the podcast recap episode with aj & rory vaden

Ep 297: Methods for a Better Marriage with Kathryn Gordon | Recap Episode

Listen to the episode below

It takes a lot of courage to make yourself vulnerable, but what exactly does that mean, and how does one do it?

According to Kathryn Gordon, the practical answer is: to share what you are feeling.

This may sound like simple advice, but it can be tough to follow.

After all, when you share your innermost thoughts, you run the risk of being ridiculed, rejected, or even causing harm.

And in no relationship is vulnerability more important than in your marriage.

Today on the show, Rory revisits his conversation with Kathryn to talk about vulnerability, intimacy, and why acknowledging the hardship someone is facing is so important.

When it comes to this podcast we may focus a lot on personal branding strategies, but we are also deeply aware of the monumental role those personal relationships play in all our lives.

Tune in for a humbling recap on marriage, communication, and what it means to be a supportive spouse.

Key takeaways from this episode

  • Rory shares his top three takeaways from his conversation with Kathryn Gordon.
  • Kathryn’s practical definition of vulnerability: sharing what you are feeling.
  • Why vulnerability is integral to any marriage.
  • The parenting imbalance that occurs when you are raising children.
  • Why acknowledging someone’s hardship is so powerful.
  • How Kathryn’s openness about struggles in her marriage has helped people.

Tweetable Moments

“One of the best parts of this whole interview was just hearing the story, honestly, of how they struggled. About how hard it was on their marriage. About their kids. About even being separated for a while. It’s that permission to know that it’s okay.” —  @roryvaden [0:03:08]

“A great marriage takes a lot of work. It’s very, very difficult, because life is difficult, and kids are difficult. And building businesses and doing meaningful and significant things in the world is difficult.” —  @roryvaden [0:03:28]

“Just having that opportunity to talk with her and hear some of their story from people who, you know, had a chance to walk this path a little longer than we have, was super inspiring and helpful for me in an extremely practical way.” —  @roryvaden [0:03:38]

About Kathryn Gordon

Kathryn Gordon is a wife, mother, businesswoman, movie producer, bestselling author of Relationship GRIT and host of the Kathryn for Real podcast. A graduate of Old Dominion University, Kathryn became a top producer in sales for several companies before deciding to follow her passion as an actress and model. After the birth of her children, she focused on raising them and helping operate her husband’s growing speaking and consulting business. With her children off to college, she has returned for her second act, investing in real estate and movies, mentoring women, supporting several charities, and writing and speaking to audiences about the keys to a great relationship.

