48. Cheri Timko – Dating Your Spouse

January 18, 2023

Cheri Timko is a Couples Relationship Coach who helps women deepen their connection with their current partner so they can have the relationship they long for. She has been happily married for 20 years. She is a veteran psychotherapist and homeschool mom to three teenage daughters.

Cheri is on Instagram and Facebook. You can also join her Facebook page Date Night Community. Visit her website: www.cheritimko.com


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Welcome to the Connected for Real podcast. I’m Rebbetzin Bat-Chen Grossman, a marriage coach for women and business, and my mission is to bring God’s presence into your life, into your marriage, and into your business. Let’s get started.

And we are live. Welcome everyone to the Connected for Real podcast. I am Rebbetzin Bat-Chen Grossman, and today with me is Cheri Timko, who you just heard in the podcast two podcasts ago. and today we’re doing a follow up because when I posted this podcast, it was a year after we recorded and I thought, Hey, that would be really fun to hear a follow up.

So introduce yourself first and then we’ll start talking about our topic for today. Great. Great. Thank you so much for having me. I am a couple’s relationship coach. I’m also a psychotherapist who specializes in couples, so I really get. My whole life is kind of immersed in how to help couples. I’m also mom to three daughters, two of who are now in college.

So letting go of those daughters, that’s really hard. I don’t know. Those are probably the highlights. ? Yes. Oh my gosh. A year is such a long time and suddenly there’s different things happening and all the different moves and the changes, so I totally get it. . Oh my goodness. Okay, so last time we spoke about how you helped the couple and I helped the wife.

And today I wanna focus more on using dating as a way to fix your marriage. And I’m talking about dating your own spouse, obviously. You know, Obvious. But yeah, that you come up with all sorts of crazy things. So it’s good to clarify. Don’t Google it. dating while married. Yes. So date your spouse in order to fix your marriage.

Let me hear more about that. Tell me how. How you came up with this, what you came up with. Obviously it’s not something you made up. We all know it’s a good thing to date your, you know, husband or your wife, whoever you’re listening to who, whoever’s listening to us. But what did you do to make it more practical, more realistic, more doable?

So this idea really started two years ago when I opened my Facebook group. It’s called Date Night Community, and it’s to support married couples. And I put, I post three date night questions every week. And I’ve been doing that for I think a year and a half. Very strong. Every week you get your three questions and it just encourages couples to go out and then talk to each other about stuff other than home, family, and work, cuz those are the three topics that everybody talks about.

So sometime last year I was like, oh, right. This always bothers me that people give up the. like they get married cuz they found this person who they have fun with, they connect with they love, and then they stop having any fun. So I was like, okay, I bet I can fix the relationship problems with structured questions.

So I have a group going through my course right now. I’ll run it again in a couple months. But. go on a date. They spend 30 minutes talking about these specific questions to walk them through problems and communication and how they wanna continue, and then they do something fun. So it’s a lot. I’m just really enjoying it.

I, I hear the word fun and I start getting excited. , it’s so exciting to get out of the box, right? To like, we have so much structure in our life, and you think that, okay, we’re going on a date. No structure, just have fun. But when you have that freedom and you don’t know what to do with it, you get lost. , you know, and all of that freedom of no, no structure, and I love how you bring structure back into that container and make it doable.

Yeah. A lot of couples will go on a date and then get into an argument. And then it makes it hard for them to go on a date again. So this is, this also addresses that issue of couples. You know, like if you don’t deal with your stuff before your date, then your date is when you have to deal with it. So, right.

Helping to to pull those things apart and be able to deal with something a little bit at a time. And then to see the dating as a long-term. Not just, oh, we have one night this year, . I was gonna say, how do you deal with the fact that you have so much stuff and no time to date? I have people telling me it’s, it’s really.

It’s impossible. It’s impossible. You have kids, no money, this and that. All these worries, whatever it is happening. You know, three jobs, all these different things and oh, I have people whose job timings are the wrong time, right? Like he works American hours, she works Israeli hours, and like they never see each other.

