're in a difficult situation it seems like we both realize that we have to handle it carefully. There is also a buffer zone from all positive actions that makes it much harder to get to the place where anger or frustration arises.
Warrior SOS: In a family setting, do kids play a role and, if so, what benefits do they derive?
King: Kids play a big role. Mainly the huge demands they make on each parent naturally put stress on the marriage relationship. When they see the parents happy and loving each other it shapes them into being that way. You see them helping and solving problems better. They get more excited about doing nice things for other people. It will no doubt ripple down to their kids and people they interact with throughout their lives.
Warrior SOS: What advice would you offer to warriors—those in military service, law enforcement or private security?
King: It can be hard going from a job where you are keyed up and ready for a confrontation to home where handling problems with the same direct mindset is only going to set you back. Realize that doing everything you can to make your spouse loved and happy is the only way to develop the dynamic that most people are seeking. Understanding this will change your whole approach to resolving challenges. It can also be hard after returning from a long deployment or tense day on the job to not think that it should be "me" time when you get back. Taking a few minutes to show concern for their situation will go a long way.
Warrior SOS: Is there different advice that you'd recommend to the spouses of warriors?
King: Not really, it is basically the same concept for either spouse. Perhaps I would suggest separating the bad news about scheduling or deployments from what he or she actually wants or is in control of.
Warrior SOS: Certainly there are situations that arise that can be terribly devastating to any relationship—infidelity, abuse, illegal activities or drunkenness of one or both marriage partners that compound marital problems. What's your recommendation for this?
King: While living selflessly is a key component to a healthy relationship, it may not always be enough. At a certain point, if there is no desire to change damaging behavior, whether through counseling or otherwise, you may have to end the relationship. I would recommend as you go through the process of resolving difficult problems that you keep in mind the effect your responses will have. The cumulative effect of vengeful responses, although justified, will make it hard for the relationship to rebuild, if that is what you want.
Warrior SOS: Do you have any last advice or suggestions to those who want to improve their relationship—who want to try what you've attempted but might hesitate doing so?
King: As with many things, the difference between success and failure is often very slim. Giving that little extra effort may be all that is needed to put you on a totally different track. Having a loving relationship is key to not only a happy home and peace of mind, but also to achieving the other goals you have in life. It might seem like a hassle at first, but I can promise you that the results of the new relationship will be worth the investment.
Warrior SOS: Finally, why do you think it is hard for people to think or act in such a selfless way—putting their spouse first?
King: On the surface, it seems illogical to say that you can find your own happiness by thinking of someone else first. It is human nature in some ways to look out for your own well being. Most people have a strong sense of justice and quickly go to battle-mode when they see something unfair. Although families can bring great rewards, they also require a lot of work. It totally changes the game when you stop trying to control the line of justice in a relationship. Only when you give up that battle is the other person freed from that cycle.
Warrior SOS: Thank you so very much, Brian. I truly hope your book helps many warriors and their spouses endure the challenges faced in every relationship, as well as the occasional extra burden placed on those who fight so that others may live.
Brian King, author of The 100 Day Promise: Radically Transforming your Marriage by Living with Complete Concern for your Spouse's Happiness, available for purchase now on Amazon.com.
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