Links Mentioned

Kathryn Gordon

Relationship Grit

Kathryn For Real Podcast

Kathryn Gordon on Instagram

Relationship Grit Action Plan

The Energy Bus

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

Take the Stairs

Brand Builders Group

Brand Builders Group Free Call

Brand Builders Group Resources

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Apple

Speaker 1 (00:07): Hey brand builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this interview as always, it’s our honor to provide it to you for free and wanted to let you know there’s no big sales pitch or anything coming at the end. However, if you are someone who is looking to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and get to know you a little bit and hear about some of your dreams and visions and share with you a little bit about what we’re up to to see if we might be a fit. So if you’re interested in a free strategy call with someone from our team, we would love to hear from you. You can do that at brand builders, group.com/pod call brand builders, group.com/pod call. We hope to talk to you. Soon Speaker 2 (00:54): For years, Jon Gordon has been a friend, a colleague, a mentor of mine, and what an absolute delight and treat to get to sit down with his wife who is also his co-author of the book, relationship grit, Kathryn. Kathryn has become a quick friend of the family and really a quick friend of AJ’s, which is you know, kind of unexpected, unusual for AJ to become so close with somebody so quickly. And they have really hit it off. And man, this was a powerful, a powerful lesson. And I mean, of all the podcasts we’ve had, this one really, really hit me hard personally. And so we were talking about, you know, methods for a better marriage, especially for entrepreneurial couples. And I think you know, I wanna share my takeaways here in just a second, my, my top three highlights, but what a great just opportunity to get to hear from people who have built something really big in the world, right between Jon and, and Kathryn. Speaker 2 (01:54): And of course, if you’re not familiar with Jon, he is the best selling author of the energy bus. He, he’s one of the, the, the most well known speakers, motivational speakers in the world, and he’s written several, several books and you know, I’ve just always known him really well. And just only gotten to know Katherine more recently, but just, I think it’s rare to even have a chance to talk with other entrepreneurs about how they hold it together. And one of the best parts of this, this whole interview was just hearing the story honestly, of how they struggled about how hard it was on their, their marriage, about their kids, about even being separated for a while. Like that it’s that, that permission to know that it’s okay. And that permission to hear that marriage is hard. Like a great marriage is takes a lot of work. Speaker 2 (02:47): It’s very, very difficult because because life is difficult and kids are difficult and building businesses and doing meaningful and significant things in the world is difficult. And so to just have that opportunity to, to talk with her and hear some of their story from some people who are, you know, had a chance to walk this path a little longer than we have was, was super inspiring and, and, and helpful for me in an extremely practical way. And I’m, I’m gonna share with you, like, I would say these are three of maybe the most intimate things that I’ve ever shared in a recap, because marriage is intimate, right. And, and you know, my, my life priorities are, are, are, are very clear, right? It’s like, it is God, then it is AJ. Then it is the kids. And then it, then, you know, it is family and then it is work like that is the order of, of the priorities in my life. Speaker 2 (03:41): And so, you know, this is, this is intimate stuff talking about, you know, marriage. So the first, my first big takeaway was around vulnerability. Now I have to tell you, and maybe you have this response too, but when I hear the word vulnerability, like it’s been thrown around so much in the last few years that there’s a little bit of me that kind of wants to gag, like, oh, you know, more like, here we go again, like vulnerability, you know? And, and like, what even does that mean vulnerability? And, and it’s just, it’s just becomes this word that people like use so much, but I love the way that Kathryn described it in such a practical nature. Right. And, and this, this is what I wrote down at least. And like when I was reviewing my notes and I guess I’ve just never heard it shared in such a simple way. Speaker 2 (04:31): And that hit me as really powerful. And this is the way that she described it. She said, vulnerability is simple. It’s simply sharing what you are, feeling, sharing what you are feeling. And that really hit me hard because it’s like, oh, okay, now I get why it’s so hard, right? Because telling someone how you are feeling is risky. It’s, there’s, it is intimate because it’s, it’s risky. It’s giving you access into something that nobody else knows, except for me. Right? Like, you know, you, you can see how a person looks, you can know about what a person does, but in order to know what somebody’s feeling there is this invitation