What do you do? Yeah, and I lived in, I, I even now live in that reality a little bit. When our kids were born, I, my husband would work during the day and then I would work in the evening so that they didn’t have to be in childcare. So I get this problem. This is like everyone’s problem. . Well, I gave, so in this program I gave a couple of bonuses and one is a list of at home dates, and the other is how to find time when there’s not any, so, mm-hmm.

one of the things that I suggest in that is like, look, two, look for those pockets of time. And if you only have 10 minutes together, then spend 10 minutes together, right? Because 10 minutes together, a few times a week adds up and you end up with much more connecting time than otherwise. The other thing is that most of the time, most of the time I had one of these kids that didn’t, most of the time, kids go to bed and then there is a pocket of time before the parents go to bed, and most people are like, here’s my list.

and especially the moms are like running all over the place. Like gotta get this done, gotta get that. But if you set aside one of those nights and say, okay, this is our night to connect. So when I say date night, it isn’t necessarily that you get dressed up and you leave the house and you go to some fancy place.

Never really have a date. , right. You know, when you say questions, structured questions, it reminds me of the 10 questions before getting married. There was this list that was going around, all of my friends were using it and passing it from one to the other. It started by, you know, someone’s mentor gave it to her, and then she passed it on to me and I passed it on to it.

Right. And it was 10 questions that helped you focus. is this right? Like, can we get married and make this work? And it was so powerful because even though my husband’s not into these things and he was like, you know, sort of laughing it off and being all, you know, ugh, that that’s crazy, or blah, blah, blah, whatever, I, it was still great to ask them because it helped me see.

how he deals with structured questions, right? And I, and I also got really great answers, right? Like, how are we going to support ourselves and where’s your ideal, you know, what, what things do you wanna keep from your childhood and what things do you wanna change for our own children? Right? Like, they were really great questions and, and now you’re talking and suddenly you’ve brought all those back to me.

Like, oh my gosh, they were so powerful and I wish that I had questions like that for now, with the change. focus, right? It’s like we’re not trying to figure out if we can live together anymore. Now we’re trying to figure out how to live together. , right? How do we make this work? So let’s hear a couple of, of ideas of like what the questions are like or what the goal is.

I love those questions. I don’t know if I’ve seen that one, but there is a study that was done years. maybe 10 or 15 years ago. And they had two strangers sit eye to eye and go through a series of questions. And by the end they rated each other so much more highly. And I think a couple of those couples actually started dating because it is so powerful to sit with someone, look eye to eye and talk with them.

So some examples of questions. So in my. I see two types of questions. One, are the questions that are really just about, let me know, you better let me know how you think about things. And so those are questions like what would you do if you won a million dollars? Or How did your parents deal with stress when you were little?

What do you wanna do with your retirement? Like, those kind of questions that really are. What’s happening right now, but help you get into how each other are thinking about things. The other type of questions are much more targeted to deal with a problem. So those are things like how are we working through problems and is it actually getting us to the end of a problem?

Hmm. What do you like about how we solve problems and what do you wish we would just not do? , and so those type of questions lead you down this path to get to that, that understanding and solving problem. I like it. I like it a lot. And I, what comes up for me is the question, you know, again, which we spoke about last time, couples versus taking responsibility just for your side when there isn’t the other side to work with.

Right. A lot of women will say, it’s all on me. I’m all alone in this. I’m doing all the work, I’m going to all the classes, I’m doing all the coaching, and. , he is not an active participant in trying to work, you know, make this work. So, you know, my approach is, okay, so let’s make it work single-handedly, and it’s possible.

And it’s awesome because you get to create something from, you know, from what is reality we get to, to work with it. Just today there was one of my discovery calls and she said, . When I told my husband I had an appointment with you, he looked you up and watched one of your videos and said, I like her.

I think that’s, you know, it’s a good move. And, and and it’s not the first time guys love, love me. Why? Because I get them off the hook. I’m like, you go do your thing. Leave us alone and we will fix everything. Right. Like it’s not, yeah. Don’t stress. , it allows, it frees them to then go and fix what they can fix within themselves and take responsibility with themselves because they see that it’s no longer a blame game.