for you to come inside my, my mind inside my heart and inside my body and, and really know what’s going on. And it’s, and it’s risky because that’s, that’s a very private, and it’s also sort of scary to think that someone else might judge me for the way I’m feeling. Speaker 2 (05:33): They might, they, they, they might not agree with how I’m feeling. They, they might think I’m wrong for feeling the way that I am. And also there is also a risk that I might offend another person by telling them how I’m feeling that I might hurt them. I might anger them. I might push them away by sharing how I am feeling. And, and that’s the risk of vulnerability, but that’s the power in vulnerability. It is, it is intimacy. It is into you. I see, right? Like that is, is like the meaning of the word into you. I see giving me access into how you’re feeling, giving you access into how I’m feeling. And if there is one relationship on this earth that you must be able to do that with, it must be your spouse. It has to be like it has to be the person because that’s the person you’re doing life with all of the highs, all of the lows, all of the challenges, the obstacles, the difficulties, as well as the wins, the celebrations, the ambitions, the dreams, all of those things are shared most closely. Speaker 2 (06:51): And in most proximity with your spouse, it doesn’t matter how close you are to your, your, your best friend or to your other family members. It is, it is your spouse that you’re walking most closely with. And if you are not able to share how you are feeling then with that person, then who else are you able to do that with? And, and, and how lonely, how lonely to go through life, not having that opportunity and yet terrifying to do it, scary to do it, gut wrenching, you know, to, to, to, to take that risk. But that is marriage, right? It is, it is this choice, this one relationship that you choose to say, I’m gonna go there with you. I’m gonna, I’m gonna give you access into every part of my life into how I live and how I sleep and what I wear and what I say and what I do and how I spend my money and, and what I say about other people and what I think, and also how I feel. Speaker 2 (08:09): And so there, that was powerful for me. I don’t know why it was just something about the way that Kathryn said it. That was like, that’s so actionable and so practical, right? Share how you are feeling, share what you are feeling that was like, oh, I get it. Like, I really, I really, really, I really get it. And I think part of the risk here for me was, or not the risk, but another, another part of this that was, was an insight for me, was allowing other people to share how they’re feeling with you without getting defensive. And I think if there’s a place that I have failed in my marriage, it’s been here. I don’t think I have done a great job in my, you know, now 12 years of, of marriage with AJ giving her a space and a place and an opportunity to share how she is feeling without her having to be worried about me, judging it, commenting on it, correcting it. Speaker 2 (09:36): I mean, I, I actually think, I, I really only learned of this term gas lighting here fairly recently. And I think that I have done that a lot to AJ, more than anybody, which is that I’ve tried to convince her to feel a different way. I’ve tried to tell her why her feelings are, are wrong, or why maybe she isn’t viewing things. Right. And that I think has probably been the single biggest gap in our marriage, right? Like that there’s, there’s many things that I do wrong, but in a real significant way, in, in a, in a way that’s really risk risky of, of, you know, what has caused real damage, that would be something that I would look back to and go, man. I hope my boys one day for their wives would give them a safer space to share their feelings with, with their wife than I have with AJ. Speaker 2 (10:48): And that’s a hard, that’s a hard thing to admit, but also something that I’m very grateful for that I’ve gotten that clarity. And, and, you know, I, I think that that’s been a journey that we’ve, we’ve, we’ve been on for some of you that, you know, have known us for years and years who have followed us, like you know, we went through a hard time, pretty hard time, few years ago. And I think I was trying to convince AJ about certain things that she should feel. And, and she turned out to be right. I was the one that was wrong. And that just makes it harder. But anyways, I think the practical point for all of us is share what we are feeling and allow someone else to share what they are feeling without judgment, without correction, without coaching, without, you know, alt altering. Speaker 2 (11:38): And I think, you know, the natural coach in me, I think that, you know, looking back would be, is probably one of the things that’s probably had to be most difficult for AJ being, being, being married to me and you know, something I’m embarrassed about and, and ashamed of, and but grateful to have been, become aware of it here, especially in like the last couple years. And so that was power. I mean, like that’s a life changing moment, right? Like life changing moment. And Katherine, you know, just sort of sharpened that, that for me with a lot of clarity. So that was, that was really huge. The second big takeaway for me, and this helped me a lot when Kathryn said it, because I feel this way, like, I, I feel this way where she said, look, ultimately the workload is not going to change. Speaker 2 (12:29): Ultimately it falls on mom. Like mom has to figure it out because she is the ultimate decision maker on everything related to the kids. And so there is just an imbalance of workload as it relates to children. Like even though I try to do as much as I can do, like I try to go, how can I be useful, AJ? Like, how can I help? What, what, what can I do to support here at the end of the day, there’s an imbalance of the workload in raising the kids. At least it is in the Vaden household. And, and I don’t think it’s cuz I’m a lazy dad. I’m certainly not like an absent dad. Like the, you know, I grew up without a father, a father for, you know, the first 10 years of my life. So I, I didn’t have much to model, but like I’m here and I’m trying, and yet it’s difficult. Speaker 2 (13:23): Like raising, like having kids has been very hard, not because there’s anything wrong with our kids. They’re beautiful. They’re amazing. They’re, they’re perfect. It’s because of my own self-centeredness and not being used to having to modify every, every single part of my life to, to make an allowance for somebody else’s needs to come first. Right. Like marriage is one level of that. Kids is a whole nother level. And so I think, you know, I’ve I’ve, and then I struggle with that being like, man, AJ’s just, she’s just carrying the workload here and it feels unfair. And so there was something about when Kathryn was like, yeah, that is how it is. I don’t know. Just the, the way that her sort of, matter of fact tone it, it, in, in a way gave me permission to not feel wrong and to not feel bad, which I think I was looking, I, I guess, deep down looking for, because it was just like, no, that that is how it is. And then yet going, and, and then, and then what is my role like then, then what can I do? And this is what she said, and I have to tell you, like, it’s this for the last several weeks I have been thinking about this on a regular basis is, is Kathryn said again, so practical, like so profound, but so practical. She said, Rory, if you go back and listen to the interview, she said, all you, I, if there’s one thing you can do, just acknowledge to a J for a J how hard it is. Speaker 2 (14:55): And I was like, oh man, that’s so good. That’s so simple. That’s so doable. And why haven’t I done a better job of that? Right. Like I think, you know, my default is to be defensive is, is, is, is to go, well, yeah, you’re doing all this, but, but I’m also doing this. Right. And I am, and it’s like very difficult for me. Like, I’m going, like, I’m over here dying to myself. And I’m, that’s been a difficult journey for me, especially somebody who’s like this self-motivated independent, ambitious achiever, my whole life. Like pre-marriage, it was just like, I just ran a sprint and then, you know, marriage was like, oh, okay. Like now, but now it was more like I had a partner and then kids came and it was like, whoa, like this yanked my whole universe. But, but you know, I, I tend to be more of like, well, yeah, but I’m doing this and yeah, but I’m doing that. Speaker 2 (15:47): And for Kathryn to just so clearly, and so simply say, just acknowledge for AJ how hard it is that has been so helpful for me. And so practical. And frankly, it’s been transformational for our marriage in a, in a matter of a few weeks. So both kind of acknowledging in that receive, receiving that, being okay with it, not making myself wrong for it and not feeling like I have to justify the imbalance, but just acknowledge the imbalance. What a, what a release of pressure from me. And apparently exactly. Kathryn’s exactly right. I feel like I should send Kathryn a check for some marriage counseling, cuz that’s what I got like on this episode. Like if you didn’t listen to this interview, like if you were struggling in your marriage at all, or if you ever have, or you know, someone who is, which we all do, like listen to this episode just, and then just acknowledge how hard it is. Speaker 2 (16:41): And I think that extends beyond marriage and beyond parenting, right? Specifically, this is like a parenting piece of the conversation, but like what a gift to anyone in their life to just acknowledge how hard it is, acknowledge how hard it is, acknowledge how difficult it is or what they’re going through. Like take a second to go. I see you. I, I support you. I, I, I, I, I, I am aware of what you’re doing and, and you know, I just wanna let you know that I see you. And I think so many people just wanna be seen. They just wanna go, man, does this matter? Is anyone even noticing? And, and what an, what a simple practical thing to be able to do to acknowledge how difficult this is? Honestly, I think that’s one of the biggest things that our members, you know, the people who, who become members at brand builders group, we have now almost 400 of them. Speaker 2 (17:31): Right. And we see them several of them every month at our events. And you know, and the virtual trainings and stuff is like, they get, they get