It’s no longer a defensive, you know, trying to, you know, attack each other and defend, you know, ourselves and whatever. It creates a different dynamic. . So that being said, what do you do when your husband isn’t into these types of things, structured questions or date nights and he’s just like stressed and focused and you know, in his own world, I love Sideways solutions, working on yourself to improve your marriage.

This is a sideways solution. You go in through the window, that door is closed. . Most men are going to be more likely to say yes to, Hey, let’s go out on a date, then let’s sit here and talk about our problems. Yes, . I think most women also , right? Most, most humans are not happy to sit and talk about their problems, especially if they don’t know there’s going to be a solution.

Right? , if you can if you can set this up as something that’s fun, then you have more. So there’s a few, few benefits to that. One is that when you have fun with your spouse, you put goodwill in a bank, and so it makes it easier to deal with the problems later, right? It also people work through problems better when they are relaxed.

So if you go on a date and you guys are relaxed, then a topic might come up organically so that you can start to talk about it. But the other thing is that talk about things for short periods of time. It makes no sense to have a two hour marathon discussion about a problem, and then you’ve overloaded him.

You. Gotten off track, you’ve thrown everything on the table. Those, those conversations almost never solve anything. So have like a 10 minute conversation. And if you say to your spouse, I have this problem, can I have 10 minutes of your time? And then you stick to 10 minutes, they’re gonna be much more likely to talk about that again.

But what most people do is, all right, we’ve been talking for 10 minutes. This has been going. Let’s try 15. Let’s just keep going. No, stop talking. Tell ’em. I’ll bring this up again so we can talk about it again. Let’s stick to your time limit, right? Oh, it’s so beautiful. You know what? Also, it makes me realize that the turnarounds are so powerful.

Anytime you say, yeah, but my husband doesn’t want to, you know, my husband is not into these things. Turn it around. Right? Like, are you into these things ? Like, you know, do you want to and sometimes when you look into why it is that you don’t want to, you realize that you’re the one that’s not trusting the process.

And if you just trust that he will play along and that it will be a good atmosphere and it will all work out, then you’ll have the ability to bring it up and also close it up, right? Like you’ll trust yourself. . So I think that that would be my take. I’ve noticed that people, when they work on their relationship, they say, we’re gonna try harder.

then they try harder to make the same old tools that didn’t work before work now. So trying harder means learning something new, trying something new, seeing whether it works and then coming back and being like, okay, this is better. Or Man, that didn’t work at all. Let’s go back to what at least was better than this, but stop trying harder to make the same old relationship tools work that didn’t work.

Oh my gosh. I love that. Stop trying harder with the same tools that aren’t the right tools for you. Wow. Yes, . It doesn’t have to be this hard. I think that couples overcomplicate their relationship, and so a lot of it is like, let’s just, how do we simplify this? How do we make it so that you don’t get hurt and I don’t get hurt, but we still can talk about.

Right. And you know, now I’m in a marriage program. I’m not a marriage program, a money, money program with Yael Trusch it’s called God Wants You To Be Rich. And it’s, it’s a really great program. Her main thing is called money dates, where you go with your husband, sit down for 10 minutes and talk about your money, and then stop, close it up and come back to it next week.

You don’t have to solve all your money problems in one day, right? You could sit down for 10 minutes and say, what’s your first me money memory, and be done with that, you know? . Yeah, I don’t want that. I’m actually gonna look that up. Someone said that to me just this week. God doesn’t want you to be poor.

Like he’s not, that’s not his goal here. And so I think that that sounds like a really interesting program. It is a very good program. I highly recommend it. And I’m in it now cuz I’m, you know, I, I love everything she does. You know what’s interesting? I mean, we could totally go on this tangent for just a moment because it has everything to do with your marriage and with everything else in your life.

People think that, you know, we’re, I think we’re programmed or not programmed, but we get messages. That it has to be hard that, you know, oh, welcome to marriage. You know, this is, you know, this is gonna be a while, right? Like all these jokes that make it be more difficult than it has to be. and life in general, we make it harder than it has to be, and we get in our own way.