behind the scenes and we’re showing ’em behind the scenes of, of, you know, how we do things and all these things we learn with all the personal brands we, we work with and all this stuff. And they go, oh man, this is hard. Like, it’s not easy. It’s so difficult. But there is a system and there is, is a process. So who in your life can you do this for today? Who in your life can you acknowledge? And just say, Hey, you’re hand, you’re carrying a ton. And I just want you to know, like, I see it. You’re doing so much. Thank you for how much you’re doing. It’s, it’s so much, it’s so hard and you’re doing it like a champ. Speaker 2 (18:23): My guess is there’s somebody in your life. You need to say that to right. Maybe yourself, maybe yourself and, and definitely somebody else. And then the third, the third part of this you know, when Kathryn was sharing the story about them being separated, which I was like kind of shocked that she was just, you know, here she is just sort of openly telling, tell, you know, it’s like between me and you, Kathryn, and you know, a, yeah. A few million podcast listeners. like just her willingness to share, you know, when they were, they struggled in their marriage, right? Like here, you’ve got one of the most prolific writers. One of the most prolific speakers in the, in the, in the world talks about positivity as one of the best selling books of all time and going like, yeah, we struggled in our own, our own home with this. And, and, and, and she was so open about that, which just gave me permission to just, you know, just chill out a little bit and, and, and find peace. And then she said, it all changed. When we said, God, we invite you into our marriage. We invite you into our family. Speaker 2 (19:35): God, we invite you into our lives. And I don’t know where you’re at on your spiritual journey or what you think and all that, right? Like I’m not a pastor, but is there a place in your life right now that you might need to invite God into? And here’s the hint, it’s the place where everything’s fallen apart. It’s the place where you’ve tried everything and nothing works. It’s the place where you’re most frustrated. You have the most despair. You, you are, you are the most exhausted. The most discouraged, the most beat up the most beat down the most, the closest to giving up. Where in your life are you the closest to giving up? Where in your life are you ready to throw in the towel? Are you ready to quit? Are you at the end of your rope? Are you struggling? Are you mad? Are you frustrating? Are you said like where in your life is that that is where you want to invite God into. Speaker 2 (20:41): And look, there’s a whole lot of discussion around, you know, historical accuracy and evidence for God. But I’m telling you in my life clearly in Kathryn’s life, in the life of the people that I know the best, the proof of God is to invite God into your darkest moments. Invite God into your darkest places. Invite God into your deepest struggles. Invite God into your greatest concerns. Invite God into your greatest worries. Invite God in, invite him in invite him. And look, if you, if you’re really struggling spiritually and you go, I don’t even know if there is God I’ve been there. Like I been there, I’ve been there many times. Here’s the good thing about God. God’s not afraid of being questions. God is not afraid of being challenged like that. Doesn’t intimidate God whatsoever. And I would say, invite him in and, and see if he shows up, invite him in and see if you feel his presence, invite him in and see if something, something happens, invite him in and see if something changes. But if you’re struggling, if you’re defeated, if you’re wounded, if you’re hurt, if you’re angry, if you’re sad, if you are experiencing sorrow, if you’re feeling lost and you don’t invite him in you’re on your own, not because of him because of you, because that’s a choice that’s you are making with your life. That’s not his decision, that’s yours. So if you are not sure, if he’s there, ask him, invite him and see if he shows up. And I will tell you, he never has. Not. For me. Speaker 2 (22:27): He never has not for AJ. He never has not for many of the people that I love most dearly in my life that I, I have the most intimate relationships with that. I know the best personally. He often shows up in ways that are different than we expect, but he never doesn’t show up, but you have to invite him in. He, he doesn’t just come breaking down the walls. Like you have to invite him in. There is no obedience. Otherwise there is no demonstration of faith otherwise, right? If he just forces himself upon you, then there’s, that’s not, there’s not belief. There’s not relationship. Right? You have to invite him, invite him in. So where in your life do you need to do these things? Who in your life do you need to share what you’re feeling with? Who in your life do you have to acknowledge and speak and see and tell them that you see how hard it is that what they’re going through and where in your life do you need to invite God in? That’s it for this week’s edition of the influential personal brand podcast. I love you. We’ll catch you next time. Bye. Bye.

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