Like you said, we go on a date and we go to fight because we don’t know what to do. You know, with the abundance. We don’t know what to do with the extra time or with the, you know, sudden outpour of money or all these things like when things are good. , our, our antennas go wild. Like, oh my gosh, something’s wrong.

something’s wrong. Cuz something’s good. . And, and a lot of that is just beliefs and things that you grew up with and how you’ve been, you know I can’t come up with the word I’m looking for, but yeah, , there are a lot of myths around marriage. A lot of advice that, just a lot of advice that secretly.

right? Like, bite your tongue. Oh, marriage has to one. Yeah. These things that, what was the second one you said? That marriage has to be hard. Oh, right, yeah. Yes, dear. That’s another one. Like these, these are gonna make your life harder. These are gonna make you fight more because it, it’s not gonna work.

It’s not, it doesn’t solve. . Yes. And I just read, someone said, don’t go to bed angry. You know, talk it out. And it’s like, no, go to bed, sleep, eat, and then discuss, right? Like, we don’t have to do everything when we’re angry, you know? Like angry and hungry at the same time. Really bad idea. Tired, angry, or in pain.

Those are bad combos. To have a good combination to have a good conversation. Yeah. This idea that you shouldn’t go to bed angry is really that you need to be able to put down the conflict, recognize that your marriage is okay, that there’s much more to it than just that conflict, and be able to look each other in the eye, give each other a kiss and say, yeah, we’re.

We’ll deal with this. It needs to be dealt with, but it doesn’t have to wreck our sleep. When people have these marathon conversations, they get emotionally flooded and then they say harsh things to one another. They exaggerate, they hit below the belt, and that’s what happens when you’re having this late night conversation.

So good. Oh yes. Here we have a question from a listener live, which is really exciting. She says, what do you do if marriage counselor says you’re very controlling to a person? Okay, so I am a marriage counselor as well as a marriage coach, and there is a lot of. bad counseling and bad coaching out there, and if your coach or your counselor is not on your side and your spouse’s side at the same time, then you’re probably not getting very good counseling.

Now. They’re probably doing the best that they can and they’re probably trying to bring something to your attention that they think is not working with your. So they’re probably saying like when you try to control things, it shuts down your spouse, or it makes them feel attacked or they feel criticized.

So if you can take the heart of that, which is that this is a dynamic between the two of you and that your part is being perceived by your partner as more controlling than they’re comfortable. , then you can start to adjust that controlling and that puts the, that then puts that pressure on them to make that change to adjust with you.

So, Hmm, that’s probably my best real quick advice. But I wish that everyone were really well trained in this. Yes. So there’s a follow up or says you need to take meds for anxiety. I’ll tell you what, it really hurts my heart to hear that people who are in the helping profession instead of help, they, you know, they hurt.

So painful. All right, so if you need meds for anxiety, that is a discussion between either you and your psychiatrist or you and your primary care physician. . Now, if your counselor is saying that, then what they are saying is, I’m seeing some signs that you are feeling really anxious in situations where maybe it’s more than what the average person would feel.

Okay? So go and have that discussion with someone who actually can help you figure out is that useful or not? . Yeah. I feel like in, you know, one of the biggest issues with being both husband and wife with a counselor, and you know from my eyes, which is why now I don’t go anywhere near that, is that you feel like you’re both trying to get them on your side, right?

Like this is a real bad dynamic that you know, not. Because there’s some really great counselors out there that save lives all the time, and I love them to pieces. But if you go to the wrong person or to the person that isn’t the right fit for you, what happens is it’s either, you know, you feel like they’re on my side, we’re gonna get him, or you feel like he’s on his side and he’s attacking me and now I have two against me.

So what was the point of coming here, right? And like this is what shuts one side down. every time there’s that dynamic, and I feel like it’s really, really important to, you know, make sure that you feel like you’re all on the same side. If you don’t feel that, then find someone who will make you feel that this is actually a lose losee proposition.

Because if your, if the therapist is on your side today and they’re attacking this, your partner, who in your heart you really love. then you know that next time they could be attacking you. and your partner could be sitting in that other space. So it’s really not safe. Even if they’re, even if they’re on your side.

There’s a show that has a, a really good example of this Ozark, I don’t know if any of you have seen that, but the therapist in there is secretly getting bribes from each of the partners, and so she is like going with the one who’s paying her the most. Oh no, and it just is a disaster for the relationship because of course the therapist can’t, it’s really not the therapist’s job to say, you were the problem or you were the problem.

Their job is to say, this is the right, well, this is the pattern. This is what happens when the two of you come together around this issue, and that cycle or that pattern is not working well for the two. . Right? And I really, I want to emphasize that there is no one person’s fault because you’re both really trying your best.

You both want the best for the other person. And maybe you just don’t have the right tools. Maybe you just don’t, didn’t find the right rhythm. Maybe there’s something that you know each one of you has to experience within your journey. Blaming or shaming or any of that stuff is not going to get you there.

Like that’s exactly the opposite of what would help. So really, really important. The follow up question is should that couple leave this one, I guess this counselor. It depends on what your options are. If there’s another good option. Absolutely. Look for someone who is certified in a type of therapy, that means that they were trained in it and they had to go through a supervision process where they had to show that they actually knew how to use that.

If you don’t have that option, then you’re really going with like, what’s gonna be the best of not the ideal situation. Now being said, you also. Reads, there’s some really good books that can help you or you can do a class together or you can commit to a prayer program. Like there’s all sorts of ways of fixing these problems.

Yeah. So I would like to suggest you said, look for their training and I want to suggest look for their. If you’re, you know, talk to people who have had issues and how they, you know, what helped them, how did you look at someone who used to be miserable and is suddenly happy? What happened? What did you do?

Right, because sometimes it’s not a marriage, you know, specialist. Sometimes it’s, I started taking care of myself and I started, you know, going to yoga and I started being really happy with art and I started, you know, finding my, my mission and I started to lean into myself and suddenly like, oh, okay. You know, I, I saw that I don’t have to be dealing with, you know, the mud all the time.

Like I don’t have to be sitting and playing in mud. I can be. up here, you know, flying, breathing, doing, and living. So sometimes the answer is just look for the result you want and go after it. Yeah. And mindset shifts can change a lot of things. Oh, in the relationship. . Yes. Yes. I love that. And listen, if it’s not working for you and your husband doesn’t wanna go to a couple’s counselor, come over here,

We’re, we’re ready for you. It’s, you know, it really is so, so powerful that you’re never stuck. There’s no such thing as I’m stuck. There’s nothing, you know, in today, in today’s world with Zoom and everything, you don’t even have it to have it local. . Exactly right. My last client I worked with was in England.

I’m in the us. We just matched up the time and figured out how to, how to meet with each other. Exactly. In my program, I have a woman from England, two women from the United States, three women in Israel, and we’re all on at the same time. We’re having a great, you know, great session, and you sit, you sit there going, this is a miracle.

This is, this is a complete miracle. Like who thought? Yeah. The world has changed so much in the last three years. Like you have so many more options. Yes. Yes. Wow. He says, thank you. Here we go. Yay. You’re. If you have any more questions, anybody who’s live, let us know. We’re happy to answer them, and I think this is a really fun conversation to see how many choices there are.

Right? I think this is also why we are doing this podcast to begin with. to bring awareness to all the different options. You could go in as a couple. You could go in as a, you know, a single, you can try to figure it out with books, you could try to figure out with programs, you can go to a therapist, you could go to a coach.

But like really, you should never feel like there is nowhere to turn. Yeah, and I think that’s the first thing I prayed for is send me the right guidance. and I was just like, help me find who I’m supposed to work with. Right. And when I was looking for a coach, that was all I was praying for is like, I don’t even care yet.

If I have the money to hire anyone, I just wanna start hearing their freebies. I just wanna know who I’m following, who I should be, you know, listening, like being absorbing. Yeah. No, and there’s so much good. Out there. So I am practicing, my therapy practice is in West Virginia, that’s in the us and my coaching practice is really worldwide.

And if you wanna, if you wanna get a taste of this, come into the Facebook date night community, because you’ll see these, these questions. One of my favorite things is to find the smallest thing that you can do. that will make a change. So things like appreciation, they like practicing appreciation with your spouse not only will change their behavior, but it will change how you think about things.

So if, if you’re looking for some support, come into that community and that way you’ll also hear about when my programs open up again. Yes. And can I just tell you. Two nights ago, I had my session with all of my, all my girls and my ladies, and I did a meditation, a guided meditation where we had to meet our husband and then tell him something we’re grateful for, like five things we’re grateful for, and then he’ll, he’s gonna tell us five things he’s grateful for.

but this is all in your imagination because it’s guided meditation. Okay. So the first lady who shared said she just couldn’t do the gratitude. She could not be grateful for her husband for anything he does for her because she’s so angry with him. It’s a protective mechanism that she’s putting down. If I see good in him, then I will get.

And so we, we spoke about that and we really broke that down into, you know, why it is that we are so protective and what the first step is, you know, is like being able to see, just see, notice that this is happening. Obviously it was a long session. I’m not gonna tell you all the things, but then the, the next person who shared said that she couldn’t do the second.

She can thank, and she feels very grateful and very appreciative of her husband, but she couldn’t come up with anything. He’s thankful to her because she feels so low about herself. She doesn’t deserve, thank you. She, she isn’t doing enough. She’s not taking, you know, pulling her weight. She’s not feeling well, so she hasn’t been doing a lot like, you know, around the house and with the kids or whatever, and she just feels like there’s nothing to be thanked for.

And so, In this meditation. He had nothing to to say, like she couldn’t come up with anything. He said, now I sh I said to both of them, do you realize that this is your imagination? It is not even real. It’s not even real. , you had the choice in your mind to make up stuff, to put anything you want in his mouth to imagine.

He said, thank you for something that you wished you were thanked for, but instead your brain went no. Worst case scenario, right? Like, wow. It is so hard and we know gratitude is so powerful and yet it is something that we have such a hard time with. What is something that you could say. . You know, we skip most of the very small things, the easy things because we don’t feel it.

I don’t feel inspired to go give my my husband a hug. Okay, that’s fine. You can do that only when you feel it. But if you make some of these things, habits, so, You look for something to be grateful for every day, or you greet them at some point with a hug and you just make that your practice, then that starts to elevate the whole relationship and you don’t have to put a lot into it.

It won’t fix everything right away, but it does shift things a. . Yes. I love that. You know, the outside in. A lot of the time we think we have to go from inside out. Like first I have to work on myself and then I have to actually feel it and then I have to do it right. It’s like sometimes just do it and it will seep in and it will start to take a new shape, a new form.

It’s so, so powerful. Yes. Gratitude. , you know, all these challenges about being grateful are so important. Go do it. Our next question that’s coming in is what is the sign that a coach is right for you? Well, if you’re gonna hire a coach, it’s always helpful if you read their blogs and watch them go live and follow.

absorb their freebie because you’re looking for a coach that’s really speaking a language that you understand. And you know, every coach has a slightly different way of describing how to communicate with your partner. You want the one that you hear and you’re like, oh, I can do that. Right, right. I totally agree.

You know, I think the first step is going out there and finding all. Coaches and the freebees and the things and just doing them, and the freebie that works is probably the coaching program that’s going to work. Because if something that was free is powerful enough to make a shift in your relationship, a shift in your day, a shift in the way that you are seeing yourself in your marriage and gives you hope, then it probably means that there’s a roadmap behind that freebie that will get you to.

Destination. Very good advice. Yeah, and the style is definitely good. Okay, so we are done with our podcast. I want to welcome everyone to send in more questions. We’re happy to answer anything that you have. Both Cheri and I are available for you and as always, stay connected for real. Thank you. Thank you so much. And that’s it. Thank you for listening to the very end. I would love if you can leave a review and subscribe to the podcast. Those are things that tell the algorithm, this is a good podcast. And make sure to suggest it to others. Wouldn’t it be amazing if more people became more connected? For real? And now, take a moment and think of someone who might benefit from this episode.

Can you share it with them? I am Rebbetzin Bat-Chen Grossman from Connected for real.com. Thank you so much for listening, and don’t forget, you can be connected for real.

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